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November/December 2010

The magazine for active, mature lifestyles

GIFT-GIVING CHEER................................3 Easy, creative presents get rave reviews

‘GRANDPARENT SCAM’..........................14 Seniors can avoid getting bilked

Feature Story:

DRAMATIC TRADITION ‘A Christmas Carol’ features veterans of area theater Page 4


MARATHON WINNER

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Reinoud Elias, 74, Manitowoc, right, runs with his daughter, Margo EliasNuss, during the 15th annual Indianapolis HalfMarathon recently. Elias finished first in his age group. More than 6,000 runners of all ages participated in the half- and full marathons. Submitted

Enjoy Life at

The Gardens 1700 S. 18TH ST., MANITOWOC

Table of contents 3: Lifestyle column 4: Feature story

N OV E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 0

6: Savvy Senior column

On the cover

7: Financial column 9: Health column

•WASHER/DRYER IN APARTMENT

Phil Kinzel, a member of the Manitowoc area acting community for three decades, poses near the Capitol Civic Centre, Manitowoc. Read more about Kinzel, and local theater organizer Kathie Bundy, on Page 4 Cover photo by Doug Sundin

•DAILY ACTIVITIES

Staff

•BUILDING SECURITY

Pat Pankratz, 50 Plus! Editor (920) 686-2138 ■ ppankratz@htrnews.com

•LAWN MAINTENANCE

50 Plus! is published monthly by the Herald Times Reporter. It also is distributed to select businesses in Manitowoc County.

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11: Craig Wilson column 12: ADRC News 15: To-Do List

Mailed correspondence may be sent to: Pat Pankratz, Herald Times Reporter, Manitowoc, WI 54220


Lifestyle

Gifts that are a joy to give, receive

H

oliday shopping comes in three phases. First, there are those deals and perfect gifts one finds throughout the year. They’re the ones that make us feel as if, with all the holiday demands, we have a leg up on the season. Then there are the children’s lists. The only question those lists raise is what fits into the budget and whether it will still be on the list when Christmas comes. Finally, there’s Uncle Herb, Grandma and Aunt Gert, the people who have given you so much throughout your life. Casting about for gift ideas brings responses that they are downsizing, you shouldn’t fuss and you definitely shouldn’t waste your money. But it’s the holidays and what fun is that? “What they may really be telling you,” said Theresa Patrick, community relations director at Shady Lane in Manitowoc, “is that if they have to store it, dust it, maintain it, or even figure it out, it is not something they would enjoy. We have found that there really are a lot of wonderful gifts they would enjoy, and that they are often the most creative. Better yet, they may be the most meaningful for them and for you.” Here are some of the ideas Patrick has found get rave reviews. æ Family event calendars.

Susan M. Frost

Sometimes older people are assumed to have bad memories, but we don’t realize the number of generations they are tracking. “Not only do they remember back three and four generations but going forward, there are children, grandchildren, great -grandchildren and sometimes even great-great-grandchildren. That’s a lot for anyone to keep track of,” Patrick said. A calendar, with each birthday and anniversary marked, keeps people on top of family events. æ Greeting cards. A box of birthday, get well and sympathy cards, along with a package of postage stamps, helps keep people in the loop and a little stress off their budget. You may want to wrap up packets of cards addressed, stamped and ready to mail, along with a post-it giving the mailing date. æ A book of coupons for spending time together, offers of breakfast, dinner or lunch, a ride in the

country or a walk in the park is a rich gift for all. æ Marking family photos. Sitting down over one or more sessions to review the pictures and mark them will not only make them meaningful and of value to the family, but often photos evoke wonderful family stories to pass on. An important thing to keep in mind if you give a gift of your time or your family’s time, said Patrick, is that you follow up and make sure you don’t disappoint. æ Foot care. Between bending over and trying to see your toes clearly, nail trimming can be difficult. Pedicures have become easily attainable, especially with the growing number of nail salons popping up. Other luxury gift certificates might be a gift for the hairdresser, a massage or a facial. æ Soaps, lotions and oils. Winter is tough on everyone’s skin, but the older you are, the faster your skin dries out in our dry Wisconsin winters. Gentle, rich, lightlyscented soaps, lotions and oils make bathing a treat and your gift will be appreciated long after the holidays. æ A movie and dinner. Passes for local theaters and favorite restaurants make a neat package and, if you tuck in a gas card, you’ll make someone happy twice. æ “Independence” gifts. “Helping people stay in their homes is a rising trend,” Patrick observed,

Family event calendars can make good gifts for seniors. “but sometimes the maintenance of independence is overwhelming.” You may decide to offer house cleaning, upkeep and yard work as a family, or hire a service to do these things. æ Subscriptions to newspapers, magazines or their local cable company are all thoughtful way

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Herald Times Reporter • November/December 2010 • 3


Feature story

From left, Barbara Bundy-Jost, Phil Kinzel and Jim Steckmesser rehearse a scene from “A Christmas Carol,” which will be performed Dec. 9-11 at the Capitol Civic Centre. Doug Sundin/50 Plus

Holiday tradition BY TARA MEISSNER

Phil Kinzel

MANITOWOC — Local theater never grows old. Phil Kinzel, who has graced local stages — big and small — for the past three decades, finds the appeal of capturing an audience motivation to continue his craft. Kathie Bundy, owner of Kathie’s Stage Door Pub, finds her vehicle to create art is orchestrating a cast of characters on any stage. The pair is involved in the long-standing, local tradition of Masquers’ “Christmas Carol,” set for Dec. 9-11 on the Capitol Civic Centre stage. Bundy is the director. Kinzel is trying on a new actor’s hat with the role of Marley. He had played Scrooge for the past seven years. However, their commitment to local theater doesn’t start or end there.

“Theater gives an opportunity to put yourself aside; you are kind of coming out with a mask on — you are someone else,” Kinzel said. Kinzel came to the local stage sometime in the 1980s with a small role in Heart-A-Rama, a Lakeshore area fundraising tradition benefiting the American Heart Association. “I’m not sure how I got into it,” Kinzel said. He had limited theatrical exposure in childhood and throughout high school, when he did a handful of shows. However, he credits his gift for acting to his family of storytellers, especially his Bohemian mother. Kinzel stayed with Heart-A-Rama for about five years. He then began accepting roles at the Little Sandwich Theater, which was located at what was then The Sting, on Jay Street in Manitowoc. It is now called

50 Plus

4 • November/December 2010 • Herald Times Reporter

Shooter Malone’s. The Little Sandwich Theater moved to the Historic Forst Inn in Tisch Mills, run by local attorney Ron Kaminski. The theater is now in its 22nd year. Kinzel stayed with the small venue and just completed a lengthy run of “Yankee Tavern,” which will go on the road to Sturgeon Bay in March 2011. “The closer you are, the more you see. It is all amplified in a small venue; there is no physical separation,” he said. “The wall between fiction and audience is paper thin; characters are more believable. You’ve got them in your living room.” For Kinzel, capturing an audience’s attention and making them believe is the fun of acting. “You work for that grasp,” he said.

ã See HOLIDAY, Page 5


Holiday From Page 4

Kinzel started with Masquers about 15 years ago. Masquers does three shows a year, all short run (three performances) and all held at the Capitol Civic Centre. In the larger venue, Kinzel said an actor can still connect intimately with the audience, maybe to a lesser degree. “You still want to get them to forget they are watching a show, to forget reality and get caught up in it,” Kinzel said. Kinzel, in his eighth year of the Masquers “Christmas Carol” production, attended the holiday play much earlier, when it was an annual production of the Children’s Center of the Arts. He was cast in a small role as a Nephew and worked his way into the role of Bob Cratchit. Kinzel has been performing Edgar Allan Poe at Kathie’s Stage Door Pub for the past 10 years. His son helps out on keyboard to set an eerie tone. Years ago, Kinzel would read Robert Frost at an old bookstore downtown. He’d like to do another

evening with Robert Frost to capture the subtleties of language in the poetry, maybe this spring. Regardless of the stage, venue or audience size, Kinzel likes slipping into character and working with people with the same interests. It’s building a bond, a double bond, he said. Both the show and the personal bonds are made. “You can’t help but make friends,” he said. Kinzel says he is more introverted, which seems a contradiction for an accomplished local actor throwing himself into character in front of an audience. It is his ability to observe people as an introvert that has contributed to his ability to characterize people on stage, he said. “I think that age also has helped, in that as one ages, he or she becomes more in touch with a greater variety of emotions, feelings, conflicts, disappointments …” Kinzel said. “I think the richer the life, the greater the ability to characterize. Characterization is really the revelation of both the character and the actor.”

Kathie Bundy The best use for Bundy’s artistic

talents is entertainment and production. She can put on a stage, what she can’t capture on canvas like a painter might. Born left-handed, Bundy was trained by Catholic nuns to write with her right hand. She attributes her inability to paint and draw to this early childhood correction, but she is driven to create and her inspiration comes straight from the Holy Ghost, she said. “I am an artist,” she said. “I have to create.” Her flair for production began at age 4, when started writing and performing plays. Bundy “I was a onewoman show,” Bundy laughs at the memory. “I charged one penny admission to those back-yard productions.” Bundy believes everyone has to learn a craft. She studied staging at the University of WisconsinManitowoc, and took countless other courses in thespian studies. Bundy prefers directing to acting. She is active in Masquers, the oldest continuously operating theater group in Wisconsin. Bundy is

the director of its annual production, “A Christmas Carol.” However, her art doesn’t need an elaborate stage. The Chamber of Manitowoc County Athena Award winner finds venue for theatrics in everything she does. In the late 1960s, at what was then Holy Family Hospital, Bundy worked as the hospital’s first public relations director. It was a progressive position for the times. She was charged with integrating the hospital into the community and to create a fundraising drive. So, she organized for a New York City director and producer to come to town and cast the hospital staff into a theatrical production. The first year the event raised $15,000 and accomplished the goal of making friends with the community, according to Bundy. These days, she produces a live show from 4 to 5 p.m. on Friday evenings, broadcasting via radio station WCUB the news, events, issues and people in downtown Manitowoc. “I like producing and making things happen for the community,” she said. Her focus is the arts and downtown businesses. One thing she’d like to see the community support

is moving Lincoln’s homecoming parade to travel down Eighth Street. She counters the naysayers, who may complain that the private schools will want their Homecoming floats parading downtown. “So, do it,” Bundy said, remembering the youthful spirit displayed in the 32 floats from Lincoln’s fall homecoming parade. “Let all three schools have parades downtown.” A recent bout of pneumonia left Bundy with a clarity. She was hospitalized for the illness last year. “Pneumonia made me realize I was not going to slow down; it made me realize how much I have to do, how fast life goes,” she said. “I have to speed up my agenda, not slow it down.” Bundy is expanding the theater that can take place at her pub, and in its summer-time annexed tent. The pub offers staged reader-theater. Find out more about the shows by visiting Kathie's Stage Door Pub, located in the oldest house in Manitowoc, at Seventh and Franklin streets. Tara Meissner is a writer in Manitowoc. She can be reached at (920) 860-6957 or tarameissner @yahoo.com.

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JIM MILLER

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Dear Infrequent: For seniors who don’t use their cell phone very often but still want one for emergencies or occasional calls, there are a number of low-cost plans available depending on your specific needs. Here’s where to find some of the cheapest deals. Prepaid plans: The best way infrequent cell phone users can save money is with a prepaid cell phone — also known as pay-as-you-go phones. With a prepaid phone there’s no contract, no fixed monthly bills, no credit checks and no hidden costs that come with traditional cell phone plans. With this type of service, you buy a special prepaid phone (they can cost anywhere from $10 to $100), then pre-purchase a certain amount of minutes (for talk or text) that must be used within a specified period of time. While there are many prepaid phones on the market today, the cheapest deal for occasional users belongs to T-Mobile (t-mobile.com, 800-8662453), who has a 30minute plan for $10, and minutes don’t expire for 90 days. That averages out to $3.33 per month. If, however, you need more

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talk time, check out their “Gold Rewards” annual plan where $100 gets you 1,000 minutes that are good for a full year. And with all T-Mobile pay-asyou-go plans, if you replenish your account before your minutes expire, your unused minutes will roll over. TracFone (tracfone.com, 800-8677183) also offers some nice value plans that start at $10 for 50 minutes per month. Senior-friendly phones: If you don’t mind spending a little more, Consumer Cellular and Jitterbug are two other popular options for seniors because they offer inexpensive low-use plans and seniorfriendly phones. Consumer Cellular (consumercellular.com, 888-345-5509) sells two “Doro” simplified cell phones that cost either $25 or $30. And they offer a $10 per month “casual” calling plan, plus 25 cents per minute, and no long-term contract. They even give a 5 percent monthly service discount to AARP members. And Jitterbug (jitterbug.com, 800-918-8543), which makes the best senior-friendly cell phone on the market, sells their Jitterbug J phone for $99, with calling plans that start at $15 per month for 50 minutes, and no contract. Both services do, however, charge a one-time activation fee of $35. Free cell phones: If you’re living on a limited income, you may even be able to get a free cell phone and free airtime

each month through a program called SafeLink Wireless, which was created by TracFone, and is currently available in 29 states including the District of Columbia. To qualify, you’ll need to show that you’re receiving certain types of government benefits, such as Medicaid, Food Stamps, SSI, or have a household income at or below 135 percent of the poverty line — that’s $14,621 for an individual and $19,670 for a family of two. To learn more or apply, call 800-723-3546 or visit safelink.com. If, however, you don’t qualify or if your state doesn’t yet have a SafeLink program, another option to check into is the 911 Cell Phone Bank. This is a program that provides free, emergency-only cell phones to seniors and victims of abuse. To see if there’s an emergency cell phone program near you, contact your local law enforcement agency or see www.911cellphonebank.o rg/agencies.asp. Savvy Tip: If you’re in a long-term cellular contract and want to escape without paying the hefty early termination penalty see cellswapper.com or celltradeusa.com. These companies match cellular customers who want out of their contracts with people who are willing to take them over. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book. Send your questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org.


Financial

Lifestyle

Serious considerations for aging in place Angels we have heard

services, like medical care. So how do you know if staying in your own home is a feasible option? As long as the neighborhood is still a safe and comfortable environment, there are some things you can do to determine if you should stay in your own home. The first thing to do is to take a look at the house as a livable environment in your current physical state. Consider every room for potential problem areas, no matter how small. Can you still climb the stairs? Is it still easy to move from room to room and around your furniture? Looking at your home with fresh eyes provides you a chance to see if any alterations can be made to eliminate or minimize those concerns. As you age, it is smart to routinely revisit the house layout and see if any more problem areas have come up due to physical limitations. Also, try to have an open family discussion as to the availability of different members who can assist the person living alone. Determine what needs your loved one has and who can best fulfill them. Also look to friends and neighbors if

sessment of your current situation will result in your happiness for years to come, whether it involves remaining in your current residence or not. Staying at home tends to be the easiest option available to us as we age. With serious consideration and thought put into it, you can also make it a safer option than it may otherwise be. Paul Wallander is the executive vice president and COO of The Fiscal Concierge, LLC, a personal bill paying service. He can be contacted at (920) 686-8810.

Gannett News Service

Six talented women (four solo artists and one duo) lend their voices to make unforgettable Christmas music this year. æ A mix of inspirational and seasonal songs, Susan Boyle’s “The Gift” is the follow-up to her multi-platinum debut. ($11.98 at mass retailers.) æ Mariah Carey’s “Merry Christmas II You” contains both classic carols and originals by the songstress. ($13.98 at mass retailers.) æ “Taylor Swift Holiday Collection,” six Christmas songs from America’s musical sweetheart. ($6.99 at Target.) æ Annie Lennox’s rich voice provides a “Christmas Cornucopia” of 12 holiday-themed songs. ($18.99 at mass retailers.) æ Folk favorites Indigo Girls release their first holiday album, with three ornaments packaged inside. ($18.98 at mass retailers.)

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possible to lend a hand if they are willing. Additionally, it may be beneficial to look into services that are available to seniors to help alleviate their stress and sources of concern. From physical assistance, such as lawn care and snow removal, to financial assistance, like bill paying services, there are many options out there at affordable rates to make life easier for seniors. If living at home is not realistic, you can look into other options, such as assisted living or independent living services. Of course, financial limitations may play a role in determining if moving to housing with supportive services is even an option. Unfortunately, nearly one-third of seniors do not qualify for public assistance programs and cannot afford senior living communities. Once again, it is important to weigh the options available to you. There are various senior villages and naturally occurring retirement communities available to fit into your financial situation. Like picking your house, selecting a senior community involves your comfort level with the layout, the neighbors and your budget. As opposed to living alone, these communities are better equipped to provide care in a coordinated and efficient manner. As in many of the matters that we face as we age, discussing your options with loved ones tends to lead to the best options becoming clear. A frank and honest as-

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or many seniors, the decision of where to live often seems like a no-brainer. If you have always lived in one house, why not just stay where you are? On the surface, this would appear to be logical, but there are some serious concerns that should be weighed before dismissing other housing options. The home we lived in when we were 40 years old is not the same as the one we live in at 80 because we are not the same. Each home contains serious physical deficiencies for older individuals that we could overcome in younger days. Those limitations can arise from living in a multi-story house or just having a single step-up from one room to the next that can prove to be more daunting over time. Simply put, your home may put you at greater risk for accidents. Another consideration is the existing family infrastructure in place to assist a senior living alone. Having loved ones or friends nearby makes living alone more manageable as it provides a sense of security and allows for seniors to lean on others for help and not feel they have to go about doing things alone. One more thing to think about is the neighborhood in which you live. The area you moved into has most likely changed over time — sometimes it has changed multiple times. You want to make sure it is a neighborhood that is safe and comfortable. Also look at the house in relation to important

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There are many benefits to allow exercise into your lifestyle, which we all know, but we have such a hard time doing. First of all, I learned my health insurance was willing to partially pay for my contract with Anytime Fitness. I have more energy and am more steady on my feet. Balance is such an important aspect of our lives and exercise has helped me see just that. Putting time in for daily exercise helps your mental state too. I have a friend who had taken their father in to the doctor since he had fell, his daughter said that his mental capacity has lowered since he stopped working on his physical abilities. There have been studies to prove this is true. I do have trouble with memory, but I believe having the exercise program is helping. It’s not always a big change, but it’s significant to me. I feel more productive which is a great benefit as well.

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Health/Wellness

Protect yourself with flu, pneumonia vaccine D

id you know that Medicare Part B covers the cost of flu and pneumonia vaccinations? Since the seasonal flu virus changes from year to year, it’s important to get vaccinated for each new strain. So even if you were vaccinated earlier this year, you would still need to get a new vaccination for this season’s virus. While everyone should get a flu vaccination each flu season, it’s especially important that people 50 or older or anyone with longterm health problems get vaccinated. These groups are at higher risk of having serious flu-related complications. This is especially true for residents of nursing homes and longterm care facilities. It’s important not only for people with weakened immune systems to be vaccinated, but also for their loved ones. So if a member of your family is in the hospital or nursing home or has a chronic disease like asthma or diabetes, it’s critical for you to be immunized. The main way seasonal flu viruses are spread is when droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person travel through the air and land on the mouth or nose of people nearby. The viruses can also spread when a person touches these droplets and then touches their own mouth or nose before washing their hands. Influenza can cause: æ Fever æ Cough

Cedric Thayer

æ Chills æ Sore throat æ Headache æ Muscle aches If you catch the flu virus, you may not realize it right away. Only about half of those infected by the flu will have symptoms. Therefore, you could easily pass the virus to others without knowing it. Even if you do get symptoms, you can pass the virus to others one day before showing any symptoms. And after you get sick, you can continue to pass the virus to others for five to seven days. People of all ages may wonder if it’s worth the effort to receive an influenza (flu) vaccine. The answer is 100% “yes.” Influenza is a serious disease. Most people are ill with influenza for only a few days, but some get much sicker and may need to be hospitalized. Influenza causes thousands of deaths each year, mostly among the elderly. The flu causes more than 36,000 deaths and 200,000 hospitalizations annually. The single best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated. In addition to the vaccine, these steps can help stop the spread of

flu:• Stay healthy – get plenty of rest, eat a wellbalanced diet and exercise regularly. • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth; germs spread this way.• Wash your hands often, especially after you cough or sneeze. Discard used tissue immediately into the garbage can. • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based gel. • If you are sick, stay home to avoid passing anything on to others. Aurora Health Care also recommends a pneumonia vaccine if you’re 65 or older or if you have chronic health conditions such as diabetes or heart and lung diseases. Aurora also recommends a pneumonia vaccine for people under age 65 who have asthma or smoke cigarettes. Usually, one dose of pneumococcal vaccine is recommended per lifetime. Certain individuals may benefit from an additional dose. Why suffer with the flu or pneumonia this winter season? Getting vaccinated will help you avoid both illnesses, and increase your chances of being healthy all winter long. So why not give yourself (and your loved ones) an early holiday gift and get vaccinated today? Cedric Thayer is an internal medicine physician at Aurora Two Rivers Clinic on Garfield Street. He can be reached at (920) 793-2281.

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Herald Times Reporter • November/December 2010 • 9


CROSSWORD THEME: CHILDREN’S AUTHORS ACROSS

PUZZLE SOLUTION

1. Japanese port 6. Type of feeling 9. *Carter Goodrich’s “The Hermit ____” 13. Used by pitchers and violinists 14. Campfire residue 15. Light shade of blue 16. Chocolate tree 17. Legendary “West” 18. Lowest point 19. *”Diary of a Wimpy Kid” author 21. *”Percy Jackson & The Olympians” creator 23. Fitness spot 24. ____wig or ____winkle 25. J. Edgar Hoover was its first director 28. Whimper 30. Lay to rest 35. Post-cremation container 37. Person, place or thing 39. Candle shape 40. Kind 41. Retire from military 43. It equals distance divided by time 44. “Little _____ fact” 46. Used to harness wind at sea 47. Ragtime dance, The Turkey ____ 48. Holiday beverage 50. Chow 52. Beneficiary of holiday toy drives 53. Was key strategist for George W. Bush 55. Prefix for bad 57. *”Corduroy” author 61. *Wild Things” creator 64. Caterpillar precursor 65. Second sight? 67. Marcus Aurelius garb, pl. 69. Bay window 70. Theatrical prompt 71. Not together 72. Part of a hammerhead 73. “New ___ on the block” 74. Michael J. Fox in “Back to the Future”

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10 • November/December 2010 • Herald Times Reporter

DOWN

1. *Azog or Bolg in Tolkien’s Moria 2. Let something sit, as in water 3. Reproductive structures on fungi 4. Asiatic wild ass 5. *Lemony Snicket, e.g. 6. Like flavor of some wild meat 7. Popular three-syllable chant by American fans 8. Not here 9. Tsar, tzar or ____ 10. *Former Australian PM turned children’s author 11. Toreador Song from “Carmen,” e.g. 12. Capital of Switzerland 15. To bless 20. Make corrections 22. Wrath 24. Decoration on top of musketeer’s hat 25. *”Inkworld Trilogy” author 26. “_____ it on!” 27. *The way Conan Doyle’s detective liked to appear 29. Sufferings 31. Popular French pastry 32. Abstractionism with optical illusion, popular in the 1960s 33. __-___ product, as in copycat 34. *”The Mitten” author/illustrator 36. Fastened with stitches 38. Film ____ 42. *Her teen novels often tackle controversial topics 45. Conventional 49. India’s smallest state 51. *Random House imprint for children’s books 54. T-shirt collar type 56. Parkinson’s drug 57. Complete failure 58. One in a million 59. One of Great Lakes 60. Not odd, as in number 61. Accelerated 62. Petri dish gel 63. Go-____ 66. 6th century dynasty in China 68. Eye infection


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Craig Wilson It’s part of the Rockwell exhibit that runs through Jan 2. at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. The exhibit consists of 57 Rockwells from the collections of filmmakers George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. The little girl is shown sitting at the top of the stairs — again, in her pajamas — peering down at a living room packed with holiday partiers. You see only her back. And she’s

alone, of course, longing to join the “grown-up” party. It can take a long time to get over such longings. I went home this month to visit my mother and once again slept in my old bedroom at the top of the stairs, the same stairs where I sat more than 50 years ago. I swear I could still hear the laughter, the chatter floating up from the living room. The memory made me smile, but it also made me wonder what happens to kids today who grow up, say, in one-story ranch houses? Where is their party perch? Where do they spend their evenings in exile? Then I remembered. They’re at the party, but Dr. Denton is nowhere in sight. Craig Wilson is a USA Today columnist. E-mail cwilson@usatoday.com.

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he holiday season is fast approaching, and with it comes the holiday party. For the most part these are events at which people wear Santa hats, not lampshades, unless of course it’s the office holiday party and far worse things happen. But that’s another column. There was a time, not that long ago, when children were not invited to holiday parties. It was adults only. Today, however, children are trotted out to every tree trimming. They’re even allowed to speak! I’m so old I can remember the days when children were not only not heard but also not seen. We were told our place, and our place was at the top of the stairs, watching the holiday festivities below. My parents’ parties were not the least bit glamorous — good Methodists drink ginger ale, not Champagne, when feeling festive — but that’s not the point. It was a party, and we weren’t invited, exiled to watch from afar. And in our pajamas, no less. I always thought I was sitting there alone on those stairs years ago. Little did I know then that there were thousands of us across the country. (We could have formed a union and filed a grievance if only we’d known such possibilities existed.) Norman Rockwell captured this universal banishment in his Little Girl Looking Downstairs at Christmas Party. The illustration first appeared on the cover of McCall’s magazine in December 1964, a few years after my stair-sitting days came to an end.

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ADRC news

Stepping up to help those in need BY JUDY RANK

H

olidays can be a difficult time for people who are alone. The Aging & Dis-

ability Resource Center staff wishes to thank everyone who shared a Thanksgiving meal with the elderly or someone who was alone for the hol-

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Once again the church community has stepped forward to offer Christmas dinner opportunities so that no individual or family need be alone on that day. Faith Church, at 2201 S 42nd St., Manitowoc, will be the host site for the annual Community Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day. Doors will open at 11:30 a.m. starting with appetizers and the meal being served at noon. Transportation will be available to those unable to drive and meals will also be delivered to shutins. Reservations can be made by calling (920) 6847208 by Dec. 22. Please leave your name, phone number and number of people attending. If you need transportation or a meal delivered, please leave a phone number and address where you can be reached for pickup or delivery instructions. St. Peter the Fisherman in Two Rivers will be the host site for a Christmas dinner sponsored by the Two Rivers/Mishicot Ecumenical Ministries. Serving will be from 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. Reservations may be made by calling (920) 793-3152 by Dec. 20. Please leave your name, phone number and number in the party that will be attending. To volunteer, please call (920) 7948461.

Open enrollment A reminder that open enrollment for Medicare Part D and Advantage Plans began Nov. 15 and ends on Dec. 31. Open en-

12 • November/December 2010 • Herald Times Reporter

rollment gives Medicare recipients who are enrolled in a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D) or an Advantage Plan an opportunity to review their current plan and change to a plan that ensures them the best coverage available to meet their healthcare needs in 2011. This is the one time during the year that people can review and, if necessary, change their current health care coverage. Every Part D plan changed for 2011, with some of the 2010 plans opting not to continue coverage for Manitowoc County residents. People without a drug plan are also free to enroll in a plan during this time. Computer savvy individuals may go to www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800633-4227) to make changes to their Medicare prescription drug and health coverage. Other Part D recipients may make an appointment to meet with trained volunteers at the Manitowoc Senior Center (920) 683-4507, Two Rivers Senior Center (920) 7935596) or the ADRC office (920) 683-4180. Please bring your Medicare card and a pharmacy listing of your current prescription drugs. Medicare beneficiaries who cannot meet the costs of prescription drugs may be eligible for extra help. Medicare has a program in which those who are eligible for extra help pay no more than $2.50 for each generic drug and no more than $6.30 for each brand-name drug. The

program can also help pay for premiums and other out-of-pocket costs. Individuals whose income is less than $1,353.75 a month and assets less than $12,501; and a couple whose income is less than $1,821.25 a month and assets less than $25,010 may qualify for extra help.

Gift reminders When shopping for that special Christmas gift for aging family members, it is a good idea to remember that most often the everyday items tend to make the most appropriate and appreciated gifts. Grocery cards, utility payments, telephone cards, meal tickets, transportation, and pharmacy gift cards, all will not go unused. And many times, the most appreciated gift doesn’t cost anything. Caregivers most often appreciate someone who is just willing to spend an hour or two with their spouse or loved one, so that they can have time to themselves, time to shop, or time to pamper themselves away from home. The staff of the ADRC wishes everyone a Merry Christmas. The office will be closed Dec. 24 and Dec. 27 in observance of Christmas. The office will also close at noon on Dec. 31 and be closed, Jan. 3. The Manitowoc Senior Center dining site will be closed Dec. 23 and open Dec. 27 for meals. Judy Rank is executive director of the Manitowoc County Aging and Disability Resource Center.


More Medicaid patients using ERs, study finds

BY STEVEN REINBERG

HealthDay

Increasing numbers of Americans, especially adults on Medicaid, are using hospital emergency rooms for their health care, say researchers from the University of California, San Francisco. Using data from 1997 through 2007, the researchers found that ERs are increasingly serving as “safety nets” in American health care, because by law they must treat all patients regardless of insurance or their ability to pay, the researchers say. “There are alarming trends in emergency department visits,” said lead researcher Dr. Ning Tang, an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the university. “In 1999 adults with Medicaid visited the emer-

gency department at a rate 3.5 times higher than the rate of adults with private insurance, and in 2007 adults with Medicaid visited the emergency department at a rate five times that of adults with private insurance,” she said. Many of these visits by Medicaid patients were for conditions that could have been managed in a primary care clinic, Tang noted. The report is published in the Aug.11 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. To calculate how emergency departments were being used, Tang’s team reviewed data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. The researchers classified emergency departments as “safety-net facilities” if more than 30 per-

cent of all visitors were on Medicaid; if more than 30 percent of visits were by people without health insurance; or if more than 40 percent of visits were by Medicaid and uninsured patients. The number of emergency departments designated as “safety net” centers increased from 1,770 in 2000 to 2,489 in 2007, the researchers found. They found that during the time period studied, annual emergency department visits went from about 94.9 million to 116.8 million, an increase of 23 percent, which is almost twice what was expected based on population growth, they said. The biggest increase in ER visits was seen in people 18 to 44 years old and those 45 to 64. But there could soon be a problem with demand

and supply: At the same time that ER visits mushroomed, the number of emergency departments fell by 5 percent, the researchers noted. Moreover, visits among people receiving Medicaid went from about 694 visits per 1,000 people to about 947 visits per 1,000 people, while visits by adults with private insurance, no insurance or Medicare remained stable, they found. Because of increased volume, median wait time for treatment increased from 22 to 33 minutes during the study period. Strategies are needed to prevent further stressing of this “safety-net” system, the authors added. The findings suggest that access to primary care is a key problem, Tang said. “Whether it’s primary care physicians are not accepting new pa-

Happy Holidays

director of medical education in the department of emergency medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, wasn’t surprised by the findings. “It’s what we experience on a day-to-day basis,” she said. There is no single explanation for the increase in emergency room visits, but rather a combination of factors, Kuittinen said. Hospitals and emergency departments are closing around the country, so naturally there is an increase in people using the remaining emergency rooms, she noted. More individuals are receiving Medicaid assistance, she said, and many primary care doctors aren’t taking on new Medicaid patients because of low reimbursement. “It’s a problem with the system,” she said.

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tients with Medicaid or that there aren’t enough primary care physicians, we need to dig a little bit deeper,” she said. Whether health care reform will help isn’t clear, Tang said. With more people on Medicaid, the future is uncertain, she said. Even increasing reimbursement for doctors may not solve the problem, she added. Tang’s group also noted that the recession may make the problem even worse. ���One of the nation’s most severe recessions started in 2008, and with record job losses in 2008 and 2009, an estimated additional 5.8 million Americans became uninsured and an estimated 5.4 million enrolled in Medicaid and SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program),” they write. Dr. Tamara R. Kuittinen,

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Herald Times Reporter • November/December 2010 • 13


‘Grandparent scam’ taking seniors for a ride Many fooled by late-night calls from ‘grandkids’

Grandparents across the country are falling victim to a new and surprisingly effective scam: They receive phone calls from people claiming to be their grandkids, frantically asking for money. It’s easy to see why many people don’t hesitate to open their wallets in this situation. When you hear that your loved ones are in trouble, your first instinct is to help. Unfortunately, that’s just

what scam artists are counting on. In what’s known as the “grandparent scam,” calls often come late in the night, and the callers are in a panic, saying that they’re in an emergency situation, like a car accident or having been arrested. Posing as grandchildren, the con artists often beg their victims not to call their “parents,” and ask them to transfer money as quickly as possible. The sense of urgency that the con artists create is what makes concerned grandparents act quickly, without verifying who is calling. Con artists will

Seniors can be fooled by the “grandparent scam,” in which people claiming to be grandkids frantically ask for money because of an “emergency.” ARA photo pull in others to impersonate attorneys, law en-

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forcement personnel or others of authority to create the sense of urgency. With the availability of information on the Internet, the scam is even easier to pull off — cons can look up names, phone numbers and more and find out the right things to say to their victims. And with background noise and muffled phone lines, it can be hard to distinguish between voices. “The best protection from this scam is awareness,” says Denise Jaworski, vice president of consumer protection at Western Union. “There are other, similar scams in which fraudsters call or send e-mails claiming to be friends or relatives who need help. These scams change daily, so it’s important to verify any emergency situation before sending funds.” Keep these tips in mind to protect yourself from becoming a victim of fraud: æ If you get an e-mail

14 • November/December 2010 • Herald Times Reporter

or a phone call from a family member or friend claiming to need money urgently, take the time to mentally review the situation to see if it makes sense. æ Tell the caller you’ll call them back at a known number, not a number that they give you. In the mean time, call a mutual friend and ask if they are aware of the situation. æ Contact your friend or family member and let them know you’ve received an e-mail or call claiming to be from them. If you discover that someone is trying to defraud you, contact your local police immediately. æ Be suspicious. Because “emergency” scams are becoming more commonplace, you need to be aware of the potential dangers and take them seriously. Don’t feel bad about verifying the information you’re receiving. æ If you did send a

money transfer through Western Union before realizing it was a scam, call the company immediately at (800) 448-1492. If the transfer hasn’t been picked up, it will be refunded to you. Also, file a report with your local police department. Some extra communication can help prevent scams like these as well. For example, travelers should make sure that their friends and family are aware of any international travel dates and destinations. You should also be vigilant about the information available about you online, which scammers might try to use against you or your loved ones. Help protect others by sharing this information with them. For more information about scams and for more tips on how to protect yourself from fraud, visit www.WesternUnion.com /consumerprotection. ARA Content


THINGS TO DO

Clipper City Chordsmen, “We Need a Little Christmas,” Capitol Civic Centre, 7 p.m. Nov. 27. (920) 683-2184 Christmas Fantasy Parade, Downtown Two Rivers, 5:30 p.m. Nov. 27, (920) 794-1482 Lights of Love Remembrance and Tree-Lighting Ceremony, Atrium at Aurora Medical Center, 5000 Memorial Drive, 6 p.m. Nov. 28, (920) 794-5158 UW-Manitowoc Lakeshore Wind Ensemble: A Festival of Christmas, Capitol Civic Centre, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3-4, (920) 683-4733 The Wonder of Christmas, Trinity Alliance Church, view hundreds of Nativity scenes of all sizes and types, Dec. 3-5 and Dec. 10-12, Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday noon to 4:30 p.m. Group tours available. (920) 6821522 Breakfast with Santa, Dec. 4, J.E. Hamilton Community House, Two Rivers. Each child can decorate Christmas cookies, have the opSleigh rides will be among the attractions Dec. 11-12 when the Pinecrest Historical Village presents A Holiday in History. HTR file photo portunity to visit with Santa and receive a gift. (920) 793-5592 ley,” Capitol Civic Centre, Dec. Listen to Christmas carolers, cert package available, (920) Manitowoc Symphony OrchesHFM Love Light Tree celebra9-11. (920) 682-1165 then come inside for holiday 793-5590 tra: Glory to God in the Highest, tion, Holy Family Memorial Hartreats! Times TBA, (920) 684St. Peter the Fisherman Church, Christmas Tree Ship A Holiday in History, Pinecrest bor Town Campus, proceeds to 0218 Two Rivers, Four phenomenal Celebration, Dec. 11, Wisconsin Historical Village, Celebrate the benefit community health initiaNight with International Tenors, holiday traditions of the past with vocal soloists join the local chotives and the Providence fund, 6 Maritime Museum, Celebrate rus and members of the orchesChristmas in a nautical way by Hamilton Community House, sleigh rides, live holiday music, to 8 p.m. Dec. 7 tra for the Christmas portions of welcoming Santa and a load of Join us for an evening with the beautiful decorations and family this holiday perennial. 7:30 p.m. The Masquers, Inc. “A ChristChristmas trees as they arrive on International Tenors of Canada, activities in stove-heated buildmas Carol: Scrooge and Mara Susie Q Fish Company trawler. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11. Dinner/conings. 11 a.m. to 3 pm Dec. 11-12 Dec. 12, (920) 683-2184

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16 • November/December 2010 • Herald Times Reporter


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