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February ’12 CELEBRATE

A lathered brush and razor at The Groom Room in Ames. The men’s salon specializes in shaving and grooming. PAGE 8


5 This Valentine’s Day, give the gift

of new experiences, and spend a little time together.


EDITOR Ellen Modersohn



8 More and more men are going

Patt Johnson Jennifer Miller

retro for a close shave.



Amanda Holladay

10 Tony Valdez is thrilled to make a


living playing music.

Andrea Melendez David Purdy



12 A daughter becomes caregiver,

Darla Adair-Petroski Charles Flesher Joe Hawkins Kimberly Isburg

and looking after Dad’s needs has been a challenge and a pleasure.



14 Tour group offers up the history, beauty and flavors of Cuba.

(515) 284-8032


Des Moines Register Magazine Division

16 Water volleyball helps keep

players fit while they’re having fun.




20 The best bets for shows, con-

Laura Hollingsworth

certs and more this month.

© 2012 Des Moines Register and Tribune Co.


22 Just because you can take Social

On the cover Longtime local Musician Tony Valdez with some of his guitars. PAGE 10

Security now, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should.


23 How can political and financial

fiftysomething is published monthly by The Des Moines Register and Tribune Company. Our offices are at 715 Locust St., Des Moines, IA 50309. Contact us at

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Instead of focusing on the things this Valentine’s Day — the candy, the card, the flowers — consider giving your loved one an experience you can do together. After all, what’s more precious than time, especially when it’s well spent? Here are several ideas for experiential gifts, all varying in price, venue and comfort level. February 2012 | fiftysomething 5

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celebrate LEARN A THING OR TWO •Learn out the ins and outs of the not-so-simple smooch at the “Science of Kissing” presentation at the Science Center of Iowa. From neuroscience to evolutionary biology to classical history and more, you’ll explore kissing from every angle (scientifically speaking, of course). Enjoy dinner and cocktails before the presentation. 6 p.m. dinner, 6:30 p.m. cocktail hour, 8 p.m. presentation, Feb. 11. 401 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway. $60 (dinner and presentation), $15 (cocktail and presentation). Make reservations at •Learn how to make Italian food together from a pro. On Feb. 14, Alessandra Meschini will show you how to make Montebianco Meatloaf from her family’s special recipe of this meatloaf covered in cheese and potatoes. 10:30 a.m. Or make Cannoli alla Siciliana from scratch at 6 p.m. Feb. 16. $35 per person. See the full schedule of classes at Cooking with Alessandra at or call 508-9474.

MOVE THAT BODY Exercising together doesn’t have to mean sharing a rowing machine at the gym. Being active together can mean walking your favorite trail, or exploring a new one. Or try one of these activities together. •Go cross-country skiing. You’ll burn more calories per hour than any other

You and your foodie sweetheart can learn how to make Montebianco Meatloaf, an Italian meatloaf covered in cheese and potatoes, on Valentine’s Day in a class taught by Alessandra Meschini, left. Learn more at FIFTYSOMETHING FILE PHOTOS sport while enjoying the winter birds, animals and landscape you may ordinarily miss. You can find groomed cross-country ski trails at Jester Park, the Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt and Big Creek State Park. Find directions at

Take your beau ice skating at the Brenton Skating Plaza, 520 Robert D. Ray Drive in Des Moines. There is public skating on Feb. 11 and 12. 6 fiftysomething | February 2012 things-to-do/cross-country-skiing/. Not up for skiing? Strap on a pair of snowshoes instead. Polk County Conservation rents snowshoes for $7 per day and cross-country skis, boots and poles for $8 per day. Call (515) 323-5300 to reserve equipment. Or inquire about ski rental at Warren County Conservation (961-6169), Active Endeavors (226-9345), Jax Outdoor Gear (292-2276) or Skunk River Cycles (232-0322). •Always dreamed of doing a figure eight on the ice? Go ahead, give it a try. (We promise not to laugh if fall a time or two.) For outdoor skating, head to Brenton Plaza, 520 Robert D. Ray Drive. Public skating is 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Feb. 11 and 12-8 p.m. Feb. 12. $5 admission, $3 skate rental. Save some money at Cheap Skate sessions on Feb. 13, 2-6 and 7:30-9 p.m., where you can buy one admission and get one free. Learn more at If you’d rather do your skating indoors, check out the Metro Ice Sports Facility, 5100 N.W. 72nd St., Urbandale. Public skating is 1-3 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. Feb. 11 and 1-3 p.m. Feb. 12. $5 admission, $2.50 skate rental. Bring your sweetheart to skate Feb. 20, 1-3 p.m., and receive a free

Central Iowa offers several places to try cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. carnation, while supplies last. Visit •Dance the night away. Learn swing dancing with a lesson at 8 p.m. Feb. 17, then practice with your sweetie until 11 p.m. Jive Junction is a monthly swing dance event at the West Des Moines Community Center, 217 Fifth St., West Des Moines. $5.

SEE SOMETHING NEW Step out of your comfort zone and seek out entertainment that you wouldn’t ordinarily see.

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•The Incoherent Theatre Company is bringing its first-ever full-length production, “An Evening of One-Acts (& More!),” to the Civic Center’s Stoner Theater Feb. 10-11. See all of the company’s award-winning one-act plays from the past four years, written by local playwrights and performed by local actors. 7:30 p.m. $9 (for 2 to 4 tickets). Purchase tickets at •Participate in a good, old-fashioned murder mystery at “My Bloody Valentine,” where you’ll help solve the crime that went down at the Paradise Golf and Country Club’s valentine dance. Enjoy a catered dinner by Claxon’s Smokehouse and Grill. 7 p.m. Feb. 10 and 11. Class Act Productions Theatre, 201 First Ave. S., Altoona. $25. Order tickets at •Never been to a peepshow? Well, you can cross that off your bucket list after attending “The Pretty Things Peepshow,” a vaudeville-style show with a mix of burlesque, sideshow and variety entertainment, performing with Eddy Price and his one-man band. 9 p.m. Feb. 13. Vaudeville Mews, 212 Fourth St. $12.

JUST RELAX •Sip some valentine tea as you’re serenaded with love songs on the harp (Is there any music more relaxing?) at the valentine tea party at Miss Spencer’s Special Teas, 3220 Wyoming St., New Virginia. Enjoy a four-course tea party with all the heartfelt trimmings. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Feb. 11. $26.50. Reserve your seats at (641) 342-1547 or visit •Pick up a valentine package with

wine, chocolate and massage at East Village Spa, 315 E. Fifth St., No. 121. The package includes a couple’s massage at East Village Spa, as well as a wine and chocolate pairing for two at Jasper Winery, 2400 George Flagg Parkway. $200. Visit to learn more. •Who says you have to go out to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Instead, rent a classic love story, make your favorite popcorn and snuggle up with a feel-good flick. Here are a few suggestions: “Romeo and Juliet” (1968) — This version of the quintessential love story, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, is considered by many as the premier screen adaptation of the Shakespeare classic. Starring 17-year-old Olivia Hussey and narrated by none other than Laurence Olivier. “It Happened One Night” (1934) — Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert star in this Oscar-winning film about a society aviator and his wife, a spoiled heiress, who are separated by her father after just getting married. She solicits help from a man who turns out to be a reporter looking for a story. “Once” (2006) — This interesting movie tells the story of two musicians, Guy and Girl, who meet in Dublin, Ireland, as she helps him put together a demo disc. Their budding love is revealed to the audience, and each other, through their songs. “Roxanne” (1987) — Who says love can’t be funny? Steve Martin and Daryl Hannah star in the movie based on the play “Cyrano de Bergerac” by Edmond Rostand. C.D., who was blessed with a super-sized nose, falls for Roxanne, who is falling for another man’s looks, but unbeknownst to her, C.D.’s personality.

Cremation. Get the whole story. There’s more to cremation than just the cremation. For example, did you know that the cremated remains can be buried, scattered or memorialized in a niche or mausoleum? Prior to or following the cremation, families can choose to have a service or gathering. In fact,we encourage it. For many families,the service is the first step toward moving ahead after a loss. Call or visit our website for a free brochure that tells the entire cremation story.

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February 2012 | fiftysomething 7

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Old-fashioned shave in vogue once again


Men seem to be yearning for a different era. Clothes are simple and tailored. Hair is neater, shorter, well-kept. Men are adapting the swagger of an earlier time — finding the balance between effortless but put-together, masculine but well-groomed. They’re not just putting on fitted cardigans and skinny ties. The look of a dapper man starts before he’s dressed. He’s in front of the mirror, with a comb for his head and a shaving kit for his face.

Old-fashioned shave returns To be clear, we’re not talking about a straight razor. We’re talking about a double-blade safety

A Parker synthetic faux ivory brush costs $22.50.

A Parker pure badger hair brush at The Groom Room. The natural-hair brush sells for $42.50. razor — called “safety” for a reason. The one your father or grandfather shaved with, using shave cream he whipped up himself. That old-fashioned wet shave is seeing a resurgence. “Guys want to look like guys,” said Troy Tinnean, who owns The Groom Room in Ames with his wife, Karen. “Men want to do manly things without being chauvinistic about it.” Why the appeal? Tinnean said it’s because men need a clear start to their day. They need 15 minutes to stop thinking about everything else and just focus on themselves. A wet shave isn’t a quick shave. It’s slower, more thoughtful and requires skill. “It slows you down and makes you think about

8 fiftysomething | February 2012

The old-fashioned shave is making a comeback and Troy and Karen Tinnean, owners of The Groom Room in Ames, are here to help. Troy hosts shaving clinic at the store to give customers tutorials in the art of using a safety razor. your routine,” Derek Carmichael said. “Everyone needs those few minutes in the day to focus on something that isn’t a part of your day.” Carmichael has been a client of Tinnean’s for many years — before Tinnean opened his own shop on Ames’ Main Street in 2009. He’s been shaving with a safety razor for about four months now, something that took him 30 to 40 minutes when he started, and now takes about 15.

A quick history of shaving Let’s back up a minute and talk about the history of shaving and razors. The razor has been in existence since the Bronze Age (that’s between 3300 and 1200 B.C.). Its modern counterpart was invented in the 18th century, and King Camp Gillette is credited with improving the design of the safety razor (invented in the 1870s) in 1901. A businessman, Gillette saw

A lathered brush and razor at The Groom Room in Ames. ERIC ROWLEY/FIFTYSOMETHING PHOTOS

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profits in cheap, disposable blades that would need to be replaced often. “Gillette changed from a shaving company to a marketing company,” Tinnean said. “The simplicity and quickness of shaving with a disposable razor changed a man’s mindset of shaving from being a masculine ritual, to being a chore that they had to get done as quickly as possible.”

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How it works If you’re like most men, you use a disposable razor. It’s quick. It’s efficient. But, it’s expensive. (An 8-count of Gillette Fusion cartridges sells for $27.99 at Walgreens, for example.) Tinnean describes how a disposable cartridge works: Modern shaving razors rely on a shaving system called “hysteresis,” or the “tug and pull.” The first blade cuts into the whisker and pulls it out from the skin. The second blade pulls the whisker from the skin a little farther still, and the third blade cuts the over-stretched hair. Then the shaved hair snaps back below the surface of the skin, giving the impression that you’ve shaved closely, but the whisker has to grow back out from under the skin, causing razor bumps and irritation. A double-edge safety razor utilizes a “draw and cut” method of shaving. It has one blade on each side, and will cut the whisker completely through in one glide, eliminating razor burn. These blades are also inexpensive — usually between 10 and 30 cents per blade. The razor can cost anywhere between $20 and $200. Tinnean sells Parker brand razors, most for under $50. Buy his


Derek Carmichael of Ames gets a shave from The Groom Room owner Troy Tinnean. ERIC ROWLEY/FIFTYSOMETHING starter kit, with a razor, five blades, shave cream and a brush for $30. Individual brushes, made from synthetic materials or badger hair, range from $20 to $300. Tinnean sells them for $22.50 to $42.50.

How to do it Tinnean offers wet shave clinics once a month. The hour-and-ahalf classes have sold out every time. (Cost is $30. The next class is Feb. 21, and includes the starter kit.) Tinnean said to remember the four C’s: cleanse, coat, cut, condition. Cleanse with a creamy facial cleanser (Tinnean loves old-school Noxzema). Then use your brush to whip up your shave cream, mixing a dime-sized amount with a few tablespoons of water until it forms peaks. (If your shave cream has bubbles in it, it’s not ready.) Hold a hot towel on your clean face for one to three minutes to soften and swell your hair. Coat your face with shave cream, and cut. You’ll do a “three-pass shave,” meaning you’ll shave over your face three consecutive times, each time shaving in a different

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includes clinic and starter shave kit (with razor, five razor blades, shave cream and a brush) Reserve your spot: Call the shop to reserve a spot; clinics fill up fast

direction, taking your beard down to “zero grain.” Then, rinse your face with warm, then cold, water, and condition your skin with a moisturizer. You’re done, and your face should be as smooth as a baby’s butt.

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February 2012 | fiftysomething 9

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Valdez keeps A ROCKIN’


After 45 years, the Des Moines musician still longs for the stage

Des Moines musician Tony Valdez has been performing throughout Iowa for more than 45 years and he has no plans of stopping anytime soon. ANDREA MELENDEZ/THE REGISTER

10 fiftysomething | February 2012

sk most anyone about local musician Tony Valdez and they’ll say they’ve heard him with one of his many bands performing at local night spots and events over the past 45 years. But there is much more to the 60-year-old guitarist and singer. He’s up most days at 4 a.m. and off to the downtown YMCA where he works out and teaches a spin class twice a week. He loves to cook and often makes dinner with his wife, Eileen, in the kitchen of their Des Moines townhome. He is in the thick of a rigorous four-year process to become a deacon in the Catholic Church. He’s been a radio show host, and he’s the father of two grown children, daughter Heidi Valdez, a social worker in Des Moines, and son Aaron, a chef at the Thirsty Whale Bar and Grill in Algonquin, Ill. But at the heart of the Dowling Catholic High School grad, is music. He’s made a living entertaining local and regional fans for most of his life. “I am so totally amazed I have been able to do what I totally love for so long,” says Valdez, whose thick wavy hair is a distinguished silver gray. Music is just a part of his DNA, Eileen Valdez says. “When we’re driving his fingers are moving like he’s playing a guitar even if there is no music playing,” she says. With keyboardist and singer Carey Crowson, Tony Valdez performs weekly gigs at Sam and Gabe’s bistro in Urbandale and the Cosmopolitan Lounge downtown. The pair also play at local wineries and private

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Longtime Des Moines musician Tony Valdez and his wife, Eileen, cook up dinner in their kitchen. The couple met in 1991 and she encouraged him to pursue music full time several years later. He hasn’t looked back. ANDREA MELENDEZ/FIFTYSOMETHING PHOTOS parties. He also performs with The Tony Valdez Large Band, which consists of Valdez and nine other local musicians who play a variety of music styles, including jazz. A third group, the Retro Rockets, is Valdez and four other musicians who play music from the late 1960s through the 1970s. It’s a return to his roots, he says. He grew up the oldest of three children in West Des Moines’ Valley Junction neighborhood. His dad, Manuel Valdez, worked at a cement company and his mother, Helen, worked for the Department of Agriculture. Manuel also was a musician. “There was always a guitar around the house,” Valdez says. His father played traditional Mexican-American music in a band that entertained at dances and other events. A young Tony would accompany the band by shaking maracas. As a freshman in high

school, Valdez remembers his mother asking him if he’d heard a song by an up-and-coming band named the Beatles. “I listened to it on the radio,” he says. The song was “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” “I ran down the alley to the record shop and bought the 45,” he says. He was mesmerized by the entire British Invasion and its sound. Valdez taught himself how to play the guitar (though he’s never learned to read music except for a few chords) and formed a band with four other boys in his freshman class. The Echos V played at sock hops, proms, graduation and other school events. The group consisted of Valdez on lead guitar, brothers Rick and Gary Chase on rhythm guitar and drums, respectively, Bruce Cameron on keyboards and Rick Breuss on bass guitar. Their reach grew beyond Des Moines as they landed gigs in surrounding cities and counties. “My dad would haul us

and our equipment around,” he says. “It kept us out of trouble.” He married at 20 and had two children. Echos V had disbanded and Valdez was working in inventory control at a warehouse and later as a customer service trainer while still playing gigs four or five nights a week with various bands. He divorced and later met Eileen. Valdez’s sister introduced him to the Cleveland transplant. They married in 1991. Eileen, human resources director for the Diocese of Des Moines, convinced him to “take a leap of faith” in 1998 and make music a full-time career. “I struck out on my own and it was a struggle getting started,” he says. He was a one-man band, of sorts. He had to find gigs, do the booking and finalize contracts on top of preparing music and finding musicians to help out when needed. He’s formed bands, dissolved groups and

played on his own. He’s become an icon in the local music scene. “The two keys to Tony’s success are that he’s a good musician and he’s a very personable human being,” says Myron Peterson, a trombonist who plays in The Tony Valdez Large Band and is band director at Urbandale High School. Peterson says Valdez’s sincerity makes him successful. “We played at the same event a year apart. When we walked in to set up, Tony remembered everyone’s name and without pause, spoke to them,” Peterson says. “He always has a genuine personal touch that makes people feel like they are part of the process.” The two first met when Valdez hired Peterson as part of a band that opened for Latin jazz musician Pancho Sanchez at the Val Air Ballroom in 2001. “He said he was putting

together a larger band and needed a trombone player,” Peterson says. “The rest is history.” Valdez’s musical accomplishments include being inducted into the Iowa Rock’n Roll Music Association hall of fame, an honor he says brings attention to Iowa musicians. He also played as a duo act with Don Jaques for 14 years until the pair split amicably in 2010. Valdez and Crowson, who also owns Crowson Piano Service, paired up. It was a change Valdez says he was ready for. Crowson was a singer, something Jaques was not. “I like singing harmony and with Carey we can offer crowds another voice,” Valdez says. “This new duo is kind of pumping fresh blood in me.” Along with his music, Valdez is preparing to become a deacon. The rigorous four-year process

includes monthly trips to a seminary in Missouri for classes. “Tony is very humble,” says Eileen, who is going through the process with her husband. “Things move him. He’s very caring. He has a servant’s heart.” He is also a romantic. When Eileen is at one of his performances, Valdez will alter the words of Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” and sing blue eyed girl for his wife. “That usually annoys the brown-eyed girls in the crowd,” Eileen says. His artistry has expanded from music to painting. Valdez has done wildlife watercolors and is now moving to colored pencils. His bucket list includes another trip to Italy and to continue to play the music he loves. “I never thought I would still be doing this at this age.”

Valdez formed his first band, Echoes V, with four musicians from his freshman class at Dowling High School. He has played in countless bands over his 45 years in music. February 2012 | fiftysomething 11

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‘An act of love’

Hundreds of thousands of Iowans are caregivers for family members BY JENNIFER MILLER JENMILLE@DMREG.COM

Even after a stroke 20 years ago left Tom Irwin, now 80, with some physical limitations, he remained healthy and he and his wife lived independently until 10 years ago, when Donna Irwin died, says their daughter, Sheila Mauck, 48. About a year after his wife’s death, Tom moved into Plymouth Place, an independent living facility for seniors, where he lived until last May, when health problems began to crop up. Mauck soon knew that Irwin was going to need more help, she says. “I would go over and organize his medications, but it got to the point where I couldn’t keep them straight. It became clear that it wasn’t working any more, and he understood that he had to move.” Mauck and Irwin’s decision to take the step to the next care level, while sensible and necessary, was still hard. “He was very sorry to leave Plymouth and his friends,” Mauck says. And, she says, visiting some of the facility options Irwin had was depressing. “After one particular visit I was a mess. It was just so awful… .” Jeanne Yordi, the Iowa Department on Aging’s Family Caregiver Program director, says that moving relatives to a

Sheila Mauck regularly checks in with her father, Tom Irwin, at the Walden Point assisted living facility in Des Moines. Irwin, who used to rent a 12th-floor apartment overlooking the Des Moines skyline, has relocated due to health concerns. Mauck says her father has settled in well. He is still getting familiar with all the services offered, enjoys the library and dining room, and reads in his favorite easy chair. BRYON HOULGRAVE/FIFTYSOMETHING care facility isn’t necessarily a respite. “Caregiving doesn’t end when someone moves into a care facility; it just changes. But many people do not identify themselves as caregivers. They just are taking care of family.” Irwin, a retired accountant, and his family are part of a large — and getting larger — demographic of older

12 fiftysomething | February 2012

Iowans and their family caregivers. According to statistics from the IDA based on the 2010 Census, 27.5 percent of Iowans were older than 65. In Polk County, the number was almost 31 percent. By 2030, an estimated 663,186 Iowans will be over 65. Informal — unpaid — caregivers in Iowa number more than half a million at any given time

according to a just-released study by the National Caregivers Association and the Family Caregivers Alliance, says IDA’s spokesperson Machelle Shaffer. “They put in 353 million hours and the market value of those hours was $4,100 — and that’s in millions of dollars,” she says. Happily, the

Mauck-Irwin clan found a good match with Walden Point, an assisted living facility in Des Moines. Walden Point offers everything Irwin needs for now — activities, meals and assistance with daily medications and personal care. And even decent food. A lifelong mac ‘n’ cheese hater, Irwin says he ate only the second good dish

of the stuff he’s ever had at Walden. “I don’t know — I might become a macaroni and cheese fanatic,” he says sarcastically. Mauck says her dad has settled in well, though the transition was more difficult than either of them expected. “It was an unfamiliar place, new people, new offerings. It took a couple of weeks for him to start feeling like himself.” Referring to a needed haircut, she notes, “He’s still getting used to all the services that are offered, so sometimes he doesn’t take advantage of them.” Perhaps the biggest downside for Irwin is cabin fever. “I know he feels a little cooped up,” Mauck says. She does what she can to help with that. She, Irwin and Irwin’s 86-year-old sister, Clare, go out to lunch every Friday, and Mauck makes sure Irwin gets out to his granddaughters’ sports and music events. He also gets together once a month with a cadre of high school buddies. In between visits and outings, Irwin, a voracious reader, keeps himself busy. “I read the newspaper cover to cover every day. I get Time magazine, and I have lots of books to read.” His favorite reads are history and baseball — especially the Yankees. (“I’m old enough that Lou Gehrig was still around in my day,” Irwin says.) He does

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Taking care of the caregivers Being a family caregiver can tax even the most upbeat and energetic of people. Research endorsed by the Family Caregivers Association shows that caregivers ages 45 to 54 in the United States spend an average of 26 hours per week on caregiving activities with their aging parents and/or relatives. They can also lose thousands of dollars in wages and benefits, and up to 50 percent suffer from some level of depression. Taking advantage of caregiver support services has been shown to make clinically significant improvements in caregiver depression.

Sheila Mauck and her father, Tom Irwin, are part of a large — and getting larger — demographic of older Iowans and their family caregivers. Based on the 2010 Census, the Iowa Department of Aging found 27.5 percent of Iowans were older than 65. In Polk County, the number was almost 31 percent. BRYON HOULGRAVE/FIFTYSOMETHING take advantage of the center’s planned activities, though he draws the line at bingo. “I’ve had enough bingo in my lifetime,” he says. Between working full time and raising three daughters, Mauck has plenty on her plate, but luckily, she says, her husband Kent works from home and has “really stepped up. He takes care of a lot of the appointments and errand-running.” Mauck is lucky to have built-in help. Caregivers often don’t ask for help because they don’t think they need it, Yordi says. “It’s an act of love. But it’s mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting and you can’t take care of someone else unless you

Sources for information and help for seniors and their caregivers: Iowa Department on Aging (IDA),; Jessie M. Parker Building 510 E. 12th St., Suite 2. Local: (515) 725-3333; toll-free: (800) 532-3213 Family Caregiver Alliance, part of the National Center on Caregiving; offers information on these topics as well as hundreds of others: » A list of services for caregivers » A list of services for care recipients living at home » A list of resources for living arrangements for care recipients » Links to state and national caregivers » A coordinated entry point for access to info and referral resources: LifeLong Links at

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take care of yourself.” Mauck will admit to moments when having to run out and buy milk or go to an appointment is the last thing she feels like doing, but spending time with her dad is no chore. “He has a really great sense of humor, and when things are really bad, we can still laugh about them. He is great company and is a pleasure to be around.”

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A dream trip to Cuba Ames couple is enchanted by once forbidden island’s people, culture and history BY CAROL BRANNON SPECIAL TO FIFTYSOMETHING

Our dream of traveling to Cuba came true in November when we took part in a Road Scholar adventure to the island. (Road Scholar is a nonprofit organization that provides educational tours of countries around the world.) We spent four days in Havana after an hour-long chartered flight from Miami. We stayed at the historical Hotel National

and spent another four days in Cienfuegos on the southern coast, where the weather was always sunny and about 85 degrees. Our trip consisted of coach excursions, speakers and cultural performances, assisted by the Cuban government tourism bureau. We have fond memories of Cubans. They were friendly and as curious about us as we were about them. Because English is taught there, we were able to speak with many people.

An artist works and offers her paintings for sale in Trinidad, Cuba.

A city square in Havana. PHOTOS SPECIAL TO FIFTYSOMETHING 14 fiftysomething | February 2012

Trip details WHO: Carol and Jim Brannon HOMETOWN: Ames WHERE: Cuba DATES TRAVELED: Nov. 15-23, 2011 Our first evening in Havana, we heard a talk about the restoration work being done in Havana. We saw many public restoration projects throughout the city and also toured a private restoration project — the Patranato Synagogue and Jewish pharmacy. Havana has a multitude of transportation choices, from horse-drawn carts, pedicabs, two-seater gas cabs and new Chinese coaches to foreign automobiles. American autos up to 1960 are kept running by Cuban ingenuity. At the Museo of Guanabacoa, we met followers of the Santeria religion and witnessed a colorful performance of energetic dancing and music. Santeria is saint worshiped by Afro-Cubans. We then visited a church in Regla, site of the Black Madonna. San Lazaro Church, named for the patron saint of the poor, is the site of yearly pilgrimages. Barefoot pilgrims drag stones many miles. Flowers and religious items are sold outside. Nearby is a hospital for leprosy patients. We learned the history of the

Transportation in Cuba ranges from horse-drawn vehicles to new Chinese motor coaches. hospital and how it cares for the ill. We were invited to tour the hospital and meet patients. Later we visited Ernest Hemingway’s home. It looked like he had just stepped out. On our first day in Cienfuegos we visited the Beny More Art School. Students age 9 and older proudly performed ballet and guitar music. On a walking tour of Trinidad, we discovered cobblestone streets lined with homes built by sugar barons. Artists create and sell their work there now. Our group of 22 was invited into a home of a 90-year-old woman. Returning to Cienfuegos, we traveled through the picturesque Valley of the Sugar Mills. In 1988 it

A view of Cienfuegos, Cuba, from the Hotel Jagua. was named a UNESCO World Heritage site. Once, there were 43 sugar mills. We visited a site with a human- powered cane press and shared raw sugar cane juice. One evening we were serenaded by the Cienfuegos Cantores, an a

cappella choir. Their repertoire included “Shenandoah.” Truly, music communicates the soul of people. Cuba is a land of contrasts, much potential and natural beauty. We were pleased to be guests for a week.

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Water Volleyball

Deb Fisk, a fitness specialist at Mercy Wellness Center, 1111 Sixth Ave., holds a pair of the beach balls that her water volleyball classes use.

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Exercise is better when it’s fun. The 60-to-70something-year-olds love playing water volleyball in the Mercy Wellness Center’s heated pool. One class plays by the rules, keeping score with a well-inflated ball. Another class plays quite informally with three or four big beach balls batted

through the air in continuous motion. “Each group has its own personality,” says Deb Fisk, 54, of Waukee, a fitness specialist at the Mercy center. “Their main objective is having fun.” Fitness staff used to play volleyball with the various groups but now they let them do their own thing, only occasionally jumping into the games. Groups are determined simply by how many show

up each day, the class instructor said. Teams can include from four to 10 players per side and up. Some teams rotate positions, others stay in the same spot. Water volleyball sessions are offered seven times a week at the Mercy Wellness facility, 1111 Sixth Ave. in downtown Des Moines. Fisk, who lap-swims two to three times a week for an hour in her own

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A group of women keep active at Mercy Wellness Center, 1111 Sixth Ave. in Des Moines, during a water volleyball class.

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A group of volleyball players have an informal session in the pool at Mercy Wellness Center at 1111 Sixth Ave. in Des Moines. BOB MODERSOHN/SPECIAL TO FIFTYSOMETHING fitness routine, mixing freestyle, butterfly, back and breast strokes, has been swimming since high school. She swims competitively, but sees the upside of recreational water volleyball. Besides the fun aspect of these non-structured classes, the activity helps players’ reaction time. “The game is harder than it looks, and does make them work, jumping up to hit the ball, and they get some upper-body work keeping hands up and

ready for action,” Fisk said. One player mentioned that an hourlong session is a long time to be holding your head up looking for a ball to hit back over the net. Ginger Carnahan, 65, of Des Moines, has been playing water volleyball at Mercy Wellness since 2005. The pool, with a temperature of 92-94 degrees, is good “warmwater therapy,” she said. Fisk said Carnahan never misses a session. She participates in a water

18 fiftysomething | February 2012

basics class before volleyball, then takes an arthritis water exercise class afterward. She walks one and a half miles, three days a week at a mall, too. Then there’s Loren Olson, who Fisk said “gets here at 8 o’clock for a 10 o’clock class. He walks on a treadmill, lifts some weights, goes to coffee with other class members, does another set of weights — then there’s the water volleyball — all of this so he can go dancing two or

three nights a week.” Dr. John Porcari, an exercise physiologist at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, who has studied exercises and exercise equipment over years, says the competition is a key part of the fun of this type of exercise. “We have a group of four to six people who play volleyball two to three times a week as part of our cardiac rehab program,” Porcari wrote in an email. “They usually

precede the volleyball with 30 minutes of swimming or water walking for aerobic conditioning. The biggest benefits that we see with the water volleyball are that it’s fun and they love it. They love the competition, and it is great for their coordination and balance.” He sees some aerobic training benefit in the activity since he’s played at times and gotten a bit winded.

Learn more For more information on water volleyball, contact Mercy Wellness Center, 1111 Sixth Ave., Des Moines, (515) 247-3066, ext. 6.

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Take it to next level at pool For those who want to crank up the in-pool fitness experience a notch or more above volleyball, a few local fitness swimmers offer their swimming routines and perceived benefits. » Amy Beattie, 53, of Des Moines, grew up with and competed with Deb Fisk at Southeast Polk High School and is getting back into swimming. “Over the years, and primarily in my 20s, I did some masters swimming meets,” Beattie said. Most recently she swam in the Iowa Senior Olympics in 2010. She also used her swimming ability to complete the HyVee Triathlon the year she turned 50. Over the past few years she’s been running and biking more than swimming. (She did the whole week of the 2011 RAGBRAI.) “But when swimming is my primary workout I will try to swim three to four times a week and get in between 3,000 and 3,500 yards each workout,” Beattie said. She swam butterfly in high school but said it takes too much strength for her to go any distance anymore. So she swims mainly freestyle, breaststroke and backstroke as well as adding some stroke-and-kick training. “And as Deb and I have talked about before, no matter what other workouts we have done over the years, we always feel as if we have gotten the best overall workout from swimming,” Beattie said. “It works out muscles that biking and running just don’t touch. And there is no question that it helps my lung capacity.” » LeAnn Auxier, 49, aquatics programmer/scheduler at the Urbandale swimming pool, swims three to four times per week. She’s a distance swimmer, so when she swims it’s usually for fun, and not necessarily training for speed, she explained. “I don’t always count laps, so I will swim for an hour, maybe longer if feel like it. If I do swim more seriously, I will develop a workout routine, and follow it… I don’t swim competitively anymore.” Adult fitness swimmer, a class taught at the Urbandale pool, teaches students how to use a pace clock, develop a workout, and perfect strokes. Triathletes often sign up for the class. » Rachel Stauffer, 49, of Des Moines, uses a regimented approach to her swimming. She also tries to swim three to four days per week, in the morning before work. She also runs and bikes, so she generally works out six to seven days per week with swim workouts typically lasting 75 minutes. “Swim workouts are based on written workouts and include various sets on specific time intervals,” Stauffer said. They include a mix of varying distances of freestyle and other strokes. She used to compete regularly in both swim meets and triathlons, and just now is getting back into competing. “I swim for two primary reasons: Fitness and the camaraderie of swimming/working out with others,” Stauffer said. “Swimming is a great all-around fitness workout and it is relatively easy on the joints.”

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Top entertainment picks

Music acts, ‘West Side Story,’ art and home shows and more are on tap in February

A revival of the Broadway musical “West Side Story” plays Tuesday through Feb. 12 at the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines. SPECIAL TO FIFTYSOMETHING

Saturday and Sunday: Des Moines Symphony’s

Masterworks 4: An American Salute

Guest conductor Sarah Hicks of the Minnesota Orchestra will conduct this Des Moines Symphony program for the Spirit of America season, including Samuel Barber’s inspirational “Adagio for Strings” as well as Aaron Copland’s “Billy the Kid.” $20-$60 adults, $9.75-$32.50 students. Civic Center of Greater Des Moines, 221 Walnut St. Purchase tickets through Ticketmaster or the Civic Center ticket office. 20 fiftysomething | February 2012

Monday: Guy Davis

Legendary bluesman Guy Davis is known for his authentic and spellbinding voice, as well as his sense of humor. Hear him play traditional blues music while weaving in is own original songs and stories. $22. 7:30 p.m. Civic Center’s Temple Theater, Temple for Performing Arts building, Tenth and Locust streets. Purchase tickets through Ticketmaster or the Civic Center ticket office.

Tuesday through Feb. 12: “West Side Story”

Don’t miss the opportunity to see the Sharks and the Jets battle it out, live on stage as the classic musical “West Side Story” whistles and snaps its way to the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines. The Bernstein and Sondheim score, featuring songs such as “Tonight” and “I Feel Pretty” is considered to be one of Broadway’s finest. The love story between Tony and Maria tells an urban mid-20th century version of Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet.” $16.50-$71.50. 221 Walnut St. Purchase tickets through Ticketmaster or the Civic Center ticket office.

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Feb. 9-12: Des Moines Home & Garden Show

Get inspired about gardening, home improvement, decorating and more at the 2012 Des Moines Home & Garden Show. Celebrity guests include John Gidding of HGTV’s “Curb Appeal: The Block” and “Designed to Sell,” as well as local interior designer Hal Davis. Visit exhibitors, enjoy live entertainment, and more. $11 adults, $4 ages 7-12, free ages 6 and under. Iowa Events Center, 730 Third St. www.desmoineshome

Feb. 11-12: HeArtFest Fine Art Show

More than 40 artists will be represented on both levels of Valley West Mall. From ceramics to painting to sculpture and more, you’ll find unique handmade gifts for Valentine’s Day, or just something for yourself. Free. 1551 Valley West Drive, West Des Moines. www.valleywest

Feb. 18: Diavolo

The Dance Series begins at the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines with Diavolo, a company that examines the funny and frightening ways individuals interact with their environment through performances from dancers, gymnasts and actors. The outrageous sets use everyday items — doors, chairs, stairways — as a backdrop for the leaping, flying and twirling, creating a metaphor for the challenges of modern life. Purchase tickets through Ticketmaster or the Civic Center ticket office.

Feb. 18: Solas

Called the most popular, influential and exciting Celtic band to emerge from the United States, Solas will bring its Irish folk music to Hoyt Sherman Place for a one-night-only performance. Founders Seamus Egan, who plays flute, tenor banjo, mandolin, whistle, guitar and bodhran, and fiddler Winifred Horan anchor the band. $25. 1501 Woodland Ave.

Explore the booths of dozens of vendors at the Des Moines Home and & Garden Show at Hy-Vee Hall. FILE PHOTO

Feb. 21: SmartTalk with Arianna


Don’t miss the opportunity to hear fearless woman Arianna Huffington, nationally syndicated columnist, author and founder of online news site The Huffington Post in this SmartTalk Series event. $25-$75. Civic Center of Greater Des Moines, 221 Walnut St. Purchase tickets the day of the show at the Civic Center ticket office.

Feb. 24: George Strait with Martina McBride

See two country music stars on one stage. George Strait holds the record for the most No. 1 singles of any artist in history (yes, more than even Elvis!) and has boasted 24 albums at the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Country Music Album chart. $71.50-$81.50. 730 Third St.

Feb. 25: Chamber Music Society

of Lincoln Center

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center makes a stop at Drake University for a one-night performance. The program features music that blends folk tradition with art music. $10-$38 adults, $5-$17 students. 7:30 p.m. with a pre-concert presentation at 6:45 p.m. Sheslow Auditorium, 2507 University Ave.

February 2012 | fiftysomething 21

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When should you start taking Social Security? SPECIAL TO FIFTYSOMETHING


f you’re of a certain age, the new year means you’re that much closer to a day you may have anticipated with a combination of humor and resignation — specifically, the day you’re eligible for Social Security. But just because you can take Social Security, it doesn’t mean you must take it. So, should you? Before we get to that question, let’s review the basic rules governing Social Security payments. You can typically start collecting benefits at age 62, but you’ll get only about 75 percent of what you’d receive if you

waited until your full retirement age, which varies according to your birth year but is most likely 66. You’ll get even bigger monthly checks if you delay collecting them until you’re past 66, and you’ll max out on your payments once you reach 70. So, the question boils down to this: Should you start collecting Social Security early — thereby receiving smaller, but more numerous, checks — or later, when your checks will be bigger but fewer? If you really need the money once you reach 62, you’ve already got your answer. But if you could potentially afford to wait, we recommend you view

your decision through a LENS: » L: Your projected lifespan — You can’t see into the future, but given your family history and general health, you can make an educated guess about your projected longevity. If you’re fairly confident that, once you reach 66, you’ve still got another two or more decades in front of you, you may want to consider delaying taking Social Security past age 62. » E: Your employment status — If you’re under full retirement age — between 62 and 66 — then for every two dollars you earn over $14,640 (in 2012), you’ll lose one dollar in Social Security benefits.

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In the months before you reach your full retirement age, for every three dollars you earn over $38,880 (again, for 2012), you’ll lose one dollar in benefits. But starting in the month you reach your full retirement age, you can earn as much as you want without losing any benefits. » N: Your need, including your other sources of retirement income — If you have a pension, or you’ve built substantial resources in your IRA, your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan, and you can support your income needs with modest withdrawals from these accounts, you might

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whichever is larger. Consequently, you and your spouse will want to coordinate when you take Social Security benefits so that you can maximize the benefit for the spouse likeliest to live longer. The choice of when to start taking Social Security can affect your lifestyle throughout your retirement years — so weigh all the factors and make the choice that’s right for you.

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decide it’s worthwhile to delay taking Social Security to maximize your benefits. Remember that regardless of your Social Security decision, you typically would have to pay a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty if you started taking withdrawals from these accounts before you reach age 59½. » S: Your spouse/ marital status — If you’re single, you basically just need to think of yourself when making this decision. But it’s a different story if you’re married. If you die first, your spouse can keep receiving his or her own Social Security benefit or receive yours —

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When political and financial issues intersect and affect your investment strategy SPECIAL TO FIFTYSOMETHING


hen politics and financial issues intersect, it can be dizzying news. You open a newspaper, turn on your television or go online, you can’t miss it. Take the debt ceiling issue debated in July and August. Like everyone else, you were likely eager for the drama in Washington to end, and puzzled as to why it took so long. And once Congress and the Obama Administration came to an agreement you may have been asking yourself, “What will happen to my investments

now?” Remember, the debt ceiling is the legal limit on borrowing by the federal government. If Congress hadn’t increased the limit, borrowed funds wouldn’t be available to pay bills, so the U.S. could have been forced to default on its debt obligations. To avoid this outcome, Congress has regularly raised the debt ceiling in the past. And now that the majority of the storm has died down, we can look back at this situation with a reminder as to how we should address situations like this issue that create volatile short term

changes in the market: » Be prepared for short-term volatility. Understand that with political pressures and global concerns, decisions like this often will not happen until the last minute, as we saw in this instance. This can cause market interest rates to rise across the board, leading to declines in bond and stock prices. Such a drop could well be sharp, but it doesn’t necessarily predict an extended downturn. In fact, a decline would probably be short-term, as chaotic financial markets likely force political action to be taken

more hastily. So, brace yourself for market drops, but don’t abandon a proven strategy of diversifying your investment dollars across a range of quality vehicles. » Don’t make hasty decisions. Historically speaking, the short term volatility created rarely lasts and markets have corrected themselves and still trend upwards. So don’t rush into any investment decisions based on the most dismal scenario. The U.S. is still the world’s largest, most powerful economy. The debt ceiling certainly dominated

recent news — and similar issues could always be on the horizon. However, you’re investing for tomorrow’s goals. By staying calm and sticking with sound investment strategies proven to help

you achieve long term goals, you’ll find there’s no “ceiling” on what you can attain. For in-depth help with your investor concerns, consult a financial advisor.

This article is provided by Mark Atkinson, a Financial Advisor at RBC Wealth Management in Clive, and was prepared by or in cooperation with RBC Wealth Management. The information included in this article is not intended to be used as the primary basis for making investment decisions nor should it be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any specific security. RBC Wealth Management does not endorse this organization or publication. Consult your investment professional for additional information and guidance. RBC Wealth Management does not provide tax or legal advice. Mark G. Atkinson is Associate Vice President, Financial Advisor for RBC Wealth Management, 1250 N.W. 128th Street, Suite 200, Clive, IA 50325. Contact him at (515) 225-4521 or (866) 344-3574.

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fiftysomething | February 2012  

Lifestyle magazine for the fiftysomething in Iowa.

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