Senior Nation: The Art of the Scam by Memo Diriker

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Imagine this scenario: It is early evening; dinner time. The phone rings and a very kind, soothing voice asks for Mrs. Smith, the 78 year old resident. The caller is from Medicare, informing Mrs. Smith of a reimbursement issue but not to worry, it is an easy fix. The caller gathers some basic information from Mrs. Smith and promises that everything will be fine within 24 hours. A financial fraud has just been committed.

Various scams targeting seniors have become shockingly prevalent because, in the words of a convicted scammer, “They (seniors) have a lot of money and a lot of trust.” Unfortunately, a significant number of these crimes are committed by the victim’s own family members.

Whether the culprits are strangers or relatives, these types of fraud frequently go unreported or can be difficult to prosecute. The victims lose a lot and frequently are unable to recoup their losses or recover from the consequences. The variety of scams and fraudulent schemes is surprisingly wide. Some of the more common ones are:

· Medicare/health insurance scams
· Counterfeit prescription drugs
· Funeral & cemetery scams
· Fraudulent anti-aging products
· A wide range of telemarketing/phone scams
· Fake charity scams
· Fake accident ploys
· Internet and email fraud (including phishing)
· Fake or sub-par investment schemes
· Homeowner/reverse mortgage scams
· Sweepstakes & lottery scams

So, how can seniors protect themselves against such crimes? The National Crime Prevention Council has the following tips:

· It’s shrewd, not rude to hang up on a suspicious telemarketer
· Don’t give personal information to people you don’t know unless you initiated the contact
· Don’t let yourself get pressured into a verbal agreement or signing a contract
· Be skeptical of online charitable solicitations and other online offers
· Always ask to receive information in the mail and check to be sure the company is legitimate
· Never agree to pay for products or services in advance
· Get estimates and ask for references on home repair offers and other products or services
· If you suspect fraud, contact your local law enforcement agency immediately

If you have already been victimized, don’t be ashamed. You are not alone, and there are people who can help. Keep handy the phone numbers of your bank, the local police, the nearest office of Adult Protective Services, etc.

Speak out so this kind of crime can be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Dr. Memo Diriker is the Founding Director of the Business, Economic, and Community Outreach Network (BEACON). BEACON is the premier business and economic research and consulting unit of the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business at Salisbury University. BEACON is home to the award winning Community Visioning, ShoreTRENDS, GraySHORE, ShoreENERGY, GNAppWorks, and Bienvenidos a Delmarva initiatives and a proud partner of the GeoDASH initiative.

Some links to some additional resources:

https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-fraud-schemes/seniors
http://www.ncpc.org/topics/crime-against-seniors
http://www.aarp.org/aarp-foundation/our-work/income/elderwatch/report-fraud/
http://www.caregiverstress.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/1_Seniors_Fraud_Protection_Kit_US.pdf
http://www.aplaceformom.com/senior-care-resources/articles/senior-fraud-prevention
https://www.agingcare.com/frauds-scams

Gray Shore: Looking at the ACA in the Era of Trump by Memo Diriker

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November 2016 has come and gone. Now, we have a new President and a new faces in the U.S. Congress. The Republicans may have won it all but now, they are facing the daunting task of delivering on their various (costly) promises while simultaneously respecting the conservative values they hold dear. No GOP promise has been repeated as often and as loudly as the one to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as “Obamacare.”

Not surprisingly, Republicans in both the House and Senate have moved rapidly to set in motion the process for repealing the ACA but they seem to have not much of an idea with what to replace it. Every option available to them seems to have a different booby trap attached to it. While the senior leaders of the Republican Party are unanimous in their desire to repeal the ACA, they are most definitely not unified as to what will take its place. Whatever they solution they might be able to craft, they are assured of vigorous opposition from Democrats in Congress and from a very wide range of stakeholder groups throughout the nation.

To make the process even more complicated, the policy direction the new White House wishes to take with the replacement part of Repeal and Replace is not very clear. We are now finding out that some of the staunchest supporters of the new President were not aware that the “Obamacare” they so loudly opposed was the same as the Affordable Care Act that they seem to like quite a bit. The choices are not very good:

Should coverage be denied due to pre-existing conditions? Most Americans oppose this.
Should children over 18 be excluded from policies? Most families like this benefit.
Should the individual tax mandate be removed? Budgetary implications of this are phenomenal.
Should coverage amounts and categories be reduced? Seems to be a No-Win solution.
Should the high risk-pools replace the current policies? This is a bad solution with high costs.
Are Health Savings Accounts the answer? Not for millions who do not earn enough.

Another aspect of the replacement process is that Republicans can only repeal parts of Obamacare that have to do with budget measures. They will need at least eight Democrats in the Senate for replacing part of all of the ACA. The likelihood of Democrats collaborating in the replacement of their signature achievement has got to be pretty low.

Earlier, some GOP senators introduced a bill that would allow states to keep the ACA if they so choose but most Democrats are opposed to this bill that they label “Chaos.” Based on early indications, it is clear that the head winds against replacement will come from all corners, including within the GOP itself. Yes, Republicans want to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, but not all of them are ready to accept the consequences hurting people or adding to the deficit.

Finally, none of the current talk about repealing and replacing the ACA includes the need to reform the way we do healthcare here in the United States. At over $3.3 trillion a year or over $10,000 for each man, woman, and child in this country, we spend at least 50% more on healthcare than the next highest spending country (France) as a percentage of our GDP. Are our health outcomes 50% better? The answer is NO! Among the top 10 industrialized nations, we are dead last in healthcare outcomes. These outcomes include: Quality, Access, Efficiency, Equity, and Wellness. So, what is the one big difference between us and the other nine? Universal healthcare!

Dr. Memo Diriker is the Founding Director of the Business, Economic, and Community Outreach Network (BEACON). BEACON is the premier business and economic research and consulting unit of the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business at Salisbury University. BEACON is home to the award winning Community Visioning, ShoreTRENDS, GraySHORE, ShoreENERGY, GNAppWorks, and Bienvenidos a Delmarva initiatives and a proud partner of the GeoDASH initiative.

Gray Shore: Looking Back at 2016 – A Year of Changes By Memo Diriker

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Editor’s Note:  The Spy is pleased to welcome Dr. Memo Diriker as a guest columnist for our Senior Nation portal. In addition to Dr. Diriker’s highly respected analysis of data and demographics on the Eastern Shore’s growing aging population at the Perdue School of Business at Salisbury, he has become a significant leader in the advocacy of “aging in place,” and its associated support services, as a realistic alternative to the expensive institutional care. 

As a baby boomer, as I look back at 2016, I am both excited and a bit discombobulated to have witnessed two major milestones in our nation’s history. First, this was the year when we, the boomers, ceased to be the nation’s largest living generation. According to population estimates released recently by the U.S. Census Bureau, Millennials, defined as those aged 19-36, now number 75.4 million. We, the boomers (ages 52-70) are now just behind them at 74.9 million. It is interesting to note that Generation X (ages 37-51) is projected to pass the Boomers in population by 2028. Tomorrow clearly belongs to these younger Americans. But, don’t write us boomers off just yet. We and the Millennials have much to teach to and learn from each other. As has always been the case, we are stronger together than apart.

As for the second milestone, the jury will be out for quite a while whether it is a positive, negative, or neutral development in our nation’s history. I am talking about the end of the American political order as we know it. We might as well throw any rule book we may have had about how we select, elect, and appoint folks to lead our country. It is an entirely new game. I am a strong advocate for change in all walks of life. In general, change is good for us. It keeps us innovating and learning. Sometimes change can be gradual and other times abrupt. This change might have been a long time coming but the actual disruption we are observing now happened quite abruptly. For us boomers, some of the consequences of this change might not be so welcome. If I had any say, I would counsel these new generation of leaders to phase in some of these changes slowly so no one is too adversely impacted. Then again, I am an eternal optimist. I know that we live in a great country and, in time, all will be well.

Here are a few other milestones we observed this past year:

The percentage of American women in the workforce has passed 57 percent in 2016. These women are not quitters. In fact, the percentage of 70-plus women who are still working is expected to rise from 30 percent today to 39 percent by 2024.

The number of minority babies born exceeded majority babies in 2016. In just a few short years, America will be a minority majority nation. In fact, there will be no single group exceeding 50% of the population. This process of this change will prove to be somewhat rocky. In the long run, this too will make our nation stronger and better. As Mr. Spock of Star Trek fame said, “We rejoice in our differences!”

On another front, in 2016, a majority of Baby Boomers were on record saying that they are accepting of different lifestyles, even gay marriage, whether they are Democrat or Republican. This is especially interesting, since us boomers remain as divided politically as the rest of the nation. Almost as many people turning 70 this year said they were Republican (36 percent) as say they were Democrat (38 percent).

On the health front, us boomers can expect 15 more years of life than our grand parents’ generation. We are reaping a bounty of medical advances in areas like heart disease and cancer treatment. And, thanks largely to improvements in health care and pharmaceuticals, our bonus years can often be lived in a disease-free body.

Finally, we are now approaching our 90th month of recovery since the last recession. 2016 has been the best year of this long recovery period. Most economists expect the good times to continue for at least another year. But, please do not throw caution to the wind. Timing economic slowdowns is very hard to do. What we do know, however, is that they do follow times of recovery, just as night follows day. Being prepared is always a good thing. As David Bowie said, “Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it!” I am already turning up the volume of my hearing aid….

Dr. Memo Diriker is the Founding Director of the Business, Economic, and Community Outreach Network (BEACON). BEACON is the premier business and economic research and consulting unit of the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business at Salisbury University. BEACON is home to the award winning Community Visioning, ShoreTRENDS, GraySHORE, ShoreENERGY, GNAppWorks, and Bienvenidos a Delmarva initiatives and a proud partner of the GeoDASH initiative.