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A confidential conversation reveals a very bad senior moment

With the aid of her hand carved cane, she regally entered my office, maintaining intense eye contact until she closed my office door.

As always, her clothes were clean, matched and attractive, completed with a seasonal brooch. Her makeup was polished and her hair coiffed.

And she was crying.

“May I speak with you in confidence, Jodi?” she said, her voice quaking.

“Of course,” I replied.

“Here, look at this,” she whispered, as her shaking hand held up a letter. “I think I have won 1.5 million dollars. My son is out of town and I don’t know who to turn to. What should I do?”

I read the letter, and it read, in summary, “We have your unclaimed 1.5 million dollars, send us $50 in the enclosed envelope and we will release the money to you.” The return address was Malta, which is in Sicily, Italy. I suddenly became an instrument of death to this woman’s hopes and dreams.

“But I only have eight thousand dollars a year to live on and this could make my life easy and my grandchildren wouldn’t have to worry about money like I do. I might not ever get a chance like this again.”

It took a while to extinguish the light of hope from her eyes, but I did it. The worst part is that she isn’t the only one who has come to me with a like question. (Is this real? Can you believe how lucky I am? I sent them money and they didn’t do anything, what can I do?)

Our seniors are targeted for frauds and scams mostly due to the following reasons:

• Accessibility — Being retired or suffering from physical limitations, seniors are the group of people most likely to be at home to receive a telemarketer’s call or a visit from a door-to-door sales person.

• Gained trust — Dishonest people (who look like your granddaughter, or son, or remind you of the nice neighbor boy) prey on vulnerability and loneliness. They may spend hours talking to you. They ask personal questions and document details to appear trustworthy.

• Isolation — Isolation is a sad fact of life for many seniors, and they may not have regular contact with relatives and friends with whom they could discuss investment schemes or financial affairs. Loneliness may cause them to reach out when they shouldn’t.

• Money — Dishonest people target seniors because they think seniors have a lot of money and they have valuable possessions. They target our older people because it works.

Investment and sweepstakes schemes appear particularly tempting to seniors, as you read in my true story of woe, because they are frequently on a fixed income, but want more for security for themselves and their families.

What can you do?

In the case of my anonymous woman, she contacted the U.S. Post Office and gave them a copy of the award letter and the return address of the villains. The post office also has a Web site to report fraud. It is postalinspectors.uspis.gov. If you have questions and do not have anyone you can ask, AARP ElderWatch has a hotline, (800) 222-4444. They have trained staff to listen and help guide you.

Senior Spotlight

Roger Puryear is a connoisseur of jokes, some of them even clean.

He was born an adventurer on June 27, 1941, in the small town of Brawley, Calif. He learned to love the outdoors from his father, a general contractor, who also taught him building, carpentry and electrical work.

Shortly after Roger graduated from high school he joined the Navy, following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and great-great-uncle. Roger served on the USS Intrepid and the USS Constellation. In World War II, his father served on the USS Solomons; in World War I, his grandfather served on the USS Buffalo; and his great-great-uncle served in the Great White Fleet between 1907 and 1909. While in the Navy, he stood Color Guard for Chiang Kai-shek in Formosa (an island off of the coast of mainland China in the China Sea) and was aboard the recovery ship for astronaut Scott Carpenter in 1962. The wildest thing he ever did that he admits to and that I can print is that he was launched in an airplane from an aircraft carrier and then landed on one.

“It was like being shot out of a cannon. My adrenaline was pumping so high — there is nothing like it — you go from zero to one hundred-twenty miles an hour in a split second.”

After the Navy, Roger opened a saloon in Julian, Calif., named the “Wrong Branch Saloon.” He says in a low voice, “There were a few shootings there, but we don’t want to go into that.”

Subsequently, he was a heavy equipment operator and an electrician. Roger wired both the San Diego Charger Stadium and the San Diego Padre Stadium. Before he retired in 2007, he worked as a maintenance electrician at the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant.

Roger has been married to his wife, Judy, for 24 years. He states that the secret to a happy life is to “love your friends, family and neighbors, approach everything with an open mind, don’t smoke and eat good food.” He is a dogged volunteer for both Archuleta Seniors Inc. and our own Silver Foxes Den. Roger enjoys his family, three children, grandchildren and friends more than anything else. Underneath this adventurer’s rough and tumble exterior and mischievous grin is a big softy.

Writing for Generations

Does your family nag you to write your life story?

Do you want to write your life story and have no idea how or where to start?

Do you think that you are a horrid writer (you are not) and you have nothing really valuable to say? (wrong thinking).

Help has arrived. Joan Mieritz, a local author, is offering a class entitled “Writing for Generations” on the first Wednesday of every month at 1 p.m. in our Senior Lounge. The first class is on Wednesday, Nov. 4.

Joan herself is interested in leaving her children, grandchildren and future generations her own writings. Class writings will include simple stories, information about relatives and family history, life experiences, historical events, lessons learned and perspectives gained. Joan has a unique system for capturing life stories and has a passion for assisting people in recording theirs.

Sign up for this not-to-miss class beginning Monday, Oct. 26. Call me, 264-2167.

Thank you

Thank you to the La Plata Electric Round Up Foundation for entirely funding the emergency meals that go to the recipients of our home-delivered meal program. These meals have a long, stable shelf life, and are to be used in case of an emergency. It is a rare occasion that grant requests are wholly funded, and we are profoundly grateful. Thank you to Musetta Wollenweber for spending time on her weekend to write the grant.

Thank you to Johnny K and Natalie Oman, of the nationally-renowned “The Johnny K Band,” and to John Graves for rocking the house at lunch last Wednesday with the hits “You Make Me Feel So Young,” “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” “Cheek to Cheek,” and “Ain’t We Got Fun.” Johnny and Natalie are accustomed to larger and more glamorous venues such as Las Vegas and Hollywood, but nowhere are they better loved than here. Luckily for us, Johnny and Natalie were visiting Johnny’s parents, Dan and Marilou Kubelka, and wowed us with this impromptu drive-by jam session.

Thank you, Nancy Dickhoff, our fabulous and fearless kitchen leader, for concocting soups and elegantly serving our guests individually with a side of sass.

Services

Are you homebound, or do you know someone who is?

Let the Silver Foxes Den help you with your meals. We have expanded our service to the more rurally isolated areas of the county and would like to help you, help yourself.

These meals are the same meals prepared in our kitchen by the same cooks who prepare those scrumptious senior center meals. Our hot meal home delivery program remains available to those closer to town, four days per week. Meals are available to people age 60-plus for a suggested donation of $3 per meal. Give me or Musetta a call at 264-2167 for further information.

Weekly activities at The Den

Friday, Oct. 23 — Geezers, 9 a.m.; Tai Chi Intermediate, 9:30 a.m.; Tai Chi Beginning, 11 a.m.; Gym Walk, 11:15 a.m. Peter Moyer noon music (rescheduled).

Monday, Oct. 26 — Gym Walk, 11:15 a.m.; Canasta, 1 p.m.; Leaves on your Family Tree, 12:45 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 27 — Gym Walk, 11:15 a.m.; Meditation for Healing, 1 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 28 — Dance for Health, 10 a.m.; blood pressure checks, 11 a.m.

Thursday, Oct. 29 — Administration day.

Friday, Oct. 30 — Geezers, 9 a.m.; Tai Chi Intermediate, 9:30 a.m.; Tai Chi Beginning, 11 a.m.; Gym Walk, 11:15 a.m.; birthday celebration, noon; Halloween!

Our October Archuleta County Senior Center Newsletter is now available on Archuleta County’s Web site: www.archuletacounty.org/Seniors/seniors.asp. Look it up!

Medical expenses

The Silver Foxes Den, in cooperation with Archuleta Seniors, Inc. (ASI), may be able to help with excess medical expenses.? Items covered might be prescription copays, eyeglasses, hearing aids, and dental care.?Qualifying amounts are based on income and need. Recipients must be current members of ASI. Dues are $5 per year. For more information about how we might help you or your family, please contact Musetta at 264-2167.

ASI memberships

Is it time for you to renew or buy your 2009 ASI Membership? You can purchase memberships at The Silver Foxes Den on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Folks 55 and older will benefit with discounts from many local businesses, including the local hot springs. This is one of the best deals in Pagosa Springs. All 2009 memberships expired Dec. 31.

Menu

Suggested donation for older adults age 60-plus is $3, kids 12 and under and guests $6. Our meal program is partially funded through the Older Americans Act, United Way, and Archuleta County, Town of Pagosa Springs and other contributions and grants. These funds help support the cost of the meal which is approximately $9.75. Please note our menu is subject to change. The salad bar opens at 11:30 a.m. with lunch served from noon to 12:30 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 23 — Crunchy baked fish, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, pineapple, mandarin orange, bread.

Monday, Oct. 26 — Chicken fried steak, whipped potatoes and gravy, bread, California vegetables, pineapple.

Tuesday, Oct. 27 — Chicken enchiladas, black beans, corn confetti, stewed tomatoes, fruit parfait.

Wednesday, Oct. 28 — Ham and beans, broccoli, carrots, orange juice, cornbread.

Thursday, Oct. 29 — Administration day.

Friday, Oct. 30 — Chicken piccata, orzo pilaf, mixed vegetables, baked custard, blueberry sauce.