Living 50 Plus Magazine December 2023/January 2024

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Décor Galore

Get a peek inside Decatur’s 150-year-old historic home Shadowlawn at Christmas. Page 24

Fit and Feeling It Husband and wife undergo lifestyle transformation after starting CrossFit. Page 13



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Publisher CLINT SHELTON Operations Director SCOTT BROWN Executive Editor ERIC FLEISCHAUER

Fun ways to enjoy

the start of winter


Visit us at HOW TO REACH US For story ideas or comments: Catherine Godbey 256-340-2441

For advertising questions: Baretta Taylor 256-340-2370

For distribution questions: For website questions: Walter Goggins Daniel Buford 256-740-5784 256-340-2408 Published by Decatur Daily Tennessee Valley Media

ON THE COVER: Lauren and Randy Riehl with their two dogs, Stella, left, and Cooper, in Shadowlawn, a 150-year-old historic Decatur home. Photo by Jeronimo Nisa. Cover design by Stephen Johnson. 4 Decatur Living 50 Plus



inter begins on December 21 , 20 23, and ends on M arch 1 9 , 20 24 . M any people lament the arrival of winter, perhaps thinking the colder temperatures and shorter hours of sunlight will compromise their chances of having fun. Even though particularly chilly thermostat readings or stormy conditions can hamper some plans, when people dig deeper, they may find that even the coldest days present opportunities for enjoyment. When winter begins, the following activities can make for an entertaining way to celebrate the arrival of the season. · Host a winter block party. M any cities and towns across North A merica participate in WinterFest events, which run the gamut from food and craft festivals to sporting events. Individuals can take cues from these type of activities and plan neighborhood festivals right on their streets. Neighbors can wheel out their fire pits or utili e outdoor propane heaters to keep spots co y. ot cocoa and cider stations and warm treats can keep everyone from feeling too cold. ▸ Visit an ice rink. Whether a rink is indoors or outside, ice skating is a q uintessential wintertime activity. The O rion Amphitheater and untsville Museum of Art at Big Spring ark in untsville will host holiday ice skating rinks this year. Check their websites for schedules. ▸ Mark the winter solstice. The winter solstice, also known as the start of astronomical winter, is the shortest day of sunlight on the calendar. It occurs when either of the Earth’s poles reaches maximum tilt away from the sun. In the orthern emisphere, this occurs on ecember 21, 202 . Because there will be only roughly seven hours of daylight, take steps to make the fact that the sun will set at its earliest a little easier to swallow. K ids can run around outdoors with glow sticks, while adults can deck their homes in twinkle lights if they are not decorated for Christmas. Winter begins on December 21 , 20 23, and there are plenty of ways to celebrate this fun, if sometimes frigid, season.


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the 19 0s by composers ugh Martin and Ralph Blane. The song was featured in the movie “Meet Me in St. ouis” and sung by udy Garland, who immortali ed it. M ore than 1 0 years after Garland introduced the world to the song, Frank Sinatra released a hristmas album to revitali e his music career and wanted to include “ ave ourself a Merry ittle hristmas,” though he asked composer M artin to tweak the lyrics to give it a lighter tone. M artin obliged, and the newer version has since widely become the standard.

O Christmas Tree

“ hristmas Tree” is a wildly popular holiday song. In fact, the song is so popular that there are many di erent versions, each of which is based on a traditional German folk song. That song, “ Tannenbaum,” is centuries old and has nothing to do with Christmas.

The history behind your favorite



e listen with warm glee and sing heartily to these favorite Christmas songs each year, but how much do we know about them or how they came to be? ere is a brief look at some of the most popular Christmas songs. When you are enjoying get-togethers this holiday season, you can impress your family and friends with your festive knowledge.

Christmas Time Is Here

“ hristmas Time s ere” is a song written for the 1 9 6 5 television special “A harlie Brown hristmas,” which was one of the first animated specials produced for network television in the nited States. Along with singing carols and baking cookies, watching classic Christmas specials is part of many families’ holiday traditions. Two versions of the song appeared on the album that was released in conjunction with the TV special: an instrumental 6 Decatur Living 50 Plus

version by the Vince Guaraldi Trio as well as a vocal version sung by choristers from St. aul’s piscopal hurch in San Rafael, Calif.

Frosty the Snowman

Who can resist the magic of the holiday season? Especially when that magic brings a normally inanimate snowman to life! That’s the concept behind “ rosty the Snowman,” a song both children and adults enjoy each holiday season. M usicians Jack Rollins and Steve elson co wrote the song in 1 9 5 0 , when it q uickly caught on as a catchy and memorable tune. The “ rosty” song led to a children’s book soon after, and later was brought to the television screen in 1 9 6 9 for a holiday special that has become a must-watch in many households.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

“ ave ourself a Merry ittle hristmas” has been recorded by many artists over the years. It was written in

Silent Night

In 20 1 8 , the popular Christmas carol “Silent ight” celebrated the 200th anniversary of its first performance. The lyrics to “Silent ight” were written by A ustrian Roman Catholic priest Joseph M ohr in 1 8 1 6 . O ver the years, the melody has been credited to the likes of legendary composers such as Mo art and Beethoven. owever, a manuscript handwritten by M ohr and discovered in 1 9 9 5 revealed that the Austrian composer ran aver Gruber composed the music to this beloved song.

Silver Bells

Each holiday season, representatives for charitable organi ations stand in commercial districts and ring bells as they seek donations for the needy. Songwriting partners ay ivingston and Ray Evans wrote a song in 1 9 5 0 based on those department store Santas and Salvation Army volunteers and titled it “Tinkle Bells.” ivingston’s wife, ynne, humorously suggested a new title so that the bells and song would not be associated with visiting the bathroom to “tinkle.” The writers uickly changed it to “Silver Bells,” which proved a much better fit. oliday celebrants soon made “Silver Bells” a holiday standard.

The First Noël

“The irst o l” is a beloved hristmas carol that has endured for nearly a millenium. A ccording to Classichistory. net, historians believe “The irst o l” was written as early as the 1 3th century. During that time, M iracle Plays that depicted Biblical stories were very popular in urope, and “The irst o l” is believed to have been inspired by those plays. The song tells the story of the birth of Jesus as depicted in the Gospels of uke and Matthew.

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The Little Drummer Boy

n 1955 this song was recorded by the Trapp amily Singers. Most of us know them as the on Trapp amily Singers, as in aptain and Maria on Trapp and their family. “Sound of Music,” anyone Though originally written in 19 1, the song remains popular today.

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Throwing rubber chickens off a roof How an odd Christmas tradition originated by helping others in need


hen it comes time for the Christmas season, old pastimes take on a higher sense of meaning. K eeping alive those annual traditions often is a fun and very memorable undertaking – even if they seem a little weird. O ne such tradition is certainly weird and receives an odd look from those who first hear about it that is until they learn what it is all about and the heartwarming story behind its origins. This tradition takes place not far from M organ County or Decatur, just a short drive to M adison. Every December – this year on Dec. 1 6 – rubber chickens

A crowd gathers for rubber chickens to be thrown off the top of Madison’s Humphrey-Hughes building in 2021 to recreate the tradition started during the Great Depression involving real chickens.

are tossed from the roof of a downtown M adison building. A waiting them below are a crowd of people laughing, cheering and doing their best to catch one of the pri ed chickens. osted by the Madison Station reservation Society, the unusual event

called Christmas Capers occurs in front of the former ughes rug Store building on Main Street. A s odd as it might sound, the tradition pays homage to a real event that occurred during the Great Depression years ago to help local families — except

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This vintage photo shows the crowd gathered on Main Street in the early 1930s to catch the free chickens with gift certificates attached.

back then it was performed using real chickens. The growing city was once just a small town on the way between untsville and ecatur. t was a town filled with people who were struggling to make ends meet during the Great Depression of the 1 9 20 s and 30 s, like most of A merica. A ccording to M adison historian John Rankin, this was a catalyst for an odd custom originating in 1 9 25 . During that time, George Walton oc’ ughes rented the umphrey ughes building in downtown M adison for his drug store business.

A girl is ready for her attempt at catching a rubber chicken by wearing a baseball glove.

“ During years of the Great epression in the early 19 0s, ughes started a holiday tradition dubbed the hristmas hicken apers’,” Rankin explained. “ O n Christmas Eve, Doc ughes threw live chickens from the roof of his business. The chickens had tags attached to their legs, and people

Area businesses donate thousands of dollars in prizes which people can win by catching one of 20 rubber chickens thrown from atop the store by Doc Hughes’ grandsons, Larry and Walt Anderson.

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The Madison City Community Orchestra entertains the crowd with a variety of Christmas tunes.

could redeem the tags for pri es in ughes’ store. Anyone who caught the chickens received the pri es and kept the chicken for hristmas dinner.” Rankin said Christmas Capers was performed mostly using live chickens. ther times, small Banty hens or even turkeys were used. “ Pencils and other small items as pri es were likewise included or even strapped to the birds’ legs,” he said. “Sometimes a note was

tied to the legs, specifying certain store items for the catcher.” In at least one year, the birds were instead tossed from the platform around a 7 5 -foot water tank at the southwest corner of M artin and Garner streets. “ ne story told that a chicken ew from the store roof to land under a house at 2 ront Street. The crowd rushed over and got it, but they

trampled down the fence in the front yard in the stampede,” Rankin said. “Such was the desperate times of seeking extra Christmas food and store pri es during the Great epression.” In 20 1 9 , the tradition was revived by the Madison Station reservation Society. n recent years, the hristmas Chicken Capers evolved from live chickens to rubber chickens with gift cards from local retail stores. A rea businesses donate thousands of dollars in pri es, which people can win by catching one of 20 rubber chickens thrown from atop the store by oc ughes’ grandsons, arry and Walt A nderson. The Rotary Club of M adison gets into the fun by serving free hot chocolate and cookies. The M adison City Community O rchestra entertains the crowd with a variety of Christmas tunes. The event has become a fun way to promote M adison’s historic downtown, but it also serves as a remembrance of the generosity M adison business owners displayed during di cult times.

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HOW TO PET PROOF YOUR HOME when decking the halls


he holiday season is a special time of year. M any factors combine to make the holiday season so uniq ue and festive, and that includes all the e ort people put into decorating their homes. M uch thought is given to holiday lighting arrangements and which tree to buy, but it’s eq ually important to consider pets when decorating. M any common household pets are naturally curious, and that curiosity can make it di cult to decorate safely come the holiday season. But various pet proofing strategies can ensure holiday decorations and displays aren’t compromised by four-legged friends this season.  Secure the Christmas tree. M uch like other residents of the home, pets may be mesmeri ed by a glowing hristmas tree. ets may sni around the tree or investigate it closely, which can increase the chances that it tips over. That poses a significant safety ha ard and underscores the importance of using a sturdy stand. Fastening the tree to a wall, much like one might do with a television that isn’t mounted, adds a further layer of protection from tip-overs.  Block off the base of a live tree. ive trees need water to stay green and keep their needles throughout the season. That water could prove enticing to thirsty pets. Drinking water from a tree stand could increase the risk of the tree tipping over and the water could upset the stomach of pets if the tree was treated with pesticides prior to being brought home. When decorating with a live tree, make sure the base of the tree where the water will be is blocked o . A small fence around the tree could keep curious pets away.

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The room where the tree is located should be locked or inaccessible when pets are home alone.  Inspect and conceal light wires. Wires can become frayed over time, and that could pi ue pets’ curiosity. ighting wires should always be inspected prior to decorating and frayed or damaged wires should be thrown away, even if it means replacing lights. If wires are still sturdy, conceal them along the base of the wall using a cable concealer, which prevents pets from chewing on them.  Speak to a vet about seasonal plants and flowers before bringing them into the home. Pet owners can speak with their veterinarians before bringing poinsettias, holly and other seasonal plants and owers into their homes. Some pets could su er allergic reactions if they eat certain seasonal plants, so it’s best to err on the side of caution and speak to a vet before including live plants and owers in decorative displays. Decorating is part of the holiday season. Pet owners must exercise an extra bit of caution to keep their pets and homes safe when decorating during this special time of year.

Decatur Living 50 Plus 11


oft-misunderstood fruitcake It’s time to see fruitcake in a new light. Consider these fruitcake fun facts. By METRO NEWS


ertain sights and sounds are ingrained in the holiday season, from twinkling lights to carols piping over retailers’ sound systems. Amid the shelves of holiday wares and delicacies, fruitcake makes its annual appearance. Fruitcake, sometimes referred to as plum cake or Christmas cake, can be prepared in various ways. However, a dense bundt-type cake dotted with dried, candied fruit and

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often soaked in rum or brandy has become the standard. Loathed or loved, seldom anything in between, fruitcake is typically mocked as the ultimate regift. But just like Charlie Brown’s scant Christmas tree, which was initially mocked, it’s time to see fruitcake in a new light. Consider these fruitcake fun facts.  The texture of fruitcake can vary from cake-like to more of a sweet bread like brioche. Italians dig into panettone, Germans delight with stollen and Jamaicans serve black cake.  The first fruitcakes weren’t eaten. According to historians, fruitcakes were initially made by ancient Egyptians, who tucked the desserts into the tombs with their dead so a sweet treat could be enjoyed in the afterlife.  Fruitcake gained popularity as military rations, as everyone from Roman soldiers to Crusaders found fruitcake provided a diverse array of nutrients and an energy boost in battle.  Fruitcake became a popular dish to serve at British royals’ weddings. Queen Victoria, Princess Diana and Prince William served fruitcake at their receptions.  The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., has a fruitcake on display. It traveled into space on Apollo 11 in 1969, but was never eaten.  Seth Greenberg, who worked in his family’s New York City bakery, attests that fruitcake is delicious when made with the right ingredients. The neon-colored, dry and overly sweet fruit that many bakers use is the problem with poor cakes. But proper ingredients like brandy, glace cherries, apricots, figs, and dates can make for a delicious fruitcake.  The average fruitcake weighs between 2 and 3 pounds. However, the heaviest fruitcake on record, according to “The Guinness Book of World Records,” came in at 9,596 pounds. Despite the hefty weight of this cake, it’s only around 92 to 160 calories per serving. Regardless of its unfavorable reputation, fruitcake remains an unwavering holiday tradition. The website Serious Eats reports that more than 2 million fruitcakes are sold each year.


CrossFit gives Tommy and Gina Lance a better quality of life

Since Tommy and Gina Lance started working out, Tommy has lost 46 pounds and Gina has lost 67 pounds. [CATHERINE GODBEY]



s Tommy ance deadlifted a kettlebell, Gina ance lay on the gym oor in front of a fan catching her breath.

“ A fter a workout, we usually lay here for 1 5 minutes and talk about our life choices,” Gina said with a laugh. Three days a week, many times before the sun rises, the husband-andwife duo arrive at Golden A pe CrossFit in Trinity for one-on-one workout sessions with fitness instructors Scott and April Shirley. Decatur Living 50 Plus 13

Gina Lance cheers on Tommy Lance as he finishes a CrossFit workout at Golden Ape in Trinity. [CATHERINE GODBEY]

Tommy Lance performs kettlebell deadlifts at Golden Ape CrossFit. [CATHERINE GODBEY]


For 5 4 -year-old Tommy and 50 year old Gina, the fitness ourney, which started in 20 20 for Gina and in January 20 23 for Tommy, has transformed their lives. “ I am way more active now, I’m not as sleepy and I can breathe better. I’m not on hormones anymore because everything has balanced out,” Gina said. “ We have grandbabies, who are 3 and 1 , they keep us up and going. We get to do stu with them instead of saying, ’all go play.’” “We wear them out,” Tommy added.

Since the ances started working out, Gina has lost 6 7 pounds and Tommy has dropped 4 6 pounds. They serve as inspiration for individuals setting fitness resolutions to start the new year. “ They are the most consistent. They always show up and are committed to getting healthier,” April Shirley said. Responsibility for the couple’s physical transformation rests with Gina, who, after gaining weight during CO VID, signed up for Golden A pe CrossFit.

Gina Lance, right, and April Shirley go over her workout at Golden Ape CrossFit. [CATHERINE GODBEY]

“ onestly, when started, it didn’t go well. I was in group classes and I wasn’t very consistent. Then I started one on one sessions with April,” Gina said. The personal training sessions provided the accountability Gina needed. “ If they held a class and I didn’t show up, they didn’t say, ‘ Gina isn’t here, we aren’t having a class.’ But when I started one-on-one with A pril, that changed. K nowing that A pril is meeting me here means I am going to be here. We are better stewards of

other people’s time than we are of our own.” Gina’s early workouts included push-ups and up-downs from a bench. “ It was even hard for her to get up and o the ground so would keep a bench nearby she could pull up on,” April Shirley said. “ ow she doesn’t need a bench to pull up on or for push ups.” Push-ups, which Gina once loathed, are now one of her favorite workouts. “ I really love push-ups because I used to not be able to do them. Now I

can. t’s one of my proud moments,” Gina said. In January 20 23, Tommy, after knee and hernia surgery, joined Gina at the gym. “Seeing Gina’s results, finally let go of my stubbornness and started coming,” Tommy said. “ e had always told me that he wasn’t going to go ip tires. The first week he was out here, what was he doing e was ipping tires,” Gina said. “ I was really proud of him when he started coming.” Decatur Living 50 Plus 15

During a typical week, Tommy arrives at the gym at 6 a.m. and Gina arrives at 6 or 8 a.m. The workouts specifically designed for Tommy and Gina by the Shirleys change daily, but include a variety of moves from bear crawls to kettlebell swings to wall balls to front sq uats to thrusters. “ I feel the most proud when I am able to walk out of the gym after a workout,” Tommy said okingly. “Really, every move am able to do makes me proud.” A ccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults ages 6 5 and older need at least 1 5 0 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity, such as

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brisk walking, or 7 5 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity, such as hiking or running, and at least two days a week of activities to strengthen muscles and activities to improve balance. ess than 15 of Americans meet those recommendations, according to the ce of isease revention and ealth romotion. “Gina was frustrated her first year because she really didn’t see the changes she wanted. Sometimes, especially when you are older, it takes your body a little bit of time to catch up with your new fitness routine and start showing results. The second year, though, Gina’s weight just started falling o ,” April Shirley said. This fitness ourney not only impacted the ances physically, it impacted them mentally. “ I am so glad I started. I have an overall better q uality of life. It is easier to get up and go. A nd I have a better mindset. feel good about myself,” Tommy said. “ Instead of running and trying to hide behind someone when a camera comes out, we feel good about having our picture taken. We feel good about ourselves,” Gina said. or individuals beginning a fitness ourney, Gina o ered this advice: “ Don’t q uit. Even if it doesn’t look good, even if it’s ugly when you do your workout, even if you cry and it takes you 1 5 minutes to do one move, don’t q uit. Do it anyway. Just keep going.”

16 Decatur Living 50 Plus


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Recognition of these pitfalls when making a resolution may improve your chances of being successful in the year ahead By METRO NEWS


stimates vary depending on the year and scope of the study, but research into ew ear’s resolutions has generally found that fewer than 10 of people who make resolutions each year stay the course until they’ve accomplished their goal. In fact, a poll conducted by O nePoll in conjunction with Crispy Green found that the

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average person has abandoned his or her resolution by February 1 . No two people are the same, but resolutions could fall victim to various pitfalls that can a ect anyone. Recognition of these pitfalls when making a resolution may improve your chances of being successful in the year ahead.  Lack of specificity: When making a resolution, be as specific as possible. f you want to read more, resolve to read two books per month ( or however many books you feel you can reasonably read in a month) . If you want to lose weight, speak to your physician to help you set a specific weight loss goal you can meet without compromising your overall health.  No measuring stick to track progress: Specificity is important, but it’s not the only tool you can use to stay the course with a resolution. M aintain a resolution journal or blog that allows you to gauge your performance. This can help you engage more fully in your resolution e orts, providing an outlet you can use to explore your successes and failures. The more engaged you are in your resolution e orts, the more likely those e orts will prove successful.

 Going it alone: The buddy system works when pursuing various goals, and ew ear’s resolutions are no exception. A friend or family member along for the resolution journey can make it easier to maintain your motivation. For example, anyone who wants to read more can join a book club, which can provide the motivation to finish books or e cerpts before a weekly discussion.  Biting off more than you can chew: Small resolutions may not seem like much, but minor e orts can serve as the stepping stones to reali ing larger goals. If your goals are too ambitious at the outset, you’re more likely to give up at the first setback.  Not anticipating setbacks: Setbacks will happen, and as noted, it’s easy to let them derail your e orts when they first appear. Recogni e that there will be bumps in the road but that these bumps should in no way end your journey. Take setbacks as the valuable lessons that they can be, and use them as an opportunity to examine what you did that didn’t work and what you can do to avoid future setbacks. •

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How to tell if it’s a cold, the flu, COVID-19 or RSV Knowledge of symptoms and their frequency can help people determine the culprit behind their winter illness By METRO NEWS


here’s much to look forward to at the start of winter. The holiday season starts winter o with a bang. O utdoor enthusiasts know their chances to hit the slopes and ski and snowboard are just beginning, sports fans know January marks the return of the ational ootball eague playo s, and travelers who need a little winter warmth often designate 20 Decatur Living 50 Plus

February as a month to soak up some sun in a faraway locale. With so much to do each winter, it’s especially problematic when you come down with a cold. owever, winter tends to be cold and u season in many areas, as viruses tend to spread more easily when people spend more time indoors. This winter, people may wonder if their sni es indicate they have a cold, the u or a sign of something more serious, such as CO VID-1 9 or respiratory syncytial







































virus RS . Anyone unsure of what’s behind a cold like illness is urged to speak with their physician. In addition, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases notes that the common cold, the u, 19 and RS present some similar symptoms, but also some uniq ue ones. Though each illness is complex, the freq uency with which some symptoms present may indicate which issue a person is dealing with. K nowledge of those symptoms and their freq uency can help people determine if the culprit behind their winter illness is a cold, the u, 19 or RS . Individuals who are concerned by the presence of cold- or u like symptoms are urged to speak with their physicians. Though many instances of cold, u, 19 and RS will go away without medical intervention, each condition can pose a significant health risk in certain situations.

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to kick the common cold



hough colds can strike at any time, ohns opkins M edicine notes that the increased incidence rates of colds during cold seasons like fall and winter may be attributable to the increased amount of time people spend indoors. Extra time indoors means individuals spend more time in tight q uarters with other people, which is notable because colds are highly contagious. There might not be a way to avoid colds this winter, but ohns opkins notes there are some strategies that can help treat a cold and potentially lessen its severity.  Hydrate. When a cold strikes, make sure you drink plenty of the right uids, which include water, deca einated tea with lemon and broth. a eine can cause dehydration, so avoid co ee and ca einated teas and sodas. Throat soothing warm liq uids like tea and broth can serve dual functions for those whose colds include a sore or dry throat.  Gargle with salt water. Though it may seem like an old wives’ tale, gargling with salt water can e ectively alleviate the pain and swelling of a sore throat.  Utilize a humidifier. ohns opkins notes that cold air holds less moisture than dry air. Dry air can worsen

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symptoms associated with sore throat, so a humidifier can be used to make indoor air more moist and therefore more sooting to a sore throat.  Get plenty of rest. Sleep helps to strengthen the body’s immune system, making it more e ective at fighting o and overcoming the cold virus. ohns opkins recommends adults get between eight and 1 0 hours of sleep when they come down with a cold.  Avoid unproven “treatments.” ohns opkins notes that antibiotics are designed to treat bacterial infections, not viruses. n addition, there is little evidence suggesting inc and vitamin C have any impact on cold viruses. Colds may be inevitable, but knowing what to do when a cold strikes may help reduce the severity and length of the common cold.

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The outdoor decorations of Lauren and Randy Riehl’s house received the overall excellence platinum award from the Historic Decatur Association in 2022. [JERONIMO NISA]



Meet Randy and Lauren Riehl CARETAKERS OF ONE OF DECATUR’S HISTORIC HOMES 24 Decatur Living 50 Plus

By DEBORAH STOREY Living 50 Plus


With thousands of lights, hundreds of round glass ornaments, wreaths, garland and trees, Dr. Randy and Lauren Riehl transformed Shadowlawn, one of Decatur’s prestigious historic homes, into a winter wonderland.

nspiration for the 1 5 0 -year-old home’s holiday dé cor stemmed from the Riehls’ trip to Paris in the summer of 20 22. “ They have all their beautiful shops and cafes decorated with elaborate entrances. got inspired by that,” auren said. ast year, to bring their vision, which included pastel pink and green round ornaments surrounding the entryway and a wreath made of the ornaments on the front door, to life, the Riehls received help from their former neighbor ustin all. “ We used garland as a base and secured it around the door and then secured all of the ornaments to the garland,” auren said. “With over 1,000 ip ties,” Randy added. The istoric ecatur hristmas Tour selected Shadowlawn as a site for the 20 23 tour on Dec. 9 , which featured homes, churches and historic sites in O ld Decatur and A lbany. “This is the first time Shadowlawn is going to be on the tour and it is the home’s 1 5 0 th birthday. The tour is a great way to showcase and celebrate the house,” auren said. Randy, 5 , and auren, 0, started decorating for Christmas in O ctober. “ We basically just skipped over fall and went straight to Christmas. We didn’t get the first pumpkin or mum,” auren Riehl said. In the home’s interior, the Riehls decorated the men’s parlor and women’s parlor for Christmas and set up the dining room for a holiday meal. ecorating Shadowlawn for Christmas represents a dream come true for ecatur native auren. Decatur Living 50 Plus 25

Lauren and Randy Riehl’s living room. [JERONIMO NISA]

“Lauren’s got a flair for making things look pretty, and decorating.”

Lauren and Randy Riehl’s holiday decorations were inspired by their trip to Paris in 2022. [JERONIMO NISA]

26 Decatur Living 50 Plus

As a child, auren always admired the magnificent house on ine Street in ecatur as she walked to a friend’s house. The Riehls bought the 150 year old Shadowlawn named for the towering oak trees shading the lawn — in December of 20 20 . “ ne of my really good friends lived behind the house,” auren said. “ would go over there and play and pass Shadowlawn on the way to her house and always admired it. It was a dream house for me. I about fainted when I found out the house was available when we were in the market to purchase because I just couldn’t believe I would have the opportunity to live there.” Even though it was built in 1 8 7 4 , it was in surprisingly good condition thanks to previous owners. “ t was very well taken care of,” said auren. “We really ust went in and did minor cosmetic things.” nstead of consulting with a decorator, auren took on the project of redoing the place herself.

“ auren’s got a air for making things look pretty, and decorating,” Randy said. “ can’t take any credit for that because it was all her.” Shadowlawn is ecatur’s Tara, featured proudly on billboards, the historic society website, a mural and in publications including Southern iving. The Greek Revival style mansion is located at 60 ine St. . . in ld ecatur, across the street from ra ier ark. n the late 1 00s, r. William Gardner Gill, president of the M organ County M edical Society, lived there with his wife li abeth. Randy, an orthopedic surgeon who grew up in untsville, went to the niversity of Alabama in Birmingham and started his medical practice in ecatur. e is vice president of the ational linical rthopaedic Society. e and auren have two children. iving at Shadowlawn is something of a dream come true for him, too. “ or me it’s fantastic,” said Randy. “ t’s like living in a piece of history and living in a museum. t’s uite a blessing.” e takes seriously his responsibility to the historic property. “ t’s one of those houses that ust appreciated and loved,” Randy said. “ ittle did ever imagine a chance of living in it or being a steward of it. Even though we purchased the house and we own it, it’s more of a stewardship for this piece of history.” is “calling” for the house, he said, “is ust to maintain it and preserve it. That’s become a hobby of mine since we got it.”

Randy Riehl hangs a bow at the top of the Christmas tree. [JERONIMO NISA]

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Best they can guess, the house is roughly 4 ,0 0 0 sq uare feet, which may or may not include the basement. The Riehls credited the previous homeowners, Glynn and K athy Tubb, for maintaining and preserving the house. “ They were there for 4 0 years and we would not have the Shadowlawn we have today if it weren’t for them. They really brought it back to life,” auren said. The Riehls updated with new paint, hardware, lighting and countertops. Rearranged cabinets in the kitchen created an “ upstairs entertainment center or beverage center,” Randy e plained. The main kitchen area has refinished oak oors with modern whitewash “not your typical brown wood veneer finish.” When the house was built, light came from oil lamps. “ We still have one of the original fi tures. t’s been electrified,” Randy said. “ The reservoirs for the oil lamp candles are still on that fi ture, where you would remove the cap and fill it with oil in the evening and light it.”

Christmas decorations in Lauren and Randy Riehl’s dining room. [JERONIMO NISA]

The couple purchased new pendant lighting, some from a French importer in A tlanta. The idea was that “ big chandeliers would take it back to a little more prestigious time.” O ne surprise that emerged during renovation was that the upstairs had not been rewired. The attic still had old knob-and-tube wiring.

“ We had to take all that down and bring it up to code for current safety features,” Randy said. The basement was the location of the original coal furnace. “ There’s a coal chute and a chimney that ran down to the basement level where the coal furnace would feed into that to heat the house,” said Randy.

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Lauren and Randy Riehl’s dining room table is ready for a holiday meal. [JERONIMO NISA]

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“ It was a pretty dark, gloomy basement … . When they built these old houses, you had a central entry foyer and then you had rooms o to the right and left. verything was built for air ow and ventilation to come through the house in the summertime, or close up and you built a fire.” Chimneys on each side of the house would provide heat for upstairs and downstairs rooms. O ne of Randy’s hobbies is mixology. When a friend suggested the basement would make a great speakeasy, the couple didn’t need much motivating. “ got kind of e cited about that,” he recalled. They reasoned that with all the other renovations going on, why not add the whimsical touch of a private bar. Besides, it’s not unreasonable to think that a fancy house might have had a members only bar in the 1900s. Because the house is on ine Street, everyone calls the basement speakeasy “ nderline.” They added a hidden door from the library, with a little opening where they can jokingly ask for a password. A full bar, refrigerator, icemaker, wine storage area, gilded ceiling and shelving complete the look. “ t really turned into a nice pro ect,” said Randy. “ t ust came out spectacular.” The Riehls invite over friends about once a q uarter. auren’s 0th birthday party was a bash with a sa ophone player, singer and M arie A ntoinette theme.

Decatur Living 50 Plus 31

Lauren and Randy Riehl’s dining room. [JERONIMO NISA]

“We absolutely love it. We still can’t believe we live there.” “ We’ve had some fantastic parties down there,” Randy said. Randy’s family has some history of its own. Wernher von Braun recruited Randy’s late father — who graduated from S at age 1 to work in the space program in untsville. is boss warned him that he’d never amount to anything if he agreed to the transfer from New O rleans. “ M y dad said, ‘ Respectfully, sir, I’d like to take that chance.’” Randy inherited his father’s mockup of the rocket that launched the satellite Explorer I. A nother nod to history displayed in the house is “artillery art.” With a house this big, couples can have their own designated spaces with his and hers parlors. auren said Randy’s has a “moody vibe” with leather, velvet and a wood burning fireplace. t e tends into a 32 Decatur Living 50 Plus

sunroom with a billiards table. er parlor has a century-old, ornate marble fireplace with gas logs, plus crystal chandeliers and plenty of pink. The previous owner added an oldstyle elevator with bars and a scissor door. “We use it today,” Randy said. A nother unusual feature is that the veranda, or front porch visible behind the home’s four prominent columns, is “ actually cantilevered and suspended in mid air,” said Randy. “ t doesn’t connect to those four columns. When they built it, they had the proper engineering to support it.” ven though it’s “solid as a rock,” he said, “ I don’t want to put 20 people out there.” The owner who added the elevator liked to entertain and needed a place to entertain her lady friends.

“She had that little house built in the back for her to play cards,” said auren. The little summer house needs renovation, which will come later. Because last ecember’s big north Alabama free e claimed much of Shadowlawn’s landscaping, replacing that is the first priority. “ There’s always something on a house like this,” Randy said. Because the home is historic, modern features like aluminum windows aren’t allowed. “ Everything that has to be replaced, it’s got to be compatible with the year it was built,” said Randy. They don’t seem to mind the ongoing maintenance one bit. “ It’s a privilege to be able to take care of it,” Randy said. “ We absolutely love it. We still can’t believe we live there,” said auren.

Tasty tidbits



ggnog is a rich and delicious beverage that has become synonymous with the most festive time of year. This milk- and eggbased concoction is tasty on its own, or it can be dressed up with other avors and spiked with a favorite spirit when celebrating the holiday season with other adult partygoers. December is National Eggnog M onth, and December 24 is National Eggnog Day. There is no more perfect time of year to learn everything you can about eggnog - all the while sipping a cup of this creamy concoction. Indulge in these festive facts about the beverage, courtesy of Mental loss, The act Site and Tastemade.  Eggnog likely originated in the medieval period and was known as “posset,” a hot, milk based drink made of spices and wine. Even though posset could be a cocktail, it also was used as a remedy for colds and u for its soothing properties.


 M ilk, eggs and sherry used in the early recipes were di cult to come by, so when eggnog first appeared it was a drink only the wealthy could enjoy. That changed when eggnog was populari ed in the American colonies, where dairy products and liq uor were more readily available.  ntymologists believe “eggnog” stems from the word “noggin,” which refers to small wooden mugs often used to serve strong ale, known by the slang word “nog.”  In the medieval period, it was risky to drink milk straight because it wasn’t pasteuri ed. ggnog contained alcohol so that it would kill o any harmful bacteria in the milk.  A typical homemade version of eggnog has roughly one egg per serving. owever, commercial eggnog is regulated by the FDA and can only contain 1 of the product’s final weight in egg yolk solids. That stems from fear of raw egg and salmonella.  President George Washington apparently enjoyed serving eggnog at Christmas, and even had his own

special recipe ( see below) , according to the O ld Farmer’s A lmanac.  There is no right or wrong alcohol to use when preparing eggnog. Distilled spirits like rum, sherry, cognac, and whiskey all have produced suitable eggnogs.  Puerto Rican coq uito is a traditional drink that is very similar to eggnog.  Individuals concerned about eggs or milk in eggnog can enjoy a vegan recipe made from nut milk instead. Commercially produced vegan eggnog o erings are now more widely available.  ne of the more notable avors in eggnog comes from the use of nutmeg. Nutmeg is a fragrant spice made from grinding the seed of the nutmeg tree.

Now that you’ve learned about eggnog, whip up a batch of George Washington’s original recipe this holiday season. ▸ Decatur Living 50 Plus 33


(George Washington’s original interpretation)


▸ 1 quart cream ▸ 1 quart milk ▸ 1 dozen tablespoons sugar ▸ 1 pint brandy ▸ 1/2 pint rye whiskey ▸ 1/2 pint Jamaican rum ▸ 1/4 pint sherry

34 Decatur Living 50 Plus

Eggs ( Washington forgot to include the number of eggs, so home chefs can improvise or use six, which seems to be the standard in traditional recipes) Mi li uor first, then separate yolks and whites of eggs, add sugar to beaten yolks, mix well. A dd milk and cream, slowly beating. Beat whites of eggs until sti and fold slowly into mi ture. et sit in cool place for several days. Taste fre uently. Tip: Today’s recipe makers may want to set the eggnog in the refrigerator as the “cool place” of choice.

Bake up a sweet holiday treat By METRO NEWS



ntertaining is a big part of the holiday season. Calendars are packed this time of year with gatherings with friends, family and professional colleagues. Entertaining req uires keeping plenty of refreshments on hand to ensure guests maintain their holiday spirit. Dessert is no stranger to the season, with o ce break rooms, dining tables and bu et stations brimming with sweet treats to tempt celebrants’ palates. Everyone should have a goto dessert to bring along to a holiday party or to o er guests when hosting

Decatur Living 50 Plus 35

their own fê tes. Cookies are a standard due to their versatility and portability. estive “Sour ream ookies” provide all of the holiday feels and can be customi ed in color to re ect celebrations of hristmas, hanukah, wan aa, or ew ear’s. Bake up a batch, courtesy of “ ive Well Bake ookies” Rock oint by Danielle Rye.

What is an




Makes 22 cookies

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▸ 11/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled ▸ 1 teaspoon baking powder ▸ 1/4 teaspoon salt ▸ 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened ▸ 3/4 cup granulated sugar ▸ 1 large egg, at room temperature ▸ 11/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract ▸ 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature

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36 Decatur Living 50 Plus

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting ▸ 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened ▸ 11/2 cups powdered sugar ▸ 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream or milk ▸ 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract ▸ Gel food coloring (optional)

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4. M ix in the egg and vanilla extract until fully combined, making sure to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. 5. M ix in the dry ingredients in two additions, alternating with the sour cream. M ake sure to mix in each addition until just combined, and be careful not to overmix the batter. 6. sing a tablespoon cookie scoop, scoop the cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheets, making sure to leave a little room between each one.


1. To make the cookies: Preheat the oven to 50 . ine two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats and set aside. 2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the our, baking powder and salt until well combined. Set aside. 3. n the bowl of a stand mi er fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar together for 1 to 2 minutes, or until well combined.

7. Bake for 1 to 16 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies are set and spring back when touched lightly. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool on the baking sheets for 1 0 minutes, then carefully transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. 8. To make the vanilla buttercream frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer, beat the butter for 1 to 2 minutes, or until smooth. A dd the powdered sugar, cup at a time, mi ing in each addition until well combined. 9. A dd the heavy whipping cream, vanilla extract, and gel food coloring ( if using) , and continue mixing until fully combined. 10. O nce the cookies have cooled completely, spread the frosting on top of the cookies. 11. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to four days.

38 Decatur Living 50 Plus

Tom Ress stands in Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge’s observation building. He often guides bird walks. [JERONIMO NISA]

WINGING IT: On the trails with birder and Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge volunteer Tom Ress

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inding a sport that’s physically easy, fun, challenging and not too expensive is tough as you get older. Birdwatching can be the perfect answer e uipment needs for beginners are few and north A labama is one of the top places in the state to see rare and colorful birds. Tom Ress, 7 1 , is a lifelong birdwatcher. “ ’ve been doing it since was in my 20s,” Ress said. “ ’ve just always been an outdoors guy and birds are an integral part of that.”

Hartselle Living 39

Tom Ress has been a volunteer at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge for over 16 years. [JERONIMO NISA]

When he first married and moved to Indiana, Ress met a fellow birder and “we ust kind of fed o each other and it’s just gradually increased over the years.” For years, Ress worked as a civilian supporting the military in various locations, including Fort K nox and e ington Army epot in entucky. “My final position was as logistics manager for the A rmy’s Chinook helicopter eet,” he said. A fter retiring from Redstone A rsenal, Ress began volunteering at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Decatur. The refuge is on the A labama Tourism Department’s list of eight recommended birding trails. “ I lead birding tours and kayak tours and do waterfowl surveys and 40 Decatur Living 50 Plus

bird counts at the refuge,” said Ress, of Athens. “ t’s ust been a lifelong love.” e’s fre uently asked how to get started in the hobby. Several birding organi ations like the orth Alabama Birdwatchers Society sponsor birding tours. “ We get a lot of visitors down at the refuge that are interested in birds and really don’t know how to go about it,” he said. “ M y recommendation is always go with an accomplished birder. ou can always learn by yourself, but you’re certainly going to increase that learning curve early if you go with an experienced birder.” Walking with a knowledgeable guide in a popular birding spot is “ the easiest way to become proficient uickly,” he said.

“ O n Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge alone we’ve seen almost 30 0 di erent species through the years,” he said. “ Wheeler gets a lot of winter waterfowl, ducks and snow geese and whooping cranes.” Binoculars, water and weather appropriate clothing are all you need to get started. “ It’s not like taking up golf where you have to have hundreds of dollars’ worth of e uipment,” he said. “ ou can start out with a moderately priced pair ( of binoculars) , but you don’t want to get cheap binoculars ... . It’s nice to have a scope that you can use. ou definitely need a birding guide that tells you what the various birds are.” Sibley Guides birding books are his favorite.

North A labama is a great place to bird, Ress said, with a variety of habitats. Besides the refuge, Monte Sano in untsville is a prime birding spot. So are and Trust of orth Alabama trails. North A labama is on the fringe of a bird superhighway. “ We’re on the eastern edge of what’s called the M ississippi Flyway, which is a migration route for birds from the northern states to the southern states where they spend the winter and spring,” he said. M ost birdwatchers have particular species they want to see. New birders want to spot bald eagles. Whooping cranes are high on many lists. “ That’s an endangered species and there’s about 600 left in the wild,” said Ress. “ We’re very fortunate at Wheeler

that we get about a do en or so that overwinter here.” To celebrate the whooping cranes and more than 1 0 ,0 0 0 sandhill cranes that winter at Wheeler, the Friends of Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge created the Festival of the Cranes. The 20 24 festival will take place Jan. 1 2-1 4 . “ We get a lot of birders from all over the Southeastern nited States that come specifically to see the whooping crane because it’s so rare,” Ress said. “ It’s a big, beautiful bird. It’s 5 feet tall. It’s gleaming white with black wingtips and a red cap.” Several apps help birdwatchers know what they’re looking at — and hearing. The free Audubon Bird Guide from the National A udubon Society helps identify birds based on description. “ M erlin in particular is a nice app because you can record the bird’s song and it will tell you what the bird is,” Ress said. Ress has seen about 2,0 0 0 species through the years. “Really that’s not a whole lot,” he said, noting extreme birders have seen 4 ,0 0 0 to 6 ,0 0 0 species. Ress traveled to A frica in O ctober and added 100 new “lifers” to the list of species he’s seen. “ I have never really taken an international trip that was specifically birding, but that’s always a primary part of my trips,” he said. In A frica, he spotted a martial eagle, a huge raptor. e’s seen penguins in the Galapagos Islands, and too many other kinds to list. “ ou have to have patience,” he said. “ ou have to have a good eye, which develops over the years. ou learn about how birds move through the trees, which attracts your attention. That’s how you spot them — look for ashes of color in the trees.” Birding adds to the outdoors experience when “ you know there’s a di erent bird out there to stalk.” Dedicated birders have to put up with rain and cold because the best times for birding around here aren’t the mild days of summer. Spring is when songbirds and migratory birds move through north A labama to return to nesting areas. During fall migration, birds head to wintering grounds.


Three days of art, music and nature events will highlight the 11th annual Festival of the Cranes created in celebration of the more than 10,000 sandhill cranes and the dozen whooping cranes that winter at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. The Festival of the Cranes on Jan. 12-14 will kickoff with a concert by the Nashville-based rock band The Prescriptions on Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Princess Theatre. The Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge will host an early morning birding walk with Christopher Joe and Dwight Cooley on Jan. 13 at 7 p.m., birding walks with Joe on Jan. 13 at 1 p.m. and Jan. 14 at 11 a.m., photography workshops with Robert Smith on Jan. 13 at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., early morning birding walk with a Teddy Roosevelt impersonator on Jan. 14 at 8 a.m., and photography workshops with Bobby Harrison on Jan. 14 at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. The Princess Theatre in downtown Decatur will host Wings to Soar Raptor Shows on Jan. 13 at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. and Jan. 14 at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., the Teddy Roosevelt Show with Joe Wiegand on Jan. 13 at 11 a.m., Steve Trash — Rockin’ Eco Hero on Jan. 13 at 3 p.m. and a premiere of the film “Wings Over Water” on Jan. 13 at 5 p.m. Other activities at the Alabama Center for the Arts include Batty about Bats with Vicky Smith and live bats on Jan. 13 at 9 a.m. and Jan. 14 at 10 a.m., children’s activities at 10 a.m., Antarctica researcher Dr. James McClintock on Jan. 13 at 11 a.m. and Jan. 14 at 1:30 p.m., Junior Duck Stamp workshop with Tammie Clark on Jan. 13 at 1 p.m., Stephanie Schmidt with the International Crane Foundation on Jan. 13 at 2 p.m., and herpetologist Jimmy Stiles with reptiles and amphibians on Jan. 14 at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. For more information, visit Decatur Living 50 Plus 41


42 Decatur Living 50 Plus

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Tom Ress, left, said winter is the prime time for birdwatching in north Alabama. [TRISTAN HOLMES]

“Summer is very slow around here. Summer is not a good time to bird in north Alabama. ou might as well forget it in une, uly, August and September,” Ress said. A t Wheeler, “ birds come in the middle of November and leave about the middle of M arch. That’s when we get most of our visitors there,” he said.

“That’s the prime time.” Birders at Wheeler are starting to see species new to the area. “ There are increasing sightings of a bird called a limpkin. It’s endemic to Florida, rarely seen north of the coast. t’s starting to move into this area,” said Ress, who attributed the sightings to climate change.

Climate change seems to be responsible for giving local birdwatchers new species for their life lists and journals. O thers spotted more often are black-bellied whistling ducks and swallow-tailed kites. A recent hurricane blew amingos way o course into the Tuscaloosa area and southern Tennessee. O ne sought-after species is a little surprising. “ We get a lot of visitors from the West oast and overseas,” Ress said of Wheeler. “Believe it or not, the bird they really want to see is the Northern cardinal because they don’t have them over there. That’s a beautiful bird, but we take it for granted.” Even suburban backyard bird feeders draw a surprising array of winged visitors. Ress, who lives on a lake in A thens, has seen hummingbirds, warblers, ducks, geese and egrets without much e ort. “ I can sit on my back porch with a cup of co ee and get 25 species,” he said.


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Decatur Living 50 Plus 43


DIGNITY: Decatur-based group focuses on meeting the needs of seniors

Elder Law Attorney Connie Glass spoke about the necessity of estate planning, from creating living wills to naming a power of attorney. [CATHERINE GODBEY]



rom creating a living will to naming a power of attorney to downsi ing, many decisions face senior citi ens and their families as they age. To help people navigate those decisions, Tori Vaughan created the Summit Group. “ M y goal is to protect our senior citi ens and prepare them for what may

44 Decatur Living 50 Plus

face them in the future,” aughan said. “ When a precipitating event happens, people are forced to make immediate decisions and often those are not well thought out. I want to encourage people to plan ahead and seek the resources to best help them and, above all, let them know they do not have to navigate this ourney alone.” The group, whose first event in ctober at Turner Surles Resource Center attracted 6 7 people, has been asked to lead sessions at churches, senior centers and the Elks Club.

“ This just shows how much this information is needed, especially now when so much of our population is reaching the age where they will need to face some of these lifechanging decisions and will need these speciali ed services,” aughan said. It’s never too early to start planning for the future, experts on seniors said. “ A ging gracefully with dignity is something that we all want. We don’t want to be a burden. We don’t want to face the unknown with no plan. None of us want to worry about what’s going to

Dozens of people attended the Summit Senior EXPO at Turner-Surles Resource Center to learn about estate planning, veteran’s benefits, finding the right assisted living facility and more. [CATHERINE GODBEY]

happen to us tomorrow or ne t year,” Connie Glass, an elder law attorney, said. “ The things we do now are going to allow us to have control over our destiny and legacy as we get older.” K ey to keeping as much control as possible rests in creating an estate plan, which includes wills, living wills and powers of attorney. “ We all know about wills. Just as important is doing planning to allow someone to make decisions for you if you reach the point where you cannot do that while you are living. ou don’t

want to leave your personal decision making up to the court system. While you have the capacity and know what is going on, you need to put someone you trust in charge of that decision making,” Glass said. Those decisions include deciding what happens to a person’s bank account and property, what kind of medical care a person receives and where a person lives if not at home. Glass suggested naming a financial decision maker and a medical care decision maker. “ If you had an accident today and ended up in the hospital, who’s going to write your checks and pay your bills and make sure the lights stay on? Who’s going to do all of the things you do for yourself every day of your life,” Glass said. “ ou need someone to manage your finances. t needs to be someone you trust 110 .”


Tori Vaughan, right, with her late mother Toni Roberts. [COURTESY PHOTO]


When choosing a medical decision maker, think about who is going to talk to the doctors and pharmacists and admit you to the hospital or assisted living, if necessary. Glass encouraged people to review their wills and powers of attorney on a regular basis. “ our will needs to be current with the circumstances of your life as they exist today, not 23 years ago when you did your will. Pull it out every few years, look at it and read it. M ake sure everyone in there is still living and that the person you have in charge is still the person you want in charge. A will needs to be a living document,” Glass said. 46 Decatur Living 50 Plus

Along with Glass, the Summit Group’s inaugural event featured speakers on veterans’ benefits, transitioning to assisted living facilities and how to find the right facility. “ When families discover a loved one needs assistance, they don’t know where to go, what is the best for them and what they can a ord. ften, they stay at home and don’t make the necessary decisions because they feel overwhelmed,” aughan said. “Senior A lliance serves as a tour guide at no charge for the families. They look at the family’s finances, the location and amenities they want and find facilities that match that.” The event also focused on an oftenoverlooked area — mental health. “ O ften, people face senior transitions because of a big change — loss of spouse, loss of health, loss of mobility. It’s a very challenging journey for people. A lot of times people neglect their mental health. If we don’t have our mental health, we don’t have much of anything,” aughan said. For the 5 4 -year-old Vaughan, the creation of Summit Senior iving Solutions represents a goal 15 years in the making.

“This specific group is something I have dreamed of for 1 5 years, but, really, my interest in the aging process goes back to college,” said aughan, who lives in Decatur. “ In college, I took masters’ level classes and speciali ed studies in gerontology on how people age and what we as a community can do to meet those needs.” The idea for creating a program to meet those needs arose when Vaughan, who previously served as an administrator for assisted living and memory care communities, received her real estate license. Vaughan speciali es in real estate for seniors, including relocation and transition. “ A ll of us in the senior services profession, we meet with families, oneon-one, throughout the week. While that is wonderful and I value that personal time completely, there are only so many people I can reach that way,” aughan said. “When we have education events, though, and speak about issues facing seniors, we can reach so many more people.” Vaughan, an only child, got a firsthand e perience of the aging process with her parents. “ I went through these same things with my own parents. I know the di culties and the challenges people face,” aughan said. “Before she died, my mother and I talked about these issues a lot. She loved my business and vision. It was something she wanted to be part of and help grow.” For assistance and information about local resources for seniors, email summitseniorexpo@ or call Vaughan at 25 6 -34 5 -9 4 5 5 . “ M ost people don’t know what to ask, but we can direct them in the right way,” aughan said. Along with aughan, the Summit Group’s core group includes Robert Allen, who speciali es in moving, packing and estate sales, Dixie Tyler, a senior living placement advisor, and Peyton Peavey, who helps place seniors in independent living, assisted living and memory care facilities.

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