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The Struggles of a 55-plus in Getting a Job in CNY

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PLUS Issue 38 April / May 2012

For Active Adults in Central New York

At 72, Rosemary DeHoog is still dedicated to playing and teaching tennis

Darling of Tennis Grandparents: How to Become a Super Sitter BETTY AND GUY: FALLING IN LOVE AGAIN, AT 80


Eugene Taddeo

Executive Producer

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TheaterFIRST Productions

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Book by

JERRY HERMAN

HARVEY FIERSTEIN

Based on the play “La Cage Aux Folles” by JEAN POIRET

Box Office 315-703-3007 April / May 2012 - 55 PLUS

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CONTENTS

14

55 PLUS

55 PLUS

April / May 2012

Health Watch 6 14 LIFE EXPERIENCE Gardening 8 • A 55-plus Syracuse resident Financial Health 9

discusses his journey to finding a job in CNY

My Turn 13 18 CHANGES Aging 40 • Syracuse Univeristy Visits 42

emeritus professor reflects on the change of seasons

Consumers Corner 45 20 LIVING Golden Years 47 • Betty and Guy: Falling Druger’s Zoo 48

34

20

in love again, at age 80

22 Last Page 50 GRANDPARENTING

• Learning to be a super sitter: Some simple tricks you may not know

26 COVER

• Darling of tennis: Rosemary DeHoog dedicates passion, life to game

34 PROFILE

• Bill Knowlton, bluegrass legend, rambles on

36 COOKING

• Just don’t retire that apron yet: Cooking for one or two

38 FINANCIAL MATTERS • Too late to save? No way, say local experts

April / May 2012 - 55 PLUS

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HEALTH WATCH

55PLUS

Why Some People Live to 110 ‘Supercentenarians’ appear to have built-in protection against disease, study finds

P

eople who live 110 years or longer have as many disease-associated genes as those in the general population, but they may also be blessed with protective genes that help them live so long, researchers report. The team of U.S. scientists noted that supercentenarians, as they are called, are extremely rare, with only one per 5 million people in developed nations. There is growing evidence that genetics play a major role in living to such an old age. In what they describe as a first-of-a-kind study, the researchers analyzed the whole genome sequences of a man and a woman who lived past the age of 114 and found that they had as many disease-associated genes as other people. For example, the man had 37 genetic mutations associated with increased risk for colon cancer. “In fact, he had presented with an obstructing colon cancer earlier in his life that had not metastasized and was cured with surgery. He was in phenomenal cognitive and physical shape near the time of his death,” study senior author Thomas Perls, director of the New England Centenarian Study, said in a Boston University Medical Center news release. The woman had numerous genetic variations associated with age-related disease, such as heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. She did develop congestive 6

55 PLUS - April / May 2012

heart failure and mild cognitive impairment, but these conditions didn’t become evident until she was more than 108 years old. “The presence of these diseaseassociated variants is consistent with our and other researchers’ findings that centenarians carry as many disease-associated genes as the general population,” Perls said. “The difference may be that the centenarians likely have longevity-associated variants that cancel out the disease genes. That effect may extend to the point that the diseases don’t occur — or, if they do, are much less pathogenic or markedly delayed towards the end of life, in these individuals who are practically living to the limit of the human lifespan.” The study was published Jan. 3 in the journal Frontiers in Genetics. Filomena “Fanny” Garofalo, a resident of the Loretto Health and Rehabilitation Center in Syracuse, has recently became a new centenarian. She celebrated her 100th birthday Feb. 15 with family members from Central New York and Union City, Cal., along with fellow Loretto residents and staff. Garofalo was born in Compobasso, Italy, Feb. 15, 1912, and has two sons.

Editor and Publisher Wagner Dotto

Associate Editor Lou Sorendo

Writers

Sandra Scott, Suzanne Ellis Deborah Jeanne Sergeant Richard Palmer, Joyce Gramza Jason Schultz

Columnists

Eva Briggs, M.D., Bruce Frassinelli Marilyn Pinsky, Harold Miller Jim Sollecito, David J. Zumpano Marvin Druger

Advertising

Jasmine Maldonado Marlene Raite Tracy DeCann

Office Manager

Laura J. Beckwith

Layout and Design Chris Crocker

Cover Photo

Chuck Wainwright 55 PLUS –A Magazine for Active Adults in Upstate New York is published six times a year by Local News, Inc., which also publishes In Good Health–CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper.

Health in good

CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper Published at 185 E. Seneca St. PO Box 276 Oswego, NY 13126. Subscription: $15 a year

© 2012 by 55 PLUS – A Magazine for Active Adults in Upstate New York.

No material may be reproduced in whole or in part from this publication without the express written permission of the publisher. Third class postage paid at Syracuse, NY. Permit Number: 3071

How to Reach Us P.O. Box 276 Oswego, NY 13126 Phone: 315-342-1182 Fax: 315-342-7776 Email: editor@cnyhealth.com Editor@cnyhealth.com


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If you or someone you love is unable to shop for or prepare their own meals, contact Meals On Wheels.

Gardening

By Jim Sollecito

A New Beginning

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iven all of the interesting weather we’ve been watching this year, why not take a hard look at your own home with the same renewed interest? Try looking from the perspective of someone who might consider purchasing it. At some point down the line that event might even take place. What is still sharp, what is a bit long in the tooth, and what areas are just plum ugly? Consider the paint color and condition, the walk and driveway, and, of course, the landscape plantings. A good landscape encompasses all three elements, and the goal is to draw attention to the front door. It really is that simple. Sometimes, good pruning can bring an old favorite around. While studying gardens in England a couple of decades ago, I learned the process of pruning at ground level, called coppicing. Some arborists refer to this as “rejuvenation pruning.” Basically, you cut a dormant multi-stem shrub right down to the ground. That’s correct, that 4-foot spirea just became a 6-inch stump. Many plants, such as shrub dogwood, weigela, spirea, and shrub willow, will respond beautifully to being reduced to a stub. This is a lot easier than trying to take one third of the older stems out of the plant, which is what we should be doing yearly to the remaining plants such as lilacs, witch hazel and the like. And pruning doesn’t mean making shrubs into little meatballs. Once this process is initiated, you’ll be condemned to shearing at least three times a year. You’ll note a large-scale reduction in flowering, and a heavily shorn plant will have a significantly reduced life span. Sometimes things just become too large for the site. Rebalancing will always be necessary; it’s part of the deal. Since nobody will dig and

transplant your shrub or tree anymore (a dying art) the next best thing is to simply get rid of overgrown plants that are not suitable for coppicing. And, please, don’t retain shrubs just because they happen to Occupy Tall Street. Just remove them and don’t dwell on what might have been. A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new. The right plant in the wrong location is just as bad as the wrong plant in the right location. Take the mulligan, reset, and drive onward. There is no question that this is a faster growing season than usual. It might be about two weeks early, who knows? So why not get out now and take advantage of an opportunity that life throws your way. This is the year. No reason to wait. Expand your horizons. Who knows, you just might be pleasantly surprised. Jim Sollecito is the first lifetime senior certified landscape professional in NYS. He operates Sollecito Landscaping Nursery in Syracuse. Contact him at 468-1142 or at jim@sollecito.com.


financial health By David J. Zumpano

Medicaid Planning

M

ary recently went into the office of a Medicaid practice network (MPN) attorney because she was confused. Her husband had gone into a nursing home and she was approached by the social worker who inquired of her financial information and how she intended to pay for her husband’s care. It was over $8,000 per month. The case worker asked if Mary was going to apply for Medicaid. Mary was very confused. The MPN attorney explained to Mary that Medicaid is a government program to help pay for nursing home costs, but to qualify Mary had to meet certain income and asset restrictions. Mary was confused even more. She told the attorney she was already on Medicare and that she didn’t know why she had to do anything, why wasn’t Medicare paying. Again, the MPN attorney explained that Medicare is health insurance for individuals over 65 or who have been disabled for two years. Medicaid, on the other hand, is a social program to pay for people with little assets or income to ensure they have proper health care, including nursing home care. Mary didn’t know what to do. She didn’t think she had the money to pay for her husband’s care, but the attorney explained she wasn’t currently eligible for Medicaid benefits because she had too much money to qualify. The MPN attorney explained there were two different elements associated with her Medicaid planning. First, the planning itself, which centers around making legal and financial decisions to get Mary’s assets and income to the acceptable limits to qualify for Medicaid. He further explained several legal strategies, including the use of certain types of trusts, that Mary would be able to retain control of her assets but give up some rights to them and able to be able to qualify for Medicaid. Mary again was beginning to get confused. It all sounded so complicated.

Fortunately, the MPN attorney was quickly able to explain to Mary how much of her assets were at risk and how much would be protected immediately. He was also able to explain when Mary’s husband would qualify for Medicaid and how he would ensure Medicaid paid as soon as provided under the law to minimize the loss of Mary’s assets. F i n a l l y, t h e M P N a t t o r n e y explained the second requirement to receive Medicaid benefits, the qualification process. A separate qualification process for benefits is required after all ineligibility periods created during the planning process have expired. The MPN attorney explained, if necessary, he could be retained separately to assist in the filing of the application for Medicaid benefits with the local Medicaid department to have Mary’s husband to actually begin to receive the benefit. Mary was finally able to distinguish that Medicaid planning to get her husband eligible for Medicaid in the future was different than applying for the benefits from the local Medicaid department. The MPN attorney clarified that this second step may not be necessary if her husband came home from the nursing home or if he did not survive the ineligibility period created under the plan. Mary was relieved to know she had begun a plan to ensure for her husband’s care and protect their lifetime of earnings. Mary also learned that Medicaid planning is always better if you plan in advance, but, even if you wait until tragedy strikes, there are still options. David J. Zumpano is an attorney and a certified public accountant (CPA). He operates Estate Planning Law Center. He can be reached at 793-3622.

Broadway Comedy at NYS Fairground Producer Eugene Taddeo will present the Broadway smash musical hit comedy, LaCage Aux Folles in Syracuse in June and July. His company, TheatreFirst Productions, will present t h i s b o i s t e ro u s and uplifting celebration of love and family in an un-traditional Taddeo setting. Recreating their original roles are Frank Fiumano and Bob Brown. The comedy will play at the New Times Theater at the NYS Fairgrounds, Free Parking and handicap accessible. For three hilarious weeks from June 14 through July 1, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays 2 p.m. Call 703-3007 for information & reservations. Groups are welcome.

Are you over 50 and looking for motivation to get active? Join us for a screening of . . .

Be inspired by this heartwarming film that spotlights senior athletes as they train for the Senior Games!

Tuesday, April 10th Palace Theater •2384 James St. Tickets available at the door. Doors open at 1:30. The movie will begin at 2 pm, with a welcome from CNY Central’s Laura Hand. For more information, please call 703-0731. Presented by:

April / May 2012 - 55 PLUS

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my turn

By Bruce Frassinelli Email: bruce@cny55.com

Still Wondering About Life in the Hereafter

M

y previous column about the hereafter triggered an avalanche of responses from readers concerned about my soul and my eventual residence after death. Most sought to provide guidance and “proof” that there really is something after I pack it in and that if I put myself into Jesus’ hands, everything will work out just fine. One reader even suggested that I could have my coveted interview with the Big Three — God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit — merely for the asking. I tried, but, so far, no luck. Another suggested that I “just read the Bible, and you will get the whole scoop in God’s own words.” You understand, of course, that for us journalists this is not the same as an exclusive interview. Oddly, I did have a dream about two weeks after the column appeared in which I saw myself being invited to do the exclusive interview with two men and some kind of an apparition, all of whom were surrounded by clouds. One of the men was seated on a huge, ornate throne; the other, at his right hand, was sitting at a somewhat smaller, lesser-ornate throne. Seems as if there might be a pecking order even in Heaven. I asked whether there is a hereafter. “Oh, yes,” said the one in the smaller throne. “We read your column in 55 Plus. We decided to grant this one interview so you can spread the word to other skeptics.” I was in a panic, realizing that I did not have a pen, notebook, tape recorder or camera with me. I woke up sweating and panting. “What’s wrong?” my wife asked. “Oh, crap, it was a dream,” I said with major disappointment. I told her what I had experienced. Unimpressed, she rolled over and went back to sleep.

“Of the 50plus messages I received, all were from Christians. None came from Jews, Moslems or those of other denominations.” One reader said she was sorry for me; another warned me that I am “making my bed here on Earth that will lead to eternal damnation.” Numerous readers sent me passages of scripture or excerpts from religious columns. One said God has already determined that those who stand with Him will be saved, but those who don’t will be cast out. As for my contention that no one has ever come back to tell us whether there is, indeed, a life after death, one reader took exception by pointing to the much ballyhooed case of Colton Burpo, the 4-year-old son of a minister, who had a near-death experience during which he visited Heaven and came back to tell about it. Colton’s experiences are detailed in the best-selling “Heaven Is for Real.” We are told that Colton, now 12, could not possibly have known some of the information he uttered upon his return. We know, of course, that there are as many skeptics about this story as there are believers. One fact is indisputable: The book was at the top of The New York Times’ best-seller’s list, sold many copies and generated a lot of cash. I read the book; sorry, I am not convinced. I am more inclined to

believe that an over-zealous father was willing to take his son’s ramblings and translate them into a close encounter of the infinite kind. Adding to my skepticism is the fact that Pastor Burpo collaborated with Lynn Vincent, ghost-writer of Sarah Palin’s biography “Going Rogue: An American Life.” One reader insists that Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins. After He rose from the dead, says Eleanore McQuade, “our salvation and Heaven have been assured if we confess that we are sinners and ask Jesus to take over our lives.” Yet, we are told that we have free will to choose the path to either salvation or everlasting hellfire. I’m conflicted: How can we have free will if we ask Jesus to take over our lives? Of the 50-plus messages I received, all were from Christians. None came from Jews, Moslems or those of other denominations. Of course, there were some who thanked me for raising questions they, too, are having about what happens after death. One reader says he was married to his first wife for 26 years before her untimely death. He has now been married to his second wife for almost 23 years and wonders whether there will be a menage a trois waiting for them in the afterlife. A woman wrote that her life on earth would be an empty void without her beloved dog and cat. She wondered whether she and her animals would be reunited in the afterlife or whether there’s a “no pets allowed” policy in Heaven. My brother-in-law, a smoker who has attempted every remedy with absolutely no success, couldn’t imagine life in the hereafter without cigarettes and wonders whether they will be provided. April / May 2012 - 55 PLUS

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55+

life experience

The Struggle to Find a Job in CNY A 55-plus Syracuse resident discusses his journey to finding a job By Suzanne M. Ellis

T

wo months before his 55th birthday in 2009, Chris Nolan found himself unemployed for the first time in his adult life. Thus began what he calls the “dark days,” an all-consuming job search that was rife with rejection; a search that would last nearly two and a half years and challenge every ounce of resolve he had. “I had never been unemployed in my entire life, and I always had good jobs. I have an old-school work ethic and had been successful at whatever I took on,” said Nolan, 57, of Syracuse. “I had one [child] in college, two in high school, one who had just graduated from college, and there I was out of work and desperate.” He wasn’t alone. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, in mid 2009 the unemployment rate for Americans between 55 and 64 was 6.8 percent. By May of 2010, when Nolan had been out of work for nearly a year, that same demographic faced a jobless rate that had risen to 6.9 percent, more than double what it was when the recession began in December of 2007. During that same time period, the unemployment rate for men between the ages of 55 and 64 rose from 7.3 percent to 7.7 percent.

the rest of his working years and equip him well for retirement. And best of all, he’d no longer be saying goodbye to his family on a regular basis because of all the traveling his sales jobs had demanded.

“I was 50 years old, and I went to work for Bob Congel and Destiny USA,” said Nolan, a Central New York native who graduated from Corcoran High School in 1972 and later attended the former Powelson

Dream job = broken dreams In the fall of 2005, Nolan — who had spent roughly 25 years as a successful sales representative — landed what he believed was a job that would carry him comfortably through 14

55 PLUS - April / May 2012

Chris Nolan, 57, of Syracuse was hired in October at Dumac Business Systems in East Syracuse after a job search that lasted two and a half years.


55+

life experience

Business Institute. “I was Labor Department started one of the original 200 that keeping records in 1948. were hired to help build Nolan’s search for and operate Destiny USA. I a decent job in Central got sucked into the ‘vision’ New York stretched on in a big way, and I fell for more than three times that it hook, line and sinker. long —some 120 weeks Even though the money —as his unemployment, was a cut in pay for me … I workers’ compensation thought this was my chance benefits and a huge chunk to make a reasonable living of his IRA evaporated. and finally be close to home “Between June of after traveling all over the 2009 and October of 2011, world all those years.” I applied for 234 different By the fall of 2008, positions, and of the Nolan began to suspect 234 applications I had that the foundation of his exactly three face-to-face future might not be on interviews. There were solid ground. By June, the a few callbacks but only workforce of 200 had been three interviews, and I am whittled to less than 20, absolutely convinced that including Nolan. They were it was all age-related,” he told that funding had run said. out and the project was During that time, being shut down. Nolan applied for a variety “ T h e re w e re s o m e of jobs, including many financial issues, some for which, he said, he was funding crises, a couple “grossly overqualified.” of large layoffs, and then He filled out applications people getting laid off and Chris Nolan is shown in this 2009 photo with his daughter, for all sorts of sales jobs, not being brought back,” he Brianna, on her prom night. A month later, the father of four for maintenance and said. “I eventually came to lost his job at Destiny USA and was catapulted into a job warehouse work, in scrap believe that this was all just search that would consume him for the next two and a half yards and “anything I saw a [public relations] stunt to years. that offered a reasonable help Congel and Destiny wage,” he said. “I secure funding and grants and tax Craigslist and started pounding the couldn’t give up because I had people breaks. I feel that we were deceived pavement. But he was ill-prepared depending on me … I had a lot of from the beginning and that there for the frustrations and challenges trouble sleeping and there were many was never any intention of keeping that lay ahead. mornings I’d wake up at 2 or 3 a.m., us there for the life of the project. “After reaching record highs pace and worry the rest of the night We were just there to be the ‘face’ of month after month, the typical length and then go back to bed when the rest Destiny for the community.” of time a jobless worker in the United of the world was starting their days. Resume polished; boot straps States has been unemployed fell in It was a terrible feeling.” April to ‘only’ 38.3 weeks,” according At long last, a job tightened to an article published in The New “When the project collapsed, it York Times in May 2011. “But the In October, Nolan was hired was an awful feeling. All of a sudden, outlook is bleaker for the nation’s at Dumac Business Systems, Inc., there I was, jobless at 55, with nothing older workers. The average jobless a 60-year-old company in East to fall back on,” said Nolan. “It was a person over 65 has been looking for Syracuse that sells cash registers and horrible time in my life.” work for [44] weeks; and for someone related equipment to restaurants With a wife, four children, a between 55 and 64 … it’s just a few and supermarkets. He worked in mortgage and plenty of bills to pay, weeks shy of a year.” inventory for awhile, earning less Nolan didn’t have time to wallow In June of 2011, the average job per hour than he had in more than 30 in his misfortunes or pine over what search for Americans of all ages was years. But shortly after Thanksgiving, might have been. Within a week nine months, according to The New he was promoted to manager of depot or two, he said, he had dusted off York Times. That was the longest repair services, became a salaried his resume, familiarized himself period of unemployment since the employee and got a sizable increase with dozens of online job sites like in pay. April / May 2012 - 55 PLUS

15


experience “Trying to get someone to believe in you, someone to give you a shot, to see that you’re a good, hard worker with a lot to offer … it was hard, and sometimes it got very discouraging,” he said. “It took a toll on me, and it aged me quite a bit. It was definitely the most difficult time of my life, but thankfully I had a lot of support from my wife and kids.” Nolan offered some words of wisdom to folks 55 and older who are struggling to find work. “It takes dogged persistence, and looking for a job has to be treated as a full-time job. You have to have stick-to-it-ive-ness, and you have to be creative and reinvent yourself,” he said. “What I lack in degrees and intelligence, I make up for in hard work, and I just needed to find someone who could see that. It sounds like a cliché, but it’s really important not to get discouraged and just keep looking for that silver lining because it is out there.” If he had it to do again, he said,

he wouldn’t have included Powelson Business Institute on the resume that went to those 234 prospective employers. “That place closed its doors back in the 1970s, so they must have looked

Job Hunting Tips for 55 and Older Target your comfort zones Before you sign on for a 40-hour work week, ask yourself if working part-time and being able to balance that with leisure or volunteer activities might lead to a more fulfilling life. And before you begin job hunting, ask yourself if you are willing to accept a paycheck that may be substantially less than what you earned during your career. Can you envision spending workdays with teenagers and 20-somethings in a minimumwage situation, or in an office that’s staffed primarily with colleagues (and bosses!) who are 20, 30 — or perhaps even 40 — years younger than you are?

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at my resume and thought, ‘Man, this guy’s gotta be a relic,’” he said. “It probably prevented me from getting my foot in the door and at least giving them an opportunity to meet me and hear what I had to say.”

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Rewrite your resum Focus on the last 20 years of your work experience. The rest is considered irrelevant and merely draws attention to your age. If you have experience from longer ago than that, and it’s relevant to the job, mention it but don’t date it. Your resume should be on a computer in document form so it can be quickly and easily adapted for the job you are seeking.

Become tech savvy So much recruiting and job hunting is done on the Internet these days that you simply can’t afford to ignore that fact. And this doesn’t just mean being able to email your resume; it could mean having a resume Web page that’s properly search-optimized and being thoroughly familiar with online job postings and services.

Do your research More and more employers are realizing the benefits of employing older workers. Find out who they are by using resources like AARP and other agencies, and target those employers in your job search.

Work those contacts One of the greatest things you have in your favor is that you’ve been around the block a few times and know a lot of people, and probably some of them are in positions of influence.

Be ready for the age question It’s not illegal for a prospective employer to ask you age-related questions, and you will reveal a lot about yourself by how you handle that kind of question. Think through your response beforehand, and don’t be offended or defensive if the question arises. Be confident and matter-of-fact, and discuss briefly the reasons your age would be a benefit to them. Sources: www.ehow.com; www.snagajob.com 16

55 PLUS - April / May 2012


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changes

Change of Seasons S By Marvin Druger

ummer was over. Fall was on the way, and then winter. I sat in a swinging chair on the deck of our house overlooking Owasco Lake. It was a beautiful fall day. I felt the warmth of the sun on my face, but the chill of fall was in the air. It was very quiet and I looked at the surroundings. What did I see? Houses and green trees stood silently on the opposite side of the lake, as if waiting for something to happen. The water had ripples that sparkled in the sun. Birds flew above the water and ducks swam on the surface. Our empty boat dock extended into the water. It would be dismantled before winter 18

55 PLUS - April / May 2012

arrived. On the grassy lawn, near the water, my hummingbird feeder beckoned, but no hummingbirds could be seen. The grass and leaves were still green, but some grass had turned brown and some leaves had fallen from the trees. Some flowers had disappeared, but others persisted. There seemed to be a desperate urge for things to stay alive. Ants were very active and they rushed around looking for food and water. The air had a feeling of suspenseful tranquility, as everything prepared for the new season ahead. My wife Pat and I put chairs and tables in the garage for storage. My hammock overlooking the lake was put away. Pat trimmed

and cleaned everything in sight. The world seemed poised for change. I have been through this change of seasons many times. Each time there is a joyful sadness. Summer is over, but, happily, it will return next year. Summer is warm, green, flowery and pleasant. Winter has its virtues. I like the cold, the snow, the coziness of sitting near a fireplace, and the eerie quietness. How many more changes of season will there be? The change of seasons will go on indefinitely, but we know that there is an end to experiencing the change of seasons. That’s why we must make the most of what we have, here and now.


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55+

living

Falling in Love Again, at 80 Betty and Guy, both 80, share storied histories, lives together By Jason Schultz

S

howing it’s never too old to start a new chapter in the book of life, Guy Kittlesen, 80, and Betty Perkins-Carpenter, 80, have been writing new pages together as active members in the Rochester senior community. Kittlesen of Irondequoit and Perkins-Carpenter of Penfield (Rochester suburbs) are both members of the Retired Professionals Society of Rochester, which hosts events on a variety of senior-related issues. Perkins-Carpenter has been a member of the board of the Retired Professionals Society of Rochester for six years, and it was through this organization that she and Kittlesen met. Both widowers, the two have been together for almost two years and found they have enjoyed a variety of interests together, from traveling the country to taking in shows of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, to simply being in each other’s company. Always on the lookout for new challenges, Perkins-Carpenter has started a variety of businesses and has focused on a number of different goals, from childcare and swimming instruction to senior fitness and balance for the elderly. The senior balance program she founded, which can be visited at www.senior-fitness.com, is of vital importance to the elderly. She said every 35 minutes a senior citizen dies in from a fall-related injury. Her six-step program focuses on teaching seniors ways to tap into latent motormuscle memory, from stretching 20

55 PLUS - April / May 2012

before rising each morning to working on balance and depth-perception skills to prevent falls down stairs. “It’s all about balance and mindset,” she said. “Once people realize they have the ability to do things they thought they couldn’t, it changes their entire quality of life.”

An active senior Kittlesen, meanwhile, splits time between the Retired Professionals Society of Rochester, where he is vice president, with work at the Resurrection Lutheran Church in Irondequoit, where he is a worship

assistant, and at the Irondequoit Rotary Club as a member and past president. As part of his duties in the Retired Professionals Society of Rochester, Kittlesen described a recent talk he gave to the group on his experiences in the Army during the Korean War, during which time he was a test subject in a nuclear blast, one of the few to see an aboveground test before a 1960 treaty banned such explosions. A chemical engineering student at Clarkson University, Kittlesen wasn’t expecting to see action, but the outbreak of the Korean War saw him being sworn in as a second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers just minutes after receiving his diploma in 1952. In April of 1953, Kittlesen was ordered to take part in tests conducted at Camp Desert Rock, Nev., 50 miles outside Las Vegas. While there, Kittlesen was part of a detonation of a fission bomb as part of Operation Upshot-Knothole, which was conducted to study the effects of aggressive radiation exposure to ground troops. “I was young and dumb enough to be excited about this ‘opportunity,’” Kittlesen said looking back on this

Guy Kittlesen, 80, and Betty Perkins-Carpenter, 80, started a new relationship at age 80. “Even at 80, it’s never too old to meet someone new, and open a new chapter in your life,” he said. They are shown at a Rotary Club party at the Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester last year.


55+ experience. Kittlesen said he was witness to a test shot code-named “Simon,” a 43kiloton explosion of a fission device used to detonate the newly invented hydrogen bomb.

Earth-shattering experience The 11,000-pound device was located on a 300-foot tall tower two miles away from his trench, which was considered the minimum “safe” distance for such an explosion. While in the trench with many higherranking officers, he first viewed a calibration shot, consisting of 10 tons of TNT, which he described as a barely audible explosion at that distance. Then came the bomb. “We were instructed to duck down in the trench and look at the jacket of the man in front of you,” Kittlesen recalled. “The first thing I experienced was a bright, blinding light that lasted several seconds, and would have blinded me if I had been looking at it. Once the light stopped, we were hit with an earthquake, followed by a deafening roar that drowned out everything. A beat later, the blast wave traveling at hurricane force came over us, and would have blown me to pieces if I wasn’t protected by the trench. The force was indescribable, and beyond anything I’ve experienced before or since.” After this apocalyptic event had passed the soldiers, Kittlesen and the rest of his unit were ordered to walk toward ground zero to examine the effects of the explosion on dummies, vehicles and buildings placed at various distances from ground zero. “When we went over the top, I was met with the sight of this huge mushroom cloud towering up miles into the sky,” he said. “I will always remember seeing the cactus near us was on fire, and singed rabbits running around.” Leading the way to ground zero was a phalanx of helicopters carrying Marines, who were tasked with enduring much higher doses of radiation. “Many of those Marines got a lot of radiation and died young,” he said, showing just how different the times

were and the risks that were deemed acceptable for America’s fighting forces. “On the final stop we were checked out by a two-man team; one with a whiskbroom and the other with a Geiger counter,” Kittlesen said. “When we got back to base, I took off my clothes and didn’t go near them until they were properly washed.” Following being a witness to what was feared to be the worst-case scenario of the fight with the Chinesebacked Korean forces, Kittlesen spent six months in Korea as a combat engineer, where his job was to build roads and clear mines. He got through the war unscathed, though not without a few close calls.

Taste of death Once he was on a bulldozer doing engineering work, and got off to inspect something. The bulldozer operator with him later jumped off his machine and landed on a mine, which killed him instantly. “That could have been me,” he said with a somber realization at the time of just how close he had come to being a casualty of war. During his tour of duty in the summer of 1953, the war was drawing to a close, and Kittlesen was working at the final front, at a formation of mountains surrounding a circular valley troops called the “punchbowl.” The area would later become the DMZ, or demilitarized zone, which to this day separates the Communist North Korea from the democratic South Korea. Besides the mines, Kittlesen said he was always worried about artillery and snipers, and was as happy as his Chinese counterparts were when he heard the war had ended. Returning from the war, Kittlesen married and began a 35-year career at Kodak, where his skills as an engineer were turned toward the nascent industry of computer systems and programming, which was used for many years at the photo giant’s image processing center. Despite decades in his career at Kodak and over 50 years of happy marriage, Kittlesen has adapted to the

loving

changes retirement and becoming a widower have on so many seniors.

Meeting New People “Even at 80, it’s never too old to meet someone new, and open a new chapter in your life,” he said. “It’s when you sit around and do nothing, that’s when you get in trouble.” As for finding her own balance and positive mindset, PerkinsCarpenter said being open to new social situations and new relationships at any age is paramount to health and well-being and an oft-overlooked aspect of senior care. “It’s always important to have a positive outlook and look on the bright side of things,” she said of the philosophy that keeps her going after 80 years. “My experience has found that being socially active is just as important as being physically fit. Along with good nutrition, that goes a long way toward making the most of all the years you have.” Kittlesen agreed with PerkinsCarpenter’s outlook on life. “I’ve always said it was important to get out there and meet people in new avenues of your life,” Kittelsen said. “Once you retire, you lose a lot of people that you see day-to-day, and when your children and grandchildren move away, it can be difficult to keep in touch with family.” Kittlesen said two of his three children moved to Massachusetts and Colorado, while a third remains in Rochester, a common theme these days as families spread out across the country in search of work. Though finding new people to spend time with is difficult in the golden years, Betty said it is a necessary element to healthy living. “So much of getting older is dealing with loss; losing family members and close friends,” she said, adding she has attended funerals for a niece and a sister this year. “With all that goes the social isolation that many seniors face when they stop working or go outside the home, which can quickly lead to depression. That’s why offsetting that with meeting new people is so important to us older people.” April / May 2012 - 55 PLUS

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grandparenting

Learning to Be a Super Sitter A few tricks will help grandparents to be the ideal sitters By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

A

re you new to grandparenting? If your role as an occasional “Granny Nanny” is just starting, you may not be up to speed on the newest safety recommendations. Your adult children prove you can competently do the job, but there’s wisdom in following the tips

they pass on to you to help you care for your grandchildren. “We learn more as time goes on,” said Phillip C. Gioia, pediatrician with Children’s Health Specialists in Auburn. “We discover things that we didn’t know before. You do the best you can but you can get better information as time goes on.”

When your children were small, parents were told to lay babies on their stomachs at night so they would sleep better. Now the rule is “back to sleep” because researchers discovered that it lowers the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). “Since 1991, we’ve recommended that,” Gioia said. “For

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55+ the first six months of life, it’s better for babies to sleep on their backs.” It’s also important to pay attention to what goes to bed with baby. Most pediatricians advise against baby crib bumpers, blankets, toys or pillows. “Make sure they have nothing in bed with them,” said Karen Macier, director of program development for East Hill Family Medical in Auburn. Seemingly harmless objects can be smothering hazards. Babies need only a properly fitting crib mattress with a fitted crib sheet. Footed pajamas or a bag-style night gown will keep babies cozy and safe. Watching a sick grandchild while mom and dad are at work? It may seem like baby aspirin is a safe bet for a little one who’s not feeling well, but Gioia warns that is not safe because it can lead to Reye’s Syndrome, a potentially fatal disease. “Usually, we use Tylenol or acetaminophen for fevers

grandparenting

now,” he said. “They’ve changed acetaminophen dosage amounts, so go by package directions. Usually check with pediatricians for children under 2.” For sickies with a cough and cold, don’t use cough syrup if they’re less than age 6. “Clear liquids are fine for the youngest ones,” Gioia said. “If they’re 1 and older, honey is fine. If they’re younger, botulism syndrome can happen.” Above all, check the package for proper dosing, use a standard measuring spoon (not a spoon you would use at the table) and contact the parents or pediatrician if you’re unsure. Teething babies can be miserable, but don’t rub whiskey on their gums for relief. “We avoid that,” Gioia said. “Use cold water or a frozen washcloth.” If you frequently watch your grandchildren, you may want to

have the parents sign a waiver enabling you to seek medical care for the children. Otherwise, if you’re unable to reach your children, medical personnel may withhold treatment until they obtain parental approval unless it’s a lifethreatening issue. Keep emergency numbers programmed into your cell phone and posted by your landline. One of the best ways to avoid needing emergency care for the little ones is proper childproofing and household maintenance. The bathroom and kitchen are usually the rooms most prone to causing injury. Ask your grown children to look through your home and get down on the floor at a child’s eye level to find potential hazards. “A lot of safety issues have to do with the house itself,” Macier said. “More children and toddlers visit the emergency room because of household accidents than for any other reason.” Loose nails on trim, chipping

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grandparenting

paint (especially old, lead paint), or exposed extension cords may not be problematic for an adult but can harm small children. Look for head injury dangers such as dangling tablecloths that they could tug and pull dishes onto their heads, unstable furniture such as unsecured bookcases or tippy end tables, and sharp corners on coffee tables. Venetian blind cords can be choking hazards, as can any small, breakable objects within their reach. Use outlet covers and cupboard safety latches where any dangerous substances are kept. Don’t leave bathwater unattended or a mop bucket of water sitting around. Small children can drown in very little water. Consider a toilet latch so curious little ones don’t fall in. Keep all matches, poison, cleaning products, first aid items, vitamins, supplements and over-the-counter or prescription medication in a locked cabinet out of sight, even if it’s in “childproof” packages. Never allow children to play with empty pill bottles since it teaches them that medication is OK for them to handle. Give children only age-appropriate toys. The recommendations help make sure toys are developmentally useful and safe. Any small object that could fit through a toilet paper roll could be a choking hazard, as

More About Grandparenting? Want to learn more? Check out “Grandparenting 101” in May, presented by Children’s Consortium in Syracuse. For more information, call 471-8331 or visit www. thingstodoinsyracuseny.com/ details-E0-001-0456945567/Grand_Parenting_101_ Syracuse. 24

55 PLUS - April / May 2012

If your role as an occasionally “Granny Nanny” is just starting, you may not be up to speed on the newest safety recommendations. can broken balloons, cellophane packaging, and plastic bags. Don’t give grandchildren solid food until their parents say it’s OK. Even though you may have given your kids thin rice cereal in a bottle at 2 months, the pediatrician has likely advised your children as to what is right for the grandchildren. Young children can easily choke on blobs of peanut butter, gum, hard candy, nuts, whole hotdogs, and whole grapes. If you need to transport the grandchildren, New York state law requires restraining children in a size-appropriate safety seat or, if they’re large enough, booster seat until 8 years old. Most car seats for infants are rear-facing until they are a few months old. The safer place for children to ride is the back seat. Front seat airbags can injure or kill children. Debbie Kogut coordinates the Onondaga County Health Department’s Safe Kids program in the Greater Syracuse area. She said that although most grandparents are careful to always use a car safety seat even on short trips, they start out fundamentally unsafe by purchasing used car seats. “They don’t know the history of the car seat,” Kogut said. “It’s a great bargain but it may have been in a crash or been part of a recall. It may have expired. Seats may crack if it has been in a previous wreck.” Car seats six years and older should not be used since the plastic can get brittle as it ages. Modern car seats have expiration dates on the bottom. Although you can research

at car seat manufacturer websites to check for recalls, you may not know if the previous owner had a recalled seat replaced or properly fixed. Unless you can obtain a seat from someone you know and trust who says the seat has never been in a wreck, buy a new seat or use the grandchild’s seat. Kogut says many grandparents ask her organization for help with car seats. “They admit they have no idea what they’re doing,” she said. “They come, car seat in hand, and say, ‘Teach me how to do this.’ Or if they’ve tried it, they make an appointment at a fitting station in the county.” For Onondaga County, go to www.ongov.net and click on “Traffic Safety Advisory Board” and “Child Passenger Safety.” Or go to safeNY.ny.gov and the “Child Passenger Safety” link to find all fitting stations in the state. Oswego Hospital’s Emergency Room (315-349-5711) offers fitting services as does the Cayuga County Sheriff. Most of the time, grandparents install the seats too loosely. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions using the car’s seatbelts or LATC system. “There should be less than one inch of leeway when shaking the seat side to side,” Kogut said. “With harnessing the child, it’s generally too loose and might not be in the right part of the child’s body.” Transporting a child without a car seat or booster can result in three violation points on the driver’s license and up to a $100 fine. Kogut added that all children up to age 18 must wear helmets for inline skates, scooters, bikes and skate boards. “We highly recommend for tricycles, too, though it isn’t in the law,” Kogut said. “It’s the matter of getting them into the good habit so they don’t even think twice about it. A lot of grandparents bicycle with their grandchildren. They should wear a helmet too to be a good role model.”


Seniors in Numbers May is Older Americans Month

A

meeting with the National Council of Senior Citizens resulted in President John F. Kennedy designating May 1963 as Senior Citizens Month, encouraging the nation to pay tribute in some way to older people across the country. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter’s proclamation changed the name to Older Americans Month, a time to celebrate those 65 and older through ceremonies, events and public recognition. Here are some figures from the U.S. Census Bureau: 40.3 million— The number of people who were 65 and older in the United States on April 1, 2010, accounting for 13 percent of the total population. In 2010, this age group was larger than in any other decennial census, up from 31.2 million in 1990 and 35.0 million in 2000.

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CPA, CFP� *Advisory Representative

17.3 — Percentage of people 65 and older living in Florida in 2010, the highest of any state, followed by West Virginia (16.0 percent), Maine (15.9 percent), Pennsylvania (15.4 percent) and Iowa (14.9 percent).

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85-94 — The fastest-growing age group among the older population in 2010, increasing from 3.9 million to 5.1 million. $31,408 — The real median 2010 income of households with householders 65 and older. Since 2007, real median household income declined for all age groups except 65 and older. The income of this group increased by 5.5 percent between 2007 and 2010. The corresponding real median for all households was $49,445 in 2010. 6.7 million — Number of people 65 and older who were in the labor force in 2010. Projections indicate that by 2018, the number will reach 11.1 million. 16.1 — Percentage of people 65 and older in the labor force in 2010.

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Robert K. Druger, M.D., Ph.D. Maureen K. Wallen, O.D., F.A.A.O.

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Darling of Tennis

Rosemary DeHoog dedicates passion, life to game By Joyce Gramza

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he only thing that’s not straightforward about 72-year-old Rosemary Luther DeHoog is what her students call “the angle shot.” “It’s fantastic, this great shot cross court,” says Leona Forbes, a retired professor of English at Onondaga Community College, who is also 72. “No matter where you are on the court, you can’t get it.” Forbes is one of six women at a recent morning tennis clinic at Drumlins Tennis Club in Syracuse led by head pro DeHoog. DeHoog, feeding yellow DayGlo balls into a round-robin doubles hitting exercise, is quick to point out that out of the six women in the clinic, five are over 55. To the sounds of balls hitting, DeHoog’s coaching (“Hold it in your left hand longer.” “That’s the move I want!”) and lots of laughter, the women rotating on and off the court enthuse over how DeHoog keeps them coming back. “She makes tennis fun,” says 56-year-old Mary Oliver, who just retired from teaching physical education at FayettevilleManlius High School. “Some of her famous lines are: ‘Duh,’ ‘Ya know?,’ and ‘I saw that!’” “I’m addicted to the woman,” Oliver said. “No matter where I play, she’s on my shoulder.

If I make a mistake, I can hear her correcting me. She’s like my guardian tennis angel.” “Or devil,” chimes in Tina Pfau, 62, a family therapist who returned to the game when she retired six years ago after 20 years of raising kids and working. “We all say ‘W-W-R-D?’ Pfau says— ‘what would Rosemary do?’” “Here’s what I love— she makes you feel good about your game, whether it’s good or not,” Pfau says. “She makes you want to come back and continue to improve because she reinforces all the positives.” “At our age, it’s hard to either start something new or take something up that you used to be good at,” says Pfau. “So it allows us—women—to do something we might not be able to do at our age, and makes us feel comfortable doing it.”

‘Retired’ pioneer The testimonials are just a sample of what kept DeHoog herself coming back after “retiring” from an already illustrious 32-year career as a teaching professional. “I retired in 2004—semi,” DeHoog laughs. “And I did 19 hours last week.” “I’m in good health and when

I tried to retire, people said, ‘You can’t!’ so I work mornings and walk out around noon. That’s my retirement,” she said. Three years after “retiring,” in 2007, DeHoog won the rare rank of master professional from the United States Professional Tennis Association. She was the first—and so far the only—woman in the pro association’s Eastern Division, which includes more than 600 tennis professionals, to earn that certification. Nationally, DeHoog was the 13th woman in the 14,500-member organization to win that rank. The distinction is one of a wall and life full of accolades for DeHoog, who says the barriers women have conquered in tennis have mirrored their challenges in the rest of society. DeHoog grew up in Muskegon, Mich., about 100 miles from Kalamazoo, and began playing at her high school during a summer recreation program. “I thought it looked interesting, my dad bought me a racket and I loved it,” she recalls. “I won the first tournament I played in, so I’m probably a natural.” There was no girl’s tennis team April / May 2012 - 55 PLUS

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at her high school, but she played USPTA events, which led her to renowned tennis school Kalamazoo College. “I went to Kalamazoo to play in a tournament and stayed in one of the dorms and came home and said that’s where I’m going to college. And I did. I didn’t apply anywhere else,” she said. DeHoog was No. 1 on the Kalamazoo woman’s tennis team for four years, 1956- 1960, winning four Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association championships. In 1986, when Kalamazoo College established its athletic hall of fame, DeHoog was a charter inductee. The plaque notes she was “Considered by many to be Kalamazoo’s best woman’s tennis player of her era.” In October 2011, Kalamazoo College’s Emeritus Club awarded DeHoog a citation of merit. “It means you have to have been out 50 years,” she jokes of the honor. But

seriously, “It meant that a lifetime of work had received credit.” Yet DeHoog says, “Probably the thing I’m most proud of is that Albion College in Michigan gave a sportsmanship award and I won it in 1959. Anybody can be No. 1, but to have the people you play say you’re a good sport, that means a lot.” DeHoog graduated with a major in history and minors in physical education and French—“Isn’t that a combination?” she asks. She says being a K’zoo grad has given her credence in the tennis world, but “a job like this didn’t exist” at the time. “I was a school teacher,” she says. DeHoog married in 1960, taught school for 10 years in Michigan and Pennsylvania, had two children, and the family moved to Baldwinsville in 1971. She started at Drumlins as a part-time teaching pro in 1972,

teaching kids in the junior program. “That was amazing good fortune,” she says. “I’m before Title IX. I had the tennis skills, but also have the teaching skills because I was a teacher. Drumlins fortunately had confidence in me.” She went full time “because I had to support a family” after her husband left in 1979. That same year, Drumlins named her head pro. “I’ve been here ever since.” DeHoog’s duties included “adjunct professor of physical education,” teaching tennis to Syracuse University students who took tennis as a for-credit P-E course. “It offers a professional setting to students instead of a gym floor. That’s very important to me,” she says. Drumlins is the home of the SU woman’s tennis team, which both works out and plays home games here.

Forehands and Backhands With Rosemary DeHoog By Joyce Gramza Q: How was passing 55 different from what you expected? A: Honestly, I didn’t think anything about it—it was just another day. I don’t put much stock in birthdays as long as I’m feeling good and doing what I want to do. Q: Do you ever feel disconnected from your generation or do you mostly feel connected to their interests, habits and lifestyle? A: It depends. You look around a group and look at how many people behave like gray hairs. Some people say, “I’m 70 so I can’t play tennis anymore.” I say, yes, I can still play and I think it’s a great state of mind and I have a positive attitude about it. It’s so important 28

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to enjoy life—my mother was still riding her bike three miles a day at 89. Q: What concerns you most about growing older? A: I guess the loss of independence, the ability to drive, make your own decisions, the possibility of a debilitating illness— you never know when that might happen. I try and do the things I have to do every day. For example, I don’t do online banking. I write my own checks so that I have to think about that. I make a conscious effort every day to stave off inactivity and work off of brainpower. Q: What do you do to stay in shape?

A: This morning I played an hour and a half of tennis. I walk and lift some free weights. I watch what I eat. If I have carbs at lunch I may not have carbs at dinner. Q: What do you do that helps you stay feeling young? A: Playing tennis daily and riding in my 1996 Miata convertible (“starlight blue” with a tan top). Q: What are some things most people don’t know about you? A: I went to race driver school at the Pocono Raceway in 1994. Beyond that, due to the nature of my job, everyone knows where I am and what I am doing—my life is an open book.


55+ Women and tennis Also on DeHoog’s office wall of fame: a photo of her meeting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her presidential campaign, and another of DeHoog with the great Billie Jean King serving on a USPTA panel on women’s issues during the 1980s, an event she calls “spectacular.” Standing up to sexism in a male-dominated sport has been a focus of DeHoog’s throughout her career. She was an original member of the National Women’s Committee of the USPTA in 1980, and served as its chairwoman from 1983-1986. Women had only recently entered the workforce in large numbers, and they comprised just 10 percent of USPTA’s membership at the time. The committee advanced issues from equality in testing and certification to increasing women’s participation in tournaments, to wearing the same color name badges as the men at conventions. “Women’s issues are so important,” she says. “We’re still fighting issues. There is still a hierarchy and the one thing that’s been so wonderful about being at Drumlins, I have never experienced any of that type of treatment or discrimination.” DeHoog cites the camaraderie with other women as the chief value of tennis for women in the 55-plus-age group. “I can’t stand to go to the gym,” she says, shaking her head at the idea of isolated headphonewearers on treadmills. “Tennis gives people a way to get their exercise in a social setting. You can see it in the group today. My students are my friends, and in many cases, my friends are my students.” “It is such a great game,” she says. “You get the cardiovascular workout, improving heart-lung capacity. You’re moving about— you’re not turning to stone. You get the social experience. That’s what’s important about this over-55 stuff. People come and do their thing. This drill clinic is walk-in. I don’t know

At Rosemary DeHoog’s office “wall of fame” at Drumlis you’ll find a photo of her meeting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her presidential campaign, and another one with the great Billie Jean King serving on a USPTA panel on women’s issues during the 1980s. who’s coming. There are no levels.” Pfau affirms, “Rosemary sets the tone, so we’re all very accepting of each others’ levels and how good we play or don’t play.” DeHoog points to a player who’s only been playing for two years, and another “who just had shoulder surgery and is learning to play left-handed. I told her I admire her guts—and it’s beginning to work,” she said. She points to Forbes limping about with arthritis in her foot. “To me, the importance is, she is accepted by the group,” she said.

More than a pro “I’ve been coming here for six years,” since age 66, says Forbes. “I had two knee replacements and had to get back my mobility. [DeHoog] was very persistent and said, ‘Get in there and do what you have to do to be a good player; it’s not sissy time!’” In the last year, Forbes began “having troubles” with her right foot. “They recommended surgery. I

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said, ‘I’m not going to do invasive.’” When Forbes missed some clinics, DeHoog called her: “Where have you been?” “Rosemary gave me advice about herbal medicines and Omega-3s and lidoderm patches. It has allowed me to play. It took away that sharp pain. Surgery would have been nine months to a year recuperating—it would have been just horrendous.” “Doctors aren’t going to give you those choices,” says DeHoog. “But there are certain things you can do between nothing and surgery.” “I hope she never leaves here,” says Forbes. “She’s a remarkable tennis pro and teacher, but she’s also a remarkable person.” DeHoog has no plans to leave, but says she’s fortunate to still be doing what she does. “The work is demanding. Your hips give, your knees give,” she said. She attributes her longevity to “good genes, good bones” and “a classic tennis game where the big muscles do all the work.” She says those “classic strokes” have given way to advances in technology. “The rackets are very strong, the strings are powerful, and I see more variations on the classic strokes, using more wrist, using more elbows. That increases your risk of injury.” Her other secrets: “I drink coffee, and they’re now telling us caffeine is good for your heart. I love red wine. I have red wine at dinner. I watch the carbs. I guess I’m surprised at how little food I need, not how much. I eat pretty much what I want, but watch the carbs.” “And, like everybody else, I need to exercise more.” As for when she’ll actually retire: “Probably when I drop,” says DeHoog. “I’ll retire when I feel I can no longer contribute to the well-being of my students.” “Doing what you do well says as much about what you do as anything,” she says. “And I’ve hopefully done mine through tennis.” April / May 2012 - 55 PLUS

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profile Bluegrass Legend Rambles On 55+

Bill Knowlton is the ‘cat’s pajamas’ of bluegrass music By Richard Palmer

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f you see a man standing at the microphone at a bluegrass music event dressed in a straw hat adorned with buttons and a gaudy get-up of mismatched colors (possibly pajama bottoms), chances are it’s Bill Knowlton of Liverpool. Knowlton has

In 1973, Bill Knowlton brought his Bluegrass Ramble to WCNY-FM and its popularity has never waned. The program is always on from 9 p.m. to midnight every Sunday. Knowlton is considered a bluegrass main booster in Central New York. 34

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done more to perpetuate the heritage of bluegrass music in this part of the country than probably anyone. In fact, at 73, he has more enthusiasm for his avocation than most people half his age. He’s received numerous accolades over the years for his efforts

to keep bluegrass music alive. The most recent was the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Distinguished Achievement Award. Radio has always been a strong partner, promoter and protector of this idiom or style of music that traces its roots back some 70 years into the remote hills of Appalachia. For more than 35 years, Knowlton has carried the torch for bluegrass music on WCNY-FM, always volunteering his time just because he loves it. Each program takes at least three hours of preparation. What’s startling is that he did not grow up in the hotbed of bluegrass and old-time hillbilly music. Born in New York City in 1938, as a teenager he, like others, listened to the music of Rosemary Clooney, Jo Stafford, Joni James and Frankie Lane, just to mention a few. But he was more taken by listening to country music singers Hank Williams, Carl Smith and others. “At that point I found that hillbilly music was being played three hours every day on WAAT in nearby Newark, N.J., by Don Larkin on his ‘Hometown Frolic Show.’ I also listened to Rosalie Allen on WOIV, New York, and, happily, Lee Moore, ‘The Coffee Drinkin’ Nighthawk’ and Lee Sutton on WWVA out of Wheeling.” He said, “many a Saturday night was then spent trying to bring in WCKY in Cincinnati for Wayne Rainey and John Lair ’s Renfro Valley Barn Dance. I also enjoyed the WLS National Barn Dance when it came in, and CBS’s Saturday Night Country


Style which featured segments from six radio barn dance broadcasts.” But living in Queens and later Lakeville, Conn., Knowlton’s radio could not pick up many of these distant stations because they could not penetrate New York City’s airwaves. But he was pleasantly surprised when WNBC started to carry a halfhour show of his favorite music on Saturday nights.

Tuned into radio Then it was off to school to further his education. He attended Brooklyn Technical High School and received his Bachelor of Science degree in radio communication arts in 1960. His break into radio came in 1960–1962 when he hosted his first “Bluegrass Ramble” over WBZY in Torrington, Conn. He then decided to join the military and served in the Air Force from 1962 to 1974, and then in the Air Force Reserve from 1974 to 1990, when he retired as a lieutenant colonel. A military assignment landed him in Syracuse and he’s lived here ever since. In 1973, he brought his Blue Grass Ramble to WCNY-FM and its popularity has never waned. The program is always on from 9 p.m. to midnight every Sunday. But the program is just more than music. It’s an educational program jam packed with interesting facts on the history of bluegrass and the stories about the people who created it and keep it alive. Many of the most popular bluegrass events in this region are the result of Knowlton’s efforts. In 1973, he created the Blue Grass Ramble picnic, which is celebrating its 40th birthday in 2012. His demeanor and quick wit make him a natural emcee. For decades he’s been involved in such bluegrass festivals as Grey Fox and Wind Gap. He keeps alive the heritage of Uncle Dave Macon who is considered one of the originators of bluegrass music. If that wasn’t enough, Knowlton was instrumental in the preservation of the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, the “Mother Church of Country Music.” When the auditorium was slated for demolition, Knowlton brought this to

Bill Knowlton emceeing the Bluegrass Ramble picnic at Dwyer Park at Little York north of Cortland. Photo courtesy of Mike Waters. the attention of renowned New York Times’ architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable. Stories as well as Huxtable’s advocacy resulted in saving this important piece of Americana. Knowlton also produced and emceed 52 half-hour Blue Grass Ramble television programs for the Eastern Educational Network, which aired on PBS stations throughout the country. These shows gave national exposure to bands from throughout the northeast and Canada. This was long before the Internet was invented. In 1997, Knowlton was named Bluegrass Broadcaster of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association.

Bluegrass groupies Knowlton has a loyal band of followers who, in many cases, go where he goes — to bluegrass events seemingly all over the country. But the real main attraction is the annual oneday Blue Brass Ramble picnic held in August at Dwyer Memorial Park at Little York, just north of Cortland. The event usually involves at least a dozen bands and attracts an audience of several thousand. The event attracts some of the

most popular bluegrass groups in the northeast, including the Delaney Brothers, the Salmon River Boys, the Atkinson Family, Larry Hoyt & The Good Acoustics and many others. When not center stage, the musicians form in small groups for jam sessions around the pavilion. It’s a lighthearted event and everyone has a good time. That’s what bluegrass is all about. Knowlton summed it up this way: “When the Blue Grass Ramble first went in the air, its listeners started using it as a bulletin board to meet up with their fellow Central New York fans and bluegrass musicians. ‘I thought I was the only one in this area that liked or played bluegrass’ was a remark I heard many, many times then. So the ramble unwittingly became a catalyst for bluegrass activities in Central New York. Lifetime friendships were made, bands were formed as well as the Central New York Bluegrass Association. The ramble continues today as an important source of information for area bluegrass concerts, association meetings, and bluegrass festivals, all offered at no charge over non-commercial WCNYFM and TV.” April / May 2012 - 55 PLUS

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cooking

Cooking for One or Two

Don’t retire that apron yet. You still have years of great cooking ahead By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

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ou may have whipped up big, nutritious meals for a household of children and find that now it’s hard to scale down meal sizes for just you and your spouse. Or perhaps your spouse did all the cooking and now that you’re alone, it seems too much of a bother to cook a full meal. Whatever the reason your kitchen is quiet these days, it’s important to keep eating right. Along with exercise and regular doctor visits, eating healthful, balanced meals supports good health. “It is important for older adults to continue eating a healthy diet to prolong quality of life,” said Darlene D. Beeman, registered dietitian with St. Joseph’s Hospital Health C e n t e r. “ H e a l t h y choices help maintain a healthy weight and decrease the risk or severity of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, the risk of fractures and depression. Healthful eating also increases immunity and helps prevent constipation. 36

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We also should keep in mind healthful eating can help older adults avoid losing too much weight.” Eating balanced meals is also a lot of fun, so don’t retire that apron yet.

You still have years of great cooking ahead! Plan to eat great. “Think about what you want to prepare and make a list,” said Julie Mellen, registered dietitian with Upstate University Hospital. Write out a week’s worth of dinners so you and your palate have something terrific to look forward to. Cook enough extra that you can enjoy an encore the next day for lunch or perhaps re-use parts of it in a different dish. Here’s an example, according to Lisa A. Yarah, registered clinical dietitian with Oswego Health’s The Manor at Seneca Hill: “Cook chicken once that week, but use it in two or three dishes over the next few days. What can you make with that leftover chicken or half container of chicken broth that is left? Chicken soup or a chicken potpie perhaps?” Afraid you’ll not be in the mood for your planned food or too busy or tired to cook? Buy back-ups that are healthful so you can eat well anytime. “Keep your pantry


55+ well stocked withed canned beans, vegetables and fruit, and low-sodium soups,” Mellen said. Low-sodium, reduced fat vegetable-based soup or tomato soup can offer a light meal paired with whole grain bread and a piece of fruit. Steer clear of creamy soups since they are high in fat and ones that are not designated as reduced-sodium. Ready-to-eat packaged foods are convenient but can be less than healthful since they can be “high in sodium and preservatives,” said Sarah Formoza, registered dietitian at Auxiliary Services for SUNY Oswego Dining. “Preparing your food at home lets you control the ingredients.” Some packaged meals include words like “light,” “fat-free,” “healthy” and other terms to make them sound like wise choices. The nutrition labels will reveal what is really in the package, but keep in mind that the percentages are based upon a 2,000-calorie diet, which may be much more than you really need to maintain a healthy weight. “Even if the name sounds healthy, some products may contain too much sodium, sugar or fat,” Beeman said. “Consumers should try to purchase fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables without added sauces or salt and look for reduced sodium products to help decrease overall sodium intake.” Nutritious back-ups can also include individually frozen fish filets (thin cut tilapia, for example, bakes in 12 minutes), bagged tossed salad, and instant brown rice. When you’re not up to cooking a big meal from scratch, eating well can be simple. “Add fresh fruit and whole grain cereal to low fat yogurt,” Mellen said. “Chop up fresh fruit or dried fruit and walnuts and add to oatmeal. A simple quesadilla [can be] made with a whole grain tortilla, lean chicken breast, low fat cheese and chopped tomatoes and peppers or salsa.” Focus meals around low fat dairy, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean sources of protein such as beans, fish and low fat cuts of pork, beef, chicken and fish. Try to mostly eat foods that

are the least processed and try to enhance meals with more nutrients. Add a tablespoon or two of wheat germ to anything that calls for nuts or whole wheat flour, for example. “Add leafy greens like baby spinach or chopped kale to soups, stews and casseroles like lasagna,” Mellen suggested. Celebrate variety. Shop for foods your now-grown children never liked much or were reluctant to try. Just as you may redecorate their former bedrooms, it’s your turn to make the fridge your domain again. Every time you shop, try a few new produce items you’ve never tried before. This will help jar you out of a cooking rut. “Experiment with different grains such as quinoa, barley, and couscous,” Mellen said. “You can find nice blends of grains at the grocery store. They’re easy to prepare in smaller servings.” Thumb through your cookbooks and try something different. Search the library or online for cookbooks you haven’t used. Dine at a restaurant where you’ve never eaten, especially if it’s from a different ethnic background from which you’re familiar. Or try a new dish at an old favorite. If you like your entrée, try replicating it at home. Once you know a dish’s appearance, texture and taste, it’s easier to make something new. Increase the diners at your table by inviting over friends and family or eating at your local senior center, church or civic group. Scan the newspaper for upcoming events. Many are free or low-cost for seniors. Formoza suggested joining an online group or creating a blog to share food photos, meals and recipes as another way to keep dining more interesting and social. Reducing the size of some recipes results in disaster. Instead, make the full size and freeze the rest in meal-sized portions in freezer-safe containers to enjoy later. “You can do this for just about anything including soups, lasagna, casseroles, or stir-fries,” Formoza said.

cooking You can also cook extra food on purpose to save time and hassle in the kitchen. When you don’t feel like cooking, this makes it a lot easier. “Cook once and eat two or three times,” Mellen said. “For example, bake chicken or cook a pork tenderloin slice and freeze the extra to be added to a soup or salad, pasta, burrito or a grilled Panini. Beeman calls this making “planned overs” as a wordplay on “leftovers.” “When making brown rice, make extra to use in another dish such as rice pudding or to put in homemade soup,” she said. “Keep your pantry stocked with canned nuts, nut butters, legumes, vegetables and fruits for quick and healthy additions to snacks and meals.” Most frozen items will last for about two months without reduced nutrition or palatability. Some recipes do well downsized to an amount your smaller household can eat in a single meal. “Make individual mini pizza by dividing pizza dough into smaller pieces,” Mellen said. “Load it up with sliced vegetables and fresh mozzarella cheese slices. Use muffin tins to make individual meat loaves.” You may need to invest in some smaller pots and equipment. Yarah recommends a toaster oven as an economical way to cook a small amount of food. Mini slow cookers can let you simmer a meal all day without making a huge vat of food. “You can still use a Crockpot with smaller portioned amounts for a hot, tender, and tasty meal,” Formoza suggested. Keep in mind that the huge pans you may have used before won’t work right for a reduced-size recipe. Maureen Franklin, manager clinical nutrition at Crouse Hospital, said, “Depending on what you are making, you might want to use an 8by-8 inch baking dish, or individual soufflé or au gratin dishes. The individual dishes give you the option of baking the individual casseroles at the same time, or freezing some for baking on another day.” April / May 2012 - 55 PLUS

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Too Late to Save? Financial planners say it’s never too late to save. Here are things you can do if you find yourself short of money in retirement By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

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hether it was a lack of planning, large financial emergency or a few unexpected changes in your portfolio, you may find yourself with less money than you’d like for your upcoming retirement. But it’s not too late to make a few changes to make your retirement more comfortable. Assess your situation: what you owe and what you own. By establishing these baselines, you can set more accurate goals. You may find out you’re not as bad off as you think. Reduce your debt quickly so you can be debt-free before you retire. You don’t want to have payments gobbling up your retirement income. And any income you can free up now can go toward the investments that will pay you back during Sarenski retirement. Sell off any assets you can to pay down the smallest balances first. Then pay the money you would have put toward those balances to other debt. 38

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Downsize your life. If you can, sell your now over-sized house get into a smaller home closer to work. Or, consider renting out space in your home to someone you trust. Trade in a gas hog for a used fuel-efficient vehicle that’s inexpensive to repair. Clear out the clutter, not only stuff that you can sell through consignment shops and on sites like Craigslist and eBay, but also the subscriptions to publications and services you never use. Cancel memberships in clubs and organizations you can do without. Trim your budget in other ways, too. Pare down your auto insurance expenses by asking your agent if you qualify for any discounts. Drive as little as possible to save on repairs and gas. Curb your regular spending. Buy Lasda generic brands and used items. Borrow things when you will only need them a short time or sporadically such as reading materials from the

library or a seldom-used tool for a home repair project. Some special equipment may be rented. Purchase only the things you really need. Check sites such as freecycle.org or the “free” listing on craigslist.com. Focus on the little splurges that matter most to you. If you truly treasure a gourmet cup of coffee in the morning but can make do without a monthly shopping spree, enjoy the java and shop only when you actually need something. Give up services that you could do for yourself, such as cutting the grass. While it’s fine to be generous, give only to the causes and people who matter most to you. As for the charities that are less important to you, kindly ask if they will remove you from their contact list. Analyze ways you can bring in more money. Could you take a part-time job a few nights a week? Check the classifieds, online job sites and community bulletin boards for starters, but also ask around at places where you would like to work. Many employers in the service industry would welcome someone with experience for just a few hours a week. You may find a


part-time job you like well enough that you could keep it awhile after you retire from your career. If your employment is hourly, pick up more time at work if possible. Accept the possibility that you may not retire as early as you’d like. “You’ll most likely will be in a situation here you’ll work longer than you wanted or planned to,” said Ted Sarenski, a certified public accountant who serves as CEO of Blue Ocean Strategic Capital, LLC Syracuse. This may be working at your career longer or shifting to a lessstressful full- or part-time job. “I suggest a lot of times to wait until 66 to collect Social Security. At 62, you take a cut of 25 percent of what you’d receive at 66. If you start collecting and you’re still working and if you’re earning more than $14,640 in 2012, you have to give back $1 of Social Security for every $2 you earn over that amount.” Keeping your health care benefits represents another good reason to continue working. Insuring yourself can cost around $1,000 a month. “Find out precisely what the current health benefits are and what they’re projected to be in the future,” said David Lasda, financial planner with Michael Roberts Associates, Inc. in North Syracuse. If those benefits end at retirement, “I’d better stop and think about when I retire,” Lasda said. “If you’re not 65 and qualified for Medicare, you need to figure that $1,000 into your budget. Working for benefits could be worth it.” So long as it’s not a conflict with your employment, sell a service you’re good at as a consultant or freelancer. Tutor and babysit if you enjoy children and young people. Plan how much money you will need to retire. You may be able to make do with one car, a less expensive wardrobe and lower gas expenses since you won’t be working. These kinds of budget trimmers figure into Lasda’s estimate that a post-retirement budget can be 65 percent of pre-retirement income. When you have your target set, start salting away all you can. If your employer offers a

401k, increase your contribution to its maximum as a first step. A financial planner should be able to help you invest in the best way that aligns with your age, income, financial situation, and comfort level. The last variable is one Sarenski, at the Blue Ocean Strategic Capital, finds ticklish for some clients who want conservative, stable investments but need to catch up in their retirement funds. “People in the US are living longer these days,” he said. “People who live to 65 are likely to live to 85. These funds have to last that long. It shouldn’t all be conservative investment. You need some stocks to keep pace with inflation. Every 20 years, your money will buy half of what it will buy now.” He recommends placing about 70 percent of investable funds into equities. If those do well and the percentage jumps to 80 percent, “rebalance it to be 70 percent of the portfolio and put the rest into something steadier,” he said. He also advises retirees to plan to keep two years’ income in short-term CDs or money markets where it’s easily accessible. “Then you don’t need to worry about the market on a day-to-day basis,” Sarenski said. “When you pull out cash, you’re not selling off something at a loss to get the cash flow you need to live on.” Lasda advises people who are approaching retirement and have no pension to consider an annuity that has a guaranteed lifetime income. “Some products allow for an increase in that guaranteed income and those are the ones I can use,” he said. “Those profits will pay that lifetime guaranteed income even if the actual account balance goes to zero.” Lasda doesn’t think investing in real estate is a good strategy for an eminent retiree playing catch-up. “The minute you start with hard assets like real estate, you don’t know the liquidity of it when you need to sell,” he said. A hot property now could be hard to sell in 10 years when you need the money. When your plan is in place, stick with it. You’ll be glad you did.

By 2020, One Quarter of the Labor Force Will Be 55 and older “In 1990, 11.9 percent of the labor force was 55 years and older. Over the 1990-2000 timeframe, the share of the older labor force increased to 13.1 percent. In 2010, the share increased again, to 19.5 percent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the share of the 55-years-and-older labor force will increase to 25.2 percent in 2020,” according to a 2012 analysis of census data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Fewer Older Workers Expect to Retire at 62 or 65 According to a 2012 analysis of data from the Health and Retirement Survey, “a declining percentage of Americans are expecting to retire at 62 and 65. In 2006, 7.4 percent of people [over the age of 50] said they plan to stop working at 62, but by 2010 it had dropped to 4.9 percent. In 2006, 16.1 percent people expected to retire at 65, but in 2010, 14.6 percent planned to do so. Conversely, expected retirement at 66 has increased from 2.9 percent in 2006 to 4 percent in 2010.”

Early Retirement More Likely When Retiree Has Health Insurance When employers offer retirement health insurance, the probability of early retirement increases. “Retiree health coverage has its strongest effects at ages 62 and 63, resulting in a 3.7 percentage point (21.2 percent) increase in the probability of turnover at age 62 and a 5.1 percentage point (32.2 percent) increase in the probability of turnover at age 63; it has a more modest effects for individuals under the age of 62,” according to a 2011 analysis of employee retirement data. April / May 2012 - 55 PLUS

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aging By Marilyn L. Pinsky

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Searching For A Faith Community (First of a two-part series)

eligion both unites us and separates us. It can be a source of comfort or discomfort. A recent survey said that nearly one in three Americans changes their religious affiliation over the course of their lifetime. With the help and advice of Jeanette Powell, former director of the Pastoral Counseling Center, and Beth A. Broadway, executive director of Interfaith Works of CNY, I brought together a group to discuss religious journeys. If you have not found a faith community where you are comfortable, I hope their journeys encourage you to keep searching for the “right door” to go through. Because we spoke freely and from the heart, I did not attribute statements to specific people, but I will tell you who participated, though not all voices are in this first article: Barbara Bova, Dr. Sara Farchione, Bruce Gentry, Mary Gillen, Jeanette Powell, Gracia Sears, Dr. Margaret Susan (Peggy) Thompson, and Danya Wellmon. Each new speaker starts where the sentence is in bold type. A young grandmother is in the process of looking at different churches in the area. “Throughout my life I have always felt the need to search for the ‘right fit.’ For years I had a strong connection with the church my children were brought up in, but as they grew older, I found I hadn’t made lasting relationships there and began to search for something more.” “I want a congregation that meets my needs spiritually and provides a sense of community beyond just attending services together. Taking care of a baby and spending much time feeling isolated has made this 40

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need for community even more essential.” “A church that uses familiar hymns is important.” Wanting familiar music was a recurring theme among others in the group also. The music we have grown up with has a major role in imparting the religion and makes us feel comfortable within a congregation. I don’t think this is an age-related issue, as my daughter Lauren has also expressed the importance of familiar music to her faith experience. A diverse congregation is another important component. “And I would love to find a faith community that has a group for new members, particularly older members. Though most faith groups have moms and toddler groups...where do people with an ill spouse turn for comfort and support?” Our next speaker was one of seven children brought up in an Irish-Italian Catholic family. “I loved the community I had through my church, but I learned the most about Christian teachings through the love of my family.” Not feeling comfortable with the control of the Vatican in her life, she stopped going to church altogether when she went away to college. Yet when she married and had children, she and her husband chose to raise their family as part of St. Andrew’s Catholic Church because of its progressive, welcoming community. As their children got older, she pulled back from organized religion to explore her own spirituality. “This journey took me to Gobind Sadan, India, an inclusive faith community that believes there is one God, that all the prophets come from the same God, and that all religions teach us to love and serve God and each other.”

“Learning and experiencing the profound commonalities of different traditions greatly deepened my own connection with God and my belief in the equality and divinity of all. Expanding this understanding led me to become involved with InterFaith Works of Central New York, an organization that affirms the dignity of each person and every faith community and works to create relationships and understanding among us.” A 30-year career as a pediatrician provided opportunity to bring the spirituality of her heart to her work, connecting with the love and innocence of children and the trust and gratitude of parents. With the continued presence of her own extended family, and after 12 years of belonging to a group of women who gathered to support each other’s spiritual growth, she found herself being called to a new path. Two years ago, she and four other women (two of whom are her sisters) founded an organization called the “Heartlight Center for Inner Peace.” “Heartlight’s mission is based on the principles of attitudinal healing, created 30 years ago by Dr. Jerry Jampolsky. Attitudinal healing in not religious, but is spiritual, and teaches that the essence of our being is love and that love is eternal. It is a practical spirituality that recognizes that it is our own thoughts and attitudes toward people and situations that determine how we experience life.” With attitudinal healing, health is defined as ‘inner peace’, and healing is defined as ‘letting go of fear’. Eventually the passion for bringing attitudinal healing to the Central New York community led to transitioning from her pediatric practice to working full time to grow Heartlight. With the guidance of


Jerry Jampolsky and his wife, Diane Cirincione, Heartlight offers groups for individuals to study and apply the “12 Principles of Attitudinal Healing.” To date, almost 100 people locally have learned to use these tools and experience the profound healing that can take place in a space where love is defined as ‘listening without judgment’. Attitudinal healing groups are not therapy. They are based on the belief that we always have a choice in our thoughts and attitude and that each person has access to their own best answers. Thus the group’s goal is to use the principles Sara Farchione and Gracia Sears are of attitudinal healing as tools for some of the people who sat down with learning forgiveness and choosing Marilyn Pinsky to discuss their religious inner peace. journeys. If anyone is interested in learning more about attitudinal healing, studios dropping something off, please visit “ahinternational.org.” For when a friend who worked there got Heartlight, the website is heartlightcip. called out of the room and I ended org; and the email address for questions up running the soundboard for is heartlightcip@gmail.com. the television station. The program was Peter, Paul and Mary’s holiday Growing up in Northeastern concert and when they played a Tennessee as a regularly attending song about Hanukkah, the tears just church-going Southern Baptist was started running down my face. I began a satisfying religious experience. studying Judaism on my own.” But as time went on, homophobic “After a few years of personal bullying from the congregation study, in 1996 I finally went to Temple overwhelmed him. Though never Concord to explore conversion. I doubting the existence of God, he chose that synagogue because they had problems with the divinity and are open and accepting to people who messiah-ship of Jesus. Like many in are gay and that was essential to me. this discussion group, he was always A lot of the religious conflict I had a very spiritual person. found in my earlier life was explained While serving in the US Air Force when I began the formal conversion he met some Jewish guys who invited process, perhaps most important, that him over for Hanukkah; he loved it. the Torah teaches us to respect other After returning to Griffiss Air Force faiths.” Base, and then moving to Syracuse in “Is there anything I miss about 1973, a number of events happened my previous religion? Yes, Christmas that changed his life. music. The melodies of much of “I had recently met a Holocaust the holiday music are often very survivor and shortly thereafter saw compelling, and the beauty and the a program on public broadcasting majesty are absolutely there, even about the Holocaust; the two events though I cannot embrace the lyrics.” affected me deeply. Then in the late 1970s when I was a volunteer in the Searching for a more liberal ‘Save the Landmark Theatre’ effort, church there were many Jewish people “After growing up Methodist, involved that I got to know personally. marrying a Methodist, raising four At that point I gave some thought to boys in the Methodist church and converting but didn’t actually take running Sunday school during trying any action in that direction.” times for the church, I got frustrated “I truly became Jewish in my and felt I needed a more liberal church heart after the 1980s. I was following environment. I have always been the ethics of treating people kindly, a seeker, which had taken me on a and happened to be in the WCNY journey through different Methodist

churches and study groups, as I sought a liberal congregation in which to raise our sons.” “I then went to a Universalist Church because their inclusiveness of all religions appealed to me. But after 30 years as a Universalist, I find myself searching again.” “When we joined the Universalist church, I was particularly attracted to the ‘Rose’ window, which has symbols from most of the world’s religions. I had hoped to sink into learning about all of these religions, but alas, it didn’t happen. We sang in the choir, which sustained me spiritually for many years and I liked the questioning nature of many in the congregation. Prompted by a major internal conflict I refer to as ‘the perfect storm’, I gradually came to realize that I was no longer being sustained spiritually and sought ways to deepen and address this need.” “I was president of the UU church at the time our minister shared that he was gay and he was supported by the congregation, which was a good thing. But other things happened within the congregation that left me feeling there had to be something else. Perhaps it was that there was a lot of lip service to diversity but it did not play out in practice.” “The UU church, though claiming to be diverse, has not done a good job of accepting Christianity, which became a stumbling block for me.” “About 12 years ago, I started volunteering in the spiritual care unit at Upstate and Crouse hospitals under the guidance of Rev. Terry Culbertson. By entering training to be an assistant chaplain I have been able to use my nursing and art backgrounds in vibrant new ways and have found the diversity and spirituality that I had hoped to find in a church. I have returned to my Christian roots but in a way that is less oriented to an institution and more to service.” “During my transition out of active involvement at my church, I started a practice recommended to me by a spiritual director I visited for a time. She suggested that I pray to “let go and let God.” It worked and even helped me to sleep better.” Author’s Note: This discussion will continue in the June/July 55 Plus. April / May 2012 - 55 PLUS

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Remembering “The Forgotten War”

TheWarof1812

Everyday people along the shores of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie did their part to win the war By Sandra Scott

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he War of 1812 lasted three years. It was fought on land and sea from Montreal to New Orleans and from the Atlantic Coast to the middle of the continent. The most remembered events are the burning of the White House, the battle of Fort McHenry that gave birth to America’s national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner,” and the Battle of New Orleans, recalled in the Johnny Horton song of the same name. Some have tagged The War of 1812 as “The Forgotten War” but in the struggling frontier settlements of Erie, Lewiston, Oswego, and Sackets 42

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Harbor on the shores of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario the war was never forgotten. The stories of the every day people who found the war on their doorstep are remembered in their local communities. The war is also remembered in reenactments on the hallowed battlegrounds and with storyboards along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail.

Erie Daniel Dobbins, a merchant marine, who had been captured by the British in skirmishes on the Great

Lakes managed to escape. Back in Erie, Pa., he was commanded by Gen. David Mead to report on the military situation in the Great Lakes area to the authorities in Washington. Dobbins made the long trek to the capitol where he informed the government that they were in desperate need of more naval power on Lake Erie and a base should be created in Erie. The navy gave Dobbins the Herculean task of building a “fleet in the wilderness.” After Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry took command of the ship building effort at Erie, Dobbins continued to be instrumental


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in the success of the project. Dobbins Landing, Erie’s public dock, is named for Capt. Dobbins.

Lewiston On Dec. 19, 1813, British forces invaded the United States and captured Fort Niagara, just north of Lewiston in the Niagara Falls region, without firing a shot. The British troops and their native allies then marched on Lewiston in retaliation for the American burning of the Canadian village of Newark, Ontario, now known as Niagara on the Lake, 10 days earlier. On that fateful morning, Solomon Gillette had left his house on an errand leaving his wife, Hepzipah, and children alone in their frontier home. Fleeing the attack with his mother, 7-year old Jervis was shot by a British native, and while still alive, was scalped in front of his mother and younger siblings. The local Tuscarora natives came to the support of their Lewiston neighbors and stopped the attack long enough for dozens of residents to escape. Mrs. Gillette and her two surviving children walked through the cold and snow 270 miles to her parents’ home, south of Albany. She and her children were later reunited with Solomon and returned to live out their days in Lewiston.

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Oswego In the port city of Oswego, an estimated 200 men and boys volunteered to transport an anchor rope needed in Sackets Harbor to make the “USS Superior,” a newly built frigate, battle ready. The rope was six inches in diameter, 600 feet long, and weighed about five tons. First it was transported by boat along the Lake Ontario shore, and when the water route became too dangerous, the volunteers moved inland, hoisted the rope on their shoulders and transported it 20 miles to Sackets Harbor. Accounts say that the heavy, rough rope left permanent scars on the shoulders of many of the ropecarriers. The “USS Superior” helped in the blockade of Kingston, Canada.

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by the sailors, dressed in a miniature uniform of a British tar.

Sackets Harbor During the first Battle of Sackets Harbor, which was the center of American naval and military activity in the eastern part of Lake Ontario, American ingenuity saved the day. A British ship was threatening the small village, but those defending the village had no shot bigger than 24-pound balls to fit their 32-pounder cannon. Legend has it that an enterprising individual wrapped the 24-pound ball in a piece of carpet from a nearby home. When it was fired it brought shouts of laughter from the British. The battle raged for two hours. One of the British 32-pound balls fell near Thomas D. Spicer, a local Sackets militiaman, who picked it up and returned the shot from the village 32-pound canon. It struck the “Royal George” killing eight men and causing the British to retreat, while on shore the Americans sang “Yankee

Doodle.” Who won the war? Both the British and Americans declared it a victory. The British felt they had won because they repelled the Americans and did not become part of the United States. For the United States the war became “The Second War for Independence” because it caused foreign countries to accept America as an independent country. The British stopped interfering in American affairs. For the people along the shore of Lake Ontario peace allowed the tenacious and hardy settlers to rebuild and with the Midwest secure, some continued westward as part of Manifest Destiny. Travel the Seaway Trail and discover the stories of the everyday people who did their part to win the

“I had cancer. Cancer never had me.” Yesterday, I got out my fishing rod. I couldn’t help thinking of everyone at HOA. It was last spring when I found out. I was overwhelmed, distraught - and scared. I thought my fishing days were over. Then I went to HOA. My medical team all said, “We have the technology to fight this thing!” and showed my the CyberKnife. It sounded scary, but when I learned how it worked and how safe it was, I had hope for the first time. Your attitude really inspired me, your staff always encouraged me and your plan of action worked. I may have had cancer, but cancer never had me. Today, my kids and I are heading up to the lake.

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War of 1812. For information on upcoming events commemorating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 go to Seawaytrail.com, Eriecountyhistory. org, Historiclewiston.org, Fortontario. com, and Sacketsharborbattlefield.org.


consumers corner By Eva Briggs

A Fall Can Be Very Bad for You. See How to Prevent Them Too many seniors get injured as a result of a fall. Follow a few simple strategies to avoid falling

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t’s estimated that about 16 percent of those over the age of 65 fall during any three-month period. One-third of those falls cause an injury requiring medical attention or limiting activities for at least a day. Women are more likely than men to be injured. Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries in people over the age of 65. Decreasing strength, balance and vision that occur with age all contribute to the risk of falling. Older bones thinned by osteoporosis are more likely to break. Blood vessels also become more fragile with age, leading to increased bruising and a serious risk of bleeding inside the brain. Torn veins inside the head may bleed slowly, and the symptoms of a serious bleed may develop slowly over days or even weeks in older individuals. The best strategy is to prevent falls before they occur. Exercise, such as walking, tai chi, or water aerobics, is effective by increasing strength, balance, coordination and flexibility. As with any exercise program, find something you enjoy. You’ll be more likely to stick with it if you have a partner, take a class, or work oneon-one with a physical therapist or personal trainer. Many medications can cause dizziness and falls. Drug interactions can also be to blame. Be sure to review your medications periodically with your doctor. Don’t forget to disclose over-the-counter medicines, supplements and drugs prescribed by other physicians. And never take a prescription drug prescribed for someone else.

Shoes matter too. Illfitting shoes, loose shoes, and slippery soles cause falls. Flipflops and heels are notorious for causing falls. Shoes with laces that are tied or shoes that close securely with Velcro, are the safest. Pets have many positive health benefits, but they can cause falls too. Pay attention to where your dog has dropped his toys, to slippery floors from water sloshed out of the water dish, to loose leashes and tieouts, and to the location of your pet. It’s easy to trip over a sleeping dog or a cat that’s weaving around your feet. Poor lighting, especially for those with declining vision, contributes to the risk of falling. Ways to improve visibility in the home include nightlights and illuminated or glow-inthe-dark light switches. Keep a lamp near your bed so that you can turn it on before getting out of bed. A flashlight at the bedside is a great way to light your way at night without disturbing your sleeping partner. Just be sure to check the flashlight batteries regularly. Stairs are inherently dangerous so turn on a light before going up or down. Also think of “fall-proofing” the house. Clutter is not your friend. Boxes, newspapers, loose electrical cords, and other trip hazards should go. Spills and leaks should be wiped up promptly. Slippery floors are another no-no. Loose rugs should be tacked down, secured with a nonskid backing, or removed altogether.

Repair loose carpeting or floorboards. Use bath non-skid bath mats. Consider installing grab bars in the bathroom, and be sure that stairways have secure handrails. The time and cost to institute these preventative methods are much less expensive than a big emergency medical bill and associated costs related to disability from a serious injury. Eva Briggs is a medical doctor who works at the Fulton Urgent Care operated by Oswego Hospital and at Immediate Medical Care of CNY in Manlius. April / May 2012 - 55 PLUS

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Social Security

Q&A

Q: If both my spouse and I are entitled to Social Security benefits, is there any reduction in our payments because we are married? A: No. We calculate lifetime earnings independently to determine each spouse’s Social Security benefit amount, and couples are not penalized simply because they are married. When each member of a married couple meets all other eligibility requirements to receive Social Security retirement benefits, each spouse receives a monthly benefit amount based on his or her own earnings. If one member of the couple earned low wages or failed to earn enough Social Security credits to be insured for retirement benefits, he or she may be eligible to receive benefits as a spouse. Learn more about earning Social Security credits by reading our publication on the subject at www. socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10072. html. Q: I am receiving Social Security disability benefits. Is there a way for me to try working and not lose my benefits? A: We have special rules called “work incentives” that help you keep your benefits and Medicare while you test your ability to work. For example, there is a “trial work period” during which you can receive full benefits regardless of how much you earn, as long as you report your work activity and continue to have a disabling impairment. For more information about work incentives if you collect disability benefits and want to return to work, we recommend that you read the leaflet, Working While DisabledHow We Can Help at www. socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10095. html.


golden years By Harold Miller Email: hal@cny55.com

America Faces a Bright Future

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ith all the global gloom and doom pumped at us 24/7 by the media, it might seem incongruent to be waxing optimistic about the future According to the scribes: Our planet might become toast in a few hundred years (an undocumented hypothesis still perpetrated by a few environmental scientists who want to keep their grant monies flowing); our greatest ally Europe might collapse into the dark ages again; China and India will eat our lunch economically; the final conflict with the Arab world is about to begin … But wait, we still have something to cheer about. Mark Mills, who writes the Forbes Energy Intelligence column, and Julio Ottino, dean of the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Northwestern University, have teamed up on an article recently published in The Wall Street Journal. This enlightened piece outlines three technologies, developed exclusively in our country, that are poised to transform America in this century, as much as telephony, electricity and mass production did in the last.

Big data When I toured the North American Aerospace Defense Command facility in Syracuse some 30-odd years ago, this multi-story concrete bunker housed hundreds of main frame computers that tracked our military aircraft locally and around the world. To d a y, y o u r s m a r t phone contains far more data capacity. Information technology has entered the big-data era, and all of this processing power and data storage will be available, virtually free. The Internet is

evolving into the “cloud”—a network of thousands upon thousands of data centers. From social media to medical revolutions, unimaginable amounts of data crunching will yield unimaginable services and businesses—which in turn will yield unimaginable new markets.

Smart manufacturing At the turn of the 20th century when Henry Ford developed mass production and paid his workers $5 a day, the United States was on its way to becoming the wealthiest country in the world with the highest standard of living. At the turn of the 21st century, we are just entering a new era where the very fabrication of physical things will be revolutionized by emerging materials science. Engineers will soon design and build from the molecular level, optimizing features and even creating new materials. Devices and products are already appearing, based on computer-engineered materials that literally did not exist a few years ago. In the electronics world, new metal alloys (graphene and carbon instead of silicon) will enable a new class of electronic and structural materials. These new materials, combined with 3-D printing, will yield “direct digital manufacturing.” Utilizing computers, lasers, a n d

powdered metal and plastics, they will produce printed parts for high value applications. How about a new knee or hip joint printed exclusively for your body? One day it may be possible to “print” entire products from wheels to washing machines at drastically reduced cost compared to conventional manufacture.

Communications revolution Soon, most humans on our planet will be connected wirelessly. As it is now millions can communicate, socialize, and trade in real time by way of cell phones and computers— soon it will be billions. The incredible reduction in cost for wireless connectivity is tracking the surge of telegraph and telephone development that occurred in the early 1900s. Hardwired electronic devices are on the way out, never to return.

The caveat The U.S. owns this technology revolution and should be in line to profit the most by its development. Demographically, we are younger and smarter. More than half of the world’s top-100 universities reside in the U.S., more than the Euro Zone or the Asian Rim combined. However, Mills and Ottino issue a sobering note on our future. America is the only true capitalistic society among the top players, and in order to reap the rewards of our entrepreneurial expertise, we must remain capitalistic. This country must return to liquid financial markets, sensible tax and immigration policies, balanced regulations, and a smaller pro-business government. Perhaps we 55-plussers—in the interest of our children and grandchildren—can help to educate the politicians so we can return to the future. April / May 2012 - 55 PLUS

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druger’s zoo

By Marvin Druger and Robert Druger

Our Aging Eyes

T

Greater wisdom comes with age, but so do failing body parts, including eyes

he human eye is a truly amazing structure…and there are two of them. Although each eye provides vision, both eyes work together in a coordinated manner to provide three-dimensional depth. As you look around, think of the many aspects of your vision that are happening all at once without any conscious effort on your part. You might wonder why this article is included as a Druger’s Zoo article in 55-Plus magazine? The answers are that: • everyone should know and appreciate the structure and function of the eyes that enable you to read this magazine • everyone should be aware of the changes that occur in vision as we grow older and beyond 55-plus. A lot of problems that you have (or will have) with your vision are preventable and treatable. • one of the authors is a

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biologist (M. Druger) and the other is an ophthalmologist in Camillus (R. Druger) and we thought it would be fun to have a father-son collaboration in writing this article. First, we will briefly describe the basic structure and function of the human eye. Then, we’ll describe changes that occur as we age. The eye is a ball that sits in a bony socket called the orbit. Six muscles are tethered to each eyeball that enable us to move the eye in different directions. The eyeball is covered in front by the eyelids. The eyelids have glands that help product tears. Tears flow across the outer part of the eye, and the eyelids serve as windshield wipers to keep the eye surface clean and free of debris. The outer covering of the eye is a tough, fibrous material known as the sclera. The front of the sclera is transparent and is called the cornea. The cornea has several different cell layers and all are clear to allow light to pass through. Light is focused as it passes through the cornea and through the clear fluid in the front part of the eye called aqueous humor. The light is then further focused by the lens, which is suspended behind the colored part the eye, the iris. The lens is clear and flexible when we are young, allowing us to change focus from far

to near and back. This clarity and flexibility begins to change as we hit our 40s. Behind the lens is the clear, transparent jelly-like, vitreous humor. The light passes through the vitreous and then hits the retina at the back of the eye. The retina has specialized, light-sensitive cells that enable color vision (cone cells) and black-and-white vision (rod cells). The specialized cells in the retina are stimulated and electrochemical impulses altered. The nerve impulses then travel along the retina and collect in the optic nerve which exits out the back of the eye. The electrical nerve impulses travel along nerve pathways to the occipital cortex in the back of the brain. As much as 60 percent of the brain is then used to decode and interpret what we see! The two eyes are also coordinated, so that we can have three-dimensional vision. As one can see, this is amazing and complex system. Each part of the eye and brain involved in the process of vision has to work in order for us to see. If one part isn’t working, the entire system breaks down and we can’t see as well as we would like. It is amazing that the system works to begin with, so it is of no surprise that things can go wrong. Even if vision starts out perfect when we are young, as we grow older, things change. Let’s identify some of the changes in the eye that occur naturally as we age: 1. Tear production decreases and the tear film dries out. This gives a dry, scratchy eye feeling as we get older. This can usually be treated with artificial tears, but sometimes other treatments are needed, if


The author, Syracuse University emeritus professor Marvin Druger, and his son, ophthalmologist Robert Druger, who runs Druger Eye Care in Camillus. artificial tears do not work. 2. The lens becomes harder and inflexible, and it becomes more difficult to adjust to near and far vision. In fact, the inflexible lens results in poor near vision. At first, proper eyeglasses can easily solve the problem. 3. The lens also becomes clouded. A cloudy lens is called a cataract. The symptoms of cataracts include blurry vision and glare. Cataracts continually worsen and are one of the leading causes of blindness in the world. This problem can be easily cured with cataract surgery. A tiny incision is made and an ultrasound probe is inserted into the lens cavity. The ultrasound breaks the lens into tiny particles that are then removed. A folded, flexible, plastic lens is inserted into the lens pocket. The lens pops open, and we can see well again. Nowadays, this is a

relatively simple procedure. The wound is self-healing and no stitches are required. Some of these synthetic lenses can give you near, intermediate and far vision without glasses. Everyone develops cataracts as we age, and they may not require surgery until they impair vision. There are many abnormal conditions and eye diseases that are more likely to occur as we age. We’ll mention a few: 1. Macular degeneration is a serious disorder that can lead to blindness. As the population ages, it is becoming more and more common. In fact, it is the leading cause of blindness in people over 65. The macula is the center of the retina that gives you your central vision. The fovea is in the area in the center of the macula that light is focused on for sharp clear vision. Macular degeneration is like an age spot of the macula.

With macular degeneration, there is a loss of the central part of your vision. There are two forms of macular degeneration, the dry and wet forms. There is no cure, but there are treatments that can slow down the degenerative process. 2. Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve. The optic nerve undergoes a loss of tissue over time. Usually, this will decrease your peripheral vision. It can occur at any age, but is more prevalent in older individuals. Glaucoma often has no symptoms and is associated with elevated eye pressure. Glaucoma is treated by keeping the eye pressure low, with drops, laser treatment, or even surgery. 3. There are also many eye problems that are related to your overall health. One example is diabetes, which can have severe effects on the eyes and your vision. Older eyes don’t see as well as younger eyes. As we age, we are bound to get something that we don’t want, and this is true for the eyes and vision. Keeping healthy overall, eating properly and exercising regularly can help keep these problems to a minimum. After age 50, it’s advisable to have an eye examination every year, even if you think everything is fine. For eye health, preventive maintenance is best. My wife Pat had troublesome cataracts and needed surgery to replace the lens. She wanted her son (R. Druger) to do the procedure. “Aren’t you nervous about operating on your own mother?” she asked. “No, I found one thing in life I am good at and I don’t want anyone else messing with your eye.” was the reply. The procedure was done, and she now sees well. The mechanical skill was obviously inherited from his mother, since his father is generally known to be a non-mechanical klutz. The conclusion is that greater wisdom comes with age, but so do failing body parts, including eyes. April / May 2012 - 55 PLUS

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last

page

By Lou Sorendo

John Hurlbutt Legendary WRVO personality reflects on retirement

J

ohn Hurlbutt retired three years ago as the longtime local host of “Morning Edition” on WRVO, the National Public Radio-affiliate located on the SUNY Oswego campus. Hurlbutt worked at WRVO since the station first went on the air in 1969. Q. What has your life been like after your long tenure at WRVO? A. I am quite pleased overall with my lifestyle for the most part I would say. I’m currently blessed with a pretty good life health-wise. One of the factors that led to my stepping down involved some health issues, but as of right now, things are in pretty good shape. I’m getting good care and feel pretty good about that. Q. You are perhaps one of very few radio hosts to work at the same station for nearly 40 years. Are you proud of that legacy? A. Certainly. I am even more proud of the growth of the radio station itself over the course of my tenure. It was satisfying to see how it grew and became accepted all over the region. Q. Does being away from radio give you the opportunity to explore other things that you could not do before? A. It gives me great flexibility, but it’s kind of a structured flexibility. Not every day is the same, and I like that. I like to have the opportunity to go in different and unexpected directions, the randomness of everything. I still maintain a connection to NPR by being a consumer of WRVO rather than one of the providers. So I enjoy that part of my retirement as well. I’m still active with WRVO as a volunteer during fundraisers and still maintain ties with some of the staff. 50

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Q. Are you retired, or working? If working, what are you doing? A. I am pretty much full time retired. I don’t think I’ve done anything over the last three years that would qualify as part-time work. I still think from time to time that I might possibly get involved in some voiceover work for service announcements, commercials or maybe even some books on tape. Q. How difficult was it to retire after nearly 40 years of being on public radio? A. It was difficult. It’s hard not to take at least a little bit of ownership with what you are involved in on a daily basis over that length of time. But there comes a time for whatever reason where it’s OK to cut those ties, not entirely, but rearrange your life a little bit. I still take pride in what I have accomplished and what the station continues to accomplish. Q. How was it to transition from an early morning schedule to a more “normal” schedule? A. That wasn’t much of a problem at all, being able to sleep an extra three hours. I like it very much. Still, if I feel like taking an afternoon nap—as I did for a good many of my working years—I’ll take one because I can. For the most part, I’ve had no trouble not getting up at 4:30 in the morning. I think it has made a big difference and probably contributes to my general well being. Q. What are you doing to enjoy your retirement? A. I read for pleasure and for information. I am a daily newspaper

subscriber, and also enjoy Sports Illustrated. I enjoy the Internet and Facebook and like playing scrabble on Facebook. Playing scrabble is one of my great hobbies, whether it be in person or with friends on Facebook. I have become a big fan of crossword puzzles since I retired. I am also a very avid sports fan, and enjoy following Syracuse University men’s basketball. I’m also a season ticket holder to Oswego State hockey and follow the Lakers’ basketball team as well. All three of my teams are having exceptional seasons and that is great. Q. You recently visited Florida — Is that your ultimate destination for your retirement years? A. I have two older brothers who spend a few months in Florida during the winter, and I was down to see them in February and enjoyed visiting them. I don’t see myself relocating there and don’t have an ultimate destination yet. I enjoy Central New York and the Oswego area during all seasons. Winter can sometimes provide the most challenges, and being retired gives me an advantage over other working people who cope with the everyday challenges. I do love all the seasons that Upstate New York has to offer.


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