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Old 10-28-2006, 09:00 AM   #1
Mrs. CountryGuy
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HOW to help our elderly parents

Al's mom is a widow, legally blind, in her mid 80's, living in her own home and even tho we do see signs of degradation of her thoughts and functions, she is actually doing quite well. She can walk better now than she could a few years ago, she gets meals on wheels to help her out, she makes her own doctor appointments and has the senior bus come get her or calls a cab. She is doing pretty good.

CEPT for one thing, which has concerned us for quite a while and even tho we have warned her, she got nibbed. She answered the door and we believe she signed a contract with an out of state power provider for anywhere from 3 to 5 years. There is a lot involved in this, as first of all, as far as we know, they did NOT leave a copy of what she signed with her.

So, we are jumping the hoops and ladders, many phone calls cannot be made till Monday, the police have been contacted, ditto the power company for a prelim complaint. Al will be calling the Consumer Protection types and other state bureaus on Monday as well.

So, this is a general question, not necessarily specific to this situation.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO PROTECT YOUR ELDERLY PARENTS FROM NONSENSE LIKE THIS???

We ask, cause we know how many creative and very very smart people frequent this forum. What we are looking for are creative, out of the box thinking type suggestions on methods, tricks, hints, anything. What has worked for your families??

In responses, please remember that state laws differ, but we are interested in all responses, cause what you say, might lead us to a idea or response or action that we would not have thought of otherwise.

Many of us have elderly parents, and some of you have already lost them, but you may have had to have deal with this, so, how bout helping each other on this one, post some thoughts.

Thanks
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Old 10-28-2006, 01:12 PM   #2
Driftwoodgal
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Carol,

I have a lock on my phone service that will not let me change it unless I send them a letter in writing. We got slammed on our long distance phone coverage a while back. I contacted the Public Utilities Commission here in Texas and had them investigate the company.

Can't help you out with the power company, but I am wondering if they have something like that?

Sorry this has happened to you. I know I would be hoping mad if someone had taken advantage of my parent.

Colleen
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Old 10-28-2006, 02:40 PM   #3
TheCoachPotatoes
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Carol,
In order for a salesman to go door to door here, he must have a peddler's permit. This may not be the same where you live. Also, there may be a law that gives you a certain amount of time to get out of a contract. I believe there is such a law here in New York State. I would think the Public Service Commission would be able to answer all of Al's questions involving the legality of it all.

People nowadays are very concious of older people being victimized and, it is possible the company may back off to avoid any publicity. Sometimes the local news station here will get involved and warn people that this type of thing going on. They will even name the company.

One idea is to post a sign saying "No Solicitation". This may or may not help. But, I don't think it would hurt.

Sorry you are having these problems. It is so hard when the roles are reversed.

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Old 10-28-2006, 02:47 PM   #4
TheCoachPotatoes
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Just thought of something else. If she is legally blind, that may play into the whole situation. There is an "American's with Disablities Act" that companies have to adhere to. Also, call the "American Association for the Blind". I would play whatever card I have. My question would be, how can she sign something she can't read?
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Old 10-28-2006, 03:15 PM   #5
mfoss
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I'm not sure if this is just ND law or not but in our state there is a 3 day "window" that allows you to cancel a contract (ie, a vaccum cleaner salesman sells you a $2000 vaccum). I believe even if you did not set up payments and paid for it in full, you can cancel the deal. It's a real concern having older people being taken advantage of.......bad sentence, ending in of!
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Old 10-28-2006, 04:09 PM   #6
Mrs. CountryGuy
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Thanks, couple of ideas here we can contemplate.

Do like that American With Disabilities Act thought, thanks Nina for that one! And the 3 day cancellation, but we think we are past that. GRRR. The peddling license is something that Al is going to pursue with the police. One thing that does help us, in particular, is that Al's cousin works for the utlitiy. (Like someone said, use everything you can! )

OKKK, seeing that the deed is done, and we have reasons to believe/hope we can get out of this, can we concentrate on proactive actions to protect her (and all of our seniors) from this happening?

Like Colleen's idea about the lock on the service and the letter requirement. Had not heard of that one, that would be something that would protect her in the future.

Had not thought of the NO SOLICITORS sign till this afternoon, that will be going up TOMORROW!!

If we put the stuff like the electric bill in Al's name, she could not sign anything and have it be legally binding. Is that a possible action??

Again, I am looking for ANY ideas that are proactive to keep this from happening again. Things we can do to keep her from getting taken.
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Old 10-28-2006, 04:49 PM   #7
richfaa
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Here are some of the things we did in caring for my Mom and Dad. I 'purchased" the house, paid the taxes and all the utilities were in my name. Local bank accounts were transfered into my two sisters names and they paid all the bills.Investments they had and all other financial matters were transfered into my name and managed by me. Finally we(my sisters and I) were able to go through the PA courts and get legal guardianship. They were now not legally responsible for anything. That is a oversimplification of some very difficult issues but from our parents point of view nothing changed and we were able to maintain their quality of life and dignity to the end. It was very difficult and very stressful but things that you do without complaint.
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Old 10-29-2006, 01:42 AM   #8
Wrenchtraveller
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I have heard of Banks that will notify family members if any activity over a certain dollar figure occurs.

It is so despicable that there are people and businesses that prey on older folks. I had a part time masonry business and I did a lot of brick and tile jobs where elders would come over and watch me work. Some are lonely and would ask me to come over to check out a crack in their chimney or some other small repair. I could never imagine over charging these sweet old people and I did a few freebies for the ones that you could tell had no money. If taking advantage of older people is what it takes to make a successful business than I am glad my masonry business was not a big financial success.
I might not have piles of money but I have no trouble sleeping at night.

Carol, good luck finding a way to help Al's Mom from being ripped off in the future.
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Old 10-29-2006, 02:21 AM   #9
TheCoachPotatoes
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Carol,
I'm really at a lost thinking of what you can do. All of these things weighed on me when my parents were alive. My father and mother both were very good with their money, however as they grew older and weren't well, it seemed like their confusion on things like this just continued to get worse. I do think it helps if they have something to be involved in and therefore aren't as lonely. My parents went to church every week and my Dad was also very involved with hunting, fishing, carpentry work, gardening. They had quite a few friends also. My mom was involved in her senior citizens group and also did a lot of charity work. A lot changed however when my Mom's dementia got very bad and she also had to undergo kidney dialisis, and at the same time my Dad had Prostate Cancer that was progressing. When it gets to the point that they can no longer socialize in the outside world, here lerks the danger of unscrupulous people preying on them.

You might check with her local Senior Citizen organization. Sometimes they have events that would get her out and about. I work for a town in upstate NY and we have a great senior citizen department. They have something going on almost everyday and provide some transportation. They have quilting, knitting, exercise classes, art classes and a meal every Tuesday. It is amazing how noizy these people are. If I go downstairs here at Town Hall on a Tuesday, you would think you were entering a high school gym. All the talking and laughter. They sure sound like they are enjoying themselves. They also go on many day trips. They rent a tour bus and they do charge but it is alway a good deal and it always included stopping for lunch somewhere really nice.

It is all so very difficult for you and for her. She must be lonely. I think Richfaa's ideas were good. My father did give me power of attorney. however, I did not have any real power. He was very independent and wanted to be in charge of everything right to the end. I think you have to tread softly here, it would be really great if your husband could get things in his name for her protection. Consider taking her to an attorney who specializes in Elder Care. You may even go there yourself for a consultation.

Good luck, it sounds like you are heading in the right direction!

Nita
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Old 10-29-2006, 03:23 AM   #10
Mrs. CountryGuy
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Some more great ideas here, thanks, and keep em coming!!! We know we are not the only ones in this situation and even tho some of these suggestions have been discussed here in the Stevens home, it is great to hear them stated here, kinda reinforcing.

Nita, I agree and so does Al about the senior citizens groups, if you only knew how hard we had to fight to get her to call the bus for transportation and then to agree to accept meals on wheels. She is very independent, or stubborn, or both, on some fronts. Once we get her to try it, she adjusts quite well and enjoys. But, getting her to attend senior citizens activities, well, if you only knew! I'm not sure, but I don't think she wants to condiser herself a senior?? Gotta laugh and giggle, it is rather cute, when it is not so infuriating!

Again, do thank ya all for your input, and again, anything else ya have to add here, it is VERY helpful, we need all the ideas we can cook up!

Thanks Rich, very good ideas, appreciate your input! And Don for that idea about the bank notification.

OH, one thing Al did a few years back is get her signed up on Privacy Guard, he can monitor her financial status that way, and is notified if there are inqueries. That after she gave someone her social security number. OHHHH boy!
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Old 10-29-2006, 03:29 AM   #11
trukdoc
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I am like Wrenchtraveller. I may not make piles of money but I like sleeping at night and being able to look straight into the mirror.
Would not have it any other way.
I had one customer (when I was in that end of the business) that paid me to come out and give her car a good driving. Finished the drive with a visit with her. I think that is what she really wanted anyway.
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Old 10-29-2006, 04:20 AM   #12
TheCoachPotatoes
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One other thing I am picking up on this thread is the lonliness that is so profound in elderly people. This is so universal. Many years ago, just before Al and I married we went to Lancaster, PA. We wanted to purchase a Amish-made quilt. We went on the back roads and drove by a house on an Amish Farm. A sign for quilts was out on the porch. We went to the door and an elderly Amish lady answered. She and her husband had sold the farm and were allowed to live in an appartment in the house on the first floor. She showed us all her quilts and said she would make one to our specifications. She picked out all the materials herself and had hired ladies to help her. I'm getting a little off topic here, but she and her husband were so sweet and didn't want us to leave. They brought out snacks for us. We went back a second time and again they treated us like long lost friends. They were just so lonely. Family isn't always enough. I think we could all do better in visiting or helping older folks perhaps in our own community. We were sorry we didn't make it back there for many years and when we went there we found out they had both passed on.

Many older folks today are heros who fought in World War II and lived through the Great Depression. They are indeed the greatest generation and still have much to offer our society. Perhaps some of us have a fiend whose mother or father is alone. We might consider stopping by and visiting. We may learn something.

Just my thoughts. I know I could do better in this department!
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Old 10-30-2006, 06:14 AM   #13
Kimmrg
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TO Carol and all others who answered. I can't believe just how much I needed this post. My mom was just diagnosed with mild dimentia and I am in the middle of deciding just what steps I should be taking now. Thanks to everyone for all the ideas, you never know just how many people you help with just one post!
I also have been to the AARP and other senior sites doing research and they have a lot of information there. Kim
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Old 10-30-2006, 07:06 AM   #14
richfaa
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The things I describe in my above post did not happen overnight from the first signs of my Dad's Alzheimer's to my Mom's passing was nearly 10 years. Dad passed at 93, Mom at 91. I would suggest a good attorney or law firm that has a specialty in elder care. It is best , and easier to do many of the legal things while the parents are "competent" Understanding and co-operative. My Dad understood what was happening to him and took steps to protect them. We are doing some of these things now because we understand what can happen. We do not like to think about these things because they are "unpleasant"
But what can happen if you do not..is very unpleasant. In the first years of our lives our parents took care of us.We could not have survived without them. We can do no less for them in the last few years of thir lives.
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Old 10-30-2006, 08:14 AM   #15
Mrs. CountryGuy
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Kim,

Sorry to hear bout your mom, but as Rich says, as unpleasant as it is, we all travel these sad roads.

I hope that this thread will not get buried or left behind, because I am sure there are still others out there that have not read it, and may have some great suggestions, or like Kim, will benefit from it.

Now, a bit of sick humor, our eldest son was over at Al's mom's yesterday and he put up a NO SOLICITATION sign for us. Only they could not find one to purchase at the hardware store, and since time was short, they made one, and attached it to the front door with some kind of tape, she said it was masking tape. So, she is talking to Al this AM (he talks to her EVERY day now, and has been for several months, at a set time, and if she does not call, he has emergency numbers he WILL call), and she says to him, this sign is ugly!

Now, ya gotta know that Al had just spent a couple of hours on the phone talking to the power company and the Consumer people at the state level. Ya know he was stressed, this is serious to us, felt like we were standing on the edge of a tall building bout 30 stories up! And, she is worried about the UGLY sign?? I looked at him and we both busted out laughing, like lets get the priorities right, eh??

This was followed up by a stern discussion about NOT talking to anyone again, just point at the sign Al told her, tell them to get off your porch. You don't have to be nice to them. By the time he was done with that conversation, ole Carol was rolling on the floor.

Ya gotta remember, I have a strange, black sense of humor,
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Old 10-31-2006, 04:58 AM   #16
toolmanroy
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We have been dealing with some of these issues the past couple of years. My mother is now in a care facility with Alzheimer's. Thankfully after my father died my mother put my name on her checks. When she started bouncing checks left and right and lost the ability to understand money, I took over. She had used up all her money and we did not know it. My mother seemed to be in control of her life when in reality she was just treading water. With elderly parents it is better to have things in writing while they can still do that. With my mother she was already beyond reasoning when we all woke up to what was going on. We would have had to go to court but she had no money or anything to be concerned about, and I pay the bills for her facility and medication.

In Oregon we have Senior Services. My mother already had a caseworker. They had set her up to pay part of her rent through the state. When I called them they helped me get her into assisted living, but unfortunately she was not able to stay there. Her caseworker made sure she was lined up for all the services she needs. I would not have known on my own what to do. There is another group, which I believe is called ElderCare and is nationwide. You pay for their services, but they help you get what is available to help you. Ask around and see what agencies in your area provide services for seniors. They can help you with most aspects of making sure your elderly parents are protected.
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Old 10-31-2006, 09:19 AM   #17
richfaa
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You can go through the courts and have them declared "Incompetent" and assume legal guardianship. yes it is unpleasant but depending on the circumstances it is the only way to provide the proper care for them..
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Old 10-31-2006, 05:39 PM   #18
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Contact the Alzheimers Association and I am sure they would have information and suggestions to help this kind of stuff from happening. I know of a recent case where an older person was told by family members that he needed to sign new power of attorney and will papers so he could leave the hospital--so it is not always strangers that try to take advantage of older people.
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Old 11-01-2006, 08:53 AM   #19
richfaa
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There are many laws that are designed to protect the elderly from everyone including family members.."Patients rights" for example and I agree that there should be. These very laws can make it very difficult to provide care for them. As long as the person is deemed " competent" They are responsible for themselves. Competent or incompetent is a legal issue and no matter how incompetent the person may be or act as long as they are legally competent a well meaning family member may be prevented from providing care.....been there..done that. Power of attorney is not a "strong" document and many hospitals and nursing homes will not accept them particularly in "life and death" issues.
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