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. Here’s one going around about the IRS:
An elderly person receives a phone call from the “Internal Revenue Service” and identifies himself or herself and even gives a badge number. This “IRS Agent” tells the elderly person that they accidently sent out a check and that the person needs to give the money back to the “IRS” right away. Wiring instructions are provided and the person is given a certain amount of time to send the money or else face criminal penalties. The elderly person dutifully wires the “IRS” the money.
Please know that the IRS does not contact you by telephone. The IRS deals with a taxpayer by mail. You can call the IRS, but they do not call you.
Americans are ditching their landlines in favor of cable phone service (voice over internet protocol) or cell phones. But elderly people may want to consider the real benefits to having a landline in their home or apartment. Here are the two main reasons:
1. The reception sounds better on a home phone. No doubt about it – home phones are much clearer and rarely, if ever, drop calls. If you have a hearing loss condition or live in a noisy household, a landline doesn’t have the echo chamber that most cell phones have.
2. In case of an emergency, a landline is connected to your address. Even if you live in an apartment, the landline allows the 911 operator to know exactly which apartment number the emergency call is coming from. Calling 911 on a cell phone and not being able to give them your exact location is dangerous, because cell phones rely on towers and GPS for a person’s location. An emergency crew is in a hit or miss situation if you call on a cell phone and you can’t talk.
Granted, there is a cost to having a landline in addition to a cell phone. But the comforting benefit of a landline is knowing that people can actually hear you and, in case of an emergency, 911 will be much quicker to respond to your home.
Turning 50 is Depressing Enough
Nothing is as depressing as turning 50 and getting a letter from AARP in the mail wanting you to join their association. Yes, I said it, AARP. You know, the American Association of Retired People who focus on the elderly. They apparently have the list of everyone’s birthday and send out membership letters like clockwork within days of your 50th. The campaign must work because the association has about 37 million members. But when I got my letter, it depressed me like nothing else. I didn’t feel old and was kind of insulted I got the letter. A dagger to the heart. The first vestige that I will now be viewed in a different category. The stark reality that I was now at the upper end of the 25-54 advertising demographic. Soon, no one would care or think I was relevant from an advertising and marketing standpoint.
Is AARP Really Worth It?
However, after a few promotional offers came in the mail, it was time I began really looking into what the membership offered. I joined. Joining AARP does have benefits to people over 50. Discounts on hotels, insurance and restaurants. However, the discounts aren’t really any better than if you get a AAA discount or a credit card discount on hotels and restaurants. The insurance is good. My mother has it and likes it. AARP also advocates for the elderly, which can be a good thing because they can be the collective voice for the elderly.
Well, after a couple of years, I let my membership lapse because it didn’t seem like the AARP discounts were any better than other discounts I already had. AARP keeps trying to get me back, though. I get monthly letters from them wanting me to rejoin. The frequency by which the letters come are really bothersome. If AARP would spend its money offering deeper discounts and better membership benefits rather spending it on postage for monthly mailers, I may be enticed to re-join. Until then, the offers just go into the shredder.
I Don’t Have the Creativity Gene and Pinterest Helps
Pinterest is information overload and it intimidated me at first. But it is the greatest thing in the world if you can’t visualize, like me. If you know what you want, but can’t describe it or can’t draw it, Pinterest is wonderful. The best of the best ideas are on this website and it helps me find exactly what I am looking for. For instance, I had yellow in one of the bathrooms that couldn’t be changed. I didn’t know what colors worked with yellow, so I got onto Pinterest and searched yellow bathrooms. Low and behold, there were a ton of other colors that went well with the yellow, but when I saw the pictures of yellow and gray bathrooms, that was it! I was consumed by all the pictures and ideas by putting yellow and gray together. Those were the bathroom colors I wanted. Yes, I could have gone through 10 or 12 magazines to find the right colors and ideas for the bathroom. But Pinterest made it so easy and there was so many more choices. Now, I’m not getting paid for saying this, and no one asked me to give a good rating to the website. I honestly wanted to let people know that this is a great website for ideas, especially if you don’t quite know what you want, or can’t see what you want in your own mind.
Moving to a Smaller Home
Downsizing is not the easiest decision to make. Many people consider the financial aspects of a smaller home. Not me. My motivation was that I just got tired of cleaning a big house where only two people lived.
Sorting Through Years of Storage
When we reached semi-retirement, we found a house about five hours away. The house was about half the size of our then-current house. I was responsible for packing everything up and sending it off to our new two bedroom house. What I realized when I was packing was that our house had turned into one giant storage facility. Every room was filled with furniture, clothes, paperwork, toys and dishes that we had not used in several years. Every closet was filled. Every cupboard was loaded to the max (I mean, why did I need 10 plastic beverage containers?) Everything was in “storage.” There was no need to hang onto those items, except for the sentimental value some of the items brought me when I looked at them and thought about the memories. But I had no choice. I was moving to a much smaller house which required less cleaning. (My biggest pet peeve is spending one day every weekend dusting and vacuuming and washing floors. When I was younger, this only took a couple of hours each week, but as I have gotten older, over time the couple of hours lengthened to a full day.
Half of Half is All You Need
In cleaning out the old house, I figured I could only take half my stuff to the new house. So, I muddled through and began pitching things, giving stuff to the neighbors and holding a couple of garage sales. I unloaded about half our old house and packed up the rest for the big move. Little did I know that I packed too much. The moving boxes filled our new basement from floor to ceiling. We didn’t have enough room to even begin unpacking. So, again, I had to throw things away, give stuff to the neighbors and hold garage sales. The expense of moving boxes only to have to give away the contents drove me crazy. But we did it and finally found the balance between our household items and our “storage.”
In the end, my recommendation when moving to a home half the size of your old home, you can only take about 1/4 of your stuff. So, downsize in the old home while you can. I will admit that we had about a dozen boxes that we put in the basement at the new house. Eight years later – we still haven’t looked in those boxes. That tells me that we really didn’t need all that stuff from our old house. We are just fine with what we have.