Senior Citizens

We have prepared a general handbook for seniors that contains information on estate planning, health care, consumer protection, scams, and other topics. To view this handbook, click here.

Senior Scams.

Scams targeting seniors come in all sizes, range greatly in complexity, and may originate from someone as close to you as your next door neighbor or a stranger halfway around the world. You should report criminal activity to your local police department and sheriff’s office. Telephone numbers for these offices are available here and here. Our webpage on senior scams, which has additional resources and information, is available here.

Unwanted Calls.

Many senior citizens are bombarded by unwanted calls at one time or another—even though their telephone number is on the Do Not Call Registry. These calls can be difficult to stop because the scam artists placing them are often engaged in criminal enterprises designed to steal people’s money and have no regard for the law. As a result, they are not dissuaded by the fact that a person’s telephone number is on the Do Not Call Registry. For more information on unwanted calls, click here. Our webpage on unwanted calls, which has additional resources for people dealing with this problem, is available here.

Junk Mail.

Millions of seniors get bombarded by unwanted junk mail each year, ranging from political organizations to charities to sweepstakes promoters to fortune tellers. The problem with these mailings is that it can be very difficult to stop them. The organizations that send this sort of unwanted mail routinely sell and trade mailing lists. Once a senior citizen gets on a particular mailing list, they often find that the junk mail problem grows exponentially. For some tips on how to respond to junk mailings, click here.

Estate Planning.

Planning ahead is an important step to help those who will care for you and your affairs. To help people navigate the estate planning process, we have prepared a brochure with information on wills, living trusts, conservatorships, powers of attorney and the probate process, among other things. This brochure also contains sample forms that may be useful for people as they plan ahead. To view this brochure, click here.

Health Care Directives.

A health care directive is a written document that lets others know your wishes regarding your health care. It guides your doctor, family and friends regarding the care you want at times when you are not able to do so. Health care directives also allow you to name a person (or “agent”) to make decisions for you if you are unable to do so. You do not have to create a health care directive and will receive medical care without one. However, preparing a health care directive may help you get the care you would like. More information on health care directives is available here. To view a sample health care directive, click here.

Nursing Homes and Assisted Living.

As our population ages, more people find themselves seeking a nursing home or assisted living residence for themselves or a loved one. These facilities differ in terms of the medical care and services they provide to residents. Nursing homes provide nursing care to people who are not sick enough to need hospital care but who are not able to remain at home. Assisted living facilities generally combine housing, support services, and some kind of health care. Because each facility is unique, it can be helpful to ask about the services, amenities, accommodations and care provided before making a selection. For more on nursing homes and assisted living facilities, including information on how to research finding the right place for you or a loved one, click here. Also check the Minnesota Department of Health’s website at www.health.state.mn.us.

Medicare.

Medicare is the federal government’s health insurance program for people 65 years old and older, as well as certain people under 65 with disabilities. It is available without regard to income or asset levels. You should apply for Medicare coverage at age 65 even if you do not plan to draw Social Security retirement payments at that time. To allow time for processing, people should apply for Medicare coverage three months before they turn 65. For more on Medicare, including coverage and enrollment information, click here. The federal government’s guide to health care for people with Medicare is available here. Our webpage on health care, available here, also has resources for people dealing with health care-related problems.

Investments.

Scam artists sometimes target seniors with promises of easy money. One common scam involves a “salesperson” who contacts you by phone to sell you an “investment opportunity” that promises big returns. In order to receive the promised returns, however, the salesperson will require you to send money up-front. After the money is sent, the salesperson disappears with your money and is never heard from again. Beware of investment offers that sound too good to be true or use high pressure sales pitches to get you to sign up quickly. Consult with a trusted professional for investment advice. Most importantly, never invest money before thoroughly researching the offer. More information on unsuitable investments is available here and here.

The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office can answer questions regarding numerous consumer issues and provide help to resolve disputes between Minnesota residents and businesses. If you have a question or experience a consumer-related problem, we want to hear from you. You may call us at (651) 296-3353 or (800) 657-3787, or submit a Consumer Assistance Request Form or Fraud Report Form to:

Minnesota Attorney General’s Office
Bremer Tower 1400
445 Minnesota Street
St. Paul, MN 55101

Additional Resources

Minnesota Board on Aging.

The Minnesota Board on Aging is an organization with authority to assist older Minnesotans. You may contact the Minnesota Board on Aging as follows:

Minnesota Board on Aging
Elmer L. Anderson Human Services Building
540 Cedar Street
St. Paul, MN 55101
(800) 882-6262 or (651) 431-2500
www.mnaging.net

Senior Linkage Line.

Senior Linkage Line is the Minnesota Board on Aging’s statewide information and assistance service. You may call Senior Linkage Line at (800) 333-2433.

Minnesota Department of Health.

The Minnesota Department of Health is the state agency with the authority to license hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and home health care agencies in Minnesota. For more information or to file a complaint, contact the Department of Health as follows:

Office of Health Facility Complaints
P.O. Box 64970
St. Paul, MN 55164-0970
(651) 201-4201 or (800) 369-7994
http://www.health.state.mn.us/

Minnesota Ombudsman for Long-Term Care.

The Office of the Minnesota Ombudsman for Long-Term Care has authority to investigate complaints concerning nursing home, home care services, hospitals and other long-term care facilities related to the health, safety, welfare, rights and government benefits of people. The Ombudsman’s Office may also be able to offer information and consultation about nursing homes, assisted living, housing with services, customized living, home care, and hospital services. You may contact the Office of the Minnesota Ombudsman for Long-Term Care as follows:

Ombudsman for Long-Term Care
540 Cedar Street
St. Paul, MN 55101
(800) 657-3591 or (651) 431-2555
www.mnaging.net

Minnesota Department of Commerce.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce has authority to regulate certain health insurance companies and third-party administrators in Minnesota. The Commerce Department also has authority to regulate financial advisors and securities, including companies that issue securities, securities brokers, and securities agents. For more information or to file a complaint, contact the Commerce Department as follows:

Minnesota Department of Commerce
85 East Seventh Place, Suite 500
Saint Paul, MN 55101
(651) 539-1500
www.mn.gov/commerce/

Social Security Administration.

The Social Security Administration is the federal agency that has the authority to administer Social Security benefits. You may locate your local Social Security Administration office here. You may also contact the Social Security Administration as follows:

Social Security Administration
Office of Public Inquiries
1100 West High Rise
6401 Security Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21235
(800) 772-1213
www.ssa.gov

Your members of Congress also may be able to offer help with federal agencies like the Social Security Administration.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is the federal agency with the authority to run Medicare. You may contact the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as follows:

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
7500 Security Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21244
(800) 633-4227
www.medicare.gov

Federal Trade Commission.

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) is the federal agency that has authority to take action against deceptive, fraudulent and unfair business practices in the marketplace. For more information or to file a complaint, contact the FTC as follows:

Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20580
Toll-free helpline: 1-877-382-4357
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov