Thursday, September 12, 2013

Crime Against Senior Citizens

One personality trait that seems to take over when we retire is that we become much more relaxed about a lot of things that used to worry us.  When we become relaxed about how we spend our time, how late we stay up, or our vacation destinations, that is understandable and one of the advantages of being retired. 

However, sometimes people become alarmingly relaxed about their personal and financial security.  If that happens to you, it could put you in danger, as well as your loved ones.  It also could mean that you put at risk everything you have spent your life building.  Unfortunately, there are far too many people who prey on the elderly, taking advantage of their kindness and their trusting nature.  Don't let your retirement be ruined by predators.

Local Crime Against the Elderly

Our gated retirement community, Laguna Woods Village,which is considered one of the safest in the state of California, just released our latest crime statistics.  This data shows that residential burglaries in our town have tripled since 2007 and property crimes are at all-time highs.  Shown below are a few of the statistics listed for our neighborhood.

Between 2007 and 2013:

Burglaries increased from 13 to 20
Residential burglaries increased from 4 to 15
Thefts increased from 70 to 121
Bicycle thefts increased from 2 to 13
Thefts from cars increased from 11 to 24

These are significant increases in crime, especially considering that we live in a secured guard-gated, over-55 community with private security patrolling the streets 24 hours a day.  In addition, a high percentage of our residents are retired and home most of the time.

National Crime Statistics

Unfortunately, what is happening within our community is reflected across the country.  Incidents of crime against the elderly have become a serious national problem, according to a number of sources.  The types of crimes not only include burglary and property crimes, but theft of assets, fraud, physical and financial abuse and assaults.  Here are some of the troubling statistics I discovered:

In 1998, the National Center on Elder Abuse released an estimate that about 1/3 of the cases of elder abuse cases involved financial exploitation of some kind. Indications are that this type of crime has increased since then.

In 2000, the US Senate Special Committee on Aging reported $40 billion in losses to the elderly due to telemarketing fraud.  This number, as well, has certainly increased significantly in the past 13 years.

According to Project America, about 2.5 of every 1000 elderly citizens will experience a physical criminal attack each year.  The specific incidence of various types of physical attacks against the elderly are:

Rape or sexual assault:  0.1 per 1000
Robbery: 0.6 per 1000
Aggravated assault: 0.3 per 1000
Simple assault:  1.5 per 1000
Personal theft: 0.8 per 1000 

According to the website, every 2.7 minutes an elderly person is victimized in the U.S.  That is a horrifying statistic.

Actions You Can Take to Avoid Being a Victim of a Crime

Our local county sheriff's department published a list of suggestions to help the elderly reduce their chances of becoming crime victims.  While some of these suggestions seem obvious, I know that many residents of our neighborhood have become lax about basic security because they feel so safe living here.  A few suggestions are good reminders:

1.  Keep your doors and windows locked when you go out.  Make sure your locks are in good working order and you may also want to consider installing an alarm system.

2.  Put lights on timers when you are going to be out after dark.  This has the additional advantage of preventing accidents from trips and falls that can occur when you enter a dark house.

3.  Cancel newspapers when you are going to be gone or ask a neighbor to pick up your newspapers and mail.  Because so many people are home during the day in a retirement community, it should be easy to find someone to help you.

4.  If you have a computer, have a computer expert check it from time to time to make sure your firewall and anti-virus protection are the latest versions.  If a stranger calls and says they are trying to fix a virus on your computer, hang up.  Do not follow their instructions.  This is a popular scam that can allow them to trick you into loading a virus onto your computer ... that only the caller can repair!

5.  Do not give out personal information to anyone who calls you.  Your bank and credit card companies already have your account numbers.  Do not give this information out to anyone over the phone, unless you initiated the call in order to make a purchase.

6.  Ask for an I.D. from anyone who comes to your door and claims to be from a utility company or other local business.  If you have any doubts, call the utility company to confirm that they sent the person.

7.  Take pictures of your valuables and keep the photos in a safe place.  In addition, mark your valuables with an identification number, if possible.  This may make it easier to reclaim items that are stolen.

8.  Do not fall for requests for money from people pretending to be relatives.  It is one of the latest scams and, as I have mentioned before in this blog, several people I know have lost thousands of dollars in this way. Confirm, confirm, confirm.  Even if they ask you not to call anyone else in the family, call anyway.

9.  Do not leave valuables in plain view in your car.  Most thefts from cars occur when passersby see a cell phone, purse or other item in your car and they break a window and steal it.  Just a few weeks ago, someone broke several car windows at the stables in our retirement community.  While people were peacefully enjoying a trail ride, their purses were being stolen from their cars!

10.  Do not put your purse or wallet in the trunk of your car while standing in the parking lot of your gym, golf course or other public building.  Thieves hang around these place watching for people to put their valuables in the car trunks.  Then, while you are happily getting some exercise, they pop open your trunk and steal your belongings.  It just takes them seconds.

While some of the items listed above may just seem like good common sense, far too many elderly become lax as they age, especially if they feel they live in a safe area.  This is the time when you should become more vigilant than ever!

If you are retired or planning to retire soon, and you need additional information about how to have the best retirement possible, you may want to check out the blog posts listed in the index articles below.

Gifts, Travel and Family Relationships

Great Places for Boomers to Retire Overseas

Great Places to Retire in the United States

Health and Medical Topics for Baby Boomers

Money and Financial Planning for Retirement

You are reading from the blog:


"Property Crimes Spike in City," Laguna Woods Globe - Orange County Register, August 15, 2013.

Photo of police car is courtesy of

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Spending Time With the Grandkids

One of the joys of getting older is being able to spend time with your grandchildren.  I drive two of mine to their elementary and middle schools almost every morning during the school year.  The few minutes it takes us to drive from their home to their schools is one of the highlights of my day.  It is always fun to hear about their activities, the books they are reading, their friends, and the tests they are dreading.  If they have a late start day, we might stop at a Starbucks for a hot chocolate before school.  I love the time we spend together in the mornings.

Another granddaughter goes to a college about a one hour drive from our home.  Occasionally she will ask if she can get away from school and spend a night at our house.  This is another wonderful way to spend unstructured time with one of our grandkids.  We usually have dinner together and watch some fun movies on TV.   On several occasions, she has baked us cookies or made similar treats during her visit.

The key to spending quality time with grandkids is to be prepared with some fun ways to entertain them, while remaining spontaneous and flexible.  You'll want to have some supplies on hand to keep the kids busy, even though you may only use these items occasionally.

Preschool Grandkids

Coloring books
Construction paper
Simple games
Board books
Snack foods

Elementary Age Children

Craft kits for jewelry making or building things
Watercolors and paper
Jigsaw puzzles
Frisbees and balls
Snack foods

High School and Older Children

Video Games and a Game Player
An assortment of DVD's of fun movies (horror films are often a hit)
Snack foods

Ideas for All Ages

You'll notice that snack foods are on all the lists!  In addition, whenever we see a fun movie on TV that we think some of our grandkids might enjoy, we record it on our DVR.  We especially watch for movies or TV shows that they might not have been able to see.  The latest hit with the grandkids has been the TV movie from the SyFy channel called "Sharknado."  It's totally ridiculous.  However, since we live in Southern California, both our elementary age and our college age grandkids have loved watching all the local landmarks get demolished by sharks!

For more ideas, the newspaper for our retirement community frequently prints out a list of upcoming events and local attractions, along with their prices and hours, so we have ideas of fun places where we can take the grandkids.  Even if your local newspaper doesn't do this, you may want to put together your own list of local places that your grandchildren might enjoy.  Look up the basic information and put it on your list so you are prepared to go on the spur of the moment.  Some items you may want to include:

The nearest zoo
Science centers
Amusement parks
Water parks
Restaurants with discounts for kids
Discount or dollar movie theaters
Beaches, parks and playgrounds
Swimming pools

With plenty of activities to entertain the grandkids both in your home and in your community, you will never run out of fun ways to keep them happy and busy ... and wanting to come back!

Whether you are currently retired or planning to retire soon, you may also want to check out the articles listed in the five index articles shown below:

Gifts, Travel and Family Relationships

Great Places for Boomers to Retire Overseas

Great Places to Retire in the United States

Health and Medical Topics for Baby Boomers

Money and Financial Planning for Retirement

You are reading from the blog:

Photo of children playing is courtesy of

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Retire to San Miguel de Allende

In the early 1970's, my husband and I took a trip throughout most of Mexico in a Volkswagen Camper.  Yes, we were a lot more adventurous back in those days!  The investment company where my husband was working at the time went bankrupt and I hated my job as a legal secretary.  We sold our surburban home outside of San Franciso, bought the camper and took off for the open road.  It was a fun and illuminating trip.  Although we were in our early 20's at the time, one of the things we noticed was the fact that even four decades ago many Americans were retiring to Mexico. 

Life in San Miguel de Allende

During our trip, one of the places where we stayed was San Miguel de Allende.  We were charmed by this historic town.  If there were American ex-patriots living in the area at the time, however, we didn't meet any.

Today, however, San Miguel de Allende has become a mecca for thousands of retiring Americans.  Located in the state of Guanajuato, it is considered a colonial city with such charming architecture that it was nominated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.  It is located about a three hour drive from Mexico City.

Activities in San Miguel

There is something for everyone in this lovely town, including boutique hotels, spas, and a main square that is a hub of lively activity with its carefully trimmed trees and an abundance of benches.  Live music is frequently performed in the town square.  The town also has art galleries, a museum, restaurants, nightclubs, boutiques, and craft shops.  Some of the local products that are for sale include furniture, stained glass, pottery, and metalwork.  In other words, most of the things you will need to furnish your retirement home can be purchased locally.

High temperatures range from about 60 degrees to 68 degrees the year around.  Expect rain in the summer.  

Retirement Info for Mexico

Currently, there are an estimated one million American retirees living in Mexico.  About 15% of them have purchased their residence and the remainder have found inexpensive places to rent.  San Miguel has attracted approximately 12,000 of those retirees with housing available in a variety of price ranges.

Unfortunately, many Americans have begun to feel uncomfortable in recent years about retiring in Mexico because of the increase in violence.   As always, I highly recommend that people who consider moving to another country check the State Department website for advisories and warnings.  In addition, if you do choose to move to another country, it is always wise to move to an area where there are many other Americans.  You are much more likely to feel safe and comfortable in such a location. Even in San Miguel de Allende, however, you should be alert, especially when you are traveling outside the town.

Housing Options

There are a variety of retirement housing options available in San Miguel de Allende.  Many of the developments have  facilities similar to what you would find in U.S. retirement communities, including fitness facilties, swimming pools, play rooms, movie theaters, beauty parlors and more. There are a number of real estate agencies in San Miguel that can help you rent or purchase an appropriate residence in the town.

Another housing option is the Complete Assisted Life Service, which offers specialized health care for those who need it, even if they have a terminal or degenerative disease like Alzheimers.  This is very appealing to those who cannot afford assisted living in the United States and has proven to be a viable option for many seriously ill Americans.  The facilities in San Miguel are built to meet the standards of Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) standards.  In these communities, residents can start out living an active lifestyle that includes golf, swimming and tennis; as their health worsens they will be moved to assisted housing where they can receive specialized care for their illness.  Complete Assisted Life Service facilities in San Miguel have proven to be a life saver for families that cannot afford expensive nursing care for their loved ones in the United States.

Real Estate in San Miguel

It was interesting to me to check out the real estate companies in San Miguel.  Although I cannot suggest a particular one, I highly recommend that people check out several on the internet before choosing one to deal with.  According to the website of the San Miguel Real Estate Agency, not only are retirees moving to their city, but younger American and Canadian adults are also moving there, especially since many of them are now able to work for businesses in their home country via the internet.  I found their website particularly helpful because it was written in English as well as Spanish, and home prices were advertised in dollars.  You will find their website listed in the resources section, below.  Featured homes that they advertised on their website ranged from $139,000 to several million dollars in 2013.  Obviously, buyers get a lot for their money when they are spending millions.  However, even the less expensive homes will give retirees the opportunity to enjoy the pleasant San Miguel lifestyle.

In addition, the various real estate websites advertised an abundant supply of homes and apartments for rent.  To show you the range in choices, I found a one bedroom apartment listed for rent at $500 a month and a number of homes in the $2000 to $2500 a month range.

If you are considering a move to San Miguel de Allende, you will want to check out the resources shown below:

In addition to the websites listed below, if you are going to be traveling to this area, you may also want to order travel guides about San Miguel de Allende from

Information about the community came from the following websites:

If you are considering retiring soon, check out the index articles below.  They contain links to additional information about those topics:

Gifts, Travel and Family Relationships

Great Places for Boomers to Retire Overseas

Great Places to Retire in the United States

Health and Medical Topics for Baby Boomers

Money and Financial Planning for Retirement

You are reading from the blog:

Photo of San Miguel de Allende courtesy of

Monday, September 2, 2013

Start a Baby Boomer's Club in Your Community

We Baby Boomers like to stick together.  Although there are many differences among us, we also have had numerous shared experiences over the decades, including our enjoyment of the music of our youth.  As a result, one of the most popular clubs in our homeowner's association is the Baby Boomers Club.

Our retirement community, like most over-55 developments, has a large number of clubs and organizations for the benefit of the residents.  There seems to be something for everyone ... bridge, golf, tennis, writing, paddleboard, swimming, fishing and dancing clubs.  About five years ago, a group of the first Baby Boomers to move into our community started their own club, too, and since its inception it has been a big hit.

Activities of the Baby Boomers Club

The Baby Boomers Club is not one of those organizations where everyone gets together to chat, eat snacks, have political discussions or quilt.  It fact, it is one of the more physically active groups in the community.  All of their gatherings are major social events and are well-attended by both men and women.  Some of the recent activities they have hosted or co-hosted with other clubs are:

Regular Saturday night dances featuring music from the 60's, 70's and 80's.
A Woodstock Festival at one of our clubhouse parking lots
Trips to area attractions, concerts, casinos, etc.
Beach parties

Benefits of a Baby Boomers Club

After retirement, many people feel cut off from the work connections they made over the years.  Joining a club is one way to make friends and form new connections.  It is also a way to celebrate life and return to those activities and hobbies that you loved when you were young.

While you may also benefit from taking an art class, bridge lessons, or getting more exercise, joining a group of your peers who enjoy the same music, the same dance styles, and who have similar interests is one way to enjoy reliving your memories and celebrating the life you have lived.

The relaxed, friendly socialization has also had an additional benefit for some members.  A number of couples in our community have met and begun dating as the result of having attended one of the events held by the Baby Boomers Club and other organizations.

If your current retirement community has not already started a Baby Boomers club, this may be a good time to start one yourself.  Baby Boomers are turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 to 11,000 a month.  Many of these new retirees are choosing to move into over-55 communities that have a wide assortment of amenities.  Now is the time for your community to begin welcoming your peers as they move in, and to help them feel they have found the right home!

If you are planning to retire soon, you may also be interested in looking through the links in the index articles below.

Gifts, Travel and Family Relationships

Great Places for Boomers to Retire Overseas

Great Places to Retire in the United States

Health and Medical Topics for Baby Boomers

Money and Financial Planning for Retirement

You are reading from the blog:

Photo of a sunset wedding is courtesy of