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The Press Special Edition

Living 50 Plus

The power of natural herbs

A little-known spice packs a healthful punch.

Celebrating the second half East County is a haven for seniors of all ages.

FEBRUARY 17, 2017

The road less traveled Enjoy new adventures near and far.




FEBRUARY 17, 2017




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East County, a haven for seniors of all ages, abilities AMY SCHRADER


unshine, a variety of housing options and an abundance of

Seniors in East County have plenty of activities to keep them busy, including painting classes offered by Brentwood Parks and Recreation.

activities have made East County a

top destination for retirees to live out their golden years.

Photo courtesy of Olivia Alvarez

“We want to create a sense of wellness and empower adults 50 and older,” said Oakley Senior Citizen’s Club President Tim Lear. “We do everything we can to develop meaningful opportunities for seniors.” While there is an abundance of classes in the community, there are also over-55 adult communities that have their own activities to keep residents moving. “We were trying to slow our lifestyle down after retirement, but we’re finding it hard with all of the things that are possible at Trilogy,” said Carl Richmond, 66.

Richmond and his wife, Jackie, moved to Trilogy at the Vineyards in Brentwood two years ago and have been enjoying the luxurious amenities, including Club Los Meganos. This 38,000-square-foot club boasts a concierge, business center and gorgeous outdoor living areas. From cooking classes, plays, comedy shows and concerts, The club is packed with entertaining activities. Trilogy at the Vineyards also features Delta Athletic Club and Sawa Spa, a 5,000-square-foot, resort-caliber spa. Summerset in Brentwood is another over-55, active-adult community, featuring a

variety of amenities and activities for seniors. “There’s something going on around here everyday,” said Summerset IV resident Jim Barnett, who attends casino trips, Reno trips, happy hours, lodge concerts and dinners with his wife Jan. “We like the peace and quiet and the fact that we all kind of look out for each other.” Seniors in Discovery Bay can head to the Discovery Bay Community Center to get dealt a good hand, with groups meeting see Seniors page 9B

• • • •


Whether you are an active senior living life on the go or are in need of living assistance, Contra Costa has plenty of options to make your retirement the best years of your life. “As our community is growing, there is an increase of activities, programs and services for seniors,” said Olivia Alvarez, Brentwood’s Parks and Recreation supervisor. The department works with the Brentwood Senior Citizen’s Club Inc. to select classes for local seniors. There are a variety of activities to choose from, including educational programs, fitness, painting, driving classes, day trips and more. “Seniors have a lot of fun and enjoy going on the trips, because it offers them an opportunity to venture out with other seniors in a fun, safe way,” said Alvarez. Likewise, Oakley Parks and Recreation also offers a variety of classes for seniors, including gentle yoga, Tai Chi and Bocce ball, and the Oakley Senior Citizen’s Club hosts monthly potluck meetings, day trips and special events.




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Interesting ways to enjoy travel


esearch indicates traveling is at the top of the list of interests motivating today’s

people over the age of 50. Seniors are perhaps the most likely demographic to indulge their love of traveling. Retirement leaves plenty of time for recreation, and many choose to spend that time on the road. Travel also can be improve adult longevity, according to geriatricians at the University of Arkansas. Those in the travel industry understand seniors over 50 comprise a large percentage of their customers and have catered many travel packages for this influential demographic. The following is a look at some of the more popular travel opportunities.

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This is one of the fastest-growing markets in vacation travel. Genealogical tourists travel to areas of historical significance for their families, such as churches where past relatives may have married and villages where grandparents or cousins once resided or were employed. This can create a tangible link to one’s past and open up more opportunities to learn the varied genealogical history that has shaped a family or one’s personal identity.

Those in the travel industry understand seniors over 50 comprise a large percentage of their customers and have catered many travel packages for this influential demographic.

Extended vacations

Without limiting time constraints, seniors may have the capacity to devote more time to travel. That makes them eligible for extended vacations, which can include long-term rentals in tropical areas, weeks-long sightseeing cruises or guided tours overseas that touch on several different countries or cities during the trip.

Going off the beaten path

Adventurous travelers may not be content to stick to the resort lifestyle or standard vacation options. Active seniors are charting their

own courses with bucket-list vacations that may be off the beaten path. Travelers who have always aspired to climb a mountain or see a rain forest may be inclined to realize these goals as they get older. Nontraditional tours can include living like indigenous peoples or following the footsteps of early explorers.

All-inclusive tours

All-inclusive packages remain a popular option for travelers of all ages. These vacation packages charge one price for accommodations, entertainment, sightseeing, food and many other amenities. All-inclusive vacations remove some of the headaches associated with organizing various components of travel, so a person can focus on relaxation and having fun.

Singles meets

Single vacationers over 50 may want to meet others in their age bracket in the hopes of finding romance. These vacations double as relationship mixers and give everyone the opportunity to mingle with others in similar situations, without the pressure of traditional dating. Travel is a way to see the world, meet new people and experience various cultures. Seniors increasingly embrace travel, because they have both the time and the means to take vacations. – Courtesy Metro Creative

FEBRUARY 17, 2017



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Daily dose of turmeric goes a long way A C

indeed worse than the original problem. Just listen to the disclosures on television about side effects. They are mind-boggling! For the last four years, I have had horrific back pain. It became the norm, as I would wake up every morning, slowly uncurl my body and hobble to the shower. The hot water spraying on my lower back helped for a while, and as I have written before, I tried a TENS machine, pain pills and, yes, even the topical marijuana oil. Everything helped temporarily, and along with my chiropractic visits, I was able to get some excellent, if only part-time, relief. Antiinflammatories and spasm pills made me very sleepy and unable to function normally. Being responsible for my family in so many instances, I needed to keep my wits about me at all times and be perched and ready to dart out the door on a moment’s notice, so those pills were pretty much a no-go for me. I am a firm believer in natural products, and when I heard about turmeric from my doctor, I read everything I could and decided it was definitely worth a try. After three months of taking one capsule a day, I experienced absolutely no side effects. Unfortunately, I did not notice any major change in my back issues, but on the doctor’s advice, I continued taking it. Then, several days ago, I woke up, took my morning splash and while getting ready, I noticed something very odd. I had no back pain. I didn’t want to jinx it, so I didn’t tell Grandpa, but for the whole day, I felt pretty

I am a firm believer in natural products, and when I heard about turmeric from my doctor, I read everything I could and decided it was definitely worth a try.

darn great. I stopped everything else for a few days and kept my typically vocal self, quiet about what was happening. The days turned into a week, and still, I was feeling pretty good. I mentioned it to my granddaughter, who spends a lot of time with me. For a few hours, Grandma is good to go, but after a while, my back will start hurting and the time comes to end our shopping or visits. Sitting at my computer to write once caused pain after an hour or two, but even that has become very close to normal again. I don’t know if the turmeric is totally responsible for this newfound freedom, but anytime I find a natural solution to a painrelated medical problem, I will share. Be patient. As in my case, it took several months before I noticed the changes. Orange in color, turmeric is a spice used frequently in curry, ergo the color. It is sold in

the spice aisle, as well as in pill form. Not at all expensive, either form is suggested for a multitude of medical-related issues. According to WebMD, a tablespoon of ground turmeric contains 29 calories, nearly a gram of protein, 2 grams of fiber and 6 grams of carbohydrates. It contains minerals such as manganese, phosphorus and potassium. Turmeric also contains nutrients that help to keep you strong and healthy. WebMD claims it supports joint, bone and physical wellness, which is why – in my case of degenerative spine disks – it seems to help with the discomfort. As a concentrated extract, turmeric contains antioxidant properties that help the body promote healthy functioning, cognitive ability, enhance mood, empower whole-body mobility and flexibility as well as provide heartrelated cardiovascular benefits. These findings are from the website and not my personal opinion, but from my recent experience, I’m convinced that I have benefitted from my daily dose. I may still have a twinge or two in my back, and at my age, that’s normal. However, if I continue to feel this way, don’t be surprised if you see me dancing around Brentwood! Marla Luckhardt is a Brentwood resident who works with several local senior care and advocacy groups. Visit her website at or email her at To comment, visit

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FREQUENT DISCLOSURE OF MINE is to always check with your doctor before taking or changing any medications, supplements or over-thecounter health products of any kind. I stick to that statement, but I have received numerous calls from Senior people, phoning on orner behalf of themselves or a loved one, in regard to overmedication. Part of this problem is we have many different specialists, along with a primary care physician, who prescribe different drugs to help Marla alleviate a multitude of Luckhardt issues as we age. With today’s technology, any physician in your group can and will check your chart on their computer to avoid the possibility of a bad drug interaction, so that particular safety net is covered. However, taking a lot of different drugs can take its toll on organs, including the brain. Years ago, a loved one of mine was on so many antidepressants and anxiety medicines that it made her extremely irritable and downright loopy. This is no joke sadly, not only in her case, but also for many seniors I know. The abrupt halt of taking medications is almost as bad – if not worse – than continuing with too many, so having a discussion with your doctor is imperative if the side effects are

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Sound advice for seniors AMY SCHRADER

environments, you may be experiencing presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss. Local hearing experts have advice on what to do if you’re experiencing these symptoms and steps you can take to preserve your hearing. “Most people are in denial and think they hear fine,” said Toby Hill, board-certified hearing-instrument specialist and owner of the Contra Costa Hearing Aid Center in Brentwood and Walnut Creek. “It’s not until friends, family or employers make a point that they are not hearing well that they seek help.” If you think you might be suffering from hearing loss, pay attention to how you feel in loud environments. “If you feel like you’re having a much harder time keeping track of conversations in these situations than your companions, you may be experiencing the beginnings of hearing loss,” said Kevin Garnett, hearing health-care provider at Hearing Services of Antioch. Hill recommends that everyone over 40 get a baseline-hearing test. Rest assured technology has caught up with hearing devices. “Hearing aids are microcomputers, and ... they have changed dramatically,” said Hill. “They have gotten much smaller, and now they have Bluetooth integrated into them, which allows people to talk on the phone and control the hearing aids from their phone.” The technology built into hearing aids also allows the devices to be precisely designed for the user’s needs.

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“The new aids can be customized, so they only pump up the frequencies that are challenging to you and leaving the other frequencies you can hear fine alone,” said Brentwood resident Tim Biglow. “Hearing Services of Antioch provides exemplary service.” Having a qualified hearing professional conduct a thorough evaluation of your hearing, select and fit the correct device and verify the fitting will dramatically change lives. “Personal relationships are the most important part of our lives,” said Hill. “Giving people the ability to communicate with their spouses, children, grandchildren and friends is immeasurable.” Hill said he’s had police officers burst into tears in his office after hearing their wive’s voices for the first time in years. “This is why I do what I do,” he said. “We change the lives of everyone we see.” Addressing hearing loss early can help you retain your understanding of speech and sounds. “The longer your brain is required to cope with diminished hearing sensitivity, the more difficulty it will have understanding speech, even if hearing amplification is obtained at a later time,” said Garnett. “The sooner you can obtain hearing technology, the better your brain will be able to handle those missing sounds when you start hearing them again.” Contra Costa Hearing Aid Center is located at 1240 Central Boulevard, Suite A2, in Brentwood. For more information, visit or call 925-203-9134. Hearing Services of Antioch is located at 4045 Lone Tree Way, Suite D, in Antioch. For more information, visit or call 925-237-9689. To comment, visit



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Exercise and aging know the following as they Addressing common should attempt to improve their physical fitness with a more active lifestyle: concerns about Exercise is safe exercise after 50 even if you have


not been physically active in a long time.

xercise is an essential element of a healthy lifestyle. Including exercise

in your daily routine can lower your risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke, sharpen mental acuity, reduce anxiety and improve mood. But, as beneficial as exercise can be, many people over the age of 50, who have not laced up their sneakers in years, are hesitant to begin an exercise regimen for a variety of reasons, potentially putting their long-term health at risk. Regardless of age, beginning a new exercise regimen can be intimidating. But it’s especially so for people over the age of 50, who might not know where to begin or how to approach adopting a healthier lifestyle. According to the National Institute on Aging, everyone

Many seniors worry that suddenly embracing physical fitness after years of inactivity may be detrimental to their health. But that’s only true if they don’t exercise caution at the outset of their routines. When beginning the routine, take things very slowly at first, choosing to walk or bike every day rather than hitting the treadmill and adjusting it to maximum resistance. When strengthtraining, start off with very little weight so your muscles can grow acclimated to the motions and you can get the exercises down pat. As you grow more comfortable and your body starts to feel more up to the challenges of daily exercise, you can begin to gradually alter your cardiovascular and strengthtraining workouts to make them more challenging.

Photo courtesy of Metro Creative

Exercising after 50 is a great way for people to enhance energy and manage many existing medical conditions.

Exercise can make existing medical conditions more manageable. Seniors who have pre-existing medical conditions are likely to find

that exercise alleviates rather than exacerbates their physical problems. The NIA notes that studies have shown that regular exercise and physical activity can benefit people with arthritis, high blood pressure and heart disease. But, it’s still recommended that those with such conditions consult with their physicians see Exercise page 11B


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Seniors from page 3B on Wednesdays and Saturdays for various card games, including hand and foot and bridge. “We’re continuing to expand our program and looking to bring more activities for seniors,” said Monica Gallo, Discovery Bay Parks and Recreation assistant. For more information, visit www.todb. or call 925-392-4575. Seniors in Antioch often hop over to the Antioch Senior Center for activities ranging from excursions, to classes and exercise programs. Their mantra, ‘fun after 50’ is carried out with live music, bingo, billiards, dances, creative writing classes, self defense, hula dancing, painting, line dancing and more. For more information, visit or call 925-778-1158. For seniors in need of living assistance, East County has a plethora of assisted-living facilities with the comforts of home and the perks of a resort. “We are all about celebrating life,” said Cheryl Ortiz, director of resident programs for Cortona Park in Brentwood. “Everyday is a gift, and we focus on being grateful for what we have and what we can still do.” Cortona Park’s amenities include a library, beauty and barbershop, outdoor pool, billiards, theater and a variety of classes and activities that celebrate the physical, emotional, spiritual, purposeful and intellectual dimensions of life. Westmont of Brentwood is another assisted-living facility packed with amenities

We want to create a sense of wellness and empower adults 50 and older. We do everything we can to develop meaningful opportunities for seniors. – Tim Lear, Oakley Senior Citizen’s Club President and a passion to make every day special. From exercise classes, crafts and painting to casino trips and scenic drives, the facility’s residents always have something to celebrate. “Westmont is such a great place for seniors to live,” said Helen Riley, Westmont’s lifestyle director. “It’s our passion to show seniors that life can still be fun and fulfilling.” Regardless of your activity level, East County has proven seniors don’t have to slow down. For more information, visit www.,,, en/communities/cortona-park.html or www. To comment, visit




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Senior dating trends and tips


he first Baby Boomers will be turning 70 in 2016, and this generation remains one of

the most influential in the country and around the world. Scores of products and services are now marketed to seniors, many of whom remain as active and socially aware as they were in their youth. One booming aspect of senior marketing is focused on dating and relationship products. Singles age 50 and older are increasingly relying on online dating sites and other methods to find love and companionship. Dating is no longer kids’ play, and those who have been away from dating for some time may have to get reacquainted with the process in the modern age. Consider online dating Data from Pew Research found half of divorced or widowed seniors had remarried in 2013, and that trend figures to continue. Many seniors are using online dating sites to find their new matches. While websites geared to dating make it easier to get in touch with fellow singles, the relative anonymity of the process can make it challenging to separate the truth from some

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Keep an open mind It’s easy to be preoccupied with the rigors of being an older adult and the responsibilities still resting on your shoulders. Part of the fun of dating when you were young was likely throwing caution to the wind, but some of those same carefree aspects remain true whether you’re dating at 17 or at 57. Laughter, fun, spontaneity and the chance for some adventure are still the keys to making memorable dates. Sometimes it’s who you know The old adage ‘it’s who you know and not what you know’ is applicable to dating. If you are ready to jump into the dating world again, ask your close friends or family members if they know anyone who might be in a similar situation. No matter how long it’s been since your last first date, some aspects of dating are the same as ever. Just remember to have fun. – Courtesy Metro Creative

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Exercise from page 8B

It’s not uncommon for those in their golden years to think they are

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The Report on Physical Activity and Health from the U.S. Surgeon General’s office noted inactive people are almost twice as likely to develop heart disease as those who are more active. While getting adequate rest and giving your body ample time recover from physical activity is essential, your body won’t benefit by avoiding exercise to preserve your strength. However, even moderate physical activity performed on a regular basis can reduce fatigue.

too old to exercise. Some may feel that their toned-down workouts cannot possibly have much impact, thanks to the physical limitations old age has put on their bodies. Others think it’s unwise for someone in their 70s or 80s to be physically active. However, no one is too old to exercise, as exercise helps the body stay strong and fit, even when you can no longer max out on the bench press or squat hundreds of pounds. Scaling back your exercise routine will be necessary as you get older, but that does not mean you cannot still enjoy and benefit from physical activity. Continuing to exercise as you age is a great way to improve your quality of life and stay as active as possible well into your golden years. – Courtesy Metro Creative





Exercise reduces fatigue, so sitting around to preserve strength is not effective.

Continuing to exercise as you age is a great way to improve your quality of life and stay as active as possible well into your golden years.





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before making any lifestyle changes. Some conditions may affect a person’s ability to be active, and it’s best to get the go-ahead from a physician before beginning an exercise regimen. Doctors may even suggest certain activities that have been known to alleviate particular conditions.



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FEBRUARY 17, 2017


A Reverse Mortgage: Is it too good to be true? By Beth Miller-Rowe

Branch Manager and Reverse Mortgage Specialist • The Reverse Mortgage Group • A Branch of American Pacic Mortgage

Many of you know at least a little bit about FHA insured Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM), also known as Reverse Mortgages. For some the very thought of a Reverse Mortgage sets off alarms, and for others, it piques curiosity. The anxiety about Reverse Mortgages arises from misunderstandings and hearsay.

The Truth: 1. You still own your own home – it’s not the bank’s nor the government’s! 2. As long as you pay your property taxes, homeowner’s insurance and HOA dues and maintain and occupy your home, you cannot lose your home because of a Reverse Mortgage. 3. FHA insures the HECM (Reverse Mortgage) program. IF you ever end up owing more than your home is worth, the FHA pays the difference; not you, and not your heirs. 4. The proceeds are NONTAXABLE.

How does it work? A Reverse Mortgage comes in many shapes and sizes. For some, we will pay off a large mortgage, thereby getting rid of the payment and increasing monthly cash ow; for others, we will create a stable monthly income for life; and yet others will enjoy a Line of Credit – one that cannot be closed or reduced, and it grows over time. For most, it will be a combination of these options. A Reverse Mortgage allows you the freedom to live through your retirement years with the security and dignity you dreamed of as you worked throughout your lives. That may mean paying bills with less stress; it may mean getting to travel as you had always hoped; or it may mean paying for in-home care for yourself or a loved one. Whatever it may mean to you, knowledge is your friend. It is important that you consult with a licensed Loan Ofcer who specializes in Reverse Mortgages. They are complex and require a thorough understanding of all aspects of your goals and how a HECM may help you to achieve them.

7. You do not have to make a principal and interest payment, although you can if you like. We call that the exible payments plan. You can pay as much or as little as you choose each month. The taxes, insurance and HOA, if any, are still your responsibility.

A Reverse Mortgage can also be a savvy nancial management tool. If you have IRAs, 401(k)s, Social Security and proceeds from a Reverse Mortgage, you can balance the use of all of those assets to create the most advantageous tax scenario. I just closed a loan for a woman who led her taxes this year and had to pay over $10,000 to the IRS because of the amount she had drawn from her IRA. This year, she will draw some money from her IRA and then draw the rest of her income for the year from her Reverse Mortgage so that she doesn’t have to pay taxes come April 2018.

Many misconceptions swirl around this loan program. The most important step is to research the truth about Reverse Mortgages. Talk to a professional, check Housing and Urban Development’s website, review the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association’s website, talk to friends who have a Reverse Mortgage. If someone’s first words are “oh, those are bad,” they too have heard the misconceptions about the program. Learn for yourself.

I see it every single day, where people are living far below their means to try to save extra pennies to leave for the kids. If my parents were still alive, I would certainly hope that they would be living life, having fun, doing all the things they dreamed of doing in retirement without a concern for what they might leave me. If there were to be anything leftover, great. If not, I would hope they would have enjoyed all their years. I nd that nowadays most kids feel that way about their inheritance.

5. You do not have to own your home outright to get a Reverse Mortgage. 6. Your heirs – not the bank nor the government – inherit your equity!

Many of my clients thought that they would have been long gone by now. They are outliving what they thought they were going to need for retirement. That’s good and bad. In addition to living longer – hopefully healthy and happy and “with it,” mentally – there are still the added living expenses that come with longevity. There is some apprehension about the new income and credit qualifying requirements, but rest assured, they are quite friendly. With decent credit and moderate income, you will likely be okay.

Let’s take a look and see if we can Make Your Retirement Dreams Come True.

Office: 925-969-0380 Cell: 925-381-8264 3478 Buskirk Ave., Ste. 1000 Pleasant Hill, CA 94523

BRE: 00950759/01215943 • NMLS: 294774/831612/1850 Licensed by the Dept of Business Oversight under the California Residential Mortgage Lending Act

CRS, GRI, MBE, Retired Teacher LUHSD, License #00677384

Living 50 Plus 02.17.17  

Fitness, finances and more for your next healthy and happy 50 years!

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