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State Focusing on Helping Retirees
By Carl Langley
posted April 6, 2009
GUEST COLUMN – Millions of the nation’s
baby boomers (those born in the five-year period after the end of World
War II) are retiring each month, and thousands are turning South
Carolina into a retirement haven.
Spokesmen for Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer’s office said the growing population
of those 65 and over is spending from $10 to $12 billion a year in the
state on everything from home purchasing, home renovations and
landscaping to medical care, in-home nursing services and medications.
Because a growing number of retirees appear to be the most vulnerable
to scam artists, thieves and assorted other criminals, the state is
focusing on new methods of protecting senior citizens.
Frank Adams, a former editorial writer for the Augusta newspapers and a
state DSS official for the past 25 years, and former Secretary of State
Jim Miles, Bauer’s chief of staff, said in a telephone interview that
South Carolina is in the forefront of those states taking action to
protect and assist the growing wave of seniors.
The state’s answer to those who would prey on the elderly is Senior
Shield, a non-profit agency operating out of the lieutenant governor’s
office which will act as a first line of defense against individuals
and groups trying to take advantage of the elderly.
Adams noted that with a growing population of elderly there comes a
growing wave of individuals seeking to take advantage of seniors by
offering shoddy workmanship, selling bogus items or outright theft.
Miles, who served two terms as South Carolina’s secretary of state, is
familiar with shady dealings. He was the originator of the state’s
Christmas season listing of good charities and bad charities and put a
lot of bogus fund-raising organizations out of business during the
Adams said it’s only natural that with a growing aging population there
would be a growing number of frauds, cheats and thieves stepping up
their campaigns against a vulnerable population group. He said the
state is getting complaints about retirees suffering from elder abuse
and outright theft of their assets.
The surge in complaints gave rise to Senior Shield, which was turned
over to the lieutenant governor’s office under a legislative act. It is
closely connected with the state’s Council on Aging and other statewide
agencies, including non-profit charity groups, that are involved in
Senior Shield recently went on the internet with its own website
powered by Senior Checked. It is a simple, easy to understand program
that not only serves seniors but offers certification to and validates
those individuals and businesses that serve the aging population.
Adams said Senior Shield is being promoted to some 800,000 seniors and
the baby boomer group, estimated at more than 1.3 million and is
signing up reputable individuals and companies that seek to offer
various services to elders.
Adams said the Senior Shield program will provide free access to
seniors seeking information on contractors who have been cleared by the
program to conduct business in the elderly population group.
Those individuals and businesses wanting to gain state certification
and approval can do so by providing background information and paying a
membership fee of $15 a month to the state. In turn, the state will
verify business charters and licenses after conducting a background
investigation of the participating business or individual.
Adams said the membership fee pays the cost of the program rather than
it being a burden on taxpayers. He was one of the first customers of
the new program, paying the fee himself to get background information
on a contractor he wanted to hire to correct a roof leak at his
“It was money well spent,” said Adams.
Adams and Miles in a telephone conference noted that Senior Shield
wants to assure that those applying for certification to do business in
the elder community are bonded and carry proper insurance.
They also noted that those signing up must hold and maintain valid and
proper business licenses within the community, pass a background check
using a national and local review service, have no history of
complaints involving services and have no criminal record.
Adams and Miles said they believe this new program and service will go
a long ways to cutting down on the crime rate involving senior services
and care. They remarked that seniors deserve to spend their retirement
years in safety and security without the fear of losing their assets to
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