Opinion: Commentary: Friedson Figures: Helping Aging Adults Live With Dignity, Vitality, and Security

Opinion: Commentary: Friedson Figures: Helping Aging Adults Live With Dignity, Vitality, and Security

The coolest part of my job as your Councilmember are the days when everything comes full circle. Sept. 5 was one of those days, when I joined my friend and colleague, Councilmember Sidney Katz, to host a Senior Forum and Resource Fair at the Potomac Community Center, the very place where I grew up playing Little League, attending recreation programs, and meeting lifelong friends.

The event was co-hosted by Potomac Community Village, part of the amazing, volunteer-led neighbors helping neighbors network that has grown locally and nationally to support seniors who are aging in place. Two-hundred people joined us to learn about county and community resources, and to hear terrific speakers discuss physical and mental wellness, preventing falls, and identifying scams.

Montgomery County’s senior population is growing more than any other age group, so ensuring that our aging adult population can live active and engaged lives and continue contributing to our community is among the most important and pressing tasks before us. Between 2010 and 2040, our aging adult population is expected to more than double. We must work together with the public, private, and non-private sectors to ensure every Montgomery County resident can age with dignity, vitality, and security.

That’s why we discussed falls, the leading cause of fatal injury and trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults, and why staying active helps. Being active is also about mental fitness. Studies indicate that maintaining strong social connections and keeping mentally active as we age may lower the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer's. The growing threat of social isolation is also a major challenge with one quarter of our current senior population living alone, and that number is expected to increase.

For a list of upcoming activities and programs, visit: https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rec/activitiesandprograms/seniors/

We also live in a world where scams are on the rise, targeting seniors in particular. These crimes have gotten very sophisticated, and with the increased availability of our personal information on social media, the internet, and from data breaches, we can all be targets.

Imposters posing as officials from government agencies such as the IRS, Social Security Administration, or Medicare are a common and effective scam. According to the Federal Trade Commission, this year’s median losses to law enforcement imposters are the highest of all imposter scams and 20 percent of people who reported those scams said they lost money. Government agencies do not call and ask for personal information by phone as a first point of contact. We can protect ourselves by resisting the urge to act immediately, or by simply hanging up if a call does not feel right.

A scam artist’s best weapon is isolation and secrecy. They want us to keep their tactics secret, but the best tool we have against these criminals is our community. For more information on identifying scams and reporting financial crimes, you can visit the County’s Office of Consumer Protection website or call them at 240-777-3636.

Because this is such a critical issue for our community, we will be having additional senior forums in the near future to share information and resources. Join our newsletter or contact our office to ask about our next event at 240-777-7828 or montgomerycountymd.gov/Friedson.

We look forward to seeing you there, and are available in the meantime if we can ever be helpful.