Q: My parents are getting on in age and will eventually need my assistance. I have no idea where to start planning. Can you suggest some starting points?
A: Many people avoid dealing with this subject until a crisis arises. You are to be congratulated for wanting to be prepared. There are four areas that you should become knowledgeable with: living arrangements, medical coverage, estate planning and finances.
Talk with your parents about their thoughts on future living arrangements when and if they become unable to care for themselves. If they want to remain in their own home you will need to familiarize yourself with the community resources available to provide the support they will require. You should also research alternative living arrangements in case remaining at home is no longer an option.
You will have to become familiar with the type of medical coverage your parents have selected and what it covers. You should obtain the name and telephone number of their primary care physician and any other physicians who are treating them. Become aware of any illnesses or disabilities they have and especially what medications they are taking.
Estate planning includes legal, financial and final needs issues. You should find out if your parents have an Advance Directive for Health Care, a will and/or trust and a general power of attorney for finances. Know who has copies of these vital documents or where they are kept. If your parents have an attorney you should also have his or her name and telephone number.
Finances are a key part of making any arrangements. Discuss with your parents their financial resources, both income and assets. This information will be of utmost importance if you need to place them in a long-term care facility or apply for government assistance programs. You should also know if they have Long Term Care Insurance.
The most difficult area to discuss will be final needs. Try to find out if your parents have made funeral arrangements and possibly have prepaid them. If no plans have been made encourage them to tell you what they want.
Discuss all issues with your parents while they are still able to make appropriate decisions and make their wishes known and if you have siblings make them part of that discussion.
Q: I am ashamed to admit I was the victim of a scam. Can you give some hints that will help others spot a con artist?
A: Don’t beat up on yourself for being taken — anyone can be a victim.
A clever con artist is a good actor who disarms the victim with a good-guy approach. Potential victims often share the same characteristics. Many times they will be older, female, living alone and very trusting. But if that description doesn’t fit you — be careful — others become victims as well.
You’ll likely never detect a con artist by looks. However, words and expressions can reveal his or her true identity. The con artist’s ultimate goal is the victim’s assets. The scheme will often require cash only or involve secret plans and get-rich-quick and something — for nothing promises.
Time is always of the essence. A potential victim will be required to act in haste. Today only or last-chance opportunities are seldom good investments.
Money saving home improvement projects offered by door-to-door workers with leftover materials may not be so economical. The materials are often defective or inferior.
The con artist can dream up more ways of separating cash from a victim then we can comprehend. If you are a victim don’t be too embarrassed to report it to authorities or testify in court. This is the only way to help stop this kind of crime.
Thursday: 5:30 p.m. — City of Thousand Oaks Senior of the Year Awards Dinner — at Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks. Dinner is $6 and will be catered by Stone Fire Grill. Tickets are available at the Goebel Center.
Sunday: Senior Concern’s Love Run — 10K, 5K and 1 mile run/walk. For information call 497-0189 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. A great event for the entire family.
June 10: 1:30-3 p.m. — Seminar — “Will You Pass Your Next Driving Test” — at Westlake Village Civic Center, 31200 E. Oak Crest Drive in Westlake Village. For information call the Advocate’s office 495-6250.
The Ventura County Area Agency on Aging is looking for volunteers for their Health Insurance Counseling Advocacy Program (HICAP). Following their training period volunteers will assist seniors with questions about Medicare, MediCal and Covered California health care coverage. For information call Catherine at 477-7384.
The Goebel Senior Center Commission is looking for vendors for its Antiques Bazaar scheduled to take place Aug. 10. For those interested in purchasing a booth call Mary at 493-1414 or email tonyand.mary@Verizon.net.