HELP LINE: In face of dementias, check for compassionate allowances

CLOSE YOUR EYES and imagine this:

You’re going along, living your life — maybe the kids are gone, maybe they’re not — and these days, it’s a fair bet to guess that it’s taking two incomes to hold the fort, but OK. You’re getting by, paying the bills. Not rich, but OK.

Then things start getting a little … strange.

One of you starts acting a little strange: doing things you didn’t used to do, not doing things you used to do, forgetting things you didn’t used to forget.

Not knowing or remembering how to do things that you’ve been doing since forever — simple things. And maybe just sort of “losing it.”

But just a little, not too much.

Call it “stress” or crazy schedules or maybe even medications. But OK, it’ll pass.

Except it doesn’t. It gets worse. Or, at least, there’s more of it.

So you roll your eyes and give in and go to the doctor.

And one thing leads to another and another and boom! You’re ­hearing a diagnosis of “early onset Alzheimer’s” or something darned close.

And life ends.

Except that, just like yesterday, it begins again.

What comes to mind?

Right: fear, family, tragedy, love, caregiving, how, who and why.

And caregiving, caregiving, caregiving.

But on one of those days, when life keeps beginning again, it’s going to dawn on you: money.

Money! We were OK, but …

Open your eyes.

Still shaking? Me, too.

And some of us don’t have to imagine this, because some of us are living it, so let me throw in a touch of “good news,” if there’s any such thing in a situation like that.

The Social Security Administration has included early onset Alzheimer’s, and several other dementias, for a Social Security disability program called “compassionate allowances.”

What that means is that folks with those diagnoses will always qualify for disability benefits.

If you want to get it from the source, please go to and take your time.

It means that disability applications are processed on a “fast track” — sometimes within days of applying.

And if you know anything about Social Security Disability, then you know that borders on miraculous.

Medical records have to document the diagnosis, of course, but most of the time, that shouldn’t be a problem.

And if you know anything about Social Security Disability, you know that it isn’t going to make anybody rich, but it would help.

And if you didn’t have to close your eyes to imagine this, you know that you will gratefully take any kind of help you can get.

And, I hope, have one less thing to cry about.

Contact Social Security. Vaya con dios.

Email scam

OK, something different, because it happened to me.

I go on, from time to time, about scams and the scum of the Earth who run them.

One of the “classics” is the email from somebody in Kenya (or wherever) who wants you to help them get a small fortune out of the country, for which you will be richly compensated, and it all looks very “real,” blah blah blah.

Well, I actually got one of those the other day, so here are some bits and pieces of what it said:

“It gives me great pleasure to contact you, and I do hope this letter will not come to you as a surprise, am Henry Selekane, the son of Louis Selekane, who died in a car accident on Saturday night. He serves as Chief Executive Officer of South African Diamond Board … asking for your indulgence in re-profiling funds to the tune of fifteen Million United States Dollars … which I want to transfer and keep safely for investment … My family has agreed to negotiate a reasonable compensation for your participation …Please contact me immediately …”

Obviously, I didn’t include any of the attachments, links or phone numbers, because I’m trying to be part of the “solution” here.

A lot of you are thinking, “Oh, really! Gimme a break …”

OK, but the fact is that there are folks who continue to fall for this stuff and end up losing a lot of money that they couldn’t afford to lose, so please listen to me: If you get anything — email, phone call, letter — that looks like this, feels like this or smells like this, don’t do it.

Trash it and get back to your life because it’s a scam. It will hurt you.

And don’t let your curiosity get the better of you, because even clicking on a link or opening an attachment can put you (and your computer) in a place that you do not want to be.

Besides, I’m on the South African Diamond Board, and we’ve never heard of the Selekanes.


Mark Harvey is director of Clallam/Jefferson Senior Information & Assistance, which operates through the Olympic Area Agency on Aging. He is also a member of the Community Advocates for Rural Elders partnership. He can be reached at 360-452-3221 (Port Angeles-Sequim), 360-385-2552 (Jefferson County) or 360-374-9496 (West End), or by emailing

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