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SENIORS Fairfax County Times

APRIL 2016

Have the Time of Your Life in the Prime of Your Life

Living Legend:

Tech Gadgets: Eight tools to make your life easier

Music director recognized with Alexandria award

Runner’s Corner: Back on the road to good health

Dream Kitchen: Retired Oak Hill couple design theirs

2 Fairfax County Times SENIORS | April 2016

SENIORS Fairfax County Times

Rehabilitation Hospital of Northern Virginia


Gregg MacDonald

Page Designer

Meredith Hancock

Contributing Writers

Hannah Menchhoff Bonnie Stephens


Rich Whippen

Advertising Director

Marta Wallace

Marketing Manager

Melissa Turqman


Fairfax County Times Seniors is produced by Whip It Media's Sections, Advertising and Creative Services departments. ON THE COVER: PHOTO COURTESY MORECONTENTNOW SMARTPHONE SECURITY TIPS FOR SENIORS, SEE STORY ON PAGE 7

Do you know someone in Fairfax County who is 50 or older with an interesting story to tell? Do you know of an organization that provides entertainment, travel or arts opportunities for older adults? We want to know about it! Email us at

Designed to return patients to leading active, independent lives, HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Northern Virginia is a 60-bed rehabilitation hospital conveniently located in Aldie, Virginia. We work with patients recovering from: • • • • •


SENIORS READ DR. SEUSS TO LOCAL STUDENTS FOR NATIONAL READ ACROSS AMERICA DAY Last month, eight senior resident volunteers from Greenspring retirement community visited Crestwood Elementary School in Springfield in honor of National Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss Day. The residents, donning miniature “Cat in the Hat” hats, read Dr. Seuss books to students from Kindergarten through 3rd grades. Many of the residents Greenspring who regularly volunteers at area schools had former careers as teachers or educational specialists. Greenspring, one of 18 retirement communities managed by Erickson Living, is situated on a scenic 58-acre campus in Springfield, Virginia. Additional information about Greenspring can be found at

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There’s no doubt that the concept of a family kitchen has been radically altered in the past few decades. Homeowners are comfortable with less enclosure; more visual continuum. They’re also embracing zoning ideas that make it easier for a hostess to segue between entertaining guests and feeding them. But suppose the proposed solution to a

search for more kitchen space is to “lose the living room”? “Unthinkable” at first, but then-- “really innovative... a huge breakthrough.” Such were the revelations of Joy Green, owner of a 3,000 sq ft residence in Oak Hill, as she contemplated a plan to introduce a gourmet kitchen into the rear of traditionalstyle three level home. Joy and husband Helmut, both in their mid-sixties, had purchased the house new in

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1983; raised three boys and, like most homeowners of the period, had happily adapted to whatever the home had to offer. What the home offered was a 1,000 sq foot first level template consisting of a front foyer with a living room to the left; a family room, kitchen and dining room (moving from right to left) on the rear of the house. One could walk from the foyer to the family room directly, but each room was less than 150 sq feet. ”And,” Joy adds, “there was an excess of doors.” (Five in the family room alone, in fact). “The traffic in the kitchen was frequently clogged,” she says. Yet, curiously, the spacious front-facing living room was scarcely used. “When the kids were small, the living room was a kind of containment area for games, “ Joy explains. “ “As the kids got older, we stopped using the living room completely. Which made our first floor plan rather odd-since the kitchen was too dark and cramped and didn’t have the kinds of storage capacity that I really needed.” Fast forward 15 years, and the Greens have finally removed a wall between the family room and the kitchen. There’s now more light. But the wall separating the kitchen from the south-facing dining room still blocks out the morning sun, and the space remains restricted. “Storage was a problem. I had to keep certain cooking implements in the basement or other closets. Just keeping track of what was where was really inconvenient.” As the Greens gradually became emptynesters and then retirees, however, thoughts of retrofitting the first floor to better satisfy entertainment and culinary pursuits prevailed. Joy began to research kitchen design ideas in magazines and online. In short order she came across an article about kitchen designer Marcelo Dobrauchi of Terranova

Construction K& B and set up meeting in her home. “I had been experimenting with new space plan ideas for months,” Joy confesses. “I was stumped. But Marcelo put everything into perspective almost immediately. In the end, he drafted eight floorplan variations. He was very thorough on every issue-- and there were many.” “I thought an open plan might be be better suited to what Joy and Helmut wanted,” Dobrauchi recalls, “so I sketched out a concept showing how they could covert the living room to a formal dining room while reconfiguring the adjacent kitchen/family room space as a large open kitchen revolving around a food prep island and dining counter.” Since this would entail deleting three interior walls concealing much of the electrical wiring and plumbing, Dobrauchi devised a way to re-route much of the critical infrastructure into a specially-designed 12’ x 8’ passageway conjoining the kitchen to the relocated formal dining room. Meanwhile, by rerouting HVAC vents, the designer eliminated the need for ceilingflush bulk-heading, adding the vital inches needed for higher, more capacious cabinets. To accommodate a wide assortment pots, pans, cooking utenstils, the design team built an L-shaped system of floor cabinets fitted out with custom-designed slots and cubbies. At 16’ x 3’, the handsome food prep island and five stool dining counter is the kitchen’s focal point. A pair of state-of -art baking ovens are within easy reach of the white quartz counter surface-- which parallels a black quartz surface that includes a wine refrigerator and a glass-facing stemware cabinet. The built-in works perfectly for the couple’s everyday dining requirements, but is also an ideal staging area for the buffet-style

HOME vice they generally employ for larger parties. Jana Neudel, a Terranova interior design expert, worked closely with Joy in developing the kitchen’s finish work elevations. Nordic white mission-style cabinet facings present a pleasing shade contrast to the truffle-colored facings of the food prep island. Natural stone tiles with herringbone detail in a 3” x 6” brick pattern, meanwhile, present a softly neutral back splash that lends texture to an open sunny space. Completing the “transitional”-style interior design statement, walnut flooring and crown molding create a unifying visual unity. Natural light floods in from all directions. A perfect space for entertaining, and gourmet cooking pursuits. Designers at Terranova Construction K&B periodically offer workshops on home remodeling topics at their Tysons Corner show room. FOR INFORMATION: 703/761-0604 or Info@terranovaCKB. com John Byrd ( has been writing about home improvement topics for 30 years.


Marcelo Dobrauchi of Terranova Construction K&B combined a former family room and tiny kitchen to create a gourmet kitchen nearly three times the size of the original for seniors Helmut and Joy Green. The former living room was converted to an adjacent formal dining room. Walnut flooring and crown molding complete a unifying “transitional” style interior design statement.

Tasteful &Timeless R ETIR EMENT LI V ING

Beautiful, maintenance-free apartment homes are available now at Ashby Ponds and Greenspring, the area’s most popular continuing care retirement communities. With dozens of floor plans to choose from, you’re sure to find a home design to match your style and budget! Every apartment home has easy, indoor access to a clubhouse full of amenities and services: • All-season pool and hot tub • Multiple restaurants • On-site medical center, staffed by full-time doctors

• Fitness center • And more!

Call 1-888-430-8966 for your free brochure or to schedule a personal tour of the community nearest you! 11389809

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April 2016 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS


Sp Op rin eni g ng 20 16


A new concept in senior living.



There has been a concerted effort by finance columnists, lenders, and even AARP to share some good news with retirees about an effective method to obtain mortgage financing available to them. This method can be used to purchase a new property, or to refinance into today’s historically low rates, and can only be used by people of retirement age. These efforts have certainly helped get the word out, but many senior homeowners, and even real estate professionals, are not aware of the ability to use untapped retirement accounts as “income” to qualify for a loan without being required to withdraw the money. I am not referring to a reverse mortgage, but a traditional and fully amortizing mortgage

backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Of course, as with anything in the mortgage world, there are some rules and guidelines to follow, but the gist of the policy is to allow a lender to determine how much money you would be able to incrementally access from the retirement accounts over the life of your mortgage. If it is a 15 year loan, then there is a formula the lender can use to come up with 180 months’ worth of “income” (again, without actually requiring the withdrawal). It makes sense to reward a person that has done well to save for retirement, because a few short years ago banks and lenders were somewhat handcuffed to lend to someone that didn’t fit the stringent post-recession income guidelines. I mentioned that there are rules and stipulations to follow, and these can be complex, so please consult a mortgage professional to see if this is a good option for your housing plan.

Join us for an Open House and discover why living at The Crossings can be wonderful. Enjoy great amenities and plenty of opportunities to do what you love to do. And with the full continnum of care, give the gifts of security and peace of mind to yourself and your family. To learn more, call (703) 994-4561. Please see our website,, for open houses and events.


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6 Fairfax County Times SENIORS | April 2016


A retirees’ nest egg can help to buy the nest



We bring great days, and nights, to families.


Learning how to use a smartphone is just the tip of the iceberg. Keeping it safe and secure is just as important. BY TIMES STAFF

Seniors are one of the five groups most at-risk for identity theft, according to a report from U.S. News & World Report. Because your cellphone or smartphone likely contains personal information about you — name, home address, phone number and financial account information — a lost, stolen or hacked phone can be a treasure trove for criminals. Consumer Cellular, which specializes in no-contract cellphone service and phones primarily for people 50 and older, offers some advice for securing your cellphone: — Always use strong passwords. You may be tempted to use one password for all your accounts because it’s easier to remember one rather than multiple. However, if your login information is compromised, a single password makes it easier for crooks to gain access to all your accounts. Use numbers, symbols and capital letters in place of lowercase letters to strengthen your passwords. If you’re not sure how to create a strong password, Microsoft offers a helpful free online guide. If you’re having trouble remembering passwords, try downloading an app that securely manages all your passwords. — Use your phone’s built-in security features, such as a lock screen, password protection and data encryption. Many smartphones give you a variety of ways to secure your phone, such as using your fingerprint, entering a PIN or swiping a pattern on the lock

screen. A lock and/or encryption ensures that if your phone is lost or stolen, whoever has it won’t be able to easily access data stored on the phone. — Back-up your phone’s data, especially if you use it to capture photos and videos. If your phone gets damaged, lost or stolen, you can easily restore the data onto another eligible device. In addition, backing-up data can help your phone run more efficiently. Storing data on the device takes up a lot of memory and can slow it down. — Be cautious about what apps you download to your phone. Carefully review the terms and conditions and privacy disclosures of any app you’re considering before you download it. Some apps may collect data about you and share it with the app developer or others. — Don’t forget to add your cellphone number to the National Do Not Call Registry ( so that you don’t receive unwanted solicitation calls. Consider blocking your phone number to further protect your privacy; some businesses you call may collect, store and share your phone number and information unless you block it. — Accidents happen, and smartphones can be costly to repair or replace. An inexpensive way to protect your phone against drops or spills is using a case. It’s also a great way to personalize the appearance of your device. Another option is to purchase a protection plan or warranty for your phone through the manufacturer or your wireless provider.

Social isolation is a concern of the past, replaced by friends, family and a full calendar of tailored programs addressing all dimensions of wellness. Everyone’s quality of life is enhanced by specially designed amenity and gathering spaces, apartment homes, gardens and outdoor recreational areas.

Wellspring Village®, a specially designed neighborhood for people living with dementia “I’m passionate about serving people living with dementia and their families. I did my homework before joining the Brightview team and Wellspring Village® is the finest program of its type in the area. If someone you care about is living with dementia, please give me a call.” – Cindy Eggleston, Regional Health Services Director Families tell us everyone benefits because the outstanding care and support we provide reduces worry and stress.

Please call Carolyn at


10200 Colvin Run Road Great Falls, VA 22066 April 2016 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS





Technology legitimately can be a huge hassle. Sometimes it just fails to work for no obvious reason and then you install a required update, which makes things seem much worse. But it can also be incredibly helpful in communicating with your family, improving your health or just in your day to day life. So, after some research, I put together a list for some top technologies that might be worth investing in, if you haven’t already.

WIFI This might seem to be an obvious one for many living in northern Virginia. According to a Pew Research survey conducted in 2015 however, of the Americans who do not use the internet persons over the age of 65 make up 39 percent of that group. So seniors are a lot less likely to use the internet then other age groups. But with WiFi you can easily connect

anywhere in your home to keep up to date on news or stream your favorite TV show. Ultimately, a lot of the technologies in this list will also require some internet access.

TABLETS The tablet kind of goes hand-in-hand with the WiFi, although many tablets you can also get data with. Tablets allow you to connect with the world, but is much less complicated than having a laptop. With a tablet, you just install the apps you want, go to the internet browser and do what you want to with minimal set up time. There is always a learning curve with things like this, but that said the interfaces are generally very intuitive and pressing buttons randomly to figure it out won’t hurt anything. LIVELY You know those terrible “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercials? Well the people behind Lively are trying to reinvent the look of a personal emergency response system. They have made a watch

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SKYPE Another app to add to your collection, Skype is a great way to talk to friends and family all over the world. You can text message them, call them, or use video to talk face-to-face. Skype can also be installed to your computer. For more information, com/en/ PHOTO COURTESY LIVELY

Lively is a personal emergency response in the form of a watch.

because “staying safe shouldn’t cramp a person’s style—or dignity.” Lively has a simple interface, a one push help button, medication reminders and can even keep track of your daily step count. For more information: http://www.mylively. com/

FITBIT Walking and moving is super important for everyone. Maybe you don’t want the Lively watch, but you do want to keep track of your steps to keep you motivated and aware of your daily activity. If that’s the case, then you might want to hop on the increasingly popular Fitbit train. Depending on what Fitbit you want, some even track your sleep and heart rate. The website makes it easy to compare products. For more information, compare UBER OR LYFT These are apps you can download to the tablet you might get. These apps are for the people who just don’t feel like driving. It is easier than ever to have someone pick you up, whether you are going to the grocery store or dentist. You just download one of these apps, set a pickup location and wait for a driver to get you. For more information, https://www.uber. com/ OR

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Evan Farr is Certified in Elder Law by the National Elder Law Foundation, which certification is accredited by the American Bar Association. The Commonwealth of Virginia has no procedure for approving certifying organizations.

8 Fairfax County Times SENIORS | April 2016


The app Uber, along with Lyft, is an easy way to get around the area in a pinch.


The Roomba 980 vacuum.

IROBOT ROOMBA VACUUMS Does anyone really like vacuuming? Or maybe there are some places in your home that are just slightly too hard to reach and you don’t feel like moving things around to do it? The Roomba vacuums have come a long way since they first launched in 2002. Now depending on the model, they will navigate an entire floor to clean and when it’s done it will go to its power station and recharge. Very little work involved. The company even has self-running mops now… For more information: http://www.irobot. com/For-the-Home/Vacuum-Cleaning/ Roomba.aspx


Jibo, a social robot.

JIBO So this one might be silly to include on the list because it isn’t actually on sale yet. But Jibo calls itself the “world’s first social robot.” It can hear, respond, schedule and help you stay connected. It learns as you interact with it more. Maybe the world isn’t really ready for such an advanced robot, but if you are it is pretty cute. For more information and to join the waiting list:

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April 2016 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS





The Reston Farmers Market turns 18 this May, and one of its founders recalls the beginning.



Alzheimer’s Disease A memory care specific community, Great Falls has been thoughtfully designed to promote independence and dignity for those diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of memory impairment. Dedicated team members offer specialized care in four unique neighborhoods. Each neighborhood is homelike and inviting, not overwhelming or confusing. Our residents experience secured freedom, walking paths and patios, one level living, and Life Enrichment programs—including art, music, outings, and dancing—seven days a week.

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12 Fairfax County Times SENIORS | April 2016


Thanks to the Fairfax County Park Authority, Northern Virginia residents have 11 Farmers Markets from which to choose, but the big Reston Market consistently stands out as a crowd favorite. Voted one of the top markets by Virginia Living Magazine, Reston’s Farmers Market at Lake Anne Village Center boasts locally-grown produce and flowers, with thousands of patrons each Saturday from May to November. John Lovaas, the Reston Farmers “Market Master” remembers the early days. “We started in 1998 as a way to energize the struggling Lake Anne Village Center,” he said. “Robert Simon, the man for whom Reston is named, was on the Reston Association Board at the time, and I was the Board’s Vice President.” Together, Lovaas said they convinced the board to agree to a Saturday morning Farmers Market, with a simple opening and 12 vendors, and it has grown larger ever since. Nearly 18 years later, Reston Farm-

ers Market offers 31 vendors and just as many varieties of tomatoes and peppers. Shoppers often delight in a choice of dozens of various corn, fruit and berry types and many other fresh produce options. One additional benefit of the Reston Farmers Market is the recent addition of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which enables lowincome shoppers to add fresh and nutritious local foods to their family diets. Lovaas explained that the Farmers Market is also the weekend home of the Fairfax County Master Gardeners, a special tent where local gardeners struggling with plant issues can seek free advice. “The Master Gardeners can send in samples of a diseased plant, for example, to Virginia Tech, and can then provide a list of solutions,” he said. Inside the Lake Anne Village Center Plaza, from 8 a.m. to noon, many arts and craft vendors also have their wares on display, along with jewelry, musicians, and even dog adoptions. May 7 is the opening day of this year’s Farmers Market, located in Lake Anne Plaza, 11404 Washington Plaza, in Reston.



The Nusbaums added only 150 square feet to their family room, but the 4 window course with “eyebrows” creates a visual continuum that makes the room feel significantly larger.

Maybe you’d like space for an art or music studio. There’s a bedroom that hasn’t been used in years. At long last you can spend more time with the gardening. Children, grandchildren can come for extended visits. It’s your house, after all-- so you can renovate-- ie, make it new. What motivates the desire for change as one gets older is usually personal; to walk around any longterm residence is to perceive what might be better utilized; re-deployed. The larger problem is practical: how to easily and affordably implement a list of target improvements-- especially when you already know how aggravating it can be to secure a simple household repair. In this context, it’s heartening to talk with Mike and Sandy Nusbaum, retired emptynesters who-- about every two years and for over decade-- have executed mid- to largescale renovations to their thirty year old south Alexandria residence. Plainly, the Nusbaums like their house, a circa-1980s Colonial-style home where they raised three children. While somewhat spaceconstrained at its original 2,100 square feet, the structure’s location adjacent to a woodland and minutes from historic Old Town made it hard to beat. As retirement neared, however, the couple began cautiously reassessing their home’s basic assets, even briefly considering a move to a bigger place. “You have to ask yourself whether the next house will actually improve your quality of life,” Sandy Nusbaum says, recounting her thoughts of twelve years back. “When we looked at the alternatives… we realized there were only a few things about our house that we didn’t like.” And so it began. Plans for incremental changes.



fter age sixty home remodeling is a celebration of the life well-planned. Your house has now fulfilled its earlier missions: a bedroom convenient to work, raising kids. Now you’re older, maybe retired. The old requirements have changed; there are new opportunities in the offing.

10 Fairfax County Times SENIORS | April 2016

Mike and Sandy Nusbaum have enlarged their home four times in the past ten years. Each phase has improved the home’s overall functionality, which has transformed it into a preferred gathering place for children, grandchildren and extended family. The garage and storage units have resulted in a dramatic improvement in available space and eliminated clutter.

Kitchen and screen porch. New family room and deck. Lower level. Enlarged Garage... And a new relationship, with 30-year veteran remodeler David Foster, principal of Foster Remodeling Solutions. “We met some homeowners at a local home show who raved about David,” Sandy recalls. “His integrity… the conveniences offered through his company’s show room. It’s more than proven out. David has a low-key style, and a strong service orientation that helps us make informed decisions.” Looking back, while the remodeler’s fresh design ideas were critical, the couple also appreciated his clearly-stated, always-reliable cost projections. “We were on the cusp of retirement and didn’t want debt,” Mike Nusbaum says. “Our first thought was to make targeted improvements to the kitchen while keeping our options open for the larger family entertainment suite we might undertake as we assessed the budget issue.” Foster was not only supportive of such thinking, but-- as the Nusbaums learned-- considers “phased remodeling” an integral part of his company’s service. “ I grew up in Fairfax County and have learned my business by helping homeowners find a process that will work for them as they think ahead,” he says. “Being a trusted resource is essential to how we operate.” Once work began, the Nusbaums particularly appreciated the foresight Foster brought to each improvement. “Ten years ago, we wanted the rooms extending from the kitchen to function better as a place for entertainment We had a small dining room that wasn’t being used much. The back rooms were too dark,” Sandy Nusbaum recalls. In short order, the wall between the kitchen

and dining room disappeared-- replaced by a 3-stool Silestone counter that has become the couple’s primary kitchen gathering area. The surface was also positioned as a serving station for the new elevated 16’ x 16’ screened porch that is now a much-used fair-weather dining spot. A new window over the kitchen sink adds natural light and a lovely view of the backyard. Shaker-style furniture lends the dining area an understated formality. “When you walk from the kitchen to the screen porch, it feels like you’re walking in the air through the trees,” Sandy says. “This gave us a wonderful re-discovery of our own backyard” From there, it wasn’t long before the Nusbaums began planning an extension of the rear family room, an open-air grilling deck and a pathway that permits children, grandchildren and guests to circulate freely through a wideranging suite of rooms used for social gatherings. Though only 150 square feet, the new family room allows for a better furniture configuration and directs thru-traffic away from key activity zones. A course of divided-light windows with “eyebrows” provides lively sightlines to the wooded setting, “It was at this point that we started having holiday gatherings for up to thirty,” Sandy says, “Such fun!” Which led to the third phase: transform the 800 square foot lower level into an exercise room that doubles as a guest suite. Here a comfortable Murphy bed folds out of a discrete closet. There’s a full bath, and built-in serving station with refrigerator and microwave. The Nusbaums refer to it as “the family suite”. On holidays, it can be occupied for two or three days a stretch. Then, just last year, Foster created a second bay for the garage by building a wing off the side elevation. The new construction is supplemented by a garden shed accessed from the yard. The contents-- pruning tools, mower-- freed up floor space in the garage, which now (for the first time) has room for something special: two cars. “What we really appreciate about David Foster is there are no bad surprises, and frequently there are good ones” Mike Nusbaum reflects. “Last year, for instance, he repaired a window that was out of warranty and didn’t charge us. That kind of service encourages you to think ahead.” Foster Remodeling Solutions periodically offers workshops on home remodeling topics. For Information call: 703-550-1371, or John Byrd ( or has been writing about home improvement for 30 years.

April 2016 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS



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April 2016 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS




Life has a funny way of throwing curves at us every now and again that are awfully difficult to understand. I would have bet my life that all I had to do was follow an exemplary plan of fitness and good health habits to insure long-term contentment on this planet. Well, I almost lost that bet. So what if I ran 88 marathons, competed at Ironman Kona, race Obstacle Course events, train at CrossFit and have been on a

gluten-free diet for the last 14 years. My perspective all changed since Thanksgiving weekend. Then, on Dec. 4, 2015, I spent eight hours in an operating room undergoing sextuple cardiac bypass surgery. It was the many years of training that supplemented the skill of my cardiologist, Dr. Aaron Baggish, and my cardiac surgeon, Dr. Tom MacGillivray, which has since earned me my do-over. How the heck did that happen to you? Why wasn’t your cardiac disease diagnosed? Those have been the most frequently asked

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Running doesn’t need to be a thing of the past just because you may have suffered from a heart attack.

questions directed to me since the surgery. Perhaps the most important fact that I have learned is that genetics trumps lifestyle. Apparently, I’m an “accumulator,” I collect plaque in my arteries. If you think cholesterol numbers will reveal the problem, guess again. My cholesterol lab results were excellent, and we ate a pretty healthy diet thanks to my talented wife, so I didn’t worry. But, here’s the rub. Like many runners and endurance athletes, I presumed that participating in a hard event like a marathon or a Spartan Beast gave me the right to cheat. Post-race, you might have heard me say, ‘Yup, I’ll have the cheeseburger, add bacon, and yes, I’ll take fries with that.” The indiscretions in my diet were infrequent, but with my genetic make-up, and years of little errors compounded into a really bad outcome. It was a lot like owning a sports car that takes high-test, and every

now and then pouring a glass of water into the tank. Certainly, one would think severe cardiac arteriosclerosis is easily detectable. What I’ve come to learn is that basically there are four ways to detect dangerous cardiac blockages. The first is by failing a cardiac stress test. Failing is a clear indicator there is a problem, but my stress test performance numbers were off the chart good. Another telltale sign is demonstrating symptoms such as dizziness, shortness of breath or chest pains. I had none of those. A third way is with cardiac catheterization. It’s where a camera is inserted through a vein to take a look at the arteries, but it’s an invasive procedure with risks, so it won’t be done unless warranted by a failed stress test or symptoms. Finally, a fourth way is by having the heart attack.


BACK TO THE LOVE OF RUNNING, SKIING But there is good news. I survived my heart attack, had the six blockages remedied and I am now well on my way to a full recovery. I’ve been cleared to supplement my long walks with running this month. I can now resume a more strenuous strengthtraining program, and to my great delight also ski again. Though my arteries suffered severe blockages, it was the years of active physical conditioning that developed the collateral circulation that helped me survive. The bypass of the blockages, my cardiologist tells me, means that I will actually perform better than ever before now that the “governor” has been removed. Offering advice My experience has raised cardiac health awareness within my running community, and I am often asked for advice. Let me start by saying that I’m not a trained physician, but I have learned more in the past few months that I wish I had known before. What can be done if a cardiac problem remains hidden? There is nothing that impacts our heart health more than our diet. Since my heart attack, I have lost nearly 15 pounds, and I feel great being back at my college weight. To accomplish this, I first changed my portion sizes. I realized I was still eating like I was training for an Ironman, but not burning the same calories. In addition to smaller dishes, I also learned to put my fork down between bites. I now enjoyed the taste of food more, and it took a lot longer to finish a meal, while the smaller portions have started to fill me up. Beyond the quantity was the quality of the food. The single best rule is to eat “real food,” not processed foods, which increases the quantity of fruits and vegetables on the dinner table. Saturated fats and sodium have a limited place in my diet. When you begin reading labels, it’s shocking to see the amount of salt that’s added to the prepared foods. But when I had learned that unsalted nuts like almonds and cashews are even better than its salted cousins it was an added bonus for me. Good fats and protein are important,

so fresh fish is frequently on the menu. Beans are another good source of protein. Interestingly, the way we are eating now reminds me of how my Italian mom used to cook, when I was a child. Many of the meals were described as “poor man’s meals.” It included many varieties of fresh vegetables, lean meats, fish and cooking with olive oil. The Mediterranean diet, as it appears, is a pretty healthy approach. Beyond eating, is the management of stress. I always assumed that I was pretty good at keeping stress at acceptable levels. Even though in my profession – Certified Financial Planner – is considered pretty stressful. But the source of my stress was centered around the outside activities. Sometimes it’s possible to simply volunteer for too many committees. This selfinduced stress is now under better control. My last bit of advice is that we all need to pay attention to identifying the signs of heart disease. From an early age, we all begin to accumulate plaque in our arteries, and for some of us it can develop into a high-risk situation. Certainly eating correctly and managing stress are important, but you can do more. I believe we all should have a cardiologist who can perform a comprehensive cardiac stress test. It will accomplish several important goals. First, it may show that there is a problem. Secondly, even if there are no current issues, it establishes a baseline of cardiac condition. Ongoing checkups can then measure any changes that may signal a problem. And finally, establishing a relationship with a cardiologist at a wellrenowned hospital will guarantee entry to a top-level facility should you ever need a serious intervention like bypass surgery. Though I’ve gone through a pretty traumatic procedure, I feel fortunate that I have been given the opportunity for a “do-over.” I’m eating better, I feel great and I’ve been promised a full recovery that will lead to even better lifestyle. That which began as a shockingly bad turn of events has had a very positive outcome, and I look forward to seeing you out on the road-race courses, ski slopes, obstacle courses and, of course, the fresh produce aisle at Whole Foods. Tom Licciardello may be reached at

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The Music Director and Conductor of the Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic, Ulysses James. PHOTO COURTESY WASHINGTON METROPOLTIAN PHILHARMONIC

lysses James is 80 years old and estimates that he probably works about 50 hours a week, if not more. He has worked for the last 32 years as the Music Director for the Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic (WMP). At the time when he first started the job however, it was the Mount Vernon Orchestra. “I went to Brown, and I majored in music in my final year. Then I was going to be drafted [for Vietnam], so I volunteered for OSC [Officer Candidate School] because I didn’t want to be drafted. I went into the Navy and I was a Surface Warfare Officer for 20 years,” James said. “When I got out, I went immediately back to music and found myself through a very strange set of circumstances conducting the orchestra we currently have. Then that turned into my opportunity to conduct what was then The Mount Vernon Chamber Orchestra.” As the music director, he is the conductor of the WMP and was also the conductor of one of the youth orchestras from 1984 until 2011. As the Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic Association is a non-profit without a ton of money, James also finds himself doing a little bit of everything. “It currently means that I’m responsible for in my or-

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that goes on with it. There’s no way in the world you can cover your expenses with admissions with any orchestra practically speaking. What I’ve seen, while it is true that orchestras especially those that are expensive, have a very difficult time.” Despite this, James is extremely optimistic about the future of classical music, he is just realistic about where its popularity lies. “When I see what’s happening in the schools and with youth orchestras, it is very clear to me that classical music is not disappearing; I just had the opportunity to judge a district orchestra festival. Some of those orchestras who are in Fairfax County and participated competitively—they said it isn’t a competition—but basically it’s just an analysis by an outsider of how well an orchestra plays. Be that as it may, those orchestras are phenomenal. They play at a semi-professional level and the kids love it,” he said. “I have just seen that kind of thing expand over the time that I’ve been alive. I had no opportunity for that kind of a thing when I was a youngster at all. Even when I went to college, I did not have an orchestra of any great ability to play in at that time. That was in the 50s, that isn’t true now; Brown has a wonderful orchestra now. But all of that sort of thing has come to fruition. At the same

time it is very difficult to draw big audiences and also pay for a fully professional orchestra. So it’s kind of a funny situation. […] I don’t think classical music is going away, I just think it’s taking a different form.” With this in mind, he doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. James comments that that slowing down because of your age is just a trap that causes you to deteriorate faster. As long as he is able to do this job, he will because ultimately he really loves the challenges of it. “I guess what keeps me there is first, I love making good music with good people. That would be the first criteria. I like the opportunity, not the opportunity, the challenge of creating something that is very much centered in the community and connected with something that is important and cannot be easily bought and sold, like the arts, and something that is terribly difficult to make it grow and be viable,” James said. “It’s a very competitive area. There’s probably something like 30 groups in the northern Virginia area alone. These are small and large. So it is quite a challenge to make it work and to make it work well to the satisfaction of everyone. And I guess that’s what keeps me going because I guess I like challenges and I like to make music.”


ganization, I’m responsible for programming, acquisition of musicians, preparation and performance, fundraising and anything that I can do administratively to help the organization be healthy…” he explained. “And those two [youth] orchestras don’t require much attention from me because they have two wonderful music directors, but it does expand the requirements slightly for my job as well. We also have an annual composition competition, so I request submissions from the entire east coast of the US and select a piece that I think is worthy of performance once a year. And I guess that’s about it.” In March, James was presented with a Living Legend Award from Living Legends of Alexandria. Every year the organization identifies those who have helped shape the personality and community of Alexandria. “Well it’s a great honor as far as I’m concerned. I guess it’s a more of an honor to acknowledge the efforts of someone that has given back to the community a long long time. I mean, in my case 32 years and doing something that was viewed as a substantial contribution, without the notion that required remuneration or anything. I did it freely,” he said. “It’s very very much of

an honor to be recognized for that. It’s not something that I worked for, if you get my sense. It’s not something that I did all this for, so I could get rewarded that way. The doing of what I do is my reward, but I’m very honored by all prizes.” When James eventually retires, I’m sure the WMP will not end, they will likely choose a successor. But a career in orchestra music seems a bit risky considering waning popularity. “People, from the time I became invested in music, which probably was as far back as my teens. People have been saying, you know classical music is disappearing, blah, blah, blah. Orchestras are a thing of the past and so on and so forth,” he said. “...It is true that there are orchestras that have to fold. Even the Philadelphia Orchestra is in bankruptcy and it’s one of the gems of the country. It’s true because large professional orchestras require a very expensive business model. For example, most of the musicians in a top tier major symphony are being paid close to or making a six figure salary. Then you multiply that by a hundred members and the operating expenses get pretty hefty. And that doesn’t include all the other stuff April 2016 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS




Visitors walking into Vinson Hall Retirement Community are usually shocked when they learn that the 27- year old man sipping coffee in the lobby is actually a resident. Every day for nearly two years, U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Kevin Hoffman has sat in the Vinson Hall lobby with his German shepherd service dog, chatting with the other retirement community residents. When the Navy Marine Coast Guard Residence Foundation (NMCGRF) first opened Wounded Warrior Transitional Housing at Vinson Hall in 2013, many asked why a young Marine would want to live in a retirement community. The answer is a simple one. Like any retirement community, Vinson Hall was designed to support those with specialty medical needs. Independent Living apartments have been modified for those not as physically mobile with features like bathroom hand rails and a fitness center outfitted with recumbent exercise equipment. A health and wellness nurse’s station is open 24-hours a day for late night emergencies. Located just a few miles from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, retired and active duty military can pop up for doctor’s appointments easily with courtesy transportation. With all of these unique features of Vinson Hall already setting the stage, NMCGRF’s long history of supporting the military sealed the deal. After more than two years of raising the required funds to start this program, Vinson Hall welcomed its first wounded warrior in

September 2013. Corporal Eduardo and Donna Panyagua moved in with his service dog, Max. Like all other residents of Wounded Warrior Transitional Housing, Corporal Panyagua was undergoing the medical board evaluation to determine whether he would be able to stay in the Marine Corps after being wounded. At Vinson Hall, Panyagua found a mentor in Vietnam veteran Colonel Glen Bratcher. “I considered him one of my friends, we have a close bond because we’re both Marines,” says Bratcher. “Eduardo cooked dinner for a couple of us senior residents. He even invited me and another resident to his wife’s Foreign Service Institute graduation.” After medically retiring from the Marines, he joined his wife in New Haven, Connecticut to attend college as a business major early in 2014. Panyagua and Bratcher still keep in touch via email. The resident that replaced him is a young Marine who was wounded in Afghanistan in 2010. After enduring inpatient treatment at Walter Reed and several years of rehabilitation, he remains dedicated to the Marines. Just this month, Sergeant Hoffman successfully transitioned back into active duty after nearly two years in Wounded Warrior Transitional Housing. Since 2013, five young wounded Marines have come to call Vinson Hall home. Two of those wounded warriors have brought their young children to live at Vinson Hall with them. “One wounded warrior’s son used to ride his tricycle around the campus walking paths,” remarks Chief Operating Officer Captain Michael Hendee. “You usually only see kids in a retirement community during weekends and holidays it’s been fun

18 Fairfax County Times SENIORS | April 2016


U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Kevin Hoffman and his loyal K9

having these young families as a part of the community day in and day out.” George Lynch, the fitness director at Vinson Hall, works with both the wounded warriors and the senior residents to create fitness plans. “Kevin was in here quite a bit,” says Lynch. “We helped put together a workout program to strength his injured knee. Working out also has mental health benefits; it lets them release some of the stress.” Just like with his aging clients, Lynch teaches the wounded warriors how to protect injuries during a workout. Wounded Warrior Transitional Housing has grown to include Army wounded warriors as well as Marines. While all renovations are complete, NMCGRF continues to raise funds to support the monthly expenses associate with this program so the Foundation can continue serving wounded warriors. Vinson Hall Retirement Community began in 1959 as a labor of love conceived by the Navy Officers’ Wives’ Club of Washington, D.C. The notion of creating a home which was “secure, companionable, and dignified”- a home where companionship and socializing would flourish— for Navy widows quickly captured the attention of senior sea service leaders, as well as Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard wives’ clubs worldwide. Two years later, Navy Marine Coast Guard Residence Foundation was formed to support this endeavor. On June 23, 1969, Vinson Hall opened its doors to provide a community fostering dignity, security, and friendship to sea service widows regardless of financial status. As the years have passed and Vinson Hall extended its services to all branches of the military, the D.C. community has come to

recognize Vinson Hall as an embodiment of the same camaraderie residents experienced while serving. The Foundation expanded its service programs as well to serve seniors who have outlived their resources. As a community with such a rich military history, NMCGRF sought to support not only those retired from the military, but active duty as well. Located in idyllic McLean, and home to nearly 300 retired military officers and government employees, Vinson Hall Retirement Community and NMCGRF are uniquely situated to support wounded warriors’ physical, mental, and emotional healing. The vision for Wounded Warrior Transitional Housing at Vinson Hall was established in 2011. The plan was to help young, wounded veterans who have returned home from conflict and require a special kind of care in an environment that is well-suited to their unique needs. Vinson Hall Retirement Community provides a community where older warriors can mentor younger warriors by providing a listening ear and words of encouragement. NMCGRF began reaching out to donors and corporate supporters to help transform two apartments into handicapaccessible, fully furnished spaces for singles or married families. Supported completely by donations to NMCGRF, Wounded Warrior Transitional Housing offers apartments with access to resident amenities on a sliding scale for rent and monthly fees. The Foundation works with each wounded warrior individually based on their need and budget. NMCGRF’s Wounded Warrior housing is the only program of its kind in the country.


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Profile for The Fairfax Times

Fairfax County Times April 2016 Seniors Section  

The Senior Section insert from The Fairfax County Times April 22 Edition

Fairfax County Times April 2016 Seniors Section  

The Senior Section insert from The Fairfax County Times April 22 Edition


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