November 7, 2017

Roundup on Aging: The Bright Side and the Dark

Americans are retiring later at closer to 67 and dying sooner,

Data released by the Society of Actuaries found that health in the United States is declining and more people are forced to endure shorter retirements.  From 2014 to 2015, mortality rates rose 1.2 per cent marking the first year-over-year increase in the number since 2005. According to a study by journal Health Affairs, people in their late 50s are having the same if not worse ailments than people at those ages a decade ago  At the same time, Americans in the workforce are having much longer careers, forcing the age of retirement to rise. Result: more people are forced to endure shorter, less active retirements.

An 82-year-old man hiked the entire Appalachian Trail. Then he danced a jig
Dale Sanders, 82, stopped to kiss his last trail marker before becoming the oldest person to hike all 2,190 miles of the Appalachian Trail within a year

 Dale Sanders 82 Appalachian Trail

He is, incidentally, two years older than the Appalachian Trail, which was officially “connected” in 1937, meaning people could hike it in its entirety from Georgia to Maine. Sanders hiked it in a “flip-flop” sequence, meaning he did a Georgia-to-Harpers Ferry leg, followed by a Maine-to-Harpers Ferry leg. A naturally gregarious person, Sanders had periods of depression while alone on the trail. He was helped by what he calls “trail angels,” people who recognized him from seeing him on the Internet, who called out his trail name — “Grey Beard” — and hiked alongside him for a stretch. ...His next move?  “I’m done and I’m tired,” he said. “And I can go home."

Dancing Has Greater Anti-Aging Effects On Brain Than Exercising

A new study finds that while regular exercise helps keep us strong physically and mentally, dancing may be the most valuable form of physical activity — so much so that it actually has certain anti-aging effects more substantial than the benefits of general fitness.  ....“In this study, we show that two different types of physical exercise (dancing and endurance training) both increase the area of the brain that declines with age. In comparison, it was only dancing that led to noticeable behavioral changes in terms of improved balance,” says the study author at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases and Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg.

People Over 60 More Content In Life Than All Other Adults, AARP Survey of 2600  Finds.

80-Year-Olds As Street Smart As 20-Year-Olds, Study Finds

The elderly are just as keen at identifying shady figures or situations as young adults, it turns out. Researchers at the University of Portsmouth recruited 126 individuals — about a third of whom were aged 59 to 91, and the rest of whom were 20 to 28 — for a study on whether one’s age can reliably determine their street smarts — that is, their ability to accurately assess dangerous situations. “The results could encourage older people to recognize they are street smart, that their gut instincts are spot on.”

The Financial Abuse is a different story.

Survey: Nearly 7 In 10 Seniors Targeted By Fraud Campaigns

About two-thirds of elderly Americans have been targeted by a fraud campaign, and more than a quarter have actually fallen victim to such efforts, reports a new survey by at the Cooperative Credit Union Association (CCUA), a trade group that represents credit unions, polled nearly 1,200 Americans, all of whom were caretakers of senior citizens, hoping to learn more about the scams that prey on unsuspecting baby boomers.Correspondence via email was found to be the most common (53 percent) attempt at fraud, followed by telephone (49 percent), text message (16 percent), and postal mail (also 16 percent).

How senior citizens can be victims of elder financial abuse

“Each year, elder financial abuse costs Americans more than $36 billion, and 1 in every 5 seniors — age 65 or older — has been abused financially,” Abuses are often committed by people the elderly person knows, and the abuses are often never investigated. Such abuses include theft of valuables, credit card scams and false shipment, as well as home repair and moving scams. “Just 1 in 44 financial elder abuse cases are ever reported,” according to the National Adult Protective Services Association.

In the New Yorker, a bombshell report.  How the Elderly Lose Their Rights by Rachel Aviv
The stories are horrifying. Strangers get appointed guardians and proceed to sell their assets and control the lives of seniors without their consent and without notifying their families, all to reap profits.

In the United States, a million and a half adults are under the care of guardians, either family members or professionals, who control some two hundred and seventy-three billion dollars in assets, according to an auditor for the guardianship fraud program in Palm Beach County. Little is known about the outcome of these arrangements, because states do not keep complete figures on guardianship cases—statutes vary widely—and, in most jurisdictions, the court records are sealed. A Government Accountability report from 2010 said, “We could not locate a single Web site, federal agency, state or local entity, or any other organization that compiles comprehensive information on this issue.” A study published this year by the American Bar Association found that “an unknown number of adults languish under guardianship” when they no longer need it, or never did. The authors wrote that “guardianship is generally “permanent, leaving no way out—‘until death do us part.’ ”
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April Parks Parks drove a Pontiac G-6 convertible with a license plate that read “crtgrdn,” for “court guardian.” In the past twelve years, she had been a guardian for some four hundred wards of the court. Owing to age or disability, they had been deemed incompetent, a legal term that describes those who are unable to make reasoned choices about their lives or their property. As their guardian, Parks had the authority to manage their assets, and to choose where they lived, whom they associated with, and what medical treatment they received. They lost nearly all their civil rights.
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in a detailed summary of the investigation, Jaclyn O’Malley, who led the probe for the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, made passing references to the “collusion of hospital social workers and medical staff” who profited from their connection to Parks. At Parks’s grand-jury trial, her assistant testified that she and Parks went to hospitals and attorneys’ offices for the purpose of “building relationships to generate more client leads.” Parks secured a contract with six medical facilities whose staff agreed to refer patients to her—an arrangement that benefitted the facilities, since Parks controlled the decisions of a large pool of their potential consumers. Parks often gave doctors blank certificates and told them exactly what to write in order for their patients to become her wards.

Two documents that can help keep you safe from such financial abuse

A bombshell report in the New Yorker detailed how one woman allegedly took control of strangers' financial and health decisions in Nevada.  Simple documents — like a power of attorney form and healthcare directive — can help you retain control, even if you are no longer able to care for yourself.
Posted by Jill Fallon at November 7, 2017 2:29 PM | Permalink