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AARP Experts Answer Your Questions

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Should I open a store credit card with retailers that also accept major credit cards?

Many individual stores offer discounts only to credit account holders and only if they use their card. So if you regularly shop at those stores, you might be better off keeping the accounts open and using the specific card. But keep in mind that your credit score is affected and, if you’re applying for a loan, open credit accounts may affect how much you could borrow. —Bart Astor, author of AARP Roadmap for the Rest of Your Life  

My kids say they don’t want my treasured items. I’m heartbroken. What should I do?

Don’t take it personally. It’s not that your kids don’t love you. They don’t love your stuff. Let me save you generations of strife by offering the following advice: Ask your kids what they want. Then believe them. Let them decide for themselves what sentimental keepsakes they want, and get rid of the rest. If it’s still useful, sell or donate it to someone who does want it. With your kids, please don’t lay on the guilt. The line between bestow and burden is blurry. They don’t need to hold on to your belongings to hold you in their hearts. —Marni Jameson, author of AARP’s Downsizing the Family Home

How can I be alerted when my wife (who has dementia) is out of her chair or bed and walking around the house, to prevent her from getting hurt?

Use strategically placed alarms and monitors that alert you when she is up and moving. For example, a bed or chair pad alarm will go off the second her weight is removed from it, and a floor mat alarm sounds when she steps on it. Motion sensor alarms will alert you when she walks by, and door alarms will sound when a door is opened or closed. Audio monitors can help, too, and video cameras you can view on a smartphone or tablet give you reassurance at a glance. —Amy Goyer, author of AARP’s Juggling Life, Work, and Caregiving

I just got a new supervisor who is half my age. What are your best tips for working for a younger boss?

The secret to making this relationship work is mutual respect. Keep in mind that you were once that brash young boss or rising star. So listen carefully to what the boss has to say and respect the title and position. Younger bosses may be concerned that you’re not willing to try new approaches, are not up to snuff with technology or are resistant to change. Show it ain’t so. Your boss may feel threatened and a little insecure about managing you. Raise your hand and ask for new assignments. Pick up some new skills. Once you start taking these proactive steps, you’ll stay relevant and your boss will see your effort firsthand. It can be fun working alongside someone younger than you. There’s nothing like a fresh set of eyes to get you excited about your work. —Kerry Hannon, author of Love Your Job: The New Rules for Career Happiness

My dad’s getting older and sits in his chair dozing all day. I want him to interact with people more. What can I do?

Research shows that helping your dad socialize more could improve his cognitive functioning and physical health. If there’s a nearby rec center or house of worship offering programs for older people, offer to go to an event with him. Or encourage him to attend community activities and identify a neighbor who could accompany him. Some cities have aides who will take residents to events. Ask friends and relatives to call or stop by and take him to grab an ice cream cone. Even a little bit of socializing can boost his sense of well-being. If you’re concerned he is suffering from depression, have his doctor check him out and review his medications. —Julia L. Mayer and Barry J. Jacobs, co­authors of AARP Meditations for Caregivers

I’m helping to care for my elderly parents, and I feel depleted so much of the time. I fear my fatigue will keep me from being an effective caregiver. What should I do?

I’ve been a caregiver most of my life, and I had the same experience. Caregiving is rewarding, but it can be exhausting. Here’s what I’ve learned: First, it’s not selfish to take care of myself; it’s practical. I can’t run on empty. That means squeezing in time for friends, fun, exercise, sleep and my own medical appointments. Second, when someone asks if they can help, I say yes — and ask for something specific. Third, as stressful as caregiving is, take time to create moments of joy. Singing with Dad and the sweet smile on my mom’s face as I tucked her into bed every night are still ever present in my mind. I’m so glad I always made time to mindfully savor those moments with them. —Amy Goyer, AARP family and caregiving expert and author of AARP’s Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving

I’m looking for a job in which I can work from home. How do I find a legit one and avoid getting caught in a scam?

Work-from-home jobs are a great option to supplement income or avoid unpleasant commutes. Try going straight to a company you would like to work for and see if it is hiring remote workers. A good place to start is the career section of the company’s website. You can also visit sites such as FlexJobs.com and virtualvocations.com, which are focused on legitimate work-from-home jobs; they screen each job and employer to be certain they aren’t scams. To spot a work-from-home scam, watch for emails promising to pay more than you ever dreamed or firms that charge a fee to obtain more information about a job. Also check with your local Better Business Bureau. And do your own research. Run a search for the company name and the word “complaints” to see if anything appears. —Kerry Hannon, author, AARP’s Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work That Keeps You Happy and Healthy … and Pays the Bills


Send your questions to Ask Our Experts, AARP Bulletin, 601 E St. NW, Washington, DC 20049, or email askourexperts@aarp.org. We regret that volume precludes us from providing personal answers.

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