Watch Out for Unexpected Recurring Charges on a Parent’s Credit Card

Over dinner at my parents’ house recently my mother commented that a recurring charge appeared on her Mastercard statement every month for at least a year.

Read this Seattle Times March 2012 Article

Read this Seattle Times March 2012 article.

“I have no idea what it is,” she said. She had been checking her bills and was unsure about what to do.

I looked at the bill and sure enough, on the second of the month during all of 2013 mother was charged $9.95. When I did a bit more research, I found that the company charging the fee presents as a savings club, offering discount opportunities.

I’ve listed some of them below.

  • Quarterly grocery rebates
  • 20% savings on grocery gift cards from trusted vendors
  • Pre-paid debit cards for trade-ins
  • Discounts on auto maintenance at a variety of car repair franchises
  • Up to $250 reimbursement on the deductible on your homeowners or renters insurance when an insured loss occurs.

Trouble is, the person who sold my mother this “membership” when she was buying a blouse at a well-known mid-range national department store, did so without telling my mother what she was really purchasing. My mother thought she was getting a $10 discount on the sale and on subsequent purchases at the store.                       Continue reading

How Does Your Life Resemble a Millennial’s Life?

How Millennial

Click and take the quiz.

If you are an older adult or an adult child, you probably know at least one millennial family member who was born in 1981 or later. Millennials are digital natives, born into a world that is markedly different from the world in which we all grew up. So when it comes to life, they also have markedly different outlooks and habits.

I just discovered and took a quiz How Millennial Are You? over at the Pew Internet Research Center website. It is interesting and fun, so give it a try!

The questions cover digital-age habits such as reading newspapers, using mobile phones, and watching television, as well as a fair number of life-style issues. It’s interesting to do, and the score places each quiz-taker on a continuum with a range of generations from people in their in their 70s and above (called the silent generation) to boomers and down through other demographic groups to millennials.

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Senior Moment or Alzheimer’s?

As the adult children of aging parents most of us are used to hearing friends and colleagues make the “senior moment” comment. Often when a person over 45 or so has difficulty remembering something, he or she will comment, “…oops, I’m having a senior moment.” I began noticing this in my late 40′s and now, a few years later, it happens at least once a day. I make the comment, too, though I am trying to stop saying it.

Part of this is joking about the normal changes occurring in our brains as we grow older, according to a February 9, 2010 Washington Post article, Memory Lapses Are Common and Increase with Age; When Do They Signal Alzheimer’s? As we get older, our brains become less efficient and we store information less effectively.

My husband's mother would throw her toothbrush into the wastebasket or put it in her sewing box.

My husband’s mother would throw her toothbrush into the wastebasket or put it in her sewing box.

However, now that I have watched the steady decline and eventual death of a family member with dementia I feel my forgetfulness more intensely. As my mother-in-law’s continued experience  more severe dementia symptoms, we found dozens of friends and acquaintances who were experiencing or had experienced the same disease in their families. Just about every person occasionally worried about the potential for dementia in the future. When my husband and I had a moment to think about ourselves during that time, and it was not that often, we wondered how we might prevent dementia from occurring in our lives. It doesn’t feel like a joke that the senior moment comment implies.           Continue reading

Scams Aimed at Boomers, Too

Although we worry most about scams aimed at aging parents, adult children need to be sure that they, too, have the wherewithal to avoid victimization.

Check out the blog feature Top Scams Targeting Baby Boomers During the Government Shutdown over at EmaxHealth, an independent health news organization. scamThe post, by Kathleen Blanchard, details some of the creative ways that dishonest people are taking advantage of the anxiety that people face in uncertain times — in this case the government shutdown — and also in transitional times such as during the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act this fall or during open season for Medicare Advantage every year.

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Do We Owe Our Parents?

I’ve just finished reading an interesting article, What Do We “Owe” Our Parents?, over on Next Avenue. In the September 12, 2013 online article author Suzanne Gerber discusses the motivations of adult children when it comes to aging parents and caregiving roles and describes a nationwide on-line survey conducted for More magazine, a publication aimed at mature women.

More info graphic

One small section of the info graphics. Read the description of the survey and see more info graphics in the magazine or visit the More website.

Intrigued by the Next Avenue article, an NBC Today Show interview about the survey, and More magazine’s brief on-line description (the full results will not be posted on-line until late October), I purchased the magazine. The most interesting survey result is that 81 percent of the 751 participating men and women say that they expect to help their parents when the time for helping out arrives.                             Continue reading

iPads for Seniors? My Dad Knows How Cool It Is!

Early on iPad training with my dad.

Early on iPad training with my dad.

iPads for seniors as a way to decrease isolation and stimulate intellectual curiosity?  You bet! After writing over 20 iPad for Dad columns about my dad and his iPad, I could have told them so and my dad can, too.

I know that Steve Jobs was not thinking about seniors in the elder years of their lives when he conceived Apple’s iPad, but it’s the perfect tool for them — lightweight, easy to use, intuitive, connected to a world of resources, and after just a bit of training, it enables seniors to do things that they want to do (check news, watch movies, connect electronically with family members, etc.).

An article in today’s Washington Post (July 14, 2013), Successful Program to Help D.C. Senior Citizens Use iPads to Prevent Isolation Will Expand, that describes a District of Columbia pilot program, funded by the AARP Foundation, that distributed 55 iPads to seniors and offers classes on a regular basis. According to the report, no one has dropped out of the training and no iPads have been lost. Now the program is doubling.

We live in a connected world — in fact we take it for granted. People who do not have access may experience isolation. Moreover, many elders either do not have access to the Internet, or if they do, there’s not get enough training to get started with life’s  technology tasks. As they age into later years, elders are still eager to learn — lifelong learners, actually –  and they can be well served if their adult children or their communities help them gain access to technology tools and entre to the required training.

I’d love to know where else there are other successful iPad programs for seniors.