Decatur/Morgan Living50Plus May-June 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 turn to MarMac Real Estate?

If you’re thinking about selling your home. Maybe you’re retiring, downsizing or a major life event has made you consider a move. MarMac Real Estate has unique training and experience in helping home buyers and sellers in your situation.

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

MarMac Real Estate can draw upon a network of other professionals focused on 50+ customers.

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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MarMac Real Estate can patiently support you through each step.


Visit us at HOW TO REACH US For story ideas or comments: Bruce McLellan 256-340-2431 For distribution questions: Rebecca Braun 256-340-2414

For advertising questions: Baretta Taylor 256-340-2370 Published by Decatur Daily Tennessee Valley Media For website questions: Daniel Buford 256-340-2408

4 Decatur Living 50 Plus

DID YOU KNOW? The benefits of leisure activities extend beyond beating boredom



eisure activities may be widely viewed as fun ways to fill up free time, but the benefits of leisure activities extend beyond beating boredom. A recent analysis published in the journal BBA Molecular Basis of Disease found that leisure activities have a positive impact on cognitive function and dementia. The analysis, conducted by researchers with the Aging Research Center in Stockholm who examined various studies regarding the relationship between certain activities and cognitive function, defined leisure activity as the voluntary use of free time for activities outside the home. After retirement, leisure time constitutes a large part of many retirees’ lives and finding ways to fill that time is more beneficial than merely avoiding boredom. The researchers behind the study concluded that the existing research is insufficient to draw any firm conclusions regarding the effects of certain types of leisure activities on the risk for dementia and cognitive decline, though they did note that multi-domain cognitive training has the potential to improve cognitive function in healthy older adults and slow decline in affected individuals. A multi-domain approach to cognitive training involves memory, reasoning, problem-solving, and map reading, among other activities. Aging adults who embrace activities that require the use of such skills may find that they are not only finding stimulating ways to fill their free time but increasing their chances of long-term cognitive health as well.

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llen Kinworthy sat in the Aquadome Recreation Center bleachers and breathed deeply in between games of pickleball. He served as tangible evidence that the once-obscure sport can provide a workout. “It gets the cardio back up,” acknowledged Kinworthy, a Decatur resident who says he’s older than 60. “Where I’ve just been walking and riding the bicycle, this is much better exercise for me than that, of course, getting the cardio up.” Kinworthy is one of a growing number of local residents 50 and older who’ve taken up pickleball in the past year for reasons ranging from having the chance to exercise and enjoy camaraderie during the pandemic to competing in a sport designed for all levels of athletic ability. “You have less ground to cover (than in tennis), but it still keeps you active,” Kellie Sims, recreation manager for Decatur Parks and Recreation, said. “It can be played indoors or outdoors so you’ve got the option there. It can be played year-round.” Juli Lawson, 56, of Moulton was with a group that recently joined the regular pickleball games at the Aquadome as part of a Decatur Seventh-day Adventist Church fitness initiative. “We chose this because it’s an activity that’s easy to pick up,” Lawson said. “My 82-year-old mother-in-law was out

6 Decatur Living 50 Plus

here with us a few weeks ago and she’s never played tennis or pickleball, and she picked it up like that.” Pickleball combines elements of several other racket/ paddleball sports. It uses paddles like in Ping-Pong, only they’re larger. It has a net like in tennis, but it’s not as high. The court resembles those marked for diagonal serving like in tennis and badminton. At 20-by-44 feet, a pickleball court has the same dimensions as a badminton doubles court but is smaller than a tennis court, requiring less running. The plastic ball is perforated, reducing its speed. “We had a staff meeting one time and just kind of did an introduction to pickleball,” Sims said. “Most of our staff was like, ‘Man, this is fun. I’ve never played this before.’ It’s kind of an addicting thing.” Sims said Parks and Recreation began trying to utilize pickleball last year. “COVID really drove us to look at thinking outside the box and doing more for seniors,” she said. “Pickleball’s a game that you can kind of spread out. After we were shut down for so long, then that was one of the ideas to bring back into the gym because we could spread out. …. (With) the senior population, (pickleball) is very, very strong.” David Easterling, 56, of Decatur, began playing pickleball earlier this year and now plays three to four times a week at the Aquadome.

a pickleball team have to lose their serves before serving switches to the opposition. And pickleball players have to learn to stay out of the “kitchen.” That’s an area seven feet from the net on each side where a player can reach into with a paddle but can’t stand in while hitting a return unless the ball has bounced. As of late May, public pickleball courts in Decatur were available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the Aquadome and from 3 to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursday at T.C. Almon Recreation Center. Sims said if demand for pickleball court time increases, “we’d love to increase” hours. Taking up the sport isn’t expensive. The Aquadome has paddles that players can borrow, and entry-level equipment packages with a pair of paddles and balls sell for about $20. USA Pickleball says a 2019 report from the Sports Fitness Industry Association indicated pickleball had reached 3.3 million participants in the United States and had become one of the nation’s fastest growing sports. Decatur’s Parks and Recreation Department anticipates more demand for courts and plans to turn the three outdoor tennis courts at Austin Junior High into six pickleball courts. The department also has proposed adding pickleball overlays on three tennis courts at Wilson Morgan Park so they can be used for both sports.

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He said players sweat, but “it’s not like you’re out running a marathon or anything. You get good activity. That may be one of the reasons it’s so popular with seniors is you do get your heart rate up, but it’s not overwhelming.” Local seniors said pickleball offers the best of both worlds when it comes to taking on opponents. “If you got a little (desire for) competition in you, you can still have it at this age,” said Pam Pike, 56. But the sport isn’t all about winning and losing. Stan Rogers, 60, said, “You can still have fun with varying levels of competition on the same court.” He recalled one instance when his wife Sandy wondered why everyone on a court where her husband was playing had broken up in laughter. “It was because I missed the ball so badly,” Stan Rogers said. “They’re laughing because they’ve all done it. You get so excited, you completely miss it.” In addition to pickleball’s use of a smaller court, paddles and lower net, it has other elements that set it apart from tennis. Serves must be made underhand and can’t contact the ball above the waist. The first two times the ball crosses the net after a serve, the receiving team has to let the ball bounce before hitting a return. After those first two volleys, subsequent returns can be hit either after a bounce or before. After the first service sequence of a game in doubles, both players on

Decatur Living 50 Plus 7

Different generations can learn and BENEFIT from one another S CAN BENEFIT N IO T A R E N E G N E E ELATIVES R G INTERACTIONS BETW IN G A IR E H T D N LE A BOTH YOUNG PEOP



n the not-so-distant past, extended families frequently lived in close proximity to one another. Such families shared meals and experiences and essentially grew up together. Nowadays, families separate for various reasons, such as job opportunities and cost of living concerns.

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While there are advantages to spreading out, there are also some disadvantages, namely that grandparents and grandchildren may not see one another frequently enough. Even though people of different age groups may not entirely have the same interests, the interactions between generations can benefit both young people and their aging relatives.

FINDING RENEWED VIGOR Senior living and active lifestyle communities provide invaluable care and amenities for seniors. While being around like-minded individuals can be handy, it’s also limiting. Seniors who continue to age in place in mixed-age communities can extract joy from watching youthful children and young adults growing up, playing and socializing. Being around multiple generations also can spark interesting conversation, and all parties involved can learn something from one another. PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE Younger generations may not understand the concept of “hard times” or “doing without” like a person who has lived through various ups and downs. Passing along advice about economic cycles, saving for the future and maintaining stability is one area of expertise at which many seniors excel. PRACTICING INTERPERSONAL SKILLS All the technological savviness in the world cannot compensate for the power of strong interpersonal skills. Being able to address a group of people or speak oneon-one is essential in the workplace and in life. When younger generations speak to older adults, they may

become stronger at verbal discourse and have greater perspective of different points of conversation. LEARNING NEW TECHNOLOGY Younger generations can impart knowledge of technological devices to older adults. People with skills are usually happy to share their knowledge. Even if seniors aren’t ready to purchase tablets or smartphones, they may be excited to have their grandchildren teach them about the latest gadgets. PROVIDING SENSE OF PURPOSE Both seniors and younger generations can realize a greater sense of purpose when interacting with one another. That person may be the reason the other one greets the day with a smile. Visits from grandchildren can reduce the liklihood of isolation and depression in older adults. And younger generations can discover the benefits of personal social interaction rather than communicating exclusively through social media apps. Fostering intergenerational connections is a great way to broaden social circles, improve communication and learn new things.

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Decatur Living 50 Plus 9



aking friends as a child or even as a parent to school-aged children is relatively easy. Classrooms and school functions facilitate the building of friendships. Even as one gets older and enters the workforce, it’s not uncommon for people to become friends with their coworkers. As people near retirement age, their situations may have changed considerably. Children have moved out, careers are coming to an end and friendships may be hard to maintain due to people relocating or traveling. Older

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adults may aspire to make new friends, but they may not know how. According to Irene S Levine, Ph.D., The Friendship Doctor and contributor to Psychology Today, it is not unique for seniors to want to make new friends. Age can be a barrier because there are stereotypes that pigeonhole people of certain ages. But Levine notes that state of mind and physical ability is not directly tied to chronological age. Making friends is possible at any age. These guidelines can help along the way. · Explore online connections. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Gerontology found seniors (even those in their 80s) who stay connected with friends and family using social media report feeling less lonely and better overall. Connected seniors also demonstrated higher executive reasoning skills. There are plenty of ways to meet new people online by joining social media groups that cater to your interests. In person meetings in particular cities or regions of the country also can make for great ways to make new friends. Exercise caution when meeting people in person after contacting them online. Bring another person along, whether it’s

a spouse or an adult child, to ensure that you are safe. · Volunteer your time. One way to meet new people is to get involved with causes or activities you love. This serves the double benefit of getting you outside and active and puts you in touch with people who share your passions and interests. · Attend alumni events. If you have an interest getting in touch with someone from your past and reconnecting, make the time to attend school reunions and other alumni activities. It can be fun to reconnect with friends from high school or college. · Join a gym. The local gym isn’t just a great place to get physically fit. Group exercise classes also can be ideal places to meet other people who enjoy working out. Strike up a conversation with another class participant you see on a regular basis. Once you develop a rapport, schedule lunch dates so your friendship grows outside of the gym. Making friends is not just for the young. Men and women over 50 also can find ways to build new friendships.

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Tony Cocciolo often runs at Delano Park. Regardless of the weather, he tries to run six days a week, going 3 to 6 miles a day and between 20 to 30 miles in a week. PHOTOS BY JERONIMO NISA

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he only thing Tony Cocciolo of Decatur loves more than competing in running events throughout north Alabama at age 77 is winning his age division in them. So he paid close attention during a pre-race chat several years ago when an unfamiliar runner divulged his age. Cocciolo realized the other runner was the member of the Birmingham Track Club expected to be a top contender in their age group for the race of 5 kilometers (3.1 miles). “The biggest mistake he made was telling me how old he was,” Cocciolo said. Near the end of the race, the competitor passed Cocciolo. But Cocciolo had waited for that moment and had energy in reserve for a fast pace to close the race. “I got him in the last 100 meters,” Cocciolo said. “I only beat him by four seconds. “I said, ‘You shouldn’t have told me how old you were. I wouldn’t have found you.’” Cocciolo is no stranger to victory. In the last seven years, he’s competed in 250 races and won his age division in all of them except a couple. “Third is the worst I’ve done,” he says. In June 2018 he won the USA Track and Field South Region and Alabama championship in the 5,000 meters, or 5K, by running a time of 29 minutes, 27 seconds during a meet at Birmingham-Southern. He’s also run 1,500 meters, which is known as the metric mile, in 5:45. He prefers shorter races to the 26.2 miles of a marathon or the 6.2 miles of a 10K. “I’m more of a 5,000 meters (runner),” he said. “And now I’ve found out I’m 1,500 meters, too. I didn’t know I could run that fast.” Cocciolo attributes his continued success in running to his training methods. He runs six days a week, going about 3 to 6 miles a day and 20 to 30 miles in a week. “Tony is very dedicated to his training routine,” said Jon Elmore, president of the River City Runners, Decatur’s track club. “He rarely misses a day of running

Tony Cocciolo “has a competitive spirit and loves to race,” says fellow runner Jon Elmore.

Tony Cocciolo, left, joins fellow runner Haruki Yokochi after the 2018 Brooke Hill 5K Run for Awareness. Cocciolo won the race’s 70-plus age group from 2016 to 2018 by finishing in under 28 minutes each time.

and can be seen circling Delano Park or running at Point Mallard.” Cocciolo said that on at least one day each week, he’ll mix in faster paces at different intervals. “You need to do a little speed work,” he says. “One day a week, you’ve got to have some type of interval (training) to race. “Some of the guys, they can run 100 miles a week, they’re my age, and I blow them out in the race (because of interval training). “At 75 (and older), it’s very hard to have a second speed. I found that out. They say you lose 1½% a year in speed.” He also does other types of fitness training that he recommends to fellow seniors. That includes using an indoor Concept2 rowing machine, loop exercise bands and the plank exercise in which you place your body in almost a push-up position but have your elbows and forearms on the ground. He does recommend that anyone starting a workout regimen consult a physician first and possibly have a stress test. “You have to have your heart checked,” he said.

“I was out the next day,” he said. Cocciolo said he began running when he was about 15 or 16 at Polytechnic High in San Francisco when students were given fitness tests. “They had a mile run time,” he said. Once he started, he never stopped running and has now been participating in the activity for more than 60 years. “I’ve had an addiction to running,” he said. His best time in a 5K came 37 years ago when he finished in 15:01. He still posts strong 5K times for his age. He won his division in the 2019 River City Run in 29 minutes, 19 seconds; and he won the Brooke Hill Run’s 70-plus age group from 2016 to 2018 by finishing in under 28 minutes each time. “Tony was a national class runner in his younger years, competing against Frank Shorter and other great runners of the 1970s,” Elmore said. “In his 70s, he is one of the fastest 5K runners internationally. He has a competitive spirit and loves to race. “I’m sure last year was hard on him with most in-person races being canceled.”

EATING RIGHT Cocciolo says he includes a lot of protein in his diet, relying on dairy products and yogurt rather than red meat. He credits his diet and workout routine with allowing him to continue running. “I haven’t had a stress fracture,” he said. “I haven’t gotten that badly injured.” His only serious injury came a couple of years ago in a race at the old rough and rocky cross-country course at Huntsville’s John Hunt Park. While descending a hill, a female runner wearing cleats was able to stop suddenly in front of Cocciolo. He was wearing only regular-sole running shoes and couldn’t stop quickly in them. He crashed to the ground to avoid hitting her. “That was the only race I never finished,” he says. “I was bleeding a little from the nose.” He also injured his shoulder and was prescribed about a dozen physical therapy sessions to help it heal. The injury didn’t impair his running, however.

EVOLUTIONS IN RUNNING Cocciolo has seen several changes in the sport of running over the years. One is that more attention is paid to keeping runners hydrated during a race by offering water stations along the course. The variety of race distances also has evolved. “Most of the races were 10,000 meters” in the 1970s and ’80s. That was No. 1,” he said. “Now it’s more 5,000 (meters). And, of course, a lot of people run the marathon.” After high school, Cocciolo studied electronics engineering at Compton College in California. He retired as network administrator at Riverside Community College in his native state and moved with his wife, Mary, to Decatur in 2004. They have three children: Laura Killen in Arlington, Virginia; Julie Cocciolo in Huntington Beach, California, and Anthony P. Cocciolo in Brooklyn, New York. “Tony is always ready to talk about running and gives great advice on how to be a better runner,” Elmore said. “I look forward to many more years of seeing Tony run.” Decatur Living 50 Plus 13



By MARY LEIGH OLIVER Alabama Extension Service


he Alabama Cooperative Extension System has the privilege of assisting Alabamians through a range of topics from agriculture to home life. The eight topics highlighted on the Extension website provide readily available, research-based information to farmers, families, businesspeople and gardeners across the state. One category in particular, Lawn and Garden, provides detailed information on all things from the front curb to the backyard fence. Rudy Pacumbaba and Kerry Smith, co-leaders of the home grounds, gardens and home pests

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Educator rolls along at age 56 Love affair with cycling continues Page 8

Finding purpose A passion for plants keeps Decatur woman active Page 16

Power of poses


Local seniors stay flexible, relieve stress with yoga Page 20


14 Decatur Living 50 Plus

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team, collaborate to educate millions on the significance, practicality and importance of safety, maintenance and cultivation at home. What is Home Grounds, Gardens and Home Pests? For those who may be unfamiliar with the home grounds team, it covers nearly everything an individual can encounter outdoors.

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Who You Gonna Call? Whether it’s a house plant, an entire garden or a struggling shrub, the team is there to lend a shovel—and a helping hand. “My favorite part of my job is assisting with the plant to people connection every day,” Smith said. “Clients call on us because they care about plants and understand they need to know more about their plants and landscapes.” The bond from plant to person is special, but the bond from home grounds agent to client is a cherished one. “There’s always a new idea that fuels our love of horticulture and the work of Extension,” Smith said. “We inspire and support each other.” All 32 agents and 2,000 Extension Master Gardener volunteers in the home grounds community have a deep devotion to Alabama horticulture and one another. “Home grounds is so special thanks to the wonderful group of professionals I work with,” Pacumbaba said. For any backyard, bug or plant inquires, make sure to reach out to the Alabama Extension Home Grounds team. Gardeners can even call the Master Gardener Helpline at 877-252-4769. More Information To learn more about home grounds, gardens and home pests, the Alabama Extension website at and click on the “Lawn & Garden” tab.

Whether it’s a house plant, an entire garden or a struggling shrub, the Home Grounds, Gardens and Home Pests team is there to lend a shovel—and a helping hand.

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“Home grounds programs cover a wide range of topics that support residential gardeners – from shade trees to veggies, good bugs and bad bugs, backyard wildlife and protecting water quality,” Smith said. These practical, yet informative topics from specialists and agents keep Alabama residents and their yards afloat. Even for site-specific questions, agents and specialists are here to help. “Our urban unit of home grounds addresses questions and educational topics related to urban agriculture, small-farm production operations, within Alabama’s metropolitan regions,” Pacumbaba said. “We are Alabama’s gardening, landscaping and urban ag experts.” Home grounds isn’t limited to lawn and garden care; there are research applications to be made in life all around us. “Think about city parks, retail landscapes, outdoor classrooms at schools, community gardens or even tomatoes on your patio,” Smith said. “Plants connect people on a daily basis.”

Decatur Living 50 Plus 15

LITTER GETTER Laverne Gilbert keeps litter grabbers and trash bags in her car at all times so she can be prepared to keep Athens clean.



itting on the front porch, frustrated by the shutdown triggered by the pandemic, Laverne Gilbert began to talk to God. “I retired in 2019 and had these big plans of going on a cruise and traveling. But I was doing nothing because of COVID. I began meditating and asking the Lord what I should do,” the 63-year-old Athens woman said. The answer came in the form of a mowing crew. After watching the workers bypass a ditch near her home, Gilbert called the city. The next day, a worker mowed the area, but left one section untouched. “I said, ‘Sir, are you going to get that?’ He said, ‘Ma’am, I would, but I’m going to make a mess because of the litter.’ I told him, ‘You make the mess and I’ll clean it up,’” said Gilbert.

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That day in July 2020, Gilbert filled one trash bag with litter and found her purpose. “I went to Mayor Ronnie Marks’ office the next day and told him I needed some litter grabbers, bags and a vest because I had a job to do,” Gilbert said. With her bright green vest and silver trash picker, Gilbert became a fixture along Athens’ streets. “She has just been on fire since July,” said Leigh Patterson, executive director of Keep Athens Limestone Beautiful. “The last count I have is she has picked up 120 bags of litter and I think I stopped counting in December. She has been such an inspiration. She’s always out in the community making our community better and cleaner.” When family, friends and church members began joining Gilbert, “Laverne’s Litter Army” was born. To recognize Gilbert’s impact on the community, Athens held a Mrs. Laverne’s Clean My Block Party on May 8. More than 60 people volunteered in the event

and collected over 70 bags of trash. Many of the volunteers wore shirts emblazoned with “Join Laverne in Picking Up Litter” on the front and “It’s our community. It’s our neighborhood. It’s our job” on the back. Jerome Malone, pastor of Oasis Church, organized the cleanup event with Keep Athens Limestone Beautiful to honor Gilbert. “All of us have got something God has given us that allows us to make a difference in our community. This is Ms. Laverne’s way,” Malone said. “She’s inspired everyone to make a difference in our community.” Leading by example, Gilbert impacted everyone from children and teenagers to Marks and Councilman Frank Travis. “Ms. Laverne, thank you for your passion,” Marks said during the cleanup event. “Thank you for making a difference.” While some people grow up participating in Adopt-A-Mile programs, litter cleanup is a new activity for Gilbert. “The first time I cleaned up litter was that day last July,” Gilbert said. “I worked night shifts at the Tennessee Valley Authority, so I would go home and go to bed. I didn’t see all the litter. Now I see it and it is everywhere.” Gilbert’s mission to beautify Athens continues on a daily basis. Litter grabbers and trash bags remain in her car at all times so she can stop to pick up glass bottles, cans, plastic bags, scraps of paper, fast-food bags, diapers, masks and straws. “I get frustrated, especially when I pick up a spot and come back the same day and there is more trash. But people are beginning to see the problem and are helping out. This thing is bigger than me. We need the whole community to help out,” Gilbert said. “It’s looking better, but it’s not where it needs to be yet.”

Laverne Gilbert has become a fixture on Athens streets, helping pick up litter alongside them since July. PHOTOS BY CRISTINA BYRNE

Sharon Carter, left, joins Laverne Gilbert in early May for the Mrs. Laverne’s Clean My Block Party. More than 60 people volunteered and collected over 70 bags of trash.

Jason Gilbert, Laverne Gilbert’s son, provides assistance to “Laverne’s Litter Army.”

Decatur Living 50 Plus 17






he year 1893 was an important one in hot dog history. According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, in 1893, the city of Chicago hosted the Chicago Columbian Exposition, a world’s fair that celebrated the 400th anniversary of famed explorer Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the New World in 1492. Visitors to the exposition consumed large quantities of sausages sold by vendors. Many immediately took a liking to this unique food because it was both easy to eat and inexpensive. The NHDSC notes that Germans are likely responsible for introducing sausages served on buns. In addition to their popularity at the Columbian Exposition, hot dogs got another boost in 1893 when they first started appearing at ballparks. Many modern baseball fans now cannot imagine attending a ballgame without indulging in a hot dog or two, and some historians believe they have German immigrant Chris von der Ahe to thank for that. Chris von der Ahe owned the St. Louis Browns, and in 1893 his team became the first to sell hot dogs at baseball games, though some historians dispute this.

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Decatur Living 50 Plus 19

Conley Brannon rides around his neighborhood as he trains for the Wet Dog Triathlon. [JERONIMO NISA/DECATUR DAILY]




ost mornings, Conley Brannon laces up his latest Oakley sneakers — he goes through a pair every three to six months — and hits the hills of Burningtree Mountain. At 50 years old, the Decatur man credits running, which he returned to seven years ago, for keeping him healthy. “The main reason I run is because I can’t control my weight if I don’t run. I like food too much,” Brannon said. “I’ve already got arthritis in both hips. Being active helps keep those ailments from holding me down. It doesn’t mean I don’t need ibuprofen or Tylenol, but I am able to move easier.” After building up from 5Ks to 10Ks to marathons, Brannon started competing in triathlons in 2019. In July, he will participate in the Mosaic Mentoring of North Alabama’s 20th annual Wet Dot Triathlon. Held at Point Mallard, the three-stage event includes a 400-meter swim, 15-kilometer (9.3 miles) bicycle leg and 5K (3.1 miles) run. “My goal this year is to be better than what I did in 2019, which won’t be too hard,” Brannon said. “I was literally the last person out of the water in 2019. After the first leg, all I was focused on was not finishing last. I caught a handful of people on the bike and more people on the run. I didn’t finish last overall or in my age group and that was my goal.”

20 Decatur Living 50 Plus

Conley Brannon runs through Rhodes Ferry Park. [JERONIMO NISA/DECATUR DAILY]

Conley Brannon runs along the Tennessee River through Rhodes Ferry Park. [JERONIMO NISA/ DECATUR DAILY]

Preparing for the triathlon keeps Brannon, who runs or bikes almost every day, active. “This time of year, I love the mornings. Getting up and getting moving sets the tone for the day. Late evenings are fun too,” said Brannon, who runs with the River City Runners every Tuesday night at Cross-Eyed Owl Brewing Co. For the swim — Brannon’s least favorite of the triathlon’s three legs — he practices at the Aquadome Recreation Center and Burningtree Country Club. “I can swim, but I’m not a competitive swimmer. All I try to do is swim as many laps as I can without stopping. Then, the next time I go, I try to add more laps,” Brannon said. “Doing triathlons is one more way to push myself.” ‘IT WAS BRUTAL’ For the past seven years, ever since Brannon’s wife Nikki signed up for a 5K in Priceville, Brannon has continuously challenged himself physically. “When my wife signed up, I was like, if she’s going to do that, I’m going to do that too,” said Brannon. “I thought it would be easy because I ran in the Army Reserves. It was not easy. It was brutal. I had to work up to running a mile without stopping.” After achieving his first goal, running a 5K without walking, Brannon set other goals — running a 10K, a half-marathon, a marathon and participating in the Delano Park 12-hour Run. During a typical year, he runs two races a month. “Running is a slippery slope. When I started running, I had no plans of ever running a marathon. But, when I completed the 5K, I thought, why not try the 10K. My wife thought it was crazy. Slowly we built up to where we were running a marathon,” Brannon said. Currently, his goals include running a 5K under 20 minutes, running a half-marathon under 2 hours and getting below 200 pounds — the weight he achieved while serving in the Army Reserves. Since returning to running, Brannon, who jokingly said, “I’ve got the frame of a linebacker trying to run with people who are runners,” has dropped 50 pounds from his starting weight of 260.

Brannon attributes his new-found love of running and triathlons to his competitive nature and that mysterious runner’s high. “Does it exist? Absolutely. It comes from the adrenaline, the pounding of your feet and the endorphins. Now, ask my wife the same question and she’ll say, ‘Absolutely not.’ But she stays active because she knows how important it is,” Brannon said. ANOTHER SENIOR TRIATHLETE Along with Brannon, Angela McKenzie will compete in the 50 and older age category at the Wet Dog triathlon. “The Wet Dog is a great beginner race. Anybody that can ride a bike, swim and run could do that because it’s such a short distance. I’m not saying it’s not hard, it’s a good little challenge for sure. Kids can do it and old people like me can do it,” McKenzie said. Wet Dog will mark the 58-year-old Athens woman’s return to triathlons. McKenzie, who competed in her first triathlon at 40 years old, took a break from the races after completing an Ironman, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112mile bike ride and a 26-mile run, in 2016 at Panama City Beach. “Once I crossed the finish line, I thought, that’s it, I don’t have to ever do one of those again. Now, the Wet Dog is no Iron Man, but it is a nice challenge,” said McKenzie, who started training for the Wet Dog in January. During a typical week, she runs five days a week, logging anywhere from three to six miles on a weekday and seven to 11 miles on the weekend. She also rides her bike three times a week and swims a few days week. “Getting outside and getting my blood pumping helps my sanity and my mental health,” McKenzie said. “When I’m exercising, I eat better. It’s kind of a full circle. It doesn’t matter what age you are, it’s important to be active. You’ve got to make it part of your day.” Brannon and McKenzie will compete in the 20th annual Wet Dog on July 10. The race will begin at 7 a.m. Decatur Living 50 Plus 21




hysical activity has long been known to increase a person’s chances of living healthy well past retirement. The benefits of physical activity are numerous and include everything from a lower risk for overweight and obesity to improved mental health. Physical activity also has been linked to a lower risk for various diseases, including an assortment of cancers. The National Cancer Institute notes that the evidence linking physical activity to lower cancer risk comes from observational studies. Observational studies are a type of

22 Decatur Living 50 Plus

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NCI indicates that doctors most often diagnose breast cancer in women between the ages of 55 and 64. · Esophageal cancer: Cohort studies are used by researchers to investigate the causes of disease and to establish links between risk factors and health outcomes. A 2014 meta-analysis of nine cohort studies and 15 case-control studies, which compare patients who have a disease or outcome of interest to patients who do not have the disease or outcome, found that the individuals who were the most physically active had a 21 percent lower of risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma than those who were the least physically active. Such findings are significant, as the Mayo Clinic reports that adenocarcinoma is the most common form of esophageal cancer in the United States, while the NCI notes the condition is not curable. · Kidney (renal cell) cancer: A pooled analysis of more than one million individuals published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2016 found that leisuretime physical activity was linked to a 23 percent reduced risk of kidney cancer. Leisure-time physical activities can include anything from jogging to dancing to gardening. Physical activity benefits the body in myriad ways and has been linked to significantly lower risks for various cancers.

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study in which individuals are observed or certain outcomes are measured. In observational studies examining physical activity, participants will report on their levels of physical activity and are then followed for years. During these studies, no attempt, such as treatment, is made to affect the outcome. The NCI notes that observational studies cannot prove a causal relationship, though they still are invaluable to cancer researchers. Such studies also illustrate the important role that physical activity can play in preventing various types of cancer. · Bladder cancer: A 2014 meta-analysis of studies published in the British Journal of Cancer found that the risk of bladder cancer was 15 percent lower for individuals with the highest level of recreational or occupational physical activity than in those with the lowest level. That information may be especially valuable to individuals over 55, as the American Cancer Society notes about nine out of 10 people with bladder cancer are 55 or older. · Breast cancer: A meta-analysis published in the European Journal of Cancer in 2016 found that the most physically active women had a 12 to 21 percent lower risk of breast cancer than those who were the least physically active. Similarly, additional studies have linked physical activity after menopause to a lower risk of breast cancer. That’s important to know, as the

Decatur Living 50 Plus 23

Smoked Chicken Pot Pie

Richard George in his “Ricky Shack”.




n the deep South, BBQ is more than a July 4th cookout. It is a way of life and joyfully passed on to succeeding generations. We each have our own cooking preferences as well as favorite eateries. North Alabama has a rich history of BBQ restaurants. My earliest memories of BBQ were from Perkins’ Grocery in Macon, Mississippi. Mr. Charlie Perkins smoked Boston Butt and Chicken on his outdoor pit. The smoke was an adequate calling card, and many times the wafting smoke filled the air between our cotton gin and the Noxubee County Courthouse. His food was always tender and tasty, with a light vinegar. MR. CHARLIE’S SIMPLE CHICKEN BASTE: Three pounds chickens, halved. Combine a pint of Heinz apple cider vinegar, 1 stick oleo (butter), darken mixture with liberal amount of French’s Worcestershire, squeeze 24 Decatur Living 50 Plus

juice of 1 lemon and drop in rind and 2 T salt. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until everything is well dissolved. Use liberally during cooking. (Furnished by Charles G. Perkins, Esq.) Later, on several of my business trips from MS to AL, I discovered the Dreamland BBQ on Jug Factory Road in Tuscaloosa. John “Big Daddy” Bishop was known for ribs, white bread and BBQ sauce. There was a sign in the restaurant that said, “No Beans, Don’t Ask!” Dreamland expanded around Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, and we enjoyed visiting those locations. Our family enjoyed gnawing on the ribs and sopping the white bread in the spicy sauce. A trip to Memphis always included a visit to Charlie Vargos’ Rendezvous as well as Corky’s. Our many visits to Starkville to see family and watch the Bulldogs play ball included a meal at The Little Dooey, and we always brought back several bottles of their delicious BBQ sauce to enjoy at home in Alabama.

MAGOWAH BBQ SAUCE This is my favorite version of a BBQ Sauce from the Magowah Gun & Country Club, established in the prairie near Columbus, MS in 1906. Ingredients: • 1 cup strong black coffee • ½ cup Worcestershire • 1 cup tomato catsup • ¼ cup Butter • ½ cup chicken bouillon • ¼ cup vinegar • 2 T. chili sauce •1 T. lemon juice • ½ t. hot sauce • 2 T. sugar • 1 T. salt • 1 T. pepper • 1 clove minced garlic • 1 t. dry mustard • ½ chopped onion Combine ingredients and simmer 30 minutes to one hour, stirring frequently. The stronger the coffee, the better the flavor! Baste your favorite meat using a mop. SMOKED CHICKEN POT PIE (BLACK CAST IRON SKILLET) Ingredients: • 3-4 chicken breasts • 1 can Veg-All, drained • 1 can cream of chicken soup • 1 can chicken broth • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained • 1 T. dehydrated onion • 10 oz. milk • 1 t. Spice World minced garlic • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese • 1 box pie crust (2 rolls per box) • Salt and pepper to taste Coat your chicken breasts with olive oil and liberally sprinkle with seasoning. Cover and refrigerate.

Set up grill/smoker for indirect heat and stabilize fire at approximately 350 degrees. If you like a real smoky flavor, toss a pecan chunk on the fire. While waiting on the smoke to turn to a thin blue smoke, remove the pie crust rolls (to soften) and the chicken from the refrigerator. Place your chicken on the fire and close the lid. Check every 10 minutes and flip for even cooking, until the internal temperature approaches 160 degrees. Remove and tent with aluminum foil. Completely cover the bottom and sides of the cast iron skillet with one pie crust and with a fork, prick with several holes in the bottom crust. Place the skillet on the grill and close the cover for approximately 10 minutes. Combine the soup, the milk, and the chicken broth into a large mixing bowl. Add vegetables, cheese and seasonings to the soup mixture and mix well. Then cube or shred the chicken and add to this mixing bowl. Stir well. Remove the hot skillet from your grill and carefully pour this mixture into that hot cast iron skillet. Cover the mixture with the remaining pie crust and seal the edges. Use a sharp knife to cut several slits in the top crust so that steam might escape. Return the cast iron skillet to the grill (still approximately 350 degrees), close the lid and cook approximately 45-60 minutes, or until it becomes bubbly, and the pie crust is a golden brown. Remove and enjoy.

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Decatur Living 50 Plus 25

Gardening and cooking with herbs can offer an escape from everyday life.



othing can really replace traveling to another country and immersing yourself in the culture, atmosphere and food, but cooking with fresh herbs can bring the world home to you. “Preparing an authentic meal from your favorite country and surrounding yourself with the fresh herbs used to prepare the dishes may partially quench the travel itch,” said Amy Enfield, horticulturist for Bonnie Plants. “And the good news is, if you can’t pick a favorite cuisine, many of the same herbs are used in different parts of the world, so you can ‘travel’ to Italy one evening and Greece the next.” “A garden should be a source of inspiration,” said Katie Dubow, a guest on QVC for Cottage Farms and owner of Garden Media Group, publisher of the popular Garden Trends Report. Gardening and cooking with herbs can offer an escape from everyday life. “Smelling strongly scented herbs evokes memories, particularly lavender and rosemary, so you might have a fond travel memory stirred by simply inhaling the sweet or spicy aroma of one of these herbs,” Dubow said. Herbs are very easy to grow, are great for novice gardens and can be grown just about anywhere, including in-ground, raised beds, containers and even indoors, Enfield said. “Gardening is hotter than ever, and perhaps it’s because we can’t travel and we have more time to spend 26 Decatur Living 50 Plus

in the garden,” Dubow said. “Whatever the reason, herbs are that perfect companion to any size plot — whether it’s many acres or a simple balcony garden. The three things you need are herbs, soil and water — oh, and sun.” Add in a “patio sips” collection of sage, mint, thyme and basil for making mocktails or cocktails, Dubow said. “With a few exceptions, most herbs will grow well together if given enough space,” Enfield said. “Mint, for example, with its take-over-the-world sprawling growth habit, does best in a 6- or 8-inch container by itself. Cilantro does best in the cooler weather of midspring and fall and will quickly bolt to flower when the temperatures start to rise, which is great if you’re after coriander — the seeds. Shiso, common in Asian cooking, can grow into a large plant with large leaves and also does better by itself.” The best tip is to use the herbs you grow. “The more you prune, the more herbs your get,” Dubow said. “Plus, your plant won’t go to flower — something we don’t want with herbs. It can turn the flavor bitter and will stay shorter and denser.” Trim when a plant is about 3-4 inches tall. “Cutting depends on the specific type of herb, but you’ll want to cut just below where two shoots have sprouted,” Dubow said. “You’ll stimulate new growth, and the others will grow in larger.” “Feed your herbs regularly throughout the growing season with either an all-purpose plant food or one formulated for vegetables and herbs,” Enfield said. “Always follow label directions.”



Things to consider before downsizing your home



hrowing some leafy greens into a bowl with some dressing is technically considered a salad, but there are numerous ways you can jazz up any salad. According to a study conducted by the UCLA School of Public Health, those who eat salads and raw vegetables with salad dressing have considerably higher levels of vitamins C, E and folic acid, which are key nutrients in promoting a healthy immune system. Here are a few tips for making restaurant-quality salads at home, according to 1. Make the salad dressing: The classic ratio for basic homemade vinaigrette is three parts oil to one part vinegar. However, you can skew it more towards two to one if you like your dressings on the acidic side. Once you know the ratio, you can mix and match with lots of ingredients. Whisk in mustard or honey to keep it emulsified, or add flavor with chili flakes, shallots and herbs. 2. Season your greens: Chefs make a point of seasoning the greens, not just the dressing, with a touch of salt and pepper. Fresh produce shines with a little salt and pepper mixed in too. 3. Use a mix of greens: Romaine and iceberg have more of a crunch than spinach or arugula. And watercress and arugula will add a peppery bite compared to mild Bibb lettuce or simple green leaf lettuce. 4. Mix in fresh herbs: Salads are the perfect place to use up whatever herbs you have in your refrigerator, but you can also lean all the way in and use leafier herbs like cilantro or parsley as a green in their own right. 5. Don’t fear the fat: A few easy ways to bring fat to your salad is with the dressing, or ingredients like avocado, toasted nuts, bacon, smoked salmon, or cheese. 6. Dress it before you plate it: Wait until just before you eat to add the dressing so the salad won’t turn soggy. Start adding a little at a time; you can always add more.

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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Ronald W. Stokes is a certified public accountant and personal financial specialist in Decatur. He adapted this article from material provided to him.

28 Decatur Living 50 Plus

our first required distribution from an IRA or retirement plan is for the year you reach age 72. However, you have some flexibility as to when you actually have to take this first-year distribution. You can take it during the year you reach age 72, or you can delay it until April 1 of the following year. Note: The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act passed in late 2019 raised the RMD age from 70½ to 72, effective Jan. 1, 2020. Anyone who turns 72 before July 1, 2021, (and therefore reached age 70½ before 2020), will need to take an RMD by Dec. 31, 2021. Since this first distribution generally must be taken no later than April 1 following the year you reach age 72, this April 1 date is known as your required beginning date. Required distributions for subsequent years must be taken no later than Dec. 31 of each calendar year until you die or your balance is reduced to zero. This means that if you opt to delay your first distribution until April 1 of the following year, you will be required to take two distributions during that year — your first year’s required distribution and your second year’s required distribution. Example: You have a traditional IRA and you will reach age 72 on or after July 1, 2021. You can take your first RMD during 2021, or you can delay it until April 1, 2022. If you choose to delay your first distribution until 2022, you will have to take two required distributions during 2022 —

one for 2021 and one for 2022. This is because your required distribution for 2022 cannot be delayed until the following year. There is one situation in which your required beginning date can be later than described above. If you continue working past age 72 and are still participating in your employer’s retirement plan, your required beginning date under the plan of your current employer can be as late as April 1 following the calendar year in which you retire (if the retirement plan allows this and you own 5% or less of the company). Again, subsequent distributions must be taken no later than Dec. 31 of each calendar year. Examples: You own more than 5% of your employer’s company and you are still working at the company. You will reach age 72 on or after July 1, 2021, so you must take your first RMD from your current employer’s plan by April 1, 2022 — even if you’re still working for the company at that time. You participate in two plans — one with your current employer and one with your former employer. You own less than 5% of each company. You will reach age 72 on Dec. 2, 2021, but you’ll keep working until you turn 74 on Dec. 2, 2023. You can delay your first RMD from your current employer’s plan until April 1, 2024 — the April 1 following the calendar year in which you retire. However, you must take your first distribution (for 2021) from your former employer’s plan no later than April 1, 2022 — the April 1 after reaching age 72.

Downsizing without



he past year has made people ask so much of their homes as people brought in work, school and exercise. It not only took a toll on the aesthetics, but also our lifestyles, said Marni Jameson, a syndicated home and lifestyle columnist with several books on downsizing. “COVID-19 changed the way we live in our homes and what we expect from them,” Jameson said. For people in the process of downsizing to a smaller home, it’s best approached with an end goal in mind. “Find your motivation. Do you want to live in a smaller, lighter footprint? Are you moving from 3,000 square feet to 1,500 square feet? Do you only want to keep what you need, use or love? Having a goal in mind will help rev your engines,” Jameson said. When it comes to downsizing Jameson prefers the term “rightsizing” instead. “It’s upsizing for many people” because they will be living in their ideally sized space, she said. For adults who are combining two houses, decluttering is required. “Boomer-age folks are getting remarried in midlife, and they need to fit two houses into one. One house plus one house needs to equal one house. Each has to get rid of half a house,” Jameson said. Don’t fantasize that you will be able to fit in all your furniture, appliances, clothes and gadgets. “Measure it out. Do a floor plan. Use a tape measure to see what will fit. Space is finite; your stuff isn’t,” Jameson said. Be practical. For example, measure kitchen shelves to see how many glasses they will hold and get rid of the excess, she said. Downsizing can be an emotional experience. We hang onto much of our stuff for the memories. Getting rid of things can feel like cutting off an arm, Jameson said. Start the process in a place where you won’t get emotional, such as the linen closet, under the sink or the garage.


“Once you start, you’ll get momentum. Then you can move on to more difficult spaces like the clothes closet, children’s rooms and photos. The photos are hard,” Jameson said. Tread lightly when it comes to the “box of feels” — the keepsakes, souvenirs and inherited treasures — because that can become “a sinkhole of sentiment,” Jameson said. “Be prepared. You don’t know what will trip your feelings,” she said. The key is to manage the stories those things evoke. “That’s what you’re connected to,” Jameson said. Sometimes it helps to choose a number when it comes to precious items, whether it’s a collection of milk glasses or fishing lures. Save one or five, take photos of the rest and let them go. Digitize what you can: photos, old video cassettes and films, letters, certificates, CDs and DVDs, Jameson said. They can be saved in the cloud or through a service like “Instead of feeling sad about letting go of your possessions, think of how beneficial they will be for someone else,” she said. Put the dining room table that doesn’t fit on Craigslist or in the classifieds (use precaution when meeting and only accept cash). Sell your jewelry on eBay or through consignment stores and higher end items through auction houses or Keep track of donations for tax writeoffs and use Intuit’s ItsDeductible feature (app or online) to find out what they’re worth, Jameson said. Be creative with hard-to-part with items. Turn your wedding gown into a baptismal gown or pillow or cut off a piece of fabric and add to a scrapbook. One of Jameson’s books, “Downsizing the Family Home: A Workbook,” is a tool to help. Filled with advice and how-to checklists, it’s also a scrapbook and journal to retain family history. Downsizing may be hard, but it’s also freeing. “Most people are not remorseful. They feel great about it,” Jameson said.on Dec. 2, 2021, but you’ll keep working until you turn 74 on Dec. 2, 2023. You can delay your first RMD from your current employer’s plan until April 1, 2024 — the April 1 following the calendar year in which you retire. However, you must take your first distribution (for 2021) from your former employer’s plan no later than April 1, 2022 — the April 1 after reaching age 72. Decatur Living 50 Plus 29

Explore Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee along the Natchez Trace Parkway.



et outside and explore some of the great scenery and hiking along the Natchez Trace Parkway. It travels through parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee offering an array of things to do, recreation, nature, history and wildlife. It is a kick-back-and-slowdown type of place. In the 1800s the Natchez Trace was a trade route. Today the parkway is 444 miles of easy travel through three states and 10,000 years of history. With 100 locations to stop and explore, you never know what might be around the next bend in the road that will pique your interest.

30 Decatur Living 50 Plus

There are 65 miles of national scenic trails for walking, bikes and horses, or drive the trail in your vehicle. There are also areas for bikers to camp. A few trail highlights: MISSISSIPPI • The Emerald Mound, built between 1300 and 1600 A.D., is the second largest Native American temple mound in the U.S., standing at 35 feet tall. Tribes gathered here for ceremonies. Milepost 10.3. • Windsor Ruins has 23 Corinthian columns still standing that are part of the largest Antebellum

Green Revival mansion built in Mississippi. The mansion burned down in 1890 because of a lit cigar. The ruins are on the National Register of Historic Places and a Mississippi Landmark. Milepost 41. • Visitors will find an overlook on Little Mountain at Jeff Busby Park. Here there are campsites, picnic tables, restrooms, trails, exhibits and more. Little Mountain Trail is 1.6 miles round trip. In addition, near the top is a half-mile nature loop trail. Milepost 193.1. • Tishomingo State Park’s 1,530 acres offer a variety of trails, natural springs, rocky creeks, waterfalls,

Windsor Ruins

Emerald Mound in Mississippi

rock walls and more. Bear Creek, which runs through the park, offers a place for canoeing, and Haynes Lake offers fishing. Camping is available. Milepost 304. ALABAMA • Colbert Ferry was operated by George Colbert from 1800 to 1819, crossing the Tennessee River. Here, at Colbert’s Stand, he offered those traveling a hot meal and shelter. He charged Andrew Jackson $75,000 to take his Tennessee Army across the river. It is a quick 50-yard walk to the stand, and an additional 20-minute walk will take visitors along the Old Trace to an overlook. Milepost 327.3. • Take a trail of stepping stones and explore a spring bubbling from the ground at Rock Spring. This 20-minute walk exposes visitors to varieties of trees, vegetation and more. Take your shoes off and dangle your toes in the cool water. Milepost 330.2. • The Wichahpi Commemorative Stone Wall has been built over the last 30 years by Tom Hendrix, in memory of his great-grandmother Te-lah-nay, who was part of the Yuchi

• Jackson Falls is a popular place along the parkway. To see the waterfall visitors will need to walk about 900 feet along a paved path. The water goes into the Duck River, which leads to the Tennessee River. Milepost 404.7. • The Gordon House Historic Site was the home of Captain John Gordon and was built in 1818. For those traveling back then Jackson Falls in Tennessee

Indian tribe, and to commemorate her journey. Get out and take a walk along the wall. East of milepost 338. TENNESSEE • The Meriweather Lewis monument is the burial site of the famous explorer. It was built in 1848. Near Hohenwald at milepost 385.9. • A viewing area for Fall Hollow waterfall is down a short trail at milepost 391.9.

on Old Trace, this home was a landmark meaning they would soon be in Nashville. A ferry was operated for travelers to cross the Duck River at Gordon’s home. Milepost 407.7. This is just a sample of things to do along the parkway. Find maps and road closure information at nps. gov. Visit for updated information, places to stay and more. Decatur Living 50 Plus 31

Standard precautions should still be implemented for those who choose to get away.



t is that time of year when many people are looking forward to their summer vacation plans. However, people may be wondering if this is finally a time when they can travel with minimal health risks, or if they may have to postpone adventures once again, just as they did last summer, when the global pandemic was still raging? Various effective COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to millions of people, and another is potentially on the horizon. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these vaccines are effective at protecting people from getting seriously sick. People who have been fully vaccinated can start to do some things they ceased doing because of the pandemic. Many may wonder if that means traveling.

CAN I TRAVEL AFTER GETTING THE COVID-19 VACCINE? Experts say that those who have been fully vaccinated (receiving both shots for the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines or one for the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine) it is likely safe to travel again. But caution is still needed. The vaccines do not immediately provide full protection. The Pfizer or Moderna vaccines provide full vaccination two weeks after the second dose, while the J&J vaccine provides protection two weeks after the single dose is administered. The CDC offers that those who have been fully vaccinated can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing masks, and gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household without masks, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

However, some things have not changed even for people who have been vaccinated. Gathering with unvaccinated people (or if you cannot confirm they’ve been vaccinated, such as on an airplane or in other public settings) still requires wearing a mask, staying at least six feet apart from others, avoiding crowds, and avoiding poorly ventilated spaces. Experts, like Dr. Chris Beyrer, a professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health notes, “We also do not know the answer to the question, ‘Are people who have been immunized still infectious to others?’” Until more is known about longterm vaccine efficacy and until more people receive their full doses, it may be wise to avoid normal travel patterns this summer, and standard precautions should still be implemented for those who choose to get away.

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When cold hands, feet are a medical issue



o matter the season, if the temperature around you is colder than your body temperature, your hands and feet may feel cold even indoors. Normal body temperature is around 98.6 degrees, but most buildings are kept around 68 to 70 degrees, said Dr. Steven Goldberg, chairman of the Public Education Committee, American Society for Surgery of the Hand, and orthopedic hand surgery specialist at Bellin Health Titletown Sports Medicine and Orthopedics, Green Bay, Wisconsin. Cold hands and feet can also be a sign of certain medical conditions such as the relatively common Raynaud’s syndrome or peripheral artery disease, which affects people over 50, especially those with a history of smoking or diabetes, said Dr. James T. Rogers, an internal medicine physician at Mercy Clinic Internal Medicine in Springfield, Missouri. If you suffer from cold hands and feet, speak to your doctor and avoid Dr. Google, Rogers said: “You’ll always find reasons to support what you think it is.” Speak with your doctor if cold extremities are painful or if you have a family history and be ready to talk about the medications you’re talking, Rogers said. Certain medications for blood pressure, cancer and heart health (beta-blockers) can limit blood flow, he said. Over-the-counter medications such as Sudafed and Actifed can also compress blood vessels and lead to cold hands and feet. Most commonly, cold hands and feet may be caused by Raynaud’s phenomenon, also known as Raynaud’s syndrome or disease.

“Raynaud’s is not a rare disease. It’s estimated to affect 5% to 10% of the population and 20% of all women of childbearing age. Unfortunately, most go undiagnosed,” said Lynn Wunderman, founder and chairman of the Raynaud’s Association. Only about 10% of people are aware that their pain and discomfort have a medical explanation and seek treatment, she said. Raynaud’s is a disorder in which the arteries get too small and tight, temporarily limiting blood flow to the fingers and/or toes, Goldberg said. “It is often in response to cold exposure and is reversible when the body warms up,” he said. “When the vessels are in spasm, the patient experiences pain, numbness, tingling and severe finger color changes.” Affected fingers can turn white to blue as blood vessels constrict and then red as the blood vessels become larger again and the blood flow is restored, Goldberg said. These episodes are not harmful if symptoms rapidly improve with re-warming and rarely require medical treatment, he said. “It may be appropriate to limit smoking and vaping as well as caffeine, as they can make blood vessels smaller,” Goldberg said.

Cold hands and feet can also be a sign of certain medical conditions such as the relatively common Raynaud’s syndrome or peripheral artery disease.

34 Decatur Living 50 Plus

A more severe type of Raynaud’s may be caused by an underlying medical condition such as scleroderma or another auto-immune problem, he said. “Patients are sometimes advised to ‘avoid the cold.’ However, even if we bundle up in chilly weather with heavy coats, hats and gloves, exposure to air conditioned and refrigerated spaces in warmer months can trigger attacks,” Wunderman said. “Avoiding stress is easier said than done, too. Raynaud’s is a year-round issue and it applies to all climates.” Take precautions to protect yourself from the cold as much as possible. “Keep your core warm by dressing in layers and be willing to unlayer,” Rogers said. Wool blends that wick moisture away from the body are better than cotton, which holds in moisture. Wear gloves when exposed to air conditioning or cold temperatures, such as in the refrigerated section of a supermarket or before touching a cold steering wheel or door handle. “Mittens are even better protection. Use these even when handling frozen or refrigerated foods,” said Wunderman.

Boosters hope cycling surge outlasts the pandemic

Bike boom:

A recent study showed those who biked frequently had less cardiovascular disease and cancer. By MICHAEL PRECKER American Heart Association


t doesn’t seem right to put “silver lining” and “pandemic” in the same sentence. But the past year of COVID-19 has been a boon for bicycling, an indisputably healthy activity. “Bikes have been one of those bright spots, as we’ve been getting through this last year,” Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg told the National Bike Summit in early March. “People have been rediscovering how we get around, to the extent we still can.” The numbers bear that out. Bike sales rose by more than 40%, according to the National Bike Dealers Association, and stores around the country still report shortages. Two surveys during the year by the advocacy group PeopleForBikes indicated that 10% of adults in the U.S. hopped on a bike for the first time in at least a year because of the pandemic. “Everyone was genuinely shocked,” said Jenn Dice, president and CEO of PeopleForBikes, based in Boulder, Colorado. “Bike counter numbers, both in urban and rural recreation areas, were off the charts. It was, ‘Holy smokes. People are riding bikes like crazy.’” Experts cite several factors for the surge. With gyms closed, people wanting to exercise went outside. People hesitant to ride buses or subways used bikes instead. Many cities took steps to make streets more bike-friendly. “One of the positive outcomes of this unfortunate situation is this return to the outdoors,” said Bill Strickland, whose official title at the helm of Bicycling magazine is rider-inchief. “With so many people at home

with their kids, they said, ‘Let’s go ride our bikes.’” Whatever the reason, it’s a healthy choice. “We know physical activity is good for us,” said Bethany Barone Gibbs, associate professor of health and physical activity at the University of Pittsburgh. “It’s very clear that regular physical activity enhances cardiovascular health and overall physical and mental health. We call it the magic pill. Literally, there is almost no health condition that physical activity doesn’t improve.” To cite just two examples, a 2017 BMJ study in England encompassing more than 263,000 people showed those who biked frequently had less cardiovascular disease and cancer. A 2016 Danish study published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation tracked nearly 54,000 people over 20 years and found that regular cyclists had an 11% to 18% lower risk of cardiovascular disease than noncyclists. “We don’t need a bunch more research about whether physical activity improves health,” Gibbs said. “We just have to figure out how to get more people to do it.” So, as the pandemic subsides and life returns to normal, health experts and bike advocates alike ask the same question: Will the trend roll on? “We’re cautiously optimistic that Americans will keep riding,” Dice said. “They’re telling us they’re having fun, they’ve been forming good habits, for recreation and for health, and they want to stick with it.” Strickland said the country has seen bike booms before, “going back all the way to the (1973) gas crisis, when Greg LeMond won the Tour de France (in the 1980s) and the Lance Armstrong years.”

“We see a spike and then there is a drop, but it rarely returns to the level it was before,” he said. One cloud hanging over the optimism is the ongoing shortage of new bikes amid soaring demand. Heather Mason, president of the National Bike Dealers Association, said manufacturers are stepping up production, but are being hampered by lack of parts. “Overall demand is not going to keep up with supply this year,” she said. “We think we’re going to be in a shortage at least until 2023.” The lesson for consumers, she said, is threefold: get to a store quickly, be patient, and consider buying a used bike. “There will be bikes,” Mason said. “But it’s a little different buying experience these days.” In the long term, Strickland and Dice agreed better infrastructure will help keep the bike boom going. Dice said the pandemic has accelerated the trend toward creating more protected bike lanes in cities and rural bike paths that could eventually grow into a national network. “I really believe we’re just transforming as a country,” Strickland said. “Cycling is going to be a bigger and bigger part of how we get around.” At the bike summit, Buttigieg – who was recently spotted biking home from work in Washington, D.C. – promised to help. “We can definitely be more of a bicycling country,” he said. “Whether it’s hard resources or whether it’s moral support, you’re going to see a lot of energy coming from my office and my team to help move things along.” Decatur Living 50 Plus 35

Caitlin Fite 256-466-0756 Real Estate done right. Call Caitlin Fite.


2114 Central Parkway, Decatur, Alabama 35601 36 Decatur Living 50 Plus

HOW TO STAY CONNECTED with loved ones after moving into an assisted living facility Seniors can employ various strategies to stay connected with their families after moving into an assisted living facility.



ecisions surrounding assisted living facilities are not always easy. Men and women may be reluctant to leave their homes while family members may be worried about how their aging loved ones will adjust to life in an assisted living facility. Though modern assisted living facilities cater to residents with an array of needs and interests, the hesitation about whether or not to move into such a facility is understandable. One of the concerns seniors and their families may have about assisted living facilities is how to remain in touch with loved ones. Thankfully, staying connected is easier than ever before. That ease of connection has been on full display throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, during which aging men and women have been urged to limit contact with people outside their households in an effort to reduce their risk of contracting the virus. When the pandemic is in the rearview mirror, seniors can continue to employ various strategies to stay connected with their families after moving into an assisted living

facility. · Embrace technology. It’s understandable that seniors are sometimes hesitant to utilize technology. Having spent much of their lives without smartphones and Zoom calls, it may seem like adjusting to a world where such things are now widely utilized will be incredibly difficult. However, modern technology is user-friendly, meaning seniors won’t need much, if any, technical expertise or experience to utilize an assortment of devices that can help them stay in touch. Ask a relative to show you the ropes of a new device or request that staff at the facility teach residents the basics of using devices to stay connected with family. Staff may help set up Zoom calls or help residents learn the ropes of texting. · Make a weekly communication commitment. Work with family members to set up a time each week when you can communicate directly with them. If family lives nearby, this might take the form of a weekly family meal at a loved one’s home. If family lives too far away for routine in-person meals, set up a time each week for a family Zoom call. · Continue to engage with your interests and fellow hobbyists. If you were an avid reader who loved to discuss and recommend books to your loved ones, then continue to do so after moving into an assisted living facility. Sports fans who bonded with their loved ones over a shared passion for a favorite team can keep following their team and discussing the latest big game with their friends and family via email, texts or video calls. Various studies have discovered the positive effects that hobbies can have on long-term physical and mental health. Staying engaged with your passions can keep lines of communication open with friends and family and benefit your overall health. Keeping the lines of communication with loved ones open can help aging men and women as they transition to life in assisted living facilities. Decatur Living 50 Plus 37

New pet parent?:

Tips to keep costs low


feeding amounts will be significantly more than, say, a small breed dog,” Venator said. Smart shoppers should do their research. Quality pet foods that are both complete and well-balanced are available at all price points, he said. “Overall, the best thing you can do for your pet’s health and your budget is to prevent disease through feeding a quality diet at the recommended portions, providing regular daily exercise and giving your pet lots of love,” Venator said.

FOOD A general rule is the bigger the pet, the higher the cost for food. “It’s fair to assume that pet food expenses will be more for larger breed pets because their recommended

HEALTH CARE Vet visits are an investment in your pet’s health. “Just like for humans, preventative care is key to staying ahead of health concerns that could become much more serious and expensive to treat later on,” Venator said. The rule of thumb is at least one veterinary visit per pet, per year, but the frequency of vet visits will often vary by life stage and overall pet health, he said. Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations to find a vet that doesn’t charge exorbitant rates. “Not only can you get a good understanding for the costs of routine examinations and procedures, but you will also be able to see how the personality of the veterinarian and culture of the clinic aligns with your mindset; a good fit between the pet owner and veterinarian is important because he or she and their staff will be your trusted partner in your pet’s health for years to come,” Venator said. Look for a veterinarian who is Fear Free certified, which indicates they are using the latest techniques to keep your pet comfortable during their visits, he said.


solated from others over the past year, many Americans turned to pets for companionship, with an estimated 11.38 million households adopting a pet during the pandemic, according to the American Pet Products Association. Pets aren’t cheap, though. Nearly two-thirds of new pet owners experienced some financial hardship in affording basic pet care costs, with 13% of owners giving up their pets because of the financial challenge, according to the Mars Petcare Pets in a Pandemic report. If you have recently adopted a pet or are thinking about doing so, there are ways to lower care costs. “Adopting a pet is an investment of time, resources and space in your heart and your home. It is good to be aware of costs that may come with keeping a new pet healthy and happy, and I recommend including pets in the family budget to save for any larger expenses that may occur unexpectedly,” said Dr. Kurt Venator, chief veterinary officer at Purina. “Pet insurance is also an option to consider.”

38 Decatur Living 50 Plus

Keeping your pet at its ideal weight helps keep costs lower because obesity impacts overall health and happiness. “Obesity puts additional stress on the body and organs, increasing the likelihood of diseases with potentially negative health outcomes, such as osteoarthritis in dogs and diabetes in cats,” Venator said. “Making your pet’s health a priority by keeping him at an ideal body condition will certainly make a big difference in his daily life and activity level, and Purina has research to show that it may also add years to his life.” Follow feeding guidelines and the advice of your pet’s veterinarian, he said.

KEEPING CLEAN “One tip that a lot of pet owners may overlook is brushing your pet’s teeth. A number of health concerns can stem from oral health problems,” Venator said. By age 4, most dogs and cats show signs of oral disease due to lack of consistent care at home, he said. While it’s not always feasible, Venator recommends brushing your pet’s teeth daily using a pet-approved toothpaste. Avoid human toothpaste, which may contain toxic ingredients to pets. Cut back on grooming costs by managing the task yourself. Brushes, nail trimmers and even a good bath at home can help extend the time between professional grooming visits, Venator said. “I love the Bissell Barkbath because it keeps the water and mess contained for easier at-home bathing, but a good shower or outdoor hose bath is always an inexpensive option,” he said. “Just be sure to use dog-specific shampoo. And to help avoid the infamous dog shake, bathe your dog’s head last.”

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