Guest Author - Cathy Brownfield
You and I know that 1.) Everyone will become elderly some day; 2.) Everyone needs help sometime; 3.) Just as we gained our independence gradually, we will likely lose it gradually. And these facts aren’t even the tip of the iceberg. But they are a starting point.
“There’s nothing golden about the golden years,” Myrna, age 75, muttered. It’s a common complaint among the elderly. They are faced with health and fitness issues including arthritis, memory impairment, chronic ailments like COPD, macular degeneration and more. There are the issues of loneliness, depression, substance abuse, gambling addiction, loss of a spouse, assisted living, and home care when assisted care isn’t an option.
“I don’t know why I’m still here,” Myrna confided to her daughter, 50-something Rachel.
“Because we still need you,” the daughter answered. “And God hasn’t finished with you here yet.”
For Myrna and other elderly people, a major issue in their lives is safety: safety in the home, safety on the highway, safety from anyone who might target them for theft, scams or physical harm.
“My mother insists she didn’t give anyone the information for her checking account, but when I called and talked to a company representative, they let me listen to their ‘quality control’ recording. It was my mother’s voice confirming her sensitive financial information, address and telephone number.” Rachel is struggling with the shift or responsibility for her mother. It almost feels like a violation of her mother’s human rights.
Myrna’s checking account appeared to come under attack. Because Myrna had never done an e-transaction before, the bank saw a red flag and called Myrna who called Rachel in a panic. “Someone’s trying to steal my money from my bank account!”
Payment on the check was stopped, but several more attempts were made from various geographical locations around the United States.
“We closed all of Mom’s accounts and opened new ones. I had to change her phone number. My parents had that same number for nearly 50 years. Now there is a new phone number, private, unpublished, restricted, that Mom can’t even remember. But it had to be done to stop the calls and attempts to access Mom’s bank accounts.
“It’s not like Mom has a lot of money. If she ever has to go into a nursing home what she has will be depleted rapidly. Still, some lowlife who doesn’t want to work an honest job is out to take advantage of people like my mother.” With a disgusted sigh Rachel adds, “The police department tried to track it down, but the officer I spoke with said that by the time law enforcement gets to the geographical location, the people have folded up their tents and moved to another location.”
In Ohio, the Attorney General’s office has a number of programs designed to protect elderly citizens against predators: “Child and Elder Protection Section assists law enforcement agencies in their efforts to prevent and prosecute crimes against the elderly. The Pro Bono program provides volunteer attorneys to assist with preparing documents to facilitate end-of-life decisions and estate distribution. The Health Care Fraud section has jurisdiction to investigate allegations of patient abuse and neglect in Ohio long-term care facilities,” advises Marc Dann, Ohio Attorney General.
Additionally, there is Triad, a national initiative, a partnership of community groups, senior citizens and law enforcement. They work together to meet the crime safety needs of seniors. “The Ohio Triad program represents a partnership among the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association and Ohio Crime Prevention Association to coordinate the development of successful Triad programs statewide.
Check at the Attorney General web site in your state to find out about Triad in your area. Protecting our elderly loved ones and now ourselves, as seniors, we need to be aware of available resources that we can use and be safe.