Page 1

Medicare Updates 3, 5

Gray Matters

Community Action Group 4 Volunteer Opportunities 6 Free Health Workshops 8


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A quarterly publication of Area 1 Agency on Aging

The White Way to Age


he last surviving Golden Girl is teaching America a thing or two about

aging. A pair of guest speakers at local senior events tipped their hats last year to Betty White, the 89-year-old actress, comedienne, author and former game show host whose career has spanned 72 years and is still going strong. She celebrates her birthday Jan. 17. A Reuters poll released in August tagged the “Hot In Cleveland” actress as America’s most trusted celebrity. Her 86 percent approval rating put her ahead of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, prompting Reuters to name her the “most likely to drive up the business of a company they would endorse.” That’s good news for AARP, which used to be known as the American Association for Retired Persons. Last June, it named her its spokesperson for

its latest membership drive. “Betty White is ballsy and beautiful and she’s staying involved in a meaningful way,” said Patrick Arbore, guest speaker at last summer’s Senior Expo workshop in Eureka. Arbore is the founder and director of San Francisco’s Center for Elderly Suicide Prevention and Grief Related Services. He’s heard White speak in multiple settings, serious and humorous. “She said ‘I don’t know why I’m still here, but I am, so I might as well work. I have a skill and I might as well use it.’” Arbore called White an example for all, and wasn’t referring to her poker and crossword puzzle practices. “We have to stand up and reclaim aging,” the 63-year-old Arbore said. “We have to take it back and say you won’t dispose of me or ignore me. I will show up and participate in life in a meaningful way, whether

people like it or not.” “In order to promote wellness and inclusion of aging baby boomers in society, it will be important to change the way aging is perceived,” former Assembly member Patty Berg said at last year’s Celebration of Seniors Luncheon in Eureka. “We have to popularize more realistic images of what it means to be old − like the Betty White phenomena − so people expect positive experiences in later life.”


Fans have liked White for decades, particularly for two of her signature roles, both of which came after the age of 50: as the man-hungry Happy Homemaker, Sue Ann Nivens, on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and as naïve Rose Nylund, one of four widowed or divorced women who lived together in Miami on “The Golden Girls.” In January 2010, White was at continued on next page

Our Pathways to Health Workshop Schedule EUREKA

Jan. 18Feb. 22


5:30 p.m.8 p.m.

St. Joseph Hospital


Jan. 23Feb. 27


10 a.m. 12:30 p.m.

Telehealth Center


Jan. 26March 1


1 p.m. 3:30 p.m.

Redwood Vet Center*


Jan. 17Feb. 21


1 p.m. 3:30 p.m.

Sequoia Springs


Jan. 17Feb. 21


10 a.m. 12:30 p.m.

LDS Church

*Veterans, Vet Caregivers only.

Free Workshops, page 8



White Way continued from previous page

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the center of a grass roots campaign on Facebook called “Betty White to Host SNL (Please).” Roughly two months after White was tackled in a Super Bowl ad for a candy bar, the group of nearly 500,000 members persuaded NBC to make her the late-night comedy’s oldest host in history -- by eight years. “I didn’t know what Facebook was, and now that I do know what it is, I have to say, it sounds like a huge waste of time,” she said in thanking Facebook fans in the opening monologue. The gig earned her a seventh TV Emmy award and served notice across multiple generations that seniors have much to offer. In summer 2010, she took on the role of Elka Os-

trovsy in TV Land’s “Hot in Cleveland” sitcom, which started its third season in November. Berg said White’s success is a step in the right direction for older Americans who are not revered by a society “where aging is seen as a disease − something to be terrified of. It’s interesting to note that nothing renders a woman more invisible than her hair turning gray and wrinkles on her face. And so, in a pathetic attempt to turn back the clock, we turn to hair dye, botox, anti-wrinkle creams and the plastic surgery industry.” In White’s new book, “If You Ask Me: (And Of Course You Won’t),” her only plastic surgery admission was to having her eyelids done 35 years ago. She says she “scolded herself forever, but now I’m glad I did it.” White’s popularity shows no

sign of ebbing and could give her a leg up on hitting the century mark. Berg recommended reading Dan Buettner’s “The Blue Zones,” which identified the commonalities that led to longevity and quality of life in the centenarian-rich communities of Loma Linda, CA; Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; and the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica. Aside from diet and exercise, Berg said he found six qualitative commonalities: Older people were revered and:  Had a strong sense of family values and lived with their families, keeping them needed, connected and providing a strong sense of purpose;  Had strong social networks that featured daily contact with friends and neighbors;  Enjoyed the day’s simple pleasures;  Experienced joy in doing everyday chores and were free of stress;  Had a strong belief in God − a let go, let God attitude. 

“There’s a lot to be said for aging and I milk it to the nth degree,” White said in an interview posted on the AARP website. “I’m going to die in harness − and might not ever.” 

Medicare Update

Betty White Tips for Living a Long and Healthy Life No. 10 Get at least 8 hours of beauty sleep, 9 if you’re ugly. No. 9 Exercise. Or don’t, what the hell do I care? No. 8 Never apologize. It shows weakness. No. 7 The best way to earn a quick buck is a slip and fall lawsuit. No. 6 Avoid tweeting any photos of your private parts. No. 5 Schedule a nightly appointment with Dr. Johnnie Walker. No. 4 Take some wheatgrass, soy paste and carob, toss in the garbage − and cook yourself a big piece of pork. No. 3 Try not to die. No. 2 Never dwell on past mistakes – especially you LeBron. No. 1 Don’t waste your time watching this crap. Source: “The David Letterman Show,” June 14, 2011;

Act Now to Get Medicare Coverage After Freedom Blue’s Exit The New Year could bring new problems for some of the 500 Humboldt and Del Norte County folks enrolled in the Anthem Blue Cross Freedom Blue plan that ceased coverage effective Jan. 1. Those who failed to enroll in a new Medicare Advantage plan or switch back to original Medicare and its associated supplement and drug plans by Dec. 31 are now facing a “coverage gap” – the official term for being without supplemental or prescription drug insurance coverage until they fill out the necessary paperwork during their special enrollment period Jan. 1 through Feb. 29. “It’s too late to avoid a gap, but keep that gap as short as possible by signing up now,” said Martha Johnson, program manager of A1AA’s Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program. “Otherwise, you could be without supplemental and drug plan coverage for a year.” Johnson said Freedom Blue’s exit leaves the North Coast with no preferred provider

private insurance plan and only two private options, one of which is not begin touted by HICAP because of three straight years of low ratings from Medicare. “Some people have been in Freedom Blue for years and years,” Johnson said. “Their choice is to enroll in the only other viable option, United HealthCare Medicare Direct, a fee for service plan that not all doctors will accept, or return to original Medicare and get a Part D and Medicare supplement plan.” From Jan. 1 to 14, anyone can leave a Medicare Advantage plan and switch back to original Medicare. Those who make the switch have until Feb. 14 to add Part D prescription drug coverage, but are not allowed in this time period to switch from original Medicare to Medicare Advantage or from one MA plan to another. Call 444-3000 to make an appointment with HICAP, a nonpartisan provider of health insurance advising. HICAP is a program of the Area 1 Agency on Aging serving Humboldt and Del Norte counties. 



Medicare Update

We Want You: Senior Advocacy Group Forming


o you want to be heard? Find your voice by joining the Senior Action Coalition through Area 1 Agency on Aging’s Project for Senior Action. A1AA Director of Programs Todd Metcalf said the first meeting of what he hopes will grow to a 150-member senior coalition will be in March, at a date and time to be determined. “Many seniors are tired of being forced into the role of reacting and adapting to cuts to resources and shrinking access to programs,” Metcalf said. “They deserve the opportunity to define their goals and have a hand in shaping the events that affect them.” Metcalf said the first step will be for the volunteer group to identify a single issue around home and community-based services it seeks to impact. The

SCAN Foundation will assist and support the Project for Senior Action by utilizing broadly accepted technologies and communication strategies to develop a successful social action network. The program is part of SCAN Foundation’s AGEnts for Change initiative to build a senior citizenry more capable of impacting policy around aging and longterm care. Training in new media, from cell phones to social networks such as Facebook to online video sharing, will be part of the program. “We need your ideas, talents, relationships and passion if we are to identify and impact the issues North Coast seniors care the most about,” Metcalf said. “If you have an issue around aging or long-term care, this is your opportunity to do more to influence the outcome and expand your base of support.”

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For the past two years, the Project for Senior Action has served as a conduit helping seniors and others contact decision makers directly, or by relaying their message in their words to the appropriate entity. Funded by the SCAN Foundation, the Project for Senior Action is building the coalition as the next step to improve the community’s capacity to advocate for programs, services and policies that will improve the quality of life for seniors on the North Coast. “This is a way to take action regarding pressing challenges affecting seniors and to strengthen the voice of seniors in our community decisions,” Metcalf said. For more information, call the Project for Senior Action at 707-441-0449, e-mail psa@a1aa. org., or drop by the office at 434 Seventh St. in Eureka from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. “We will find a role for everyone,” Metcalf said. “Stuffing envelopes, sending e-mails, staffing a phone bank, writing a letter to the editor – do what’s comfortable for you, but do something. Now is the time to be heard.” 

1828 Central Ave. • McKinleyville •


HICAP Fills Pock Savings, Extra H


he program manager for A1AA’s Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program began the year in good spirits – and for good reason. Three weeks removed from the end of the Medicare Part D enrollment period, she and her staff felt a bit like Santa after stuffing local pockets with thousands of dollars in savings on prescription drug costs. “About two-thirds to threequarters of the people we served saw significant savings,” Martha Johnson said. “And by that I’m talking about $500 to $3,000 per year.” For the Oct. 1 through Dec. 7 rush, Johnson said HICAP met with 1,450 people, fielded about 1,000 phone calls, completed “several hundred” worksheet responses to queries, and saved individuals and taxpayers $800,000 by changing people from their current plans into another plan that gave them better coverage at lower cost. She scanned down a list of names and ticked off the co-payment savings that came with a new Part D plan: $2,900, $4,151, $1,755, $1,946, $2,073, $2,288. “Here’s someone who never

kets with Cash Help had a drug plan so their savings is $8,000,” she said. Not signing up for Part D when he enrolled in Medicare at age 65 might have sounded like a good idea when he was 65 with no medication needs, but Johnson recommends against it for two reasons. “You don’t have a crystal ball to see what is going to happen next year,” she said. “It’s insurance, and you have insurance in case of a need, just like you do for your home or car.” The second problem: Medicare mandates a penalty added to the monthly premium for each month in which an eligible person did not enroll in Part D. “We still have people who come in and have never had a Part D plan,” she said. “If they were eligible and didn’t enroll back when it started in 2006, a penalty of about $20 will be added to the monthly premium for as long as they are enrolled.” This year’s penalty is 31 cents for every month of eligibility without enrollment. “It adds up fast and it’s a big mistake to make,” Johnson said. According to Medicare, it insures one in four Americans. In

2011, 48.6 million people were enrolled in Medicare, 67 million in Medicaid, and 5 million in children’s health insurance programs. More than 90 percent of Medicare beneficiaries get Part D benefits. That means nearly 5 million are facing the penalties. “That one time of the year from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 isn’t a very big window for change,” Johnson said. The window is open longer for the 9.2 million Medicare enrollees who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medi-Cal or the 10.7 million who qualify for an extra help through a low income subsidy program. “Those two groups have the right to compare Part D plans at any time of the year,” she said. “If someone in those groups goes to the pharmacy this week and finds co-payments have soared or drugs aren’t covered, they can still come in and fix it.” Johnson said Medicare statistics suggest there are several hundred Humboldt and Del Norte County residents who have difficulty paying for Medicare programs, live on fixed incomes, and could get extra help if they came in to enroll. Call 444-3000 to make an appointment. 

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Volunteer Opportunities 2012


he Volunteer Center of the Redwoods & RSVP works with more than 300 organizations actively seeking help – your help. Following is a small sampling of current volunteer opportunities available in Humboldt and Del Norte counties. If you have time and interest, the Volunteer Center of the Redwoods & RSVP has a place that needs your help. In Del Norte County, find us at 1765 Northcrest Drive in Crescent City, 95531. Phone 464-7876, fax 464-7877 or e-mail In Humboldt County, find us at 434 Seventh St. in Eureka, 95501. Phone 442-3711, fax 442-3714 or e-mail

4-H OFFICE What: Clerical tasks. Who: Contact Sandy Sathrum at 445-7351. Website: 

ACCESS HUMBOLDT What: Copy, collate, file documents, answer phones, maintain/ develop mailing list, and other duties as assigned to assist in the administrative functions of the organization. Who: Contact Tracy Jordan French at (707)-476-1798 or Email at 

AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY What: General Office Volunteer: Bulk mailings, data entry, answer phones, and assist cashier for fund-raising items. Special Events Volunteer: Assist with Daffodil Days, Relay For Life, The Great American Smoke Out, and Fairs. Driver: Drive patients to and from appointments (requires some training and certification. Who: Contact Linda Mowrey at (707)-443-2241 

AMERICAN RED CROSS What: Answer phones, enter data, and sign people up for classes. Must be 18 years old or older. Who: Contact William Bense at (707)-443-4521, or Email: 

AREA 1 AGENCY ON AGING What: Join a pool of on-call substitute volunteer receptionists to help with phones and greeting in the reception area of the A1AA offices. Where: 434 Seventh St., Eureka Who: In Humboldt County call 442-3763 


BRAILLE TRANSCRIBERS OF HUMBOLDT What: Transcribe printed text to braille. Training is provided on workbooks of 20 lessons. Who: Contact Pat Welsh at 442-4048 or the chair person on Fridays from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at 839-0643. 

EUREKA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE What: Visitor Center Services Volunteer: Give visitors directions and referrals to local businesses and points of interest. General Office Assistant: General office duties; assemble fl yers, newsletters and mail visitor packets; answer a multi-line phone system. Must be at least 18 years old or older. Who: Contact Susan Gillespie at 442-3738. 

FOOD FOR PEOPLE (HUMBOLDT COUNTY FOOD BANK) What: Volunteers needed to glean food from local farms; drive for food pick-ups; drive deliveries in Senior Brown Bagmeal program or to homebound folks under 60 and dis abled or ill; help in the office or at the front desk, assist in all areas of the Choice Pantry distribution program; clean, sort, and stuff mail at the office. When: Depends on the task, but many hours are flexible Where: Throughout Humboldt County Who: Volunteer Coordinator Laura Hughes (707)-445-3166 ext. 310 or 

EUREKA MAIN STREET What: Clerical Volunteers: Answer phones and general office duties. Promotional Volunteers: Assist with monthly “First Saturday Night Arts Alive” information gathering and other special events. Greet the public. Who: Contact Charlotte McDonald at (707)-442-9054. 

HUMBOLDT BAY HOUSING AND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION What: Filing organization and other clerical assistance. Where: 824 L St., Arcata, 95521 Who: Contact Bonnie Hughes at 826-7312 Website: 

HUMBOLDT AREA FOUNDATION What: Filing, newsletter, mailing, sending emails. Who: Contact Amy Jester at 442-2993 x374. 

Humboldt Botanical Gardens Foundation What: to help with general garden maintenance: pull weeds, trim and upkeep plants, maintain pathways, etc. Times are also available during the week. When: Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Where: College of the Redwoods Who: Contact Pam Christiansen at (707)-4425139 if you have questions or want to help during the week. Website: and blog at 

SEQUOIA HUMANE SOCIETY What: Needs dog walkers, kitty companions, kennel assistants, dog behavior and socialization help, foster care providers, shelter buddies, and assistants in the thrift shop, at special events and in the office. Where: 6073 Loma Avenue (off the King Salmon Avenue exit) Eureka, CA 95503 “One of the reasons Who: Contact Volunteer Coordinator 442-1782 or email: people live so long in Website:

- Bill Lemley Braille Transcriber

HUMBOLDT WILDLIFE CARE CENTER What: Feed & care for injured & orphaned wildlife, transport animals to the care center in Bayside, help with fund-raising events, and more. On-site training is available. No experience necessary. 

Humboldt County is the many volunteer jobs that keep people active doing things that feel worthwhile.”

HUMBOLDT SENIOR RESOURCE CENTER: ALZHEIMER’S DAY CARE AND RESOURCE What: Volunteers help us provide specialized Adult Day Health Services to people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, as well as community education and caregiver support services. Who: Contact Rachael Riggs, Alzheimer’s Resource Center Program Manager at 444-8254 x3220 

Who: Send inquiry to Website: Go to our website at for more information and to download the volunteer application.

HUMBOLDT MEDIATION SERVICES (HMS) What: Need someone to serve on the Board of Directors. Also need help in grant writing, Web design, public relations, clerical office work and with special events. Where: 517 Third Street, Suite 3, Eureka, CA 95501 Who: Contact Miranda Fortenberry at 445-2505 to discuss your interests and find a place in our organization that’s right for you. Website: 

VOLUNTEER CENTER OF THE REDWOODS What: Help phone/update information with RSVP volunteers and VCOR program and develop social networking/outreach via the internet as a clerical and computer assistant. Everything from data entry and letter production to advanced document design and newsletter production is needed. If you are comfortable with Word, Access, Excel, social networking or website updates, we could use your help. Who: Contact Julie at (707)-442-3711 x218. 



Free Chronic Disease Self-Management Workshops Start in January; Enroll Now A new round of chronic disease self-management workshops developed by Stanford University and recommended for healthy aging by the former U.S. Surgeon General will be offered free of charge in January in five Humboldt County sites. Known as “Our Pathways to Health,” the 15-hour, six-week workshops have graduated 587 students since they began free of charge in Humboldt County in 2008. The community-based, selfmanagement program is a par-

ticipation-oriented class that builds confidence and skills to manage chronic ailments as varied as diabetes, arthritis, pain, depression, obesity and heart conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 80 percent of older adults suffer from one chronic condition and the 50 percent deal with two or more. Hoping to cut back on chronic disease, Medicare eliminated out-of-pocket costs for most preventive and


screening services as of Jan. 1, 2011. The Pathways curriculum was developed by Kate Lorig, who is the director of the Stanford Patient Education Research Center and the author of the workshop book, Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions. 

To register for the free class call 707-445-2806, ext. 4 or drop by the Aligning Forces for Quality office at 1125 16th Street, Suite 204, in Arcata.

Gray Matters is a quarterly publication of the Area I Agency on Aging Todd Metcalf Director of Programs Carol Harrison Editor AIAA is located at 434 Seventh Street in Eureka, 95501. Phone: 707-442-3763 Gray Matters is designed by graphic artist Siobhan Calderwood of the NCJ and is posted on the NCJ website at The next edition of Gray Matters is April 5, 2012

Gray Matters Winter 2012  

A quarterly publication of Area 1 Agency on Aging

Gray Matters Winter 2012  

A quarterly publication of Area 1 Agency on Aging