rn • E a st e
A publication of the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging
PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE PAID OMAHA NE PERMIT NO. 389
April 2021 Vol. 46 No. 4
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New Horizons old • er 74 adul ts since 19
Film director, screenwriter, producer, and Omaha native Alexander Payne celebrated his 60th birthday recently. Payne has won two Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay and has been nominated three times for a Best Director Oscar. Leo Adam Biga examines Payne’s life, times, and career beginning on page 8.
Douglas County Health Department Senior Epidemiologist Dr. Anne O’Keefe discusses the COVID-19 vaccine, why it’s safe, and why it’s important for older adults to receive it as soon as possible. See page 3.
What’s inside April activities at the ISC .............................2 Online password security ............................2 Get help receiving stimulus checks.............2 April is National Volunteer Month ................4 Homestead Exemption information.............5 Legal advice during the pandemic ..............6 Nancy Hemesath’s ‘Conscious Aging’ ........7 Do Good Week April 19 to 24....................11 Indoor gardening advice............................12 Technology for people with vision loss......14
Intercultural Senior Center
Only 34% change them regularly
You’re invited to visit the Intercultural Senior Center (ISC), 5545 Center St., for the following: • Contact the ISC if you need help scheduling an appointment for your COVID-19 vaccination. • The ISC is scheduled to reopen on Monday, May 3. Inperson classes will be provided Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. A COVID-19 vaccination is required. • Morning exercise classes. Mondays: Zumba. Wednesdays: Tai Chi. Fridays: Tai Chi/weights-balls-bands. Classes are held from 9 to 10. Bring water. Masks, which are available upon request, are required. The ISC follows CDC and state guidelines for physical distancing, as well as indoor health and safety protocols. These classes are open to 14 older adults only.
The importance of having secure passwords
new study on older adults’ online behavior suggested that, although 74% claimed they take actions to protect themselves from cyberthreats, only 34% said they regularly changed and secured their passwords. Overall, older men and women believed they’re pretty secure on the Internet. For example, 64% said they never clicked on suspicious links in emails, 58% claimed they used antivirus software, and 57% never downloaded files received from people they don’t know. It’s also worth noting older adults took these • The ISC is offering online learning videos which can actions more often than be accessed from the safety and comfort of your home at younger people. interculturalseniorcenter.org and on Facebook at ISC Class However, when it came Connect. to one of the most important • Monthly food pantries are available at the ISC for perparts of cybersecurity — sons age 50 or older. passwords — older men and • The ISC is a site for ENOA’s Grab-n-Go meals Tueswomen fell behind. While days and Wednesdays. Reserve your meal before 10 a.m. 68% of them claimed they the day prior. Recipients must be age 60 or older. A contrihave a clear system in place, bution is suggested. that system isn’t necessar• The ISC’s SAVE bus can bring case management serily the most sophisticated. vices to your doorstep. As many as 57% admitted • The ISC is looking for home-delivered meals volunteers to simply memorizing their on Wednesdays and Fridays @ 10:30 a.m. More informapasswords, and 57% said tion is available at interculturalseniorcenter.org. they wrote them down on a For more information, please call 402-444-6529. piece of paper. Only 22% of respondents said they stored passwords in a password Charles E. Dorwart manager. Massih Law, LLC “It’s great to have one 40 years of legal experience clear system to manage all passwords. However, such • Wills • Living Trusts • Probate systems as writing them • Healthcare and Financial Powers of Attorney down on a piece of paper • Medicaid Planning might not be the best solu• In-home consultations tion. This is not only be• Free Initial consultation cause paper is easy to lose 226 N. 114th Street • Omaha, NE 68154 or damage but also because Office: (402) 558-1404 or (402) 933-2111 it has limited accessibility,” firstname.lastname@example.org said Chad Hammond, secuwww.dorwartlaw.com
rity expert at NordPass. “For example, if you leave your password notebook at work, you won’t be able to access your passwords at home.” Older adults also tended to underestimate various password-related threats. As many as 39% thought the chances of their passwords being leaked were slim. According to the Risk Based Security report, there were 3,932 publicly reported data breaches that compromised more than 37 billion records. “That’s a lot of chances to get hacked,” Hammond said. In addition to that, 38% of older men and women felt safe enough not to be hacked, even though they reused passwords. As many as 34% though they’re secure enough not to be hacked, even though they don’t always create very strong passwords. Even if passwords get leaked, 29% of older adults believed there wasn’t much risk of them getting abused. And 28% don’t think any cybercriminal could be interested in their passwords. “There are a lot of misconceptions about what hackers do or don’t find interesting. A very common one is that hackers only target the rich and famous, but that’s not true,” Hammond said. “Everyone can be a target. In fact, various accounts end up for sale on the dark web. For example, a Facebook account is worth about $75,” he added. While older men and women do have some great habits when online (not clicking on suspicious links, etc.), he shared his top password hygiene tips for older adults towards a better online security: • Regularly update your passwords. It’s is recommended you update your passwords every 90 days. • Set up complex passwords. A great password should be long, unique, and contain a mix of different characters. Use a password generator if you’re struggling to come up with one. • Try out a password manager. Besides keeping your passwords secure, password managers can also tell if your credentials have been compromised in data breaches, warn you about old or reused passwords, and help generate strong passwords. (NordPass provided this information.)
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ast year, the IRS experienced a wide range of difficulties issuing COVID stimulus payments; both the initial $1,200 payments for adults, the accompanying $500 payment for minor children, and the more recent $600 payment for both adults and minor children. While the agency did attempt to reach all qualified taxpayers and ensure correct payments throughout 2020, many taxpayers, including several older adults, are still waiting to receive all or some of their payments. The IRS was required by law to issue the first payment by Dec. 31, 2020 and the second payment by Jan. 15, 2021. The timeframe for processing all direct payments, including direct deposits or paper checks, has ended. This doesn’t mean the payments can no longer be claimed and received by qualified taxpayers, but that taxpayers will instead need to file a 2020 personal income tax re-
turn and claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2020 Form 1040 or 1040 SR. This Recovery Rebate credit covers all Economic Impact Payments not received, both $1,200 and $600 and can be done for free online. This also applies to older adults and retirees that normally don’t have to file personal income tax returns. You can find free-filing tools by visiting IRS.gov. The other option is to call the 211 Helpline operated locally by the United Way of the Midlands and ask for tax preparation assistance to claim your COVID payment. While this also is a free service, it may involve a waiting period. The IRS strongly encourages taxpayers to file electronically when possible, as this will avoid the congestion of the U.S. Postal Service that paper returns suffer from and also allow the payments to reach taxpayers much quicker. (This information was submitted from the office of U.S Representative Don Bacon.)
DCHD epidemiologist O’Keefe encourages older adults to get the COVID-19 vaccine
individuals working in the healthcare, food service, and meatpacking industries went to the front of the line. O’Keefe said the COVID-19 vaccinations are crucial to public health because they protect the recipients and the people around them. “The vaccinations have been highly effective in reducing hospitalizations and deaths.” Vaccinating thousands of people can be a logistical nightmare due to manufacturing, distribution, and administrative concerns. There are also language, trust, and technology barriers to overcome. “We’ve had to build the airplane as we were flying it,” O’Keefe said. The number of vaccines Nebraska receives each week from the federal government varies making it difficult to schedule appointments. Health departments are responsible not only for vaccinating residents but also non-residents who work in their county. Communicating the need to get vaccinated and reinforcing the vaccine’s safety and efficacy rates to people who aren’t proficient in English is vital, according to O’Keefe. She said when the first Americans were brought to Nebraska from China for observation, the DCHD established a COVID-19 Information Line. More than a year later, that service has addressed roughly 50,000 calls and is operating seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Callers can have their questions answered in English or Spanish by calling 402-444-3400. “We also use Language Line to answer questions for persons who don’t speak Enghile most Americans were lish or Spanish,” O’Keefe said. caught off guard when COTo help overcome trust issues, Biden, VID-19 was identified in the United States, the DCHD was Vice-President Kamala Harris, four former U.S. presidents, and several celebrities have prepared. “In public health, we’re always planning been photographed and interviewed getting their COVID-19 vaccinations. for a pandemic, so this didn’t come as a Knowing many older adults don’t have surprise,” O’Keefe said. In fact, the DCHD has two staff members smartphones, laptops, or computers the DCHD has encouraged family members to dedicated to pandemic preparations on a help their loved ones register for a vacfull-time basis. cination appointment online or by calling The response to the coronavirus by the world’s pharmaceutical companies has been 402-444-3400. In a few special cases, frail, at-risk, amazing, according to O’Keefe. The ability to create a COVID-19 vaccine homebound older adults can receive the vaccine at home. in a relatively short amount of time is due “The DCHD, however, doesn’t have the in large part to advancements in the last 20 resources to do this on a widespread basis,” years of genomic sequencing, the process O’Keefe said. of determining the DNA of an organism’s genetic material. lthough the COVID-19 vaccine O’Keefe said once health officials in program has faced a few roadChina – where it’s believed COVID-19 blocks, O’Keefe said it’s impororiginated – were able to identify the getant for everyone to be patient netic sequencing of the coronavirus, pharand to get vaccinated. There are no out-ofmaceutical companies began working to pocket expenses, and the on-site process develop a vaccine. should last less than an hour. Because getting new therapies marketed Questions have arisen about the best vacis often not cost effective, companies like cine to receive. While the efficacy rates of Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson needed promises from governments around the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are slightly higher than Johnson & Johnson’s, they the world to buy millions of doses before require two doses compared to one dose for these firms began manufacturing the COthe Johnson & Johnson variety. VID-19 vaccine, O’Keefe said. “The best vaccine is the one that’s availPrior to mass quantities of the vaccine able,” O’Keefe said. “All three are effective rolling off assembly lines, health departin helping to prevent hospitalization and ments around the United States had to prioritize who was at the highest risk of be- death.” Going forward, O’Keefe is confident ing infected with the coronavirus and who the DCHD will continue to meet the COneeded to be vaccinated first. VID-19 vaccine requirements of area Residents of long-term care facilities, those age 85 and older, first responders, and --Please turn to page 12. hortly after his January inauguration, United States President Joe Biden announced a goal for the nation’s healthcare system to administer 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine during his first 100 days in office. That goal was reached on March 19, according to Dr. Anne O’Keefe, senior epidemiologist for the Douglas County Health Department (DCHD). By late March, more than 82% of Douglas County residents age 65 and older had received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. More than 58% were fully vaccinated. At the same time, there had been more than 65,000 cases and nearly 700 deaths in Douglas County during the previous 12 months due to the coronavirus. Of that total, 11% of the cases were in people age 65 and older. More than 83% of the COVID-19 deaths in Douglas County, however, were within this segment of the population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men and women age 65 to 74 are 1,100 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than schoolage children. Those numbers rise to 2,800 times more likely for age 75 to 84 and 7,900 times more likely for age 85-plus. Individuals age 85 and older are 80 times more likely to be hospitalized by the coronavirus than school-age children. O’Keefe said it’s too early to know for certain why older adults have been hit so hard by the virus. “But there is no doubt, the numbers don’t lie. This has been a real tragedy for our older men and women.”
New Horizons New Horizons is the official publication of the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging. The paper is distributed free to people over age 60 in Douglas, Sarpy, Dodge, Washington, and Cass counties. Those living outside the five-county region may subscribe for $5 annually. Address all correspondence to: Jeff Reinhardt, Editor, 4780 S. 131st Street, Omaha, NE 68137-1822. Phone 402-444-6654. FAX 402-444-3076. E-mail: email@example.com Advertisements appearing in New Horizons do not imply endorsement of the advertiser by the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging. However, complaints about advertisers will be reviewed and, if warranted, their advertising discontinued. Display and insert advertising rates available on request. Open rates are commissionable, with discounts for extended runs. Circulation is 9,000 through direct mail .
Editor....................................................Jeff Reinhardt Ad Mgr................Mitch Laudenback, 402-444-4148 Contributing Writers.........Nick Schinker & Leo Biga ENOA Board of Governors: Mary Ann Borgeson, Douglas County, chairperson; Janet McCartney, Cass County, vice-chairperson; Lisa Kramer, Washington County, secretary; Pat Tawney, Dodge County, & Angi Burmeister, Sarpy County. The New Horizons and the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging provide services without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, marital status, disability, or age.
Annual celebration honors more than 600 ENOA vols
ach April, National Volunteer Month is celebrated in the United States. The month is dedicated to honoring each volunteer, recruiting new volunteers, and encouraging volunteerism throughout the country. The Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging operates five volunteer programs in Douglas, Sarpy, Dodge, Cass, and Washington counties. “By having unique volunteer programs that fill gaps in services, ENOA helps older Nebraskans live more independently,” said Mary Parker, the agency’s Volunteer Services Division director. “Whether they’re providing or receiving volunteer services, the individual’s overall independence, wellness, health, and outlook are likely to improve.” Parker said ENOA’s volunteers provide services worth more than $5 million annually by donating more than 200,000 hours of meaningful assistance each year. “I think of every volunteer contribution as a strategy to meet the needs of our aging population.” Since the onset of the coronavirus, Parker said the volunteers have adjusted to not being able to have in-person contact with their clients. They continue to decrease social isolation, however, through a variety of efforts including telephone outreach, meals delivery, and letter writing. “ENOA’s volunteer coordinators and program specialists have had to think outside the box, and their thoughtful consideration of risk and innovation to maximize services continues,” Parker said. “This coupled with the volunteers going above and beyond to keep the programs operating despite COVID-19 has exceeded our expectations.”
The Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging has been providing programs and services for older adults in Douglas, Sarpy, Dodge, Cass, and Washington counties since 1974.
unded by AmeriCorps Seniors, volunteers with the Foster Grandparent Program are placed in schools, hospitals, Head Start programs, and child development centers to help children needing special attention. More than 60% of ENOA’s Foster Grandparents have been with the program for five or more years while 25% have provided 10 or more years of volunteer service with the FGP. During the pandemic, Foster Grandparents – unable to meet in person with the students – have read books from home to the kids on Zoom, written letters, made activity bags, and sewn masks. Also funded by AmeriCorps Seniors, Senior Companion Program volunteers provide support and friendship to frail, sometimes isolated older adults in the clients’ homes. In some cases, the Senior Companions provide a respite giving the client’s primary caregiver a temporary break. ENOA’s Senior Companions range in age from 56 to 89. Most volunteer an average of 12 hours per week with each of their clients connecting through phone calls and Face Time during the pandemic. Senior Companions and Foster Grandparents – who are age 55 and older – must meet income guidelines and complete an enrollment process that includes references and background checks. In exchange for volunteering 10 or more hours per week, Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions receive a $3 an hour tax-free stipend, mileage reimbursement, an annual physical examination, and supplemental accident insurance coverage. The stipend doesn’t interfere with rent, disability, Medicaid, or other benefits. Ombudsman advocates volunteer two hours per week in long-term care facilities and assisted living communities helping residents enjoy the best quality of life possible by serving as a liaison between the residents and the staff. The ombudsman advocates – who receive 20 hours of training before being assigned to a facility – listen to the residents’ concerns, inform them about their legal rights, serve as trusted resource guides and problem solvers, and encourage the residents to speak out for themselves. “The ombudsman advocates have played a large role in improving the lives of the residents during the pandemic,” Parker said. Through SeniorHelp, volunteers of all ages provide a wide range of assistance that help older adults live in their own homes with independence and dignity for as long as possible. --Please turn to page 5.
National Volunteer Month...
--Continued from page 4. Despite the pandemic, SeniorHelp volunteers have continued to clean yards, deliver Meals on Wheels, shop for and deliver groceries, and complete outdoor home projects. Other SeniorHelp services include rides to COVID-19 vaccination sites, mowing lawns, shoveling snow, holiday gift delivery, and teaching older adults how to access technology. During the pandemic one SeniorHelp volunteer provided an emotional boost for a client by removing weeds and planting flowers in her yard. Before joining the program, SeniorHelp volunteers are screened through background checks which help ensure the safety of the volunteers, the clients, and ENOA. SeniorHelp’s 300 volunteers have the flexibility to take breaks to focus on their own priorities when necessary. As a result, 25% of them have been with the program for at least 10 years. The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) – which features volunteers age 55 and older – works to enhance the community impact made by public and non-profit organizations, health institutions, food pantries, and senior centers. RSVP’s Learning for All project teaches English as a second language to adults. Nine RSVP volunteers are part of the Senior Smiles Program which connects them with Boys Town students and young mothers transitioning from the foster care system by providing encouragement through letters and cards recognizing achievements, birthdays, and other milestones. “Learning for All and Senior Smiles are great contactfree volunteer placements during the pandemic,” Parker said.
ational Volunteer Month is an excellent way to thank ENOA’s more than 600 volunteers, according to Parker. “Words can’t express how grateful the staff is to work with such dedicated, generous individuals.” Individuals like Mary Evans and Frank Herzog, ombudsman advocates since 2005 and 2007, respectively. Gloria Gordon, age 91, has been a Foster Grandparent for 29 years. A Senior Companion for nearly 20 years, Lucille Frizell volunteers an average of 30 hours a week. Five other Senior Companions have been with the program for more than 10 years. Nearly a third of the RSVP volunteers have more than 10 years of service including three with 27-plus years with the program. National Volunteer Month isn’t limited to honoring the men and women enrolled in ENOA’s programs. Parker said since the pandemic began, a record number of calls have come into the office from members of the community offering their assistance to older adults in the agency’s fivecounty service area. Going forward, Parker has a goal of providing the volunteers and clients with opportunities to learn more about and become proficient working with modern technology. For more information on volunteering with ENOA, please call Parker at 402-444-6536.
Return homestead exemption applications by June 30
pplicants whose names are on file in the assessor’s office in Douglas, Sarpy, Dodge, Cass, and Washington counties should have had a homestead exemption form mailed to them by early March. New applicants must contact their county assessor’s office to receive the application. The 2021 forms and a household income statement must be completed and returned to the county assessor’s office by June 30, 2021. A homestead exemption provides property tax relief by exempting all or part of the homestead’s valuation from taxation. The state of Nebraska reimburses the counties and other government subdivisions for the lost tax revenues. To qualify for a homestead exemption, a Nebraska homeowner must be age 65 by Jan. 1, 2021, the home’s owner/occupant through Aug. 15, 2021, and fall within the income guidelines shown below. Certain homeowners who have a disability, are developmentally disabled, are totally disabled war veterans, or the widow(er) of a totally disabled war veteran – including those who have remarried after age 57 – may also be eligible for this
annual tax break. When determining household income, applicants must include Social Security and Railroad Retirement benefits plus any income for which they receive a Form 1099. The homestead exemption amount is based on the homeowner’s marital status and income level (see below). Maximum exemptions are based on the average assessed value for residential property in each Nebraska county. Here are the numbers for the local assessor’s offices: Douglas: 402-4447060, options #2; Sarpy: 402-593-2122; Dodge: 402-727-3911; Cass: 402-2969310; and Washington: 402-426-6800.
Household income table Over age 65 married income
Over age 65 single income
0 - $35,100.99 $35,101 - $36,900.99 $36,901 - $38,800.99 $38,801 - $40,700.99 $40,701 - $42,600.99 $42,601 - $44,500.99 $44,501 - $46,400.99 $46,401 - $48,300.99 $48,301 - $50,200.99 $50,201 - $52,000.99 $52,001 and over
0 to $29,800.99 $29,801 - $31,400.99 $31,401 - $32,900.99 $32,901 - $34,500.99 $34,501 - $36,100.99 $36,101 - $37,600.99 $37,601 - $39,200.99 $39,201 - $40,700.99 $40,701 - $42,300.99 $42,301 - $43,800.99 $43,801 and over
100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0
Volunteers needed to deliver meals weekdays in Fremont
he Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging’s Meals on Wheels program needs volunteers to deliver meals to older adults in Fremont. On weekdays, volunteers will pick up coolers holding eight to 10 meals at the Fremont Friendship Center (Christensen Field), 1730 W. 16th St., around 11 a.m. The volunteers – asked to deliver meals one to three days a week – will place each meal in a plastic bag, knock on the door or ring the doorbell of the meal recipient, then place the bag on the doorknob or a nearby table. After the route – which should take around an hour – is completed, volunteers return the coolers to the Fremont Friendship Center. For more information, please contact ENOA’s Volunteer Services division at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-444-6536.
DME can make your life easier By David Kohll, Pharm.D.
ave you known anyone that has struggled because they could not: • Get their legs safely out of bed. • Get their wheelchair or walker through the doorway of their home. • Get up off their toilet, up from a chair, up off the ground, or up a step or two. • Get safely into or out of their bathtub or stand in their bathtub. • Scrub their back. • Walk because they had varicosities and swelling in their ankles. • Put on their stockings. • Pick-up their necessities from the floor. • Use their feet to push on the gas or brake pedal to drive or stop their vehicle. • Safely get out of or into their vehicle. • Go shopping because of an unmanageable portable oxygen system. There are many safe solutions to solve the above problems and more. Durable medical equipment (DME) companies have experts in several categories to find solutions to improve the quality of life. It’s not uncommon for the son, daughter, spouse, or a friend to have a tear in their eyes after their loved one receives the proper hospital bed, the right wheelchair, walkin tub, a safe toilet, compression stockings, stair-lift, wheelchair van, portable oxygen system, or who has the doorways in their home widened. The recipient now has more independence. Sometimes there are things that need to
be made safe at home before someone can leave a hospital or rehab facility. Health insurance companies, Medicaid, and Medicare cover many types of medical equipment. If you have health insurance, it’s important to know what DME your policy covers. It’s also important the medical supply company you’re using is a participating provider.
Most insurance companies also require prior authorization from a healthcare provider for DME rentals or any piece of equipment purchased for $500 or more. Medical equipment suppliers have someone on staff who submits insurance company claims and who makes sure the appropriate authorizations are in place. Medicaid or Medicare have their own guidelines for covering medical equipment. For example, they usually only cover a wheelchair every five years and might not --Please turn to page 10.
Disaster Relief Hotline
ebraskans who have questions or who are experiencing legal problems due to the coronavirus/COVID-19 public health emergency can get legal advice and help through the free COVID-19 Disaster Relief Hotline by calling 1-844-268-5627. Hosted by Legal Aid of Nebraska, working closely with the Nebraska State Bar Association’s Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP), the hotline aims to make key legal assistance easy and accessible. Callers should leave their name, telephone number, brief details of the problem and the assistance needed, and in what county they’re located. Callers will receive a call back from an experienced Legal Aid staff member. Individuals and businesses that don’t qualify for Legal Aid’s free services will be directly referred to the VLP. The VLP will work to place cases with Nebraska volunteer lawyers who will provide free legal assistance. The types of legal issues associated with COVID-19 and focused on by the hotline include: • Tenants with rent issues, including eviction. • Debt problems and mortgage foreclosures. • Unemployment insurance denials. • Employee rights. • Government benefits available to low-income persons such as ADC, SNAP, AABD, and SSI. • Medicaid and medical insurance claims. • Domestic abuse and safety issues. • Elder abuse and exploitation. • Access to education. • Helping small, locally-owned businesses with business and employment related matters, including human relations issues, unemployment benefits, and contracts. More information on these legal issues, including ways you can directly help yourself are available at legalaidofnebraska.org.
Focus on making good decisions
Our post-pandemic lives will provide chances for gratitude, new beginnings
fter a year of enclosure, distance, reduced activity, and uncertainty, we are – like the hibernating bears – crawling out of our sanctuaries and blinking at the sun. Is it safe? Are we free? How far can we wander? What shall we do? This is indeed a time for new beginnings and, given this opportunity, an invitation to be conscious and intentional about how we re-enter a more “normal” time. Unlike the bear, we won’t resume life as we knew it in 2019 because the world has changed, and so have we. One doesn’t endure a global pandemic that has killed so many and sickened so many more without changing our perspective on life. What have we lost? No longer will we entertain the false security that catastrophe is far from us. We learned again and again the fragility of life and we gained gratitude for each new day. We lost the illusion we can always put off to another day that visit we intended to make to family. We gained the awareness that, if it’s important to do, it’s important to do now. Conversely, we realized so many things that took our time before the pandemic were not important at all because we have spent a year without them, and we did just fine. As we move out into our “new normal,” we have the opportunity to blend the best of pandemic and pre-pandemic habits. Here are some conscious choices I plan to maintain from the past year: I’ll continue to take daily walks outside when weather permits and get on the treadHorizonAD-2010:HorizonAD-08 mill during bad weather.
I’ve never been so faithful to exercise and my body appreciates this new habit. No excuses. Related to my spirit, I’ve been faithful to taking quiet time each day to read, reflect, and meditate. As the pace of life increases, how easy it will be to let this go. I’ll resist this because I know I’m better and happier when I stick to this pattern. Another new habit is the thoughtful preparation of meals. Pre-pandemic I seldom cooked anything that required recipes and planning. Now I have a file of favorite recipes I enjoy preparing and eating. Less eating out and healthier food.
Conscious Aging By Nancy Hemesath
The Sierra Group, LLC FREE Book & CD Call Us: (800) 309-0753
On the other hand, there are old habits I cannot wait to resume like going out for a cup of coffee and a chat with a good friend, monthly gatherings of our circle of friends, attendance at church, an occasional movie, and live music concerts. Each of these activities will be more enjoyable because I won’t be taking them for granted. I suspect we’ll all be living with more consciousness and gratitude for years to come. I invite every reader to choose to use your finite amount of time and energy on those activities that have the most meaning and satisfaction for us. By being intentional about each decision we make, we’re positioned to drop habits that aren’t life-giving and do those things that enliven us. Those of us who have survived the pandemic and gotten our vaccines have the privilege of making a fresh start with intentionality. By being selective, we can pick what’s best for us without crowding our calendars with trivia. (Hemesath is the owner of Encore Coaching in Omaha. She’s dedicated to supporting people in the Third Chapter of Life. Contact her at email@example.com.)
Free estate planning webinar
egal Aid of Nebraska is offering a free webinar on estate planning hosted by its Disaster Outreach and Access Attorney Noah Rasmussen on Friday, April 2 from 1 to 2 p.m. Called Estate Planning 101, the webinar will address wills, healthcare directives, powers of attorney, and what happens if a will isn’t in place. Registration is available at eventbrite.com/e/estate-planning-101-tickets-146650392271. For more information, contact Rasmussen at 2/4/10 8:00 AM Page 1 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Award-winning writer-director celebrates 25 years in film
Photo courtesy Paramount Pictures
Payne directs Bruce Dern and June Squibb in the film Nebraska. Squibb was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for her role as Woody’s (Dern) wife, Kate.
ince Payne’s emergence on the scene, the cinema market has changed to where films can find a home at a studio or on a streaming service. During the pandemic, film exhibition is still mostly a virtual experience. Having arrived at the top of his profession he finds himself in the expert role his own cinema heroes occupied when he was young. “Every once in a while, younger filmmakers get a hold of me and ask for advice or have me read a screenplay or watch an early film of theirs. I’m happy to help out because when I was trying to get established many Next winter, Alexander would like to begin filming the story of filmmakers responded to my questhe bond between an instructor and a student at an Eastern tions. So, it’s something you have all-boys prep school. The movie would star Paul Giamatti. to do.” By Leo Adam Biga proceeded with uninterrupted As a UCLA Film School student, Contributing Writer success until 2017’s Downsizing, Payne fell under the influence of whose disappointing commercialleading industry professionals. n 1996 a Nebraska native critical reception took him aback. “Richard Marks, the wonderful launched his feature film direcExcept for directing an amusing editor (The Godfather II, Apocatorial career at age 35 with an commercial (his first) Privacy Mat- lypse Now, Terms of Endearment, audacious satire on the extremiters for Apple iPhone and producing and Broadcast News) and filmmaker ties of the abortion debate via the a film, none of Alexander’s intended was very kind to me as he was to misadventures of character Ruth ensuing projects have worked out, many of my classmates and very Stoops. The brazen, intelligent new reminding him of the fickle nature generous with his advice in all ascinema voice belonged to Alexander of his art/business. pects. I was also mentored by an old Payne who shot that debut movie, In a short attention span industry, Czech director named Jiri Weiss. Citizen Ruth in and around his his feature directing profile suffers He was never my teacher, but we hometown of Omaha. It marked him as long as he remains out-of-sight, met by chance during my first year as a promising talent and introduced out-of-mind. Unfairly, the perceived of film school and remained very his personal storytelling style – tren- misstep of Downsizing threatens to close friends until his death. He was chant, comic, yet loving takes on obscure Payne’s earlier triumphs. always very helpful.” the frailties of everyday people at a He’s eyeing a new feature project Payne’s UCLA thesis project, The crossroads in their lives. that, if financed, would start shootPassion of Martin, played the festiA quarter century later at age 60, ing next winter. It tells the story of a val circuit and landed him a producthis consummate writer-director and curmudgeonly instructor at an East- tion deal at Universal Studios. two-time Academy Award-winner ern all-boys prep school who bonds New mentors came into his life is regarded as a world-class filmwith a student stuck there over a soon after his second feature, Elecmaker. He’s served on the grand holiday break. tion was released in 1999. juries of international film festivals Paul Giamatti, the star of Payne’s “Two filmmakers I had long where his pictures have been openfilm Sideways, would play the admired, Francis Ford Coppola (The ing and closing night entries. Deteacher. It’s an idea Alexander has Godfather, and The Conversation) spite Payne’s status, he still views long nurtured. He found a writer and Mike Nichols (Who’s Afraid himself as an apprentice. who attended a prep school to fash- of Virginia Wolf, The Graduate, “Every film is a preparation for ion the script. Catch-22, and Carnal Knowledge), the next one,” he said. “Each one is “The writer’s done a terrific job. reached out to me to say this is a a learning experience. I wish I had I’ve offered guidance and gotten good film and we want to meet you made more films so that I had more under the hood myself. With any and encourage you. It’s as if they craft learned by now.” measure of luck that will be my next were saying, we recognize you as a His path to mature filmmaker feature and a fine return to form.” filmmaker – you are one of us. At
least that’s how I took it. It meant the world. I was lucky enough to be able to have access to their brains for a while, particularly Mike Nichols. We remained friends until he passed away.” A turning point came with Payne’s About Schmidt (2002) because it meant working with a superstar Jack Nicholson and a relatively big budget for the first time. “In fact, when I was going to make About Schmidt, I called up Mike Nichols and asked, ‘You’ve directed Jack Nicholson three times – what advice can you give me about directing him?’ He was only too happy to respond, ‘Oh, that’s easy my boy, just tell him the truth because he’s going to smell it on you anyway.’” Nicholson delivered an Oscarnominated performance under Payne’s unvarnished direction.
lexander appreciates film’s collegiality. “There’s a nice feeling among filmmakers, no matter how young, no matter how old, that you all belong somehow to the same club. When a young director meets an old director it’s as though the old director is meeting a younger version of him or herself, and the young director is meeting an older version of him or herself. There’s just a nice sense of comradeship that transcends age. You compare notes across the decades.” Feeding off each other is integral to film’s collaborative nature. “One doesn’t do it with the idea of reciprocating. It’s just always part of filmmaking that directors always want to help each other. The good ones anyway,” Payne said. “Many directors can be egotistical jerks, but many are some of the most delightful people you’ll ever met.” When it comes to advice, Payne agrees with a maxim the Spanish director Luis Bunuel once voiced --Please turn to page 9.
Payne enjoys industry’s challenges, life in Nebraska, Greece --Continued from page 8. about film style and the stories you choose to tell and how you choose to tell them. “I can’t say anything because everyone has his or her own style. The only thing I can advise is to never do anything which goes against your core conviction. The moment you do that, you’re lost,” Bunuel said. Payne’s remained true to himself even as the industry’s changed in response to the battle for supremacy between television and film. “Now it seems, at least for a moment, TV has won if you include streaming and what you watch on your computer and phone. People look to that content first. So be it. “The good news is that despite the decline in the theatrical experience, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and other streamers are a huge source for material. They’ll even finance human films the studios were increasingly loathe to finance. You may not be assured of a theatrical release, but at least you can get the film made and they don’t completely cheap out your budget like the studios. Nothing is perfect, but stuff is still getting made. People are telling their stories.”
I would say we should consider breaking it up into a series.” However different the way films are made and accessed now in the digital age; Payne said his work never changes. “My work is still what’s the story, who are the actors, where are they going to stand, how am I going to shoot it, how are we going to edit it. The only difference is I no longer have an assured theatrical release or at least a lengthy one. That’s just how things are right now. But we’ll see how things shake out.” After the trilogy of films Payne made at the start of his career, all shot locally, he cemented his reputation with Sideways (2004), The Descendants (2011), and Nebraska (2013). Despite Downsizing’s misfire at the box office, Alexander’s iconic status remains intact. He’s hardly alone though among Nebraskans, past and present, who’ve made a big screen impact. That list includes silent screen star Harold Lloyd, actors Fred Astaire, Henry Fonda, Nick Nolte, and Marlon Brando as well as leading ladies Dorothy McGuire, Sandy Dennis, Hilary Swank, and Gabrielle Union. Behind the scenes, studio mogul Darryl Zanuck, casting director s a diehard cinephile, Payne Lynn Stalmaster, cinematographer said, “My brain still defaults Donald Thorin Sr., writer-director Joan Micklin Silver, as well as to movies, not to series, editor Mike Hill, producers Lew although increasingly like everyone, I’m wondering what could be a Hunter and Monty Ross have all had a major influence in American series.” cinema. A criticism some had of DownIn 2016, Stalmaster became the sizing is that it attempted to tackle too many issues and themes (global first and still only recipient of an Honorary Oscar for a lifetime of warming, poverty, inequity, and discrimination) for a single film and casting work. “I knew he was from Omaha that its broad scope might have been and I asked for a meeting to see better served as a series. whether he’d consider casting my “I shot the movie almost five years ago (2016) and series weren’t first feature,” Payne said. “We realized we’d both attended (Omaha’s) as heavily on people’s minds back Dundee (Elementary) School and then. It wasn’t really as pervasive UCLA. He was very welcoming and as it is now. The first thing people offered me advice, but my budget think about – practitioners and for that early film could not apaudiences – seems to be series. But proach his going rate.” if I were making Downsizing now,
Alexander on the set of Sideways. The 2004 film was directed by Payne and written by him and Jim Taylor. The movie won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Among the native sons and daughters to make it to film’s top echelon, Payne is alone in making projects in his own backyard. Indeed, five of his seven features have been shot in part or in total in Nebraska. He’s become identified with this place the way some filmmakers are with New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Berlin, Rome, or Prague. “Oh, yes, my dear, you must continue to make films in Nebraska – it is though you have your own little Czech Republic,” Czech movie director Jiri Weiss told Alexander. Payne said Nebraska is the only place he feels fully integrated into the fabric of life. Growing up in Omaha he cultivated his fascination with cinema by catching films on TV and at theaters, collecting prints, and making short movies with a hand-held camera. He’s long divided his time between California and Omaha, with frequent forays to his ancestral homeland of Greece. where he met his wife, Maria. The couple have a daughter and they split time among the disparate places they call home. Alexander has grown Nebraska’s film culture by bringing Hollywood here for his in-state productions and by hosting major industry figures at fundraisers for Film Streams, on whose board he serves. He also supports vintage theater renovations and lobbies for state film tax incentives.
Payne’s 2002 film About Schmidt, featured superstar actor Jack Nicholson and a relatively large production budget.
ecognized most places he goes in Nebraska, Payne graciously accommodates fans. He still has a hard time accepting fame, which is why he does few interviews. He doesn’t even employ a publicist. “I don’t feel like a celebrity or a famous person.” A typical day in his life, when not scouting or shooting, resembles anyone working from home. “I try to get some reading done, some writing done, attend to phone calls and emails.” Then there are his duties as a father and husband. During the pandemic Payne has taken meetings virtually over Zoom. “My impression is that despite
the pandemic where we have all of these days to ourselves supposedly, time still passes with its usual cruel swiftness and I never get done half of what I want to get done in any single day.” He recently got the opportunity to visit his 97-year-old mother, Peggy, for the first time in many months when COVID restrictions eased at the assisted living facility where she resides. Payne hails from a third-generation Greek immigrant family who became successful restauranteurs in Omaha. The family has been heavily involved in the St. John Greek Orthodox Church. Despite the good fortune the Payne family has not been immune from loss or upset. Their popular business – the Virginia Café – in downtown Omaha burned to the ground in a 1969 fire. Alexander’s brother, Nicholas, died in 1995 after a long battle with drug addiction. His older brother, George Payne II, died of pancreatic cancer in 2015. He was an emergency room physician in North Carolina. His father, George Payne, died at age 98 in 2014. Alexander’s first marriage to actress Sandra Oh ended in divorce. On top of recent projects that have frustrated him, he’s dealt with sexual assault allegations made by actress Rose McGowan. He categorically denies the charges. The upheavals in his personal and professional life are not unlike some of the characters in his films’ confront. Whether or not Payne feels he’s at a crossroads, he’s wellsteeled for whatever comes next because of the rearing he got at home and the Jesuit education he received in school. “One thing I can definitely say about my mother and father is that they were very seemingly incapable of lying, and my mother almost to a fault. You can really ask her almost anything and no matter what the answer is she will tell you and doesn’t care what you think of her. “All I can observe is that the most important thing one can be in life is a good example. People can tell --Please turn to page 16.
ENOA is recruiting SCP, FGP volunteers
en and women age 55 and older who want to earn a taxfree stipend while making an impact in their community are encouraged to join the Senior Companion Program and the Foster Grandparent Program. Sponsored locally by the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging, the SCP and FGP are national programs of AmeriCorps Seniors, formerly the Senior Service Corps. Senior Companions help other older adults maintain their independence by visit-
ing them at home to discuss the news, read mail, play cards, run errands, etc. Foster Grandparents serve as positive role models for children who need special attention with education, healthcare, and social development in schools, Head Start programs, and child development centers. SCP and FGP volunteers must meet income guidelines and complete an enrollment process that includes references and background checks. In exchange for volunteering 10 hours or more per week, Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions receive a $3 an hour tax-free stipend, mileage reimbursement, an annual physical examination, supplemental accident insurance coverage, and other benefits including an annual recognition luncheon. The stipend does not interfere with rent, disability, Medicaid, or other benefits. For more information on the FGP and SCP, please call 402-444-6536.
Long-term Care Ombudsman Program
he Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging is looking for men and women age 21 and older to join its Long-term Care Ombudsman Program which is co-sponsored by the Nebraska State Ombudsman Program. ENOA’s Long-term Care Ombudsmen volunteer in local long-term care facilities and assisted living Be simply confident communities to protect the on rights, the go well-being, residents’ and quality of life. Long-term Care Ombudsmen must complete 20
Mom always ensured your health and safety. Return the same love.
hours of initial classroom training and 12 hours of additional training every two years. Call Beth Nodes at 402-444-6536. During the training, the volunteers learn about the residents’ rights, aging issues, Medicare, Medicaid, communication skills, how to investigate the residents’ complaints, the importance of confidentiality, and about the federal and state rules, regulations, and laws regarding Nebraska’s long-term care facilities and assisted living communities. Before being assigned to a long-term care facility or an assisted living community, new volunteers will make four visits to a site with an experienced Ombudsman Advocate to learn more about what the program entails. After a three-month probationary period, the new volunteers are certified as Ombudsman Advocates. Certified Ombudsman Advocates will be assigned to a long-term care facility or an assisted living community where they’ll visit for two hours a week to meet with administrators, residents, and the residents’ family members to address concerns. For more information about ENOA’s Long-term Care Ombudsman Program, please call Beth Nodes at 402-444-6536.
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--Continued from page 6. pay the entire cost. Sometimes certain types of medical equipment aren’t considered medically necessary, and the cost isn’t covered. DME suppliers are crucial to a patient’s full recovery whether the person was in the hospital for a long period of time or sustained a less serious injury. They’re also an important resource for persons with special needs such as cerebral palsy or Parkinson’s who may need different kinds of equipment and special medical supplies. A reputable, trustworthy medical equipment supplier is necessary to get you or your loved one the most reliable service and equipment possible. (Kohll is with Kohll’s Rx.)
FNBO, Share Omaha sponsoring Available from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Do Good Week April 19 to 24 Telephone line has answers
ndividuals, families, businesses and their employees will have an opportunity to support the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging and the programs and services it provides for older adults in Douglas, Sarpy, Dodge, Cass, and Washington counties during Do Good Week April 19 to 24. Presented by FNBO and powered by Share Omaha, Do Good Week is an effort that envisions a future where Omaha-area nonprofits have all the resources they need to strengthen the community when they receive donations of dollars, time, and items. Do Good Week will allow nonprofits to walk supporters through the donor/supporter journey from awareness to lasting, year-round relationships. “Do Good Week is an exciting opportunity for ENOA to share the stories of how our agency helps older adults throughout the aging spectrum, but at the same time ask for assistance in overcoming the financial challenges that agencies such as ours face in providing those services,” said Diane Stanton, ENOA’s deputy director. Each of Do Good Week’s six days will have a specific theme: • April 19: Mission Monday • April 20: New Giving Tuesday • April 21: Wish List Wednesday • April 22: Volun-Thursday • April 23: Fund It Friday • April 24: Celebration Saturday On Monday, April 19, ENOA will use social media to attract visitors and allow them to learn about the agency’s mission of keeping older adults living at home for as long as possible with dignity and independence. The agency will solicit new financial donations from the community on New Giving Tuesday, April 20. “Funds raised through Do Good Week will help ENOA meet our client needs in areas that traditional funding does not provide as well as help strengthen our programming,” Stanton said. ENOA is requesting donations from the community on Wish List Wednesday, April 21. A $12 donation will purchase a box of 100 plastic grocery bags that will allow Meals on Wheels drivers to offer contactless delivery. For $30, the agency can buy cleaning supplies for a household for six months. A $36 donation will provide a bag of fresh produce for a low-income older adult, while a $50 gift will buy supplies for a month’s activities at a senior center. Volun-Thursday, on April 22, will give ENOA an opportunity to recruit new volunteers, thank the older men and women who already volunteer with the agency, and encourage gifts in increments of $27 (the value of a volunteer hour). “Share Omaha has been an excellent resource for the recruitment of ENOA volunteers,” said Mary Parker, director of ENOA’s Volunteer Services division. “Do Good Week provides an opportunity for us to articulate the impact the programs have on the community, our clients’ needs, and the volunteers themselves. Any opportunity we have to publicly thank our volunteers for their valuable service and tireless efforts is greatly appreciated. “Hundreds of ENOA volunteers have continued to serve during the pandemic providing contact-free services to our older adults. Prior to the pandemic, an average of 700 volunteers served more than 200,000 hours annually. At the independent sector rate of $27 per hour, the value of that service would amount to more than $5 million.” For more information on Do Good Week and how you can participate, log on to SHAREomaha.org.
AARP’s Tax Aide program
he AARP Foundation wants to thank participants in the Tax Aide program this season. Due to COVID-19, there were significant changes in the program’s operation. Tax returns were prepared virtually, and in Omaha, there were only four Tax Aide sites instead of the usual 11. Tax assistance is available at taxaide.aarpfoundation.org.
to your COVID questions in English, Spanish
he Douglas County Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention want to educate Nebraskans about COVID-19 (coronavirus). The DCHD, working with colleagues at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Nebraska Medicine, has created a COVID-19 information line at 402-4443400. The information line will be open seven days a week (until further notice) from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Callers will be able to have their questions answered in Spanish and English. “Our website and social media platforms will contin-
ue to provide the best and most current information,” said Douglas County Health Director Dr. Adi Pour.
r. Pour said the best advice to avoid the COVID-19 is to practice good hygiene like you would with the seasonal flu. Good hygiene includes: • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Hand sanitizer is a second option. • Don’t touch your mouth, nose, or eyes, especially with unwashed hands. • Avoid contact with people who are sick. • Stay home while you’re sick. • Wear a mask when around other people. • Don’t cough or sneeze into your hands. • Frequently clean and disinfect your home, car, and workplace Because the COVID-19 vaccine has only recently become available to the entire American population, many people have recovered by drinking lots of fluids, resting, and taking pain and fever medication. If symptoms worsen, medical care might be needed.
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This plan is not insurance. Discounts are only available at participating pharmacies.
Advice for low-maintenance indoor gardening
By Melinda Myers
just as tough as other pothos. Show off their trailing habit in a hanging basket container on’t let a lack of brightly displayed on a shelf or set upon a pedestal. lit windows stop you from You’ll find a variety of philodendrons for gardening indoors. Include your indoor garden. Brasil has dark green some low-maintenance, heart-shaped leaves with a golden stripe low-light houseplants and down the middle. Brandi, another trailing maintenance strategies to philodendron, has olive green heart-shaped boost your success. leaves with silver splashing. These can be Low-maintenance gardening starts with allowed to trail or trained up onto a trellis. proper plant selection. Match the plant to Golden Goddess has larger chartreuse the growing conditions and your gardening leaves that make a dramatic statement in style. a home or office. When small, it’s great ZZ plant is a favorite low-light, lowfor desks and tabletops but you’ll need to maintenance plant. You’ll see it in hotels transition it to a floor plant as it climbs its and shopping malls where light and care are support, growing up to six feet tall. often limited. Avoid overwatering that can Add a subtle touch of orange with Prince lead to root rot and the plant’s death. of Orange. The new leaves of this shrubby You’ll need to do a bit of searching to philodendron emerge a coppery orange and find a few of the newer ZZ plant varieties. eventually age to green. It grows 24 or more Zenzi is compact with curled leaves while inches tall. Raven has dark purple black foliage that The name says it all. A cast iron plant is contrasts nicely with the green and chartough and tolerant of low-light and benign treuse leaves of nearby plants. neglect. Individual long strappy leaves Peace lily is another popular low-light sprout from the ground to create a mass of plant found in a variety of public places. It greenery. This growth habit has made it a requires moist soil to thrive, making it the popular groundcover in milder climates. perfect plant for those that tend to overwaVariegated varieties with splashed or stripter. ing can be difficult to find but add to its Increase your success by mixing organic beauty. Wild Valley Farms’ wool pellets (wildvalNew varieties of Chinese evergreen have leyfarms.com) into the potting mix. This found their way into many garden centers. sustainable soil additive retains moisture, Their green leaves may have silver highreducing watering by up to 25%. It also lights like those of Calypso, Cecilia, and adds air space, improving the growing Golden Bay. Add a bit of red to your indoor conditions for all indoor plants and helps garden with the Red Gold and Ruby Ray reduce the risk of overwatering. Chinese evergreen. Pothos and philodendron are traditional Low-light indoor plants allow you to add low-light favorites. New cultivars provide a greenery where you once thought it wasn’t fresh look to these indoor beauties. possible. Their added beauty will help lift Neon pothos has vibrant neon green foli- your spirits, reduce stress, and increase foage sure to brighten any spot in your home. cus while improving your indoor air quality. Pearls and Jade has smaller cream and green (Myers has written more than 20 gardenvariegated leaves. It’s slower growing but ing books.)
Tips for keeping you, your family safe while traveling during the pandemic By Jen Beck
f you find yourself dreaming of beach relaxation, a breezy drive through the mountains, or a road trip out of Nebraska, you’re certainly not alone. People from across the world are ready to hit the trails and take a vacation or simply see something outside the four walls of their home. You’re probably wondering if it’s the right time or if you can safely see the sites. Whether you decide to stick close to home or take an adventure, travel will look different this year, and there are ways to keep you and your family safe. As more and more people receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the message remains the same. Get your vaccine. Hold on to your vaccine record card. You may need it to board a plane in the future, especially if you’re considering an international flight. While there hasn’t been a definitive answer on the requirements of keeping your vaccine card, countries are requiring a test upon arrival and departure from resorts and destinations. If you’ve previously tested positive and are outside of your quarantine, your doctor may have to provide a letter that says you successfully completed isolation and are free to be among the humans. Documentation is key for travel in the near future.
f you decide to stay overnight in a new place, make sure to look ahead for their mask mandates. Outside Nebraska, requirements can be very different. Masks might need to be worn in the community, whether outside or inside. You may encounter a community that only allows for take-out and dine-in isn’t an option. If you plan excursions, double check the location’s occupancy rate. The last thing you want to do is road trip for eight hours only to find out your favorite place to eat is closed temporarily and the adventure you were on is limited to half capacity. Your mode of travel may change as well. If you choose to fly, airlines may or may not have open middle seats, reduced capacity, and mask requirements. Check before you fly to make sure you can change flights if you feel uncomfortable without a change fee. Many flights offer a free change fee through a certain date or allow cancellation up to weeks before the travel period. If you choose to drive, each rental car organization will have a different standard of cleanliness for their cars. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a reduction in unnecessary travel, you have to decide what’s best for you and your family. If a new baby arrived in the family, and you’ll stop at nothing to get in baby cuddles, make sure you do it safely. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve known to wash our hands and sanitize often as your first defense, and that hasn’t changed. Spending more time preparing and researching before your trip will help prevent headaches, change fees, and hopefully, all the hassle. (Beck is with Midwest Geriatrics, Inc. in Omaha.)
--Continued from page 3. residents. The number of doses the state receives each week will increase, more appointments will be available at more sites, and the eligibility requirements will expand. For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, who is eligible to receive a vaccination, when, and where, log on to douglascountyhealth.com or call 402444-3400.
Get the facts about the COVID-19 vaccine. AARP has the latest information.
AARP is working to protect Americans 50+ by making sure you have the latest information you need about the COVID-19 vaccines and the distribution plans in your state. Find out who’s eligible for the vaccine, when and where vaccines will be available and what you need to discuss with your doctor before you decide. Just visit our website and select your state to get the most up-to-date information available about your vaccine options. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccine availability and distribution in your state at aarp.org/VaccineInfo
Outlook Enrichment has adaptive technology Be aware of scams related training for persons who have vision problems to the coronavirus vaccine
acular degeneration affected multiple members of Jane’s family, so she wasn’t surprised to receive her own diagnosis. Still, vision problems seemed far away for a woman who was just starting her adult life. After marrying and working several jobs, Jane started an antique business and built a very successful operation with her partner. In the 1990s, however, friends began reading Jane’s price tags for her because she couldn’t see them. Eventually, she couldn’t identify dishes and other items in her store. Jane’s vision loss forced her to give up the antique business. She adapted, however, learning how to do many tasks with very little sight. Initially, she couldn’t use a phone, check her finances, or browse the Internet because she had problems using technology. Jane began adaptive technology training with Outlook Enrichment in
2019. Her husband continued his support, driving her to the sessions, but his health declined, and she had to manage transportation and other daily affairs. Through her training at Outlook Enrichment, Jane learned how technology can help someone who can’t see well to live on their own. She calls family and orders groceries with her iPhone and uses Uber to get to doctor’s appointments. Jane found these valuable resources and solutions at Outlook Enrichment. Even as the pandemic began, Jane continued her training. The virtual training Outlook Enrichment offers helped her to keep learning. She recently started managing her finances with a bank’s app which increased her independence. Jane plans to continue learning and wants to use technology to start a digital antique business. Like Jane, you can achieve increased independence and accomplish any goal you set with the help of technology. Outlook Enrichment’s technology trainers can teach you how to use computers, smartphones, and other digital devices. Whether you have some sight or no sight, Outlook Enrichment can help you overcome any technology obstacles you face. Call 531-365-5051 to get started. (Outlook Enrichment provided this information.)
edicare covers the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost to you, so if anyone asks you to share your Medicare number or pay for access to the vaccine, you can bet it’s a scam. Here’s what you need to know: • You can’t pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine. • You can’t pay to get early access to a vaccine. • Don’t share your personal or financial information if someone calls, texts, or emails you promising access to the vaccine for a fee. Con artists may try to get your Medicare number or personal information so they can steal your identity and commit Medicare fraud. Medicare fraud results in higher health care costs and taxes for everyone. Protect yourself from Medicare fraud. Guard your
Medicare card like it’s a credit card. Remember: • Medicare will never contact you for your Medicare number or other personal information unless you’ve given them permission in advance. • Medicare will never call you to sell anything. • You may get calls from people promising you things if you give them a Medicare number. Don’t do it. • Medicare will never visit you at your home. • Medicare can’t enroll you over the phone unless you called first. Check regularly for Medicare billing fraud. Review your Medicare claims and Medicare Summary Notices for any services billed to your Medicare Number you don’t recognize. Report anything suspicious to Medicare. If you suspect fraud, call 1-800-MEDICARE.
Omaha Fire Department
he Omaha Fire Department’s Public Education and Affairs Department will install free smoke and/ or carbon monoxide detectors inside the residences of area homeowners. To have a free smoke and/or carbon monoxide detector installed inside your home, send your name, address, and telephone number to: Omaha Fire Department Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Requests 1516 Jackson St. Omaha, Neb. 68102 For more information, please call 402-444-3560.
Free Alzheimer’s webinars The Alzheimer’s Association is offering a variety of free educational webinars. Topics include the warning signs of Alzheimer’s, dementia research, healthy living, legal and financial planning, early stage care
partners, late stage caregivers, and understanding and responding to dementiarelated behavior. To register or for more information, please call 800272-3900 or go to alz.org/crf.
Nebraska Caregiver Coalition
he Nebraska Caregiver Coalition is offering a series of virtual workshops designed to provide training, education, support, and resources for family caregivers. Each session will run from noon to 1 p.m. Presentations include Self Care for the Caregiver on May 19, Pharmaceutical Focus of Caregiving on August 18, and Caregiving: My Heart Sees Your Heart; Discovering the Joys and Benefits of Respite on Nov. 17. For more information and to register, please visit https://go.unl.edu/caregivers. There is no cost to attend, however registration is required.
Metro Women’s Club The Metro Women’s Club of Omaha’s motto is “Extending the hand of friendship.” Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, all
Metro Women’s Club of Omaha events are on hold until further notice. For more information, please go online to metrowomensclub.org.
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Alexander eyes future while valuing lessons learned, friendships built --Continued from page 9. you things and you won’t listen. But if you look at the example of others and figure it out on your own, that’s how you get ahead. My parents were very good examples and I try as best as I can to be a good example myself. One fails often, but you just try to stay on track.” Payne attended Dundee Elementary, Brownell Talbot, and Creighton Prep. A Jesuit priest who taught Latin at Prep, Father Michael Hindelang, S.J., made quite an impression on Alexander. “The difficulty, if not sheer terror, of his class marked us all for life. His teaching style, like that of Professor Kingsfield in The Paper Chase, must have had its roots in some archaic, punishing tradition. Every word we uttered in class was judged and graded. If you asked a question, he wouldn’t answer directly, he’d call upon another pupil at random, and if that second student didn’t know the answer, he received a low mark for the day. “Pop quizzes were constant. He made many students over the years cry. The funny thing was that outside of class, he was the kindest guy in the world. He was willing to be hated in order to instill academic discipline. We survivors bonded through him and still talk about him.” Payne earned his bachelor’s degree at Stanford University. By the time he graduated from UCLA he had lived in Spain and Greece. His production deal with Universal didn’t result in any features. A few years later though he and screenwriting partner Jim Taylor hit upon the idea for Citizen Ruth. After getting that film made, the dominos continued falling for the pair through Sideways. The tandem even took writing for hire jobs on big budget pictures. Payne made a short film and then directed the pilot for the HBO series Hung before developing The Descendants and Nebraska independent of Taylor. The two re-teamed on Downsizing.
n 2019 Payne was still licking his wounds from Downsizing when he became attached to the dark comedy The Menu, a story of ritzy guests invited to a star chef’s island retreat for a gourmet meal that has them on the menu. Payne backed out long before production commenced. “It was an extremely seductive and dangerous premise, but I ultimately couldn’t crack to my satisfaction what it was about enough to justify some aggressive scenes of violence.” An untitled project scheduled to star Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen as a father who takes a revelatory road trip with his daughter was four days from the start of principal shooting when Netflix canceled the production. After coming so close to the cameras rolling on a project Payne felt deeply about was a bitter pill to swallow. “I was really excited about this one. I told my agent, ‘I feel like a boxer who’s been trained, weighed, and all oiled up. I’ve got my gloves on, I’m robed, I’ve blown kisses on my way to the ring, and I get to the ring and the fight’s been called off. But I have to hit somebody.” Payne is notoriously picky when choosing properties. “I still go on what’s a story I’d like to tell, what’s a story I feel connected to on some level even though if not ostensibly autobiographical. The story still has to reflect some questions I’m having in my own life or depict some kind of life experience or fear I’ve had or might have. “One is always balancing the need to make a movie with the need to make this movie, tell this story. The good movies come when you have that urgency. “Jim Taylor and I lament we haven’t received a book manuscript as rich lately as we when we got Sideways and Election (the pair earned Oscar nominations for adapting the books those films
were based on, winning for Sideways). If only we could get another book that is really up our alley and rich in those human ways.”
ike everyone, Alexander has endured COVID-19 worries and social-political unrest. After quarantining in Omaha from March through June, Payne was anxious for a change of scenery. “We braved the perils of international travel and went to Greece. I came back mid-December to look in on my mother and to do some work here.” Today’s America is more polarizing than when Payne came of age. Though he doesn’t plan to comment on the divisive social-political climate in his coming films, it’s bound to show up anyway. “I think anytime you’re making a film the social trends, the winds of culture blow through your work whether you’re conscious of them or not. I rarely think in terms of doing something very literally from the current social situation. I like to think more in terms of metaphor. You still want to just tell a story, but hopefully it has a political or strongly human point of view.” Pundits inevitably reference Election during every American presidential race cycle. “Barack Obama told me it was his favorite political movie,” Payne said. “But I didn’t set out to make a political movie. I just thought it was a nice comedy. But the stuff of it, the meat of it was political on some level. I just thought it was human.” Film’s ability to hold a mirror to society is not lost on Payne. Because he believes so strongly in film, he teaches it on occasion. including master’s degree classes at festivals. “A few years ago, I taught a semester at UCLA. I taught a version of a class I had been taught by one of my mentors, Richard Marks, where students screen their thesis films in class as works in progress. We all offer editing suggestions. Writing a script and shooting a film is one thing and really hard, but editing is where you can really make or break a film. Post-production is where young filmmakers really need a lot of help.” He found the full circle experience of teaching at his alma mater “super cool.” The same for guesting on a recent television episode of Noir Alley with host Eddie Muller on Turner Classic Movies. The two discussed the 1950 Michael Curtiz film The Breaking Point starring John Garfield. Payne loves sharing his passion for film, giving and receiving recommendations with fellow enthusiasts.
espite the travails that can attend filmmaking, there’s nothing Payne would rather do. “I like making movies and I still want to do it. It’s fun to make them. Other people are still making movies. Why can’t I.” Payne said the means of production is extremely accessible and affordable now. “For $2,000 to $3,000 you can have a fantastic quality camera with wonderful lenses and edit with sound at home. There’s little excuse not to make a film of some kind anymore.” He advocates young filmmakers to broaden their horizons. “The more you know about noncinema things, the better your cinema will be,” he said. “Anybody can learn how to make a film in about a week, and then you spend the rest of your life figuring out what to film.” Payne retains faith in the power of film’s storytelling “Film is still the best art form. Not just fiction films that come out of a writer’s brain. Look at
Photo courtesy Paramount Pictures
Payne with Bruce Dern who won the Best Actor Award at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival for his role as Woody in the film Nebraska which Alexander directed.
all of the many documentaries which have an impact.” His enthusiasm for movies extends to supporting silent film preservation efforts. He helped fund the restoration of a Charlie Chaplin Mutual short, The Adventurer. The older he gets, the more Payne values the long-lasting relationships he enjoys with colleagues including a company of professionals he works with repeatedly. Local residents include writing partner Jim Taylor, editor Kevin Tent, composer Rolfe Kent, costumer designer Wendy Chuck, cinematographer Phedon Papamichael, music editor Richard Ford, producers Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa, casting director John Jackson, location scout Jamie Vesay, and actors Patti and Tim Driscoll. “It’s very meaningful to have not just friendships but collaborations that span the decades,” Payne said. “It’s scary that now I can say decades. Look, I’m not alone. Many people who work in film collaborate over and over again. But I’m lucky in some of the relationships I have in that department.” The loyalty he shows his crew and that they show in return is legendary. By acclimation, he’s known as an artist who’s also a mensch. “My ego says I would like to be remembered as both.” With any luck he’ll be making films into his 70s or 80s. The fit, energetic Payne, who contracted a mild case of COVID last winter, watches his health in order to withstand the rigors of his profession. “I try to get some exercise every day. I typically do something as soon as I wake up. I’ve been practicing yoga off and on for going on 30 years. I try to eat well. I do try to take care of myself.” Though no spring chicken, Payne looks forward to many more films. “At an age when some of my high school and college classmates are starting to consider retirement, I feel like I’m just getting started.” (Biga is the author of the book Alexander Payne: His Journey in Film.)