Living 50 Plus Decatur-Morgan April/May 2021

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Steps away from Rhodes Ferry Park and the Tennessee River, our Wilson Street building is perfect for those who want a more independent lifestyle, but may want access to the services at Riverside Senior Living. Studio, One Bedroom, and Two Bedroom Models individual climate control, private bath, ample storage, full kitchens, housekeeping and laundry services, three chef-inspired meals daily, social and recreational activities, relaxing garden areas

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Why ask a MarMac Real Estate REALTOR® to assist you? MarMac Real Estate understands that the decision to sell can be difficult.

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Selling a home can be an emotional time, potentially involving other life decisions. A MarMac Real Estate REALTOR® understands the issues facing older adults. By taking a no-pressure approach, we can help you navigate your choices and may be able to suggest alternatives that help you stay in your home.

It’s important to have a network of professionals, and that’s exactly what we’ve built over the years. Whether it’s tax counselors, financial advisors, or estate planners who can help you understand the financial consequences of selling your home, to trade contractors to get your home prepared for showings, estate sale organizers, and senior moving specialists - we’re connected to those that can help you.

We take the time needed to make you feel comfortable with the complex selling process. A MarMac Real Estate Professional understands the demands a sale can make on you, and works hard to minimize them. They will tailor the marketing process to your specific needs and be there when you need them. MarMac Real Estate will be with you throughout the entire process. A MarMac Real Estate REALTOR® is interested in looking out for your best interest through all aspects of your transition, not just the sale of your home. We’ve invested the time and resources to be knowledgeable before, during, and after your transition.

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ON THE CUTTING EDGE DECATUR’S LOONEY STAYS ACTIVE STYLING HAIR AND SNOW SKIING AT 78 Hair styling photos by JERONIMO NISA J. Hugh Looney has been cutting hair for six decades and skiing for almost 50 years, and he’s still going strong at both pursuits at age 78.

By STEVE IRVINE Living 50 Plus


ECATUR — At the age of 78, J. Hugh Looney still works 10hour days styling hair and goes snow skiing on premier slopes in the western United States. He also finds time to garden and repair old sports cars and lawn mowers. The Morgan County native has been a Decatur fixture in the hair styling business for most of his adult life. Looney’s salon — JHL & Associates Professional Haircare — has been located on Sandlin Road for the past 27 years. Prior to that, his business shared a location just off Sixth Avenue with a pair of dentists. “This is a profession that takes a lot of hours. A 10-hour day is nothing,” Looney said. Yet he still finds plenty of ways to fill the other hours of the day. Snow skiing has been a passion for nearly 50 years and he also calls himself a “gardener and a pretty decent mechanic.”

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His life in the hair styling business began soon after his graduation from Tanner High School in the spring of 1961. He took courses at Calhoun Community College — which was known as Tennessee Valley Vocational School at the time — while in high school. A month after high school graduation, he completed barber school classes. The education, however, was just beginning. “I went to school all over the country,” Looney said. “I went to barber school — we were still in flat tops and that kind of stuff. When I moved up to being a stylist, there weren’t a lot of people to teach (you).” For Looney, his progression from being a barber to a hair stylist was about more than hair. “You look at someone and you to talk to them,” Looney said. “You look at their head shape, what their lifestyle is like and put that together. It’s basically knowing what they like. You learn the basic different personalities.

“It’s a lot of psychology and sociology and what makes people happy. Look sharp, feel sharp, be sharp. It’s just as clear as it can be. You have to be able to sell what they’re looking for, not what you’re looking for.” His passion for skiing didn’t necessarily begin with a family trip to the northeast Alabama slopes at Mentone about 47 years ago. However, it didn’t take that long for the passion to set in. Skiing became more than just a hobby “when I got to where I could ski a little bit more and started skiing two, three, four times a year,” he said. “You get better at it. You don’t use the map anymore to see where you ski. You just go skiing where you want to. Then it becomes a passion, because you can do it and enjoy it. You don’t have to ask yourself, ‘Can I do this or do that?’” He’s skied all over the country but prefers the western U.S. slopes. He has a timeshare in Tahoe, Calif. — his favorite spot — and also enjoys the Utah slopes. See LOONEY, continued on page 6

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LOONEY, continued from page 4

“When I went out West, the snow was just so much softer and there are so many more opportunities to enjoy,” Looney said. Over the past five or six years, he began competing in NASTAR racing events. However, it’s not the competition which drives him to the slopes three or four times per year. It’s more about the relationships he’s made and the freedom of the slopes. “The adrenaline is just running,” Looney said. “You enjoy yourself out there. You go down the mountain, take a little break the middle of the day. I’m not trying to show out, I’m just enjoying myself.” So how many more years will that enjoyment last? “The better you ski, the less strenuous it is on your body,” Looney said. “As long as I’m strong enough and have enough time, I think I’ll ski. I’ve thought about it. Last year, at Park City (Utah), a man was skiing on his 100th birthday.” 6 Decatur Living 50 Plus

J. Hugh Looney styles wife Brenda’s hair.

J. Hugh Looney keeps a photograph at his business from his silver medal run during the downhill championships in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, in December 2019, when he was 77 years old.



any people are quick to think of growing older in a negative light. Although there certainly are some side effects of aging that one may wish to avoid, people may find that the benefits of growing older outweigh the negatives. Seniors are a rapidly growing segment of the population. With so many people living longer, it’s time to celebrate the perks of getting older rather than the drawbacks. Here are some great benefits to growing old. · Higher self-esteem: The insecurities of youth give way as one ages, and older people have less negativity and higher self-esteem. A University of Basel study of people ranging in ages from 18 to 89 found that regardless of demographic and social status, the older one gets the higher selfesteem climbs. Qualities like self-control and altruism can contribute to happiness.

· Financial perks: Seniors are entitled to discounts on meals, museum entry fees, movies, and other entertainment if they’re willing to disclose their ages. Discounts are available through an array of venues if one speaks up. Seniors also can enjoy travel perks, with slashed prices on resorts, plane tickets and more. The U.S. National Park Service offers citizens age 62 and older lifetime passes to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites for just $10 in person ($20 online or via mail). · Reasoning and problem-solving skills: Brain scans reveal that older adults are more likely to use both hemispheres of their brans simultaneously - something called bilateralization. This can sharpen reasoning skills. For example, in a University of Illinois study, older air traffic controllers excelled at their cognitively

In the United States, the Administration on Aging states that the older population - persons 65 years or older - numbered 46.2 million in 2014 (the latest year for which data is available).

taxing jobs, despite some losses in short-term memory and visual spatial processing. Older controllers proved to be experts at navigating, juggling multiple aircrafts simultaneously and avoiding collisions. · Less stress: As people grow older, they are able to differentiate their needs from wants and focus on more important goals. This can alleviate worry over things that are beyond one’s control. Seniors may realize how little the opinions of others truly mean in the larger picture, thereby feeling less stress about what others think of them. Growing older may involve gray hair or wrinkling skin, but there are many positive things associated with aging.

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Lewis White rides on a section of the Bill Sims Bike Trail in Decatur. The trail has more than 17 miles, much of it on dedicated biking/walking paths.

By BRUCE MCLELLAN Living 50 Plus




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ou might say Lewis White’s love of cycling started out of necessity. “In college I worked at Walmart,” he said. “I didn’t have a car, so I rode a bike to work. From that point forward, I’ve been riding a bike nearly every day.” Now 56 and principal at Priceville High School, White rides a bicycle 80 to 100 miles a week and credits it for keeping him healthy. He also won his weight division in a regional series of bicycle races last year. However, fitness and racing aren’t the primary motivation for cycling. “It’s my love of riding the bike,” he said. “If I don’t ride for two days, I miss it. I guess I have a weird addiction to it.” He does think cycling has benefited his health. During the 18 years he worked at Austin High in Decatur, he had one six-year stretch when he didn’t miss a day of school. His good health has continued since he began working at Priceville High, where he was promoted to principal in March. “I’ve been here five years, and I bet I haven’t missed five days,” he said. “I guess that’s the big benefit for me is the fitness. Educators are not the healthiest group of people in the world. To be 56 and still ride 20 miles a day, I’m the odd man out. But I feel the benefits of it.” He said he would recommend cycling to other seniors because it isn’t as stressful on joints and other parts of the body as activities such as running. “It’s low-impact,” he said. “This is a great way to stay fit. In the perfect world for me, there’s no pavement and everybody rides a bike.” CYCLING PATHS White lives in Decatur with his wife, Nina, and he said the area also has an abundance of safe places for cycling, including the Bill Sims Trail that covers more than 17 miles, much of on dedicated biking/walking paths. “That Bill Sims Trail, there’s almost nowhere in Decatur you can’t get to it pretty easily.” The trail is ideal for senior cyclists and walkers, according to its namesake, Dr. Bill Sims. “A lot of people when they get to be a senior, don’t really want to get on a busy highway,” Sims said. “For the most part, it’s safely off the street.” Like White, Sims says cycling has advantages for seniors. “You can go at your own pace,” he said. “You don’t have to be an Olympic rider. You can go more slowly.”

White said another plus of cycling, regardless of the rider’s age, is that it doesn’t require a large investment, even to get a higher quality bicycle that won’t require constant maintenance. “For a couple of hundred dollars ... you can get a good used bicycle,” he said. “You want the dependability of not working on it every day.” LOVE OF RACING White has a competitive streak, having coached basketball, football and soccer during his education career, and he has raced since 1987. In 2020, he competed in a regional series of USA Cycling-affiliated races for North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee and won the Clydesdale Division, for cyclists weighing 200 to 240 pounds. The series was able to hold its scheduled races amid the pandemic by switching from pack starts to a staggered time trial starts for individual cyclists. White didn’t win any races but consistently finished in the top five to accumulate enough points to win the season-long title. He said his goal is to ride at least 90 miles a week, and he usually is 10 miles above or below that goal. “I meet it most of the time,” he said. “(Priceville) basketball games and weather are the two things that will stop me from making it. “Cycling. I couldn’t imagine not doing it.”

Lewis White’s goal is to ride 90 miles each week. Photos by JERONIMO NISA, including cover page


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olunteers are vital to the survival of many charitable organizations. Without people willing to offer their time and expertise free of charge, many nonprofits would find it difficult, if not impossible, to meet their missions. The global pandemic that began in late 2019 and continued into 2021 changed many aspects of life as the world knew it, and that includes volunteering. Social distancing measures and stayat-home mandates from state and local governments discouraged people from leaving their homes, while various health organizations warned aging men and women to stay home as much as possible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that the risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age. In recognition of that threat, many retirees who were heavily involved in volunteering prior to the pandemic

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but also to discuss the safety protocols they’ve put in place to protect the health of their volunteers. · Monitor your own health. If you’ve signed up to volunteer, it’s vital that you monitor your own health. Health officials believe the COVID-19 virus has spread so rapidly for a number of reasons, including the likelihood that many people have had the virus but shown no symptoms. Charitable organizations will no doubt assess the health of each volunteer when they show up to work, but volunteers also should make such assessments on their own. Check your temperature each day and familiarize yourself with the symptoms of COVID-19. If you suspect you are unwell or are even slightly under the weather, contact the charity and tell them you won’t be showing up that day. Operating with an abundance of caution during the pandemic can save lives. · Consider virtual volunteering. Virtual volunteering is a safe way to give back that won’t expose volunteers or others to the COVID-19 virus. Charitable organizations need behindthe-scenes help just as much as they need volunteers with their boots on the ground. Virtual volunteers can help with fundraising efforts and event planning, but also help charities overcome the logistical challenges of operating and meeting their missions during the pandemic. Prior to volunteering during the pandemic, prospective volunteers can follow numerous steps to ensure volunteering is safe, both for them and the people they’re trying to help.


were forced to cease working as volunteers, which could have a negative effect on their mental health as the pandemic continues. A report from the Mayo Clinic Health System noted that adults over age 60 experienced greater life satisfaction and greater positive changes in their perceived health as a result of volunteering. Many people have continued to volunteer during the pandemic or getting back to their volunteer activities now that more people are getting vaccinated. Those that want to do so can take these steps to make sure their efforts to give back are as safe as possible. · Speak with your physician first. Anyone, but especially seniors, who wants to volunteer during the pandemic should discuss those aspirations with their physicians prior to offering their services to charitable organizations. Doctors can discuss the acute and chronic threats posed by the COVID-19 virus and examine each individual’s medical history to help potential volunteers decide if working with a local charity is safe. In addition, seniors to make sure they receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Doctors can also check patients for COVID-19 symptoms and even have them tested to make sure they won’t be putting anyone in danger should they decide to volunteer. · Contact the organization prior to volunteering. Some organizations may not be allowing potentially at-risk volunteers to perform in-person tasks. Contact the organization you hope to work with prior to signing up to confirm your eligibility,

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The Four Spirits statue in Kelly Ingram Park, which is part of the Birmingham Civil Rights District, is a tribute to the four girls killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church.

By LISA ELIA Living 50 Plus


IRMINGHAM - For a city whose theater district once rivaled that of New York’s, it’s only fitting today that it’s undergoing a second act and the reviews, so far, are glowing. From its foodie-loving restaurants that have filled once-shuttered storefronts to its green spaces that have breathed new life into rusted railroad tracks, Birmingham makes you want to stay awhile and enjoy its food, culture and history. In its heyday in the early 20th century, the rapid growth and wealth that resulted from local iron and steel manufacturing earned Birmingham the nickname Magic City. During the Great Depression, growth sputtered and the city never came roaring back to full strength. But today, things are turning around, with 20th century high rises downtown being renovated into trendy shops, bars, restaurants and tech businesses. But the city still gives a nod to its past. Visitors can see examples of Birmingham’s golden age of cinema, when

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26 theaters filled downtown. Today, only a few remain. The historic Alabama Theatre, where the “Mighty Wurlitzer” pipe organ occasionally plays, and the recently restored Lyric Theatre, which once hosted vaudevillian acts, are humming with topnotch performances. Mineral-rich Red Mountain, part of the Appalachians, provided the natural elements of limestone, coal and iron ore that were churned in the Sloss Furnaces for the fiery brew that made pig iron. The furnaces closed in the early 1970s, and the building is now a museum. Visitors can see the city’s 56-foot Vulcan, the largest cast-iron statue in the world. Railroad Park opened in 2010 and is called Birmingham’s living room. Its green space features a lake, walking and biking trails, a skate park and venues for outdoor entertainment. The minor league baseball team Birmingham Barons play at the 8,500seat Regions Field. Next to the stadium is the Negro Southern League Museum, which tells the history of black baseball in America through the eyes of the Birmingham Black Barons. It houses

the largest collection of Negro League Baseball artifacts in the country, including pitcher Satchel Paige’s worn uniform. The Civil Rights District is a sixblock area that played host to rallies, demonstrations and confrontations in the 1960s. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is a repository of images and artifacts, including separate drinking fountains for white and black citizens. Across the street is Kelly Ingram Park, ground zero for many of the defining moments of the civil rights movement. The 16th Street Baptist Church, where four girls were killed in a 1963 bombing, is part of the district, and tours are by appointment only. One of the city’s main dining hubs is the tree-shaded Five Points neighborhood, featuring chef Frank Stitt’s James Beard award-winning restaurant Highlands Bar & Grill. There’s also The Pizitz Food Hall, once an upscale department store that now features Vietnamese food, Himalayan dumplings and Hawaiian poke. The Avondale neighborhood has attracted a fun batch of new restaurants and bars, such as the 1920s-style speakeasy The Marble Ring.

8 TIPS FOR Senior Travelers These tips can make travel easier for any senior ready to see the world.


ew demographics have the free time and the financial capacity to travel as much as retirees. Now that children have flown the coop and retirement papers have been filed, the world is many seniors’ oyster. According to a survey from AARP, travel is a top goal for more than 80 percent of Baby Boomers. Children may find that encouraging their aging parents to travel can promote more independence and help them live fulfilling lives in retirement. These tips can make travel easier for any senior ready to see the world. 1. Seek the most direct route. Traveling may be a bit easier to endure when the

route is as short and direct as possible. It may cost a little more to book nonstop flights or travel during peak hours, but that investment may be worth it. 2. Choose senior-friendly travel services. Working with a trusted travel advisor is often easier than booking your travel yourself. Travel agents often have inside information and may be privy to perks and discounts. Plus, they can streamline the process, ensuring all you need to do is go along for the fun. 3. Senior discounts are waning. Most airlines have done away with senior discounts. In 2013, the price comparison resource Fare Compare looked at senior discounts of various airlines and found most of them were unreliable. 4. Inquire about accessibility. If mobility is an issue or if there are any disabilities, contact your carrier and hotel or tour company and be sure that there will be accessibility arrangements, such

as wheelchair access or ground-level accommodations. 5. Pack light. Don’t get bogged down by excess luggage. Pack only what you need, including medications, in a carry-on bag. 6. Consider a cruise. Cruises combine food, entertainment and comfortable rooms in one convenient package. 7. Manage medications. If prescription medications are needed, be sure to consult with the doctor and pharmacy about getting a supply that will last the course of the trip. 8. Bring along a companion. You may feel more comfortable bringing along one of your children, another young relative or a close friend, especially if you are traveling internationally. This extra person can help navigate and ensure all your needs are met. Seniors have the opportunity to travel more and can make such travel easier in various ways.the 1920s-style speakeasy The Marble Ring.

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reen, leafy houseplants aren’t just beautiful — they can also help boost your mood. A new study of more than 4,200 people found that having plants at home had a positive influence on participants’ psychological well-being during COVID-19 lockdown. In the study, which was published in the journal Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 74% of people who cared for houseplants said they offered emotional benefits, including granting a sense of purpose and helping people feel less stressed. “Absolutely, plants can be good for you,” said Bruce Crawford, state program leader for in-home and public

horticulture, New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station. “Caring for them can make you feel better, reduce tension and give you a better outlook on life. Keeping them alive during lockdown is a nice distraction.” “I don’t think it’s an accident that people have embraced houseplants during the pandemic,” said Randy Schultz, content editor for “In fact, it’s totally predictable. People crave connections with other living things. After the pandemic is over, most of the people who started growing houseplants are going to keep growing them, because it’s a fun hobby and a meaningful experience.



“Having houseplants in your home or office space is literally bringing nature indoors. Most of us know the relaxing, calming feeling of taking a walk in a park or a natural setting surrounded by plants. I believe we add potted plants to our indoor spaces because we know they are good for our well-being,” Schultz said. For people who work from home, greening an indoor environment can improve cognitive performance and even help people think more creatively, said Sally Augustin, practicing environmental psychologist and the principal at Design With Science. “Green, leafy plants are mentally refreshing and help people better deal with stress,” she said. “Choose plants in different shades of green and ones with gently curving stems and shapes.” Most houseplants require minimal care and are available at every price point, from a couple of bucks for a small air plant to hundreds for a variegated monstera, Crawford said. “Once you start growing houseplants, you begin to realize that almost any plant can be grown indoors,” Schultz said. “You have to give the plant what it needs, such as sunlight or partial sun, but if you have a sunny window you can grow a plant that likes sun. You simply have to match the growing conditions in your room to the growing preferences of the plants.”

Decatur Living 50 Plus 15

Photos by JERONIMO NISA Philda Starks’ interest in gardening didn’t fully bloom until she became an adult, but the seed was planted when she saw her grandmother’s flowers and roses as a child. “I was always intrigued by their beauty,” Starks says.

Truly a Master


Starks’ passion for plants gives her purpose in retirement By STEVE IRVINE Living 50 Plus


an you imagine a life without gardening? Philda Starks doesn’t need time to ponder the question. It takes her about as much time to respond as perhaps it did for her to begin falling in love with gardening as a young child. Starks, 62, grew up in Somerville, spent part of her adult life in Alpharetta, Ga., and moved back to the Decatur area to be closer to family. Much of her adult life has involved a focus on gardening. She spent more than 21 years in the plant nursery business, with 17 of those years coming at three different Lowe’s stores, before retiring two years ago. She was certified as a Master Gardener

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in 2018 and is a member of the Morgan County Master Gardeners. “I will say, there is no person who has more faith than a gardener,” Starks said. “You believe it’s going to work and you have faith it will grow and thrive when you plant it. Sometimes you get disappointed, but not always. “Those rewards are what keep you getting at it. You’re so rewarded by your successes that it’s almost addictive.” Truth be known, Starks said, she didn’t fall fully in love with gardening until her early adulthood. The seed was planted, though, during her childhood. “We had vegetable gardens,” Starks said. “My grandmother had roses and flowers. I was always intrigued by their beauty. My mom had lots and

lots of perennials and flowers. I would water with my mom. She would go out, usually late in the day, to water. I would help. I can see a thirsty plant, even when I was a child. I think I had a lot of empathy for the dry plant.” Starks first got into the nursery business in Alpharetta. For the next four years, she got a world full of experience. “When you work for a small familyowned business, you learn everything in the business – from the growing, the watering, the purchasing, taking care of inventory, dealing with clients, just pretty much every aspect of it,” Starks said. That opportunity ended when the owners closed the business to sell the property. Starks contemplated her next move. She decided to pursue a job at a Lowe’s being built nearby. The plan – at least her original plan – was to stay there for a short time. The reality was she spent the next 17 years as a nursery specialist with Lowe’s before retiring in March of 2019. She eventually arrived

back to Decatur to be closer to her mother. ENVISIONING MATURE GARDEN But by then gardening had become a way of life. “Experience is really valuable in gardening,” Starks said. “What happens is you see things differently. I remember when I couldn’t envision what it looked like after maturity – all grown in and complete. … I tended to put too much in (a garden). … Chaos Garden, a lot of people love that. “Sometimes you start to see your mistakes when you get overcrowded. Things compete with each other and things don’t thrive because they are being crowded out by something else. I think, now, I have a little bit of perspective of seeing the outcome of certain plants.” A big part of being a Master Gardener is sharing the information – and the love for gardening – with others. Master Gardner certification, which is offered by the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service, comes after completion of an extension program. It’s a statewide organization and Starks is one of about 150 members of the Morgan County chapter. Volunteer work is a vital piece of the organization with a wide range of opportunities. It could be cleaning up an overgrown park, helping a neighbor clean up a garden or starting a garden somewhere. It could be taking flowers to local hospitals. “Just walking in with a pot of pretty flowers, everybody in the room lights up,” said Aileen Russell, a Huntsville resident, who was part of the same Master Gardener class as Starks. “It doesn’t matter if they’re getting them or not. It’s just a different kind of language, there’s a happiness to it. Philda, she’s so great at always being happy. I think that’s one of her favorite parts – to bring joy to others through plants.” FULFILLING RETIREMENT The beginning of retirement wasn’t easy for Starks. She enjoyed the extra time but felt like she needed more.

“I did not have enough to do in the plant world because that’s what I love and I really missed it,” Starks said. The remedy for that was opening Philda’s Flowers in early 2020. Last spring, she sold planters at the Morgan CountyDecatur Farmers Market and Greene Street Market in Huntsville. “The thing that I love about her most is she’s very artistic and she has this great eye,” Russell said. “She can put plants together, like if you’re making a mixed pot and it looks good. Her greens and her other colors and textures all go together. That, to me, I think is one of the most important things for a gardener. “Anybody can just go put plants out in the yard. But, to make them all go together and work together is an amazing feat.” While the timing wasn’t ideal, her business did well last spring. “I actually had a good season, in spite of the pandemic last year,” Starks said. “I already had everything set on go when we found out everything was going to be shut down. I’m like, ‘I’m ready to do this and got everything I need, so I’m going to do it.’ “It worked out. It was a great year and I met some great people.” She offers a vacation watering business to take care of plants, flowers and gardens while residents are away from home. It’s just another way to fulfill her passion. “It’s my home, it’s my hobby, my passion, what I find myself doing impulsively without even planning to,” Starks said. “You know, you’re out there piddling around and then you’re in a project. I can’t see myself without having some dirt under my nails.” Decatur Living 50 Plus 17

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GOING GRAY WITH STYLE Going gray is no longer something that has women running to their stylists at the sight of the first gray strand


ray hair is a natural side effect of aging. The rate at which hair will turn to gray differs based on genetics and other factors. Some people may go gray seemingly overnight, while others may gray at the temples first before the rest of their hair gradually changes color. Aging women often wonder if they should cover up their gray hair or embrace the silver. Going gray is no longer something that has women running to their stylists at the sight of the first gray strand. Some actually opt for silver even before their own gray sets in. According to a 2017 survey of hair trends by L’Oréal Professional, 28 percent of women embraced or considered

opting for silver hair. The trend has continued to gain steam. Celebrities like Jamie Lee Curtis and Helen Mirren were some of the first to embrace their grays. Younger celebrities like Kendall Jenner, Pink and Lady Gaga have opted for silver tresses to make a statement. But there are still many women who prefer to transition gradually or avoid the harsh chemicals in some hair products. The National Cancer Institute states that more than 5,000 different chemicals are used in hair dye products, some of which are reported to be carcinogenic in animals. There are many natural ingredients that can add tint to hair to make gray less visible. Coffee,

for example, can cover grays and add dimension to dark tresses. Chamomile tea is recommended for blonds to add natural highlights and perhaps camouflage their grays. Calendula, marigold, rosehips, and hibiscus can deepen red shades or add some subtle red highlights. Henna also is a popular natural method to add a redorange color to hair. Creating highlights to offset gray hair can work as well. Spraying lemon juice on hair and sitting in the sun can produce lightening effects. Many women are seeking natural options to look their best. Embracing grays or creating subtle tints with natural ingredients can help women feel confident and beautiful.

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YOGA HELPS SENIORS GAIN STRENGTH AND FLEXIBILITY WHILE RELIEVING STRESS Rebecca Lackey participates in a yoga class at the Carnegie Visual Arts Center.



cross north Alabama, inside gyms, church buildings and an arts center, people gather to practice breathing, stretching and balance. Some come to relieve stress and increase core strength. Others come out of curiosity. “Simple curiosity and an invitation from a friend were my introduction to yoga. I was actually kind of amazed when I found it to be a perfect fit for me, and I’ve been hooked ever since,” said 55-year-old Teresa Duffey, of Eva, who leads classes at the Carnegie Visual Arts Center. With its physical and mental benefits, yoga currently ranks as one of the most popular 20 Decatur Living 50 Plus

Rebecca Lackey, 60, says yoga “keeps me emotionally balanced.”

exercise regimens in the United States. In the past 12 years, the number of Americans practicing yoga grew from 18 million in 2009 to more than 50 million today. According to the Yoga Alliance, of those doing yoga, more than 35% are 50 and older. “The health benefits of yoga are immense. We gain strength and flexibility in our practice and, in turn, decrease those aches and pains we gather in our daily routines, improve mobility and balance, and help maintain a general sense of wellbeing. It doesn’t require any specialized equipment — even a mat is optional, honestly — or a lot of space, so it is very accessible,” Duffey said. Stress led Rebecca Lackey to start practicing yoga under Duffey — her “yoga guru” — in 2010.

“The spiritual aspect and focus on breath really resonated with me, and I’ve never stopped going. It keeps me emotionally balanced,” the 60-year-old Lackey said. “Flexibility is the greatest benefit for my aging body, and the deep, intentional breathing helps with my asthma. Our slow meditative movements and strong poses increase my balance and strength.” CHAIR YOGA To reach individuals of different levels of fitness, variations of yoga, such as chair yoga, exist. With the lights dimmed and calming music filling the RedX Fitness room, members of the chair yoga class practiced stretching and relaxation techniques.

Liz Forton leads a yoga class at the Carnegie Visual Arts Center. Many of the class members are seniors. Photos by JERONIMO NISA

A group of women take part in the yoga class at the Carnegie Visual Arts Center.

The Carnegie Visual Arts Center offers yoga classes to participants such as Beverly Stephens on Mondays and Wednesdays at 6:15 p.m.

“I need the exercise to keep myself going,” said Elizabeth Vandiver, 77, of Decatur. “I can’t sit down and just let my bones and muscles tense up. I need to be able to do activities. I can really tell a difference when I don’t do yoga.” Before the pandemic, the gym’s weekly chair yoga class attracted more than 15 people. “We have people of all ages come to the class. It is great for older people trying to stay limber and for people going through rehabilitation. You learn basic stretches that help the entire body,” said RedX Fitness owner Amanda Vachon. For the past three years, Dick Williams, whose weekly routine includes walking two

miles every day and working out Monday, Wednesday and Friday, has been a staple of the chair yoga class. “It’s a great way to stay active,” the 81-year-old Williams said. “It helps stretch my muscles and loosens me up so I can keep working out.” Along with the Carnegie, which offers classes on Mondays and Wednesdays at 6:15 p.m., and RedX Fitness, which holds chair yoga classes on Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m., other yoga classes take place at Decatur Athletic Club, SportsFit Decatur, Planet Fitness and Church at Stone River. ADVICE Duffey offered these tips for first-timers to yoga:

• Yoga is a very personal experience. Observing others in practice can be informative, but we aren’t all attempting to look exactly alike in a pose. • Listen to your body and if a pose doesn’t feel right, don’t hold it. • In the end, the breath is the most important element of a practice. Even if you can’t hold poses, just keep breathing. Lackey said, “Some of the poses can be challenging, but the message is always to do what your body allows today. I try to get in two classes a week and if I miss a week, my body knows. “I hope I can do yoga the rest of my life.” Decatur Living 50 Plus 21



Things to consider when starting an exercise regimen

xercise is a vital component of a healthy lifestyle. By making exercise part of their day-to-day routines, people of all ages, including men and women over the age of 50, can greatly improve their overall health. Frequency of exercise Seniors, particularly those who have not exercised much in the past, may not know how much exercise they need to reap the full rewards of physical activity. Though it’s best to discuss exercise with a physician prior to beginning a new regimen, various public health agencies advise seniors to get at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic exercise each week. Brisk walking is one example of moderate aerobic exercise. Seniors who want to sweat a little more when exercising can replace moderate aerobic exercise with one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous exercise, such as jogging, each week.

muscle-strengthening exercise regimen and, if possible, work with a personal trainer, especially if you’re a novice.

Physical activity is one of the most important things seniors can do for their health and can potentially prevent many health problems associated with aging.

Is strength training safe for seniors? The CDC advises seniors to incorporate muscle-strengthening activities into their weekly fitness routines twice per week. Lifting waits, working with resistance bands, heavy gardening, and even some forms of yoga qualify as muscle-strengthening activities. Exercises that use your body weight for resistance, such as sit-ups and pushups, also can help build strength. Always speak with a physician before beginning a

When to stop a workout It’s imperative that seniors recognize when to stop working out. Exercising more than is recommended by your doctor can increase the risk of illness or injury. In addition, stop exercising if any of the following symptoms appear: · Dizziness or shortness of breath · Chest pain or pressure · Swollen joints · Nausea · Tightness in muscles or joints · Pain anywhere in the body · Throbbing or burning sensations Exercise can help seniors stay healthy and feel more energetic throughout the day. Before beginning a new regimen, seniors should discuss physical activity with their physicians.

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22 Decatur Living 50 Plus


HOW EXERCISE CAN HELP YOU LIVE LONGER Exercise should be an important component of daily life no matter one’s age


here are many reasons to get in shape. Weight loss is a prime motivator, as is reversing a negative health effect, such as high cholesterol or increased diabetes risk. Routine exercise also can improve life expectancy. WebMD says exercise keeps the body and brain healthy. That’s why exercise should be an important component of daily life no matter one’s age.

perspective had a lower death rate from all causes, irrespective of the women’s weight.

Manage Stress and Mood Exercise has direct stress-busting benefits that can promote longevity. The Mayo Clinic says physical activity can increase the production of endorphins, which are the body’s feel-good neurotransmitters. In addition, exercise can imitate the effects of stress, helping the body adjust its flight or fight response accordingly, and help them cope with mildly stressful situations. While engaged in exercise, people may forget about their problems as they are focused on the activity at hand.

Improve Bone Health

Exercise keeps the body and brain healthy.

Research published in the journal Immune Aging found that how people age is 75 percent lifestyle and only 25 percent genetics, which underscores the importance of the lifestyle choices people make.

Cardiorespiratory Fitness Many health experts say that cardiorespiratory fitness may be just as valuable a metric to determine overall health as blood pressure and lipid levels. People with a high aerobic capacity can deliver oxygen to tissues and cells efficiently to fuel exercise, according to data published in 2014 in the journal Aging & Disease. In a study involving 11,335 women, researchers compared V02 max, also known as aerobic capacity, in women with mortality data. Women who were fit from a cardiovascular 24 Decatur Living 50 Plus

Strength training and physical activity can stave off the effects of frailty and osteoporosis, which affects bone strength. A study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine in 2017 found that hip fractures are associated with diminished quality of life and survival among the elderly. One in three adults aged 50 and over dies within 12 months of suffering a hip fracture, and older adults have a five- to eight-times greater risk of dying within three months following a hip fracture. Building muscle strength, balance and bone density through exercise can reduce falls and frailty, helping to prevent fracture-related health risks.

Addresses Sarcopenia The health and wellness resource Healthline defines sarcopenia as the loss of muscle mass specifically related to aging. Doctors once considered this muscle loss inevitable, and it can affect stamina and lead to weakness. However, new indications suggest that exercise is the main treatment regimen for sarcopenia, particularly resistance training. This is designed to improve muscle strength and help balance hormone levels by turning protein into energy for older adults. These are just some of the ways exercise can help older adults live longer, healthier lives.



Here are a few healthier ways you can make your favorite fried foods while getting rid of the fatty consequences, according to 1. Choose your breading: Swap refined flour or breadcrumbs for a more nutrient dense alternative, like almond meal or 100% cassava flour. Refined flours are processed in a way that removes key nutrients. Almonds pack nutrients like fiber, magnesium, and vitamin E, which can boost your immune and digestive systems - while still giving you that satisfying coating with a slightly-nutty flavor. 2. Try oven frying: Ditch the messy pan of oil for a baker’s sheet in the oven. By oven

frying you get to keep the crisp-factor and the flavor of your traditionally fried foods. You’ll also eliminate some of the potentially negative impacts of high-heat cooking. 3. Pay attention to your oil: Choose a high quality, heat stable oil, like a nonGMO expeller pressed canola oil or olive oil over the more highly processed vegetable oils that are often used in frying. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats and may help improve heart health. High-quality expeller pressed canola oil has a higher amount of omega 3 fatty acids, which are important to support the brain, heart, digestion and skin.

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ried food is a staple for many Americans, but regularly eating foods such as french fries, fried chicken, mozzarella sticks, hushpuppies, etc., can increase your change of having a major cardiovascular problem, according to a new study. The study, which was recently published in the journal Heart, found that the chance of suffering from a heart attack or stroke increased by 28% if you eat fried foods on a regular basis. The study also found a link between fried food consumption and heightened risk for heart failure (37%) and coronary artery disease (22%).

By oven frying you get to keep the crispfactor and flavor of your traditionally friend foods.

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Decatur Living 50 Plus 25



xercising regularly, getting enough sleep and practicing relaxation techniques are some of the most popular ways to reduce stress, but there are also some foods you can add to your diet that can help as well. Along with helping to counter inflammation throughout the body, helping to control hormone levels, and control increased appetite and weight gain, eating a well-balanced diet can reduce your stress levels. Here are a few foods you can eat to help reduce your stress, according to dietitians: 1 Oily fish: Anchovies, sardines and herring, in addition to salmon, trout and mackerel are a rich source of stress-busting omega-3 fatty acids known as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). 2. Shellfish: Mussels, clams and oysters are rich in vitamin B12 in addition to omega-3s, which are both prominent nutrients in diets connected with lower anxiety. 26 Decatur Living 50 Plus

3. More vitamin C: Foods such as red and green peppers, oranges, grapefruit and kiwi are rich in vitamin C, which in high doses has antidepressant effects and improves mood and may be helpful in treating stress-related disorders. 4. Healthy carbs: Carbohydrates can help to boost serotonin production in the brain, which helps in influencing your mood. Serotonin has a calming effect and also promotes sleep and relaxation. 5. Fermented foods: Fermented foods such as yogurt, kombucha, kefir, tempeh and sauerkraut contain gutfriendly bacteria known as probiotics, which have the ability to reduce stress and cortisol levels. 6. Tea: Green, black and oolong teas are rich in theanine, an amino acid that helps reduce stress and promote calm feelings. These teas are also rich in antioxidants, which can help reduce oxidative stress in the body, which helps protect against disease.


Spicy Shrimp and Orzo Pasta Salad Serves: 8 Ingredients  1 pound large shrimp, halved lengthwise  8 cups cooked and cooled orzo pasta  2 pints grape tomatoes, halved  3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil  1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and sliced  1/4 inch thick  1 Fresno chile, thinly sliced into rings  1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil  1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley  3 tablespoons capers, chopped  Juice of 2 lemons  Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper Steps Prepare a small pot of salted water and a separate bowl for an ice bath. Place the halved shrimp in the boiling water and cook until the shrimp have turned from translucent to opaque, about 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to the ice bath to stop the cooking process. In a large mixing bowl, combine the shrimp with the orzo, tomatoes, olive oil, cucumber, chile, basil, parsley, capers and lemon juice and toss until the ingredients are well-coated with the oil and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve. -

DRINK Tea for headaches If you are in need quick relief for a headache, you can make a cup of tea instead of reaching for a pill. Feverfew Tea, peppermint tea and ginger tea contain medicinal properties that help relax muscle stiffness and relax blood vessels to help improve blood flow to the brain. FUN FACT Pound Cake - The early recipes of pound cake called for one pound of butter, one pound of eggs and one pound of sugar.

Things to consider before downsizing your home


he decision to downsize a home is often bittersweet. Many couples who downsize their homes do so after raising a family. A home might be filled with memories, but downsizing a home helps couples save more money, and that financial flexibility often allows men and women to more fully enjoy their retirement. Bob McMillan, Broker points out there’s more than just money at stake for homeowners thinking of downsizing their homes. The following are a handful of factors homeowners should consider before downsizing to a smaller home. Real estate market The real estate market can be a seller’s friend or foe. Many sellers have a sale price in mind when they decide to sell their home, but the real estate market can be fickle, so homeowners should do their research before putting their home up for sale. Will the current market make it easier for you to get the most for your home, or will you have to settle for less than you prefer? How fast are similar homes in your area selling? When studying the real estate market, it’s also a good idea to study the market for smaller homes. If you plan on moving into a condominium but the market is not flush with properties, you might end up paying more than you want to for your new home, which might negate the savings you can expect from downsizing. Furniture Bob McMillan advises when downsizing to a smaller home, many couples realize their current furniture is unlikely to fit. That means couples will have to sell or donate their current furniture and then buy all new items for their new home. Another thing to consider regarding your furniture is which items you simply can’t live without. An antique dinner table might have been the centerpiece for your family holidays over the last several decades, but there’s no guarantee it will fit into your smaller home. You may want to pass this down to your son

or daughter, but that’s only possible if he or she has the room for it. Before deciding to downsize, consider your attachment to certain items that you may or may not be able to take with you to your new home and the emotional toll that selling such items might take if you’re left with no other options. Proximity to family According to Bob McMillan when downsizing to a smaller home, many couples move out of the suburbs and into cities or towns with more ready access to culture and restaurants. While that accessibility is great, grandparents may find that it comes at the cost of less time with their grandchildren. That’s a steep price to pay for doting grandparents, and it may also impact your children if they frequently rely on grandma and grandpa for babysitting. Before downsizing, consider if you’re willing to move further away from your family. If not, you likely can still find a smaller home in close proximity to your current home and any nearby family members. Medical care Many older men and women must also consider the effect that moving may have on their medical care. Downsizing to a home in the country may make it harder to maintain contact with your current physician, and rural areas typically have less medical practitioners than more densely populated towns and cities. In addition, if you have been visiting the same physician for years, you may not want to move and have to start all over again with a physician who is unfamiliar with your medical history. Consider how much maintaining your existing relationship with your physician means to you, and if your next home will provide the kind of access to medical care you’re likely to need. Downsizing a home is not just about moving into a smaller property. To ensure you’re making the right decision, many factors must be considered before downsizing.

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Decatur Living 50 Plus 27


Decide when you’ll retire: To determine your total retirement needs, you can’t just estimate how much f you want to start getting ready for retirement, one annual income you need. You also have to estimate how of your first steps should be to estimate how much long you’ll be retired. Why? The longer your retirement, income you’ll need to fund your lifestyle. That’s not the more years of income you’ll need to fund it. The as easy as it sounds, because retirement planning is not length of your retirement will depend partly on when you an exact science. Your specific needs depend on your plan to retire. Although it’s great to have the flexibility goals and many other factors. to choose when you’ll retire, it’s important to remember Use your current income as a starting point: that retiring at 50 will end up costing you a lot more than It’s common to discuss desired annual retirement retiring at 65. W. Stokes is a certified income as a percentage of your current income. Ronald Estimate your life expectancy: The age at public accountant and personal financial specialist in Decatur. Depending on whom you’re talking to, that percentage He adapted this article from which you retire isn’t the only factor that determines material provided to him. could be anywhere from 60% to 90%, or even more. The how long you’ll be retired. The other important factor is appeal of this approach lies in its simplicity, and the fact that there’s your lifespan. A longer life means that you’ll have even more years of a fairly common-sense analysis underlying it: Your current income retirement to fund. You may even run the risk of outliving your savings sustains your present lifestyle, so taking that income and reducing and other income sources. To guard against that risk, you’ll need to it by a specific percentage to reflect the fact that there will be certain estimate your life expectancy. You can use government statistics, life expenses you’ll no longer be liable for will, theoretically, allow you to insurance tables, or a life expectancy calculator to get a reasonable sustain your current lifestyle. estimate of how long you’ll live. With life expectancies on the rise, it’s The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t account for your probably best to assume you’ll live longer than you expect. specific situation. If you intend to travel extensively in retirement, for Identify your sources of retirement income: Once you example, you might easily need 100% (or more) of your current income. have an idea of your retirement income needs, your next step is to It’s fine to use a percentage of your current income as a benchmark, assess how prepared you are to meet those needs. Your employer but it’s worth going through your current expenses in detail, and really may offer a traditional pension that will pay you monthly benefits. In thinking about how those expenses will change in retirement. addition, you can likely count on Social Security to provide a portion Project your retirement expenses: Your annual income of your retirement income. To get an estimate of your Social Security during retirement should be enough (or more than enough) to meet benefits, visit the Social Security Administration website (www.ssa. your retirement expenses. That’s why estimating those expenses is a gov). Additional sources of retirement income may include a 401(k) big piece of the retirement planning puzzle. Here are some common or other retirement plan, IRAs, annuities, and other investments. retirement expenses: Make up any income shortfall: If you’re lucky, your expected  Food and clothing income sources will be more than enough to fund even a lengthy  Housing: Rent or mortgage payments, property taxes, retirement. But what if it looks like you’ll come up short? Don’t panic homeowners insurance, property upkeep and repairs — there are probably steps that you can take to bridge the gap. A  Utilities: Gas, electric, water, telephone, cable TV financial professional can help you figure out the best ways to do that,  Transportation: Car payments, auto insurance, gas, maintenance but here are a few suggestions: and repairs, public transportation • Try to cut current expenses so you’ll have more money to save for  Insurance: Medical, dental, life, disability, long-term care retirement  Health-care costs not covered by insurance: Deductibles, co- • Shift your assets to investments that have the potential to payments, prescription drugs substantially outpace inflation (but keep in mind that investments  Taxes: Federal and state income tax, capital gains tax that offer higher potential returns may involve greater risk of loss)  Debts: Personal loans, business loans, credit card payments • Lower your expectations for retirement so you won’t need as much  Education: Children’s or grandchildren’s college expenses money (no beach house on the Riviera, for example)  Gifts: Charitable and personal • Work part-time during retirement for extra income  Recreation: Travel, dining out, hobbies, leisure activities • Consider delaying your retirement for a few years (or longer  Care for yourself, your parents, or others: Costs for a nursing Create a Financial Plan: Everyone should have a financial plan home, home health aide, or other type of assisted living in place. I call this a road map to the future. It does not have to be a  Miscellaneous: Personal grooming, pets, club memberships complicated plan with lots of charts and graphs and be thick enough Don’t forget that the cost of living will go up over time, so build for a binder. Your financial plan could be less than five pages long and a comfortable cushion into your estimates (it’s always best to be you can create your own or have a financial professional assist you. conservative). Finally, have a financial professional help you with Having such a plan will provide financial peace of mind so that you your estimates. can better enjoy your retirement.


28 Decatur Living 50 Plus

WAYS TO CUT COSTS DURING RETIREMENT Retirees can make their money go further if they take inventory of their spending and make some cuts where possible Retirement can bring many changes, especially with income. By following some helpful advice, the adjustment can help seniors have peace of mind in their retirement years.


he average person will spend more than 50 years in the employment sector. As retirement draws closer, many professionals begin to daydream about giving up the commute and having more time to pursue their personal interests. Even if planning for retirement has been many years in the making, it can take some time for a person to become acclimated to having less income. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “older households,” which are defined as those run by someone age 65 and older, spent an average of $45,756 in 2016, or roughly $3,800 a month. That’s roughly $1,000 less than the monthly average spent by typical American households. Housing, transportation, health care, and food are some of the biggest bills retirees will have to account for. Aiming to have savings in addition to any other retirement income or government subsidy coming in to cover that amount is a step in the right direction. Retirees can make their money go further if they take inventory of their spending and make some cuts where possible. · Know where your money is going. It’s impossible to save without knowing what your expenses are each month. Many people are surprised to learn how much little things add up over the course of a month. For example, spending $4 for a take-out coffee each day can quickly become an expensive luxury. Add all expenses and see where you can trim, especially if there’s a deficit each month. · Consider extra health care. In the United States, Medicare participants can choose Medicare Supplement Insurance plans to help reduce out-of-pocket health care costs.

Medicare Parts A and B only cover some of your health care costs. Supplemental insurance can cover some of the costs not covered by original medicare, like copayments, deductibles and coinsurance, according to AARP. · Pare down on possessions. Take inventory of what you have and scale back where possible. If you are no longer commuting to work, you may be able to become a one-car household. Downsizing your residence can help seniors avoid spending too much of their retirement time and money maintaining their homes. · Take advantage of senior discounts. Take advantage of the many discounts that are offered to seniors. Retirees can usually save on restaurants, travel, groceries, and much more by simply shopping on specific days or verifying their age when checking out. · Purchase less expensive life insurance. According Cheapism, a site that advises consumers about how to be more frugal, the chief purpose of life insurance is to replace income to ensure the financial security of dependents in the event of death. Retirees may have no dependents and little income. Therefore, a large life insurance policy may not be necessary, especially if you’ve already set aside funds to cover funeral costs. · Pay off a mortgage. Housing is many people’s most substantial expense. Paying off a mortgage can free up more money each month and allow retirees to spend their golden years doing as they please. As retirement nears, adults can employ various strategies to reduce their monthly expenses. Decatur Living 50 Plus 29

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Grandchildren can be a tremendous joy, but accidents can happen. There are a few things to keep in mind when having them in your home.


aring for grandchildren can be joyful and exhausting, but it’s most certainly a responsibility. It’s easy to forget how to keep them safe from potentially dangerous, everyday household items like cleaning supplies. “You often think about car seat safety, gates on stairs and how to prevent drowning or burns, but what about laundry room safety or storage of products used in the kitchen?” said Brian Sansoni, senior vice president of communication, outreach and membership at the American Cleaning Institute. For those who normally don’t have children roaming the house, it can be easy to forget what necessary precautions should be in place where cleaning products are stored, including the kitchen, bathroom, garage and laundry room. ACCIDENTS CAN HAPPEN QUICKLY “Although the laundry room is usually home to many cleaning products and can be one of the busiest spots in the house, it can easily go overlooked when it comes to safety,” Sansoni said. Almost 70% of parents with children younger than 4 said their laundry room is accessible to their children, and more than 50% said they do laundry while their children are in the same room, according to a recent survey conducted by the American Cleaning Institute, “Children are naturally curious and tend to explore with their hands and their mouths,” Sansoni said. “Accidental exposures to liquid laundry packets and other cleaning products can happen in a split-second but can be easily prevented by practicing simple safety habits during the daily routine.”

The cleaning, household and hygiene products we depend on will do their jobs safely if stored and used properly, Sansoni said. “All hygiene, cleaning and disinfecting products should be used as directed ... It is up to all of us to use them properly and store them safely to prevent unintended injuries. Staying healthy also means being safe,” he said. READ THE LABELS A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about 1 in 3 adults used chemicals or disinfectants unsafely while trying to protect against COVID-19. “Clearly there’s a lot of improvement we want to see here,” Sansoni said. “When using any cleaning product, you should always read and follow the label directions for effective results and to ensure safe handling.” STORE UP AND OUT OF SIGHT One trend to avoid is storing cleaning products like laundry packets in clear containers or glass jars. “While this can be tempting and aesthetically pleasing, it is vital to keep cleaning products stored in the original packaging with labels intact, so you have that information in the event of an emergency,” Sansoni said. “Product labels are designed with easy-to-use instructions and safety protocols that are quick to reference.” All cleaning products should be stored up and out of sight and reach from young children, preferably in a cabinet with doors. “If you don’t have a cabinet available, place all cleaning products in their original packaging into a larger bin and store them where those at risk won’t be able to see it,” Sansoni said. Notice important safety instructions that could be useful to poison control centers should an accident occur, Sansoni said. “Be sure to completely close and seal all cleaning products during and after use to avoid any accidental exposures,” he said. Decatur Living 50 Plus 31

HOW TO FOSTER A LOVE OF MUSIC IN CHILDREN Age is of no consideration when it comes to benefitting from and appreciating music, but it seems that young people in particular have a lot to gain from music education.


usic enriches people’s lives in myriad ways. Age is of no consideration when it comes to benefitting from and appreciating music, but it seems that young people in particular have a lot to gain from music education. According to the New England Board of Higher Education, various studies have found that consistent music education can improve vocabulary and reading comprehension skills. In addition, the National Association for Music Education says that research has found a significant relationship between arts participation at school and academic success. Parents who want their children to reap the benefits of being involved with music can try the following strategies aimed at fostering a love of music in young people.

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· Turn the television off and turn music on. Exposing youngsters to music is one of the simplest and most effective ways to get them to embrace it. · Replay kids’ favorite songs. Another way to build kids’ enthusiasm for music is to replay some of their favorite songs. · Dance to music. Kids are bundles of energy, and dancing is a fun way for them to expend some of that energy. · Embrace opportunities to see live music. Kids are often captivated by seeing musicians perform in person. Music enriches people’s lives in various ways, and exposure to music at a young age can be especially valuable to children.



fter bringing home a bubbly baby boy or girl, it can be hard for parents to imagine that a day will come when their kids are off to college and then onto their own apartment or house. After spending decades nurturing and caring for children, parents are then left with a suddenly quiet house and probably much more time to spare. If saying goodbye to the kids also means extra house, there’s the option to downsize or make that extra space more useful. Homeowners who choose to stay put can renovate vacant rooms into spaces that meet their newfound needs. · Hobby haven: If you’ve always meant to set up a crafting room, home-brewing station or an artist’s studio, now is an ideal time to do just that. Figure out which supplies you will need and begin reworking that former bedroom into a new sanctuary for leisure interests. · Guest suite: If you’ve never had a spare bedroom to entertain guests, a child’s former bedroom can fit the bill. It may not be that difficult to transform such spaces into relaxing and inviting rooms for overnight guests. Be sure there is at least a queen-sized bed and a dresser or chest of drawers to stash belongings. Select paint colors and linens in neutral tones so the room will be inviting to guests. · Living room redo: When there’s an entire soccer team coming over to hang out, that large sectional sofa or modular

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seating may be ideal. Now that the kids are out of the house and their friends are no longer coming over for movie night, living rooms can be made more intimate with small-scale seating. A small sofa and two comfortable chairs may be a more fitting option. · At-home gym: Save on gym membership fees by building a mini studio right at home. Choose one of the larger bedrooms and then fill it with some fitness equipment, such as an elliptical trainer, a bench press bench and some free weights. Store rolled-up mats in the closet for yoga or Pilates sessions. · Expanded bathroom: If space has always been at a premium in the bathroom, borrow area from an empty bedroom and turn it into a spa. Install a soaking tub separate from the shower, and fill the room with other amenities, such as a warming lamp or even a small sauna. · Home office: Working from home a few days a week may be more plausible when nearing retirement, as it will be a smoother transition from heading to the office each day to spending more time at home. Turn a bedroom or den into an office space with a new desk and bookshelves. An empty nest can be a bittersweet experience, but parents can make such situations work for them by transforming their homes to better reflect their current needs.

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HEALTH EMERGENCIES AND COVID-19 Don’t let COVID-19 fears keep you from seeking medical help in other lifethreatening situations Months into the pandemic, some people are still delaying treatment for serious illnesses or emergencies, but the hospitals are pretty much back to normal with added protections.



voiding medical care because of fears of contracting COVID-19 could mean the difference between life and death. For major medical issues such as heart attack and stroke, the benefits of quickly getting care are much, much higher, said Dr. B.J. Hicks, OhioHealth vascular neurologist and co-director of the Comprehensive Stroke Program at Riverside Methodist Hospital, Columbus, Ohio. “Make sure you seek treatment that will have you walk out rather than waiting too long so they have to roll you out,” Hicks said. Months into the pandemic, some people are still delaying treatment for serious illnesses or emergencies, but the hospitals are pretty much back to normal with added protections, said Dr. Kevin Hewitt, chairman of emergency medicine for the Emergency and Trauma Center, Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. “Hospitals are taking a lot of precautions,” he said. Patients and accompanying family members (if they are even allowed inside a medical facility) are screened for COVID-19 by temperature and answering medical questionnaires. Appointments are staggered. Plus, everyone is wearing a mask. “We now know how important masks are. We are learning so much more about masks not just about spreading the virus but also how they protect from acquiring the virus,” Hicks said. The likelihood of infection at a hospital or medical center is low because very important safety protocols have been adopted, Hicks said. 34 Decatur Living 50 Plus

“We have not seen medical mismanagement. These sorts of emergencies have not been sidetracked by hospital-acquired COVID-19,” he said. Get care as quickly as possible. People who may be experiencing symptoms of heart attack or stroke do not have the time to debate about being cautious. “It’s critical to seek treatment,” Hicks said. A delay “may lead to irreparable harm,” he said. Patients who ignore the signs of major illness leave medical professionals with fewer options. “People are getting to the hospital later than we like, and the opportunity to reverse, erase the stroke, to hamper or dampen it is cut mercilessly short because of the loss of time,” Hicks said. During a heart attack, the heart muscle dies when the blood flow is restricted for too long. “In the event that the heart attack puts you into cardiac arrest, there’s a small window of time that medical professionals can get your heart beating again.” Hewitt said. As flu season arrives, the consequences of delayed action will be seen. “When it comes to the winter months we tend to see an uptick in overall hospitalized patients because it’s flu season, and with flu season comes a lot of other medical illnesses that require hospitalizations,” Hicks said. “It would be potentially disastrous if on top of what we classically see for patients in the winter months or during the flu season that we also have patients that are going to neglect emergency care, because oftentimes these patients are critical if they come down with these kind of conditions, including COVID-19 but also the garden variety medical emergencies that we take care of whether or not they have a seasonal component.” Every minute matters. If you think you are having a heart attack or stroke, call 911.

HOW Families CAN HELP Communities REBOUND AFTER the PANDEMIC The effort to restore towns and cities will require a community-wide effort, and families can do their part as the world slowly emerges from the pandemic.


he global pandemic that began in late 2019 and spread into 2021 had a devastating impact on the world. The human toll was significant, as millions of people across the globe lost their lives to the COVID-19 virus. The virus also had far-reaching economic consequences, many of which were felt in small towns and communities that had been thriving prior to the pandemic. Vaccination rollouts that began in the final weeks of 2020 gave many people a glimmer of hope that life would soon return to some semblance of normalcy. The effort to restore towns and cities will require a community-wide effort, and families can do their part as the world slowly emerges from the pandemic. · Support local businesses. A recent survey from the expert business mentors at Score® found that just 34 percent of small business owners indicated their operations were currently profitable in late 2020. The numbers were even worse for minorityowned businesses, as the survey found that just 26.5 percent of Black business owners had businesses that were currently profitable while the number was 29.2 percent among Hispanic-owned businesses. A thriving local economy is a vital component of a strong community, and families can do their part in the pandemic recovery by making a concerted effort to support the small businesses in their towns and cities, especially those owned by minorities. Support locally owned restaurants instead of chain restaurants when dining out or ordering in. Even visiting a locally owned barbershop instead of a chain hair cutter can be a great way to help communitybased businesses recover.

· Lend a hand to the elderly. At the onset of the pandemic, public health agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization identified elderly men and women as among the most vulnerable to serious illness if they were infected with COVID-19. As a result, many aging men and women spent much of 2020 isolated from their friends and families. Families can help seniors in their communities recover from that isolation by volunteering at local senior centers, inviting aging neighbors over for weekly dinners or inviting them along on family outings to the beach or park. Such efforts can reassure seniors, many of whom played vital roles in building the communities they call home, that their neighbors have not forgotten them. · Take active roles in the community. Recovering from the pandemic won’t be easy for any community. Some small businesses closed for good while others struggled to stay afloat, and local towns and cities lost significant tax revenue as a result. Residents, including adults and children, can help their towns and cities overcome budget shortfalls by becoming more active in their communities. Organize initiatives like park clean-ups to keep communities clean if budget constraints have forced local officials to cut back on such services. In addition, attend town or city council meetings to lend support to programs or even recommend new initiatives to help the community recover from the pandemic. Restoring communities after the pandemic will be a tall task. But it’s one that will be more easily accomplished if families pitch in and do their part. Decatur Living 50 Plus 35

AMAZING BENEFITS TO SENIORS HAVING PETS Pets provide a comfort system that produces measurable health results Pets bring many benefits to their owners’ lives, and they may be the perfect remedy for seniors looking for a friend and purpose.


ets bring much joy to the lives they touch. So, it should come as no surprise that the 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey, which was conducted by the American Pet Products Association, found that about 85 million families in the United States own a pet. In Canada, 7.5 million households are home to companion animals, states the PetBacker blog. Pets offer companionship and unconditional love. While they are fitting for any family, seniors may find that having a pet is especially beneficial. The

organization A Place for Mom, which helps match families with senior living residences, says pets provide a comfort system that produces measurable health results. Caring for pets and being around them can produce a chemical chain reaction in the brain that may help to lower stress hormones while also increasing production of the feel-good hormone serotonin. This is not the only health benefit pets may provide. A recent study from the Mayo Clinic, which looked at 1,800 people between the ages of 25 and 64 who had healthy

hearts, found that almost half owned a dog. Having a dog was likely to spur heart-healthy behaviors, like exercising with the pet, eating well and having ideal blood sugar levels. Pets also provide emotional support and companionship that can help seniors - including those who may be divorced or widowed - feel more secure and happy. The National Poll on Healthy Aging found that, among respondents who had pets, 88 percent said their pets helped them enjoy life, and 86 percent said their pets made them feel loved.

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Although younger generations have grown up with technology at their fingers, Baby Boomers and older adults did not. But in spite of that, studies show that growing numbers of seniors are open to the idea of technology and even seeking ways to further their use and knowledge.


echnology is the future, and digital communication has opened many doors for people around the world. Although younger generations have grown up with technology at their fingers, Baby Boomers and older adults did not. But in spite of that, studies show that growing numbers of seniors are open to the idea of technology and even seeking ways to further their use and knowledge. According to a recent study by Pew Research Center, 59 percent of seniors regularly use the internet - a 6 percent increase from the previous study conducted in 2012. Today, 67 percent of adults age 65 and older say they go online. Pew also says that, although seniors consistently have lower rates of technology adoption than the general public, four in 10 seniors now own smartphones, which is more than double the amount that did in 2013. Seniors in Australia are especially tech savvy, as Deloitte’s mobile consumer survey found 78 percent of Australian seniors aged 65 to 75 own a smartphone, up from 69 percent in 2016. While stereotypes have long painted seniors as technologically inept, seniors are actually more socially and digitally engaged than ever before. Seniors use technology in many different ways. Some use mobile apps to manage

medications and doctor’s appointments and monitor their fitness regimens. Some families employ 24/7 alert systems or smarthome technology to keep seniors comfortable and safe at home for as long as possible. Noninvasive, “smart” technology can analyze factors such as whether or not doors are left open, if there has been movement in a home, or whether appliances/lights are on or off. This represents a great way for families to stay informed and provide assistance even if they are not nearby. SilverSurfers, a senior-based information website, says other tech that seniors are embracing includes online dating; audio and digital books; online shopping, which is especially valuable to seniors who have mobility issues; and social media, which can keep seniors connected to others and feeling less lonely. A study conducted by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco found 18 percent of American seniors live alone, and 43 percent report feeling lonely on a regular basis. Loneliness can increase death risk. Social media and internet connectivity can be an important tool in helping seniors feel like active members of society. Technology is no longer just for teenagers or active workers. Seniors are increasingly embracing technology and becoming a fastgrowing demographic for tech usage. Decatur Living 50 Plus 37

COVID-19 can not only be dangerous for health reasons but has created opportunities for scammers to take advantage of unsuspecting people.




estrictions implemented to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 have saved untold numbers of lives. The world has adjusted to such restrictions, and many parts of the world have relaxed measures as case numbers have declined. As communities begin returning to some semblance of normalcy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned people against letting their guard down. While many of those warnings pertain to the importance of continuing to practice social distancing as economies reopen, advisories also include notices about fraud schemes related to COVID-19. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector

38 Decatur Living 50 Plus

General has advised the general public about scams involving Medicare fraud. Such schemes are targeting Medicare beneficiaries in an assortment of ways, including through text messages, social media, telemarketing calls, and even door-to-door visits. When perpetrating such frauds, scammers seek beneficiaries’ personal information, which they then use to fraudulently bill federal health care programs, potentially leaving their victims on the hook for costly unapproved tests related to COVID-19. The CDC notes the importance of being aware of such schemes. Awareness can help consumers avoid being victimized by scammers, and the following are some additional measures

people can take to protect themselves from COVID-19-related fraud.  Do not share personal account information.  Do not take callers or visitors at face value.  Never click on links in emails or text messages.  Ignore offers or advertisements for COVID-19 testing or treatments on social media sites. The COVID-19 outbreak has made it easy for criminals to exploit consumers concerned about their health. Consumers who suspect COVID-19 fraud can contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at (866) 720-5721 or visit to file a complaint.

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