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Savvy Senior: Social Security Advice for Soon-To-Be Retirees Not Just About Money: Why Women Are Working Longer




Issue 72 December 2017 / January 2018

For Active Adults in the Central New York Area

Daniel Baldwin Actor moves to CNY to be with family, open production company and help give back

Inside Dr. John McCabe: Former hospital CEO: Nothing to Complain About Retirement Small Nest Egg? You Still Have Time

SAGE celebrates 20 years of supporting older LGBTQ adults

Superior stroke care. It’s about time. Because every moment matters, Crouse delivers superior stroke care faster than any other hospital in the region.* When it’s about time, say “Take me to Crouse.”









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Savvy Senior: Social Security Advice for Soon-To-Be Retirees Not Just About Money: Why Women Are Working Longer




December 2017 / January 2018


Issue 72 December 2017 / January 2018

For Active Adults in the Central New York Area

Daniel Baldwin Actor moves to CNY to be with family, open production company and help give back

Inside Dr. John McCabe: Former hospital CEO: Nothing to Complain About Retirement Small Nest Egg? You Still Have Time

SAGE celebrates 20 years of supporting older LGBTQ adults



Savvy Senior 6 12


Gardening 8 • Octogenarian’s hobby: to Dining Out 10 bike around Oneida Lake My Turn 20 14 Aging 33 LIFESTYLE

• SAGE Upstate celebrates 20 years

Consumer’s Corner 42 of supporting older LGBTQ adults Financial Health 37 18 Druger’s Zoo 46 WORKFORCE

• More mature women

Life After 55 47 working longer — money is not the only motivation

LAST PAGE Symphoria managing director — Catherine Underhill, 61 — reflects on five-year mark 4

55 PLUS - December 2017 / January 2018


• New life for former CEO of University Medical Hospital


• Small nest egg? You still have time


• Five steps to a healthier holiday season


• Former Oswego mayor and head of NYS Democratic Party reflects on small-town politics


• Actor Daniel Baldwin, now living in Oswego County, talks about his new plans


• Ten forts to visit in NYS


We invite you to join us in creating a legacy gift through your will or financial plans. Together we can do great things for Central New York. Dr. Michael & Rissa Ratner

For them it’s personal! Upstate legacies: lifesaving and life-changing Mike and Rissa Ratner love kids; it’s that simple. Rissa has been a teacher for 41 years. She could have retired long ago but she sees teaching more as a vocation than a job. Mike recently retired after 40 years as a highly regarded pediatric surgeon at Upstate golisano children’s Hospital. For years, the Ratners have generously supported the Children’s Hospital. With Mike’s retirement, they decided to create a legacy gift with the Upstate Foundation. The gift plan arrangement they selected will pay them income for the remainder of their lives and create a long-term gift that will enable nurses at the Children’s Hospital to continue their education. as Mike puts it, “it’s terrific! You can have your cake and eat it, too!” Both Mike and Rissa have touched the lives of countless children and their families in profound ways. Through a legacy gift to the Upstate Foundation, they will continue to do so beyond their lifetimes. it’s also personal for you since every Upstate legacy dollar stays right here in Central New York to help assure happy, healthy and longer lives for your loved ones, friends and neighbors.

For free and confidential information on how to make a low cost, high impact legacy gift contact, or have your professional advisor contact, John Gleason at 315-464-4416 or email us today at Our legal name is THE UPSTATE FOUNDATION INC. December 2017 / January 2018 - 55 PLUS


savvy senior By Jim Miller


Social Security Advice for Soon-To-Be Retirees

eciding when to begin collecting your Social Security benefits could be one of the most important retirement decisions you’ll make. The difference between a good decision and a poor one could cost you tens of thousands of dollars over your retirement, so doing your homework and weighing your options now is a wise move.

What to Consider

As you may already know, you can claim Social Security any time between the ages of 62 and 70, but each year you wait increases your benefit by 5 to 8 percent. But there are other factors you need to take into account to help you make a good decision, like your health and family longevity, whether you plan to work in retirement, along with spousal and survivor benefits. To help you weigh your claiming strategies, you need to know that Social Security Administration claims specialists are not trained or authorized to give you personal advice on when you should start drawing your benefits. They can only provide you information on how the system works under different circumstances. To get advice you’ll need to turn to other sources.

Web-Based Help

Your first step in getting Social Security claiming strategy advice is to go to to get your personalized statement that estimates what your retirement benefits will be at age 62, full retirement age or when you turn 70. These estimates are based on your yearly earnings that are also listed on your report. Once you get your estimates for both you and your spouse, there are many online tools you can turn to that can compare your options so you can make an informed decision. Some free sites that offer basic calculations include AARP’s Social 6

55 PLUS - December 2017 / January 2018

Security Benefits Calculator (AARP. org/socialsecuritybenefits), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Planning for Retirement tool ( and SSAnalyze that’s offered by United Capital ( But if you want a more thorough analysis check out Maximize My Social Security ( or Social Security Choices (, which both charge $40. These services, which are particularly helpful to married couples as well as divorced or widowed persons, will run scenarios based on your circumstances and show how different filing strategies affect the total payout over the same time frame.

Personal Advice

If you want human help, there are specialized firms and financial advisers that can advise you too. One such firm is Social Security Solutions (SocialSecuritySolutions. com, 866-762-7526). They offer several levels of web-based and personalized service (ranging from $20 to $500) including their $125 “Advised” plan that runs multiple calculations and comparisons, recommends a best course of action in a detailed report, and gives you a one-on-one session with a Social Security specialist over the phone to discuss the report and ask questions. Or, you can get help through a financial planner. Look for someone who is a fee-only certified financial planner (CFP) that charges on an hourly basis and has experience in Social Security analysis. To find someone, use the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors online directory at, or try the Garrett Planning Network (, which is a network of fee-only advisers that charge between $150 and $300 per hour.

55PLUS Editor and Publisher Wagner Dotto

Associate Editor Lou Sorendo


Deborah J. Sergeant Aaron Gifford, Matthew Liptak Mary Beth Roach, Ashley M. Casey Patricia J. Malin, Jon Neal Selzer David Zumpano, Jacob Pucci


Eva Briggs, M.D., Bruce Frassinelli Marilyn Pinsky, Harold Miller Jim Sollecito, Marvin Druger Michele Reed, Sandra Scott .


Amy Gagliano Cassandra Lawson

Office Assistant Kimberley Tyler


Dylon Clew-Thomas

Cover Photo Joe Marsilio

55 PLUS –A Magazine for Active Adults in Central New York is published six times a year by Local News, Inc., which also publishes In Good Health–CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper. Published at 185 E. Seneca St. PO Box 276 Oswego, NY 13126. Subscription: $15 a year; $25 for two years © 2017 by 55 PLUS – A Magazine for Active Adults in Upstate New York.

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

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


At St. Joseph’s Health, our award-winning doctors, nurses, clinical affiliates, and colleagues work harder because they care more. We’re rated a Best Regional Hospital three years running by U.S. News & World Report—the same organization that ranked our Magnet-designated hospital #9 in New York State and named it “Best in Central New York.” That means we hold ourselves to a higher standard, so you can expect a higher level of care.


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December 2017 / January 2018 - 55 PLUS SJH17032_CorporateAd_55+_6.75x9.5_v01.indd 1


11/9/17 11:05 AM


By Jim Sollecito

Looking Back and Looking Ahead


o you ever feel like you’re between a rock and a hard place? Sometimes it feels like life’s problems prevent us from breaking through. But when we look around, we see others who have it a lot harder than us and seem to do amazingly well despite their circumstances. Recent hurricanes and wildfires have showcased a remarkably inspiring spirit despite the odds.

How can this be? Sometimes it’s a matter of focus and dedication. Life is a journey. Decide where you want to be, hold tightly to a moral compass as your guide, then make the first move until you gain traction. Often uphill at first until we get through the bumps and bruises and begin to see a little progress. The important thing is to keep on trucking. You cannot steer a parked car. Sometimes plants show the way. Sometimes not. I have been surprised at the tenacity of a simple seedling. And also disappointed that something I gave as much TLC as a pet just didn’t seem to respond. The mere faith associated with planting something in the ground is reason enough to be called an optimist. I knew from a very early age that I wanted to be part of that action. There was something about nestling a plant into soil that made me feel fully engaged. And now it’s part of who I am. And more importantly, the reason I get up every morning. Yeah, I know, old age seems to come at a really bad time. Eventually we can no longer tell our bad knee from our good one. And as a concession to this we hire out tasks that we used to do ourselves. No biggie, really. Some of those chores, such as house-painting, I would really have preferred hiring out all along. I like the result but don’t enjoy the effort to attain it. 8

55 PLUS - December 2017 / January 2018

Winter’s gardening opportunities are limited to planning and pruning. It’s important to stay active but despite my name, I am just not a gym kind of guy. I sold my snowmobile and ATV. Now I own four pairs of snowshoes I wear for “forest bathing” during my down time. Every walk in the snowy woods is different. Each foray presents a discovery of some sort, big or small. There’s nothing like being surrounded by trees, listening to the sound of wind moving through them. An excellent opportunity to slow down and reflect on the best place for my next step.

Literally and figuratively. As we let go of one year and another is born, consider how you can navigate into an arena or project that will impact your own soul. Place one foot in front of the other and step out from between that rock and the hard place. Jim Sollecito is the first lifetime senior certified landscape professional in NYS. He operates Sollecito Landscaping Nursery in Syracuse. Contact him at 468-1142 or

Jack and Linda Webb sit with their five grandchildren at Green Lakes State Park.

We both come from families where giving and helping others was a way of life. Those values stuck with us as we raised our own family, and now we are helping to pass them on to our grandchildren. In the future we look forward to engaging them in the process of making grants from our fund.

Giving Back: Jack and Linda Webb

We chose to contribute appreciated stock to seed our donor-advised fund. The expertise available at the Community Foundation made establishing our fund convenient. Making grants from our fund is simplified by providing us the ability to allocate grants electronically. Currently, our fund is supporting a variety of arts, healthcare and human service organizations. Teaming up with the Community Foundation is making it possible for us to feel that in a small way our contribution helps the Central New York community.

Read more of the Webbs’ story at

since 1927 (315) 422-9538 December 2017 / January 2018 - 55 PLUS


DiningOut By Jacob Pucci



Aurora Inn Dining Room

Aurora restaurant: Sophisticated but not stuffy — with great locally sourced food and views of Cayuga Lake


ood always seems to taste better when paired with a great view and while dinner at the Aurora Inn Dining Room would still taste good with the view of a drab wall, a view of the sunset over Cayuga Lake doesn’t hurt. Built in 1833, the Aurora Inn is a prime example of Federal-style elegance. It’s sophisticated, yet not stuffy. My dining partner and I played a quick game of chess in the adjoining parlor (I lost) as we waited for our table. It was an unseasonably warm fall evening and we, like just about every other diner, chose to sit on the lakefront veranda. The menu is billed as “refined American” and sourced from producers and purveyors from across the Finger Lakes and Central New York. 10

55 PLUS - December 2017 / January 2018

The dinner menu is not long — five appetizers, seven entrees, a few soups and salads — but it changes frequently and in the world of menu options, quality is much more important than quantity. Our dinner started with a pair of cocktails (largely made with locally sourced liquor) as well as homemade bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar from F. Oliver’s, a Finger Lakesbased gourmet purveyor. We were tempted to start our meal with a platter of locally made cheese and house-made charcuterie, but we opted for the smoked salmon with capers, blistered cherry tomatoes, sweet pickles and a garlic and tarragon puree. The salmon was only lightly cold-smoked, resulting in a final product with a texture close to

raw that melts in your mouth like a well-crafted piece of sashimi. The slight anise flavor from the garlic and tarragon puree played well with the sweetness from the pickles and tomatoes, while the bright acidic pop of the capers was a complementary pairing with the fish. The duck breast ($28) is served one way — seared to crisp the fatty skin and served rare. Duck is a fascinating meat, because it is like chicken or turkey when roasted whole, but a duck breast behaves more like a beef steak, with a rich, slightly liver-y flavor to boot. At Aurora Inn, the duck was joined by honey roasted carrots as sweet and addictive as candy and a butternut squash polenta that was as smooth as ice cream and tasted like

fall. A scattering of baby greens on top were spicy and bright. At this point in late September, the menu had turned the page to fall: Other entrée offerings included pot roast with root vegetables, pasta bolognaise with sirloin and pork, and pappardelle pasta with mushroom and leek ragout. However, as the sun beat on Cayuga Lake and temperatures danced around 80 degrees for most of our meal, it was clear summer still had a little fight left. So the seared diver scallops with sweet corn puree, truffle and summer beans ($32) was a natural choice. Corn is a wildly underrated ingredient that’s far too often reduced to at best, a backyard barbecue offering. But here the corn was presented as both whole kernels and a fresh, sweet puree where the pure flavor of the corn is on display. It served as a well-trained second fiddle to the trio of scallops, the deep brown sear of which was a testament both to the quality of the seafood and the chef’s skill. The scallops themselves were plump, firm and perfectly cooked. The Aurora Inn’s chocolate torte ($9) is a cross between a dense chocolate cake and a Snickers bar. In this case, the layers of rich chocolate were sandwiched around a gooey layer of salted caramel and almonds. The whole bar was coated in chocolate ganache with a quenelle of dulce de leche ice cream garnished with chocolate cookie crumbs and hibiscus served alongside. The chocolate torte was far more decadent than my candy shop comparison and the homemade ice cream was velvety, sweet and satisfying. The expected tartness of the hibiscus didn’t come through as much as expected, but this dessert was still a star. The Aurora Inn Dining Room accomplishes both fine dining with an extensive wine list and the kind of place to dine on banana bread French toast or eggs Benedict at brunch on the veranda. It’s elegant without being stuffy because the kitchen lets the top-quality local ingredients do the talking without being fussy. It’s a restaurant built for all occasions with a view you’ll want to enjoy all day long.

An appetizer of cold-smoked salmon with a vibrant garlic and tarragon puree, blistered cherry tomatoes, capers and sweet pickles.

The seared duck breast is served rare with sweet roasted carrots and butternut squash polenta.

Three seared scallops are served on a sweet corn and truffle puree and topped with corn and summer beans.

Aurora Inn Dining Room

Chocolate torte filled with salted caramel and almonds and covered in chocolate. It’s garnished with dulce de leche ice cream and hibiscus.

Address: 391 Main St., Aurora Phone: 315-364-8888 Website: Hours: Breakfast: seven days a week, 7 - 10 a.m. Brunch: Saturday & Sunday, 10 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. Dinner: Sunday – Thursday, 5 - 9 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 5 - 10 p.m. December 2017 / January 2018 - 55 PLUS


55+ activities

Octogenarian Pedals Around Oneida Lake East Syracusan did the 62-mile bike trip around Oneida Lake this summer. At 89, he wants to do it again By Matthew Liptak


arry Harrison is an 89-year-old Central New Yorker who has cycled the 62 miles around Oneida Lake before and he plans on doing it again. The East Syracuse resident recently had a knee replacement, but he said he is well on his way to recovery with plans to tackle the lake again when the weather warms up. What makes him do it? “Just ‘cause it’s there,” he said. “I was looking for a little longer ride in the summer time. It’s a challenge. I do it with other people, mostly younger. There were 17 last time. It’s a nice ride.” Harrison is a long-time member of the Onondaga Ski Club. His history with bicycles goes back much farther though, and from the beginning it was one of taking on adversity. “My brother is 10 years older than I am,” he said. “He had a bike. When I was probably about 7 years old I tried to ride it. I wasn’t big enough to get on it. I’d go a little ways and fall, go a little ways and fall. I finally got so I could ride it. I couldn’t sit on the seat and reach the pedals, but standing up I could. The bike was way too big for me. It was a challenge and I was able to do it.” A common thread of Harrison’s life has been to take on athletic challenges. When he was a boy growing up in Binghamton he encountered the Susquehanna River with his bike, which was about a mile from his house. To Harrison it was just another challenge. “The nearest bridge was quite a ways downtown,” he said. “I wanted to go to the other side for some reason. I biked into the river.”


55 PLUS - December 2017 / January 2018

Long story short, he made it across with quite a bit of effort, he said. Family members younger than him marvel at his appetite for the outdoors. “This guy is the most athletic guy you’ve ever met,” said his grandson Jason, 44. “He goes skiing, biking, windsurfing, sailing. He’s the only reason I do half the stuff I do athletically. He got me into running, sailing, tennis, windsurfing, motorcycling, kayaking, canoeing. He’s the reason I go outside right now.” Harrison lives with Jason and his family six months of the year, when he’s not in Florida. Jason recalled calling his grandfather from work and making outdoor plans for the weekend. The older man was an engineer for many years before retiring. He used to jog but aging changed his choice of sports. “Once I retired my knees got sore” he said. “My ankles

got sore, so I gave up jogging and took up cycling. It’s an easy way of getting exercise. It doesn’t hurt the joints.” Harrison had a word of caution for older folks thinking of taking up cycling. Be careful and approach the bicycle with confidence. And be aware of the risks. Harrison has done a face plant a few times and gotten banged up pretty good, he said. “One of the group rides where we have a destination we used to go to Kingston, Ontario, right across from Wolf Island, he said. “That was a nice ride. Unfortunately that’s where my last accident happened I got attacked by a dog. The damn dog came out and tangled with my front wheel. I went down, lost my teeth.” Harrison had some simple advice for staying active as you get older. “Just do it,” he said.

Larry Harrison

Your Legacy Gift Provides Hope for Tomorrow’s Church Besides giving us the gift of life, many of our parents gave us the gift of our Catholic faith. That faith and our parish family have been an integral part of our lives. Endowments and gifts to The Foundation will provide for the long-term financial stability of our parishes, schools and affiliated agencies, so they can meet the needs of future generations. Your gift today provides hope for tomorrow’s church. What better way to thank your parents for their gift than to make your donation today.

Timothy J. Mahar Executive Director Phone: 315-470-1407 E-mail: December 2017 / January 2018 - 55 PLUS




‘No More Hiding’ SAGE Upstate celebrates 20 years of supporting older LGBTQ adults By Ashley M. Casey


rograms and centers catering to the needs of older adults abound in Central New York, but they may not meet the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Fortunately, SAGE Upstate is there to fill the gap. SAGE Upstate is the local affiliate of Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders, the country’s oldest and largest organization of its kind. Founded in 1997, SAGE Upstate provides health information, support groups, social events and more for older LGBT adults. SAGE serves older LGBT adults in Cayuga, Cortland, Jefferson, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga and Oswego counties. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of SAGE’s clients fall between the ages of 50 and 69. “Older LGBT people face the same challenges that all older people do,” said SAGE Upstate Executive Director Kim Dill. “LGBT people are less likely to have the same support as heterosexual people.” A c c o rd i n g t o t h e N a t i o n a l Resource Center on LGBT Aging, of the 9 million people who identify as LGBT in the United States, 2.7 million of them are 50 or older; 1.1 million are 65 or older. In 2016, SAGE Upstate averaged 115 walk-in clients or program attendees each month and logged 2,889 sign-ins for the year. As older LGBT adults age, they face similar economic and health concerns as straight and cisgender (non-transgender) older adults, but they have the added challenges of discrimination, insensitive or incompetent health care providers, 14

55 PLUS - December 2017 / January 2018

SAGE Upstate offers programs for transgender older adults as well as lesbian, gay and bisexual people. and possibly fewer family members to care for them as they age. “We are less likely to have children, and that’s a big support for older people. We may have severed ties with biological families,” Dill said. “We’re less likely to reach out to mainstream sources of support because we’re not sure how we’ll be treated. That gets to be a really scary thing if you think they won’t be accepting.” While the center offers yoga and dance classes, falls prevention sessions and other health and wellness presentations, the majority of SAGE’s programming is socially oriented: potlucks, game nights, art classes and more. These programs are important in keeping older LGBT adults from becoming isolated and give them a safe space where they will not be judged or mistreated. “Even though it’s social in nature, it’s an important health benefit,” Dill said. “Often, the people that meet through SAGE are the ones that help each other.”

and name and sex changes in medical records. SAGE is working to improve its outreach to veterans as well. Program Administrator Hannah Radcliff-Hoy said a support group for military veterans is in the works. “We have a lot of people who did serve — mostly in Vietnam,” she said. There are 1 million LGBT veterans and 65,000 active duty service members

Outreach to veterans Many LGBT veterans access the Syracuse VA Medical Center, which offers individual, couples and family counseling for LGBT veterans as well as information on legal assistance, tips on navigating the health care system

Rob Pusch leads a support group for older transgender people through SAGE Upstate. Photo by Ashley M. Casey

who identify as LGBT, then-Navy Secretary Ray Mabus reported in 2016. According to the 2013 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 20 percent of transgender respondents had served in the military — twice the general population’s rate of service. As LGBT representation becomes more mainstream, Radcliff-Hoy said older LGBT adults are finding the terminology to describe their identities and the confidence to come forward. “People that age are starting to feel comfortable walking into a center and saying, ‘This is who I am,’” RadcliffHoy said. “I don’t always agree with her, but Caitlyn Jenner [coming out as transgender in 2015] was big because people saw someone who’s their age.” “LGBT issues are part of the national dialogue — more visibility, more acceptance,” Dill said. While LGBT individuals feel safer coming out on the whole, Central New York can be very conservative, Dill said. She said a participant at a recent SAGE event told her, “In Syracuse, you can’t hold your hand with your partner.” The farther one travels from the city, the more conservative the atmosphere becomes, especially in rural areas. “People don’t feel safe to come out at all,” Dill said. “It’s a struggle to get people to come [to events] and stay coming.” While many of SAGE’s events are located in Syracuse, the organization hosts regular potlucks in Watertown, Oswego, Utica and Cortland as well.

‘You could really be yourself’ Sandy Davis and Mary Gillen, of Mexico, met at a SAGE potluck. “She had a partner,” Davis recalled of Gillen, “but I figured that wouldn’t last too long, so I waited.” They married in 2011. Each woman took a different path to coming out as a lesbian. In her 20s, Gillen was open about her sexuality and socialized with other lesbians. Then, social and religious expectations led her to marry a man in 1970. They had two children and the marriage lasted 27 years. “After a while, I just couldn’t take it anymore,” she said. Gillen gathered the courage to tell her family she was a lesbian, and she was pleasantly surprised that

Sandy Davis and Mary Gillen, of Mexico, met through SAGE and married in 2011.

SAGE Upstate is known for its Sunday potlucks, which take place in Syracuse, Oswego, Watertown, Utica and Cortland. Photos courtesy of SAGE Upstate. her family was mostly accepting and supportive. “Took you long enough,” she recalled her daughter saying. Finding SAGE gave Gillen a place to connect with people like her who understood the challenges of having been closeted and married, coming out and navigating the social isolation many older LGBT adults face. “You could really be yourself and make a contribution — no more hiding,” she said. As for Davis, she came out at age 33, but kept her orientation hidden at work because feared losing her job as a teacher. She knew a few teachers who had been fired for their sexual orientation. “Being closeted was like having no life, no social life that you could talk about,” she said. “I’m pretty social so it just shut me down.”

It wasn’t until her 50s that Davis began attending SAGE events. It was the first time in her life she had meaningful contact with other gay people, aside from romantic partners. “In retrospect, I just had so much more energy now that I wasn’t spending it [hiding],” she said. “It’s the full me.”

Finding a community While Gillen and Davis discovered SAGE later in life, Rob Pusch has been with the organization since before it was officially SAGE. After coming out as a transgender man in 1993, Pusch was already leading a meeting group for trans people. His group merged into SAGE Upstate when the center opened in 1998. December 2017 / January 2018 - 55 PLUS


“More people could find SAGE. It was a number they could call,” he said. “One of the biggest advantages is that it’s a visible organization.” As LGBT people grow out of the college and nightlife scenes, Pusch said, SAGE provides a more mature avenue to meet other people. “You socialize differently,” Pusch said of getting older. “I don’t feel pressured to go to the crazy bar scene — it’s just hanging out with friends.” As he was coming to terms with his gender identity in the late 1980s and early ‘90s, Pusch found it “nearly impossible” to connect with other trans people or even to find information about transgender issues. “Books on trans people were in the darkest corner on the lowest shelf,” he recalled, “a metaphor for how marginalized we are.” Pusch said many people now understand and accept lesbian, gay and bisexual people, but trans people are still marginalized, especially in the rural areas of Central New York. He said people travel from Oswego, Verona and Rome to attend the twicemonthly trans social group he hosts through SAGE.

Most of the attendees of SAGE’s trans group are 45 or older, but there are a few in-betweeners. With programs in Syracuse, the Mohawk Valley and Northern New York, ACR Health’s Q Center provides services for LGBT youth and their families, while SAGE mostly caters to LGBT people older than 50. Fortunately, young adult trans people tend to find their own communities as they age, but Pusch said spending time with older trans people shows the next generation that it is possible to live a happy, successful life after transition. “Just seeing that there were people who could do this made it possible,” he said.

How to Contact SAGE Upstate is located at 431 E. Fayette St. in Syracuse. To learn more about its services, visit or call 315-478-1923. The toll-free number for callers from outside the area is 866-717-2640.

Turning 65? New to Medicare? Confused with Medicare? Do you need help selecting a Medicare plan and learning your options at no cost to you? LET ME HELP!!! I am a Licensed Insurance Agent, available for individual consultations and enrollment.

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Home: 315-468-3598 Cell: 315-256-5993 Web: Email: 16

55 PLUS - December 2017 / January 2018


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More Mature Women Working Longer Money just one of the factors keeping women in the workplace, sources say By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


oes it seem like more older women are in the workforce nowadays? It’s not just your impression. The percentage of women over 55 in the workplace increased from 12.6 percent in 2000 to 22.2 percent in 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Officials at the bureau say this percentage will climb to 25.3 percent by 2024. Mary Rodgers, 60, works full time as a professor at SUNY Oswego School of Business after retiring in 2006 from a 30-year career as an investment banker. Her most recent job in the industry was as a vice president of, asset management at Merrill Lynch in New York City and Tampa, Fla. “I chose to stay engaged in the field through teaching instead of working at the bank,” she said. Though she lives in Florida, she travels north to teach modules at the college. She maintains an apartment in Oswego. “I tried retirement. I did,” Rodgers said. “I just hated it because I thought I lost my voice, my sense of purpose and direction. I had worked all my life. I never took time off to have kids. I Rodgers p r o b a b l y derived a greater amount of self esteem from my profession than I realized.” She didn’t want to work as 18

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intensely as she had at the bank, so she scaled back and completed her doctorate degree which enabled her to teach. She enjoys research and teaching depends upon that skill. She likes that her second career’s lower level of intensity allows her more time with her family. She advises others considering a second career to “give yourself a whole weekend of solitude” she said, to figure out what they lack in their lives. Instead of others marginalizing them for their age, today’s 50-plus women leverage the experience they’ve gained in the workplace for the past three decades. Today’s technology can help more women achieve goals that would remain unreachable previously. Roseanne Michelle Olszewski, 60, owns Metamorphosis, a private practice life coaching business in Syracuse. This is her encore career. “A lot of people like myself never believe they’d be able to do graduate work for a long time,” she said. “With online education, you have the ability to earn a graduate degree in an efficient way.” She believes that mentoring offered by women’s business organizations has helped more women feel confident to continue working and, for some, strike out on their own as entrepreneurs. Seeing other women succeed in business and enjoy long careers and second careers encourages more women to follow that example. Olszewski also believes that societal chances have contributed to women working later in life because they have the opportunity to choose

Mary Pat Oliker, development officer for Upstate Medical University, offers talks at OASIS in Syracuse. She said nowadays more women 55 and older are in the workforce. whether they want to work or not. “In the late ‘70s, when I was having children, it was a huge decision if you had children and worked and went back to work,” she said. “Now they’re reaching an age where their children are grown and they’re saying, ‘What interests me?’ “The baby boomers have been rule-breakers from the get-go and are trend setters. With women’s rights, we said, ‘We’re more than homemakers. We have a lot to give to society and to our families,’” said Olszewski. Many women who are now in their 50s suffered financial setbacks during the dot com and housing market crashes, both of which occurred during what should have been their peak earning years. Smaller nest eggs, combined with less confidence in Social Security, means that more women need to work longer. Compared with a generation ago, more couples have their adult children living at home or care for their young grandchildren. And both men and women are experiencing longer, healthier, more active lives past 50. Mary Pat Oliker, development officer for Upstate Medical University,

offers talks at OASIS in Syracuse. The septuagenarian knows many women 55 and older in this situation. They must work; however, their choices for how to make money at this stage are much broader than for previous generations. “They have many ways they can sustain a growing family comfortably and put away money for the children to go to college,” she said. Working at home, starting a new business, buying a business, consulting, and changing careers are among the options for today’s 55-plus women. Tracy Higginbotham is founder of Women TIES, a businesswomen’s n e t w o r k i n g o rg a n i z a t i o n w i t h members across Upstate New York. She believes that there are many reasons for this growth of older women in the workforce. She said that some women enjoy their work and, providing they’re in good health, see no reason to stop, especially if they enjoy their work. “Sometimes I think I don’t see a time where I’ll want to quit working,” Higginbotham said. “Why should there be a cap on when individuals stop working?” She said that entrepreneurship is how many women decide to continue working later in life — and it’s not always about the money. Entrepreneurship offers flexibility. Many women 55-plus care for elderly parents and may still have children at home. Those who are typical retirement age can still work while enjoying more of their past times, such as traveling. “ I f w o m e n a re l o o k i n g f o r more flexibility as they grow older, entrepreneurship offers that perfect opportunity,” Higginbotham said. Entrepreneurs also call all the shots and don’t have to accept any guff. Higginbotham said she has spoken with women from all over the nation who said they have faced sexual harassment at the workplace. “If you work for yourself, people hire you based upon your level of experience,” Higginbotham said. She also thinks that women enjoy entrepreneurship at this stage because they can make a difference in the world. Instead of putting their noses to the grindstone, they want to build a legacy.

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my turn By Bruce Frassinelli Email:

That’s How It All Got Started Decisions that may look insignificant at first can determine lifelong professional career


ne of the perks we seniors have earned is to put our experiences into perspective. Our longevity allows us to dial back into the past to determine how those experiences formed us. For about 18 months when I was a kid, I thought I would like to become a priest. I remember throwing a long towel around me and pinning it around my neck and saying mass — in Latin, no less. I would pound out little hosts from a slice of bread and sneak some “dago red” wine from my dad’s stash in the kitchen cabinet. I would serve communion to three of my younger friends who were gullible enough to sit through this ritual. I would even prepare and deliver a homily to them using actual gospels. I thundered and bellowed at times, imitating our parish priest and pastor, Father McCook. If my friends snickered or laughed, I would point at them and told them in my sternest voice that they would s u re l y e x p e r i e n c e eternal hellfire and damnation for their blasphemous disrespect.


55 PLUS - December 2017 / January 2018

In my mid-teen years, I moved on and scrapped the priesthood idea. Celibacy seemed like a drag, and I decided I wanted no part of it. I became enamored of a wellknown disc jockey of the day, Joe Niagara, who had a nightly radio broadcast on WIBG in Philadelphia. I thought it would be so cool to spin platters accompanied by my patter: “And now, here she is, Her Nibs, Miss Georgia Gibbs, with her 1951 blockbuster, `Ballin’ the Jack.’” My parents had a grocery store, and I persuaded my dad to allow me to record a two-hour disc jockey, Top-40 program each day on my reelto-reel Wollensak tape recorder, then play the recordings as background for customers who came into the store. I

called the program “The Bruce Niagara Show.” This led to a part-time job at the local drive-in theater where I would be the disc jockey for the half-hour before the first show and at intermission. In 1960, during my junior year of college, I became a part-time weekend DJ at WVPO (Voice of the Poconos) in Stroudsburg, Pa., a 250-watt AM daytime-only station. After I earned my bachelor ’s degree in education the following year, I got a teaching job but continued to work part-time for the radio station. In 1963, when my friend, the program director, left to take a job on WABC radio in New York City, I was named program, news and sports director. It was one of those career forks in

‘Of the hats I wore, the one that really knocked my socks off was being news director. I wanted to learn how to gather and write news effectively and professionally.’ the road that many encounter, and, of course, I always wondered whether I went in the right direction. Of the hats I wore, the one that really knocked my socks off was being news director. I wanted to learn how to gather and write news effectively and professionally. To do that, I needed to go to a newspaper, which I did in 1966. Another fork in the road. Although I didn’t know it at the time, if I had stayed at the radio station, I might have become general manager, then owner when the Ottaway group of Campbell Hall, N.Y., had to divest itself of its four radio stations in S t ro u d s b u rg , M i d d l e t o w n a n d Oneonta, N.Y., and Cape Cod, Mass. It kept all of its newspapers after the Federal Communications Commission ruled that a company could not own both the only newspaper and radio station in a community. But it all worked out eventually, although it took some 26 years. I worked my way through the chairs of my newspaper — reporter to bureau chief to regional editor, then managing editor, editor, and general manager. In 1992, I was appointed as publisher of The Palladium-Times in Oswego, a position I held until I retired at the end of 1998. Throughout most of the time I was in newspaper work, I also taught high school, then college on a parttime basis. I frequently recall that brief conversation I had with an aunt when I was in fifth grade, and she asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up, Bruce?” I told her I either wanted to be a teacher or involved in the communication business. Who could have figured that I would be doing one or the other or both for the last 57 years — and counting. And it all started by pretending to be a disc jockey making taped “broadcasts” in my parents’ grocery store. December 2017 / January 2018 - 55 PLUS




Working at home: making furniture and wooden bowls.

New Life for CEO Dr. John McCabe worked at Upstate University Hospital for more than 30 years, serving as the chief of its ER and then as CEO. Nowadays the Cazenovia resident is more concerned with his woodworking projects By Aaron Gifford


ohn McCabe has been plenty busy these days, but not in an executive’s office or an emergency room. You won’t see him crunching numbers on a spreadsheet or reaching for a scalpel. Instead, he’s more likely to be in a wood shop with chisels and carving knives. On any given afternoon, McCabe enjoys a much quieter work place filled with hand-made furniture and wooden bowls. It’s a craft that he started to learn about many years ago from his father, and later from his next22

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door neighbor in Cazenovia, the late Tim Hughes. “He was one of the best [wood workers] around, but he was so proud to tell his wife, ‘I’m mentoring a doctor,” said McCabe, 64. “That’s one nice thing about retirement. You can learn new things. It’s OK to be a beginner again.” Physician John McCabe retired earlier in 2017 after 30 years at Upstate University Hospital, one of the region’s leading employers. He completed

his medical school there and worked his way up from an emergency room physician to chief executive officer. Early on in his career he established the hospital’s emergency medical residency program. During McCabe’s eight years at the helm, Upstate added the Golisano Children’s Hospital, opened the Upstate Cancer Center, and acquired Community General Hospital. The CEO also got Upstate University Hospital out of debt. “When I left, I told all my coworkers, please don’t screw up because

someday I may be a patient there,” McCabe said, laughing. “But seriously, I guess I can stare back from 10,000 feet away and say, ‘Wow, I feel really good about what we accomplished.’” “For me it was about leadership change at the organization,” he continued. “I had opportunity to look backward and see what I had accomplished, and to look forward and see that things were changing where I was. It created the ‘opportunity’ to be done and to walk away at a good time in the organization’s history.” The long-time Central New York resident grew up in Ossining, in Westchester County, just north of New York City. He developed an interest in emergency medicine at age 14, volunteering for a local rescue squad. He participated in a school explorer program focused on ambulance work, and supported himself during his undergraduate years at the University of Rochester by driving for local ambulance companies. That experience motivated him to become a doctor, but even after being exposed to so many different specialties and opportunities, he came full circle and chose emergency medicine. “With the other disciplines, I didn’t like the chronic contact with patients,” McCabe said. “Nobody comes to the emergency room to see me, John McCabe. They come because it’s open. I liked that ER doctors don’t need their egos stroked all the time. And I always feel invigorated. You never get burned out because it’s different every day.” McCabe said he loved working in Upstate’s emergency department, and just sort of “fell into” the department chairman position when it became available. Even though the doctor’s passion for medicine was in the capacity as a front-line provider, he immediately found enjoyment in administrative work. The most rewarding aspect of running a department, he said, was bringing groups of people together for the greater good. McCabe discovered that he had a knack for leadership and set his sights on moving up the ladder. McCabe enjoyed his role as a recruiter and planner of capital projects. The downside of being a hospital executive, he says, was the stress associated with the business side of medicine, and dealing with interpersonal conflicts.

“That’s one nice thing about retirement. You can learn new things. It’s OK to be a beginner again,” McCabe says about his work with wood. December 2017 / January 2018 - 55 PLUS


“The industry is really getting quite complicated,” he said. When asked why medical insurance costs seem to be rising at such a rapid rate, McCabe said one key reason is that customer’s demands are increasingly high. Patients expect that they and their children should be seen sooner, that their ailments are taken care of more efficiently to the point where they can return to work or school as soon as possible. “Everyone wants everything for their family,” the physician said. Technology is another key reason that costs rise so rapidly. MRI machines, for example, are very expensive, and the demands for MRI scans have continued to increase. Another change McCabe has witnessed during his career was the increasing number of partnerships between small and large hospitals. This has benefitted the quality of health care that is available to people in every corner of the state, but at the same time small community hospitals lose their identity. “It’s a good thing and a bad thing,” he said. Though heralded for his career climb that moved him from the front line of a hospital to the largest corner office, McCabe said nationally, it’s not unusual for physicians who have worked in the field for a number of years to eventually lead hospitals and health care organizations. “It’s not common around here, but Syracuse is bucking the trend,” he said. “A doctor can be successful at it if they surround themselves with good people. I think in the past 15 years or so, hospitals have realized that there is a true value of putting a physician in charge.” One of the things that most people probably don’t realize about the Golisano Children’s Hospital and the Upstate Cancer Center is that both were built with Upstate University’s Hospital’s own money, much of which came through capital campaign fundraisers, and not tax dollars, McCabe explained.

Community-oriented McCabe has remained active with community service since his retirement, serving on board for the Hope for Bereaved organization, the 24

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Life is good: McCabe and his family during a dinner in Block Island near Rhode Island this summer (top photo); with his brother Tim at Kentucky Derby in May; and riding his Harley Davidson last summer in Black Hills, S. Dakota.

Loretto board of managers and most recently Cazenovia College’s board of trustees. The Cazenovia town resident is especially excited to help with the school’s marketing efforts. “There’s great potential,” he said. “This school is too well of a kept secret.” McCabe and his wife, Bonnie, enjoy travelling, most recently to Italy, Morocco and Napa Valley, Calif. But they have no interest in becoming snow birds, electing instead to enjoy all of the region’s four seasons. In the warmer months McCabe enjoys boating, golfing and riding his motorcycle, and in the snowy months he skis. “We like the geography, and we are fans of the [Syracuse University] football and basketball teams,” he said. “We like the proximity to New York City, Boston, Montreal. When I was recruiting physicians, I would draw them what I called the six-hour circle — you’ve also got Toronto, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and D.C. For weekend trips, we are in close proximity to so many great places.” Year round, McCabe goes to the gym three times a week, works in his wood shop and visits his grandchildren and sons Brian and David. Brian is a professor at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and David works for a company in Philadelphia that manages a variety of restaurants.  “I eat really well when I go to Philly,” McCabe said. “David has taught me a lot about cooking — French, Italian, seafood. I’m learning a lot about how ingredients work together.” Back in the wood shop, McCabe found himself, at least a few months into his retirement, thinking about the hospital business and wondering about the challenges ahead in the health care industry. As time passed, the retired physician has been able to cast such distractions and focus on the tasks in front of him, like carving wooden bowls or furniture. “It was hard to let it go, and it took me a long time. I still like to meet up with friends who still work there, maybe to go out for a beer. But I always tell them — ‘Look, I don’t want to meet up with you so you can complain about work,’” McCabe chuckled. “Retirement is about not spending all the time that you have left looking back.”

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December 2017 / January 2018 - 55 PLUS




Small Nest Egg? You Still Have Time By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


deally, people should save for retirement their entire working lives. But slightly more than onethird of working people aged 50 and older have less than $25,000 in savings and investment, according to the AARP’s analysis of the 2016 EBRI Retirement Confidence Survey. While $25,000 isn’t a lot, people in their 50s can still build this nest egg using the strategies local experts recommend. To have more money to invest and save, Cynthia A. Scott, investment manager and president of OMC Financial Services, Ltd. in Dewitt, recommends that people in this situation continue working and, if offered, contributing to their 401k. She also recommends cutting back on non-necessities. “Once you have a handle on income and expenses, knock out 5 percent of your expenses and put that away into savings,” she said. “Most people can find some expenses that

they can transfer into savings instead of using.” A financial adviser can help determine where to invest that money most effectively. A f e w examples of Zeigler ways to cut back could include optional insurance riders, high-end cell phone plans, using a land line, eating out or buying coffee out too often, or unused subscriptions. Refinancing the home mortgage and consolidating and eliminating debt can also help keep more money in the budget. Someone who owns vacation property should consider either renting it out for continual income or selling. “Consider whether the location is an area of growth, where it would be a good investment to sell later,” said Randy Zeigler, financial adviser with Ameriprise in Oswego. “You have to

consider the tax implications of that. If it’s just an expense right now and it’s just for pleasure, you might want to consider selling it and reinvesting the money.” In addition to saving a g g r e s s i v e l y, investing more aggressively can also help build the nest egg. This type of investment may garner high returns, York but Aaron Roth, financial adviser with Northwestern Mutual in Oswego, recommends safer investments, such as a Roth IRA. “Someone in their 50s could put away $6,500 a year,” he said. “The Roth money will keep growing tax-free forever and they can transfer it to their kids as an inheritance tax-free. The tax is spread out and they can pay less tax by paying it at a lower marginal bracket.” Of course, every situation is different. Debt, property ownership and anticipated lifestyle all make a difference. Gary Matthews, a financial adviser with First Affirmative Financial Network in Fayetteville, generally advises people at this stage who have little retirement savings to “not be all that conservative. Invest more in the stock market, because that’s likely where your portfolio will grow. Savings accounts make very little money over time with today’s low interest rates.”

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Since they have little time left to invest, taking on a few riskier investments can help their nest egg grow faster, according to Matthews. Ryan W. York, financial adviser and chief executive officer with Pinnacle Investments, LLC. in Syracuse, thinks that a lot of people look at Social Security as their main source of retirement income — but they shouldn’t. “It was started before baby boomers and didn’t take into consideration extended life spans and the cost of living being outpaced by healthcare costs,” York said. York would advise a client in this scenario to continue working, at least

part-time. If the client enjoys that type of work, then continuing to work shouldn’t be that difficult. Retiring to a high-end location and traveling to exotic locales may not happen. Readjusting expectations can help make retiring sooner more realistic. “Every situation is different, which is why creating a plan is helpful,” York said. “Some want to move away from Central New York to where it’s warmer. Others choose to reduce their cost of living to live closer within their means and retire sooner.” He added that people should plan to support themselves for 30 years after retirement.

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planning By Jon Neal Selzer


5 Steps to a Healthier Holiday Season

he hustle and bustle at this time of the year is filled with planning for the holidays, cooking, shopping and the excitement of a new season. The snow will be flying, basketball will return as a focal point for many and we begin to bundle up as the winter winds arrive. We also often sense the stress levels going up with such a busy agenda for us all. The opportunities of this time are enormous and some should not be missed nor neglected. The end of the year is a perfect time to do some other type of planning that will potentially have a significant impact on all aspects of your life. It is a perfect time to consider these five steps to a healthier holiday season, a gift of sorts to yourself.

1. Review your work place benefits. It is a great time to

reconsider your flexible spending account, health savings account, health insurance coverage and your retirement plan contributions. Did you know that most people spend more time planning a one-week vacation than they do planning for retirement?

2. Begin preparing for your taxes. It is a perfect time gathering

and sorting receipts, creating or reviewing files, making certain that you have a system for accumulating the statements that you will begin receiving, and that you are in good order when your W-2 or 1099s are received. Have you made a contribution to an Individual Retirement Plan (IRA) or a College Savings 529 Account for 2017 to maximize your tax benefits?

3. Review your beneficiary selections on all of your insurance and investments. An annual review

is important as lives do change. It is not uncommon after a divorce that an ex-spouse will receive assets 28

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The end of the year is a perfect time to do some other type of planning that will potentially have a significant impact on all aspects of your life. because of neglecting to take such actions. And, when your children get married, is it your intent to leave money to their spouses? It can get complicated, but it doesn’t need to. Don’t forget that your will, health care proxy and durable power of attorney documents are not only among the essential bricks to your life foundation, they state your wishes clearly. Annually updating your intent does the trick. 4. Develop a Plan B. Mostly, we go along living our lives with a general idea of where we are going and to where we hope to end up. The downside of this strategy, which works for some, is the absence of a Plan B. Very few plan comprehensively for the untimely death of a spouse, a serious and prolonged illness or a severe injury to a child. The impact of such can be financial, emotional as well as physical; becoming catastrophic in every way. Your ability to become a care provider for a loved one or to be cared for is a highly essential conversation to have and anticipate. The new Paid Family Leave Program might be a helpful tool in part. It will certainly not be enough to neglect this area of planning. Having the “conversation” does not need to be uncomfortable.

5. Create Your Map. Take the time to design your map. Who gets your stuff if something happens to you? When do you envision retirement? What do you hope your work journey will look like? What if you lose your job? What is your health plan (from handling your own health challenges to how will you stay healthy with exercise and diet)? Who is on your team (doctors, lawyer, accountant, financial adviser? Is there a list of your team members and have you given that list to your loved ones? These steps are only a guide. They tend to be helpful in structuring the framework for your financial house to be in better order. It is always easier to make changes to such a fluid conceptualization of your dreams, hopes, ideas and aspirations, than to plan it when it could be too late. Think of these steps as an organic model, living and breathing as your lives change. Getting these things in a more clearly articulated fashion should prove rather liberating. It should better able to lead you to “feeding the soul” as I am often heard saying. By that, I mean, you should be less stressed as a result of such planning and better able to create new warm memories, enjoy the arts, sporting events, a good book and be able to spend more quality (and undistracted) time with the family. Jon Neal Selzer is a Life Underwriting and Training Course Fellow (LUTCF) and owner of Marathon Financial Advisors, Inc. He served as president of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation of Central New York and was the first executive director of the Ronald McDonald House in Syracuse.



Former City of Oswego Mayor John T. Sullivan, right, is congratulated by Jeanne Byrne, secretary to City of Oswego Mayor William “Billy Barlow,” at a recent booksigning at the river’s end bookstore in Oswego.

‘Pee Not Your Pants’ Former Oswego mayor and head of NYS Democratic Party reflects on small-town politics By Patricia J. Malin


here’s no doubt about it: John T. Sullivan Jr.’s new book has an eye-opening, if incredulous title. Secondly, if the nuns from his elementary school were alive today and thumbed through his childhood m e m o i r, t h e y w o u l d c e r t a i n l y

administer a stern licking, enough to make a grown man do more than pee his pants. The title of his 267-page book alone, “Pee Not Your Pants — Memoirs of a Small Town Mayor With Big Ideas,” with a cover photo of a toddler (Sullivan) riding a hobby horse, is

enough to send any reader into rollingin-the-aisles laughter. However, when skimming his bio on the book jacket, one gets a totally different picture. He sounds like a man with a more serious demeanor than the lighthearted title his book suggests. He is a former mayor of Oswego, a former aide to New York State Gov. Mario Cuomo, a high school teacher and an adjunct professor at one time, and a corporate lawyer for 40 years, among a range of careers. In addition to his lessons learned in the classroom, Sullivan offers an inside look at small-town and state politics. With the publication of his second book, Sullivan reveals himself as a fullblown, 71-year-old of Irish-Catholic background with a twinkle in his eye and lots of witty tales to tell. Not since Robert Fulghum’s “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” has there been a book filled with homespun recollections. Sullivan, an Oswego native, contributed to the community in many ways during the 55 years he lived there. Despite his deep roots, he reveals in his book that he had an itch to get away from his hometown too. It took a brief spell in the Midwest to appreciate the small-town values he grew up with and lured him back. “Oswego will always be my home,” he said. “My first book, “Forks in the Road” (2015) explains why. I have never lost the self concept of being that paper boy in the neighborhood, and the ability to communicate with people from all walks of life, regardless of their economic or educational station.” The book delves into his formative years. His father worked full time as a linotype operator at The PalladiumTimes in Oswego in an era with strong union activity, and also ran a diner and a concession stand at sporting events. His mother was a housewife who cared for three children and later worked in food service at SUNY Oswego. “They were very proud, and encouraged me to follow my star wherever that led,” he said. He endured 12 years of a Catholic education that though it seems December 2017 / January 2018 - 55 PLUS


spartan by today’s standards, placed a premium on ethics and selflishness. His parents, shaped by the Depression and World War II, gravitated toward Franklin Roosevelt and Democrat Party policies. Raised on idealism, young Sullivan was destined for a career in public service. “I even got to serve as an intern in the Washington office of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy for two weeks while I was in college,” he said. “That was a very formative and memorable experience in many ways.”

Glimpse at greatness As a senior at Oswego Catholic High School in November 1963, while attending the CYO convention in New York City, he got a fleeting glimpse of President Kennedy’s motorcade. One week later, Kennedy was assassinated. “Our lives forever changed that day, and I don’t think for the better,” he recounted. Sullivan graduated from SUNY Oswego with a degree in political science before attending Syracuse University College of Law. Closer to home, another role model was former Oswego mayor and Oswego County Democratic Chairman John Conway who was instumental in introducing his young protege to the political machinery in Albany. With Conway’s backing, Sullivan became an Oswego County legislator at age 23, the youngest person in county history elected to the legislature. A genuine interest in improving the community led to a decision to run for mayor. “We chose to remain here and practice law and raise our children here,” he recalled. “I didn’t see the city heading in the right direction.” Sullivan squeaked by four opponents, capturing just 36 percent of the vote. He served one term, 198892, and admitted he wasn’t popular enough to win reelection. Early on in his term, expanding on his campaign theme, “Set Sail With Sullivan,” he began focusing on waterfront development. With significant credit to his wife, Charlotte, the city developed Harborfest, the popular annual summer festival. Following his term as mayor, Sullivan broadened his scope of activities to include all of New York 30

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Cover of the book “Pee Not Your Pants — Memoirs of a Small Town Mayor With Big Ideas,” written by former Oswego Mayor John Sullivan. state and worked on the fringe of national politics. He became cochairman of the New York State Democratic Party (1995-98). He served as the state’s assistant attorney general in charge of the Watertown office (2003-2007) and retired as deputy Medicaid inspector general in 2009. Sullivan, who supports term limits, admitted that the concept of pubic service has become tarnished and has lost its luster among young people. “Public service, to me, is still a noble profession, but it has been sullied by the proliferation of office seekers and holders who put self above service, and are more concerned about what’s in it for them, than what good they can do for the commonwealth,” he said. From 2010-2013, he was an adjunct teacher of political science at three different universities in the Midwest. “I enjoy the classroom, and love to regale students with my real life political stories, and to see the light bulbs go on in their head,” he said.

Women’s rights advocate Sullivan grew up as the middle child between two sisters and from his mother on down, he has always been

surrounded by confident, successful women. His older sister, Gail, became an executive secretary to a hospital administrator. His youngest sister Maureen worked as a personnel administrator for Oswego County. It was fortuitous then that he and Charlotte, his high school sweetheart, raised four daughters who all have successful careers. “Charlotte and I were married for 27 years, from 1972 until her untimely death from cancer at age 54 in 1999. She was a remarkable woman who achieved much, and her candle burned so brightly that it did not last as long as it should have,” he said. Oldest daughter Kathleen, 43, is an energy lawyer for Wells Fargo Bank in San Francisco. Julie, 41, is a woman’s empowerment coach and speaker who lives in Los Angeles. D a n i e l l e , 3 9 , i s a t e a c h e reducational consultant, part-time musician in Gulfport, Fla. Elizabeth, 38, lives in Brooklyn and works as a singer-songwriter and yoga instructor. Oh, the reason for the book’s title? It dates back to 1952. Sullivan recalled that his kindergarten teacher at St. Mary’s School, Sister Stanislaus (nicknamed Sister Santa Claus), “allowed us to choose our own seats from the four colored tables in the room.” Digging back in his memory, he sensed that the color tables were a code for dividing the students into four social classes. Young Sullivan relished his seat at the red table, which he considered the upper echelon. “I do remember one time when I peed my pants, I had to go stand behind the piano for a time,” he writes in his book. “Then [I] was directed by Sister Stanislaus to sit at the [secondclass] orange table. I was so devastated by that defrocking that I never peed my pants again. “It’s 63 years later, and I still haven’t peed my pants again. Thank you, I think, Sister for that object lesson in life. Dry pants people rule the world.” Ten years ago, he decided to move to Saratoga Springs, “closer to the political action in the state’s capital region,” he said. He still practices law and teaches college classes in government. He is also active as a political consultant and opinioneditorial writer.

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Social Security


Q: A few months after I started receiving my Social Security retirement benefit, my former employer offered to take me back. It’s a great offer. Can I withdraw my retirement claim and reapply later to increase my benefit amount? A: Social Security understands that unexpected changes may occur after you begin receiving retirement benefits. If you change your mind, you may be able to withdraw your Social Security claim and re-apply at a future date. This withdrawal must occur within 12 months of your original retirement, and you are limited to one withdrawal during your lifetime. Keep in mind, you must repay all of the benefits you received. You can learn more about the one-year period when you can postpone your benefits at withdrawal.htm Q: What can I do if my Medicare prescription drug plan says it won’t pay for a drug that my doctor prescribed for me? A: If your Medicare prescription drug plan decides that it won’t pay for a prescription drug, it must tell you in writing why the drug isn’t covered in a letter called a “Notice of Denial of Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage.” Read the notice carefully because it will explain how to ask for an appeal. Your prescribing doctor can ask your Medicare drug plan for an expedited redetermination (first level appeal) for you, if the doctor tells the plan that waiting for a standard appeal decision may seriously harm your health. For more information, visit www.medicare. gov. Q: I’m not sure when I’m going to retire so I want to estimate my retirement benefit at several different ages. Any help? A: Using our Retirement Estimator is easy at estimator, and it’s the best way for you to get a good idea of what your monthly benefit payment may be after you retire.

aging By Marilyn L. Pinsky

Can You Teach an Old Dog New Tricks? How can ‘what I learned in kindergarten’ stay with me all these years later?


ince kindergarten, I was brought up to come home and change right out of my “school clothes” and all these years later, I just can’t seem to get out of that habit. I am so envious of people who can get dressed in the morning and stay looking neat and well put together in the same clothes the whole day. For instance, in the morning I usually put on exercise clothes, hoping that the outfit will inspire me to go to the gym or for a walk. Then I come home, change out of those clothes because I don’t want to stain my few good exercise outfits, and get into my “cleaning and cooking” clothes, meaning clothes that I won’t be upset if the stains don’t come out. If I go out after lunch, say to a medical appointment or running errands, I then put on something else. If I’m going out at night, in my head that means changing into another type of outfit, like a nice pair of slacks and a top that I save for “good wear.” Consequently I have clothes all over the place, way too much laundry and am usually a mess during the day. Either staying in gym clothes and not wearing makeup to Wegmans, where, when you think about it, is really the place you see the most people, I just can’t make myself look good before 6 p.m. Doing my hair and putting on makeup to last the whole day is not in my mindset. But I am open to suggestions on this one.  My childhood training created the same problem with turning out lights. I was brought up to turn out a light whenever leaving a room and as my children will tell you, to this day I still follow them around turning out lights. Sure, I’ve read articles that say it uses more electricity to turn them off if you’re only going to turn them on again within 10 minutes, but I can’t

The “quarter test” to check if your freezer is working appropriately.

help it, I know my mother is watching me. But on this one, there was motivation to change, at least at night. I overheard a conversation recently that has changed my behavior. A woman at the gym who was about my children’s age, was telling a friend that she had to leave early to help her mother out because her mother had fallen recently going upstairs in the dark and was having trouble recovering. It hit me that her mother was probably my age, living independently and because, like me, was probably too cheap to turn on lights when walking around the house at night, fell and really did a number on herself. It made me rethink if saving a few dollars a year on electricity is worth the possibility of not remaining independent so now I’m flipping them on like crazy at night. The right motivation can change a mindset and therefore behaviors.   Now I’m loving being an old dog who can learn new tricks. If I don’t learn something new every day, the day feels wasted. Here are my latest…. The toe thing. All the sneakers for exercising that I seem to find have

mesh on the top. After going through the toes of two pairs of these not-socheap shoes, I asked the podiatrist if there was a solution and indeed there was. There are these little rubber thingies you roll on your toes that both protect them and keep them from going through the mesh. If this brings an image to mind, you’re right, but hey, they work and no one can see them to make snarky remarks. The next idea was from my friend Debbie S. when the country was experiencing hurricanes. If you were away from your home for a few weeks and there was a storm, how would you know if your freezer defrosted and then refroze and therefore your food was no longer good? Whenever you plan to be away, fill a paper cup with water and put it in the freezer. When it’s frozen put a quarter on top of the cup. If it’s still on top when you get home, then everything is probably safe to eat. If the quarter is on the bottom, that means the ice melted, the food defrosted and then refroze when the electricity came back on, and it may not be safe to eat. December 2017 / January 2018 - 55 PLUS


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55 PLUS - December 2017 / January 2018

How Can I Be Sure I Don’t Become a Burden to My Loved Ones? By David Zumpano


o one wants to be a burden to their loved ones, but many do so because they don’t understand what causes it and how it can be prevented. Let me explain. When you are alive and well, you are autonomous. As we age however, we are able to do less but remain insistent on maintaining our independence. Sometimes we become obstinate and choose not to address the many challenges that people see in us. The truth is, we become scared and fearful of losing our autonomy. Unfortunately that fear is the very thing that leads to what we fear most, loss of our independence.  Failure to address our frailty early on, and as it develops, leads to a “crash” that often requires outside care, which burdens your family and, worse, loss of your personal autonomy and possibly your lifetime of assets.  Three things are required to avoid loss of your autonomy: first that you plan as soon as the fear or worry begins (it will actually eliminate fear and worry). Second, get the legal documents to authorize the people you love to act on your behalf if and when you can’t — and be sure you not just grant the authority, but also provide your instructions how you want the authority used to provide for you. Third, communicate your wishes to those you have granted the authority.  A good estate-planning attorney will guide you to accomplish these three things so you can maintain your independence and never become a burden to those you love. David J. Zumpano is an attorney and a certified public accountant (CPA). He operates Estate Planning Law Center. He can be reached at 315-793-3622.

December 2017 / January 2018 - 55 PLUS




A New Life in Central New York By Aaron Gifford

Now living in the Oswego County village of Cleveland, actor and producer Daniel Baldwin is helping those with addiction and plans to start a long-term drug recovery facility near Oneida Lake


aniel Baldwin had one last shot of beating his old man. It was during his senior year at Alfred G. Berner High School in Long Island. Baldwin was a star football player there and would face cross-town rivals Massapequa, coached by his father, Alexander. Daniel and his brother Alec Baldwin lost to their dad’s team the previous two seasons on varsity. The stakes were high: Losers had to haul the victor in a wheel barrow to the neighborhood Baskin Robbins and pay for ice cream. On a late fall Saturday afternoon, tired and bruised after a nail biter that came down to a field goal, Alec Baldwin found himself pushing the wheel barrow, his dad gloating all the while. “Yeah, I lost to my dad all three times. We hauled his butt down the road, and he was heavy,” Daniel Baldwin, 57, growled. “I guess I’d say there was a healthy dose of competition in our house. The bar was pretty high.”


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Photo provided December 2017 / January 2018 - 55 PLUS


Even though Baldwin enjoys the memory, a slight sense of regret and unsettledness is detected in his voice, as if he still ponders what he and his teammates could have done differently to win the game. That competitive drive helped Baldwin get to where he is today — a movie and television celebrity who still acts and directs — and also a recovering drug addict who has waged a personal war against the opiate epidemic. For both careers, he recently established his base in the Oswego County village of Cleveland, on Oneida Lake. He’s returned to his family’s adopted locale to be closer to his mother Carol, who lives in Camillus, and sisters Beth and Jane, and because the Upstate New York region needs a huge helping hand combating addiction. The Central New York experience so far with fiancée Robin Hemple and daughters Avis and Finley, he says, has been magnificent. “It just seemed like now was the time to move closer to family,” Baldwin said of his mother and sisters. “Being here, I feel like the theme is Green Acres. We just love discovering the area. It’s exciting to get into a car and drive and not even know what we’re going to see.”  Baldwin’s resume includes several big-budget Hollywood pictures, including “Born on the Fourth of July” and “Mullholland Falls,” though he is also quite proud of the independent films he has acted in and directed, including one about drug addiction, “Wisdom to Know the Difference,” which won awards at several film festivals. He says he has six movies coming out in the next 18 months and he also has a role on Hawaii 5-O. Growing up in a household headed by teachers and coaches, brothers Daniel, Alec, William and Stephen had a difficult time swaying their parents to support their career choice, but all four stuck with it and made it to the big screen.  “Because I was in football, the other players laughed at me for going to drama practice because it wasn’t the macho thing to do,” Baldwin recalled. “But when I was on stage, it was very freeing because it’s just me. As an actor, you can’t be wrong — it’s your interpretation of what’s on the page. I always knew I’d pursue acting.” As Baldwin sees it, actors get to Hollywood based on looks, talent, 38

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All in the family: daughters Finley and Avis with Baldwin and his fiancée Robin Hemple during a 2016 Emmys gifting suite. Photo provided. timing and luck. Someone can be a bombshell in the looks category or a prodigy in the talent category and get there without much timing or luck. Baldwin thinks he was able to stretch just enough in each of the four categories — 25 percent each — to make it. He got on stage for a few theate productions in New York City, hooked up with an agent and made contacts out west, performing standup comedy in Los Angeles to pay the bills while he patiently waited for better opportunities. Baldwin’s stand-up act was unique: He liked improvisation work, putting audience members as his subjects. He’d ask women to throw something from their purses on stage, then make up a funny story or situation on the spot. That work opened the door for situation comedies on major networks, and later a main character as Beau Felton on “Homicide: Life on the Street.” Baldwin is proud of his work

on that show, but he also felt that to some degree it pigeonholed him into tough guy roles. “What’s frustrating is producers can get the idea that you can’t be funny, or you can’t be the guy who is gay. Don’t play the same guy for three or four years. You need some diversity, but at the same time you don’t want to walk away from a popular character and the money that goes with it.” Baldwin faced a similar dilemma on the big screen. With the bigger budget movies, he doesn’t enjoy the repetitiveness of shooting the same scene for weeks on end, but those productions pay well and give you more notoriety. With smaller, independent pictures, he explained, you have more creative freedom and the work is more fun but the payoff is much less. He has acted in six films that haven’t come out yet, and was to begin work in October for an independent film about FBI profilers that will be

filmed right here in Central New York. As a celebrity, Baldwin became entrenched in the Hollywood lifestyle, working hard, playing hard and experimenting. He got involved heavily in cocaine. It started out as a social drug for Baldwin, but he eventually reached the point where he was smoking it. By the age of 45, he had been in and out of rehab nine times. Baldwin holds himself responsible for the drug abuse and the lack of success he had getting sober the first eight times. But he also says the environment of blame and guilt that some rehabilitation centers fostered was counterproductive. The last facility he stayed at, SOBA Recovery Center in California, provided a sense of love and healing. “Getting sober is not the hard part,” Baldwin said, “staying sober is. The problem is when you get out — and so many facilities don’t allow the addicts to stay nearly long enough — you are still in an emotional and psychological jail. All of the trouble and pain, they are still waiting for you as soon as you get out.” As part of his own sobriety challenge, Baldwin helps other addicts. He will be busy: So far this year, there have been more than 47,000 heroin overdoses nationally in the 15-25 age group, according to the Centers for Disease Control. “We are on track for 60,000 in 2017,” Baldwin said. “That’s more people than we lost in the Vietnam War.” Baldwin responds to calls for help via Facebook. In most cases, it’s a parent asking for an intervention. He’s not limited to the local area. On short notice and on his own dime, Baldwin has flown to other states to meet addicts and convince them to go to rehab. He endorses SOBA, which has locations in different states, but tries to offer various options based on the family’s needs and resources. In many cases, SOBA has given client scholarships. Baldwin is often successful, but not always. The day before he was interviewed for this story, Baldwin found out that a teenager he reached out to died of a fatal heroin overdose. The mother hesitated to put the girl in rehab until after she worked up the courage to talk to her husband about it. Two days earlier, Baldwin was at

Family gathering at the Gem Diner in Syracuse with mother Carol Baldwin (top photo). Photo below was taken at Daniel’s home in Malibu in 2015. From left, Rafael Baldwin, fiance Robin, Michelle Salinger, Daniel, Hillaria Baldwin, Alec Baldwin, Carman Baldwin and Billy Baldwin. Photo provided.

December 2017 / January 2018 - 55 PLUS


Daniel Baldwin with daughters Finley and Avis during the Sept. 9 game between Syracuse and Middle Tennessee State. Photo provided.

Red Carpet movie premiere “Lennon Report,” 2016. Photo provided.

the girl’s house, pleading with her to get on a plane to a rehab facility in another state. In most cases, Baldwin’s expectation is that the addict gets into treatment immediately. In Baldwin’s opinions, the treatment options that are so wellpublicized, including methadone clinics and Suboxone prescriptions, are short-sighted and ineffective. Those drugs might take away the cravings for opiates, but they don’t get to the root or the problem and address the addict’s behavior and personality. “You need therapy and analysis, and short detox stays don’t do enough,” he said. “Less than three in 100 who go to rehab for just one month stay sober for a year. The numbers don’t lie.” Baldwin is frustrated with the lack of options in Upstate New York, and he is lobbying state lawmakers to appropriately fund longer-term rehab centers in the wake of this opiate epidemic. He sees potential in every community. A pizzeria in Auburn, for example, could be the ideal place to employ recovering addicts after they are discharged from rehab. The routine of steady employment is key to staying sober. He wants to lease a vacant school building down the road from him in Cleveland, which he envisions is large enough to house a long-term recovery facility. “There is push-back from the locals,” he said. “They say they don’t want a bunch of junkies coming here, but I tell them they are already here. Where would you rather have them — in treatment, or burglarizing your homes and businesses?”

Help with Sobriety Daniel Baldwin h as a monthly talk show on sobriety that is shot in San Antonio, Texas. The show — “SOBA Life” — is available to a national cable audience. You may watch it live at 

Speaking at mental health convention in Texas with Dr. Phil McGraw. Photo provided. 40

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If you need help with a sobriety issue, you may reach Daniel Baldwin through his email address, baldwinhelp@

Baldwin speaks at area high schools, hoping to discourage youngsters from ever trying opiates or painkillers. For the high school quarterback, for example, problems can start with an over-generous prescription of Vicodin for pain treatment following an injury. The quarterback becomes addicted because with the amount of pills he gets he doesn’t have to manage the dosages and endure a little discomfort between doses. He gets more pills on the black market, and eventually discovers that heroin is cheaper. And then there’s the story about a Wal-Mart in the Southern Tier that doesn’t have enough part-time employees. “They can’t find enough kids there under 25,” Baldwin said, “because so many are into heroin.” Greg Hannley, chief executive officer of SOBA and Baldwin’s close friend and sponsor, called the actor’s determination remarkable. “He’s constantly at service. He is someone who really cares, and he always goes where he’s needed.” Hannley has treated hundreds of Hollywood types. He said most people don’t understand the unique challenges entertainers face in getting sober. “There’s nowhere they can go to hide from it,” he said. “Everywhere they go, there are people who want to get high with a celebrity.” Hannley accompanied Baldwin on a trip to Syracuse from Toronto. They drove six hours in a blizzard. The teenager who traveled with them was not familiar with Baldwin but his mother was a big fan.  “I told the kid, you have a movie star risking his life to get here because your mom is so worried about what is happening to you,” Hannley said. “That was 11 years ago. That kid is sober now and has a good job. He’s married, has a job and a wonderful life.” When Baldwin gets totally settled into his new life in Cleveland, perhaps in the winter time when there isn’t as much to do outside, he’ll start work on a book about his battle with addiction.  “I want to write about the struggles and how I got where I am, but I don’t like the idea of writing the book for myself,” he said. “It has to be for others. That’s part of the path to sobriety.”

Getting to Know Your New Neighbor Age: 57 Hometown: Massapequa, Long Island. Current Residence: Cleveland, Oswego County. He remodeled a farm house built in 1828. Family: Fiancé Robin Hemple and daughters Avis and Finley. His mother, Carol, lives in Camillus. His sisters, Beth and Jane, also reside in Central New York. Brothers Alec, William and Stephen, who are also actors, live in different locations but have visited Central New York regularly. Occupation: Actor, director, producer, writer, drug addiction outreach specialist Hobbies: Fishing in Oneida Lake, golf, tennis, basketball. On Dieting: Baldwin has taken on a new diet called the “Robert Ferguson Challenge.” The meal plan follows a very precise combination of starches and protein. So far, he’s lost 30 pounds in 42 days, and he hasn’t even started the physical training part of the plan yet. “I’ve had diets before where the science wasn’t there, but the motivation was different,” he explained. “You hear the three dreaded words — veggies, fish and lots of water. But when the reason for losing weight is to be fit for a scene where you’re making love, you’re immediately motivated. I could drop from 250 pounds to 225 pretty quickly.” On Discovering Central New York: “Being here, I feel like the theme is Green Acres. We just love discovering the area. It’s exciting to get into a car and drive and not even know what we’re going to see.”


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consumers corner By Eva Briggs, M.D.

Too Many Pills to Take? Try Pillpack New system to dispense prescription medicine helpful to those who take several drugs a day


s people age, various chronic disease states become more common. More diseases, more medicines. According to the CDC, in the past 30 days 49 percent of Americans took one prescription medicine, 23 percent took three prescriptions and 12 percent took five or more medicines. That’s among the general population, I couldn’t find statistics by age. But once a person reaches five prescriptions, plus vitamins and supplements, that’s a lot of potential for error. Add perhaps some memory loss or poor vision — a patient living alone, and the problem is compounded. That’s what Elliot Cohen, MBA, observed while visiting his parents during a college break. He accidently startled his father who was hunched over neatly sorted piles of his multiple medications. His father turned around suddenly, accidently knocking down and scattering the pills, much to his dismay. Cohen knew there had to be a better way. Just a few weeks earlier, Cohen and pharmacist T.J. Parker

‘This system could be a real boon to older patients living alone who have trouble remembering their medicines” collaborated to win the Hacking Medicine competition to develop innovations in healthcare. Their idea was a solution to the problem of keeping track of many different medications. They developed the idea into the company Pillpack. This online pharmacy sorts medications into packets stamped with the date and time they are to be taken. The packets are connected by tear off strips into one big roll that can be placed into a special dispenser. The patient easily tears off the package at the correct date and time. This can reduce missed doses and spilled pills.

Another problem with the current system used by most people is that all those assorted prescriptions often run out at different times. So someone taking five medicines might wind up making two, three, four or even five trips to the pharmacy every month. Pillpack resolves that hassle by obtaining short-term refills as needed to ensure that the patient’s prescriptions come due at the same time every month. Medications such as inhalers or test strips are mailed out at the same time as the monthly strips of packets. I for one would hate to see local pharmacies go out of business. But the Pillpack model seems to have a lot going for it. The patient, as with a traditional pharmacy, is responsible for his or her copays. The Pillpack system makes it easy to refill and take multiple medicines. Their software can generate a reminder and alerts when a patient fails to refill a prescription, or adds a new drug that might interact with current medications. Patients can still call and speak to a pharmacist or pharmacy technician. Their system also includes several mechanisms to verify that the correct medicines have been packaged to reduce pharmacy error. As a physician, this system could be a real boon to older patients living alone who have trouble remembering their medicines, but have no close family or friends to monitor them. 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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If performed annually, as recommended, the key to detecting breast cancer early and saving lives is screening MAMMOGRAPHY.Women who are 40 and older with no symptoms of breast disease should schedule their screening mammogram annually. A physician referral is not required for this exam, however, the physician can request that the patient be seen in office prior to the exam.

December 2017 / January 2018 - 55 PLUS


life after 55 By Michele Reed

French Health Care … and a Chocolate Eclair


hat if you fall in France? What will you do?” It was one of the first questions our daughter asked me, when Bill and I announced our plans to explore retiring abroad, and it’s no doubt one many potential expats of a certain age consider. So, like Nelly Bly, your intrepid reporter went undercover (or under covers, as it were) to research the question for you. I didn’t have a magazine story in mind that September afternoon, when I headed downstairs for a promised lunch and French perfume-shopping trip with Bill. The bus was in 10 minutes and I’d dressed in my prettiest long skirt and a new pair of sandals and headed down the stone stairway to our main floor. As I reached the third step from the bottom, the one where the stairs curve and narrow, I caught my skirt under the sole of my sandal and went crashing to the stone floor of our kitchen. Crashing is not an exaggeration. I reached out to break my fall and the tempered glass oven door shattered, leaving me lying in a snowdrift of tiny balls of safety glass. I could feel the lump quickly forming on my head and the pain in my side told me something was definitely wrong there, too. Luckily, we had posted the emergency numbers right next to the home phone. In France, 911 is 117, so Bill dialed and in his best French told them, “My wife has fallen on the stairs, please send the pompiers.” The pompiers, from the word for pump, are our firemen and in our village of 1,800 people, they also run the ambulance service. In no more than five minutes, a trio of burly young men, whom we recognized as players on our village


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The grounds at the hospital are beautifully landscaped and patients are encouraged to take long walks to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. rugby team, were in the kitchen, telling us that since no EMT was on duty that day, they’d have to transport me to the hospital. “Don’t worry, we don’t think you’re badly hurt,” they said. Then they saw the oven. All three pointed and exclaimed, “Ooh la la! The oven!” Obviously, in their eyes, the stove came out worse in the altercation than I did. Bill timed the journey and it took no more than 15 minutes to reach the regional hospital. A doctor later told him the hospitals are located so no one is more than 40 minutes from a hospital. The pompiers wheeled me into Urgences, the emergency department. It was pristine, modern and totally uncluttered. There must have been other patients, since the hospital served our entire metro area surrounding the city of Beziers, totaling more than 120,000 inhabitants. But no lines of people waiting to be seen, no stretchers in the hallway and only a handful of people in the office waiting for their paperwork.

After some quick X-rays, which confirmed that I had a broken rib but not a fractured skull, I was being discharged. That’s when I stood up and saw stars. It didn’t take them long to figure out something was seriously wrong, and I was whisked back into the heart of the hospital for more tests. A sonogram and CT scan later, came the verdict: internal injury. I soon found myself in the intensive care unit, poetically named Reanimation in France. The doctor explained to a worried Bill that they didn’t think I was in any grave danger, but they wanted to keep me there while they made sure. A woman from admissions, who spoke flawless English, took my passport and insurance card. When Bill assured her we would pay any charges the insurance didn’t cover, she said, “Don’t worry, it won’t be much,” and gave him a conspiratorial wink. In France they have a national health service. If we were members of

that service, which our neighbor later told us costs him 50 euros a month (about $59), everything would be free. That’s why when Bill questioned a doctor as to why they were keeping me so long, he replied, “Mr. Reed, this isn’t America. This is France and here it is free. She will go home when I think she is ready. “ I was transferred to the Visceral Surgery unit, until a future scan would show the internal injury was healed. But I couldn’t complain about staying eight days in the beautiful, pristine Hospitaliers Centrale de Beziers. Everyone was great, with all the doctors speaking near-perfect English and the nurses and staff also trying to. We patients were encouraged to walk outside in the landscaped grounds, and going downstairs to the café for a coffee with Bill was smiled upon. Also, the food was amazing! Not only is food important to French culture, but they see it as part of the healing process, so from Day 1, I had wonderful meals. In the ICU, the doctor ordered a soft diet, and I dreaded the arrival of a sad tray with broth and applesauce. What came instead, was a beautiful omelet and salad. I was surprised that this was “soft diet,” until I got to the regular floor and enjoyed the meals there. Every meal was accompanied by a baguette and brie or another yummy French cheese, and consisted of vegetable or salad, appetizer, main dish and dessert, along with fresh fruit. I was given a linen napkin

and silverware (not plastic), and the staffer serving the food would wish me a cheery, “Bon appetit!” One day I had squid Provençale, another, roast pork with mashed celery, and even crepes stuffed with the delicious but unfortunately named mushrooms, the trumpets of death. Dessert could be anything from a custard to a cake or — my personal favorite — a chocolate eclair. And the fruit was not syrupy fruit salad or applesauce. I was served whole apples, peaches, pears and plums. Tea at 4 and 8 p.m. rounded out the feasting. I was a little sad to leave all that good eating (and no cooking or dishes). I must add a word about the importance of travel insurance. My retiree insurance from my employer works worldwide, so I was covered, but we had purchased a travel policy from Allianz. They would have paid the entire hospital bill and promised to pick up the leftover charges from my employer’s policy, and because we had “repatriation” coverage, they flew us home, two days after I was discharged from the hospital. Because of my injuries, they booked us in first class, with seats that totally reclined, and arranged for a wheelchair to whisk us through the airports and customs. They sent a car to drive us two and a half hours from our home in France to the airport in Barcelona, and when we landed in New York City, another car was waiting, which drove us right to our door in Oswego, the driver even bringing in our bags. The total cost for this wonderful policy? $249 to cover

This “castle” at sunset was the view from Michele’s hospital room. We think it was a former monastery or convent, now being used as a school. The round structure behind it and to the right is the rugby stadium. both of us. My advice is: never travel without it. The final surprise came when the Allianz adjuster told us told they had received the estimate from the French hospital. The total bill they received, for my eight-day stay, with three days in intensive care, two CT scans, numerous X-rays and ultrasounds, amounted to (drum roll) $5,000. No, I didn’t leave off a few zeros — five thousand dollars. So if you are considering a French adventure, don’t let fear of a medical emergency hold you back. The medical facilities are wonderful, the care is great, and always buy that travel insurance! Editor ’s Note: CNY 55 Plus columnist Michele Reed has a story in the new Chicken Soup for the Soul book, “Step Outside Your Comfort Zone,” published Oct. 31. Her story, “Off My Rocker in France,” relates how Reed and her husband, Bill, made their dream of a part-time retirement in France a reality.

The Hospitaliers Centrale de Beziers, where Michele spent an unexpected weeklong “vacation.”

Michele Reed retired after a career spanning four decades in public relations, advertising, journalism and higher education. She now writes travel articles, book reviews, haiku poetry and fiction. Bill Reed retired after four decades in social services with the county of Oswego, and now works at travel photography and photojournalism, along with writing book reviews. December 2017 / January 2018 - 55 PLUS


druger’s zoo

By Marvin Druger

How to Make Dough A new experience at Beaver Lake Festival


s w e g e t o l d e r, n e w experiences tend to become rarer. “Been there, done that” becomes more common. For example, I recently visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown for the first time. I expected to be thrilled by the exhibits, but I came away with the feeling that “if you’ve seen one baseball bat, you’ve seen them all.” This was also true of my visits to many churches in Europe. Each one was uniquely beautiful, yet the stained-glass windows and pillars and adornments seemed redundant. I have done so much in my lifetime that I wondered if there could be any really new, exciting experience. Such an experience occurred recently when I went to the Beaver Lake Festival with my companion, Victoria. This two-day festival is held in September and has been an area highlight at Beaver Lake for many years. The festival is chock full of activities, contests, arts and crafts, food and entertainment. Highlights include a farmer’s market with fresh organic vegetables for sale, hayrides, a petting zoo, a pie-eating contest, a living scarecrow contest, a variety of bands, many arts and crafts booths, food items galore, many other activities and, perhaps, best of all, free parking. Victoria had volunteered to help in some capacity at the festival. She was assigned to the stand that sold homemade doughnuts for 75 cents each. I decided to be an assistant volunteer. I expected to be at the counter selling the doughnuts and chatting with the many customers. Instead, we were assigned to mixing dough for the doughnuts. We reported for duty in the main building and were led through a maze of rooms to a small room with


55 PLUS - December 2017 / January 2018

four sinks and a huge mixing machine. There were several large bags, like weed and feed bags, that were full of flavored doughnut dough. They gave us an apron and a cap and a pair of vinyl gloves.

The manager of the doughnut concession then demonstrated the process for mixing dough for the doughnuts. The woman who preceded us gave a sigh of relief as she left us for our shift of several hours. For me, being isolated in a small room with an assignment that seemed too complicated for someone whose cooking skills are limited to making hummus and hotdogs was intimidating. Victoria and I felt the same way, but we faked confidence. “No problem,” I told the manager. Then the task began. I had to fill a large beaker with water from a hot and cold faucet so that the final temperature was exactly 80 degrees Fahrenheit. I had a small food thermometer to measure the temperature. Victoria scooped out two five-pound batches from the large bag and dumped them into a large mixing machine metal bowl. I then added the water that I had heated to 80 degrees. We had to attach the stirring device to the machine and lock it in place. Then, we set the controls to mix the batch for one minute at slow speed. Then, we again stirred the mix, but at high speed for two minutes. Then, I disassembled the stirrer and put the bowl of mixed dough on a platform from which Victoria could spill the mixture into a large metal pot. The pot was allowed to stand for several minutes. Then,

John, a retired policeman who was also a volunteer, picked up the pot of mixed dough and carried it outside the building to the doughnut stand. We had no idea what happened at the stand, but John would soon reappear with an empty pot and wash and sanitize it thoroughly in three sinks. He then would give us the pot to refill with another batch of mixed dough. This process was repeated many times until all the large bags of doughnut dough had been emptied. This was a new experience in life. It was exciting to know that there would be no doughnuts if not for our mixing the doughnut dough. We were the invisible core of the entire enterprise. Our only mishap was that the stirrer got stuck in the machine twice and John had to use his brute strength and experience to remove it. After many hours of mixing dough, we ran out of flour and were told to “enjoy the festival.” We found our way to an exit in the building and emerged into the fading sunshine, just as the festival was ending. Doughnuts and cider were very popular at the festival, and we wanted to see what happened to our doughnut dough mixtures. The volunteers at the stand showed us. The mixed dough was put into a machine that shaped the doughnuts with a hole in the middle. Then, the doughnuts were place on a grid and fried in oil. The doughnuts were fried on each side for a few minutes. Then, they were dipped into a large bowl of cinnamon sugar. We were each given a sample doughnut as a reward for our essential core work behind the scenes. The doughnut was truly delicious and we had a proud and satisfied feeling of accomplishment. We also had dough all over us. You may think this was a trivial experience, not worth writing an article about. Yet this dough-mixing was something that I had never done before in my entire life. It was thrilling to have an experience that was brand new. It was gratifying to realize that there are always new experiences that are available in life. Old dogs can, indeed, learn new tricks. As we move through this brief period called “life” we should all seek new experiences and make the most of them. You, too, can learn how to make dough for doughnuts.

golden years By Harold Miller

My Ancestral Journey Was King Tut really my great uncle?


he greatest internet fad these days is tracking down your ancestors to find out who you are and where you came from. The advent of forensic science coupled with ever-more sophisticated DNA tracking can reveal your race and what part of the world you came from. Just a sample of your bodily fluid is all it takes to begin an ancestral journey into the past. Thus, an advertisement in National Geographic led my daughter to a service they provide for a “Geno DNA Link,” which includes a cup with preservative they mailed to a male member of our clan (my oldest son), to expectorate (spit) into and return. The reason being that male DNA includes both ‘X’ and ‘Y’ chromosomes whereas female DNA has only ‘X’ chromosomes. The ancestral journey begins in Africa for our species. This is where we evolved and where our species spent the most time on Earth. Our species have since migrated to every corner of the globe — a journey that is written into our DNA. These “genius matches” go back 120,000 years. One of the outstanding members includes Pharaoh Tutankhamun (King Tut, 1341 BC-1323 BC). Not much is known about this leader other than he was possibly as young as 9 when he took power. He ruled at the height of the empire. During his time, he rejected some of the radical religious beliefs of his predecessors. King Tut was physically weak and also stricken with malaria which undoubtedly led to his early demise at the age of 18. An outstanding female ancestor of our clan was Marie Antoinette (17551783). She was one of the most famous leaders (turned villain) of recent history. Antoinette was attributed with the famous phrase, “let them eat cake”— supposedly uttered in

response to the poverty of France. She is untimely remembered for her death by guillotine in the center of Paris. A more recent ancestor of the Miller clan — whom we can more readably relate to — is Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790). Ben Franklin was one of the founding fathers of America and also a writer (perhaps I inherited some of my writing skills from good ol’ Ben). He was also a publisher, physicist, naturalist and economist. His name is synonymous with wealth and his picture is on the $100 bill. Franklin is also credited with harnessing the power of electricity, a concept that completely changed the world as we know it. The Miller clan is mongrelized (if there is such a word) to a higher degree than most and largely came from Western Europe. My parents came from Holland, France, England and some say my mother had some Eskimo blood in her veins but she vehemently denied it and there was no indication of it in the geno match provided. My wife Janet’s parents came from Ireland and Germany. Mongrel species are much better than the inbred species of Asia as corroborated in the 24-page genographic report we received. I intend to agree because my childhood dog Snooky (half Spaniel, half Collie) was the smartest and most beautiful dog our clan has ever had. December 2017 / January 2018 - 55 PLUS


55+ visits 10 Forts to Visit in NYS By Sandra Scott


ountries have always tried to protect their land. Some built walls like the 5,500mile Great Wall of China and 84-mile Hadrian’s Wall in England. Others built walls around their cities such Carcassonne in France and Dubrovnik in Croatia. When walls were not the solution, forts were built. New York state’s location on the Atlantic Ocean and with its many rivers made it vulnerable to attack so forts were built — an early version of Homeland Security. Today many of them are tourist attractions with frequent reenactments.


Fort Wadsworth: This Staten Island fort, one of the oldest military sites in America, was first fortified by the British in 1779. Its location, along with Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, protected the Narrows. Today it is part of the two-state, three-borough Gateway National Recreation Area. When the fort was closed in 1994 it had been the longest active military site in the United States. Visitors can wander through the fort’s underground tunnels and enjoy the great views of the area from the overlook tower. The Coast Guard still uses some of the fort’s buildings.

Reenactment at Fort Ontario in Oswego.

Castle Clinton: The fortification is located in New York’s Battery Park and was constructed to defend New York Harbor from the British. The fort was completed in 1811 but the its 28 cannons were never fired. It has served many purposes over the years. It was an opera house, a theater, and even an aquarium — plus it was America’s first immigrant receiving center that welcoming 8.5 million immigrants until Ellis Island opened in 1892. It opened in 1975 as Clinton National Monument. Today, the site houses the ticket office for the Statue of Liberty.

Old Fort Niagara in Youngstown, near Niagara Falls.


3. 48

Fort Hamilton: Located in Brooklyn, Fort Hamilton is NYC’s only remaining active-

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duty military post and the fourth oldest installation in the USA. During WWI and WWII it was the last stop for soldiers before being deployed overseas. People wishing to visit should check the Visitor Control Center on Fort Hamilton’s website for the procedure to follow.


Fort Ticonderoga. This fort has a beautiful setting in the Adirondacks just across the lake from Vermont. Control switched between the French and the British over the years because of its important location at the southern end of Lake Champlain. The most famous

surrender came in the early morning hours of May 10, 1775 when Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys snuck into the enemy fort while the entire garrison was sleeping. The fort’s commander wearing his nightshirt surrendered and the patriots took control of the fort without firing a shot.


Fort William Henry: A replica of the fort is located at the south end of Lake George. The British built the fort in 1755 to protect the colonies from the French. For more than 70 years they fought for control of the rich lands and fur trade. James Fenimore Cooper tells of the fort’s violent end in the “Last of the Mohicans.” During

the summer there are daily guided tours, military demonstrations and battle reenactments. Docents relate the hardships and fears of life in the fort.


Old Stone Fort: Located in Schoharie, the fort was built as a Dutch Reform Church in 1772 but was fortified during the American Revolution. It was the site of a battle between hundreds of loyalists and Native Americans attempting to seize this strategic fort situated in what Washington called “The breadbasket of the American Revolution.” The siege in October of 1780 was unsuccessful and the old fort stood. It is now a museum complex with adjacent buildings that include a one-room schoolhouse and an 1830 law office.


Fort Stanwix: Located in Rome, this star-shaped fort is called “the fort that never Surrendered.” It successfully held off the British in 1777, thwarting the British plan to conquer New York state, a critical component of their major plan to win the revolution. It was during this battle that, according to local legend, the American flag was

controlled by the French, British and Americans. To reflect this, national flags of the three countries are flown daily. There is an informative video plus a variety of demonstrations and tours. One of the most popular tours of the fort takes place in October. The Haunted Fort Tour is not to be missed, especially when the guide takes you up close to the old stone well where a headless soldier is reportedly waiting restlessly to return.

first flown in battle. The first stars and stripes were created out of “a soldier’s white shirts, strips of fabric from a woman’s red petticoat and the blue straps from Captain Abraham Swartwout’s cloak.” A new multimillion dollar visitor’s center opened in 2005.


Fort Ontario: The star-shaped Fort Ontario, known as “The guardian of the northern frontier,” is just one of several fortifications in Oswego and the only one that has survived. Fort Oswego and Fort George did not. There were several versions on the site but the current one dates from the mid 1800s and was upgraded over the years. There are two guardhouses, a powder magazine, storehouse, enlisted men’s barracks, ramparts featuring magnificent views of Lake Ontario ,and underground stone casements and galleries to tour. During WWII the site was a “safe haven” for 982 European refugees.



Fort Brewerton: located at the juncture of Oneida Lake and the Oneida River was an important fortification midway between Fort Stanwix and Oswego during the French and Indian Wars. There were many fortifications built over the years but most were destroyed such as Fort Clinton at West Point that was built to defend New York during the revolution. Today all that remains are some earthworks and stone base structures near West Point’s soccer fields. Carleton Island near Cape Vincent was once a base for British troops.

Old Fort Niagara: Over the years the fort, located on the Niagara River in Youngstown, has been

Retirees for Soon-To-Be l Security Advice Savvy Senior: Socia Longer en Are Working Money: Why Wom Not Just About


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By Mary Beth Roach

Catherine Underhill, 61 Symphoria managing director reflects on five-year mark Q: You and Symphoria have reached a milestone in that you are in your fifth year. What are some of the challenges that you have overcome in the past five years. A: I think sustainability is one, which means dependable revenue from multiple sources and managing the expense side, so that we don’t go over budget. I would say credibility because we arose from the ashes of the former institution. I think a lot of people questioned whether Syracuse and Central New York had it in them to support a professional orchestra. And I think we’ve demonstrated that it does, that there is a demand for it. The more we’re able to demonstrate our value to the community, the more the community supports what we’re doing. Q:What are some of your achievements? A: We’ve gotten funding from a lot of different sources. We’re up to more than 1,400 subscribers, which is great. Our donor households have grown every year. We’re gradually getting traction in the business community. Our subscribers have grown substantially year over year, which is actually not the trend we’re seeing nationally. And our ticket sales have grown year over year, which is, for a young organization, certainly to be expected. But we’re trying to accelerate that growth trend as much as we can. Q: What are some of your goals for the next five years? A: Our board is still quite small. We have 13 people at the moment, so we’d like to diversify the board membership so we have more community perspectives at the table. We need to continue to grow audience. We need to continue to grow our visibility and general awareness in the community. As a new organization, with a different 50

55 PLUS - December 2017 / January 2018

name and sort of different look and feel, there are plenty of people who still don’t know we exist. And we have a relatively small budget. We are a $2.2 million organization. We’re limited in our marketing reach, and that’s one of the things we hope to be able to address going forward. My role is to support what the musicians are trying to realize. In that way it’s a very different kind of dynamic. Since it’s a co-op, one of only two, the other being the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, the musicians have a strong voice in shaping our strategic direction, our programming, our public persona. And so my role is to help them realize their vision, but the musicians have quite a significant voice in shaping the organization, which is unusual, and I think contributes to our flexibility and our ability to be responsive to the community. Q: Are there any plans for retirement in your future? A: Not immediately. I have three kids; the youngest is going to be heading to college

next year. We’ve been looking at colleges. So unlike other people of our age, many of our peers, we are not yet empty-nesters. My husband has a great job here that he loves with Housing Visions. I also teach at LeMoyne, in the masters in arts administration program, which is a ton of fun, and I really enjoy that. Eventually, I hope to be able to retire and still be able to kneel down enough to dig in my garden. Q: How do you find balance? A: I really enjoy gardening. We have two big dogs, they require some TLC. I have my 17-year-old at home. I love the water. We have a summer place that my family has had for many years up in the Adirondacks, so I try to get up there. I like to swim, I like to be in the water as much as possible in the warm weather.

FIRST IN NEW YORK ONE OF 12 IN U.S. Upstate University Hospital and its Community Campus Orthopedics program is New York state’s first DNV-certified Center of Excellence for hip and knee replacement. It is one of only 12 in the nation with this designation. Upstate’s progam excelled in a number of areas, including the quality of orthopedic surgery and surgical outcomes, post-surgical follow-up, and shared decision making between patients and their health care team. Additionally, Upstate was recognized for its exceptional patient education and speciality joint anesthesia program, designed to provide maximum patient comfort during recovery.


OVER 50?


Stay healthy and engaged through OASIS, a community learning center for those aged 50+. OASIS offers classes in the arts, history, technology, fitness, science, travel and more. Start anytime. Enjoy learning and being connected with others. Session class prices range from free to reasonable. Easy access and free parking. OASIS is located at 6333 State Rte 298 in East Syracuse, next to the DoubleTree Hotel, off Carrier Circle.



Cny 55 72 Dec-Jan 17-18  
Cny 55 72 Dec-Jan 17-18