Senior Nation: The Art of the Scam by Memo Diriker

Imagine this scenario: It is early evening; dinner time. The phone rings and a very kind, soothing voice asks for Mrs. Smith, the 78 year old resident. The caller is from Medicare, informing Mrs. Smith of a reimbursement issue but not to worry, it is an easy fix. The caller gathers some basic information from Mrs. Smith and promises that everything will be fine within 24 hours. A financial fraud has just been committed.

Various scams targeting seniors have become shockingly prevalent because, in the words of a convicted scammer, “They (seniors) have a lot of money and a lot of trust.” Unfortunately, a significant number of these crimes are committed by the victim’s own family members.

Whether the culprits are strangers or relatives, these types of fraud frequently go unreported or can be difficult to prosecute. The victims lose a lot and frequently are unable to recoup their losses or recover from the consequences. The variety of scams and fraudulent schemes is surprisingly wide. Some of the more common ones are:

· Medicare/health insurance scams
· Counterfeit prescription drugs
· Funeral & cemetery scams
· Fraudulent anti-aging products
· A wide range of telemarketing/phone scams
· Fake charity scams
· Fake accident ploys
· Internet and email fraud (including phishing)
· Fake or sub-par investment schemes
· Homeowner/reverse mortgage scams
· Sweepstakes & lottery scams

So, how can seniors protect themselves against such crimes? The National Crime Prevention Council has the following tips:

· It’s shrewd, not rude to hang up on a suspicious telemarketer
· Don’t give personal information to people you don’t know unless you initiated the contact
· Don’t let yourself get pressured into a verbal agreement or signing a contract
· Be skeptical of online charitable solicitations and other online offers
· Always ask to receive information in the mail and check to be sure the company is legitimate
· Never agree to pay for products or services in advance
· Get estimates and ask for references on home repair offers and other products or services
· If you suspect fraud, contact your local law enforcement agency immediately

If you have already been victimized, don’t be ashamed. You are not alone, and there are people who can help. Keep handy the phone numbers of your bank, the local police, the nearest office of Adult Protective Services, etc.

Speak out so this kind of crime can be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Dr. Memo Diriker is the Founding Director of the Business, Economic, and Community Outreach Network (BEACON). BEACON is the premier business and economic research and consulting unit of the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business at Salisbury University. BEACON is home to the award winning Community Visioning, ShoreTRENDS, GraySHORE, ShoreENERGY, GNAppWorks, and Bienvenidos a Delmarva initiatives and a proud partner of the GeoDASH initiative.

Some links to some additional resources:

Senior Nation: The Science of Forgetfulness with Dr. Constantine Lyketsos

The celebrated poet Billy Collins wrote in one of his poems that his memory had retired “to the southern hemisphere of the brain, to a little fishing village where there are no phones.”  It is perhaps one of the most accurate descriptions of memory loss and the disorientation it causes in almost every human being of a certain age from time to time.

But what if the feeling of “no phones” was a more permanent condition?  That beyond the simple and temporary experience of forgetting where one left the car keys, one also could not remember what those car keys do. In that case, the condition is called dementia. And what has intrigued Johns Hopkins doctor Constantine Lyketsos is why those “phones,” the neurochemistry of the brain, are not working.

On March 8, the Talbot Hospice will be sponsoring a lecture by one of the leading experts in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease at Easton High School. Dr. Lyketsos, from the Hopkins department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, will address these issues and the devastating effects of the illness, but also promising new treatments that give hope to patients and their families.

The Spy traveled to Baltimore to sit down with Lyketsos before the event for a primer on dementia and memory loss.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information about the event please go here


Senior Nation: The Art of Falling with Kim Huff

If one had to summarize Heron Point of Chestertown fitness director Kim Hoff’s philosophy regarding those of a certain age falling, it might very well be “Enjoy the ride.” And given Kim’s training and self-confessed addiction to physical fitness research, that should be taken as sound advice.

In turns out that a good bit of Kim’s work with her clients relates focuses on actually preventing falling, including balancing and strength training, but when it does happen – and it does – she wants people to be prepared since the consequences of not falling the right way be catastrophic for older adults.

The Spy spoke to Kim last week about her approach to physical fitness as one move beyond the age of 60.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about Heron Point please go here.

Senior Nation Moments: Broken Bones by Bernie Starken

Today while having lunch with Peara, we were discussing his fractured foot. He says,“You have had firsthand knowledge with broken bones, you should write an article for the Heron’s Beak.” Here goes.

I have broken sixteen bones in my 82 years of living. The first seven breaks happened when I was a senior in high school in 1951. While my boyfriend and I were dating, he would pick me up in his red convertible. On this bright November Sunday afternoon, we were going to go road hunting for pheasants. As we were driving on the country roads, the noise of the car and the gravel would startle the pheasants hiding in the tall grasses. The convertible was traveling about 10 miles an hour as we watched the ditches. Just as we crossed into an intersection, a car came over the rise traveling very fast. As I spoke to tell my friend “to speed up, there is a car coming on our right,” he looked to the left and the incoming car T-boned the convertible, leaving an impression of his headlight on our front fender and the second head-light on the passenger door where I was sitting.

The convertible flew in the air and landed upside down in the ditch across the road. As the car turned over in the air, my friend fell out the driver’s door, landed in the field, and had a minor cut on his head. I was trapped under the dash-board in an upside-down convertible which was dripping battery acid.

In 1951, there were no emergency services or cell phones. A farm house sat on the corner of the intersection, and they alerted the hospital. Help came in the form of a hearse as that was the only type of automobile that could carry a person in a lying position. I was placed on the platform where the caskets were transported. I recall as we traveled to the hospital, the swaying tassels that hung over the windows.

I spent seven weeks in the hospital healing the fractured skull, the imbedded glass in my face, floating bone chips in my neck, broken clavicle and the four fractures in my pelvis. Due to my youth and a good physician, I healed rapidly. In January 1952, I rejoined my senior class and in 1953 married the boyfriend.

Bernie Starken is a resident of Heron Point in Chestertown

Inside the Sandwich: A Glimpse Inside Aging by Amelia Blades Steward

A few weeks ago, I underwent cataract surgery – not something common for 57-year olds. The success of the surgery, however, far outweighed the injury to my pride in having a surgery more common in 80-year olds. I can now see and that’s amazing!

This experience really gave me insight into the aging process and some of the assumptions we all make about people based on their age, their disabilities, their experiences, and even the circumstances in which they find themselves.

Finding myself in the operating room among the 11 other patients having cataract surgery that day, I found some people approached me, as they do most elderly people, with a raised voice. I didn’t realize that cataracts affected my hearing too! Although my vision was less than 20/20, my hearing hadn’t deteriorated. My husband chuckled as people spoke to me with raised voices as they did to most of the other patients in the surgical bay.

As I reflected after the surgery on my experience, I began to think that when we meet people in life, maybe we need to make fewer assumptions about each another overall. We could actually ask questions like “Can you hear me well enough?” “Can you see what I am giving you?” “Do you need help getting up or down?” “Do you understand what I am telling you?” Simple questions such as these could help us all better navigate the unexpected places in which we find ourselves interacting with people who we do not know.

My mother always says to me that mentally she feels 18, even though her body is changing every day. I got a glimpse into this as I faced some of my own limitations this week. I look in the mirror and don’t see the 18-year old any more.

There are more wrinkles, more aging spots, and darker circles than were there when I was 18 years old. I am bewildered – how did I get here? Where did the years go?

I still have the surgery in the other eye to look forward to. The humor of all this was when my twenty-somethings got wind of the cataract surgery, they couldn’t wait for the picture of me with the large dark sunglasses they give cataract patients, so they could get a chuckle. The glasses reminded me of the Atom Ant cartoon I watched in the 1960s. Honestly, couldn’t we get more fashionable glasses so our kids don’t put our photos on Facebook for the whole world to see? I certainly hope by my next surgery they will have figured that one out!

House as Biography: Londonderry’s Manor House with Pat Lewers & Susan Andrews

While it is true that almost every retirement community has something very special going for it, whether it be a golf course, location, or excellent cuisine, Londonderry on the Tred Avon is one of the very few that has a historically significant house on its grounds.

Nestled among Londonderry’s many cottages along the Tred Avon stands the Manor House which was built in 1867. Designed by the 19th-century architect Richard Upjohn, whose credits included Trinity Church in lower Manhattan, the gate designs of the Boston Commons, and more locally, the Parish House at Christ Church in Easton and Oxford’s own Trinity Church, the Manor House not only reflects the exceptional design of the time but also is one of the Mid-Shore’s most important reference points for the history of region with such familiar Eastern Shore names as Armstrong and Pinckney.

Now under the stewardship of volunteers who live in the Londonderry community, the house is not only used as a guesthouse for visitors of the residents who live there but is now open to the public during the day for meetings, weddings, and other special occasions.

The Spy talked to Manor House volunteers Susan Andrews and Pat Lewers a few weeks ago about some of its history, architectural features, and the remarkable charm of a very special home which has withstood the tests of time, a civil war, and two fires.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about Londonderry and the Manor House please go here

Gray Shore: Looking at the ACA in the Era of Trump by Memo Diriker

November 2016 has come and gone. Now, we have a new President and a new faces in the U.S. Congress. The Republicans may have won it all but now, they are facing the daunting task of delivering on their various (costly) promises while simultaneously respecting the conservative values they hold dear. No GOP promise has been repeated as often and as loudly as the one to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as “Obamacare.”

Not surprisingly, Republicans in both the House and Senate have moved rapidly to set in motion the process for repealing the ACA but they seem to have not much of an idea with what to replace it. Every option available to them seems to have a different booby trap attached to it. While the senior leaders of the Republican Party are unanimous in their desire to repeal the ACA, they are most definitely not unified as to what will take its place. Whatever they solution they might be able to craft, they are assured of vigorous opposition from Democrats in Congress and from a very wide range of stakeholder groups throughout the nation.

To make the process even more complicated, the policy direction the new White House wishes to take with the replacement part of Repeal and Replace is not very clear. We are now finding out that some of the staunchest supporters of the new President were not aware that the “Obamacare” they so loudly opposed was the same as the Affordable Care Act that they seem to like quite a bit. The choices are not very good:

Should coverage be denied due to pre-existing conditions? Most Americans oppose this.
Should children over 18 be excluded from policies? Most families like this benefit.
Should the individual tax mandate be removed? Budgetary implications of this are phenomenal.
Should coverage amounts and categories be reduced? Seems to be a No-Win solution.
Should the high risk-pools replace the current policies? This is a bad solution with high costs.
Are Health Savings Accounts the answer? Not for millions who do not earn enough.

Another aspect of the replacement process is that Republicans can only repeal parts of Obamacare that have to do with budget measures. They will need at least eight Democrats in the Senate for replacing part of all of the ACA. The likelihood of Democrats collaborating in the replacement of their signature achievement has got to be pretty low.

Earlier, some GOP senators introduced a bill that would allow states to keep the ACA if they so choose but most Democrats are opposed to this bill that they label “Chaos.” Based on early indications, it is clear that the head winds against replacement will come from all corners, including within the GOP itself. Yes, Republicans want to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, but not all of them are ready to accept the consequences hurting people or adding to the deficit.

Finally, none of the current talk about repealing and replacing the ACA includes the need to reform the way we do healthcare here in the United States. At over $3.3 trillion a year or over $10,000 for each man, woman, and child in this country, we spend at least 50% more on healthcare than the next highest spending country (France) as a percentage of our GDP. Are our health outcomes 50% better? The answer is NO! Among the top 10 industrialized nations, we are dead last in healthcare outcomes. These outcomes include: Quality, Access, Efficiency, Equity, and Wellness. So, what is the one big difference between us and the other nine? Universal healthcare!

Dr. Memo Diriker is the Founding Director of the Business, Economic, and Community Outreach Network (BEACON). BEACON is the premier business and economic research and consulting unit of the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business at Salisbury University. BEACON is home to the award winning Community Visioning, ShoreTRENDS, GraySHORE, ShoreENERGY, GNAppWorks, and Bienvenidos a Delmarva initiatives and a proud partner of the GeoDASH initiative.

Senior Nation: Lecture on Talbot Village Connections

The Talbot County Commission on Aging in partnership with Chesapeake College have been working collaboratively in the past year to provide the Plan Well, Live Well speaker series, highlighting different topics and speakers each month for senior citizens, families, and caregivers. The series will continue through June 2017.

The October session, entitled Talbot Village Connections, was held on October 18, 2016  at Talbot County Senior Center. Thanks to MCTV, the Spy is able to share these informative sessions in their entirety.

This video is approximately thirty minutes in length. For more information about Talbot Village Connections, please go here

Senior Nation: An Adult Son and Aging Mother Find a Solution at Dixon House

Perhaps there is no greater and more difficult decision to make for an adult child of an aging parent than to determine that independent living has come to an end for their mother or father. While “aging in place” has become an increasingly attractive and realistic alternative for many in their senior years, those who enter their 90s, or in some special cases even their 100s, simply are not physically capable of maintaining houses or apartments.

That was certainly the case with Eric Horst and his mother, Natalie Horst. Eric, Natalie’s only living child, had difficulty at first convincing his mother, who was a healthy person overall, that it was time to leave her own home. She had led an active life as a realtor and was a very social person. He comments, “She wasn’t managing the household well anymore, her hygiene habits had changed and she wasn’t cooking meals any longer.”

He adds, “I had heard good things about Dixon House being a well-run facility from community members. It was also an affordable option for us and I was really impressed by the staff here. With its 18 rooms, it felt like a Victorian boutique hotel.”

Eric and Natalie came for a visit and looked at a room adjacent to the second-floor screened porch. He recalls, “The room was unoccupied and stark, so I decided to decorate it for her with blue and white bed linens and valences, in her favorite colors, her artwork from home, and some temporary furniture. I brought her back for the second visit and she stayed the night.”

Eric remembers that the first week of Natalie’s stay at Dixon House, she got her hair done and had a pedicure. With her usual sense of humor, Natalie quips, “I came for a haircut and pedicure and decided to stay!”

Natalie has made friends at Dixon House and Eric feels she is content. Eric’s partner, Mike Thielke, now also serves on the Dixon House Board of Directors. As a special treat on Natalie’s birthday each year, which she shares with one other resident, Eric buys crab cakes for all the residents and staff and hosts a birthday party. He also contributes throughout the year as needs arise, recently donating a flat screen television at Christmas. He comments, “I am a big fan of Dixon House. I have peace of mind that my mother is safe and being cared for here.”

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information on Dixon House, please go here.

Inside the Sandwich: Downsizing and Keeping the Memories by Amelia Blades Steward

A new year! More resolutions! And more stuff!

Over the last month, I have been downsizing my mom’s home since the passing of my father. This month, my mother left her sprawling brick rancher to move into a compact townhouse, half the size of her previous home. She has started the process of simplifying her life to approach her aging years. As the children and grandchildren walked through the memories at the old house during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, we discovered treasures that my parents had stashed away – maybe one day for us to find and ogle.

Our finds included my dad’s Argus camera from when he served as a surveyor in the Army in Alaska, his business plane ticket and invitation to the Ambassador of Ireland’s residence in the late 1960s, and the most amazing thing – Neil Armstrong’s autograph before he landed on the Moon in 1969 (we don’t know how my dad got that!). There were Life Magazines talking about Kennedy’s death and yellowed, brittle newspapers announcing the moon landings, Lady Diana’s wedding and death, and the tragedies of 911. My brother and I, who grew up in the 1960s, we were able to reminisce about where we were and what we were doing during each of these landmark moments. It was a bonding experience for both of us and fun to share them with our own children.

Savoring the memorabilia was the fun part of the downsizing process. Next came the culling process – scrutinizing the family china, crystal, silver, and formal housewares that my parents had accumulated over their 57 years of marriage. This was the difficult part of downsizing. The questions were the same – who needed another set of china, who even used crystal anymore, what was that item even used for anyway, and finally, where are we going to put this in our own homes? The grandchildren were born in an IKEA and Pottery Barn age and had little interest in the family heirlooms. I recently read an article in the Washington Post about passing along family heirlooms which explored the issue that many Millennials don’t even cook anymore, let alone eat on china.

We were able to find homes for a few of the heirlooms among the family members, but a large amount of the china, crystal and silver went to be sold in the local consignment store and thrift shop or was sold to antique dealers. I watched as my mother said good-bye to some of her favorite things. She was strong and determined as she let go of item after item, knowing that most of them would not fit into the next chapter of her life. I was so proud that she could take these steps. She is much stronger than I am right now when it comes to getting rid of “stuff.”

This fall, I read both Spark Joy and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo in preparation for these days. As I have reached my 50s, I am feeling the need to purge the things that no longer bring me joy and which are cluttering my own home and life. I think Kondo’s statement, “A dramatic reorganization of the home causes correspondingly dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective.” I am taking a lesson from my mother and starting with my own home this month. We rented a small storage unit in December while the Christmas boxes merged with my mother’s moving boxes and on weekends we go and sort and purge the things from our attic and closets. Of course, this was incited by my two twenty-something sons, who told me as I was moving my mom, that they were just going to take all our “stuff” and have a bonfire in their backyard when we moved next, instead of going through it all as we had so painstakingly done with my mother.

Throughout this process, before I let items go that no longer serve me in my life, however, I am taking photographs and journaling about them. We did the same thing in my mom’s house, so she now has a record of the life she and my dad built together. I am realizing that the things we collect are just that – “things.” What is important about them are the memories we form because of them.

In her parting remarks in her book, Spark Joy, Marie Kondo’s states, “Our things form a part of us, and when they’re gone, they leave behind them eternal memories.”
I have realized that the memories linger and so do we as we close the lid on each box.
Amelia Blades Steward is founder of Steward Writing and Communications, a public relations firm in Easton, MD. Her company focuses on copy writing, editing services, and communications plans for nonprofit and for profit companies, small businesses, and local governments. She has written nonfiction articles for national, regional, and local publications for over 33 years. A lifelong storyteller, Steward published her first book in the spring of 2014, a memoir which she co-authored with Charles H. Thornton, entitled “Charles H. Thornton: A Life of Elegant Solutions.”