Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Maps of America Aging

Professor Naomi Cahn sent us the link to this recent article, 7 maps that tell the incredible story of aging in America. "Census projections show a major demographic shift already underway and accelerating in the years to come. ...At the same time, populations are not aging evenly, and issues related to aging will impact individual communities in vastly different ways, boosting economic opportunity in some areas while putting a strain on social services in others."

One way to sort out who will be most impacted by aging is to look at age demographics across the country and how they will change over time. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and its own updated demographics, spatial-analytics firm Esri put together for Fast Company an exclusive map series that examines the issue from a number of angles, including a district-by-district breakdown of the median age in 2010 and the projected median age in 2023. The result is a compelling visual record of both who we are right now and where we are heading–a temporal snapshot for the ages, so to speak.

 

There are links to maps on the following topics:

May 15, 2019 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Florida is #1.... in Fraud Reports

There are a lot of great things about Florida and a lot of wacky things (don't believe me about the wacky things? check out "A Florida Man") One of the sad things recently about Florida is our #1 ranking for fraud in the U.S. 

Security.org crunches the numbers from the Federal Trade Commission and comes up with a report on the common frauds by state. In addition to the frauds by state, they also report on the top scams for the year. The #1 scam in the U.S. for the last year is impostor scam, followed by debt collection, identity theft, telephone/mobile sales, catalog/shop-at-home, banks/lenders, credit info, the old standard--lotteries, cars and internet.

So when I looked at Florida, here we are ranked #1 in the nation for fraud and other reports according to the Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2018  (issued by the FTC in February 2019).  There's a lot of good info in the Data Book, beyond individual state rankings.

Here's the executive summary from the Data Book

Overview

During 2018, the Consumer Sentinel Network took in nearly 3 million reports, an increase from 2017. - Fraud: 1.4 million (48% of all reports) - Identity theft: 444,602 (15%) - Other: 1.1 million (38%).

Imposter Scams are the top report category in 2018 (18% of all reports). Debt collection reports declined by 24% percent in 2018 (16% of all reports) and moved to #2. Identity theft (15% of all reports) rounds out the top three reports to Sentinel.

Fraud

There were over 535,000 imposter scam reports to Sentinel. Nearly one in five of those also reported a dollar loss, totaling nearly $488 million lost to imposter scams. These scams include, for example,romance scams, people falsely claiming to be with the government, a relative in distress, a well-known business, or a technical support expert, to get a consumer’s money.

Of the 1.4 million fraud reports, 25% indicated money was lost. In 2018, people reported losing nearly$1.48 billion to fraud – an increase of $406 million over what consumers reported losing in 2017.

The median loss for all fraud reports in 2018 is $375. The median individual losses were highest in these fraud categories: - Mortgage Foreclosure Relief and Debt Management ($1,377) - Business and Job Opportunities ($1,304) - Foreign Money Offers and Counterfeit Check Scams ($1,214).

Telephone was the method of contact for 69% of fraud reports with a contact method identified. Only eight percent of those people reported losing money to the scammer – but that 8% reported an aggregate loss of $429 million, and an $840 median loss.

Wire transfers continue to be the most frequently reported payment method for fraud, with a reported aggregate loss of $423 million.

Of people who reported their age, those aged 20-29 reported losing money to fraud in 43% of reports filed with the FTC, while people aged 70 – 79 reported losing money in 15% of their reports and people80 and over reported losing money in just 13% of their reports. But when they did experience a loss,people aged 70 and older reported much higher median losses than any other age group.

Identity Theft

Credit card fraud tops the list of identity theft reports in 2018. The FTC received more than 167,000reports from people who said their information was misused on an existing account or to open a new credit card account.

Military

Military consumers reported more than 59,000 fraud complaints, including over 36,000 imposter scams that cost them $34 million in 2018. Imposter scams were the largest single category of reportsfrom military consumers.

Top States

The states with the highest per capita rates of reported fraud in 2018 were Florida, Georgia, Nevada,Delaware, and Maryland. For reported identity theft, the top states in 2018 were Georgia, Nevada,California, Florida, and Texas.

 

 

May 14, 2019 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Other, State Statutes/Regulations, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Identity Theft Placemat & Guide

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released two items to help us in the fight against identity theft. The first is a bit unique-a placemat, "Identity protection crossword puzzle" which is described as an "interactive educational placemat is for meal sites, senior centers, and other places older adults gather and are a great way to share information at mealtime in groups of all sizes." The second is the Identity Protection Guide, Protect Your Identity: What Older Adults Should Know providing "steps to help you protect your personal information and explores several options to help you decide what’s right for your situation. The guide can be ordered separately and should be included with each Identity Theft Placemat."

May 8, 2019 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Federal Cases, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Want to Live to Be 100?

If you answered yes to the title question, you are not along. Last month, Financial Advisor published an article, More Than Half Of Americans Want To Live To 100 reporting on a survey by AIG Life & Retirement.  Why does someone want to live to be 100?  Why not? There are various reasons, and the respondents offered these: "Thirty-nine percent of respondents cited deeper family relationships as the main reason for wanting to live 100 years. Another 32 percent said they wanted to see the world change, and 17 percent wanted to remain productive."

The respondents note that longevity can be accompanied by various issues. "Of the 53 percent whose goal is to be a centenarian, 51 percent are worried that their savings won't last for that long a life." As well, the likelihood of significant health issues took first place among concerns "(35 percent) ...  followed by the likelihood of burdening their family (27 percent) and running out of the money needed to live comfortably in retirement (25 percent)."  Planning for longevity is important.  Although aging happens organically, planning for longevity is responsible aging.

May 2, 2019 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Other, Retirement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 29, 2019

Centralizing Call Centers: One Person's Story About Accessibility

My dear friend and colleague, Professor Mark Bauer, a frequent reader of this blog, shared a recent story about bumps in the road for elders in the family as they gathered for a funeral. He has given me permission to share this with you.

Sometimes many of us forget when we are privileged.  I was reminded of this last week.  Those of us who are fully able-bodied and adept at new technology already have every advantage.  Those of us with disabilities are already at a disadvantage, and the modern world rarely considers their needs.

A member of my family is an elder with devastating claustrophobia and two artificial knees.  Before making any hotel reservation, she needs to speak to the hotel and find out whether there are rooms on the ground floor because she has difficulty riding an elevator.  Sometimes a second floor room can work, but her knees prohibit her from long stairways, and frequently a dark, narrow, and foreboding staircase can be worse for claustrophobia than an elevator.  Substantially all hotel reservations are handled by national call centers and sometimes even outsourced to third parties.  They don’t have access to information about whether there are ground floor rooms, and they can rarely make a reservation for a specific floor.  Systems are designed today to prevent people from calling specific hotels.  Even if you can speak to the hotel, they often are prohibited from taking reservations directly.

We arrived in the Washington, DC area only to find out that the first floor of the hotel was actually on the sixth floor; the lower floors were a parking garage.  A desk clerk at the hotel had told us by phone in advance that there were ground floor rooms and even noted in our reservation the need for one.

I spent the next two hours trying to find some hotel within a few miles with ground floor rooms.  Even after looking up the hotel’s local number, calls fed directly into national reservations lines that were of no help at all.

I found a nearby corporate apartment complex that rented apartments on a nightly basis.  It took 30 minutes, but a supervisor at the national reservations number was willing to make a series of phone calls to the local property to verify they had an apartment available on the second floor.

I called an Uber and brought the two family members over to their new lodging.  While fairly close to the hotel where the other seven of us were staying, it was not walking distance for two elders.  The only thing that made sense at the time was to install Uber on their phones and give them a crash course in how to use a smart phone for more than calls, texting, and a few games.

I grabbed family member #1’s phone and tried to install Uber, only to find out he had already downloaded it.  But it froze up every time I tried to open the app because he had created a password, forgotten it, and then became locked out of the app.  I then deleted Uber and reinstalled it, and the same problem occurred.  It makes sense as a security matter to prevent reinstallation, but how many elders forget passwords and enter them incorrectly.

Since I thought myself clever, I tried to download Lyft.  But family member #1 couldn’t recall his Apple ID, so I was locked out of the app store.

I turned to family member #2’s phone.  I was able to successfully download Uber on to her phone and gave her a 20 minute course in how to use it, writing down the instructions and even going through several scenarios.  I knew it would probably work out (and it did) or we might never see them again.

Because I am a (slightly) younger and able-bodied person, it never occurred to me that hotels centralizing reservations at call centers could be an impediment to elders and those with disabilities.  And while I knew Uber was unavailable to anyone without a smart phone, or anyone who doesn’t know how to use their smart phone, I had never previously considered Uber to be an indispensable utility.

It seems to me that if we’re smart enough as a society to save all this money with call centers, and to create paradigm shifting inventions like smart phones and Uber, we should also be smart enough to figure out how not to further disenfranchise elders and persons with disabilities in the process.

April 29, 2019 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Other, Travel | Permalink

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Florida is an age-friendly state

I wanted to write a post about some good news and I have two good news items, both courtesy of AARP. First, on April 23, 2019, Florida's Governor and AARP announced that Florida is the nation's fourth state to be part of AARP's age-friendly state network. I bet you are asking yourself, what does it mean to be an age-friendly state?  According to the article, Governor Ron DeSantis and AARP Announce Florida’s Designation as an Age-Friendly State,  it means "Florida [has a] commitment to building livable communities that enrich the lives of people of all ages. Member states develop and implement plans that address any or all of the eight Age-Friendly domains: Transportation, Housing, Public Spaces, Respect and Social Inclusion, Civic Participation and Employment, Social Participation, Community and Health Services, and Communication and Information." So that's exciting news. 

And second, in a demonstration of age-friendliness, Florida AARP and the City of St. Petersburg, Florida dedicated the first of its kind in the country, #AARPFitPark which is, according to AARP's CEO, Joann Jenkins who was in town for the dedication, "a nationwide network of outdoor exercise spaces designed for users of all ages and abilities. They’re free and open to the public and there will be 53 across then nation."

 

Shout out to AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson who tweets as @Name_u_know for inviting me to the ribbon cutting of this very cool park.

 

 

 

April 25, 2019 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Elder Suicides on Rise in Long-Term Care Housing?

Kaiser Health News published a story that was the work of Kaiser and PBS NewsHour jointly. Lethal Plans: When Seniors Turn To Suicide In Long-Term Care. Their "six-month investigation ...  finds that older Americans are quietly killing themselves in nursing homes, assisted living centers and adult care homes."... "Poor documentation makes it difficult to tell exactly how often such deaths occur. But a KHN analysis of new data from the University of Michigan suggests that hundreds of suicides by older adults each year — nearly one per day — are related to long-term care. Thousands more people may be at risk in those settings, where up to a third of residents report suicidal thoughts, research shows."

The article acknowledges that "[t]racking suicides in long-term care is difficult. No federal regulations require reporting of such deaths and most states either don’t count — or won’t divulge — how many people end their own lives in those settings."   The article includes comments from those in the industry that points out the amount of regulation of facilities by CMS and the facilities' supervision of their residents.  The article provides some general examples as well as specifics. The article is hard to read when you get to those examples, but this is a very important topic.  The article also discusses and distinguishes rational suicide. The article concludes with a discussion of interventions.

April 24, 2019 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 22, 2019

Scams, Scams & Robocalls

Ok, so scams.... Ugh.  Here's a couple of new ones, now we are past tax season and don't have to worry about the fake-IRS calling us for a couple of days.  First, using DNA to commit scams and frauds. Scammers May Be Using DNA Testing to Defraud Medicare and Steal Identities reports Bloomerberg. "Authorities in several states are warning about an alleged scam in which people visit senior-living communities and low-income neighborhoods, offering to perform DNA tests and collecting information from people in government health programs. ... The alleged DNA-testing scams appear to be a new twist on an old tactic, in which people are tricked into giving away personal information or participating in medical services they don’t need. Perpetrators of such schemes can bill the government for unneeded medical tests and procedures, or use the information they collect — such as Medicare and Medicaid identification data — to commit identity theft and fraud."  I guess you can't get much more personal info than someone's DNA. Yikes!

Next, the New York Times reported that falling prey to scams may be a red flag sign of dementia. Senior's Weakness for Scams May Be Warning Sign of Dementia.

"New research suggests seniors who aren't on guard against scams also might be at risk for eventually developing Alzheimer's disease. ... Elder fraud is a huge problem, and Monday's study doesn't mean that people who fall prey to a con artist have some sort of dementia brewing. ... But scientists know that long before the memory problems of Alzheimer's become obvious, people experience more subtle changes in their thinking and judgment. Neuropsychologist Patricia Boyle of Rush University's Alzheimer's disease center wondered if one of the warning signs might be the type of judgment missteps that can leave someone susceptible to scams."

Although "[t]he study can't prove a link between low scam awareness and impending decline in thinking and memory," results point us to a need for more research. 

There are already a number of prevention efforts in existence, but yet, these crimes keep occurring. One more recent innovation is referenced in the article.  "[T]he rise in elder fraud has reached such a level that investment firms now are supposed to ask customers for the contact information of a "trusted person" they can alert if they suspect a case of financial exploitation. Just last week, federal agents broke up a Medicare scam that sold unneeded orthopedic braces to hundreds of thousands of seniors. And every tax season the government warns people not to fall for phone calls from IRS impostors — that agency won't call for payment."

And let's not get started on robocalls...  Oh, ok since I mentioned them, the current issue of Consumer Reports newsletter focuses an article on apps designed to block robocalls.  How to Protect Yourself From Robocalls shares the results of a survey of robocall blocker apps used by readers. Check them out and use one that works best for you. Have you reached the point where you no longer answer the phone if you don't recognize the number? I have.

 

April 22, 2019 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Other, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Phased Retirement In Other Countries

The GAO published a new report examining the experiences of other countries with phased retirement of workers. Older Workers: Other Countries' Experiences with Phased Retirement reports on "17 countries with aging populations and national pension systems similar to the Social Security program in the United States. These countries also have arrangements that allow workers to reduce their working hours as they transition into retirement, referred to as 'phased retirement.'"

The report is available here as a pdf.  Some of the highlights from the report:

GAO's four case study countries—Canada, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (UK)—were described as employing various strategies at the national level to encourage phased retirement, and specific programs differed with respect to design specifics and sources of supplemental income for participants. Canada and the U.K. were described as having national policies that make it easier for workers to reduce their hours and receive a portion of their pension benefits from employer-sponsored pension plans while continuing to accrue pension benefits in the same plan. Experts described two national programs available to employers and workers in Germany, with one program using tax preferences. Experts also said Sweden implemented a policy in 2010 that allows partial retirement and access to partial pension benefits to encourage workers to stay in the labor force longer.

Even with unique considerations in the United States, other countries' experiences with phased retirement could inform U.S. efforts. Some employer-specific conditions, such as employers offering employee-directed retirement plans and not being covered by collective bargaining are more common in the United States, but the case study countries included examples of designs for phased retirement programs in such settings. Certain programs allow access to employer-sponsored or national pension benefits while working part-time. For example, experts said the U.K. allows workers to draw a portion of their account based pension tax-free, and one U.K. employer GAO spoke to also allows concurrent contributions to those plans. In addition, experts said that certain program design elements help determine the success of some programs. Such elements could inform the United States experience. For instance, U.S. employers told us that while offering phased retirement to specific groups of workers may be challenging because of employment discrimination laws, a union representative in Germany noted that they reached an agreement where employers may set restrictions or caps on participation, such as 3 percent of the workforce, to manage the number of workers in the program. Employers in the U.S. could explore whether using a similar approach, taking into consideration any legal concerns or other practical challenges, could help them to control the number of workers participating in phased retirement programs.

 

April 4, 2019 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, International, Other, Retirement | Permalink

Friday, March 29, 2019

Will There Ever Be A Cure for Alzheimer's?

Two recent stories from the Wall Street Journal on a recent failure of an Alzheimer's drug in testing made me pause. Latest Experimental Alzheimer’s Drug Fails Testing. Drugmakers Biogen and Eisai ended studies of treatment, deeming it unlikely to benefit patients in latest research setback  ("[t]he search for new Alzheimer’s disease treatments hit another big setback on Thursday when drugmakers Biogen Inc. and Eisai Co. said they would terminate two late-stage studies of an experimental drug after determining it would likely fail to help patients") and Where Alzheimer’s Research Is Pushing Ahead. Disappointing results for drugs targeting Beta amyloid buildup in the brain has renewed focus on drugs that act in other ways ("[t]he failure last week of Biogen Inc. and Eisai Co.’s once-promising Alzheimer’s disease drug was the latest in a spate of disappointments for medicines designed to target Beta amyloid, a sticky substance long known to accumulate in the brains of people with the disease...The repeated failure of such drugs are giving greater currency to efforts by academics and smaller biotech companies to better understand the biology of Alzheimer's ....) (subscription required to read both articles) certainly wasn't the headlines we hope for.  Then this article in Time Magazine caught my eye. What the End of a Promising Alzheimer’s Drug Trial Means for One Patient in the Study describes this "failure is the latest in a string of let-downs involving drugs that target amyloid, leading experts to question whether future treatment strategies should focus so heavily on amyloid plaques. Therapies that target some of the other proteins involved in the disease are ongoing, but until recently, the predominance of amyloid in the brains of people affected by Alzheimer’s has led drugmakers to focus on that protein in particular."  The article also summaries different tactics that researchers are considering next, so at least there's still hope. Stay tuned.

March 29, 2019 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Health Care/Long Term Care, Other, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 28, 2019

New GAO Report on Retirement Security

The GAO has issued a new report, Retirement Security:  Most Households Approaching Retirement Have Low Savings, an Update. The report, an update from the 2015 report, is 4 pages long and available here as a pdf. The update incorporates "estimates on the percentage of households aged 55 and over with selected financial resources."  Here are the fast facts from this update

The 2015 report on retirement security included estimates on the percentage of households aged 55 and over without retirement savings or a defined benefit plan (traditional employment-based pension plans that offer benefits based on factors like salary and years of service)... We updated these estimates using data from the most recent Survey of Consumer Finances, which was released in September 2017... We found that the percent of households headed by someone aged 55 and over that had no retirement savings decreased from about 52 percent in 2013 to about 48 percent in 2016.

 

March 28, 2019 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Other, Retirement, Social Security | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

CDC Says Dementia Deaths Up

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported last week that the Rate of dementia deaths in US has more than doubled, CDC says from the new report for the National Center for Health Statistics.

Here is the abstract from the 29 page report from the National Center for Health Statistics:

Objectives—This report presents data on mortality attributable to dementia. Data for dementia as an underlying cause of death from 2000 through 2017 are shown by selected characteristics such as age, sex, race and Hispanic origin, and state of residence. Trends in dementia deaths overall and by specific cause are presented. The reporting of dementia as a contributing cause of death is also described.

Methods—Data in this report are based on information from all death certificates filed in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Using multiple cause-of-death data files, dementia is considered to include deaths attributed to unspecified dementia; Alzheimer disease; vascular dementia; and other degenerative diseases of nervous system, not elsewhere classified.

Results—In 2017, a total of 261,914 deaths attributable to dementia as an underlying cause of death were reported in the United States. Forty-six percent of these deaths were due to Alzheimer disease. In 2017, the age-adjusted death rate for dementia as an underlying cause of death was 66.7 deaths per 100,000 U.S. standard population. Age-adjusted death rates were higher for females (72.7) than for males (56.4). Death rates increased with age from 56.9 deaths per 100,000 among people aged 65–74 to 2,707.3 deaths per 100,000 among people aged 85 and over. Age-adjusted death rates were higher among the non-Hispanic white population (70.8) compared with the non-Hispanic black population (65.0) and the Hispanic population (46.0). Age-adjusted death rates for dementia varied by state and urbanization category. Overall, age-adjusted death rates for dementia increased from 2000 to 2017. Rates were steady from 2013 through 2016, and increased from 2016 to 2017. Patterns of reporting the individual dementia causes varied across states and across time.

Conclusions—Death rates due to dementia varied by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin, and state. In 2017, Alzheimer disease accounted for almost one-half of all dementia deaths. The proportion of dementia deaths attributed to Alzheimer disease varies across states.

 

March 20, 2019 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Other, Science, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Combating Loneliness in Older Adults

Kaiser Health News ran a story last week on how to push back vs. loneliness in older adults. Understanding Loneliness In Older Adults — And Tailoring A Solution doesn't mean telling folks to get a hobby. Instead, the idea of fighting loneliness is making connections with others, living a purpose-filled life, and having important social roles.  Loneliness among elders has been found to be connected to many issues. "Four surveys (by Cigna, AARP, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the University of Michigan) have examined the extent of loneliness and social isolation in older adults in the past year. And health insurers, health care systems, senior housing operators and social service agencies are launching or expanding initiatives."  Not everyone will respond well to one solution, so it's important that programs offer alternatives.

Interestingly, the story describes two categories of loneliness, what might be called short-term and long-term loneliness. "The headlines are alarming: Between 33 and 43 percent of older Americans are lonely, they proclaim. But those figures combine two groups: people who are sometimes lonely and those who are always lonely... The distinction matters because people who are sometimes lonely don’t necessarily stay that way; they can move in and out of this state. And the potential health impact of loneliness — a higher risk of heart disease, dementia, immune dysfunction, functional impairment and early death — depends on its severity."

The article not only explores the length of loneliness but the depth and types of it as well. "According to a well-established framework, “emotional loneliness” occurs when someone feels the lack of intimate relationships. “Social loneliness” is the lack of satisfying contact with family members, friends, neighbors or other community members. “Collective loneliness” is the feeling of not being valued by the broader community. .. Some experts add another category: “existential loneliness,” or the sense that life lacks meaning or purpose."

A program that might effectively combat loneliness has to look at the causes of it. Those include the sense that people don't care about you, disappointing relationships, for example. Some types of loneliness might have an easier fix. The article offers the example of "[s]omeone who’s lost a sense of being meaningfully connected to other people because of hearing loss — the most common type of disability among older adults — can be encouraged to use a hearing aid. Someone who can’t drive anymore and has stopped getting out of the house can get assistance with transportation. Or someone who’s lost a sibling or a spouse can be directed to a bereavement program."

The article is very interesting and brings depth to a very important topic.

March 19, 2019 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Other, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 15, 2019

College Students Living In Elder Living Communities

AARP's Livable Communities newsletter had 2 articles of interest regarding housing and elders.  The first, Rethinking Student Housing focuses on several projects  along the lines of an artist-in-residence program, where music students get free housing in an elder housing community in return for performances as well as "helping with errands and socializing with ...  neighbors."  The second article, Rethinking What Makes a Great Roommate, focuses on a project that melds two issues: lack of affordable housing and elders who want to stay in their homes but need income. This project,  "Nesterly, a website that connects older people who have rooms to spare with young and lower income people seeking medium-term affordable housing. "Homeshare with another generation: The easy, safe way to rent a room," states the site's homepage. "  There is a small fee to use the service, which checks out the potential renters.  The two parties come to agreement on the terms and price.

Two very creative ideas!

March 15, 2019 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Housing, Music, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

New Report from Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a new report at the end of February, Suspicious Activity Reports on Elder Financial Exploitation: Issues and Trends.

Here is a summary of the report

Since 2013, financial institutions have reported to the federal government over 180,000 suspicious activities targeting older adults, involving a total of more than $6 billion. The reports provide unique data on these suspicious activities, which can enhance ongoing efforts to prevent elder financial exploitation and to punish wrongdoers.

This report presents the findings of a study of elder financial exploitation Suspicious Activity Reports (EFE SARs) filed with the federal government by financial institutions such as banks and money services businesses between 2013 and 2017. This is the first public analysis of EFE SAR filings since the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), which receives and maintains the database of SARs, introduced electronic SAR filing with a designated category for “elder financial exploitation” in 2013. The findings provide an opportunity to better understand the complex problem of elder financial exploitation and to identify ways to improve prevention and response.

The full report is available here.

The key findings of the report provide some sobering data:

SAR filings on elder financial exploitation quadrupled from 2013 to 2017. In 2017, elder financial exploitation (EFE) SARs totaled 63,500. Based on recent prevalence studies, these 2017 SARs likely represent a tiny fraction of actual incidents of elder financial exploitation.

Money services businesses have filed an increasing share of EFE SARs.In 2016, money services business (MSB) filings surpassed depository institution (DI) filings. In 2017, MSB SARs comprised 58 percent of EFE SARs, compared to 15 percent in 2013.

Financial institutions reported a total of $1.7 billion in suspicious activities in 2017, including actual losses and attempts to steal the older adults’ funds

Nearly 80 percent of EFE SARs involved a monetary loss to older adults and/or filers (i.e. financial institutions).

In EFE SARs involving a loss to an older adult, the average amount lost was $34,200. In 7 percent of these EFE SARs, the loss exceeded $100,000.

When a filer lost money, the average loss per filer was $16,700.

One third of the individuals who lost money were ages 80 and older.

Adults ages 70 to 79 had the highest average monetary loss ($45,300).

Losses were greater when the older adult knew the suspect. The average loss per person was about $50,000 when the older adult knew the suspect and $17,000 when the suspect was a stranger.

Types of suspicious activity varied significantly by filer.When the filer was an MSB, 69 percent of EFE SARs described scams by strangers. DI filings, in contrast, involved an array of financial crimes, with 27 percent involving stranger scams.

More than half of EFE SARs involved a money transfer. The second-most common financial product used to move funds was a checking or savings account (44 percent).

Checking or savings accounts had the highest monetary losses. The average monetary loss to the older adult was $48,300 for EFE SARs involving a checking or savings account while the average loss was $32,800 for EFE SARs involving a money transfer.

The suspicious activity reported in an EFE SAR took place, on average, over a four-month period.

Fewer than one-third of EFE SARs indicated that the filer reported the suspicious activity to a local, state, or federal authority. Only one percent of MSB SARs stated that the MSB reported the suspicious activity in the SAR to a government entity such as adult protective services or law enforcement.

Read the entire report. The information is important.

Thanks to Julie Childs from the DOJ Elder Justice Initiative for alerting me to this new report.

March 13, 2019 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Federal Cases, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Other, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 11, 2019

Justice Department Announces Elder Fraud Sweep

On March 7, 2019, U.S. DOJ announced the biggest U.S. elder fraud sweep. Justice Department Coordinates Largest-Ever Nationwide Elder Fraud Sweep. Attorney General Focuses on Threats Posed by Technical-Support Fraud offers a look at the staggering amount of elder fraud.

The cases during this sweep involved more than 260 defendants from around the globe who victimized more than two million Americans, most of them elderly. [DOJ] took action in every federal district across the country, through the filing of criminal or civil cases or through consumer education efforts. In each case, offenders allegedly engaged in financial schemes that targeted or largely affected seniors. In total, the charged elder fraud schemes caused alleged losses of millions of more dollars than last year, putting the total alleged losses at this year’s sweep at over three fourths of one billion dollars.

Want to see the results of the sweep in your state?  Click here.

The sweep included tech support fraud, mass mailing fraud and  money mules.  Consumer education was also part of the effort,

[DOJ] and its law enforcement partners focused the sweep’s public education campaign on technical-support fraud, given the widespread harm such schemes are causing. The FTC and State Attorneys General had an important role in designing and disseminating messaging material intended to warn consumers and businesses.

Public education outreach is being conducted by various state and federal agencies, including Senior Corps, a national service program administered by the federal agency the Corporation for National and Community Service, to educate seniors and prevent further victimization. The Senior Corps program engages more than 245,000 older adults in intensive service each year, who in turn, serve more than 840,000 additional seniors, including 332,000 veterans. Information on Senior Corps’ efforts to reduce elder fraud can be found here.

Click here to read the full press release. The AG's remarks are available here.

Thanks to my colleague, Professor Podgor, for alerting me to the press releases.

March 11, 2019 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Federal Cases, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Other | Permalink

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Medical Records Not Reviewed By Medical Director Before Claim Denied

Forbes is reporting on a story first appearing on CNN,  where the Former Aetna Medical Director Admits To Never Reviewing Medical Records Before Denying Care.

"This admission was made during a deposition in a lawsuit brought against Aetna by [a patient]... with common variable immune deficiency (CVID) who was denied coverage for an infusion of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) four years ago."  The former medical director testified that the process was for nurses to review records and then make recommendations to him.  Additionally, "when asked by Washington's attorney if it was his general practice to look at medical records as part of his decision making process, he replied that it was not."

Thanks to Julie Kitzmiller for alerting me to the story.

March 5, 2019 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 4, 2019

Bibliography on Physician-Aided Dying

The Law Library Journal has published a comprehensive bibliography on Physician-Aided Dying. Physician-Assisted Death: A Selected Annotated Bibliography, prepared by Alyssa Thurston, who is head of Reference Services at Pepperdine University School of Law Library in Malibu, Calif.,  provides a comprehensive update on this important topic.

Here is the abstract of the paper. "Physician-assisted death (PAD), which encompasses physician-assisted suicide and physician-administered euthanasia, has long been controversial. However, recent years have seen a trend toward legalizing some form of PAD in the United States and abroad. The author provides an annotated bibliography of sources concerning PAD and the many issues raised by its legalization."

The introduction offers some helpful information for the reader:

¶3 This bibliography compiles selected secondary and primary materials on
PAD. Secondary sources include books, book chapters, law review and law journal
articles, bibliographies, websites, and current awareness materials, and are mostly
limited to publication dates of 2007–2018.10 Many of these materials discuss multiple
issues within the broader topic of PAD, and I have categorized them by subject
based on what I perceive to be their primary themes.
¶4 Most of the included materials focus on the United States, but a number of
sources also discuss other countries, and one section is devoted to international
experiences with PAD. In addition, PAD is often debated alongside other end-oflife
topics, such as withdrawal or refusal of medical treatment,11 palliative care,12
hospice care,13 or the use of advance directives,14 and some of the scholarship listed
in this bibliography concurrently address one or more of these subjects in depth.

Thanks to my colleague, Professor Brooke Bowman, for alerting me to this helpful resource!

March 4, 2019 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, International, Other, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Pets and Pet Trusts

With the recent death of Karl Lagerfeld who is survived by his famous cat, Choupette, it is timely to think about pet trusts as part of estate planning. The story was covered by many news outlets. Here is info about the one that ran in CBS News, Karl Lagerfeld's cat to inherit a fortune, but may not be richest pet.

Choupette, a Burmese cat, stands to inherit a chunk of the designer'sestimated $300 million net worth, after he wrote her into his will in 2015, according to Le Figaro. Lagerfeld confirmed in an interview with Numéro last year that she, among others, would be an heiress to his vast fortune. "Don't worry, there is enough for everyone," he said. Among Choupette's most admired traits? "She doesn't talk," Lagerfeld told Numero in an earlier interview... Though Lagerfeld is German, the pair resided in France, where the law prohibits pets from inheriting their owners' wealth. German law, however, allows one's wealth to be transferred to an animal. 

In the U.S., as the article notes, pet trusts are recognized but there may be limits on the amount, referencing the case of Leona Helmsely's dog, Trouble.

 

February 28, 2019 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Estates and Trusts, Other, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink

Monday, February 25, 2019

Oscars 2019

The 2019 Oscars are behind us. Prior to the awards being announced, there was some attention given to the potential for recipients breaking the "age ceiling." The NYC Elder Abuse Center published this blog post, 2019 Oscar Watch: Actors Set to Break the Silver Ceiling. Noting the issues of ageism and the ability of computers to make folks look years younger, the post references a recent study showing lack of progress on inclusivity in film. "While adults 50 and older make up more than 30 percent of all moviegoers, the study found less than one-third of the highest-grossing films of 2017 featured a male 45 years of age or older at the time of theatrical release. Only five films featured a woman in the same age bracket, including Meryl Streep, Amy Poehler, Judi Dench, Halle Berry, and Frances McDormand."  The blog post lists various nominees who are older, and also points out that the documentary about Justice Ginsburg is also up for an award.

February 25, 2019 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Discrimination, Film, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)