Sam Bauman: Don’t stop me if you’ve heard this
March 19, 2013
While watching an NBC newscast recently I was struck by the report noting how many thousands of seniors were being robbed by slyly phrased offers of inherited wealth, if they would just pay for the expenses involved. The figure was many millions of dollars with one senior losing it all, his house, his 401K and everything else. Most such losses are not reported, so exact figures are hard to come by.
Seems these scams are mostly coming from Jamaica, long a center of violence and gangs. Usual format is for a phone call to a senior that tells of an inheritance or lottery win or some such pot of gold that goes to senior if he or she would just forward funds to take care of the bank transfers and the like.
The amount can start out modest, perhaps a thousand dollars, but after it is sent some problems come up and another thousand or more is needed for the payoff. In the meantime the caller usually seeks and receives the victim's Social Security number, PIN number and other IDs.
The obvious answer to all this is to hang up on such offers. Yes, you've heard it before, but apparently many seniors are still lured in by the suggestion of a big payout. It's the same as downloads on the Internet; never download anything unless you know the person who sent it and trust him or her. Hidden codes can give the sender intimate information about your funds.
I've been targeted a couple of times and I've been tempted to give a false Social Security number and other deceptive IDs, figuring that the caller would waste time in trying to use them and might be discouraged. But I've never done that because I wasn't sure that a smart scammer couldn't somehow trace the false stuff back to me.
Alzheimer's drug testing to speed up
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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the watchdog over the pharmaceuticals industry, reports it will relax the approval process for drugs to treat the disease, it was reported in the New England Journal of Medicine recently. The report said that clinical trials of people in early stages of the disease would only need to show improvement in testing in the thinking and memory stages. Only modest improvements would need to be reported for the two processes; daily functioning improvement would not have to be seen.
Drug companies would still be required to do post-marketing studies on any approved drugs and safeguard against potential harm from continuing use of the new drug.
Problem with developing Alzheimer's drugs is in the measurement of the new medication's effect, since it is only through the reactions of the subjects that measurements can be taken. And this is a pretty subjective thing. How well do we know our memories are working? Do we actually test ourselves and keep records?
So this FDA move is encouraging.
A new client for respite
They come and go, those respite clients whom we serve, relieving caregivers from their 24/7 responsibilities. One of mine recently died and RSVP came up with a new one for me. For the first time the client is not suffering from dementia in any of its forms. Rather, it's multiple sclerosis which has struck him. He's pretty much restricted to bed or his electric motor cart, one hand is disabled but his mind is sharp and active. Let's call him Ed to protect his privacy.
He's a former middle-school science teacher and he reads, watches TV. He told me at our introduction that he has caregivers beside his regular companion who come in the mornings to get him out of bed, bathe and dress him; he pays them out of his own pocket, no Medicare involvement. He's obviously got pride.
I'm hoping that Ed can update me on some of the basic science which I have forgotten (or never knew very well). Like, why do my metal bar bells become colder than the ambient temperature?
Hiking time coming to Carson City
The surprisingly warm days have sent me out on the trails, following a winter of my treadmill hiking. One of my first walks (I used to bike there and will again as soon as I get my bike cleaned up) is along the Carson River starting out at the Silver Saddle Ranch. It's an easy stroll along many different routes, mostly ending up by the river. Not a challenge but very scenic. You can see how high the river gets at times by the mud marks on the trunks of trees. Plenty of parking. I've given up on cross country skiing but still plan to mark my birthday on the slopes, probably at Heavenly where I used to teach skiing. And yes, it's still a kick!
Sam Bauman writes about senior affairs, among other things, for the Nevada Appeal.