Each October, I write an anniversary column to reflect on what I have learned from our readers during this past year. After completing 16 years and almost 800 columns, I ask myself, “Is there more to write about?”
The answer, “Yes.”
One reason is that aging is a cross-cutting topic that affects everything from public policy and pensions to testosterone. Another reason is that we all are doing it – fortunately.
This year’s questions included subjects of scams, loneliness, retirement, age discrimination, volunteering, fitness, legacy, falls, celebrations and more. Given the large numbers of questions and suggestions from our readers, this year’s anniversary column is in two parts.
Here are a few highlights for part one:
Scams: A retired law enforcement professional indicated that scams against older adults were an issue he dealt with in his 33-year career. He noted that these crimes often are unreported because victims feel embarrassed and unwilling to admit that they have fallen victim to a senior predator.
Another reader offered a tip on how to avoid a computer scam. She wrote, “When you need to call Customer Service for computer help such as for Microsoft, don’t look up the phone number online using Google search. Many overseas scammers use an 800 number and pose as a company customer service representative.”
An example of a scam was reported by a man who loaned $100 to an 80-year old friend who allegedly won the lottery. Next the friend asked for $200 more and said he needed $1,000 to collect his winnings. The reader refused and indicated his friend became angry and nasty. As a result, the 40-year friendship ended.
Columns sometime have a life beyond the immediate print or digital version. A reader indicated she gave the two columns I wrote on scams to the manager of her mother’s senior resident complex to share with its residents.
Clearing a home: I wrote a more personal column in response to my sister’s unexpected death in January and the difficulty in saying good bye to her renaissance home and eclectic items. One reader noted, “This column in particular hits home.”
Some readers offered practical suggestions: “Please tell your readers to clean out their lives (homes) before others do.” “Write a will to name receivers (of items) to avoid in fighting. And if you have crappy members in your family, leave them $1.00.”
Here are some tips that were offered on what to do with stuff. A reader from San Bernardino wrote that since eBay and Craig’s List have too many listings, these sites are no longer the best option for selling things yourself. The reader suggested using mobile apps such as LetGo, Offer Up, Five Mile and Facebook Marketplace. Using these apps resulted in the sale of $10,000 worth of items. Another suggested using the web site estatesales.org to find companies that specialize in estate sales within a preferred geographic location.
Some shared an emotional response to saying good bye to a home and its contents. “I cried when I read (your column) because I am still raw from my mother’s death in June.” She kindly wrote, “May your sister’s memory be a blessing.” A Boston reader wrote, “Your two articles dealing with the loss of a home of a loved one was so poignant and helpful. It brought back memories of dealing with my parents’ home after they died.”
Opportunities: Some were looking for a variety of opportunities. A woman’s 94- year old mother was recovering from a broken hip and doing well physically but slowing down mentally. This reader wanted to know what her mother could do to “get her brain working again.”
Others were looking for Villages in their area. Note: a Village is a membership organization that focuses on empowering older adults to successfully age in this own homes and stay connected to their community. Readers requested Village locations in Lansing, MI and Cerritos and Long Beach, CA. The 97-year old Long Beach woman who requested information lives alone and wrote she is desperately in need of something like the Village to help her with shopping, taking out the trash and more. Another reminded us that we have a Village in our “own backyard” called REAL Connections Village serving Alta Loma, Claremont, La Verne, San Dimas and Upland. More information on Village locations is available on http://www.vtvnetwork.org/
More next week for part two.
Correction to last week’s column: Board and Care homes do not accept Medicare or Medi-Cal. Some do accept Social Security SSI (Supplemental Security Income).