Sunday, March 1, 2020

Social Isolation and Loneliness in Older Adults Opportunities for the Health Care System

The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine has issued a new report,  Social Isolation and Loneliness in Older Adults Opportunities for the Health Care System.

Here's the description

Social isolation and loneliness are serious yet underappreciated public health risks that affect a significant portion of the older adult population. Approximately one-quarter of community-dwelling Americans aged 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated, and a significant proportion of adults in the United States report feeling lonely. People who are 50 years of age or older are more likely to experience many of the risk factors that can cause or exacerbate social isolation or loneliness, such as living alone, the loss of family or friends, chronic illness, and sensory impairments. Over a life course, social isolation and loneliness may be episodic or chronic, depending upon an individual’s circumstances and perceptions.

A substantial body of evidence demonstrates that social isolation presents a major risk for premature mortality, comparable to other risk factors such as high blood pressure, smoking, or obesity. As older adults are particularly high-volume and high-frequency users of the health care system, there is an opportunity for health care professionals to identify, prevent, and mitigate the adverse health impacts of social isolation and loneliness in older adults.

Social Isolation and Loneliness in Older Adults summarizes the evidence base and explores how social isolation and loneliness affect health and quality of life in adults aged 50 and older, particularly among low income, underserved, and vulnerable populations. This report makes recommendations specifically for clinical settings of health care to identify those who suffer the resultant negative health impacts of social isolation and loneliness and target interventions to improve their social conditions. Social Isolation and Loneliness in Older Adults considers clinical tools and methodologies, better education and training for the health care workforce, and dissemination and implementation that will be important for translating research into practice, especially as the evidence base for effective interventions continues to flourish.

You can download a pdf of the book for free, or order a hard cc here.

March 1, 2020 in Books, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Ann F. Baum Memorial Elder Law Lecture

Happen to be in the vicinity of the U. of Ill. School of Law on Monday? If so, be sure to stop by to listen to the Ann F. Baum Memorial Elder Law Lecture at noon est.  The speaker is  Omri Ben-Shahar - University of Chicago Law School who will speak on Personalized Elder Law.

 

February 29, 2020 in Books, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Other, Programs/CLEs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 23, 2019

New Book on Estate Planning

Looking for that perfect gift for the Boomer in your life?  Check out this new book, just for Boomers.  Harry Margolis has published Get your Ducks in a Row: The Baby Boomers Guide to Estate Planning. The book is available for purchase on Amazon.

The website provides this summary

If  you’re over 55, you probably know you need an estate plan. What you might not know is how to create one. Questions about cost, confusion about options, and difficulty talking about subjects like disability and death can make the process of preparing for the future seem overwhelming. That’s probably why most people put it off—even though the results of doing nothing can sometimes be devastating.

What you need is a guide that explains the process clearly and comprehensively, in terms you can understand and actually use. Get Your Ducks in a Row: The Baby Boomers Guide to Estate Planning tells you everything you ever wanted (or perhaps never wanted) about estate planning.

Written by elder law and estate planning expert Attorney Harry S. Margolis, Get Your Ducks in a Row: The Baby Boomers Guide to Estate Planning takes you through the estate planning process step by step. Whether you’re currently creating a plan, getting ready to start, or looking for an explanation of documents you’ve already signed, this book will provide the information you need, including:

  • Answers to the most common estate planning questions
  • Common estate planning terms, demystified
  • The Five (or Six or Seven) Essential Documents everyone over 55 needs (and how to fill them out)
  • An overview of more complex estate planning scenarios
  • Help deciding when it’s time to consult an attorney
  • And more...

Featuring practical advice and easy-to-follow examples gleaned from the author’s 30-plus years of experience in elder law and estate planning, Get Your Ducks in a Row: The Baby Boomers Guide to Estate Planning will help you take control, make a plan, and ensure your family—and yourself—a secure and comfortable future.

The book is divided into 3 sections:  (1) "The Five or Six or Seven Essential Documents, (2) Special Situations in Estate Planning and (3) Creating a Plan.  Each section has a number of chapters addressing relevant topics. I particularly liked chapter 6, "'Bonus' essentials," which covers beneficiary designations, digital assets, bank and investment accounts, life insurance and more.  The conclusion notes that all of us need to have an estate plan, but many folks don't--for various reasons---, and there are limits, and risks, to folks doing their planning without an attorney's guidance. Harry closes the book with this: "[f]inally, it's time for baby boomers to plan. It can make all the differ3ence for your family. don't wait. Enjoy the process."

PS, In the interest of full disclosure, I've known Harry for a long time. He's a prolific writer in the field of elder law.

December 23, 2019 in Books, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Estates and Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Do You Have A When I Die File?

Do you have your estate planning documents done? Made funeral arrangements? Think you have everything covered? Well, did you make a "when I die file?"  According to an article in Time magazine, Why You Need to Make a 'When I Die' File—Before It's Too Late this file is likely

the single most important thing you do before you depart. It may sound morbid, but creating a findable file, binder, cloud-based drive, or even shoebox where you store estate documents and meaningful personal effects will save your loved ones incalculable time, money, and suffering. Plus, there’s a lot of imagination you can bring to bear that will give your When I Die file a deeper purpose than a list of account numbers. One woman told us she wants to leave her eulogy for husband in the file, so she can pay homage to him even if she goes first.

Without such a file, the process of compiling the information can be time-consuming and emotionally draining for the family. Here are some of the tips from the article

First, call the companies behind your cable, internet, cell phone, club memberships, and anything else that bills for services on an ongoing basis and add your partner or kids to the account as a joint owner. If billing accounts are not in both your and a loved one’s name, your survivors will end up spending hours on the phone and in offices begging bureaucrats to shut them down or convert the accounts to their name so they can manage them. Think of every frustrating call you’ve had with your cell provider, and then multiply it by 10.

***

Here are a few of the things you’ll put into your “When I Die” file:

□ An advance directive that’s signed (and notarized if necessary)

□ A will and living trust (with certificate of trust)

□ Marriage or divorce certificate(s)

□ Passwords for phone, computer, email, and social media accounts

(We recommend using an online password manager to collect them all, sharing the master password with someone you trust, and then designating emergency contacts within the program who are allowed to gain access.)

□ Instructions for your funeral and final disposition

□ An ethical will

□ Letters to loved ones

There is more information about the file in the book on which this article is based, Beginner’s Guide to the End

September 18, 2019 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Books, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

French Right to Die Case Comes to an End

Previously I had blogged about the legal battle over removing life support from Frenchman, Vincent Lambert. The New York Times reported recently on his death, Vincent Lambert, Frenchman at Center of Right-to-Die Case, Dies at 42.

His family and his spouse disagreed on his wishes. "His wife, Rachel Lambert, said that he had clearly stated that he would not wish to live in a vegetative state. His parents argued that ending his life support amounted to the murder of a disabled person. Siblings and other family members took different sides in the dispute."  As the article notes, "[e]uthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal in France. But the law allows patients who are terminally ill or injured with no chances of recovery to decide to stop treatments if the measures “appear useless, disproportionate” or if they seem to have no other effect than 'artificially maintaining life.'"  An article about the final court decision is available here.

In a related matter, the Judge for the Florida Schiavo case has written a chapter for a book, as explained in this article:

Inside the Terri Schiavo case: Pinellas judge who decided her fate opens up.  You should read it.

July 17, 2019 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Books, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 14, 2019

Ageism in Medicine? One Doctor's Thoughts

Kaiser Health News (KHN) ran a story last month, A Doctor Speaks Out About Ageism In Medicine.

Society gives short shrift to older age. This distinct phase of life doesn’t get the same attention that’s devoted to childhood. And the special characteristics of people in their 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond are poorly understood.

Medicine reflects this narrow-mindedness. In medical school, physicians learn that people in the prime of life are “normal” and scant time is spent studying aging. In practice, doctors too often fail to appreciate older adults’ unique needs or to tailor treatments appropriately.

The story focuses on a new book by a doctor, Elderhood"  which is "an in-depth, unusually frank exploration of biases that distort society’s view of old age and that shape dysfunctional health policies and medical practices." The rest of the article is a Q&A interview with the author focusing on her idea of "elderhood", how she sees her concepts working, and ageism.  Using an anecdote, the author offers it as an example of "ageism: dismissing an older person’s concerns simply because the person is old. It happens all the time."  Here is another example the author offers

Recently, a distressed geriatrician colleague told me a story about grand rounds at a major medical center where the case of a very complex older patient brought in from a nursing home was presented. [Grand rounds are meetings where doctors discuss interesting or difficult cases.]

When it was time for comments, one of the leaders of the medical service stood up and said, “I have a solution to this case. We just need to have nursing homes be 100 miles away from our hospitals.” And the crowd laughed.

The interview does have some optimistic insights, including "the age-friendly health system movement, which is unquestionably a step in the right direction. And a whole host of startups that could make various types of care more convenient and that could, if they succeed, end up benefiting older people."

June 14, 2019 in Books, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Advance Directives: Counseling Guide for Lawyers

The American Bar Association Commission on Law & Aging has published the   Advance Directives: Counseling Guide for Lawyers. The website explains the usefulness of the guide: "designed to assist lawyers and health care professionals in formulating end-of-life health decision plans that are clearly written and effective... The guide provides detailed information on how to bridge the chasm between lawyers and health care providers. It helps lawyers to provide guidance that is more in harmony with the clinical and family realities that clients face. The foundation for it is a set of eight principles to guide patients and clients through the advance care planning process." The three sections include the planning principles, a checklist for attorneys, and resources.  All are available for download individually, or the entire guide may be downloaded for free or purchased from the ABA.  The guide contains a lot of helpful info for attorneys, including checklists for a first and second interview, a sample letter to the client's doctor and a HIPAA access form. Check it out! 

 

December 5, 2018 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Books, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink

Friday, August 3, 2018

It's Friday: Words About a Poet in His 9th Decade

Donald Hall, poet, essayist, husband of poet Jane Kenyon, and more, died this year at the age of 89.  As someone who appreciates both poems and horses, I found one of Hall's middler-year poems, Names of Horses, an early touchstone. It reads just as well as a tribute to old age as it once did for me as a bittersweet ode to a form of civilization passed by.

The New York Times critic Dwight Garner writes a cranky review of  Hall's last book, published posthumously, making sure we remember that Hall was both prolific and, well, cranky: 

Hall lived long enough to leave behind two final books, memento mori titled “Essays After Eighty” (2014) and now “A Carnival of Losses: Notes Nearing Ninety.” They’re up there with the best things he did. He apparently managed to sidestep a rendezvous with dementia, and seemed to suffer only mildly at the end from what Christopher Hitchens, quoting a friend, termed CRAFT syndrome, printable here as Can’t Remember a Fizzling Thing. These books have flat-footed gravitas, a vestigial sort of swat that calls to mind Johnny Cash’s stark final records with the producer Rick Rubin.

 

Which isn’t to say they are not also full of guff. About a third of “A Carnival of Losses” is threadbare and meandering, memories of dead relatives and journeys abroad and anthologies past. But the other two-thirds are good enough to make clear that Hall did not live past his sell-by date as a writer. He brings news from that moment in life when the canoe is already halfway over the waterfall.

For more, read A Poet Laureate Sends News From the End of Life.    

 

August 3, 2018 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Future For The Aging Demographic?

The National Academies Press has released Future Directions for the Demography of Aging.This volume contains the proceedings of a workshop and the overview explains

Almost 25 years have passed since the Demography of Aging (1994) was published by the National Research Council. Future Directions for the Demography of Aging is, in many ways, the successor to that original volume. The Division of Behavioral and Social Research at the National Institute on Aging (NIA) asked the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to produce an authoritative guide to new directions in demography of aging. The papers published in this report were originally presented and discussed at a public workshop held in Washington, D.C., August 17-18, 2017.

The workshop discussion made evident that major new advances had been made in the last two decades, but also that new trends and research directions have emerged that call for innovative conceptual, design, and measurement approaches. The report reviews these recent trends and also discusses future directions for research on a range of topics that are central to current research in the demography of aging. Looking back over the past two decades of demography of aging research shows remarkable advances in our understanding of the health and well-being of the older population. Equally exciting is that this report sets the stage for the next two decades of innovative research–a period of rapid growth in the older American population.

Part 1 looks at trends in health and health disparities, Part 2 examines the implications of social and environmental factors, Part 3 covers families and intergenerational issues, Part 4 covers employment and retirement, Part 5 discusses cognitive issues and disability, Part 6 reviews global aging and Part 7 offers new approaches. You can purchase the softcover book here, download a free pdf of the book by clicking here or read the book online.

 

July 16, 2018 in Books, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Health Care/Long Term Care, International, Retirement, Science, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 11, 2018

AARP's 2018 Where We Live: Order Now!

AARP's 3rd edition (2018) of Where We Live: Communities for All Ages is available for pre-order now.  You can request one hard copy free, following these instructions

1. Email Fulfillment@AARP.org with the subject line: Where We Live 2018

2. In the email body, include:

  • your name
  • street address 
  • town/city, state, zip code
  • publication number D20439

Bulk orders may also be possible. If you prefer to read the report online, a link to the pdf of the report will be available on June 13, 2018, here.

June 11, 2018 in Books, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Housing, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 25, 2018

Sci Fi Friday: Recommending Short Story "Today I Am Paul"

Of course, I'm supposed to be finishing my exam grading.  Instead, while stopping by my office, I find a copy of a short story from one of my colleagues.  The accompanying note says,"Not even my sci-fi 'escape' is untouched by elder care issues.  Thought you'd get a kick out of this."

And indeed, I do.  I definitely recommend "Today I Am Paul," by Martin L. Shoemaker.  The author draws upon his personal experiences in visiting his mother-in-law in a nursing home to craft a true tale ... with a difference ... as the narrating caregiver is an android.  

While my printed-page-loving self recommends reading the short story, I also found a great podcast of the story being read aloud by Kate Baker and I'm linking it here, from Clarkesworld Magazine.  

I now plan to use this story to introduce my Elder Law course in the autumn.  So much to talk about, including the roles of family, caregivers, technology, fear.....   I suspect my co-blogger Becky Morgan, with her often expressed enthusiasm for tech including driverless cars, will appreciate this story too.  Happy reading or listening for Memorial Day weekend!

Many thanks to Dickinson Law Professor Matthew Lawrence for this unique, caring experience.  

May 25, 2018 in Books, Cognitive Impairment, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, Science, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, May 13, 2018

"Bullying in the Nursing Home" -- Getting Beyond the Headlines

News publication sites affiliated with USA Today and the Associated Press have been running a recent piece on "bullying" among older persons, often with a provocative headline such as "It's like 'Mean Girls,' but everyone is 80": How nursing homes deal with bullies.   The title undoubtedly catches many a reader's eye, simply because of the heightened discussions of bullying at a national level, including Melania Trump's recent announcement of her Be Best platform for younger persons.  The topic isn't actually all that new from a journalism perspective.  Paula Span wrote on "Mean Girls in Assisted Living" for the New York Times in 2011, and the same publication carried a granddaughter's Op Ed on "Mean Girls in the Retirement Home" in 2015.   

On a parallel track, and perhaps more disturbing, are reports of bullying among nurses, a profession normally associated with empathy and caring.  See e.g., "When 'Mean Girls' Wear Scrubs," a 2013 post on DiversityNursing Blog, tracking a several studies and a book.  

More important than the clever headlines, however, are the reports of affirmative efforts to counter the bullying, which at the older end of the spectrum of life, seems to focus on name-calling, gossip, and ostracising behavior, rather than physical intimidation.  From the most recent USA Today writer's article:  

After the cafeteria exiles and karaoke brouhahas, the 30th Street [Senior] Center [in San Francisco]  teamed up with a local nonprofit, the Institute on Aging, to develop an anti-bullying program. All staff members received 18 hours of training that included lessons on what constitutes bullying, causes of the problem and how to manage such conflicts. Seniors were then invited to similar classes, held in English and Spanish, teaching them to alert staff or intervene themselves if they witness bullying. Signs and even place mats around the center now declare it a “Bully Free Zone.”. . . 

 

Robin Bonifas, a social work professor at Arizona State University and author of the book “Bullying Among Older Adults: How to Recognize and Address an Unseen Epidemic,” said existing studies suggest about 1 in 5 seniors encounters bullying. She sees it as an outgrowth of frustrations characteristic in communal settings, as well a reflection of issues unique to getting older. Many elderly see their independence and sense of control disappear and, for some, becoming a bully can feel like regaining some of that lost power.

I think that last line rings true.  I've certainly seen older adults sudden strike a "meaner" demeanor as their freedom is limited by physical  health issues and as their frustrations increase.  But I also think it can be important to assess whether a "mean" trait -- or at least a "meaner" dynamic -- is a reflection of cognitive impairment, such as disinhibition associated with certain types of neurocognitive impairments.   

On an even more worrisome level, is there a danger of misinterpreting fear or irritation as "meanness," perhaps arising from compelled interactions in a congregated living situation?   In one instance, I've seen an older woman who had regularly chose to sit with the same group of 3 other individuals at meals for several weeks, suddenly reject one member of their informal club.  It took careful listening to realize the rejection was actually uneasiness bordering on fear -- on some level not completely rational -- but associated with that targeted individual's tendency to wander at night into others' rooms and thus to lead the "mean girl" to try to keep the other away from her around the clock.  Targeting the "bullying" behavior could be addressing the wrong problem in the latter case.  

Finally, I think there is a danger associated with the admittedly clever tendency to use the "Mean Girls" movie as the analogy for older bullying, thus implying this is only an issue (and problem) associated with women, not men.  As a later paragraph in the most recent article makes clear, bullying behavior among older adults is not "just" about women. But perhaps that is obvious from the larger national news?  

May 13, 2018 in Books, Cognitive Impairment, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, Retirement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 3, 2018

21st Annual Elder Law Institute in Pennsylvania, July 19-20, 2018, Open for Registration

Hard to believe, but this summer will mark the 21st annual Elder Law Institute in Pennsylvania  It functions as both a gathering of the clan and an educational update, and I always walk away with new ideas for my own research and writing.  On the second day of the event (which runs July 19 and 20), Howard Gleckman will give the keynote address on "Long Term Care in an Age of Disruption."  Doesn't that title capture the mood of the country?!  

Practical workshops include:

  • Using Irrevocable Trusts in Pre-Crisis and Crisis Planning - Ms. Alvear & Ms. Sikov Gross
  • Guardianship for Someone Who Is 30/30 on the MMSE (Advanced Mental Health Capacity Issues) - Ms. Hee & Mr. Pfeffer
  • Medicaid across State Lines: Pennsylvania vs. New Jersey - Mr. Adler
  • Medicaid Annuities in Practice - Mr. Morgan & Mr. Parker
  • Business Succession Planning for Elder Law Practices - Ms. Ellis, Mr. Marshall, Mr. Pappas & Ms. Wolfe
  • Social Security Disability: What Elder Law Practitioners Need to Know - Mr. Whitelaw
  • Drafting Trusts for Beneficiaries with Behavioral Impairments and Mental Health Problems - Mr. Hagan & Dr. Panzer
  • Being a Road Warrior Attorney: Staying Organized and in Touch While Out of the Office (ETHICS) - Ms. Ellis

Mark your calendars and join us (Linda Anderson, Kimber Latsha and I are hosting a session on Day 1 about "new" CCRC issues).  Registration is here.  

May 3, 2018 in Books, Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Estates and Trusts, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Legal Practice/Practice Management, Medicaid, Medicare, Programs/CLEs, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Commission on Law & Aging-Latest Issue of BIFOCAL

Happy Friday! If you haven't read the latest issue of BIFOCAL, the publication of the American Bar Association Commission on Law & Aging, check it out here. This issue contains 6 articles, including the implications of the tax bill on older Americans, POLST issues to avoid, the new Medicare cards, a book review, and a preview of the 2018 NALC conference.  Access the latest issue here.

April 26, 2018 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Books, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicare, Programs/CLEs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Senate Committee on Aging: Top 10 Elder Scams

A little mid-week reading for you. The Senate Committee on Aging has released their 2018 Fraud Book, listing the top 10 elder scams of 2018.  Fighting Fraud: Senate Aging Committee Identifies Top 10 Scams Targeting Our Nation’s Seniors  lists the top 10 scams of the year, based on reports to the hotline, which are (drum roll please) 

IRS Impersonation Scams

Robocalls and Unsolicited Phone Calls

Sweepstakes Scams / Jamaican Lottery Scams

"Can You Hear Me?” Scams

Grandparent Scams

Computer Tech Support Scam

Romance Scams

Elder Financial Abuse

Identity Theft

Government Grant Scams

Here is the executive summary for the report:

From January 1, 2017, through December 31, 2017, the Senate Aging Committee’s Fraud Hotline received a total of 1,463 complaints from residents all across the country. Calls pertaining to the top 10 scams featured in this report accounted for more than 75 percent of the complaints.

                The top complaint, the focus of more than twice as many calls as any other scam, involves seniors who receive calls from fraudsters posing as agents of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). These criminals falsely accuse seniors of owing back taxes and penalties in order to scam them. Due to the extremely high call volume and continued reports from constituents from across the country, the Aging Committee held a hearing on April 15, 2015, to investigate and raise awareness about the IRS imposter scam. Prior to a large law enforcement crackdown in October 2016, nearly three out of four calls to our Hotline involved the IRS impersonation scam. In the three months after the arrests, reports of the scam into the Committee’s hotline dropped by an incredible 94 percent. Though the numbers have since rebounded somewhat, they are still far below the levels we have seen in the past.

                The second most common scam reported to the Hotline involved robocalls or unwanted telephone calls. On June 10, 2015, the Aging Committee held a hearing on the increase in these calls that are made despite the national Do-Not-Call Registry. The Committee examined how the rise of new technology has made it easier for scammers to contact and deceive consumers and has rendered the Do-Not-Call registry ineffective in many ways. On October 4, 2017, the Aging Committee held an additional hearing on robocalls, this time examining recent developments by both the private and public sectors to combat robocalls and protect seniors from fraud.

Sweepstakes scams, such as the Jamaican lottery scam, continue to be a problem for seniors, placing third on the list. A March 13, 2013, Aging Committee hearing and investigation helped bring attention to these scams and put pressure on the Jamaican government to pass laws cracking down on criminals who convinced unwitting American victims that they had been winners of the Jamaican lottery. The United States government has had some recent success in bringing individuals connected to the Jamaican lottery scam to trial, but these types of scams continue to plague seniors.

A new scam to make the top 10 list for 2017 involves consumers receiving calls in which the caller would simply ask “Are you there?” or “Can you hear me?” in order to prompt the recipient to say “yes.” According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), these illegal robocalls are pre-recorded, and are

designed to identify numbers that consumers are likely to answer, allowing scammers to better identify and connect with potential victims. The increased use of this tactic by scammers in robocalls last year demonstrates how sophisticated scammers are.

Grandparent scams, the focus of a July 16, 2014, Aging Committee hearing, were next on the list. In these scams, fraudsters call a senior pretending to be a family member, often a grandchild, and claim to be in urgent need or money to cover an emergency, medical care, or a legal problem.

Computer scams were sixth on the list and the subject of an October 21, 2015, Committee hearing. Although there are many variations of computer scams, fraudsters typically claim to represent a well-known technology company and attempt to convince victims to provide them with access to their computers. Scammers often demand that victims pay for bogus tech support services through a wire transfer, or, worse yet, obtain victims’ passwords and gain access to financial accounts.

Romance scams were seventh on the list. These calls are from scammers who typically create a fake online dating profile to attract victims. Once a scammer has gained a victim’s trust over weeks, months, or even years – the scammer requests money to pay for an unexpected bill, an emergency, or another alleged expense or to come visit the victim – a trip that will never occur.

Elder financial abuse was eighth on the list and the topic of a February 4, 2015, Committee hearing. The calls focused on the illegal or improper use of an older adult’s funds, property, or assets. Chairman Susan M. Collins, former Ranking Member Claire McCaskill, and current Ranking Member Robert P. Casey Jr. have introduced the Senior $afe Act, which would allow trained financial services employees to report suspected cases of financial exploitation to the proper authorities without concern that they would be sued for doing so. The Committee also examined the financial abuse of guardians and other court appointed fiduciaries at a hearing in November 2016.

Identify theft was the ninth most reported consumer complaint to the Fraud Hotline in 2017. This wide-ranging category includes calls about actual theft of a wallet or mail, online impersonation, or other illegal efforts to obtain a person’s identifiable information. On October 7, 2015, the Aging Committee held a hearing titled “Ringing Off the Hook: Examining the Proliferation of Unwanted Calls”, to assess the federal government’s progress in complying with a new law requiring the removal of seniors’ Social Security numbers from their Medicare cards, which will help prevent identity theft. Medicare will start mailing the new cards in April 2018.

            Government grant scams rounded out the top 10 scams to the Fraud Hotline last year. In these scams, thieves call victims and pretend to be from a fictitious “Government Grants Department.” The con artists then tell the victims that they must pay a fee before receiving the grant.

The report is available here.

From January 1, 2017, through December 31, 2017, the Senate Aging Committee’s Fraud Hotline received a total of 1,463 complaints from residents all across the country. Calls pertaining to the top 10 scams featured in this report accounted for more than 75 percent of the complaints.

                The top complaint, the focus of more than twice as many calls as any other scam, involves seniors who receive calls from fraudsters posing as agents of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). These criminals falsely accuse seniors of owing back taxes and penalties in order to scam them. Due to the extremely high call volume and continued reports from constituents from across the country, the Aging Committee held a hearing on April 15, 2015, to investigate and raise awareness about the IRS imposter scam. Prior to a large law enforcement crackdown in October 2016, nearly three out of four calls to our Hotline involved the IRS impersonation scam. In the three months after the arrests, reports of the scam into the Committee’s hotline dropped by an incredible 94 percent. Though the numbers have since rebounded somewhat, they are still far below the levels we have seen in the past.

                The second most common scam reported to the Hotline involved robocalls or unwanted telephone calls. On June 10, 2015, the Aging Committee held a hearing on the increase in these calls that are made despite the national Do-Not-Call Registry. The Committee examined how the rise of new technology has made it easier for scammers to contact and deceive consumers and has rendered the Do-Not-Call registry ineffective in many ways. On October 4, 2017, the Aging Committee held an additional hearing on robocalls, this time examining recent developments by both the private and public sectors to combat robocalls and protect seniors from fraud.

Sweepstakes scams, such as the Jamaican lottery scam, continue to be a problem for seniors, placing third on the list. A March 13, 2013, Aging Committee hearing and investigation helped bring attention to these scams and put pressure on the Jamaican government to pass laws cracking down on criminals who convinced unwitting American victims that they had been winners of the Jamaican lottery. The United States government has had some recent success in bringing individuals connected to the Jamaican lottery scam to trial, but these types of scams continue to plague seniors.

A new scam to make the top 10 list for 2017 involves consumers receiving calls in which the caller would simply ask “Are you there?” or “Can you hear me?” in order to prompt the recipient to say “yes.” According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), these illegal robocalls are pre-recorded, and are

designed to identify numbers that consumers are likely to answer, allowing scammers to better identify and connect with potential victims. The increased use of this tactic by scammers in robocalls last year demonstrates how sophisticated scammers are.

Grandparent scams, the focus of a July 16, 2014, Aging Committee hearing, were next on the list. In these scams, fraudsters call a senior pretending to be a family member, often a grandchild, and claim to be in urgent need or money to cover an emergency, medical care, or a legal problem.

Computer scams were sixth on the list and the subject of an October 21, 2015, Committee hearing. Although there are many variations of computer scams, fraudsters typically claim to represent a well-known technology company and attempt to convince victims to provide them with access to their computers. Scammers often demand that victims pay for bogus tech support services through a wire transfer, or, worse yet, obtain victims’ passwords and gain access to financial accounts.

Romance scams were seventh on the list. These calls are from scammers who typically create a fake online dating profile to attract victims. Once a scammer has gained a victim’s trust over weeks, months, or even years – the scammer requests money to pay for an unexpected bill, an emergency, or another alleged expense or to come visit the victim – a trip that will never occur.

Elder financial abuse was eighth on the list and the topic of a February 4, 2015, Committee hearing. The calls focused on the illegal or improper use of an older adult’s funds, property, or assets. Chairman Susan M. Collins, former Ranking Member Claire McCaskill, and current Ranking Member Robert P. Casey Jr. have introduced the Senior $afe Act, which would allow trained financial services employees to report suspected cases of financial exploitation to the proper authorities without concern that they would be sued for doing so. The Committee also examined the financial abuse of guardians and other court appointed fiduciaries at a hearing in November 2016.

Identify theft was the ninth most reported consumer complaint to the Fraud Hotline in 2017. This wide-ranging category includes calls about actual theft of a wallet or mail, online impersonation, or other illegal efforts to obtain a person’s identifiable information. On October 7, 2015, the Aging Committee held a hearing titled “Ringing Off the Hook: Examining the Proliferation of Unwanted Calls”, to assess the federal government’s progress in complying with a new law requiring the removal of seniors’ Social Security numbers from their Medicare cards, which will help prevent identity theft. Medicare will start mailing the new cards in April 2018.

            Government grant scams rounded out the top 10 scams to the Fraud Hotline last year. In these scams, thieves call victims and pretend to be from a fictitious “Government Grants Department.” The con artists then tell the victims that they must pay a fee before receiving the grant.

rant.

TThe 60 page report is available here.

March 20, 2018 in Books, Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Federal Cases, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink

Monday, December 4, 2017

Professor Tamar Frankel and The Fiduciary Rule -- Still Shaking Up Wall Street

In the Wall Street Journal, there is a recent, wonderful profile of Boston University Law Professor Tamar Frankel, who has been fighting the good fight to gain adoption of "The Fiduciary Rule" for financial advisors, investment brokers and others in positions of trust for her entire academic career.  

And, at age 92, she's still fighting the good fight, as the Trump administration recently delayed full implementation.   

When Ms. Frankel began researching fiduciary law in earnest in the 1970s, she dwelled on that idea: A fiduciary is someone trusted by others because he or she has superior knowledge and expertise. People hire brokers because the brokers know what they’re doing and the clients don’t. That gives fiduciaries power and responsibility over those who trust them.

 

The unconditional trust that clients place in a fiduciary creates a paradox, argues Ms. Frankel. “When you get power, you lose the power you might otherwise have,” she says.

 

A fiduciary adviser can’t abuse the relationship of trust by collecting unreasonable compensation or harboring avoidable conflicts of interest. The relationship is meant to satisfy only the needs of the client.

Professor Frankel appears to be remarkably sanguine about the latest delays:

With the Trump administration putting parts of the fiduciary rule on hold, Ms. Frankel counsels patience.

 

“What the rule has done is sown the seed, and the longer it takes the better off we are, because what we must change is the culture and the habits in the financial industry,” she says. “Habits don’t change in one day. It takes time.”

 

After she turns 93 next July 4, Ms. Frankel says, she will stop teaching—although she will continue to research and write. What accounts for her longevity? “Caring less and less about what other people think,” she says, “and more and more about questions you don’t have answers to.”

I have a copy of Professor Frankel's thoughtful treatise on Fiduciary Law (Oxford Univ. Press, 2011) on the shelf behind my desk, complete with sticky notes and much yellow and red highlighting.  I've been meaning to write Professor Frankel to thank her for her work over the years -- and now this article reminds me to get to that task!

My thanks to my always eagle-eyed friend and correspondent, Karen Miller, in Florida for this latest find and reminder.  

December 4, 2017 in Books, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Estates and Trusts, Ethical Issues, Property Management, Retirement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

New Publication: Old & Sick in America

Dr. Muriel Gillick, a Professor of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the director of the Program in Aging at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute had a new book.  Old & Sick in American: The Journey Through the Health Care System sounds like it hits the nail on the head, demonstrating topics that a wise consumer will need to recognize in order to navigate biases and weaknesses in the system. 

For a timely Q & A interview with the author, see How Older Patients Can Dodge Pitfalls Entrenched in Health Care System, published by California Healthline. 

November 21, 2017 in Books, Consumer Information, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid, Medicare, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Where We Live-Publication from AARP

AARP has a new book added to its library on livable communities. Where We Live: Communities for All Ages (2017) by Nancy LeaMond is the second book in their series. This new book is ideas from community leaders, with the earlier book (2016) containing ideas from mayors of cities. Both books are free-bound copies by request from AARP and electronic copies available from many online booksellers or AARP via an email request to WhereWeLive@AARP.org .  Topics in the 2017 book include housing; arts, entertainment, fun; community engagement; public spaces (indoors and outdoors);  health & wellness; work and volunteering and transportation and infrastructure like roads and sidewalks. To learn more or order your copies, click here.

October 18, 2017 in Books, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Housing, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 9, 2017

Books on Caring for Elders

A recent column in the New York Times mentioned several books that focus on caring for elders. Hard-Won Advice in Books on Aging and Elder Care  is written by the columnist who has been authoring a series of columns about Medicaid as Congress focused on health care repeal.  As a result of those columns, some of the comments the author received were recommendations of books for the author to read.  Using the criteria of those books mentioned at least twice, the author read and wrote about 4 books, which the author describes as "in their own way utterly essential reading. Few of us are prepared for the financial and emotional complexities of managing the last several years of our lives. But as we live longer, drain what may prove to be inadequate retirement savings and lean harder on already strained government programs, we’ll probably find ourselves facing ever more challenging questions and unfortunate compromises."  The books he includes in his column are Being Mortal, the 36 Hour Day, A Bittersweet Season and Being My Mom's Mom.

What books might you recommend to your students?

October 9, 2017 in Books, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Retirement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Women Who Are Older--Financial Fears?

How well-prepared are you for financing your retirement? Do you know your family's finances?  The New York Times examined the situations that may be faced by women who are older who are not involved in the handling of their family's finances. Helping Women Over 50 Face Their Financial Fears covers a lecture series, Women and Wills, designed specifically for women over 50 that cover a variety of topics, including estate planning. health care, insurance, long term care, business succession planning and more. The founders are well aware that some women may not be up to speed on their family's finances, or other circumstances such as a spouse's illness, may present challenges for them. The founders plan to take their lecture series on the road, nationwide, and publish a book on the importance of planning.

Thanks to Professor Naomi Cahn for sending a link to the article.

 

September 14, 2017 in Books, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Estates and Trusts, Health Care/Long Term Care, Property Management, Retirement, Social Security | Permalink | Comments (0)