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Roanoke County TRIAD’s 2022 Senior Safety Expo

It’s a beautiful fall Saturday with of all kinds of inviting outdoor activities beckoning. So, how do scores of older adults decide to spend their day? On Oct. 8, those scores of people spent their day learning how to be safer in recognizing fraud and scams, what legal documents they should consider to protect themselves and their assets, and what the expected changes to Medicare are and how to use the information to save their limited resources.

Where, one might ask, did this opportunity for these older adults present itself? Why, TRIAD, of course. Larry Tabor, president of Roanoke County TRIAD, explained in an interview with WDBJ7 News, that TRIAD started in 1989 with an alliance of “AARP, the International Association of Police Chiefs and Sheriffs’ Offices.” Roanoke County TRIAD was organized in 2015 and is one of an estimated 200 such agencies across the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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Its goal is to reduce the fear of crime and victimization among older adults through increasing their awareness of frauds and scams that may be aimed at them. This is done through communication between law enforcement and aging communities focusing on education. Such was the 2022 Senior Safety Expo held at the Roanoke Police Academy.

A large part of the draw to the event, attracting a steady stream of cars through the parking lot, was the opportunity to have personal documents shredded and to drop off unused prescription drugs for proper disposal. The day began with those in attendance invited to participate in a “Get Up & Get Moving Stretch and Fitness Session” along with a breakfast provided by one of the participating vendors.

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Shannon Abell, a retiree from the Roanoke area Local Office on Aging and now a community ambassador for AARP in southwest Virginia, spoke on upcoming Medicare and Medicaid changes. He also shared information on scams targeting older adults.

Ann McGee Green, a partner in the law firm of Anderson, Desimone & Green, P.C., provided information on a number of documents about which older adults often ask and need information. Addressing whether one should draft a power of attorney (POA), she was careful to point out that

while they can be desirable, they can also take a wrong turn if the person to whom the POA is given fails to protect the interests of the person it was drafted to benefit.

After a lunch provided by the Roanoke County Sherriff’s Department, Sgt. Tony Ayers held a session of “Scams & How to Protect Yourself.” He encouraged attendees to never think they can outsmart the scammer with whom they may be confronted. He confessed to the group that even he, with all his law enforcement training and background, has nearly succumbed to the treachery of a phone scam.

The easiest way to avoid getting scammed, according to Ayers, is to just say “no” to whatever one is being asked to do. “It is just that simple,” he said. Lesson learned? Maybe. We certainly hope so. We know for certain that TRIAD will continue to make the effort to educate as will AARP through not only allying with law enforcement and other agencies, but it also has multiple excellent programs, both virtual and in person, aimed at informing and educating people 50-plus about the dangers that await if we let down our guard.

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