Category Archives: Senior News

Making Your Home Safe for Winter

by Matilda Charles

 

Like it or not, winter is coming. Depending on where you live, you’ve

likely already felt the chill winds preceding the even colder weather

ahead. Two key elements of winter safety at home are warmth and adequate

lighting.

 

Are you ready?

 

Staying Warm: If you live in your own home, when is the last time you had

your furnace inspected? If you can’t say it was this season, it’s time to

call for an appointment. These system checks should be done once a year

and generally include a new furnace filter.

 

Carrying a big blanket from room to room can be a tripping danger.

Instead, keep personal-size comforters in various places in your home,

especially your favorite chair. Check the bottoms of your slippers to make

sure they aren’t worn and slippery. Wear a favorite hat for additional

warmth, and consider a padded vest to keep your body’s trunk warm.

Adequate Lighting: Fading daylight can creep up on us. One of my friends

took a yard light and put it in the kitchen window to recharge in the sun

each day. When it becomes dark outside, the little light automatically

goes on. Another has put tiny automatic nightlights in a few electric

outlets. When the lighting is low, the lights automatically come on. These

serve as reminders to turn on more lights in the house.

 

Do you have candles handy for the times when the power goes out? If so,

throw them away! It’s too easy for lighted candles to fall over or catch

clothing on fire. Instead invest in a few flashlights or “dome” lights

that you can leave at various places in your home. Don’t forget a small

one for your pocket.

 

Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader

questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible.

 

Send email to columnreply2@gmail.com.

(c) 2013 King Features Synd., Inc.

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Obamacare Scams — Just Hang Up

by Matilda Charles

 

It’s one thing to read about how good scammers can be — and quite

another to experience it yourself. I recently received a phone call

trying to get me to divulge personal information to sign up for Obamacare.

After I got over my shock that scammers were actually calling me, I

decided to play along for a few minutes.

 

First, they knew my name. That wasn’t too surprising, but when they told

me I only had a short time to get signed up for Obamacare or I’d lose my

Medicare, I realized how dangerous these people are.

 

The trick they were pulling was to combine the new Obamacare signups with

Medicare’s open enrollment, as through the two have anything to do with

each other. Yes, they both start in October, but that’s all they have in

common. Specifically, I was told that if I signed up with them, I would

receive my new insurance card for a small fee.

 

They asked if I have a credit card. I said yes. They asked for the

number, talking very rapidly, not even listening to my questions. Their

main goal was to intimidate me into giving my credit-card number. When I

refused, they said my Medicare was going to be canceled for not signing

up for Obamacare, and I could go to jail.

 

It was a bit intimidating, even though I knew what they were doing, and I

realized how skilled they were.

 

If you get a similar call, hang up. Don’t even listen. No one from the

government is going to call you about signing up for Obamacare or the

Medicare open enrollment. If you get a call like this, call the Federal

Trade Commission at 1-877-382-4357 and file a complaint.

 

Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader

questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible.

 

Send email to columnreply2@gmail.com.

(c) 2013 King Features Synd., Inc.

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Meeting Our Own Expectations

by Matilda Charles

 

When we were young adults, we no doubt thought that we’d be less happy as

we got older, that we were at our peak. Once we reached age 50 and

weren’t especially pleased because we hadn’t met all of our goals, we

likely thought it was all downhill from there.

 

A study of people between the ages of 17 and 85 shows that at two

particular points in our lives, we are wrong in our guesses about how our

lives will progress and how happy we’ll be.

 

When we were young, at age 23 (the first point in life where we were

wrong), we expected great futures even though the reality wasn’t

necessarily wonderful at the time. We faced tough circumstances with

student loans, home costs, financial pressures and raising young

families, but we thought we could handle it and would accomplish much.

By the time 50 came along, many of those goals had been sadly abandoned

as the realities sank in. Unmet expectations and disappointments colored

our lives. We could see the writing on the wall, we thought, in terms of

future retirement, declining health and eventual low income. We didn’t

see anything good down the road.

 

Wrong again. As seniors, it turns out, we’re happier than we thought we’d

be.

 

How does this work? Expectations.

 

Through our lives, our expectations are different from our actual well-
being, and the two don’t merge until much later. We’re victims of our own

age discrimination, not expecting to be happy based on our own

predictions.

 

It takes until around age 69 to figure out the benefits of getting older,

and we no longer care about the goals that once consumed us. The key,

researchers say, is letting go of regret.

 

I wouldn’t want to be 23 again. Would you?

 

Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader

questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible.

 

Send email to columnreply2@gmail.com.

(c) 2013 King Features Synd., Inc.

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Keep Your Cool This Summer

by Matilda Charles

 

Now that we’re fast approaching the hottest part of summer, it’s even more

important to take steps to guard against becoming overheated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a special

report on seniors and the heat. It has suggestions that make sense —

especially since we seniors are slower to sense changes in temperature.

That means we can become overheated before we realize it. Here are some

suggestions:

–Drink more water than usual, and don’t wait until you’re actually

thirsty before having a drink. By then you’re actually overdue for water.

Call your doctor’s nurse to ask how much water you should be drinking, and

make a chart to be sure you get as much as you should.

–Don’t cook with the stove or oven. It makes the house hotter.

–Wear light-colored, lightweight, loose clothing.

–Cool down with cool showers or baths.

–Avoid alcohol or drinks with lots of sugar.

–Check the news for heat alerts. In some cases, cooling stations might be

opened in your area, such as in schools. Or call the health department and

ask if there are air-conditioned shelters near you. Libraries, movies and

malls are good places to go during the heat of the day.

–Keep an eye on friends and family, and ask that they do the same for

you.

–While fans are helpful at lower temperatures, they won’t help in

extremely hot weather, and only blow the hot air around.

–Watch for heat-related symptoms, such as nausea or vomiting, headaches

or muscle cramps. Look for heavy sweating, clammy skin, weakness or

fainting, which is heat exhaustion. Those are medical emergencies.

 

For more information, go online to www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/seniors.html

and www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/warning.html.

Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader

questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible.

 

Send email to columnreply2@gmail.com.

(c) 2013 King Features Synd., Inc.

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How Secure Is ‘My Account’?

by Matilda Charles

 

I’m starting to have second thoughts about using Social Security’s

online “My Account” feature. Yes, I have one. Yes, it’s handy. But

scammers are targeting the My Accounts of seniors. The online account is

beginning to look like not such a good idea.

 

In a number of cases, the only way the victims knew anything was wrong was

when they received a letter from Social Security verifying that they’d

opened an online My Account.

 

No, they hadn’t. But someone else had. In some cases the scammers

attempted to divert the direct deposit to an account at another bank. The

Office of the Inspector General is investigating occurrences all over the

country.

 

There is a way, if you do have an account, to add a layer of security

to your My Account: You can type in the last eight digits of your Visa,

MasterCard or Discover Card. (Do this only if you’re very sure of your

computer’s security.)

 

I once made my very elderly neighbor a list of phone numbers that we

pasted to the inside of her kitchen cabinet door above the telephone. I

printed it out in large enough letters and numbers so it was clear to her,

and it saved her from having to look up numbers.

 

Maybe you could use a list like that? If you generate such a list, here

are numbers to add to it: Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. Federal Trade

Commission fraud report line 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338). OIG fraud

hotline 1-800-269-0271.

 

If something is ever wrong with your Social Security, especially if you

have a My Account, call them immediately. Remember that Social Security

will never send you email asking for information or whether you want to

open a My Account. But scammers will.

 

Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader

questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible.

 

Send email to columnreply2@gmail.com.

(c) 2013 King Features Synd., Inc.

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SENIOR NEWS LINE

by Matilda Charles

You’ve Earned Your Senior Discount

The holiday season can be quiet for some of us. While it’s a great time to sit back and enjoy the books we received and some of the holiday shows on television, we also need to get out! It only takes a little planning to join up with friends to enjoy some meals out. The bonus is that many restaurants give a senior discount.

Here’s a list of a few places you’ll find discounts, broken down by age. Most give a 10 percent discount or offer a free drink.

For those age 55 and above:

Chick-Fil-A, Dunkin Donuts, Jack in the Box (20 percent off), Arby’s, Dairy Queen, Popeye’s, Fuddruckers, Country Kitchen, Wendy’s, Denny’s (usually 10 percent off, but certain days and times it’s 20 percent), IHOP, Chili’s.

For those age 60 and above:
Sizzler, Bob’s Big Boy, Golden Corral, Applebees (15 percent discount), Roy Rogers, Burger King, Sonic, Friendly’s, Ben and Jerrys. Be sure to call in advance to make sure there aren’t any restrictions, such as days of the week or times of the day. Not all locations offer a discount. For those in the 55-plus category, call to be sure they haven’t increased the age to 60.

Don’t forget AARP if you’re looking for a discount. The website (www.aarp.org) has a list that changes. Click Member Benefits, then Discounts.

Many of us don’t want to ask for a discount in restaurants or anywhere else — but we should! We’ve earned it! Here’s a challenge for you for 2012: Ask for your senior discount everywhere you go, and keep track of how much you save through the year. You might be pleasantly surprised. Carry your AARP card at all times!

Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible. Write to her in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to columnreply@gmail.com.

(c) 2011 King Features Synd., Inc.

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Avoiding Hospital Readmissions

SENIOR NEWS LINE
by Matilda Charles

Question: What’s worse than being admitted to the hospital? Answer: Being readmitted quickly after being released. Far too often, just when we’re out of the hospital, something happens and we’re right back where we started. It’s expensive, and those who study these things have looked at the reasons for frequent hospital readmissions.

Here are some of the statistics from the Center for Studying Health System Change:

–About 8 percent of adults go back into the hospital within a month, and one-third within a year.

–One-third of us don’t see a doctor, nurse or anyone else within a month of being released from the hospital. After 90 days, 17 percent of us still haven’t seen a doctor.

–Those of us who don’t see a doctor are at a higher risk for going back into the hospital, especially those who also have other medical conditions. The sicker the patient, the higher the rate of return.

It doesn’t matter what kind of insurance we have.

Researchers say new ways must be found to bridge the gap between the doctors and hospitals. At this point, even where there are programs and coordinators to manage the discharge process, it hasn’t changed the rate of readmissions. There’s one additional, potentially serious glitch: One-third of doctors did not have the final hospital report on patients who did come in. And if they did have them, the reports were incomplete, and new medications might not be listed.

Here’s a suggestion to keep from being readmitted: When you leave the hospital, make a nurse write down your prescriptions and instructions for aftercare. The minute you get home, call your doctor. Make the earliest appointment possible, and take your instructions.

Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible. Write to her in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to columnreply@gmail.com.

(c) 2012 King Features Synd., Inc.

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Online Banking Grows by Leaps and Bounds

SENIOR NEWS LINE
by Matilda Charles

Online Banking Grows by Leaps and Bounds

Say it isn’t true. Seniors are moving to online banking?

So says a survey done by the American Bankers Association. For the first time ever, those of us age 55 and older now prefer doing our banking online rather than going to the bank in person or using the mail. It wasn’t just a few of us either. We went from 20 percent of seniors doing banking online in 2010 to a whopping 57 percent in 2011.

Part of this, it’s said, is due to the banks now having a long list of requirements to avoid the fees they now charge. In some cases we’re required to have a very large balance in savings or we’re charged a monthly fee to get statements by mail. Doing our banking online is often one of the ways we can save money.

Why do we do it? It’s convenient, especially if we no longer drive or if we live in places with inclement weather. For those of us who are so busy it’s not easy to get to the bank during working hours, online banking is a means to easily take care of business.

That doesn’t mean we’re eager to use our cell phones to conduct bank business, however. We’re not quite there yet. Computer classes have made us more comfortable pressing keys, but a small cell phone is easily lost. So, what can we do online? We can: transfer funds from one account to another, check balances, see if a check has cleared, view our statement and pay bills.

If you want to explore online banking, remember two key safety steps. Keep good virus protection on your computer, and close your browser after you log out of the bank’s website.

Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible. Write to her in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to columnreply@gmail.com.

(c) 2012 King Features Synd., Inc.

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The Grandparent Scam

SENIOR NEWS LINE
by Matilda Charles

The Grandparent Scam targets seniors who fall for a trick of handing over money to an imposter grandchild. Even though it’s an old scam, it shows no sign of fading away. If anything, this scam is making a resurgence. Typically the senior will get a call, supposedly from a grandchild, and be told there’s an emergency: The grandchild is in trouble, or there’s been an accident, or a mistaken arrest. It sounds very believable.

No matter what the story, it always involves the need for secrecy — and fast cash to be wired immediately. Sometimes the story is that the money is needed to pay an attorney or for medical treatment. Perhaps the person on the other end of the phone pretends to be the police, a doctor or an attorney.

If you get one of these calls, don’t immediately agree to send money. Your first step is to verify the details. Is it really your grandchild on the other end of the phone? If you don’t recognize your grandchild’s voice, don’t feed him information by saying “Is this David?” Wait until he gives you the
name. If he doesn’t, it’s likely a scam.

Your second step is to call your grandchild’s home to verify whether he or she is actually away — or sitting right there. Whatever you do, don’t send any money without verification. Keep in mind that crooks on social media sites online can glean a lot of information. Beware naming your grandchildren on Facebook or anywhere else. If this has happened to you, you must report it to the police. But you won’t be alone. Thousands of others experienced this type of scam last year alone.

Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible. Write to her in care of King Features Weekly Service,
P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to columnreply@gmail.com.

(c) 2012 King Features Synd., Inc.

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Keep Driving Longer

SENIOR NEWS LINE
by Matilda Charles

Few of us want to even contemplate giving up driving, but we should. We should think long and hard because there are steps we can take to help us keep driving longer.

The American Automobile Association has put together a website full of valuable information for us: www.seniordriving.aaa.com.

There you’ll learn how to:

–Evaluate your driving ability: a 15-question self-rating tool, interactive driving evaluation and links to getting a professional assessment.

–Understand mind and body changes: As we age, our vision and hearing might not be as good as they once were. The medications we take can affect us, too. Our reaction times can slow, but there are ways to learn to overcome that.

–Improving driving skills: Everyday driving can become challenging for us as we age, and unexpected situations can be downright dangerous. Click on the sections with tips for handling both everyday and unexpected situations on the road. Don’t miss the link to driver-improvement courses, especially the
AAA’s Senior Defensive Driving Program. You can take the class online from home!

–Maintaining mobility and independence: One of the best things we can do to keep driving longer is to stay physically and mentally fit. Click on the physical fitness techniques link. AAA has a series of stretches and exercises designed to improve neck, shoulder, trunk, back and overall flexibility. When you consider all the twisting and turning involved in getting in and out of the car and bending to put groceries in the trunk, it makes sense that we’ll do better if we stay limber.

If you don’t have a computer, have a friend print out the brochures under Tools & Additional Resources.

Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible. Write to her in care of King Features Weekly Service,
P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to columnreply@gmail.com.

(c) 2012 King Features Synd., Inc.

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