New Peabody Place Formally Opens After Celebratory Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony

Current members from 80-year-old facility moved into new senior living community April 2

A celebratory crowd of employees, board members, employees, friends, dignitaries and contractors were on hand at the brand-new Peabody Place to gather, tell stories and raise a glass to the completion of phase one of an ambitious renovation project. The formal ceremony took place on Thursday, March 31 and less than two days later, all members of the 1940’s era former Peabody Home began moving as the inaugural first members of Peabody Place.

“The work here started 80 years ago when four ladies bought the property and had a vision,” said John Benham, a long-time board member and volunteer who chairs the building committee. “The board had a vision for the new Peabody Place, which we have been working towards for the past six to eight years, with the understanding that we had to continue what started 80 years ago. Now, we’re ready for another 80 years.”

Peabody Place is pet-welcoming and features well-appointed apartments with private bathrooms, oversized windows and unique views of the Winnipesauke River. Amenities include common space for gathering on all floors, a 24-hour emergency response system, memory care services, apartments in a dedicated section of the building, personal transportation services, a beauty and barber shop, an exercise and wellness room and easy access to downtown Franklin.

“This home may be new but it’s a continuation of the work of many generations,” said Chris Seufert, who chairs the Peabody Place Board of Directors. “We would not be here today without the great work of our contractors, engineers and architects or without the many city officials and others who had a vision. It does take a village and a village can make a dream become a reality. You all dreamed big, and it is exciting to welcome residents into the new living space.”

Over 50 special guests attended the ribbon cutting ceremony on the afternoon of March 31 and enjoyed the remarks, a champagne toast, first-peak tours of the finished space and a sampling of the high-quality cuisine that is available to Peabody Place members. The following Saturday, dozens of volunteers helped move the current members living in the old building a few hundred yards into their new homes.

Franklin Mayor Jo Brown recalled old memories of playing the grand piano with her grandmother in the old building and on how the new Peabody Place embraces a forward of senior care. “I want to thank Executive Director Howie Chandler for moving the focus away from a nursing-focused medical facility and towards a whole person inclusive community of people that are coming in. The Peabody team is at the forefront on this,” she said.

The first phase of the project is now completed and is dedicated to individuals interested in an assisted living environment. Upon completion of phase two, the 63,632 square foot Peabody Place will more than double its original capacity and will include 45 assisted living apartments, 13 memory care apartments and 16 independent living apartments.

Funding totaling $26 million was approved through the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development’s Community Facilities Direct Loan & Grant Program in November 2020.

“New Hampshire and Vermont have two of the highest median ages,” said Eric Law, rural development community program director for the N.H./Vt. region of the USDA. “Our communities need quality, affordable elderly care and Peabody Place is a prime example of that. On behalf of USDA Secretary Vilsack, I want to congratulate you all. From your USDA, a sincere congratulations.”

The building was designed and built by EGA P.C. Engelberth Construction and the engineering work is being conducted by Nobis Engineering, both of Concord, N.H. Advisory work is being provided by New Hampshire-based RS Consulting and North Country and the Northern Community Investment Corporation, in St. Johnsbury, Vt.

Engelberth CEO Pierre Leblanc was also on hand for the ribbon cutting. “We built this new building through the pandemic and I’m so proud of everyone here. Our team and the many subcontractors that worked with us faced challenges, labor shortages and more to get to this point. It was pretty incredible to see everyone persevere. Now we’re going to go to locker room and regroup and kick the next phase into gear,” he said.

The original building will be torn down in mid-April to make room for phase two. This will include constructing a new independent living facility on that location. Both phases are being integrated into a single three-story building that features a granite and brick façade and large manor windows. Phase two is expected to be completed in late 2022.

Photo courtesy of Peabody Place. Photo caption (left to right) Franklin Mayor Jo Brown, Peabody Place Chair of the Board of Directors Chris Seufert and Engelberth CEO Pierre LeBlanc at Peabody Place ribbon cutting ceremony on March 31, 2022.

Peabody Place Readies for Opening

Brand-new state-of-the-art senior living community to open in early Spring

As finishing touches including window treatments, furnishings and décor are put in place, the long-awaited brand-new Peabody Place will open this spring and welcome individuals who are in need of assisted living. Construction on phase one of the $26 million residential senior living community is scheduled to be completed in early March. Current members living in the original 80-year-old Peabody Place (formerly known as Peabody Home) will begin moving in later in the month while new members will be welcomed in April.

“We are very excited to welcome current and future Peabody Place members to this new residential community that has been designed and built for their comfort and lifestyle,” said Howard Chandler, executive director of Peabody Place. “Assisted living is a wonderful option for those who might find living at home alone to be a bit of a challenge. As a nonprofit, community-based organization, we have no entrance fees and focus on offering affordable and attractive option for care and quality of life. Our doors will soon be wide open for individuals and their families to begin a new, exciting chapter of their lives at Peabody Place.”

Peabody Place is pet-welcoming and features well-appointed apartments with private bathrooms, oversized windows and unique views of the Winnipesaukee River. Amenities include common space for gathering on all floors, a 24-hour emergency response system, memory care services and apartments in a dedicated section of the building, personal transportation services, a beauty and barber shop, an exercise and wellness room and easy access to downtown Franklin.

Construction of the new 63,632 square foot facility is being done in two phases. Once completed, Peabody Place will more than double capacity and will include 45 assisted living apartments, 13 memory care apartments and 16 independent living apartments.

“We’re ready to roll out the welcome mat at Peabody Place,” said John Benham, who serves on the Peabody Place Board of Directors and chairs the Building Committee. “So much thought and attention to detail have been put into this effort and we’re thrilled to begin welcoming individuals to a place they will be proud to call home.”

The first phase will be the future home for individuals interested in an assisted living environment. After phase one is completed, the original building will then be torn down and phase two will include constructing a new independent living facility on that location. Both phases are being integrated into a single three-story building that features a granite and brick façade and large manor windows. Phase two is expected to be completed in late 2022.

Current members who live in the original 1942 Peabody Place (formerly called Peabody Home) will move into their new apartments first. Then new members will be able to move in after. Those interested in learning more and exploring living opportunities are encouraged to contact Peabody Place quickly given the demand for these services. For more information, contact Marylee Gorham at 603-934-3718 or [email protected].

I’m older, and I have more Insurance

Marylee Gorham, Director of Admissions & Marketing at Peabody Place, shares a few ideas for connecting to others for those approaching retirement. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about the New Year and what 2022 has in store for all of us.

Before you get too far into this article dear reader, know this is NOT a piece about New Year’s resolutions, which in my opinion, are an exercise in futility and not worth the time to make empty promises guaranteed to create guilt as you fail to live up to your own lofty expectations.

The last two years no one will deny, have been, shall we say, taxing and problematic. While the current iteration of the Covid 19 virus runs amok through the unvaccinated and children, it wasn’t so long ago that the group at the other end of the age spectrum bore the brunt of this formidable, invisible foe. Without belaboring the misery of 2020 – those horrible pre-vaccine days, elders in senior living communities took an incredible hit before benefiting from being among the first in line the very moment Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were approved by the FDA.

This brings me to my current musing – surviving and thriving in the current climate is truly an achievement – a MAJOR achievement and worthy of acknowledgment.

Today many in their 70’s are less dependent on others, have full mental competency, are fully functional and may even have fewer wrinkles than their parents at the same age. Maybe it’s the moisturizer! But seriously, settling back into our dotage isn’t a foregone conclusion after reaching the traditional retirement age.

None of us view the prospect of aging with glee, indeed, if we could stave off that inescapable physical decline with some magical elixir or pill, we’d be queuing up for it. Humans are living longer; according to the International Institute for Applied Systems Analytics (ILASA) in Vienna, the conclusion is that seventy-four signals progression from middle age to old age. Gone is the theory that one’s sixty-fifth birthday defines you as officially ‘old’.

senior couple riding a moped

Senior couple riding motor scooter having fun.

With those added years comes the opportunity and privilege to be the proverbial captains of our own ships. While many eagerly and with hardly a backward glance, step off the corporate wheel at 65 (our government is slowly pushing back retirement eligibility, many don’t seem to mind), official retirement isn’t necessary as one navigates the golden era of having lived long enough to simply do the things that bring satisfaction and joy.

Reaching these later years doesn’t mean one must be silent. This time affords the opportunity and privilege to be outspoken, mentor those that would benefit from the expertise gathered over a lifetime of experiences and careers.

Share one’s wisdom. Pick an issue to champion, get involved in community projects, local politics, volunteer at a charity whose mission aligns with your interests. Take a class at your local community center or higher learning campus. Age does not mean we’ve lost our capacity to learn new things. It isn’t too late to grapple with the pronunciation and grammar rules of a new language. Keeping step with our changing population census means even rudimentary Spanish as a second language is a skill worth learning.

How about taking up an art-focused hobby. Consider a “Ghost’ moment and learn the art of pottery ‘throwing the clay’ which has been to at the top of anyone’s list for low impact exercise and maintaining upper body strength and dexterity while sparking that area of our brains that appreciates color, beauty, form and function, and hand-eye coordination. Consider taking a glass blowing class, there are two or three studios right here in New Hampshire that offer wonderful experience classes. What a fun couple’s project or one to share with a group of friends or family members. One could take a class in Falconry, something completely different, also available in the Granite State – or – register to volunteer.

Post-retirement does not require anyone is settled into the recliner!

Consider taking a glass blowing class, there are two or three studios right here in New Hampshire that offer wonderful experience classes.

Peabody Place will be offering lots of opportunities to connect with our senior community and the greater City of Franklin as we immerse ourselves in outside projects. Whether one is already part of the Peabody Place family as a resident or has someone near and dear living with us, or you find you simply have some time to give as we look to our Big Move very, very soon, this is a wonderful time to think about a meaningful connection to us.

Our culture has always been one that honors and celebrates the achievement of years and a fully enriched life. Interested in joining the Peabody Auxiliary or becoming a volunteer at Peabody Place? We are but a phone call away to learn more.

Peabody Place partners with newly formed Auxiliary Group

Peabody Place, located in Franklin, has formed the Peabody Place Auxiliary group through a partnership with the Auxiliary Group. Comprised of a well-connected professional women, the Auxiliary will promote and support the mission of the senior living community in the Lakes Region.

“The Peabody Place Auxiliary will quickly prove itself to be important not just to our members – but to the greater Franklin community,” said Howard Chandler, executive director of Peabody Place.

Auxiliary co-chair, Christine Dzujna, has successfully grown the group from humble beginnings in 2009 starting with a dozen people from her church, the Bessie Rowell School, Business & Professional Women’s Franklin chapter, and her own neighborhood. The group separated from Franklin Regional Hospital when LRGHealthcare merged with Concord Hospital. The Auxiliary historically has a strong track record of fundraising and has supported many programs in its prior iteration including The Lights of Memory, Senior Safety Day, Tanger Outlet’s Annual Fit for a Cure 5K, in addition to hosting the “Mom Prom” and running a wildly successful gift shop which also hosted the Christmas in July sale.

“Our Auxiliary has worked hard over the years [to support the hospital and enjoyed every minute],” said Dzunja. “I personally look forward to being a part of the Peabody Place Auxiliary. They say, when one door closes another opens. We’re thrilled to lend our skills, enthusiasm and goodwill to Peabody Place and look forward to many wonderful projects!”

Peabody Place represents the transition of the older Peabody Home; a beloved post war mansion on Central Street where seniors from the area could live well contemplating their later years with grace and dignity.  This former mill town is currently undergoing revitalization and major capital investment with the refurbishments of manufacturing buildings, a steady downtown infusion of new businesses, upgraded facades, real estate renovations retain the light industrial vibe of interior brick, high tin ceilings and exposed duct work.  East on Central the new whitewater park enjoys construction, while west on Central, the new Peabody will be open in late February.  Meanwhile, the newly formed charitable arm of Peabody Place will continue what has always been a deeply embedded community resource.

Navigating the finer points of the Assisted Living Admittance process – Or Don’t Wait to plan ahead

By Karen Bachelder, Peabody Place family member

How many of you out there have aging parents?  Ok, now, how many of you have aging parents with an actual PLAN for transitioning to assisted living?

As we all know, the best plan for getting old is to A) Win the Lottery and B) have at least eight children who can collectively deal with everything from finances to transportation and everything in between, as you get older.

For those of us whose parents were shortsighted enough not to do this, there are two other ways to handle their transition from regular life to assisted living.

HOW YOU OUGHTA DO IT

In an ideal world, Mom and Dad would start planning WAY ahead. Along about age 75, they’d realize they should downsize and simplify life and move closer to doctors and other amenities. They’d conduct an organized search / tours / applications for assisted living, move at leisure, and then sit back and relax, knowing that everything is taken care of.


HOW (and why) TO NOT OUGHTA DO IT

There are a lot of reasons why otherwise intelligent and capable people fail to implement organized, rational and well-considered transitions.

Sometimes Mom and Dad are just waiting till they get old. (They’re 90 and they’re still waiting.) They don’t realize how much their world and their capabilities have shrunk. Since they’re still “getting along ok,” they “don’t need to go into assisted living” just yet. And maybe you, as their child, don’t want to push them.

But here’s what will happen.

A bomb will go off. It will not be at a convenient time.  Mom or Dad will have a fall or other sudden medical issue. You will have to DROP EVERYTHING. Immediately.

Mom or Dad will be in the hospital and the realization dawns they are not safe to live at home anymore and need to go into a nursing home or assisted living NOW. There will be a VERY short window of time to find assisted living. This is NOT the way to do this!

For starters, assisted living is not like midweek room availability at Motel 6. You can’t just drive up and expect there’s a room ready for you. There are a lot more aging loved ones out there than there are available rooms, and the wait can be several MONTHS or longer. You can’t wait that long.

At this point a frantic search will ensue, and you’ll be on the phone constantly, running all over the State, touring homes and seriously considering putting your SELF into a home while you’re at it. It will be complete chaos, but here are a few suggestions to make things easier.

THINGS YOU CAN DO AHEAD OF TIME

Contact list – list of contacts, account numbers, billing addresses, etc., for everything your parent(s) do / need on a regular basis – banks, credit cards, utility companies, insurance, Medicare, pensions, their attorney, tax preparer, even the lawn care guy and the auto repair shop.

Password list – compile a list of passwords and usernames of everything that involves financial, healthcare and other accounts.  Might sound simple but don’t forget the password to the computer itself!

Wills / Trusts / Powers of Attorney – this should be obvious, but an amazing number of people don’t have one, or just “haven’t gotten around to it.” (See “waiting till we get old” above.)

Be added as a signatory on the Checking Account – you will need this if you suddenly have to pay all the bills, and it’s WAY easier to just BE on the account than to have to go through POA, etc. to get access.

KNOW WHERE THESE ITEMS ARE:

  • Trust and/or Will Documents
  • Durable General Power of Attorney – it needs to be fully signed and enacted!
  • Advance Directives the portable DNR card
  • Recent Bank (checking / savings account) statements
  • Recent Financial / Investment / Annuities / CDs / IRA statements
  • Tax records or other documentation of the current value of your house
  • Copies of Mom / Dad’s ID / Driver’s License, Social Security Card, Insurance Card
  • Copies / proof of deposits of Mom / Dad’s pension(s), Social Security income
  • Long Term Care Insurance policy info
  • Medicare info / card / ID number
  • Any other medical insurance they might have
  • Last year’s Income tax – 1040 form
  • Names / contact info of any doctors who have been involved in recent care

THINGS YOU CAN DO WHEN THE BOMB GOES OFF! 

Organize

This can be hard when your hair is on fire and you haven’t had any sleep in two weeks, but it’s worth it in the long run. Stuff will be coming at you from all directions, and if you’re “just now for the first time,” scrambling to find the household bills, wills, passwords and insurance cards, you’ll need to get the whole mess under some sort of control, FAST. Keep file folders – both digital and hard copies.

And finally – Pick a good home

Ok, seems elementary, but there is a lot of advice out there; nursing home checklists on line for example, and you should definitely use those, but also, pay attention to your gut when you tour the home. If you have the slightest sense of “eeehhhh… I don’t know about this…,” then, run!

You definitely want a high degree of competence, skilled care, and a safe and clean facility, but the personal touches are even more critical. Does the administrator take an active interest in you, and your loved one’s story? (Does she sit in her office with you for an hour, exchanging stories about life with your parents?) Do staff members act happy? (Normally, they WILL be pretty busy, but you can tell if they’re engaging beyond the required basic greeting).

Do the residents seem engaged? (Obviously not all of them can be, but if you see groups out watching TV together, or reading and talking in the common room(s), or just generally looking at YOU with curiosity, it’s a good sign that there is social engagement going on).

Does it feel like YOU would feel at home if YOU were going there?

Those were things that struck me immediately here at Peabody Home, and have made me feel I made the right choice for Dad, and would recommend Peabody to others in my situation.  

So – this is a hard process. It’s exhausting and emotionally draining. If you’re IN a crisis now, do the best you can, stay organized, and take help if people offer it. But if you CAN, get Mom and Dad to start planning NOW.

Do the “Pick a Good Home,” part FIRST, and you’ll be able to make that transition smooth, happy, quite possibly fun and an experience that will forge even tighter family bonds!

Navigating Assisted Living

A Guide for Seniors: Using Technology to Support Your Health

Thanks to modern technology, daily life is easier than ever. Ordering food, booking a vacation, keeping up with friends—all of these things have gotten simpler. Cutting-edge tools have also made life easier for seniors. If you are looking for ways to maintain your health and happiness as you age, Peabody Place offers a roundup of some innovative technology tools for seniors to help support health and make life easier.

Take advantage of cooking apps

Once you retire, you will have more time on your hands to devote to hobbies like cooking. When you aren’t pressed for time, preparing a meal is a far more enjoyable experience. Make the most of it by mastering senior-friendly recipes. Nutritious food gives you the nutrients and vitamins you need to maintain energy, which can be difficult to maintain as we get older.

Your smartphone can be a useful sous chef when preparing food. Cookster provides a roundup of practical apps to download. The Allrecipes app offers free recipes, for instance, while SideChef provides easy step-by-step instructions for meals targeted at newbie chefs. Finally, Tasty lets you manage all your different recipes easily in one place.

Consider taking a multivitamin

Even with a healthy diet, you might not get all the nutrients you need from food and drink alone. Many Americans fail to get the recommended daily amount of vitamin A or D, for example. A supplement specifically designed for seniors can help ensure you aren’t missing out on any essentials.

Use a technologically advanced pillbox to keep track of your supplement intake as well as any other medications you may need. Modern trackers don’t just allow you to compartmentalize pills based on day of the week; they also remind you to take them at the right time using gizmos like flashing lights or sounds.

Focus on fitness

As your needs change over the years, it’s important to look for exercises that will help improve your quality of life. Focus on activities that allow you to work on your balance, strength, and mobility. Yoga, swimming, and cycling are great ways to boost your health while having fun doing so. If you prefer working out at home, find a suitable regimen that works for your age group and requires little to no equipment. You can even turn to fitness apps with at-home workouts you can enjoy at your own pace.

Modern fitness trackers and smartwatches can keep track of everything from heart rate to how much physical activity you get on a daily basis. Some models can also alert emergency services if needed. This can be especially useful for older individuals who are more prone to dangerous falls at home. While new models can be pricey, a refurbished one can offer the same benefits at a lower price. Simply jazz it up with a new band, connect it to your smartphone and you’ll be ready to go.

Take advantage of preventative care

Preventative care is the key to living a long and healthy life. Regular checkups allow your doctor to catch potential signs of illness early and to make lifestyle recommendations so you can get on a healthier track. Note that Medicare may cover preventative measures; for instance, with a Medicare Advantage plan, you may qualify for certain wellness programs.

If you aren’t currently in Medicare Advantage, it is possible to switch during the yearly enrollment period. This is your chance to reexamine your current plan and see if you should upgrade. Medicare.gov provides all the information you need to help you decide whether you should make the switch.

Stay social with modern technology

Finally, don’t forget to address your mental well-being as well. Many seniors may find themselves feeling isolated, especially after retirement when they no longer have the daily social contact they once had. This is why living at Peabody Place can make such a difference. With an array of activities and social programs, residents can stay engaged and enjoy a sense of community. For additional ways to stay connected, use apps to find volunteering opportunities, join a MeetUp group related to a favorite hobby or pastime, or consider even rounding up friends for weekly card games via Zoom.

With the above tech tips and tools, you can maintain your well-being physically and mentally.

Continued good health is the first step to enjoying your golden years as much as possible. Technology can also bring enjoyment to your life, which is important for your health — whether using a tablet or smartphone, you have a plethora of entertainment at your fingertips!

 

By Rhonda Underhill, Guest blogger
GetWellderly.com

Those pesky Robo Calls and Elder Exploitation

By Marylee Gorham

I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to my mobile phone in terms of actual calls since texting is an easier, faster, more efficient way to communicate. However, when someone has tried to reach me lately, invariably they are frustrated with the all too frequent message “voice mailbox is full.” Annoyingly, I am clearing out unwanted messages at least twice a week.  I believe 99% of these calls are robo calls.

Robo calls were on the decline in the early months of the pandemic, but folks, they’re back in full force overtaking their pre-Covid peak with an estimated 4.9 billion robo calls in March 2021 alone. Half of them are being placed by scammers. Seniors are a primary target for these calls and lost $1 billion in 2020, according to the FBI.

The pandemic had some unimaginable consequences, one was the surprising drop in robo calls early on in 2020. In April 2020, by all accounts, less than 3 billion dubious calls were made – the lowest figure in two years.  As we’ve all become used to working from home however, spam and scam calls have begun to increase, soaring to unprecedented numbers in 2021.

According to robo call prevention service YouMail, 1,911 calls per second or 159 million calls per day were logged in March 2021! This company estimates we will have received north of 51 billion unwanted calls by the end of this year!

Telemarketing spam, automated calls from companies you haven’t authorized to contact you, prerecorded messages dangling goodies or those that demand payment for non-existent debt, all have the singular goal of getting you to send money or disclose sensitive personal data.

It’s important to note that many robo calls are legal. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allows them for some informational or noncommercial purposes, such as political campaigning, polling, and outreach by nonprofit groups. Your medical provider’s office can robocall you with an appointment reminder, an airline with news about a flight change, even weather alerts – it’s all perfectly legal.

Congress has passed a law attempting to put an end to robo calls, but it hasn’t been very effective so far, due to loopholes. The Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission identified them as the top complaint in 2020.

How is it that telemarketing is even legal?

Telemarketing – by definition a soliciting business sales contact by means of a phone call – is legal, provided the telemarketer complies with the law, including the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Consumer Protection Act. You might be surprised to learn that the Act prohibits:

  • Calling before 8.00a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  • Robocalling without your prior written consent
  • Calls that don’t identify the caller, who they’re calling on behalf of, and contact information for such person
  • Robocalling without an opt-out mechanism
  • Calls to anyone on the Do Not Call Registry (other than exempted calls).

Agencies and other entities that will never call you

Vigilance and mental dexterity are required when fielding these calls. Scammers are able to mask their true location using technology that engages ID spoofing, which is when the number looks legitimate and may appear its coming from a local source within your own area code. It isn’t.

Government agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service or Social Security Administration will NEVER call you. Any communication from these agencies will ALWAYS be in the form of a letter, on official letterhead, received by regular mail.

Lately scammers have created fraudulent calls centered around “the attorneys have negotiated a settlement for your unsecured debt” and phony calls for confirmation for your order for Walmart or Amazon. With online shopping exploding during the pandemic, you might find yourself thinking twice about this particular scam.

My personal favorite: [there is] a warrant for my arrest due to fraudulent activity on my Social Security.  Press 1 now to speak to us blah, blah, blah. I say, send the Sherriff’s over right away, let’s see what happens next!

How Do Scammers Get Your Number in the First Place

Most telemarketers purchase phone numbers from third party data providers. Here’s how those providers may have procured your number, according to the Better Business Bureau:

  • You called an 800, 888, and/or 900 number (they use caller I.D. technology and collect phone numbers)
  • You applied for credit
  • You contribute to charities
  • You are a registered voter
  • You bought anything, or entered any contest, and gave your phone number in the process
  • Your phone number is on your checks.
  • You call a business, and they have caller I.D. (which, you should assume they do).

“Can You Hear Me” & “Is this you?” and other trick questions

According to Eva Velasquez CEO & President of Identity Theft Resource Center advises caution when answering that first question. “By getting you to answer ‘yes’ to that one question at the very beginning of the call, rather than somewhere in the middle of the conversation, where dubbing would be more obvious – scammers can record your affirmative answer.”  A recorded ‘yes’ can be used to extort payment for a product or program later on, or to authorize transactions on a credit card. Likewise: “Is this the lady of the house” (?) “Are you there (?)”, and other leading questions that could elicit a one-word response; your best strategy quite simply is to hang up.

Our elder population may be especially vulnerable to such calls.

Changes to the brain

Such terms as “age-associated financial vulnerability” or AAFV have been coined by eminent doctors in the realm of neuropsychology. Mark Lachs, a practicing physician at Weill-Cornell Medicine in New York has written:

AAFV as a pattern of financial behavior that places an older adult at substantial risk for a considerable loss of resources such that dramatic changes in quality of life would result and that is inconsistent with previous patterns of financial decision making during younger adult life. This condition can occur in the absence of dementia or other neurodegenerative diagnoses and may or may not be the presenting manifestation of such illnesses.”

The theory that as we age, regardless of cognitive disease, our ability to detect suspicious situations may decline.  We may become prone to seeing the upside of a ‘too good to be true’ deal and downplay the risk. Elders may be inclined to believe the last person they spoke to, overly trusting of a persuasive voice or worse, ill-equipped to deflect high-pressure telephone predation. Social isolation and loneliness further set up our elders for exploitation, not to mention, they may be in possession of substantial assets. Older folks are more likely to live alone, without a strong local support system to act as a second set of eyes and ears, seniors can be lured into financial traps.

Older adults have comparatively more wealth than younger generations, and make up a massive demographic most attractive to criminals intent on fleecing seniors of their hard earned retirement funds. The number of people aged 65 and older will nearly double in the next 30 years, making up one in five of the US population. One gerontologist put it this way: abuse of the elderly is, at its core, lack of social support. The cure is social support. The best way to help vulnerable loved ones is just to be there, to be present in their lives.

Elders of a certain generation who came of age during the Great Depression and World War II may be less skilled at navigating the Internet and determining scams perpetrated via this platform – and scammers are ever more technologically sophisticated.

One particularly high-profile conviction involved a spectacularly odious fellow from Jamaica who unwittingly targeted a seemingly frail 90 year old, who just happened to be the former head of the FBI and the CIA, William Webster, with the promise of fake sweepstakes winnings.

Scientist now are focused on the physical changes in the aging brain related to financial vulnerability. In some cases new emerging patterns of mistakes with money may be a harbinger of cognitive decline. Nathan Spreng, a neuroscientist at McGill University, has been conducting research linked to scamming and the elderly. His two groups of 13 elders of similar age, education and socioeconomic standing looked at who had been victimized by a successful scam and who had not. Interestingly their brain scans were markedly different. Says Spreng:

“When we looked at the structural integrity of their brain, we identified one region in particular that was significantly smaller in those individuals who had been scammed than those who had not. A thinning of the part of the brain called the ‘insula’ which gives you this body sense of the perceptions of the environment that something’s not quite right and it’s a signal that all of us in life kind of need to learn how to listen to. In the case of aging, that signal just isn’t as loud.”

In an award-winning paper published by the Brookings Institution, researchers identified a peak age for handling money matters: on average it’s 53 years old.

Of course, this AAFV scenario doesn’t necessarily mean all of us as we age will suffer.  Plenty of older folk are just as sharp as they were in the 20s and 30s and indeed, many seniors have that edge over their younger selves, shall we chalk that up to wisdom {?} or as I like to quote Kathy Bates in the film Fried Green Tomatoes, “I’m older, and I have more insurance!” Financial acumen and scam-spotting really are complex matters. Gullibility to scams does cross all generations but we would do well to do all we can to protect our elder loved ones.

Set up a Financial Plan for the Future

Robo calls and elder exploitation

Make a plan early before decline becomes apparent and crisis is not looming on the horizon.   Decisions made while fully competent include designation of Power of Attorney – that trusted person who will be the driver for money matters if and when that becomes necessary. Likewise making accommodations for one’s Durable Power of Attorney for HealthCare and Advance Directives can also block would-be scammers at a time of exquisite vulnerability.

The Foundation for Healthy Communities planning guide is a great resource to access appropriate documents without attorney fees. Look at  www.healthynh.com for details.