Financial Considerations for Remarrying Later in Life
55 PLUS Issue 43 February / March 2013
For Active Adults in Central New York
Bob Congel At 77, the owner of Destiny USA is ready to take on new projects
50-year Partners in Marriage and on the Dance Floor
BRUCE FRASSINELLI My Wifeâ€™s Stage Four Cancer Diagnose
RETIREMENT Pessimistic about retirement? Most Americans are
1963 x 2013 What a difference 50 years make
Marilyn Pinsky: What Is Your Comfort Food?
February / March 2013 - 55 PLUS
A Legacy of Love for Your Community, Annual Payments for You.
The Salvation Army Charitable Gift Annuity provides you with a degree of financial stability while assuring that your concern for others will be your legacy. Here are some representative “one life” rates:*
Here’s How it Works:
You receive a tax deduction for the charitable portion of the gift. You receive fixed annual payments for life, a portion of which may be tax free. The rate is determined by your age. The older you are, the larger the payment. You can enact a Charitable Gift Annuity for yourself OR for yourself and another loved one. Payments continue until the death of the last annuitant. The payment rate is locked in at the time the annuity contract takes effect and NEVER CHANGES!
AGE 65 70 75 80 85 90+
RATE 4.7% 5.1% 5.8% 6.8% 7.8% 9%
A Charitable Gift Annuity is an irrevocable gift. As always, The Salvation Army recommends that you consult your advisors to weigh personal and income tax benefits.
*The Salvation Army adopts annuity rates recommended by The American Council on Gift Annuities
For Free and Conﬁdential Information or a personal illustration contact: John P. Gleason CFRE - Director of Gift Planning for The Salvation Army Phone: 888-434-1391 Email: John.Gleason@USE.SalvationArmy.Org
Doing the Most Good
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55 PLUS - February / March 2013
February / March 2013
Savvy Senior 6 10 IN-STEP Financial Health 8 • 50-year partners in marriage My Turn 13
and on the dance ﬂoor
15 Golden Years 30 AUTOBIOGRAPHY Aging 32
• Write the story of your life
18 Consumers Corner 37 LOOKING BACK • 1963 vs. 2013. What a Visits 42 difference 50 years makes Gardening 45 20 Druger’s Zoo 48 COVER Last Page 50
• It’s good to be a king. Destiny USA’s Bob Congel’s story
• Should you ditch your land line?
• “I need the income” is the main reason older people hold a job • Americans pessimistic about retirement
34 RETIREMENT • SU’s Institute for Retired People engages the curious mind
• Onondaga Public Library offers online learning opportunities
• Not your grandma’s hearing aid
• It helps both seniors and youth February / March 2013 - 55 PLUS
savvy senior By Jim Miller
Financial Considerations for Remarrying Later in Life Getting remarried later in life can actually bring about a host of financial and legal issues that are much different and more complicated than they are for younger couples just starting out. Here are some common problems and some tips: • Estate planning: Getting remarried can have a big effect on your estate plan. Even if your will leaves everything to your kids, in most states spouses are automatically entitled to a share of your estate — usually one-third to one-half. If you don’t want to leave a third or more of your assets to your new partner, get a prenuptial agreement where you both agree not to take anything from the other’s estate. If you do want to leave something to your spouse and ensure your heirs receive their inheritance, a trust may be the best option. • Long-term care: You may be surprised to know that in many states, spouses are responsible for each other’s medical and long-term care bills. This is one of the main reasons many older couples choose to live together instead of marrying. Staying unmarried lets you and your partner qualify individually for public benefits, such as Medicaid (which pays nursing home costs), without draining the other one’s resources. But if you do remarry and can afford it, consider getting a long-term care insurance policy (see longtermcare. gov) to protect your assets. • Real estate: If you’re planning on living in his house or vice versa, you also need to think about what will happen to the house when the owner dies. If, for example, you both decide to live in your home, but you want your kids to inherit the place after you die, putting the house in both names is not an option. You may also not want your heirs to evict him once you die. One solution is for you to give your 6
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surviving husband a life estate, which gives him the right to live in your property during his lifetime. Then once he dies, the house will pass to your heirs. • Social Security: Remarriage can also affect the beneﬁts of many d i v o rc e d o r w i d o w e d s e n i o r s (especially women) who receive Social Security from their former spouses. For instance, getting remarried stops divorced spouse’s benefits. And getting remarried before age 60 (50 if you’re disabled) will cause widows and widowers to lose the right to survivors beneﬁts from their former spouse. Remarrying at 60 or older, however, does not affect survivors beneﬁt. For more information, see ssa. gov/women. • Pension beneﬁts: Widows and widowers of public employees, such as police and ﬁremen, often receive a pension, which they can lose if they remarry. In addition, widows and widowers of military personnel killed in duty may lose their beneﬁts if they remarry before age 57, and survivors of federal civil servants that receive a pension will forfeit it if they remarry before 55. If you’re receiving one of these beneﬁts, check your policy to see what the affect will be. • Alimony: If you are receiving alimony from an ex-spouse, it will almost certainly end if you remarry and might even be cut off if you live together. • College aid: If you have any children in college receiving ﬁnancial aid, getting married and adding a new spouse’s income to the family could affect what he or she gets. To get help with these issues, consider hiring an estate planner who can draw a plan to protect both you and your partner’s interests. Also see elderlawanswers.com, a contributor to this column and a great resource.
55PLUS Editor and Publisher Wagner Dotto
Associate Editor Lou Sorendo
Deborah Jeanne Sergeant Ken Little, Sandra Scott Aaron Gifford, Mary Beth Roach Kenneth Little, Matthew Liptak
Eva Briggs, M.D., Bruce Frassinelli Marilyn Pinsky, Harold Miller Jim Sollecito, David J. Zumpano Marvin Druger
Jasmine Maldonado Marlene Raite Tracy DeCann
Laura J. Beckwith
Layout and Design Chris Crocker
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.
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How to Reach Us P.O. Box 276 Oswego, NY 13126 Phone: 315-342-1182 Fax: 315-342-7776 Email: email@example.com Editor@cnyhealth.com
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financial health By David J. Zumpano
Do You Remember Terri Schiavo?
any of us remember the story of Terri Schiavo, a woman who, in her early 20s, went into a comatose state unexpectedly. After many years of being kept alive with feeding tubes, her husband asked that the tubes be removed. Her parents disagreed, stating her wishes were to preserve her life. The battle began. But few people really understood that in the Terri Schiavo case, the key legal question was, “Who had the right to determine Schiavo’s health care status, her husband or her parents?” Schiavodid not execute a health care directive, so she was subject to the laws the state of Florida directed. The law provided that, in the absence of a directive, the spouse has primary authority to make life and death decisions. The challenge in this case, however, was that while Schiavowas still married to her husband, he had subsequently been living with someone else for many years, and even shared three children with this person. The husband visited Schiavoinfrequently, whereas the parents visited her daily. Unfortunately, the law was strictly construed. After a court case that went through the entire Florida court system, was addressed by the thenPresident George Bush, Congress, and even the Pope, in the end, the strict letter of the law was followed and Terri was denied tubular feeding, at the direction of her husband, and she died. The tragedy of this story is not in whether you agree with the husband or the parents, but that we will really never know what Schiavo actually wanted. We are very clear what she got. Not completing a health care directive can create trauma and tragedy with family members having to make this terrible decision. With a health care directive, commonly referred to as a health care proxy, it is
absolutely essential that your health care directive provide and identify your wishes, in the event you are unable to make your own health care decisions. Also, a properly drawn health care proxy should authorize your agent to make decisions, even if you are not in a “life or death” situation. For example, dementia or incompetency often leaves the care at a nursing home or similar facility. It is imperative your health care directive authorize your agent to make these types of medical treatment decisions, as well. In addition to a health care directive, you should also consider creating a personal care plan. A personal care plan provides your loved ones speciﬁc detailed instructions of the kind of care you would like to receive, if you become incapacitated. Unlike a health care proxy or living will that deals with life and death decisions, a personal care plan instructs your loved ones of your wishes related to your quality of life, such as a desire to be dressed and groomed daily, family visits, hobbies, what you like to watch on TV, eat, read and the activities you would enjoy. A properly drafted personal care plan will enhance your quality of life, if you are physically able, but lack the mental capacity to ask for it. Life gets complicated quickly, when you have to rely on the state’s rules. Stay in control. Create a health care directive and personal care plan that properly address your goals and objectives. David J. Zumpano is an attorney and a certified public a c c o u n t a n t ( C PA ) . He operates Estate Planning Law Center. He can be reached at 793-3622.
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February / March 2013 - 55 PLUS
50-year Partners in Marriage and On the Dance Floor Gina, 73, and Luca, 76, danced on their first date at a local nightclub, then literally cha-cha-cha’d their way through their engagement, wedding and honeymoon. As ballroom dance instructors, they have taught the art of dance to various generations By Patricia J. Malin
ina and Luca Esposito don’t claim to offer miracle cures. Nevertheless, they seem to offer seniors an invisible elixir from the fountain of youth. The Espositos are ballroom dance instructors. Over the last four decades, they have taught classic ballroom styles such as fox trot, swing, nightclub slow dancing, rumba, waltz and polka and now line dancing. In the meantime, they have seen dance become a tool to curb depression and loneliness, while offering improved health to young and old alike. It’s as if the Espositos 10
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have captured Lawrence Welk’s champagne bubbles and released them into the atmosphere. “We have seen with our own eyes how ballroom dancing has helped people in so many ways to enjoy better health,” said Gina Esposito, a retired art teacher and elementary school principal. Her husband is a former vice-president of the Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. “Throw in the romance of being together in close proximity with each other, as well as the company of other joyous dancing couples, and you reap the bonanza of increased mental and physical
well-being,” added Gina. The couple only needs to look into each other’s eyes to see proof of well-being. Gina (Trisolino) and Luca Esposito, both Utica natives and residents, were introduced by Gina’s younger sister, Marie, who was taking lessons in ballroom dancing at the Arthur Murray Studio in downtown Utica in the 1950s. Gina, 73, and Luca, 76, danced on their ﬁrst date at a local nightclub, then literally cha-cha-cha’d their way through their engagement, wedding and honeymoon. They have been married 50 years and raised two
The Espositos last year published a scrapbook, which provides glimpses of the dance community in Utica throughout the years. Titled “Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick,” it’s a reference to the rhythm of dance and a basic step in Foxtrot.
children, Luke and Marla, who both live on the West Coast. Luke is a neuroscientist and researcher in Seattle. Marla runs a network of laser spas in Los Angeles. Through her contacts, she has arranged VIP passes to her parents’ favorite TV show, “Dancing With the Stars.” Shortly after their marriage, Luca began giving dance lessons part time at Mohawk Valley Community College. He felt lost without his partner on the dance ﬂoor and asked college ofﬁcials if they allow Gina join him in teaching. They agreed. The Espositos have been giving classes regularly at Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica and its Rome campus for so long that they’re now welcoming second generations of families. They also teach dance at The Good News Center in north Utica, a place that coincidentally provides marriage and family counseling. Since dance melds the art of give-and-take and harmony, the Good News Center provides an ideal setting, they said. The couple often takes to the road throughout Central New York. They have held classes at the United Academy of Dance and the Kallet Civic Center in Oneida. They taught dancing as an extracurricular activity to students at Proctor High School and at Hamilton College. They frequently participate in beneﬁts for charity, including The Abraham House (which cares for terminally-ill patients) and the House of the Good Shepherd (for troubled youth) in Utica. After decades of teaching dance, Gina and Luca began to notice how their instruction had a physical and emotional impact on students. They compiled informal “case studies,” citing improvements to the students’ wellbeing. Gina received permission from her students to document their stories in a scrapbook. That scrapbook, which also provides glimpses of the dance community in Utica throughout the years, was published in 2012. It’s titled “Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick,” February / March 2013 - 55 PLUS
a reference to the rhythm of dance and a basic step in Foxtrot. “The book is a celebration of the joy that dancing brings to so many people of various ages,” Gina explained. “There are photos of dance in the past and in the present that show that dance is for everyone and is a way of experiencing pleasure and good health physically, mentally and spiritually.” One student revealed she had been treated for depression for 40 years. Her life changed
dramatically after she discovered the joy of dancing. Now she lights up on the dance ﬂoor as her husband twirls her around. “I’ve been dealing with [depression] for too long,” the student said. Gina and Luca also give private lessons in their home studio, including for engaged couples and entire wedding parties. All ages, from kids to parents and grandparents can learn original line dances in private. Though the classes consist mainly of couples, singles don’t
What’s ahead for you?
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have to feel excluded. Gina pointed to a local couple, Angela and Jerry Lord, who met on the dance ﬂoor. “They were both widowed and had never danced until they started taking our lessons,” she said. “We choreographed their wedding dance last November. They waltzed to, “Could I Have This Dance For the Rest of My Life.”’ Despite inroads from swing, rock and disco, ballroom dancing has survived through the years. Gina recalled that the 1960s were a time of transition. Though many young people eagerly embraced the Twist and other pop favorites, formal dancing refused to die out. And contemporary singers like Carly Simon and Michael Bublé are reaching new audiences with covers of classical music that encourage cheek-to-cheek dancing. Gina and Luca have also produced instructional DVDs for beginners and advanced students. All standard ballroom and Latin dances are covered in the collection. To view their itinerary or to order their book and DVDs, go to their website, www.ginalucadance.com.
DANIEL R. CUDDY
Moving into retirement means adopting a new perspectiveand learning new ways to manage your money. Partner with Dan Cuddy to create a plan that works for you- so you can get to where you want to be in retirement. Call or e-mail Dan today for a no-cost, no-obligation retirement consultation.
7 William Street Auburn, NY 13021 315∙252∙3600 firstname.lastname@example.org www.cuddyfinancial.com
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CPA, CFP� *Advisory Representative
By Bruce Frassinelli Email: email@example.com
My Wife’s Stage Four Cancer Diagnosis A roller-coaster: From crushing lows to exhilarating highs
s my wife, Marie, and I were cruising down the superhighway of a pictureperfect retirement, our lives slammed into a brick wall and were turned upside down and inside out. It was Valentine’s Day 2012 — a day synonymous with romance, flowers and an intimate dinner. Marie had had a CT-scan earlier in the day. She had not been feeling well for about a month. She was bloated, had pain and didn’t feel right. She had a history of irritable bowel, so her doctor had prescribed several different medications, but nothing worked, so he ordered the CT-scan. It was late in the afternoon of the day of the test. Her doctor had ordered her to stay at the hospital, because he would read the scan immediately. Now, the doctor was on the phone. “You have ovarian cancer,” he said somberly. But, wait, it gets worse: The symptoms confirmed that she was at stage four, meaning the cancer had spread from the ovaries into the abdomen and other parts of the body. She broke into uncontrollable sobs. It was as if some dark force had just stepped from the shadows of a Shakespearian tragedy and plunged daggers into our hearts. Fast forward 233 days — to Oct. 2. She walked into an appointment with her gynocological oncologist. “I have some good news for you,” he smiled as he passed us in the hallway. Five minutes later, when he came into the examination room, he uttered those nine words that we had been hoping and praying for: “There is no evidence of cancer in your body,” he said. Marie cried tears of joy; I cried; even her doctor cried as we hugged her.
From the crushing lows of Feb. 14 to the exhilarating highs of Oct. 2, the rocky trek was nearly indescribable and unfathomable. Yet, now that it is over, I am surprised that it has taught us much more about ourselves than we ever could have learned through a conventional journey through our golden years. It has heightened the sensitivities about the important things of life. Our research conﬁrmed our worst fears about the ominous sounding “stage four” — the survival rate was anywhere from 5 to 28 percent, depending on the source consulted. S h e w o u l d h a v e t o o v e rc o m e staggering odds to beat this disease. We would need a few bounces of the ball to go our way, but it did not start out well. Two weeks after the diagnosis, I rushed Marie to the hospital when a cancerous tumor blocked a kidney, creating an infectious back-up of urine and causing her blood to turn septic (poisonous). Her blood pressure plummeted to 32 over 12, her temperature rose to 105.6. She barely survived an emergency operation to place stents into her kidneys to allow them to function again. “We nearly lost her,” her urologist told us about 24 hours later, after the danger had passed. After seven days in the hospital — five of them in intensive care — she came home weighing nearly 190 pounds, some 40 pounds more than when she had gone in. The extra weight was mainly from the liquids that were given to her intravenously. She could do virtually nothing for herself. I performed chores I never anticipated I would be capable of doing. Becoming intimate with
another person’s bodily functions gives humility a new meaning. “You really stepped up to the plate,” she told me several times during the ordeal. “You would have done the same for me and then some,” I told her in return. She underwent ﬁve chemotherapy treatments prior to her cancer operation on June 18. Each would make her sick as a dog. Some days, she was inconsolable. “I just want to die,” she moaned. I scolded her for such talk, but I felt helpless. Just as she was getting a little better, it was time for the next treatment. After the last chemo treatment, her doctor was effusive. Her CA 125 marker, which had originally been 10,050 when she was ﬁrst diagnosed in February 2012, had fallen to less than 1,000 — the benchmark the oncologist said was necessary before he would operate. We were ecstatic, but we also knew that a normal reading was in the range of 35. Still, the operation would allow the oncologist to eyeball what was going on inside her body and deal with it. The surgery went extremely well. Her gynocological oncologist said he could detect no cancer with the naked eye but ordered a CT-scan in case there were microscopic traces of the disease left behind. Thankfully, there were none. He also ordered three more chemo treatments, each of which had the same debilitating effect on her as the ﬁrst ﬁve had. The last was Aug. 29. About ﬁve days later, she started to look and act like her old self. After the last chemo treatment, the CA 125 marker had fallen to 23. When we heard the number, we cheered, kissed and high-ﬁved each other. It was time to celebrate at Ruby Tuesday. February / March 2013 - 55 PLUS
Through the ordeal, her weight had dropped 76 pounds to 114. In three weeks, though, she put on nine pounds as her appetite returned with a vengeance. There were some poignant moments along the way, especially when clumps of hair started to fall out. So, on the ﬁrst day of spring, she asked her son, Mike, to cut her hair in our garage. There she was, wrapped in a garbage bag to keep the hair off her clothes, with Mike buzzing her hair as if she were a new military recruit. Her hair began to grow back after the ﬁnal chemo treatment. She bought a wig, but hated it; she might have worn it twice. For awhile, she wore a baseball cap when she went out in public, but then that independent spirit that she has shown through this entire ordeal took hold, and she decided to wear nothing on her head. It’s funny how that head of frizz became a symbol of her determination t o b e a t t h i s g r i m re a p e r. H e r grandchildren would rub her head and laugh, saying it reminded them of a teddy bear.
“We will never take a day, even a minute, of our lives for granted again. We know that life is fragile and given to us for an undetermined period of time.” As we look back on this incredible, improbable odyssey, we are amazed at the support system of family, friends and acquaintances who called, visited, sent letters, flowers, Mass cards, curing oils and other expressions of love, hope and caring. Her children, brothers and other family members would sit with her for hours, day in and day out during those dark days in the hospital and at
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home. They represented hope, gave reassurance that better days were coming, and, most of all, we never gave up our belief that there was a sliver of light at the end of this long tunnel, and we believe we convinced Marie that this was the case. Marie has been on the prayer list of at least a dozen churches in New York state and Pennsylvania. The daily calls and cards propped up her spirits when she needed it most. Every day when I brought in the mail, she would ask expectantly, “Any cards for me?” Each day there were at least three or four. The transformation as she read the cards aloud was instantaneous. We do not know what the future will hold. She won’t have to see the doctor until April. He will determine whether she has remained cancerfree. For now, we are so thankful and grateful that she is enjoying a normal life. We will never take a day, even a minute, of our lives for granted again. We know that life is fragile and given to us for an undetermined period of time. However long it is, we will cherish the gift.
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55 PLUS - February / March 2013
Write the Story of Your Life
autobiography Here are some guidelines on how to write your life story Experts: It’s not too complicated and it doesn’t have to be Pulitzer material By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
ou may not think your life story is all that interesting, but it doesn’t have to be Pulitzer material to make it worth recording. To your children and grandchildren and other future descendants, it’s important. It may seem like a daunting task to capture your life story at a keyboard or with pen and paper. But it doesn’t have to be. Many different methods can help you pass down a record of your life to posterity. It doesn’t have to be a chronological order, Ato Z account of everything that’s happened to you. Writing the whole story is an autobiography. Memoirs record only a few important events of your life. How much you write and what you jot Cooper down is up to you.
“I don’t think it’s that complex,” said Theresa Cooper, treasurer of the Oswego Town Historical Society. “You start out with who you are, where you lived, and your [originating] family. Where did you go to school? It’s very basic stuff. What did you do every day? What are your greatest accomplishments?” This may sound boring—and it can be—but to historians years later, this kind of information is gold. Interject interesting incidents that helped shape your life and stories that elicit an emotional response: happiness, regret, sadness and joy. “Use speciﬁc names, not ‘mother’ so people in the future can ﬁgure it out,” Cooper said. “Put full names on the backs of the pictures. Fifty years from now, no one will know who it is.” Recording how you’re related to who helps future generations ﬁnd out from where they came. Karen Cooney, support services administrator for the Onondaga Historical Association Museum and Research Center in Syracuse, advises
people to include connections inside and outside their family and religious and political connections. Medical history can also be important. She also likes for people to record what they were doing and how they felt when important historical events happened. Eileen Schell directs the Syracuse Veterans’ Writing Group and has led a non-ﬁction writing group for seniors at the Nottingham Senior Living Community in Jamesville. She also teaches writing at Syracuse University. Schell said many people buy a book that has planned questions and blanks to ﬁll in, but most people find these intimidating and stifle creativity.
Identify your approach Instead, she advises any of three approaches: writing scenes, writing summaries, and musing/reﬂections. For writing scenes, flesh out a story or experience like it is a movie script. Involve the senses and show what’s happening instead of telling. A summary lists what happened, February / March 2013 - 55 PLUS
which can be helpful for covering events quickly or building an outline you can ﬂesh out later. Musing/reﬂections touches more on the emotional side of what an experience meant. “When writers first start a life story, they often write all summary or all scene with no musing or reﬂection,” Schell said. “Learning to balance these elements is essential to creating a compelling life story.” To get rolling, start by listing all the stories you want to share or experiences that are important to you, such as: • First day of school • Stood up to a bully • Graduated from high school • Joined the Air Force • Went to war and ﬂew bombing raids • Married Jenny • Returned to Europe • Came home to discover baby Robert • Built our home • Started our store • Store failed • Went into business again
• Robert joined the business • Retired Although the list is chronological, your story doesn’t have to be. You begin the story with a later-in-life event, such as… “When I went to war, I thought, ‘This is it. I’m going to die over there.’ I felt much like I did the first day of school: overwhelmed, out of my element and fearful of the unknown that lay ahead. “Stepping onto the transport train felt like stepping into the classroom and hearing the door thud shut behind me. I turned to the window and watched mother’s upswept hair until she walked down the hall out of sight. When I looked at the classroom I cried. On the train, I didn’t cry but I wanted to.” “Don’t tell the stories you think you’re supposed to tell, the ones everyone wants to hear,” Schell said. “Tell the ones that are important to you.”
Express emotions By sticking with these stories, your emotion will shine through the words, which is what will make your
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story more interesting. You can tie the stories together with a theme, such as “beating the odds,” which could include overcoming a childhood illness, problems at school, and, as a young adult, a depressed economy. Or perhaps the theme could be “looking on the bright side” where you can show how various hardships in your life turned out to be blessings. “Part of it is thinking, ‘What are some of the themes that cross over the different parts of my life?’” Schell said. “Think of a metaphor. It’s a way to break away from just listing everything in a dull, chronological story.” Perhaps you’ve been a lifelong quilter and you could draw on quilt patterns as inspiration for categories for your life stories, such as “Broken D i s h e s ” f o r h a rd s h i p s y o u ’ v e overcome, “Double Wedding Ring” for memories of your wedding and marriage, and “Trip Around the World” for travel stories. Pull out the photo albums and look through old family photos. Dig through a box of memorabilia. “For people who are more visually oriented, this can help them if writing is difﬁcult and they don’t know how to start,” Schell said. “Use something that tells a story and start writing down what that story says. These become a way of time traveling back to the heart of an experience.” When you’re done, don’t feel bashful about publishing your story. You can perform desktop publishing from your own computer, or seek a professional publisher who will print it for a small fee. If you’re uncomfortable using a computer, ask a family member or friend for help. Pass out copies to your children and grandchildren, and “consider leaving copies with the university you graduated from, so it goes beyond the family,” Schell said. S c h e l l re c o m m e n d s J u d i t h Barrington’s “Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art” as a springboard to writing your life story. If you would like to share your life story with many others, consider using a print-on-demand publisher. Booklocker.com starts at $317 and Lulu.com at $729. Submitting to a traditional publisher usually requires an agent and a large existing readership.
District Festival Announced Theater companies partner with New Times to produce theater festival in Syracuse
he District, a new collaboration by three area theater companies, announces a partnership with The Syracuse New Times to produce a theater festival for Syracuse and the Central New York region. To be held at the Empire Theater on the New York State Fairgrounds, The District Festival will launch March 7 with performances through March 24. Each founding company — Appleseed Productions, Rarely Done Productions and The Red House — will mount a new theatrical production, not already included in the 2012-13 season. The District is in community partnership with a number of area businesses and organizations who are supporting the 2013 festival, including CNY Arts, The Genesee Grande Hotel, LAMAR Advertising, SPCA of Central
New York, Syracuse Convention and Visitors Bureau, The Syracuse New Times, and WCNY. The productions will be featured in repertoire-fashion, rotating at each performance. Appleseed Productions will present the classic drama, “I Remember Mama,” directed by CJ Young; Rarely Done Productions will stage the musical, “Grey Gardens,” directed by Dan Tursi; The Red House will also offer a musical, “The Full Monty,” directed by Stephen Svoboda. “The Distict Festival is a metaphor f o r t h i n k i n g c re a t i v e l y a b o u t collaboration,” said representative Ty M a r s h a l . “ We ’ r e w o r k i n g to present great works of classic and contemporary theater in one affordable package.” Tickets for the festival will be available for individual productions ($20), or as a pass to all
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three ($50). Reservations can be made by calling 315-362-2785 or online at thedistrictstages.org. “I Remember Mama” is a play by John Van Druten, and based on the ﬁctionalized memoir “Mama’s Bank Account,” by Kathryn Forbes. “Grey Gardens” is a musical adapted from the 1975 documentary ﬁlm of the same name, by Albert and David Maysles. “The Full Monty” is a musical stage adaption from the 1997 British ﬁlm of the same name. In this Americanized version, six unemployed steelworkers from Buffalo perform a strip act at a local club, after seeing their wives’ reaction to Chippendale dancers. With a book by Terrance McNally and score by David Yazbek, the production had its premiere during 2000 in San Diego. It opened on Broadway later that year and ran for almost 800 performances.
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What a difference 50 years make By Ken Little
ifty years makes quite a difference. Jan. 1, 1963 dawned like numerous other New Year’s days in Central New York — frigid and snowy. But Upstate residents woke up to a vastly different economic
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landscape from the one we live in today. Some might say it was a simpler world. Cold War fears were ever-present, but there were no concerns about teetering on the brink of a ﬁscal cliff
or any problems with debt ceiling. Federal spending in 1963 stood at $111.3 billion, and the federal debt was $310.3 billion. The federal debt as of Dec. 30 was about $16.3 trillion. The U.S. population stood at 189.2 million, considerably less that the current population figure of about 315 million. Factories and other industries throughout the region were booming. The national unemployment rate averaged about 5.5 percent, well below the 7.9 percent rate for the region in November 2012. Anyone with $100 in their wallet in 1963 had purchasing power equivalent to $752.36 in 2013 dollars, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Hungry? A hamburger at McDonald’s cost 15 cents. John F. Kennedy was president. Nelson Rockefeller was governor, and was sworn in for a second term as chief executive on Dec. 31, 1962. Winter weather was a chief topic of the day. “The year 1962 kissed Central New York goodbye yesterday with another furious blast of the bitter blizzard that has stormed destruction in the area for three days,” according to a local newspaper report on Jan. 1, 1963. Those able to get to the supermarket would have been thankful had they been able to compare 2013 prices with what they were paying in 1963. A dozen eggs cost about 55 cents, and a gallon of milk could be purchased for 49 cents. A one-pound
package of Oreos cost 45 cents, and a 12-ounce can of Coca Cola was 29 cents. Bananas sold as low as 10 cents a pound, and ground beef was about 45 cents per pound. Getting to the supermarket was less expensive, too, with a gallon of regular gas averaging about 30 cents in Central New York. The average cost of a new house was about $15,000. A 1963 Volkswagen Beetle retailed for $1,595. The minimum wage was raised 10 cents to $1.25 per hour in 1963. A ﬁrst-class stamp was 4 cents, soon to rise to 5 cents on Jan. 7, 1963. The threat of atomic war with the Soviet Union was real enough to some Americans to prompt installation of atomic bomb shelters in their backyard. The October 1962 Cuban missile crisis, when the U.S. and
the Soviet Union came to the brink of nuclear war, was a very recent memory. “We are not at the point where a settlement of the Cold War by compromise is in sight,” Soviet leader
Nikita Khrushchev told syndicated columnist Walter Lippmann. Khrushchev added, hopefully, that after the Cuban missile crisis, “People started looking at questions of peace and war in a new way.” The new way, he said, is to forestall danger “by way of compromise.” In an Associated Press newspaper story on Jan. 2, President Kennedy said he “intends to follow up his Cuban success by exerting s t ro n g e r l e a d e r s h i p over the West’s cold war policies--even at the risk of offending sensitive
allies.” There was no mention in newspapers of a country called Vietnam, which would come to deﬁne the presidency of Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson. But economically, the U.S. was on solid footing in 1963. Members of the baby boomer generation were just
beginning to exert their inﬂuence on the culture, and it’s worth noting that 45 rpm phonograph records sold for about 50 cents each in Central New York. A quartet of long-haired British musicians known as the Beatles was just about to explode on the American consciousness. Things would never be the same.
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Robert Congel, 77, went from a $175 business startup loan to mastermind of Destiny USA. He says he’s not done yet By Lou Sorendo
o the victor go the spoils. Robert J. Congel, highly regarded as one of the premier entrepreneurs in Central New York history, can safely be considered a victor. His spoils? The bonus of knowing he transformed what was once a toxic eyesore into one of the most exciting shopping and entertainment destination points in the country. Congel, 77, a native Syracusan, is the driving force behind the creation of Destiny USA, a mega mall that has evolved from the former Carousel Center in Syracuse. Congel transformed what was a junkyard into one of the world’s foremost destination points for shoppers and tourists alike. Once fully occupied, Destiny USA will have 265 different venues, many of which will be unique to the region, according to David M. Aitken, executive member of Destiny USA. Congel and his Pyramid Companies have invested a jawdropping $1.2 billion over the last 20 years into the Destiny project, designed to transform the economic landscape of the Greater Syracuse region. The victory is made that much more sweet for Congel being that he 20
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has accomplished the feat in his very own back yard. The third generation ItalianAmerican is a graduate of Christian Brothers Academy and Fordham University. “My grandfather—Antonio Mondo—was the greatest inspiration to me,” Congel said. “He’s the one that impressed upon me the opportunity that exists in this tremendous country of ours, and encouraged me to work hard to achieve. I’m also very fortunate to be surrounded by some of the brightest, most hard-working people in the industry.” His father, Joseph Congel, was also instrumental in positively inﬂuencing his life, he said. Congel was born in 1935 during the nation’s Great Depression. His father was unemployed and ended up performing a number of odd jobs. Congel said he attributes his work ethic and persistence to his father, characteristics which helped his dad put food on the table during trying times in the nation’s economy. After ﬁnishing school at Fordham, Congel began his construction company with a $175 loan to purchase his ﬁrst pickup truck. He put his logo on the side of the truck, and Congel Construction Co.
Golden opportunity The Fayetteville resident exudes pride when talking about his most significant accomplishment as an entrepreneur. “For me, transforming a severely polluted brownﬁeld site which was covered with oil tanks and junkyards in our own hometown into the largest LEED Gold certified commercial property in the United States has been a source of great pride,” he said. The site of Destiny USA was originally a landﬁll named Marley Scrap Yard, surrounded by several square blocks of oil tanks, named “Oil City.” “We wanted to help improve the gateway to our city,” he noted. While Destiny USA is expected to be the second most visited shopping center in the country, it is the largest LEED Gold certiﬁed retail commercial building in the world. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It consists of a suite of rating systems for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings, homes and neighborhoods, according to Wikepedia. The Mall of the Americas in
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Minnesota, which features more than 400 stores and receives about 40 million visitors a year, tops the list of most visited shopping centers in the nation. Visitation at Destiny was up over 15 percent in 2012, making the site the seventh most-visited enclosed shopping destination in the country, according to Aitken. “I think that’s a win for us, and a win for the region,” Congel said.
In the beginning Congel formed The Pyramid Companies, also known as Pyramid Management Group, in 1970 in Syracuse. Its ﬁrst three malls, considered the company’s “pioneer malls,” were Pyramid Mall Ithaca (The Shops at Ithaca Mall), Pyramid Mall Plattsburgh, and Pyramid Mall Saratoga. All three malls opened in 1975 and began a whirlwind trend of shopping center construction and ownership. Congel has grown Pyramid, a multi-billion dollar operation, into the largest privately owned developer of shopping malls in the country. “I am also proud the headquarters for the entire Pyramid portfolio is in downtown Syracuse,” Congel said. Under Congel, Pyramid built, owns and manages 13 shopping centers in New York and four shopping centers in Massachusetts, totaling more than 17.2 million square feet. Properties are maintained and operated by Pyramid Management Group, LLC. Pyramid had more than 5.4 million square feet of expansion under development as of late 2012. Currently, the portfolio generates approximately $4 billion in annual sales. Each property is owned by individual partnerships. How successful is Congel? One only has to take a look at Savannah Dhu, a 5,000-acre wildlife preserve near Savannah owned by Congel. It consists of a conference center that can accommodate up to 400, two lodges that sleep 30 people each and an outdoor tent camp that houses guests for hunting and ﬁshing activities. 22
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Besides a place to relax, he uses the picturesque setting to design corporate strategy with business colleagues. Despite adversity along the way, Congel has managed to sustain his dream and see it come to fruition. “This has been the largest, most complicated project we have ever undertaken,” Congel said. “From every aspect—not to mention the nation’s economic crisis in recent years—we certainly have had our challenges. “However, our team is very
disciplined, and working together with government officials, that commitment has paid off. We are thrilled that it has come together.”
Future plans for Congel Congel is not done with Destiny. Although an impasse with the city of Syracuse over ﬁnancial obligations poses legal challenges, Congel said he is far from done in terms of expanding Destiny. “We are hopeful to develop more on the property adjacent to Destiny USA. Right now, we’re focused on
Photo on left shows Robert Congel at his Savannah Dhu retreat in Savannah, NY. in 2007. The black and white photo shows him at age 7 during his ﬁrst communion. In the photo above Congel stands next to his pickup truck in 1959 off Erie Boulevard in Syracuse. He began his career by creating RJ Congel Construction Co. continuing to add stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues at Destiny, which generate sales tax for the city, the county and the state,” he said. The location currently employs more than 4,300 and Destiny recently featured a job fair while tapping the local workforce recently. “We have one of the largest private-sector employment venues in Central New York,” Congel noted. Congel is not one to rest on his laurels and enjoy the sunset of retirement. “I don’t think I’ll ever retire. I’m 77 now, and still love to get up well before dawn every day and go to work,” he said. “I really enjoy being part of making these visions a reality. I love spending more time with my family now, too.” Congel has to spread himself quite thin in that regard. He has 21
grandchildren. He addressed what the most enjoyable aspect is of taking on mammoth development projects such as Destiny USA. “In the case of Destiny USA, it was the vision of transforming an environmental wasteland into something productive that could improve the local landscape and economy and also become a model for sustainable commercial property development along the way,” he said. Congel said the key to being successful as an entrepreneur involves the combination of discipline, hard work and a creative mindset. “We’ve done our best work over the years by trying to keep an open mind as we develop our projects. At the same time, you have to be willing to put in some long days and stay
focused on progress every single day,” he said. “Our team still meets every day at 6 a.m., and that discipline, along with an open-minded attitude, creates a combination for success.” Congel is not all about business, and takes time to get away from the hustle and bustle of the world of commerce. “I love spending time with my wife, children and grandchildren. They all keep me young and make all the work worthwhile. I also love being outside—hunting, ﬁshing, or just walking in the woods,” he said. To characterize Congel as an “early bird” is an understatement. “Probably the most important thing for me is to get up by 4 a.m. every day and go for a long walk,” he said. “It’s great exercise, and the quiet gives me time to think.” February / March 2013 - 55 PLUS
Should You Ditch Your Land Line? Learn what advantages there are to going with just a cell phone By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
ave you noticed that many young people starting out don’t bother signing up for landline phone service in their homes? Many of their reasons for doing so make sense for them. But you need to weight the pros and cons for you before ditching the land line and going to cell phone only. One main reason people forgo a home land line is the savings, especially if they already have a cell phone. Why waste money on the additional expense for a duplicated service? Cell phone plans have become very competitive and offer perks like free long distance, no roaming fees and free airtime within that carrier or within your “circle” of pre-selected numbers. Even unlimited talk, text, and data plans have become much more reasonable than ever. Most carriers include a free basic phone with a two-year contract, or you can go with a pay-as-you-go service and buy a phone starting at around $20, plus airtime. If you go with a pre-paid plan, pick one that will “roll over” unused minutes from one month to the next. If you already have a cell phone, nixing the landline will keep your contact information simpler, decreasing the chances of missed messages. Going cell-only also increases your phone number’s portability. No matter where you travel or move, you keep your number. Even if you switch companies, you can keep your current cell number as your own. While some 24
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people balk at the notion of constant availability, it’s easy to silence a cell phone for times when you’d rather be undisturbed. Tracy Alexander, Syracuse OASIS program and volunteer m a n a g e r, said one of the main reasons some seniors keep their land line is that it’s part of a three-way package with their cable company. “If they cancel the home phone service, they lose the package price so they don’t get as good of a deal,” she said. But if you don’t have a package deal, forgoing a land line can make obtaining a cell phone more affordable.
More and more people have discovered that as they grow older, keeping a cell phone clipped to the belt can increase their feeling of safety in case of a fall or other type of emergency when alone. Cell phones with their GPS mode turned on can help emergency personnel find your general vicinity, but may not be as precise as with a land line.
In case of emergency Cell phones can be programmed with ICE—”In Case of Emergency”—numbers so personnel can contact family members if you become incapacitated. Yo u c a n a l s o e n t e r important medical data or directions as to where to ﬁnd this
One main reason people forgo a home land line is the savings, especially if they already have a cell phone. Why waste money on the additional expense for a duplicated service?
information, since many emergency responders now look at patients’ cell phones for ICE. If you’ve never had a cell phone, you will have a small learning curve to overcome. Even dialing is a little different, since there’s no dial tone and pressing “talk” or “send” places the call. For your first phone, get something basic. “For some seniors, smartphones can feel complicated, depending upon the senior,” said Larry Schmidt, administrator at the Oswego County Ofﬁce for the Aging. “Some embrace technology. There’s a difference between younger and older seniors. For folks in their 80s and 90s, it can be more difﬁcult.” If you really hate learning new technology, Samsung’s Jitterbug (www.greatcall.com), Snapfon EZ One (www.snapfon.com) or Just5 (www.just5.com) offer features like a streamlined handset with a cushioned earpiece, emergency automatic dial buttons, operator assistance by dialing “0”, large buttons and easy-to-read displays. Their longer standby time means less worries about recharging. These phones also amplify the handset’s sound, unlike many cell phones. Before selecting a carrier, ask neighbors and nearby friends about their cell phone coverage to make sure you choose the right one. “In Oswego County, there are still a lot of dead areas,” Schmidt said. “I live in a valley and there are no towers near me. They should know what kind of signal they’re going to get.” Alexander said some seniors fear they would have no phone service in case of a power outage but most fully charged cell phones last up to two weeks in “standby” mode, so storing the phone on its charger at night circumvents this possible problem. If you have a hearing impairment, ask your hearing aid supplier about using a Bluetooth device as a streamer for a cell phone so incoming calls go directly to your hearing aids. This can greatly enhance call clarity, even surpassing that of land line phones. Going with only a cell phone can be a good option, but make sure you understand all the terms of the contract before signing up and canceling your land line.
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‘I Need the Income’ Extra income cited as main reason many Upstate New Yorkers say they still work By Ken Little
conomic necessity is a primary reason many older Upstate New Yorkers expect to continue working past traditional retirement age. While 65 percent of Upstate New York residents age 60 and older questioned in a survey commissioned by the National Council on Aging said they are retired, 72 percent of those still working listed “I need the income” as one of the reasons they are still on the job. The national average of retired people surveyed is 63 percent. In addition to Upstate New York, other markets included in the survey released in June include Dallas, Miami, Milwaukee and Orange County, Calif. Seventy-seven percent of those aged 60 and over in Upstate New 26
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York who are still working also listed “I want to stay active and productive” in the survey, compared to a national average of 76 percent. Seventy-one percent of Upstate New Yorkers who took the survey listed “It gives me a sense of purpose” as a reason, compared to a 67 percent national average. Other reasons given by employed Upstate New Yorkers 60 and over include “I want to stay involved with other people,” 68 percent; “I enjoy it,” 65 percent; “I want to make a difference or help others in my community,” 62 percent; and “I need the beneﬁts,” 43 percent.
Full Time Workers Thirteen percent of Upstate New York residents who answered the survey said they are employed
full-time, compared to the national average of 14 percent. Ten percent of Upstate New Yorkers who answered the survey said they are employed part-time, the same as the national average. Six percent described themselves as homemakers, 5 percent said they are disabled, and 1 percent said they are unemployed but looking for work. Lisa D. Alford, commissioner of the Onondaga County Department of Aging and Youth, said many older Central New York adults who remain employed or are returning to work do so “because they ﬁnd it ﬁnancially necessary.” “But there are some social factors as well — wanting to remain engaged in work and community and stay active. People are also living longer.
55+ This boomer generation seems to have an attitude about work and retirement that is different than, say, the previous generation. There is a focus on remaining active and employed longer,” Alford said. Alford said that the Onondaga County Department of Aging and Youth offers employment and training opportunities to mature workers through our Senior Community Services Employment Program (SCSEP). “The program is designed to help seniors build on their existing skills, or learn new ones, with the eventual goal of ﬁnding permanent employment outside of the program,” Alford said. SCSEP participants work 20 hours per day, and they are paid the current state minimum wage through the program, she said. Although the SCSEP has income requirements, which means some recently unemployed or underemployed workers are not eligible to participate, the Department of Aging and Youth can still offer help. “We have staff available to assist mature workers with issues related to being unemployed, and to help them stretch their ﬁscal resources as far as possible,” Alford said.
Oswego County Numbers ‘Consistent’ Laurence Schmidt, administrator for the Oswego County Ofﬁce for the Aging, said the numbers in the survey — conducted by market research and consulting firm Penn Schoen and Berland Associates — “seem consistent with Oswego County.” Oswego County and Central New York residents over age 60 continue employment for various reasons, Schmidt said. “One of the most consistent reasons we hear or continuing to work is the need for insurance and prescription assistance,” he said. “Other reasons are they enjoy keeping busy and some just need the money to pay the bills.” In general, Schmidt said, “I think seniors are more uneasy about the future than in the past. The main
“One of the most consistent reasons we hear for continuing to work is the need for insurance and prescription assistance. Other reasons are they enjoy keeping busy and some just need the money to pay the bills.” Laurence Schmidt, Oswego County Ofﬁce for the Aging. challenges are rising costs, insurance costs and transportation concerns. They are concerned about being able to stay in their homes.
Future Income Sufﬁcient? The survey said that 31 percent of older Upstate New York residents are “very confident” their income will be sufficient to meet monthly expenses over the next ﬁve to 10 years. Another 41 percent are “somewhat conﬁdent,” 13 percent are “not very conﬁdent” and 6 percent are “not at all conﬁdent.” Six percent answered “neither” to the question. “With older adults in Onondaga County who are delaying retirement or re-entering the workforce, often the primary challenge is ﬁnancial,” Alford said. “To that end, our ofﬁce can assist with screening and applying for income stretching programs, such as HEAP, SNAP (food stamps) and more. In these tough economic times. It makes good ﬁscal sense to participate in these programs if you meet the income guidelines,” Alford said. William Ferris, legislative director for AARP in New York, said many older state residents are uncertain about the future.
An AARP poll on retirement security released in October covering the 27th Congressional District, which encompasses the Rochester area, showed that a majority of respondents, regardless of their political party, are concerned about their own ﬁnancial future and the future of Medicare and Social Security. “There’s a lot of worry out there,” Ferris said.
Achieving Financial Goals Sixty-four percent of registered voters over the age of 50 in the 27th Congressional District feel New York’s economy “is bad,” according to the poll, and 55 percent “are worried or concerned about achieving their own economic and ﬁnancial goals in the next ﬁve years.” “The majority of voters aged 50 and over know they will rely more heavily on Social Security and Medicare as they age due to the bad economy,” William Armbruster, AARP New York State associate state director for Western New York, said in a news release. Many of those same voters also feel they don’t have enough information to make an “informed choice” about the position of candidates on those vital programs in the recent election, Armbruster said. The AARP poll said that 55 percent of Rochester-area respondents “are worried or concerned about achieving their own economic and financial goals in the next ﬁve years.”
Aging Population Monroe County’s population includes about 122,000 adults 60 years and older. By the year 2030, it’s anticipated that 25 percent of the population will be 60 and older. “If we were to project that out for Monroe County, it is estimated that about 183,000 residents will be 60 years or older,” said Corinda Crossdale, director of the Monroe County Ofﬁce for the Aging. One of the “obvious impacts” of the increased senior population in Monroe County will be fewer resources, a fact not lost on older Continued on page 31 February / March 2013 - 55 PLUS
The Elusive Concept of Retirement Many Americans pessimistic about retirement future By Aaron Gifford
mericans increasingly have a dim outlook on being able to retire comfortably some day, let alone at the age of 65, recent surveys suggest. The AEGON Retirement
Readiness Survey, which is based on interviews with 9,000 people in the United States and eight European nations, was released last year. It indicated that 71 percent of workers surveyed in all nine nations
Sixty percent of those surveyed by Employee Beneﬁt Research Institute indicated that they have less than $25,000 in savings or investments beyond the value of their home and any deﬁned beneﬁt plans. 28
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felt that future generations will be worse off in retirement than current retirees. Only 15 percent of those surveyed said they were conﬁdent that they are on course to achieve the retirement income they need. And of the Americans surveyed, 73 percent said they do not expect a traditional “cliff experience” when they retire from full-time work; rather, they anticipate having to maintain a part-time job or take on temporary assignments or contract work. Likewise, a 2012 “Retirement Conﬁdence Survey” report from the Employee Beneﬁt Research Institute noted that optimism levels for being able to remain ﬁnancially stable after leaving the work force are at historic lows. Fifty-two percent of workers surveyed did say they are somewhat conﬁdent about having enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement years, but that figure is down from 70 percent in 2002. And 60 percent of those surveyed indicated that they have less than $25,000 in savings or investments beyond the value of their home and any deﬁned beneﬁt plans. “Planners and local governments,” the report said, “need to begin preparing now for a large percent of their senior population not to be able to retire. That means an older work force, more older people commuting daily to work, and among those who are not able to keep working, there will be more low-income or no-income seniors who will require help.”
The here and now The Retirement Conﬁdence Survey also said Americans are increasingly
55+ preoccupied with immediate ﬁnancial concerns. More than 40 percent of workers and retirees who participated in the study identiﬁed job uncertainty as their most pressing financial concern. In the retirees’ case, the answer pertains to ﬁnding a job if they needed to go back to work. Many are also carrying signiﬁcant debt. Twenty percent of workers surveyed and 12 percent of retirees described their level of debt as a major problem, while an additional 42 percent of workers and 25 percent of retirees called it a minor problem. Eric Kingson, a professor of social work at Syracuse University and co-director of Social Security Works in Washington, D.C., a national organization that is ﬁghting to preserve Social Security beneﬁts for retirees and disadvantaged populations, called the future of retirement in America a crisis. “Two thirds don’t have assets to maintain their standard of living in retirement,” he said in a recent interview. Events earlier in the decade—the tech bubble burst, plummeting real estate values across the nation and the credit crisis—wreaked havoc on baby boomers’ investments before the Great Recession took hold after 2008. Kingson, 66, said his peers who are still in the work force are skeptical that Medicare and Social Security will still be there during their golden years.
Uncertainty rules If the retirement age really does get raised by two years in 2027 in accordance with federal guidelines, Kingson said, “many people will get left behind.” “I don’t think our private pension plans are going to increase. I don’t think companies are going to increase contributions to 401Ks. I personally like the idea of working past 65, but not everyone can do it. It’s time to talk about a beneﬁt (Social Security) increase, not a beneﬁt cut,” he said. In the 2002 Retirement Conﬁdence Survey, 26 percent of those who participated indicated that they believed they would still be working at the age of 66 or older. By contrast,
the response to that same question in this year’s survey was 44 percent. New York state’s work force, meanwhile, is getting older. According to the state Labor Department, the number of workers in Onondaga County 65 and older increased from 7,771 in 2000 to 9,894 in the third quarter of 2012. For the same time frame, the Syracuse metro area’s population of older workers jumped from 9,462 to 12,081. And throughout the Central New York region, Madison, Cayuga, Oswego and Oneida counties each reported increases in workers 65 and up during that 11-year period. Kingson said local, state and federal governments need to make some serious changes with the increase of older adults remaining in the work force longer on a nationwide basis.
Enforcement required To begin with, the national Age Discrimination and Employment Act, which hasn’t been amended since 1978, needs to be revisited with a greater emphasis on enforcing it. He also said Central New York leaders should do more to keep older adults, whether they are retired, semiretired or still working, from leaving the region. “We need to preserve our tax base and create vehicles where people can contribute to their communities,” he said. “It can be little things like street lights, sidewalks and benches for people who like to walk. It’s important to have dignity, to be part of a community and contribute to it. I think it’s reasonable to expect older people to contribute to their community. It doesn’t necessarily have to be just employment. It can be volunteer work, religion—there’s a real value to that.” The 2002 Retirement Conﬁdence Survey indicated in 2002 that only 16 percent of those who participated in the study believed that Social Security would continue to produce beneﬁts of at least equal value of the beneﬁts received by current retirees. That figure dropped to 12 percent this year. As for Medicare, 17 percent of those surveyed 10 years ago indicated
they were confident that Medicare beneﬁts would remain the same for them after retirement compared to what current retirees were receiving. But in this year’s study, only 7 percent of those surveyed provided that response.
Falling through the cracks In May of 2012, Kingson coauthored a paper for the Economic Policy Institute, “Can Workers Offset Social Security Cuts by Working Longer?” He answers that question after providing ample evidence that a signiﬁcant population of Americans are retiring earlier than expected due to circumstances beyond their control—poor health, the inability to sustain the physical requirements of certain types of manual labor, and the responsibility of caring for an elderly parent. “Raising the retirement age might make sense if longevity gains were equally shared by all workers, regardless of income groups, educational status or race; if increased longevity meant continued good health; and if older workers had opportunities in the work force equal to those of younger workers,” he writes. “But none of these conditions is true. Thus, a further increase in the Social Security retirement age would impose hardship on many older workers. “In any case,” Kingson says, “there is no need to cut beneﬁts at all if Americans prefer to contribute more to the program to restore its long-term solvency. Closing the projected shortfall on the revenue side makes sense given the weakness in employer-based plans and personal savings, the other two legs of the retirement stool.” If the federal government is serious about increasing the retirement age, Kingson said, then it should borrow some ideas from the private sector. Part-time work, ﬂexible schedules and higher wages would get more people interested in the concept of working past 65.
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golden years By Harold Miller Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
On The Beach There is a sense of forever in the sound of the surf
hether it is Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Waikiki Beach in Hawaii, Surfers Paradise in Australia or Juno Beach in Florida, the beach is a magical place. It is like a planet within a planet, like walking on the moon, where life began and where life still ﬂourishes. The beach is a kaleidoscope with an ever-changing scene. Sunrises and sunsets are usually spectacular. Looking east at sunrise, an orange ball bursts from the blue water and appears to stand still for a while before continuing its trek into dawn. Looking west at sunset, the orange ball sinks slowly into the purple, pink, and blue ocean and the glow lingers. After darkness falls on a clear night, the boundless universe unfettered by urban pollution tends to make a mere human being seem so insigniﬁcant. I used to do my best writing while sitting on the beach until the advent of the word processor made it impractical. However, we still pack a notebook in the beach bag because the peacefulness of the waves slapping at the shore causes thoughts to ﬂow and seems to put life in perspective. There is some controversy, among us who paint with words, as to whether the endless parade of gulls and egrets swooping over the water and diving for ﬁsh, and the dolphins and swordﬁsh jumping high above the water, helps or detracts from writing. For this one, it helps the creative juices.
highest point in Florida is about 700 feet above sea level. Obviously, the entire periphery of this peninsula is beach and is the main attraction. Juno Beach, on the eastern shore of South Florida, has been my winter home for 40 years. Beyond its beautiful beaches
and near perfect subtropical climate, it is the epicenter of Florida’s marine ecosystem. My friend Bob Fletcher sold his successful real estate business in New England, retired in 1969, and moved to Florida. He planned to sit on the beach
The Sunshine State Florida is the beach for most of us. Go inland for a few miles and this giant sandbar that is Florida melds into scrubby vegetation and the ﬂatness of a mid-western plain. The 30
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There are as many as 10,000 turtles that gather in a single season at Juno Beach. This has led to the establishment of the Loggerhead Marinelife Center, whose mission is to promote conservation of Florida’s coastal ecosystem, with a special focus on threatened and endangered sea turtles.
and watch the golden years slowly go by. However, like most of us other businessmen, he soon became bored and within a year started another real estate business in Juno Beach, which ultimately became bigger than the one he retired from. His wife Eleanor spent her days on the beach and soon became fascinated with the turtle population that migrated from Nova Scotia to Africa and swam thousands of miles to lay their eggs on Juno Beach. Eleanor studied the turtles and learned about their habitats, led turtle watches, and taught classes about them to other locals. Soon she rescued injured turtles and set up a hospital in the back of her husband’s ofﬁce to nurse them back to health. She became known far and wide simply as the “Turtle Lady.”
Nurturing turtle population Eleanor ’s dedication to the preservation of Florida’s endangered turtle population eventually led to the establishment of the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach, whose mission is to promote conservation of Florida’s coastal ecosystem, with a special focus on threatened and endangered sea turtles. The research team at LMC monitors the three species of sea turtles—loggerhead, l e a t h e r b a ck , a n d g re e n s— t h a t regularly nest on Juno Beach. There are as many as 10,000 that gather in a single season. Each year, the hospital staff cares for more than 1,000 hatchlings. The goal is for each stressed hatchling to be released back to the sea to join the others in their endless migration. Before being released, an electronic monitoring device is glued onto their shells. That gives the research team an incredible record of their migrating habits. Recently, ﬁve loggerheads were stranded in a bay inside the elbow of Cape Cod during their southern migration. They were freezing to death in 45-degree water and were rescued and sent back to the marine life center. In three to ﬁve months, ofﬁcials expect to release them to the waters off Juno Beach to continue their migration. The story made headlines in the Palm Beach Post. Many mornings we swim in the ocean from our beach at sunrise. It is a wonderful way to start the day.
“I Need the Income”
Continued from page 27
residents, Crossdale said. The rapidly aging baby boom generation “is living longer, healthier and are wealthier than previous generations,” Crossdale said. “We are also seeing this generation continuing to work well beyond the traditional retirement years, some because they prefer to continue working and some because they need the extra income,” she said. “We will most likely see more older adults continue to work to make ends meet.” Future generations “will most likely take into consideration longevity that had not been there before, and plan for retirement accordingly,” Crossdale said. “We are currently seeing a number of older adults outliving their resources due to the increase in longevity,” she added.
Unemployment Up Working for those who choose to do so can be a challenge. September unemployment ﬁgures for the ﬁvecounty Rochester metropolitan area was 7.9 percent, up from 7.6 percent in September 2011. Unemployment figures for the three-county Syracuse metropolitan area, which includes Onondaga and Oswego counties, total 8.4 percent, up from 8.1 percent in September 2011. According to a Government Accountability Ofﬁce report released earlier this year, laid-off older workers ﬁnd it harder to land new jobs than their younger counterparts. The study found that 55 percent of workers 55 and older were unemployed for 27 weeks or more, compared to 47 percent of those between 25 and 55.
Americans Working Longer At the same time, the GAO report found that older Americans are working longer. The labor force participation rate, which measures the proportion of an age group either working or seeking work, has risen steadily since 1990 for workers 55 and older. In Oswego County, the overall population remained about the same
between 2000-2010, but the number of older citizens has gone up. In 2000, there were 18,428 seniors 60 and older in Oswego County. By 2010, that number had risen to 22,097, according to the U.S. Census. That compares to an overall population of 122,377 in 2000 and a population of 121,412 in 2010. “It is interesting that while the total population shrunk slightly, the age 60-plus population went up,” Schmidt said. In 1995, the average age of a person receiving aid from the county EISEP, or home care program, was 75. In 2000, the average age had risen to 80, in 2005 it was 89 and is currently about 88 years old, Schmidt said. Using Erie County as an example, Ferris said more people in the Western New York county participate in the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Program than citizens of a comparable age in Brooklyn.
Percentage of Seniors “There’s such a high percentage of seniors” in Upstate New York, Ferris said. About 91,000 adults age 60 and older live in Onondaga County, an increase of 9 percent over the 2000 Census, Alford said. “County data projections indicate that by the year 2015, we will experience a 19 percent increase in persons 60 and older and a staggering 66 percent increase in adults age 85 and older. Our programs are working to meet that critical and growing need in our community,” Alford said. Another ﬁnding of the National Council on Aging survey said that while 64 percent of respondents in the national sample said it is “very” or “somewhat easy” to pay monthly living expenses, more than one in ﬁve people have difﬁculty meeting the obligation. Nine of 10 respondents in the national sample plan to continue living in their current home for the next ﬁve to 10 years. The top reasons include “I like my home and don’t want to move out” and “I have family/friends nearby.” February / March 2013 - 55 PLUS
aging By Marilyn L. Pinsky
What Is Your Comfort Food?
always know when I’m getting sick or feeling sorry for myself. I develop a craving for spaghetti. Not just any old spaghetti, but a huge bowl with lots of sauce, melted butter and hot peppers. It is my comfort food and usually works to make me feel better, at least mentally. But probably spaghetti and hot peppers is not everyone’s cup of tea when they need comfort. (Stop groaning out there — even I know what a lame excuse that was for a joke). I decided to do research among my friends, my family and those innocents who wandered across my path while writing this article. I am leaving out the names of my friends who chose scotch, bourbon or vodka as their “comfort food of choice.”
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In my small, hugely unscientiﬁc study, it seemed the choices varied depending on where you grew up, what your mother was good at cooking and your age. Probably no surprises here, the hands down winners were macaroni and cheese and meatloaf. The problem with writing this article was that every response made me hungry for that particular food. Carolyn May, who described meatloaf cooking as, “ﬁlling the house with warm smells and reminding me of my youth,” concluded by saying, “God, I love meatloaf.” That sent me right out to the store to get the ingredients to make meatloaf. I ﬁgure by the time this article was ﬁnished, I had put on about ﬁve pounds. Particularly when people, like Kay Ellis, included their recipes:
Kay O’s Meatloaf 1 lb. ground beef, pork, veal 1 cup bread crumbs 1 egg 1/2 cup catsup 1/2-3/4 cup milk 1 envelope French’s Onion Soup mix 1-2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce Salt and pepper to taste Mix it all together, form into a loaf and put on a pan with about one inch sides — use the broiler pan bottom. It’s perfect. Bake about one hour at 350 degrees. If you want, you can make gravy from the drippings with some water and ﬂour. Kay Ellis says to “serve this with mashed potatoes and a veggie of your choice and the leftovers are great in sandwiches.” I loved cardiologist Anis Obeid’s response. “This is a tough question to pose to an omnivore like me, who ﬁnds comfort in most foods and who has been spoiled by being raised on the rich variety in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines, and by the superb culinary skills of my wife. I ﬁnd more comfort, for example, in olive oil based foods than in those using butter, heavy creams and rich desserts. But my biggest weakness is a fruit addiction, which is my nightly companion. Every night I thank God for globalization that has provided us with fresh fruits the year round thereby reducing the chances of my suffering from withdrawal.” Of course, from the wonderful Obeid, one should expect an economics lesson along with the food. And from a cardiologist, nothing less than an endorsement of the Mediterranean diet that we should all be eating anyway. “When I am home in Louisiana, my comfort food is an oyster po’
boy, either from my hometown restaurant, Tony’s, in Baton Rouge, or from Johnny’s in the French Quarter in New Orleans,” said Angel Wheelock Broadnax. “It is a good thing I no longer live there, for being ‘comfortable’ would also mean being very overweight.” “But when I am outside of Louisiana, my comfort food is a juicy pear. Each time I bite down into one, it takes me right back to elementary school when I was thrilled to find one in the lunch box my mother prepared.” And from Julia Fuleihan, who you will probably guess is British, “well, the first thing I thought of was Marmite spread on Ryvita with a cold glass of milk, (there is butter involved too in the spreading), but that might be considered more a snack. I sometimes crave Marmite late at night. However, as I contemplate this comfort food idea more deeply, I would say soft-boiled eggs in an egg cup, with a small hill of salt on one side and white buttered toast cut into strips so you can dip the toast in the yolk. We used to call it boiled egg with soldiers!” Mary Ann Zeppetello said, “Any kind of soup on a cold day.” And she is not alone. “Homemade vegetable soup, especially in the winter,” is the choice of Carol Wixson. “I love to smell it cooking, it is so healthy to eat, and very easy to make. My husband ‘s favorite comfort food is, of course, chocolate.” Syracuse University professors Margaret Susan Thompson and Miriam Elman probably both have their culinary roots in Europe. For Peggy Thompson, “my grandmother’s stuffed cabbage recipe, adapted (and, people say, improved) by me. When I’m lazy, I make it as soup (meatballs, and cut up the cabbage). If I can plan my last meal, this will be it.” For Miriam Elman, “My dad’s rolled meat (rolladin) and dumplings with blue cabbage. It’s a German dish. It is absolutely delicious, and he always made it when I was a kid and had a bad or rough week. He still tries to cook it, or some other childhood delicacy, when he visits. Always makes me feel better! Deﬁnitely it’s the connection to the love and support from my dad during childhood. I also love cake and cookies but I never eat
this when I feel bad. My ‘comfort’ is not food but a nice hot shower.” This is not one I would have thought of as a comfort food, but popcorn hits the spot for Wendy Harris. In a discussion with Wendy and a guy named Jeff, at the wonderful Laci’s Restaurant, baked mac and cheese, made with all blends of cheese, started to beat out the popcorn, particularly if the cheese got crusty on the casserole. The discussion went downhill from there when Jeff introduced the subject of homemade brownies, right out of the oven and gooey. Another pasta person, but not speciﬁcally a mac-and-cheese person, is Carolyn Scott. “Pasta. No knife necessary. Re-warmed leftovers are even better, Italian or otherwise. Hungarian goulash included.” For Kathleen Osbelt, comfort food is quality dark chocolate. “Because of its quality, it is costly, so there won’t be any frequent buying of it, and then it just tastes soooooo good and some say its even good for you!” In the dessert vein also, are Linda Henley and Russ Andrews. Comfort food for both of them is ice cream. “When we were children, my mother always made hot chocolate and served it with peanut butter and crackers for a snack on a cold winter’s night. Still my favorite comfort food,” said Mary Ann Winﬁeld. Karin Franklin King’s absolute favorite is chili. “My partner enjoys it too. He has no choice since he doesn’t cook. I make it with at least two kinds of beans, dark kidney and black beans, usually, and I saute onions with ground turkey, also beef bouillon to fool those who prefer meat.) Then throw them in a crockpot with crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaf, etc. I serve the chili over brown rice.” “With that,” Karin continued, “I must have chewy bread and a glass of wine. Oh, and a ﬁreplace to keep warm. This is comfort food that’s enhanced by the ambiance. The comfort is more like gratiﬁcation. I make it from scratch (I grew up with chili from a can,) so I know what’s in it and I make so much of it, that I take comfort just in knowing I don’t have to cook for a few days.” And from a group of Community Dining Syracuse diners who I roped into this conversation, the choices
included chicken and gravy with mashed potatoes, two votes for chicken and biscuits and one vote for borscht, a Russian soup made with beets. Also, beef stew, cinnamon rolls, grilled cheese and tomato, a baguette with brie (hey, we are a dining group) and Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia along with more bird dishes —chicken wings, turkey and sweet potatoes. Then a swing back to beef at the next table where meat loaf and mac and cheese continued to gather votes. In a close race, excluding mac and cheese, which seemed to be an overall winner, chicken almost beat out meatloaf. Gerry Frankhoff sent along her recipe for :
Chicken and Dumplings 3 lb. broiler/fryer, cut up 2 tsp. salt 1/4 tsp. pepper 2 celery stalks, chopped 2 carrots, coarsely chopped 1 c. chopped onion 1 spring parsley 1 bay leaf 2 chicken bouillon cubes 1/2 c. milk 1/3 c. ﬂour 2 egg yolks, beaten In dutch oven, cover chicken with water. Add salt, pepper, celery, onion, carrots, parsley, bay leaf and bouillon cubes. Simmer 1 1/4 hrs. Remove chicken from liquid and remove meat from bones. Liquid should measure 4 cups. Blend milk and ﬂour. Gradually add a little hot liquid to the milk mixture then stir into liquid in dutch oven until thickened. Gradually beat in egg yolks. Add chicken. Drop dumpling batter by Tbsp. Cook uncovered 10 minutes, then cover and cook another 10 minutes.
Parsley Dumplings 1 c. ﬂour 2 tsp.baking powder 1/2 tsp. each of sugar, salt & celery seed 1 Tbsp chopped parsley 1/2 c. mild Mix all dry ingredients together with a fork, then stir in milk until well moistened.
February / March 2013 - 55 PLUS
Active in Retirement SU’s Institute for Retired People engages the curious mind By Matthew Liptak
ooking for something fun to do? Searching for a little intellectual stimulation that doesn’t involve the computer
or TV? Syracuse’s Institute for Retired People may be just the place for you. The group, made up of 120 or so members, is run from Syracuse University’s University College and meets from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. the first and third Thursday of each month in the First Baptist Church of Syracuse, 5833 E. Seneca Turnpike, Jamesville. The group also does occasional outings to area locations. “The group meets twice a month and we ﬁnd speakers from all different kinds of subjects,” said Sandra Barrett, SU’s director of community programs. “It’s not speakers about aging and retirement but it’s speakers on history, politics, science and the arts. We make sure they are experts and they are good speakers. “A lot of these things are not things that you would necessarily read about. We try to do unusual things. Some of the unusual speakers we’ve had include a retired engineer who got the chance to be a balloon handler in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, so that was a little bit off the beaten track and fun. We had a young man who is an illegal immigrant who for the ﬁrst time publicly came out and talked about immigration policy and his own story. We’ve had a local businessman and pharmacist who as a hobby started collecting patent 34
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models and now has a patent model museum. His patents [models] are on loan to the Smithsonian Institute. We are very eclectic in our topics.”
Compelling speakers These aren’t just lectures that drone on. Speakers keep their programs concise and the audience gets to participate. “The program is an hour,” Barrett said. “The first half is prepared remarks by the speaker and then
in the second half of the hour the IRP members get to ask questions, which really makes it interesting. They get their questions answered. The speakers get to hear what’s on community members’ minds. It takes it in all different directions.” The institute’s members get to go on ﬁeld trips sometimes, too. “They’re very interested in history,” Barrett said. “So for instance they might get together and arrange for tours at local museums
Members of Syracuse University’s Institute for Retired People gather for a photo with Otto, the SU mascot, at a meeting. From left are Carolyn Curley, Suzanne Gladys, Lucille Czajkowski, Otto and Beulah Jackson.
55 PLUS The Magazine For Active Adults in Upstate New York
Participants in one of the meetings held by Syracuse’s Institute for Retired People. Several topics area discussed every meeting, which takes place twice a a month at the First Baptist Church of Syracuse, 5833 E. Seneca Turnpike, Jamesville.
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Education mixed with fun
there are really no rooms large enough with nearby accessible parking on campus,” Barrett said. “Accessible parking and consistently available meeting room are important so that people know every first and third Thursday where we are going to be. Campus just doesn’t lend itself to that because there are classes going on and students and staff in the parking lots so it would just be too difﬁcult to do it on campus.” Besides, it’s not about prestige. It’s about a little bit of intellectual stimulation and some fun socializing with friends new and old. The institute is over 40 years old, having started in 1972, and continues to grow and evolve. “I hope that it will go on at least another 40 years and I hope that it will continue to grow,” Barrett said. “We have a good crowd but we do have room for more people to join us and so I do hope that more people will come and check us out.” For more information, contact the Institute for Retired People at 315-4439378 or check its website at www.yesu. syr.edu/IRP.
P.O. Box 276, Oswego, NY 13126
or historic sites. They also have done some community projects like decorating trees for the Everson tree festival or donating books and toys at Christmas.” Everyone who is retired is encouraged to check out the group and find out what it’s about. You don’t have to be an SU alumnus to be a member. Members come from all walks of life, Barrett said, from sales person to scientist, from professor to homemaker. Guests are welcome as well. “I want members to feel as though they learned something but also to feel as though they have had fun, that they have enjoyed their time, that it’s been an hour or an hour and a half well spent and that it is something they’d like to tell their friends about,” Barrett said. So why is an institute afﬁliated with a prestigious university meeting at church in what one might think is in an out-of-the-way location? The church is actually easily accessible from Route 481 and Brighton Avenue. Otherwise, the location just ﬁts the bill. “We meet off campus because
February / March 2013 - 55 PLUS
Q&A Q: I’m planning to retire next year. I served in the Navy back in the 1960s and need to make sure I get credit for my military service. What do I need to do? A: You don’t need to do anything to apply for the special credit for your military service—it is added automatically. For service between 1957 and 1967, we will add the extra credits to your record at the time you apply for Social Security benefits. For service between 1968 and 2001, those extra military service credits have already been added to your record. So you can rest assured that we have you covered. Read our online publication, “Military Service and Social Security,” at www. socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10017.html. Q: I have young children at home and I plan to retire next fall. Will my children be eligible for monthly Social Security checks after I retire? A: Monthly Social Security payments may be made to your children if they are: • Unmarried and under age 18; • Age 19 if still in high school; or • Age 18 or over, who became severely disabled before age 22 and continue to be disabled. In addition to biological children, legally adopted children, dependent stepchildren, and grandchildren could be eligible. For more information, please read our publication “Beneﬁts for Children” at www.socialsecurity. gov/pubs/10085.html. Q: I got a notice from Social Security that said my Supplemental Security Income (SSI) case is being reviewed. What does this mean? A: Social Security reviews every SSI case from time to time to make sure the individuals who are receiving payments are still eligible and should continue to receive those payments. 36
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consumers corner By Eva Briggs
Use Common Sense to Avoid Injuries in the Winter
Do the right thing and prevent wrong consequences
t’s an unseasonably warm December day, free of snow and ice, as I write this. But winter is bound to arrive soon, bringing patients who are victims of the slippery conditions into the urgent care. While many of these injuries are unavoidable, as I reﬂect on the past year, there are some recurring themes of ways people are harmed by poor planning — or lack of planning altogether.
Wrong Footwear Shoes with slippery soles, no matter how stylish, are a recipe for trouble on ice, snow, slush, mud, and muck. Although one wouldn’t think anyone would wear ﬂip ﬂops in Central New York in the winter, this happens, resulting in falls, twists, stubbed toes and cuts. Shoes that are not warm and waterproof are not good for prolonged outdoor activities. If you have a family member who has problems with memory or judgment, check their footwear for them. If your family member has diabetes or other conditions, which may affect the sensation in the feet, check their shoes. Every year I see patients with infections, ulcers or frostbite caused by worn out shoes, because they lacked either the
sensation or the mental faculties to recognize shoes with holes or wear causing rubbing.
slingshot toy approved for launching dead ﬁsh at my friends? These are real examples!
Wrong Climbing Apparatus
The chief culprit here is the chair. Most chairs are not ergonomically designed for climbing onto or standing on. This especially goes for chairs that have wheels. I wish I didn’t have to say this, but I have seen some memorable injuries caused when a wheeled chair threw the climber to the ground. Makeshift contraptions from furniture and old bits of lumber often fail at key moments. Step stools and stepladders are safer.
There are several factors to consider when taking medication, such as, what is the correct diagnosis? Does this medicine treat the diagnosis? Will it interact with my other medicines or my other diagnoses? Just because a medicine was prescribed for a friend or family member for something that might have been similar to what you’re experiencing, does not mean you should simply pop it in your mouth or smear it on your skin. Especially if the prescription is many years old. Or if your friend has transferred the medicine to another container lacking a label, but thinks that this is the white tablet he took for an earache. Or dizziness. Or something similar.
Wrong Tool If something isn’t sharp enough or strong enough, it will slip, skip or break. The result is a stab, cut, gouge, or broken things imbedded in the eyes or skin.
Wrong Use of a Product If you are not sure, read the directions. For example, let’s suppose you are wondering, is this vest knife-proof? Check the directions or packaging or at the very least, do not test for knife-proofness while someone is wearing the vest. Or you are wondering, is this water balloon
Have a safe winter. It’s a wild world out there, but some of the craziness is avoidable. Eva Briggs is a medical doctor who works at two urgent care centers (Central Square and Fulton) operated by Oswego Health.
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Enriching Experience Onondaga Public Library offers online learning opportunities By Alyssa Mammano
nondaga Public Library now offers universal classes for patrons to engage in a variety of enrichment courses in an online environment. “We certainly provide books and have traditionally provided educational books about learning different things. Now this is an online avenue for patrons to do the same kind of thing,” said e-resources librarian and supervisor Peg Elliott. The Onondaga Library purchased the subscription service to the courses from Recorded Books. The online
database offers more than 500 personal enrichment classes free of charge to any library cardholder. Patrons log in from the library’s website with their card and PIN numbers, enter their email addresses and can register for the classes. Areas of study include accounting, arts and photography, business, parenting, pet and animal care, psychology, cooking, real estate, science, social work, spiritual studies a n d We b d e v e l o p m e n t a mo n g others. Students can register for up to
Peg Elliott, left, is Onondaga County Public Library e-resources librarian and supervisor. 38
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five classes at a time to engage in reading lessons, videos, homework, and the ability to email or chat with instructors and any other students around the country who are taking the same class. The learning is self-paced and students have up to six months to complete the course. Access to the online course is available 24/7 from any computer or Internet device. “The library feels very strongly that life-long learning is part of our mission. We want to encourage our patrons having easy access to this type of resource. It a way for us to provide an additional opportunity for our users to access educational materials,” said Elliott. Universal class provides library patrons with the option of more than 40 areas of study. The number of classes in each subject varies by topic from eight to 12. Each class is taught by an educator certified in that particular area of study. Any number of students is able to register for the course at any point in time. After completing the eight to 12 classes in an area of study, many offer the option to purchase a continuing education unit certiﬁcate. CEU is the industry measurement of non-credit education. The certiﬁcate will prove that the student completed the training. The courses are noncredit and do not substitute for any state, government, licensing or educational requirements. They are intended for personal enrichment. Since the Onondaga Public Library launched the universal class program last spring, more than 700 users have enrolled in more than 800 courses with approximately 3,000 login sessions.
Not Your Mother’s Hearing Aids By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
f you’ve not updated your hearing aids recently, or have put off buying them at all, you may be in for a pleasant surprise. The technology available today far surpasses that 25 years ago. Clunky, whistling, hard-to-use aids are passé. Today’s hearing instruments are sleek, user-friendly and offer clearer sound than ever. “Unfortunately almost everyone knows someone who has purchased hearing aids in the past and has been dissatisﬁed to the point of keeping the aids in a drawer rather than in their ears,” said Jane Waligora, audiologist and owner of J. Waligora Audiology in East Syracuse. Some people are afraid to try hearing aids because they think it will negatively alter their appearance. But modern hearing aids are much more subtle than their predecessors, nearly contact lenses for the ears. “Over the past 10 years, they’ve developed the thin tube, over-theear hearing aids,” said Gary Forbes,
audiologist with Onondaga Hearing Services in Syracuse. “If they just see me from the front, people are amazed that I wear them. They don’t notice until they look closely.” Some people like the fashion colors and patterns available for hearing aids and select ones that reﬂect their own style. If you’ve never tried hearing aids, you’ll likely have a much better experience by visiting an audiologist than trying hearing amplification devices such as the ones that masquerade as a phone headset. Those are the hearing equivalent of drugstore reading glasses. They may help, but they weren’t made for your body and your speciﬁc needs. An audiologist can help you ﬁnd the right hearing aid and help you learn how to use it. Just as your glasses are prescribed and ﬁtted by a professional, your hearing should be in a pro’s care, too. “Everyone focuses on technology, but it’s really about teaching people
to be successful with [hearing aids],” Forbes said. “I don’t focus as much on technology, though we have the best there is. I focus on teaching people on how to be successful with the instruments. We do an accurate evaluation. I don’t think technology, though it’s good, is what makes things better. We’ve gotten better at doing our jobs. Technology alone won’t provide beneﬁt to my patients.” But having said that, he acknowledges that today’s digital hearing aids have better clarity, f e e db a ck re du ct i on a n d n o i se reduction. Digital sound, first introduced in hearing aids in 1987, has come a long way. Waligora called it “a commercial failure, [but] it provided the foundation for the new technology that has improved by leaps and bounds during the past 25 years with the some of the most dramatic improvements being introduced in the past three to four years.” These include technology that has February / March 2013 - 55 PLUS
Doctor: ‘Natural Lift’ Provides Fresh Look
hy this surge of interest in facial plastic and cosmetic surgery? “For one thing, we feel better about ourselves when we look our best,” said physician Douglas Halliday, co-founder and designer of the Natural Lift and co-owner of Natural Lift Centers, based in East Syracuse. “In fact, psychologists say paying attention to our looks shows healthy self-esteem, Dr. Halliday not vanity. Looking good builds self-conﬁdence, which makes it easier to forget about yourself and focus your attention successfully on family, work, and friends.” Halliday is board certiﬁed in ENT (ear, nose and throat), head and neck surgery and specializes in facial plastic surgery, including face and neck lift surgery, eyelid surgery and nasal reconstruction. He said his practice — Natural Lift Center — offers a wide variety of services, including wrinkle reduction, tightening of skin around neck, laser resurfacing and alternatives to facelift, eyelift and neck lift. “My philosophy on aging face surgery is to provide patients with a lift with signiﬁcant improvement, one that appears natural,” Halliday said. All of his procedures are done primarily under light sedation and therefore are very safe and affordable, he said. Halliday has been performing facelift procedures for more than 20 years and has performed more than 3,000 facelift procedures and currently. He is also co-founder of SkinLaze, a medical laser company that specializes in permanent laser hair removal, and laser skin resurfacing. Additionally, he has a specialty interest in pro bono surgery for victims of domestic violence and works closely with Vera House to provide care for battered victims. For more information, visit cosmeticsurgeonsyracuse.com. 40
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helped make speech understandable, despite background sounds. Waligora said the aids accomplish this by using two microphones to direct one to the sound source while the other decreases the background noise to a reasonable level instead of blasting the wearer with all the sound. Using multiple listening programs can help wearers hear well whether there is lots or little background noise by changing automatically, manually, or with remote controls. “A large percentage of hearing aids now adapt over time to the user’s personal preferences so that there is no resetting of preferences or any type of manipulation of the device as the hearing aids are self learning,” Waligora said. Hearing well over the phone
has always been difﬁcult for people with hearing impairment. Hearing aids used to not help much. Today’s hearing aids make it much easier. By interfacing with Bluetooth technology, wearers can receive calls from their phones and have the sound routed directly to their hearing aids. “This allows individuals to use their phones hands-free as well as hear phone conversations in both ears, which enhances speech clarity,” Waligora said. The technology allows wearers to connect to other electronics such as TVs, tablets, and computers that use wireless technology. “Now is a good time to consider replacement of older hearing aids or to try hearing aids for the ﬁrst time,” Waligora said.
Signs You May Have Hearing Problems Here are what some specialists have to say about recognizing early signs of hearing problems • If you’re constantly asking people to speak up • Yo u a r e l e f t o u t o f conversations. • You don’t hear well at church. • Yo u m i g h t h a v e a n embarrassing event like when you totally misinterpret what someone says. Catherine Porter, owner of Maico Hearing Aid Service in Liverpool, and a hearing instrument specialist. • Your friends and family think you have hearing loss. • The TV is louder than normal.
• You notice you have to have people repeat what they say to you. • You don’t hear conversations well in restaurants. • You may hear sounds like cars and traffic, but you can’t distinguish speech clearly. • The important thing is to have your hearing checked as part of a biannual physical. People can have hearing loss mistakenly diagnosed as dementia. A lot of audiologists or doctors’ ofﬁces will do it free. Robert DeMartino, boardcertiﬁed hearing aid specialist and president of Advanced Hearing Aid Center of CNY, Inc.
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10 Things to Do in Hershey
The Sweetest Place on Earth By Sandra Scott
ershey in Pennsylvania is aptly dubbed “The Sweetest Place on Earth.” It is the perfect place for getting Kisses and Hugs. Milton Hershey, his chocolate, and the towns he created are the quintessential American success story. Here are 10 things to do when you visit:
The Hershey Story: Learn fascinating stories of Milton Hershey: the man, his candy empire, and the model town he created in Pennsylvania and in Cuba. It is an amazing story of “poor boy makes good” and then uses his money 42
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to enrich the lives of others. He started out making caramels, which gave him his ﬁrst million — but it was chocolate that made him a fortune. Hershey was a company town but the people “didn’t owe their soul to the company store” as they did in similar towns. The tree-lined community provided for all the resident’s needs with a bank, hotel, school, churches, parks, golf courses, a zoo and more.
Trolley Works: Get on board for an excursion on the Hershey Trolley. The journey begins in front of the Hershey’s Chocolate World. Don’t be surprised if your conductor breaks into song and stops
to pick up some “characters.” It is oldfashioned fun and an informative trip through the town built on chocolate. Even the streetlights look like Hershey Kisses. The driver and conductors dressed in period costumes are excellent entertainers. The tour of Hershey hits all the high spots while weaving in an amusing story. And receive a Kiss at the end.
Chocolate World: Chocolate ... chocolate ... and more chocolate! Learn about chocolate making on a ride that follows the cocoa bean’s trip from the rainforest to Hershey’s plant. Create your own chocolate bar by choosing the ingredients, toppings, and even design your own label. Receive a “Master’s Degree in Chocolate Tasting” where people learn to taste chocolate much like connoisseurs experience wine.
55+ The class starts with looking at the each of the ﬁve varieties of chocolate, then enjoying the aroma, and after savoring a small bite the “flavor notes” are discussed.
Zoo America: The origins of the zoo lie with the story of Franz and Louise Zinner who owned 12 prairie dogs and a bear cub but were unable to keep them. Milton Hershey was in the early stages of building a park so they suggested he keep the animals as a park attraction. The meeting led to Zoo America. The 11-acre zoo has more than 200 animals from ﬁve regions of North America. Their newest arrival is an albino alligator. The rare genetically inherited condition produced a white alligator with pink eyes. It is one of only 100 known to exist.
Hershey Gardens: Hershey Gardens is another lasting gift from Milton Hershey. The gardens ﬁrst opened in 1937 as a rose garden. On the ﬁrst day 20,000 people visited the gardens. The land adjacent to the Rose Garden was deemed unsuitable for farming so Hershey turned to Harry Erdman, his head gardener, and said, “All right,
Erdman, go ahead, make a garden out of it. We’ll make an awful lot of other people happy.” When Erdman asked if Hershey wanted to see a plan or cost estimates, Hershey replied, “No, go ahead. If it gets too big, I’ll stop you. Make it look as good as the Rose Garden and everything will be all right.” Over the years thousands of trees, shrubs, evergreens, perennials, annuals, bulbs, theme gardens, a Butterfly House, and a hands-on Children’s Garden were added.
Hershey Park: For thrills and chills and all-out, non-stop family fun visit Hershey Park. It is called the “cleanest and greenest theme park in America” with more than 65 rides and attractions, including 11 exciting coasters, six drenching water rides, and more. Plus live entertainment, challenging games of skill, one-of-a-kind shops, and irresistible food.
Milton Hershey School: The Milton Hershey School is another of Hershey’s legacies. He and his wife opened the school in 1909 to care for orphan boys. Now qualiﬁed underprivileged boys and girls receive a free education
along with housing, clothing and more all completely funded by the sale of Hershey bars. Free tours start at Founders Hall, the impressive marble rotunda that soars to an interior height of 74 feet making it the second largest in the world. The daily tours include an informative video and continue to the 2700 seat state-of-theart auditorium, the cafeteria and other aspects of the complex.
Hotel Hershey Spa: Hershey Resorts include The Hotel Hershey, Hershey Lodge, and Hershey Highmeadow Campground. The Hotel Hershey is the luxury accommodation and home to the Hershey Spa featuring chocolate pampering where you can soak in a chocolate bath, get a chocolate scrub, followed by a chocolate wrap, and top it off with lunch in the Spa’s Oasis possibly with a chocolate martini. Hotel guests can also enjoy their ﬁtness room and pools — one indoors and one outdoors.
Golf and more: Hershey is a great golf destination with four unique and distinctive courses including a nine-hole course especially designed for the
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younger set but also fun for all ages. If golf does not suit you to a “tee” then watch the Hershey Bears on the ice or learn the art of fly-fishing, go geocashing, kayak on the river, or take on the challenge of their Odyssey Course. Visitors can also learn the sport of falconry from Master Falconer Jack Hubley. Truly, something for everyone. 10 – Shopping: Chocolate and chocolate-related gifts are everywhere but those looking for non-chocolate, upscale shopping can head to The Outlets at Hershey with 58 outlet stores featuring top names like Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein, Liz Claiborne, Aerosoles, Nautica, Carter ’s and Reebok, along with 60 other great outlet stores located next to Hershey Park. Guests of the Hotel Hershey receive a Preferred Shoppers Card to use for even more savings.
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By Jim Sollecito
How Big An Umbrella Can I Buy?
s members of the Silver Tsunami Generation, we suddenly ﬁnd ourselves in both a ﬁnancial as well as outdoor environment that is totally different than the one we used to take for granted. Regarding the financial aspect of this change, I really have no deep expertise. Since I don’t make the rules, I adjust to them. Financial cliffs make me uneasy. A better term might be ﬁnancial bluff. In addition to being a raised piece of land, a bluff is a verb describing card players’ techniques. Somebody always wins, and somebody will lose. Medical insurance changes and how they affect my business used to keep me up nights. So I considered seeing a doctor, but that seemed ironic. I have come to understand that I must simply comply with these changes as intelligently as I can, the same way I react to the weather. But how big an umbrella can I buy, anyway? Nearly every week I am asked if global warming is real. Of course it is; it doesn’t take much to ﬁgure that out. What to do about it is another question. We live in a world with far more questions than answers. The plants adapt to the changes. Observe how much earlier in spring they push their new leaves and how much longer they hold their foliage in autumn. This is due to the shortened duration of The Great White we now enjoy. Heck, our landscape crews were still planting well into December 2012. I’m glad to have stopped selling Christmas trees a decade ago. I would have missed some of the nicest conditions of the year for getting a shovel dirty. All I had to do was wait and apply the newly deﬁned cycles of nature. The only thing that’s constant is change anyway. Consider this. Right now you are
as young as you’ll ever be. When we were kids, or even young adults, we lacked patience for anything. I believe most of us have softened with time. Just making necessary medical visits and spending time in waiting rooms eventually wears the rough edges off our internal clocks. I always thought I might prefer wading rooms to waiting rooms. Folks could get into their shorts and enjoy the water. Maybe take a few refreshing laps while killing time. By now, we understand that the journey tops the destination when it comes to our plants and our lives. Eventually everything becomes compost of a sort. This cannot be escaped. The trick is to focus on things you can inﬂuence instead of the ones you can’t. The time-consuming warmseason activities are on hold. Winter affords us an opportunity to slow down, perhaps spend some time in reﬂection. Our inﬂuence lasts for maybe two generations so we might as well share what we have learned, maybe even write it down. We’ve navigated some rocks in the road. Our sharing might help others along their paths. And those lines in our faces? We earned them and paid for them. We are only young once and I think most of us would agree that once was enough. Let’s enjoy where we are in the grand scheme and recognize that each day is another gift. Jim Sollecito is the first lifetime senior certified landscape professional in NYS. He operates Sollecito Landscaping Nursery in Syracuse. Contact him at 4 6 8 - 11 4 2 o r a t email@example.com.
Boomers Zero In on Health at Aged 50 and 65, Study Says
aby boomers’ interest in health issues peaks at about age 50, wanes after that, and then peaks again near age 65, according to a new study. The findings may help doctors and other health professionals target boomers with health messages when they’re most receptive to hearing them, according to the Ohio State University researchers. Their study, based on a survey of nearly 500 Americans aged 45 to 65, found that people in their late 40s had the lowest levels of interest in health issues. Interest rose rapidly after that and peaked in the early 50s, then dropped slightly and ﬂattened out during the rest of the 50s and early 60s. Another peak was seen near age 65. The study is the first to identify specific age points when people are most interested in health issues, said study lead author John Dimmick, an emeritus associate professor of communications at the university. The peak interest in health issues when people are in their early 50s is likely due to what they hear from their doctors and the media. “Fifty is the age Americans are told they need to undergo a variety of health screenings,” Dimmick said in a university news release. “For example, people are often told that they should get a colonoscopy, mammogram and — until recently — a PSA test for prostate cancer when they turn 50.” “People start really paying attention to their health when they are encouraged to get all of these various screening tests,” he noted. February / March 2013 - 55 PLUS
Mentoring Helps Both Seniors and Youth By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
s a senior adult, you probably have both the time and wisdom to effectively mentor someone younger. It can also bring a sense of fulﬁllment by paying forward the benefits of mentoring you have received when you were younger. Your input can truly help. Your protégé is much more likely to accept your input because of your age compared with taking advice from a peer. Also, mentoring gives you the chance to contribute to society in a meaningful, worthwhile fashion that offers lasting results. Feeling overwhelmed by the opportunities available? The problem of choosing one means of mentoring from all the possibilities can stymie seniors into inactivity. Follow these
steps to narrow down the options to one that ﬁts you. Consider your own experience and skills. If you were a grade school teacher, mentoring children is a natural ﬁt. Especially if you have no grandchildren or they live far away — pairing up with a child can feel especially fulﬁlling. Joann Dawley, a Volney resident, felt “sick of retirement” from her 25 combined years in pediatric and adult occupational therapy, she said. She was accustomed to working with children, so volunteering for SUNY Oswego’s Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) sounded like a great idea. The program eventually paired her with a 9-year-old girl. Dawley spent a few hours with her once or twice a week at a time convenient to
Retirement proved boring for Joann Dawley of Volney. Mentoring provides an opportunity to stay busy and give back to others, she said. 46
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both parties. They went to the circus, completed craft projects, attended a book fair and art fair, and Dawley taught her how to crochet. “ We m a d e t h e m a n d a t o r y potholders,” Dawley said with a laugh. “We’d talk and do things that most people would do with their kids anyway but due to whatever circumstances, they don’t. “Being with her and showing her how to do things or doing things she’d never done, like go on a picnic, was nice because the way she appreciated things.” Dawley took photos of their experiences. She gave a scrapbook to the child as a parting gift because she is taking a hiatus from mentoring for health reasons. “I’m hoping I can get back in it in the spring,” she said. Her biggest surprise was “how much children just don’t know about the world” and the number of free community-based events and home-based activities they could do together. “I recommend you to [mentor],” she said, “if you’re looking for something to do. You may need to spend a little of your own money, but it won’t break the bank. There are free things to do too.” RSVP recruits volunteers 55 years and older for one-on-one tutors and mentors and offers ﬂexible times. A one-year commitment is required. Love the outdoors? Programs like Bike Syracuse (www.bikesyracuse. org) can help keep you moving and offer your knowledge on nature to inner city youth. The program involves pairing volunteers with children aged 10 through 14 from low-income families.
A Double-Dip Tax Deduction By Joe Arena
Bike Syracuse pairs children with adult mentors to foster lasting friendships and offer recreational activities. Though many of the organization’s activities involve biking to activities, non-riders can drive a car or meet the children and other volunteers at the place where the activity is planned. Because the children in the program may come from a difﬁcult home environment, the organization provides training to mentors to help them better understand the mindset of a child from a struggling family. “We use adventure to hook the child into the program,” said Bike Syracuse Executive Director Kathleen Oot-Quinn. “We primarily use biking. Then by virtue of interacting with the children and talking with them, it all plays into mentoring the children.” The goal of the program isn’t just providing recreational activities, but to offer space for a relationship between the mentor and child to grow. “It’s also a resource for the children,” Oot-Quinn said. “When things aren’t going well at home, the kids can call the volunteers. We’re not professionals, but we just offer an ear. Some parents aren’t very athletic and single moms sometimes rely on us to give them that outlet and provide male role models.” Oot-Quinn said that many volunteers have shared that mentoring has helped them learn how important relationships are. And mentoring young ones may be a fountain of youth of sorts.
“If you love to be around children, you stay younger,” Oot-Quinn said. “I have a 69-year-old woman who’s learning hip hop.” She has also been surprised by the level of respect the children show their elders, who seem to like them as grandparents. If you’re tech savvy and you would like to interact with young people all over the globe, consider signing up for Elder Wisdom Circle (www.elderwisdomcircle.org), which matches “cyber-grandparents” with young adults who need advice via conﬁdential email regarding family, relationships, self-improvement and career questions. The website states that you can conceal your real identity using a pen name. Doug Meckelson, founder of Elder Wisdom Circle, based in Walnut Creek, Calif., said that about 500 elders have joined the organization all over the country with a few in New York state. “There is nothing more life affirming for many people than having someone ask for their advice or opinion,” Meckelson said. “It elevates yourself worth and afﬁrms value of your lifelong learning and experience, after all experience is the best teacher and if you already have taken the course—life—why not share what you learned?”
ver the years, the IRS has closed most so-called “tax loopholes.” There is one type of charitable donation that allows you to capture a double beneﬁt. Donating appreciated shares of a stock or fund to a qualified charitable organization will give you two different tax breaks. One, you can deduct the current value of the stock as a charitable donation. Two, you avoid paying capital gains tax on your gain. For example: you bought 100 shares of XYZ for $10,000 ﬁve years ago and it is now worth $20,000. Donating the 100 shares would give you a $20,000 write-off and you avoid paying tax on the $10,000 gain. This really is a double-dip deduction. There are two caveats that I want to mention. First, make sure you have owned the stock over one year. The rules are very different if you donate a stock with a short-term gain. In the above example, if you had only owned the stock for 11 months and donated $20,000 worth of stock, your deduction would be limited to your cost basis or $10,000. You would lose half of your deduction. The second caveat is that you should not do this with depreciated stock. If your stock has lost value since you purchased it, you should first sell it to capture the tax loss and then donate the proceeds to your charity. If you donate the stock in this case, you will lose the capital loss write-off. As always, consult your adviser before making this type of ﬁnancial decision.
Joseph Arena is the Director of Tax & Business Services at Brighton Securities. He can be reached at 585-340-2200 or by email at jarena@brig htonsecurities.com. February / March 2013 - 55 PLUS
druger’s zoo By Marvin Druger
Lessons in Teaching, and in Life For retired biology teacher, learning is lifelong endeavor
he mind works in strange ways. Every event in our lives is an experience. We learn from everything we do and everything that we do is part of what we are. We never know in advance which experiences, no matter how trivial, will have a lasting impact on our lives. Although most of the readers of 55-Plus magazine are probably not teachers, everyone has experienced a teacher. So, I thought it might be of interest for readers to hear about teaching from a teacher’s perspective. Like everyone else, teachers develop guidelines, based upon their experiences. I’ll share some of these experiences and guidelines in this article. Hopefully, this article will make you more aware of your own pathway in life and make you appreciate the experiences that helped make you who you are. I taught introductory college biology at Syracuse University for about 47 years before retiring in August 2009. I also taught other science courses and methods courses for prospective science teachers. Overall, I taught more than 40,000 students. There were many incidents that were inﬂuential and made me think about teaching and learning in new ways. The experiences described in this article may seem disjointed, but that’s how my mind works. These are the scattered experiences that are imprinted in my memory, and that’s how they will be presented in this article.
Let students say it in their own Many students raise their hand. “Good, what’s your name? Please words I was doing student teaching at Midwood High School in Brooklyn. I was trying to get the students to state a biological concept in my words. After the class, the supervising teacher said, “Why don’t you let the students say it in their own words?” That comment still rings in my ears, and I tried to apply that approach in my teaching from then on. Whenever I do a poetry reading for elementary school students from my book “Strange Creatures and Other Poems,” I start by reading my poems aloud from projections on a screen. After reading a few poems, I ask, “Does anyone have a loud voice?” 48
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scream as loud as you can.” The student usually lets loose with an ear-piercing shriek. I respond, “Excellent. Please read the poem on the screen as loud as you can.” I now know the importance of student involvement in a class lesson.
They just don’t get it, yet I sometimes encountered students who preferred parties to academics. I used to become angry at such students, but my course assistant made a remark that changed my perspective. She said, “They just don’t get it, yet.” That remark made me realize that these students would become more mature and would “get
it” sometime later in life. I was then able to deal with these students in a mature, effective manner.
What do students want to know about and why? Self-confidence is important for every teacher. This comes with adequate preparation and practice. When planning a presentation, it’s important to ask, “If I were a member of this audience, what would I want to know about and why?” I have had occasions when I didn’t prepare adequately, or I didn’t ask myself what the audience would want to hear about and why. The presentations when I “bombed” stand out in my mind and remind me about the importance of considering the interests of the audience. One such occasion was a presentation to the Syracuse Round Table. The audience expected a talk about social issues and schools, but, instead, I talked about Charles Darwin and evolution. In another instance, as president of the National Science Teachers Association, I was invited to give a presentation to a science education group in Mexico. I talked about constructivism and philosophical aspects of science education. After the talk, an individual in the audience asked, “But what programs do you have in the U.S. that we can do here?” I immediately realized that I had talked about a topic that was not relevant to the audience. From then on, I tried to give due consideration to the needs and interests of the audience.
Never let a piece of paper pass your desk twice We all tend to procrastinate. When students asked for a letter of recommendation, I would respond, “Sure, when is it due?” Then, I would
put the recommendation form in a pile of papers on my desk, and oftentimes forget about it. A helpful comment from a colleague changed my attitude in this regard. He said, “Never let a piece of paper pass your desk twice.” From then on, if a student asked for a recommendation, I would say, “Sure, do you have a few minutes? Let’s do it now.” I would interview the student to obtain relevant information, write the letter on the computer, print it, put it into an envelope, sign the envelope across the back and send it off as soon as possible.
“I hurt my foot and had to go to the doctor last week.” A common response would be, “You should hear about what happened to my foot.” “I, I’ m, me, mine” are what people tend to talk about. I always have to remind myself that students don’t want to hear about my problems. They want to talk about their problems, and I have to try my best to be an active listener.
Care about students
When I was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Commonwealth Scientiﬁc Industrial Research Organization in Australia, I worked in the lab seven days a week, mornings and nights. One day, I made an interesting discovery. I rushed to the tearoom to tell my mentor about the discovery. He was lying on his back on a couch, completely still. “Are you feeling ill?” I asked. “No,” he replied, “I’m pondering the deﬁnition of ﬁtness.” I was surprised at his remark, but I learned a valuable lesson. Instead of always frantically doing things, it was good to sometimes sit back and actually think about what I was doing. I learned that reﬂection can be very important and helpful.
Caring about students is an important feature of good teaching. My wife, Pat, set an example for me. Pat worked as an administrator in the S.U. writing program. One cold, winter day, a young lady who worked in her ofﬁce showed up not wearing a winter coat. Pat exclaimed, “This is Syracuse. It’s cold here in the winter. Why don’t you wear your winter coat?” It turned out that the student was an orphan from California and she couldn’t afford to buy a winter coat. My wife immediately bought her a winter coat and connected her with the university chaplain as a source of future support. This act of kindness stands out in my mind as a model for caring about students. Of course, I didn’t tell this story to my class for fear that there would be a long line of students outside my door not wearing a winter coat.
Students are sensitive
This, too, shall pass
One semester, I asked my students to collect science articles from newspapers and then show them to me. I was busy talking to one student when another student approached me from behind and said, “I found these interesting articles to show you.” I said, “Great. Please drop them into the suggestion box.” The next week, I received an irate note from that student. “You don’t really want us to show you science articles at all.” This trivial incident taught me to be more aware of and to respect the sensitivities of others.
When I became president of the National Science Teachers Association, I gave a motivational talk to the board of directors. I told them about all the reforms we would make in science education and emphasized how important it was for all of us to work well together. The executive director of NSTA was sitting in the corner of the room. He had been executive director for about 14 years. As I spoke, the executive director had a slight smile on his face. I stopped abruptly in the middle of my talk and said to him. “I know what you are thinking. This, too, shall pass.” He broke into laughter. That was exactly what he was thinking. Each president intended to reform science education and change the world. The executive director had heard this message many times from many past presidents. This phrase became very useful
Thinking vs. doing
Be a good listener Many people are talkers, and few people are good listeners. Everyone loves a good listener. I tend to be a talker, and I even went to a workshop to learn listening skills. In conversations, people tend to talk about themselves.
to me in teaching and in life. From then on, whenever a difﬁcult situation arose, my thought was, “This, too, shall pass.”
Teach students to want to learn It is not uncommon for students to complain about the difficulty of learning particular concepts in science. I try to convince students that they can learn anything if they really want to learn it. Motivation to learn is important. Young children manage to learn the intricacies of text messaging and other electronic technologies because there is peer pressure that motivates them to learn these things. There is little peer pressure to learn history, geography, math or science. I said to Pat, “At my age, I don’t want to learn anything new. I just want to be entertained.” Her quick response was, “So, you want to continue to be stupid.” I guess I can’t win.
I never thought about it that way before I have always emphasized providing unique, unusual experiences for students. I want them to leave each class session saying, “I never thought about it that way before. Biology is really exciting.” I remember observing a physics teacher doing a demonstration. There was a student in the ﬁrst row in front of the room and his eyes were glowing with interest and excitement. His expression stays as a vivid image and inspiration in my mind, as a model for what I’d like to see after each of my class presentations. I want to have students think about life in new, positive ways. These isolated memories and many others signiﬁcantly inﬂuenced my teaching. Perhaps my most valuable insight about teaching came to me while driving my car on a country road. I was asking myself, “What is teaching all about? What are we really trying to do for students?” The answer suddenly came to me like an epiphany. Beyond teaching subject matter, our overall mission as teachers is to provide meaningful, motivational experiences that enrich the lives of students and help them identify their unique traits and where they fit in life. That should be the guiding principle of all teachers of all subjects at all levels. February / March 2013 - 55 PLUS
By Lou Sorendo
Jeff R. Wallace, 60 Recently retired from the New York Air National Guard as a non-commissioned officer after a 26-year career Q. What are going to be your priorities in retirement? A. “Right now my focus is on his family, ministry and music. These three are priorities once I retire. I still intend to serve where I can in the community. I am now co-president of the Oswego Middle School Home & School Association, and am a board member with the H. Lee White Marine Museum, RSVP and The Ladies Home.” Q. What’s on your “bucket list?” A. “I want to spend a few weeks in Hawaii. My wife [Marian Joyce Gianetto Wallace] and I never got to have a honeymoon. I’d like to be back in the Southwest again. I loved living in Texas, especially being close to Galveston and the ocean. My list also includes doing missionary work overseas, and also playing drums with a band again. I may pursue politics on a greater scale when my children are grown. I’d also love to win a ballroom competition with my wife.” Q. How do you stay in shape at the age of 60? A. “I watch what I eat and am always on the go. I don’t eat a lot and don’t eat the wrong things. I think we need to live in moderation no matter what we do, and that includes food intake, doing physical activity and mind activity like reading.” Q. What do you regard as your most signiﬁcant accomplishment as far as your military career goes? A. “During my initial eightyear stint with the U.S. Army 50
55 PLUS - February / March 2013
Reserves, I captured the coveted Keith L. Ware Award for Photojournalism in 1989. I also earned the Army’s Forced Command’s Fourth Estate Award for photojournalism as well. After switching to the Air Force, I became a historian for the Syracuse-based Air National Guard 174th Fighter Wing. I would later pull down the prestigious Addison E. Baker History Award from the National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C. in 1996.” Q. Tell us about your career? A. “I specialize as a small business and nonprofit consultant. I work helping folks establish businesses, which includes developing business plans, operations, logistics and ﬁnancing. I also consult ﬁnancially stressed businesses and organizations, seeking solutions to shepherd them to the next level. My consulting prowess ranges from executive director development to running capital campaigns. I oversaw the capital campaigns for the Oswego Public Library as well as the Salvation Army’s kitchen project.” Q. You are married with four children. What does it take to be a successful parent in these trying social times? A. “Bringing the foundation of God, Jesus Christ, as the foundation for our home. That is the key, and understanding what love really means. Without that piece, it’s a hit and miss. I apply the same principles to my marriage. The word love is misunderstood in most of our society
today. Love is not a feeling; it never has been a feeling. It’s a commitment.” Q. How has Christianity changed your life? A. “It absolutely revolutionized my life in 1979. That is when I embraced my relationship with God and the acceptance of Christ as Lord and savior. I was electriﬁed. I don’t know how to put in words but it was the most amazing moment in my life. I’ve never been the same.” Q. You have been active as an actor and model. How do you justify those roles with your strong belief system? A. “When I first made my commitment to the Lord, I struggled with the talent work I was doing because it is so self serving. But as I matured in the Lord over the years, through reading the Bible, praying and fellowshipping, I viewed my skill set as a professional talent. I can do that and be a believer as well. I don’t have to compromise my beliefs when shooting a TV commercial.” Wallace is president of Creative Business Development in Oswego as well as an ordained minister. He specializes in business and fund development consulting.
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