Elder Scam #7 – Stranger at a Funeral

Scamming the elderly out of their money is becoming more and more prevalent in our society. In an effort to make people – parents, children, grandchildren, siblings – more aware of the devious attempts by strangers, friends and relatives to prey on the elderly, I plan to post all of the scams I become aware of.

A “Friend” of the Deceased

A stranger scours through the local obituaries for upcoming funeral services. The stranger shows up at the viewing or the funeral service telling the family that he/she was a friend of the deceased. During the conversation, the stranger tells the family that the deceased owes them money and shows them a falsified I.O.U. or Promissory Note. The grieving family, not knowing any better and not in a right frame of mind, pays the stranger.

Elders and their family members should be leery of those that try to capitalize right after a loved one dies. Politely ask them to contact you the following month to settle any debts of the deceased. Typically, if it is a legitimate debt, you will be contacted. But most often, the stranger will not try to contact you again.

 

 

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I’ll Always Be A Toys “R” Us Kid

Memories of a True Toy Store – Toys “R” Us

The sheer anticipation of walking up and down the aisles of Toys “R” Us and picking out the toy of my choice are some of my best childhood memories. Our family did not have a lot of money, so when my mom and dad told us we were going to Toys “R” Us, we knew dad got a good paycheck and they were going to share in the wealth. Oh . . . the waiting . . and the exhilaration the minute we got into the car dressed in our Sunday best to drive to the store where we each were allowed to pick out one item. My imagination went wild with the thought of traversing the aisles. Should I get a doll? A game? Or, maybe a puzzle? How about baseball bat? A paint set? Choices, choices, choices. But I could only pick one and it took time to make that kind of a decision. Up and down the aisles.  Then up and down the aisles again and again looking at every single item within my eyesight.  Fortunately, there were five of us kids, and it took a lot of time for everyone to zero in on their one item. When I finally did choose, I would act like it was something that was purchased at FAO Schwartz, delicately handling it and not letting anyone else touch it or play with it because it was, of course, from Toys “R” Us, which in my world, based on our income level, was a luxury store.

Unfortunately, on March 15, 2018, Toys “R” Us announced it was going away. The stores will liquidate and close their doors. The iconic giraffe Geoffrey (which I never really understood the connection between a toy store and a giraffe), we will see no more. The founder, Charles Lazarus, died just days after the announcement that the stores would be closing for good. A sad ending for an iconic brick and mortar specialty store.

I can’t imagine growing up without Toys “R” Us in my life and the joy I felt just walking through the front doors. I don’t know how kids these days can achieve the same level of excitement by their parents shopping on Amazon, or by walking down two or three aisles at Walmart or Target. I mean, Toys “R” Us was an entire store devoted only to kids. Kids ruled. The thought that our youth will not enjoy a similar life experience with a store of their own is heartbreaking.

Baby Boomers and the Opioid Epidemic

Addiction Perils from the 1960’s and 1970’s

For those of us growing up in the 1960’s and 1970’s, we were lucky if we made it through our teens and 20’s without experiencing any kind of addiction. Back then, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, LSD, mescaline, Quaaludes and the like were easy to obtain and gave baby boomers a sense of freedom and camaraderie when experimenting with friends. None of the drugs typically used back then were prescription, and as we ventured forward in life, marriage, children and responsibility crept up on us. For those not addicted, the drugs went by the wayside, either used infrequently or not at all.  But there is a new concern about drugs and it is Baby Boomers and the Opioid Epidemic.

World – Meet the Sackler Brothers

Meanwhile, during the 1960’s, the prescription drug world was fast taking over our parents. The New Yorker has a wonderful article about the Sackler brothers, Arthur, Mortimer and Raymond, of Purdue Pharma. The brothers were inventors and master marketers. Millions were made off of marketing to lonely housewives and anxiety-ridden fathers. Not content with their existing wealth, in 1995 the Sackler brothers were able to get OxyContin, an opioid, approved by the FDA without having submitted any studies as to the addictive aspects of the drug. Then, the hyper-marketing of OxyContin began.

Baby Boomer Opioid Addiction is Real

Fast forward to today. Opioid prescription drug addiction has become an epidemic in this country. The addiction knows no age. However, for those over 50, who already average four prescription drugs per day, getting a prescription pain killer with an opioid, and the interaction with the other prescription drugs they take, can cause serious consequences. Addiction may be easier or overdose may be easier, depending on the other prescription drugs in their system. Baby boomers have to be careful not to fall victim to this scheme. Even though some of the symptoms of prescription drug addiction is similar to the natural aging process, discerning between whether you are truly going through the aging process or becoming a slave to prescription drugs can be hard if you are trying to self-diagnose. Friends and family have to be aware of signs and symptoms of addiction when they know a loved one is taking prescription medicine that involves opioids and narcotics. Forgetfulness, isolation, off-balance, irritability, personal appearance issues, etc., are all signs of both aging and addiction. Getting to the bottom of the behavior is key.

Even though we are over 50, we have many good years ahead of us. Our evolution from experimenting with non-prescription drugs during the 1960’s and 1970’s is completely different than the dangers the prescription drug industry has gotten us into today. Let’s hope that the lessons we have learned throughout our life will serve to help us recognize when we may be going down a path of self-destruction, and the strength to stop it. And for those that have not recognized their addiction, let’s hope that friends and family will step in and help them.

Corn Oil Pie Crust Recipe

This is a simple corn oil pie crust recipe that I have been making for years. My husband grew up with this recipe and when his mother passed away, I inherited the requirement that all pies in our household have this crust. My husband still covets the original recipe that was cut off the back of either the flour package or the oil container. The crust is moist and flaky, but you need to roll it out as soon as you make it or it will dry out. Also, if you are doing a two-crust pie, then just double the recipe.

Ingredients:

1 cup plus 2 tbsp. flour
½ tsp. salt
1/3 cup corn oil
2 tbsp. cold water

Directions

Mix flour and salt. With a fork, blend in the corn oil thoroughly. Sprinkle all of the water over the mixture and mix well. With your palms, shape into a ball. Flatten the ball slightly and put it between two pieces of wax paper. Do not try to roll the crust out without wax paper. Once rolled to the size of your pie pan, peel off the top layer of wax paper and fit in pie pan, paper side up. Peel off the top paper and continue fitting in the pan. Trim about ½” beyond the edge of the pie pan. Fold the excess under or flute the edges.

If making a one-crust pie with a pre-baked crust, prick the bottom well and bake 12-15 minutes at 450 degrees. If baking a filled pie or a two-crust pie, do not prick the bottom, just fill and bake according to the filling’s baking instructions.

Know the Warning Signs of Elder Financial Abuse

Financial Abuse with the Elderly

Older Americans are less likely to report that they have been scammed out of their money because they are ashamed or don’t know that they have been scammed. Elderly victims also may not report that they have been scammed because they are worried their relatives might think they no longer have the mental capacity to take care of their own financial affairs. This is hard on everyone: from the senior that finds out they have been swindled to the relative that finds out about the swindle and wishes he/she knew about it sooner to try to stop it. For the elderly, many do not want to report the fraud because they don’t know who to report it to, are too ashamed at having been scammed, or don’t know they have been scammed. In addition, elderly victims may not report crimes because they are concerned that relatives may think the victims no longer have the mental capacity to take care of their own financial affairs.  It is so important that people understand the warning signs of elder financial abuse.

Caregivers – Pay Attention!

Those of us who are taking care of elderly parents need to pay attention to signs that may indicate some sort of elder financial abuse is happening or has happened. Here are some tips that should send up flags that your elderly relative may be the victim of financial abuse:

  • A new “friend” that is increasing gaining the trust of your loved one
  • Unexplained bank account withdrawals and increasing credit card charges
  • Withdrawal by a loved one because he/she is either being isolated by a “friend” or he/she knows that he/she has just fallen victim to a financial fraud and are embarrassed
  • Self-serving family members who get the relative to change his/her Will and other estate plan documents

The United States Special Committee on Aging Resources Page is published by the Senate and is a very informative website that provides a wealth of information on reporting financial abuse for the elderly. There are telephone numbers and website information to assist someone who believes he/she or a relative is the subject of a financial scam.

Elder Scam #6 – Health Insurance Information Theft

Scamming the elderly out of their money is becoming more and more prevalent in our society. In an effort to make people – parents, children, grandchildren, siblings – more aware of the devious attempts by strangers, friends and relatives to prey on the elderly, I plan to post all of the scams I become aware of.

An elderly widow went to the local mall for a free health screening test. At the mall, she was asked for her insurance cards and asked to sign a blank insurance claim form. Without even thinking about the fact that a free health care check would not require any type of insurance information, she gave them her insurance card and signed a blank claim form.

A couple months later, she opened a bill from her health insurance company with several charges for services she never received. The total amount she owed the insurance company was over $8,000.00. Unlike a credit card company who can reverse the charges for purchases not made, the health care company held her liable even though she never received the services. She never opened the first couple of bills and by the time she opened it, the appeals period was over to contest the charges. She spent over a third of the $8,000.00 on attorneys trying to help her reverse the charges.

Elders should be extremely careful with their health insurance information. Do not give the information to strangers and never to people working at the free health screening sites, even if it is conducted at a retirement community. Free is free. Also, seniors need to review their health insurance charges as soon as they get a bill before the appeals period end.

 

Elder Scam #5 – Grandson in Trouble

Scamming the elderly out of their money is becoming more and more prevalent in our society. In an effort to make people – parents, children, grandchildren, siblings – more aware of the devious attempts by strangers, friends and relatives to prey on the elderly, I plan to post all of the scams I become aware of.

An elderly man receives a phone call from a young person crying “Grandpa, this is Jessie. I’m in trouble.” Grandpa, thinking to himself that it sounds like his grandson, listens to what happened. Turns out that “Jessie” is on Spring Break in Florida and was arrested. He needs money right away and needs it wired down or telegrammed to Florida. Also, “Please, please don’t tell my mom” the younger child cries. Grandpa, ever the good- hearted person, goes to the bank and withdraws money, then sends a Western Union to Florida.

Later the same month, Grandpa sees he grandson Jessie and asks about the Spring Break incident. Jessie, with a bewildered look on his face, says he wasn’t in Florida during Spring Break and wasn’t arrested. By the time they figure out what happened, it was too late to even call Western Union to try to track the money.

The elderly need to be aware of scams and protect their money. Vigilant friends and relatives help, but the elderly also need to question people who are trying to get money from them.

5 Secrets to Hosting Overnight Guests

Overnight Guests are Always Welcome

Being over 50 and living in a resort town, we get a lot of requests from friends and family for weekend visits, especially during the summer. Children, grandchildren, cousins, old co-workers, high school and college friends, along with their friends and family trek to our house, usually for a nice weekend getaway. When we do have company, the number one rule is that they should make themselves at home. Here are the 5 best secrets to making overnight guests feel at home:

  1. Prior to their arrival, let them know that they are not obligated to you during the visit.
  2. Show them the kitchen cupboards, the refrigerator, the bathroom, their bedroom, get them their first beverage, then tell them they are one their own.
  3. Give them space to go out on their own and explore the towns. You don’t have to be with them every moment of their visit. You can do things together. But, you don’t have to do everything together.
  4. No question is embarrassing, such as Where is there more toilet paper? They should know where everything is and free to get it on their own (stock the bathroom with toilet paper, extra toothbrushes and other sundries before they arrive). Even the washer and dryer are not off limits if someone needs to use it.
  5. Let them do the dishes and straighten up the house if they want. Usually, guests like to do something to show appreciation, and one way is by letting them do things around the house to make them feel like they are contributing.

These simple secrets have ensured many happy first and return visits for our guests.  We enjoy it too because we don’t feel obligated or pressured to be hosts during the entire visit.  Just follow the simple rules and everyone will have an enjoyable time and a carefree visit.

Coping with the difficult emotions of caregiving — The Memories Project

Caregiving is a tough task, both physically and emotionally. There are many emotions that can arise while one is a caregiver, and many are not pleasant. However, it is important to recognize, acknowledge and process these feelings. Caring.com offers an excellent article, The 7 Deadly Emotions of Caregiving: How to Cope. The 7 emotions the article […]The Memories Project

via Coping with the difficult emotions of caregiving — The Memories Project

Flourless Walnut Torte with Coffee Whipped Cream

I found this recipe after the holidays when I was looking for something to bake with leftover bags of walnuts. This recipe is just awesome and I believe it initially came from Bon Appetit. I can’t find enough words for how good it is. Light and fluffy, easy to make and awesome compliments from everyone who tried it. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Ingredients

• 1 cup plus 6 tablespoons walnuts (about 5 ounces)
• 4 large eggs, separated
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
• 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
• 1 teaspoon instant coffee crystals dissolved in 2 teaspoons heavy whipping cream
• 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
• Walnut halves

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grate the walnuts in a food processor until they become a fine meal, but not pasty. Use on/off turns. Set aside 2 tablespoons ground walnuts for garnish.

2. Butter bottom (not sides) of 9-inch-diameter springform pan. Using electric mixer, beat egg yolks in large bowl until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar, beating until well blended. Stir remaining ground walnuts into yolk mixture. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another large bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold whites into nut mixture in 2 additions. Transfer batter to prepared pan.

3. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Run knife between cake and pan sides to loosen; remove pan sides. Cool cake completely on rack (cake will fall in center). (Cake can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and store at room temperature.)

4. Using electric mixer, beat cream, powdered sugar, coffee mixture, and vanilla in large bowl until peaks form. Spread coffee whipped cream onto top of cake. Sprinkle top with reserved ground walnuts; arrange walnut halves in center of cake. Cut cake into wedges.

Makes approximately 8 servings.

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Elder Scam #4 – The Cleaning Lady

Scamming the elderly out of their money is becoming more and more prevalent in our society. In an effort to make people – parents, children, grandchildren, siblings – more aware of the devious attempts by strangers, friends and relatives to prey on the elderly, I plan to post all of the scams I become aware of.

An elderly woman lives alone and all of her children live outside of the city. The woman needs help and hires someone to come in and clean her house. The cleaning person soon realizes that the woman’s family does not come around very much and realizes the elderly woman is lonely. The cleaning person then gains the confidence of the woman. After about six months, the cleaning woman and the elderly woman become friends. They go out to eat together, go to the casino together and have what the elderly woman believes is a true friendship. The elderly woman begins trusting the cleaning lady with her personal information such as Social Security Number, credit card numbers and bank accounts because she truly believes they are friends. All the while, the cleaning woman is using the elderly woman’s personal information to obtain new credit cards and charge the cards to the max. By the time the elderly woman finds out about it, the cleaning woman stops coming around and the elderly woman can no longer get a hold of her. Phone is disconnected. The elderly woman is left with a pile of bills from credit card companies and her savings account has been depleted to nothing.

Be careful of allowing the elderly to be the subject of undue influence by a stranger, friend or relative. Once the undue influence begins, it is hard to convince an elderly person that they are being used by someone with ulterior motives.