San Diego County’s Bi-Annual Aging Summit

“Nothing angers me more than criminals who prey on members of our society,” said attendee Sharon Beckas of the county’s 2014 Bi-Annual Aging Summit.

The county is being proactive, and so are the people in a packed ballroom presentation on elder safety, elder abuse and how to avoid being scammed. District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis along with Deputy DA Paul Greenwood – head of the DA’s Elder Abuse Prosecution Unit – head the meeting, and Greenwood’s talk was even shown in the exhibit area. Senior safety was one of two focuses of the summit. 68-year-old Beckas is interested in internet protection.

“It’s a big issue nowadays for seniors; we’re giving away all of our important information – date of birth, social security. Protecting ourselves financially is important.”

Alzheimer’s and dementia was the summit’s other focus, the emphasis including caregiving. Among the speakers was noted author Gail Sheehey, a caregiver herself for some 17 years. Sheehey’s late husband Clay Felker, founder of New York Magazine, fought cancer four different times for almost two decades.

“I talk about how caregivers have to support themselves, continue working if they can. How they have to form a circle of care: relatives, friends, volunteers for respite. And then, the caregiver starts playing God, and thinks they’re the only person who can take care of the patient, so they give up their lives and you have two casualties.”

The county recently launched the Alzheimer’s Project – the disease now the region’s third leading cause of death. But we should note the Aging Summit, which began in 1998, is also about people making the most of their talents and experiences as they get older, and taking advantage of their retirement. 73-year-old Joanne Wiles loves to travel.

“I can see the point where what my mind wants to do and what possibly I’m taking care of myself, but what my body will allow me to do. I can see the separation, but I’m not going to allow it because a lot of it is in your mind.”

Categories: KUSI