By Ed Karvoski Jr.
Hudson – State officials shared vital information with hundreds of guests at the 35th annual Senior Conference, held April 23 at Hudson High School. The free conference for constituents in the Middlesex and Worcester District was hosted for the seventh year by state Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton.
“The Senior Conference is a really nice tradition and I’m proud to continue it,” he said. “The legislative delegation in this area works very hard for seniors.”
Eldridge has observed some changes in the attendees’ main concerns over the years.
“Baby boomers are now senior citizens and they tend to be more active,” he noted. “They want to know more about public transportation including regional transit authorities, as well as home care services. Government needs to be responsive and invest in the more active senior population.”
Workshops and health screenings were offered in classrooms throughout the morning. Entertainment included silent film screenings with piano accompanist Richard Hughes of Hudson. Pilates, stretch and relaxation, and Zumba sessions were available in the gym.
Following a luncheon, guests assembled in the auditorium where Eldridge introduced speakers including State Treasurer Deb Goldberg.
“I’m 61,” she announced. “I’m a baby boomer along with all of you.”
Goldberg explained how the state treasurer’s office promotes economic empowerment for all ages.
“The treasurer’s office isn’t just about taking care of money,” she said. “It’s ensuring that you have financial stability and security from the time that you’re a small child until the time that you’re a senior in your retired life.”
She noted that seniors are included in the statewide financial literacy building program.
“We began by leveraging off of important grant programs that the prior treasurer, Treasurer [Steven] Grossman, had put in place,” she said. “Grants were given to the Elders Services of Merrimack Valley and the Highland Valley Elder Services to show seniors how to improve a money management program in order to create security for themselves.”
Representatives from the state treasurer’s office were available earlier at the conference to help guests learn whether they have unclaimed financial assets.
“I’m excited that we have identified $25,000,” Goldberg said. “One person discovered they had $18,000 out there. I’m proud that we are number one in the country at returning assets.”
Residents can check for unclaimed property online at mass.gov/treasury/unclaimed-prop.
Advice for seniors was also offered by Secretary of State William Galvin.
“I’m one of the principal caregivers of my father, who is 97, so I realize that people are living longer,” he shared. “One of the challenges of living longer is that you have to have enough money. Your needs are going to grow greater as you get older in terms of services and support.”
At a time when banks are paying low interest rates, financial concerns often cause seniors to be influenced by advertisements for annuities, Galvin noted.
“Annuities are a type of investment, a form of insurance in a sense,” he explained. “On the face of it, that sounds pretty reasonable. For younger people, it might make a lot of sense. But for older people, in general annuities are not a good idea. The principle reason for that is it takes away the liquidity, the ability for you to get access to your money.”
When dealing with risk investments, Galvin recommended calling his office toll-free at 1-800-269-5428.
“Before you give any money to anyone as a risk investment, make sure they are licensed and registered in Massachusetts,” he said. “If there’s a risk involved, make sure you know who you’re dealing with and you know what the risk is.”
Eldridge is pleased to continue hosting the conference as an opportunity to help seniors stay informed.
“Massachusetts is probably one of the more generous states in the country in terms of services for senior citizens, but a lot of them don’t know about all of those programs,” he said. “Hopefully, they’ll learn about those and take advantage of them today.”
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