By Brandon HENSLEY
Senior citizens were invited to a meeting on July 28 at the La Crescenta Library to hear and be given vital information about medical emergencies and how to avoid fraud – and folks turned out in droves.
Three long rows of tables were filled, necessitating extra chairs to be placed in the back for more people to attend the second session in the ASTER speaker series.
ASTER – Assisting Seniors Through Enhanced Resources – is a non-profit program focused on assisting older adults and their families by giving resources and services pertaining to their quality of life.
In the most recent speaker series, L.A. County Fire Department Bat. Chief Ron Larriva spoke on emergency preparedness and Det. Robert Zaun of Glendale Police talked about how to avoid fraud and scams.
Larriva began by asking the crowd, “How many people here take medications?” and every hand in the room shot up. He then told the crowd it was important in case of an emergency to have one’s medical history, allergies and medications written down in an easy-to-find place so if paramedics come to the house, it would be easy for them in treating the emergency.
“If the information isn’t correct it could be a problem for us,” Larriva said.
He also talked about the importance of having smoke detectors, how people should always carry their cellphones with them, and what items to have stored in the house if an earthquake strikes, chief among them water, medications, canned goods and batteries.
Before Zaun spoke on fraud, he also trailed some of Larriva’s comments, adding how a cellphone screen can act as a flashlight. In the case of making emergency calls using a cellphone, he warned that calling 911 will cause a delay in response as the call first goes to Highway Patrol before being transferred locally. Zaun advised to call the Glendale Police Department dispatchers instead (the number for which is (818)-548-4911).
Then he talked about fraud, noting that seniors are a demographic that often is taken advantage of. Zaun wanted to make sure those in the audience were fully aware of the different kinds of dangers, even something as innocuous as valet parking.
“What do we keep in our car? Our registration, which has your home address, other personal items, the keys to your car. And what’s on the keys to your car? A house key,” Zaun said.
He also talked about phone calls people may get from ‘family members.’
“You pick up the phone and it’s nephew Johnny calling from New York who states that he’s been arrested and could you please send the bail money … a lot of people fall prey to that,” he warned.
“I think it was one of the most timely speaker seminars we could have had. Every time you open a paper or talk to a senior, there’s a different scam, there’s a different fraud … seniors are a prime target,” said Robbyn Battles, one of the founders of ASTER.
Battles spoke in the beginning of the seminar to the seniors about the 60-plus discount program, which involves ASTER partnering with local businesses.
“What we’re doing is going around to all the different businesses and asking them to give seniors a discount,” Battles told the crowd. “And if they agree to give a discount they put a little sticker in their window and you walk in with your card and say, ‘I’d like the 60-plus discount.’ It’s that simple. It doesn’t cost you anything.”
Battles said seniors have thanked her and other members of the organization for what they’re doing.
“Everyone at ASTER feels we’re on the right track,” she said.
The next ASTER speaker series will be sometime in October in the community room at the La Crescenta Library. For more information, visit www.theaster.org.