Savvy Seniors

Savvy seniors

By Josette Keelor/Northern Virginia Daily
Published Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The TRIAD Senior Safety Expo in Front Royal Wednesday was packed with advice for seniors on being financially savvy and keeping themselves safe from those who would seek to defraud them.

Always glad to learn something new, Patty Graves, of Stephens City, attended with her sister Terry Wymer, of White Post, who has accompanied her to previous expos.

“That’s why we came back,” Graves said.

Discussing Medicare fraud and abuse, Carl Lachenmayer, certified Senior Medicare Patrol presenter, warned against giving personal information like Medicare numbers or Social Security numbers to phone callers.

Such situations can result in identity theft, he said, which can affect victims’ finances for the rest of their lives.

A legitimate Medicare representative will never call or visit asking for personal information, he said.

He even advised clients leaving their Medicare card safely at home along with their Social Security card, so there is less chance of the cards being lost or stolen.

“It’s just not worth having to pay the price,” he said. “You can be up for such a headache. It’s terrible.”

Also warning against unscrupulous medical providers, he advised against stockpiling services or medical equipment like oxygen tanks since seniors might end up paying for something they’ll never have the chance to use.

Elaborating on Medicare, Marty Schiller, Virginia Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program specialist with the Agency on Aging, said many don’t realize they need to sign up for a Part D prescription drug plan if only to avoid unnecessarily high premiums later.

“I just want you to know the consequences,” she said.

Medicare patients might not sign up for a prescription plan if they’re not taking medication, but Schiller said a 33 cent monthly fee will begin accruing after a person’s initial seven-month Medicare open-enrollment period and keep accruing for every month a recipient doesn’t have a prescription drug plan. Five years later, a prescription plan would include an extra $20 every month “for the rest of your life,” she said.

But the expo wasn’t all cautionary tales.

Schiller also advised that seniors take advantage of free wellness exams, which help a patient update medical records and screen for conditions like depression or diseases that run in the family. Just don’t mention any ailments during that exam, she warned, or else the exam won’t be free.

Wednesday’s expo included vendors from Blue Ridge Hospice, Heritage Hall, Virginia Health Care Services, Turner-Robertshaw Funeral Home and various others. The Front Royal Police Department, Warren County Sheriff’s Office and SAAA also set up community display tables.

Each area Senior Safety Expo presents different topics of interest, and the Winchester/Frederick County expo on Friday will include warnings of frauds aimed at seniors and scams that Jennifer Evosevich, community liaison for Virginia Health Care Services, said can include people pretending to be a senior’s family member so they can extort money or steal other possessions.

Other topics will include elder abuse, safe disposal of medication, Medicare options, senior driving safety, respite care and information on Project Lifesaver, an international organization that outfits individuals who have severe disabilities or conditions like dementia with a wrist or ankle GPS locator for family and law enforcement to use if the individual wanders off or becomes lost.

Already registered for Friday’s expo, Wymer said she and Graves also plan to attend Shenandoah County’s expo in May.

“It’s good for the community, it really is, and it gets us out — something to do, meet people and have a good time,” Wymer said.

Upcoming Senior Safety Expos will be Friday at Braddock Street United Methodist Church, Winchester; May 8 at the Moose Lodge in Woodstock; and May 14 at Rileyville Baptist Church, Rileyville. All expos run from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., with check-in and breakfast until 9 a.m., breaks with door prizes awarded throughout the morning, and a lunch at noon.

The cost of lunch has been covered through vendor fees and a grant the Warren County TRIAD Council received from the attorney general’s office, which also funded gifts of nightlights and flashlights for attendees.

TRIAD is operated by the Senior and Law Enforcement Together Council, which meets monthly and seeks to improve the quality of life for older adults in the community, often supporting the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging and its Warren County Active Living Center.

Contact the Agency on Aging at 540-635-7141 or at info@shenandoahaaa.com.

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com

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