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Chester County Edition | September 2017 • Vol. 14 No. 9

Where animals help people page 4

LOCAL VET finding help CARRIES for Seniors VIETNAM ON addicted to HIS SHOULDER opioids page 6

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Sepsis: Deadly Condition Requires Urgent Treatment By Keith Gillogly Despite the fact that sepsis affects more than 1.5 million Americans each year, it’s been called a silent epidemic and urgent public health issue. Sepsis has been garnering more attention lately among the medical community and the public, however. September is Sepsis Awareness Month. Sepsis is a condition that results when the body’s response to infection injures its own tissues and organs. As the immune system responds to foreign invaders, it often overshoots, triggering damaging inflammation and life-threatening consequences. Usually bacterial infections lead to sepsis, but viral and fungal pathogens can also cause it. If unchecked, organ systems can begin to fail. During septic shock, blood pressure drops so low that the body cannot adequately manage blood perfusion and oxygenation of its tissues and organs. Such condition puts strain on

virtually all the organ systems, potentially causing organ failure and injuring the kidneys, heart, lungs, brain, and other organs. As Dr. Thomas Stoner, vice president of hospitalist services at PinnacleHealth Hospital and HAP (The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania) sepsis physician champion, says, the more organ systems affected, the

September is Sepsis Awareness Month


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more deadly sepsis becomes.    Sepsis and septic shock are considered the No. 1 cause of preventable and hospital-related mortalities, Stoner says. “Statistically, a small number of our folks in the community are aware of what sepsis is, even though it’s the No. 1 killer and has a higher mortality rate than heart attack,” he says. “What we need to do is ensure that the community is engaged in sepsis

education and awareness.” Depending on severity of the infection, the sepsis mortality rate can approach 50 percent, says Dr. Jason M. Biggs, chair of emergency medicine at St. Clair Hospital in Pittsburgh. Historically, Stoner says sepsis was thought of as a condition of the very young and very ill. In actuality “it affects everyone, top to bottom, left to right,” he says, although it’s more common in the elderly and in immunocompromised patients.    To diagnose sepsis, doctors first assess vital signs. Elevated heart rate and elevated respiratory rate are key clinical symptoms. Septic patients usually present a fever or in some cases, especially in the elderly, hypothermia, Stoner says. Confusion and altered mental status can also indicate sepsis. The faster sepsis is detected and treated, the greater the likelihood of survival; hours, even minutes, count. “The most important thing is early

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recognition,” Biggs says. “We think about [sepsis] every time we see someone with an infection.” But diagnosing sepsis is trickier than it seems. Conditions such as pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and gastrointestinal infections commonly precede sepsis. These conditions, along with a host of other types of infections, all present their own sometimes similar symptoms and complications, which can muddle diagnosis. Further, no lab test can specifically identify sepsis. Still, doctors can

measure blood lactate levels and perform other tests to aid with diagnosis. Administering intravenous antibiotics and fluids is standard sepsis treatment. The antibiotics work to eliminate the infectious pathogens and modulate inflammation while the fluids aim to normalize blood pressure and support blood perfusion to organs and tissue. Staying current on vaccines, such as the meningococcal vaccine and a regular flu shot, will help prevent sepsis. Preventing or properly

managing any infections is key to stopping sepsis before it sets in. Sepsis survivors can still experience cardiovascular complications or be on dialysis for the rest of their lives, among other chronic issues. Stoner says older and sicker survivors can be prone to developing some cognitive impairment. Biggs recalls seeing one elderly patient with flu-like symptoms and evidence of pneumonia. Approximately 80 years old, she was the type of patient who knew her medical history and was on top of

her health, he says. Her pneumonia led to sepsis and, soon after, septic shock. She wound up in the ICU on a ventilator and medicine to support her dangerously low blood pressure. Yet, with aggressive fluids and antibiotics, her treatment prevailed, and she was eventually sent home. Had she waited an additional 24 hours to come in, Biggs says, she might not have lived. For more information on sepsis and septic shock, visit the Sepsis Alliance at

At Your Fingertips Helpful numbers, hotlines, and local businesses and organizations eager to serve you—all just a phone call away. Dental services Anna Giacalone, DMD 100 Ridge Road, Suite 36, Chadds Ford (610) 558-1760

American Heart Association (610) 940-9540

David Stall Dental, DMD 1646 West Chester Pike, Suite 1 West Chester (484) 551-3006

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (800) 232-4636

Disasters American Red Cross Greater Brandywine (610) 692-1200 Chester County Emergency Services (610) 344-5000 Salvation Army Coatesville (610) 384-2954 Salvation Army West Chester (610) 696-8746 Emergency Numbers Central PA Poison Center (800) 521-6110 Office of Aging (610) 344-6350/(800) 692-1100 Financial Services Internal Revenue Service (800) 829-3676 Funeral & Cremation Services Cremation Society of Pennsylvania Serving Chester County (800) 720-8221 Health & Medical Services Alzheimer’s Association (800) 272-3900 American Cancer Society (800) 227-2345

Arthritis Foundation (215) 665-9200

Coatesville VA Medical Center (610) 383-7711 Domestic Violence (800) 799-7233 National Osteoporosis Foundation (800) 223-9994 PACE (800) 225-7223 Senior Healthlink (610) 431-1852 Social Security Administration (800) 772-1213 Southeastern Pennsylvania Medical Institute (610) 446-0662

Housing Assistance Community Impact Legal Services (610) 876-0804 Housing Authority of Chester County (610) 436-9200 Housing Authority of Phoenixville (610) 933-8801 Legal Services Lawyer Referral Service (610) 429-1500 Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania (610) 436-4510

Physicians Gateway Medical Associates Locations in Coatesville, Downingtown, Lionville, and West Chester (610) 423-8181 retirement living Friends Home in Kennett 147 W. State St., Kennett Square (610) 444-2577 The Hickman 400 N. Walnut St., West Chester (484) 352-2307

medical equipment & supplies Amramp 835 Sussex Blvd., Broomall (800) 649-5215; (610) 585-2308

Senior Centers Coatesville (610) 383-6900

Nutrition Meals on Wheels Chester County Inc. (610) 430-8500

Great Valley (610) 889-2121

Pennsylvania Hunger Action Center (800) 366-3997

Hearing Services Pennsylvania Office for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (800) 233-3008 V/TTY

Office of Aging Chester County Department of Aging Services (610) 344-6350

home equity loans Glendale Mortgage (610) 853-6500; (888) 456-0988

personal services Butler-Ette Services (484) 770-8059

home improvement Amramp 835 Sussex Blvd., Broomall (800) 649-5215; (610) 585-2308

Pharmacies CVS/pharmacy

Downingtown (610) 269-3939

Kennett Square (610) 444-4819 Oxford (610) 932-5244 Phoenixville (610) 935-1515 Wayne (610) 688-6246 West Chester (610) 431-4242 transportation ROVER Community Transportation/ Krapf Transportation (484) 696-3854

Not an all-inclusive list of advertisers in your area.

50plus LIFE u

September 2017


Cover Story

Where Animals Help People Corporate Office

3912 Abel Drive, Columbia, PA 17512 Phone 717.285.1350 • Fax 717.285.1360 Chester County: 610.675.6240 Cumberland County/Dauphin County: 717.770.0140 Berks County/Lancaster County/ Lebanon County/York County: 717.285.1350 E-mail address: Website address:



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September 2017

50plus LIFE u

By Lori Van Ingen

“I had never worked with a green horse before,” The Capital Area she said. “We were Therapeutic Riding thrown out there Association holds together.” a special place in C.D., now aged volunteer Roni 19, turned into Dietrich’s heart. one of the nicest, “CATRA friendliest, calmest is my refuge,” horses at CATRA. Dietrich said. “Shirley calls him “When I started ‘the babysitter.’ It (volunteering at feels good being CATRA), I had part of that. Every just learned I little girl who comes had rheumatoid through says, ‘That’s arthritis and was the horse I love.’” in menopause at Currently, the same time. My Examples of Dietrich’s scrimshaw artwork, there are about emotions were all all carved on 10,000-year-old woolly mammoth ivory. 25 horses in the over the place.” program, as well as Since 1985, a few miniature horses and donkeys, working with CATRA has been the place to go to find “animals clients who come from the six to eight surrounding helping people.” CATRA is a therapeutic riding counties. The horses are generally older horses, with a school for people of all generations with all types of median age of 20 years. special and typical needs. “They are fantastic horses. Not every horse can Clients have had everything from multiple take an autistic child who rocks back and forth or sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and Guillain-Barré syndrome to Down syndrome, autism, and Asperger’s syndrome. hums and chatters without being scared and running off. Not every horse can take two people on each side CATRA has also welcomed clients with attention (leading them) or two riders on their backs,” Dietrich deficit disorder, learning disabilities, memory issues, said. “These horses do it with grace.” dyslexia, hydrocephaly, rheumatoid arthritis, and Every Wednesday, Dietrich waters and feeds the nerve damage. horses with a special mixture made specifically for Dietrich began volunteering in 1998, working each individual horse’s health issues. She also gives with the horses every Wednesday morning and then them medications in a big syringe for those who helping all year long with lessons for CATRA’s 125won’t take it in their food. 135 riders per week. Then, after eating lunch with the girlfriends “I’ve never found (a therapeutic riding school) like she has made at CATRA, Dietrich rides the horses CATRA. It’s an amazing program with no paid staff, herself. not even the directors,” she said. “Horses need a job all the time,” she said. Because CATRA has no paid employees, volunteers “CATRA is great for people like me who don’t have are “right there in the mix, cleaning stalls, grooming the time, space, or finances to have a horse.” horses, working with the clients,” Dietrich said. It’s also a great place for people over 50 to Two years later, CATRA founder and director volunteer. Shirley Nolt came to Dietrich and said, “I’ve got you “Almost all of our daytime volunteers are in their a horse.” 60s. The place is pretty much run by older people.” “She brings out this horse that is every little girl’s Besides helping to run the day-to-day operations dream,” Dietrich said. “I was like 12 years old again.” of the therapeutic riding school, Dietrich is also on The horse—named C.D. for the actor, Charles Dutton, who had previously owned him—was 2 years some of the nonprofit’s committees to raise funds throughout the year, including the motorcycle ride old and had never had a saddle or lead line. committee. Correction For six years, CATRA has held a 60-mile motorcycle ride in the Pennsylvania countryside On the cover of 50plus LIFE’s August issue, we in August. The popular fundraiser offers a musical incorrectly identified a photo of Paul Anka as Frankie group performance, silent auction, and door prizes Avalon. The photo showed Bandstand dancer Arlene following the ride. Sullivan with Anka. We regret the error.

Another fundraiser is Comedy, Arts and Sweets, held in November at Hollywood Casino’s John Henry Room, which looks out over the paddock where the horses get ready for the races. After watching the horse races, a comedian performs, donated art is auctioned off in a silent auction, and fancy sweets from local bakeries are auctioned off in a live auction. The biggest fundraiser is CATRAthon, held each fall. CATRAthon includes a walk, a bike ride, and a critter parade of all types of farm animals dressed up in costume. There is also a mini-trail ride, silent auction, bake sale, and

chicken barbecue. While Dietrich can be found at CATRA every Wednesday from 8 a.m. to noon, she used to stay longer and would come other days as well when she started, the 61-year-old Dietrich said. “Now that my husband is retired and I’m a grandma, my time is split up more. I’m an artist, too, and I’ve got to get that work done, as well.” Dietrich is a renowned scrimshaw artist, selling her work worldwide. One of CATRA’s horses is Dietrich’s logo for her Wild Horse Studio. Dietrich got her start at a rock and gem show in 1979.

“Mom and I saw some scrimshaw that I couldn’t afford. Mom said, ‘You can make that,’ and I did” after purchasing a starter scrimshaw kit. She comes by her talent naturally. Her mother was a woodcarver and her father was a lapidary and silversmith. Dietrich now sells her artwork mainly through commissioned pieces, as well as at knife and gun shows and occasionally an art show. Each year, Dietrich enters a piece or two in the Mystic Scrimshaw competition in Mystic, Connecticut. She earned the Best Color Wildlife trophy in 2005. Dietrich was even mentioned on

page 12 of Tom Clancy’s Net Force book, Point of Impact. She also has contributed to a scrimshaw manual, Scrimshaw Techniques by Jim Stevens. She has artwork at three galleries: Brain Vessel in Mechanicsburg; Mystic Scrimshanders in Wickford, Rhode Island; and Bowen’s Wharf Scrimshanders in Newport, Rhode Island. More information about Dietrich’s artwork can be found at Wild Horse Studio’s Facebook page, and more information on CATRA can be found at

Eat These Foods to Help Prevent Prostate Cancer Prostate cancer is one of the most Broccoli. Benefits: Low common forms of cancer in men— in carbohydrates and rich in more than antioxidants and 180,000 cases phytochemicals are diagnosed that may each year. prevent cell Diet can changes be a factor, contributing to doctors say, cancer. especially one of foods high Salmon. in saturated Benefits: Lots of fats found in omega-3 fatty meat and dairy acids that can September is Prostate Cancer products. inhibit prostate Awareness Month Men may be cancer. able to reduce their risk of developing prostate Brazil nuts. Benefits: Selenium; six cancer to eight nuts contain 700 percent of a by eating more of these healthy daily serving. foods:

Tomatoes. Benefits: Lycopene. Men who eat 10 portions of tomatoes a week may reduce their risk of prostate cancer by 18 percent.

Coffee. Benefits: Antioxidants, as well as stimulating the body to metabolize sugars more efficiently. Green tea shares similar qualities.

Walnuts. Benefits: Walnuts and walnut oil have been shown to reduce levels of the hormone IGF-1, which has been linked to prostate cancer.

Carrots. Benefits: Beta-carotene, which turns into vitamin A and has antioxidant properties.

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Coffee More Popular than Ever For more and more people, a morning cup of coffee is part of starting the day off right. According to a National Coffee Drinking Trends consumer survey, the number of Americans drinking coffee daily has increased to 62 percent, up from 57 percent in 2016. The biggest increase is in the 13-18 age bracket. Their daily coffee habit

climbed to 37 percent in 2017, up from 31 percent in 2016. Adults ages 18-24 increased their coffee habit from 48 to 50 percent, and 63 percent of adults 25-39 drank more, up from 60 percent. Sixty-four percent of Americans 40-59 drink a daily cup of joe, up from 53 percent last year. The 60-plus crowed moved to 68 percent in 2017 from 64 percent the previous year.

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50plus LIFE u

September 2017


Soldier Stories

Robert Naeye

Local Vet Still Carries Vietnam on His Shoulder

Candidate percent of the School and class washed out.” headed for After Fort Benning, graduating Georgia. “They from OCS as a 2nd lieutenant, warned us that OCS would be Snyder wanted the toughest to become an challenge we Army Ranger, had in our life,” so he was sent recalls Snyder. to jump school. He spent the But he was later next six months transferred to Jay Snyder today at his home. doing pushups, an airborne doing chin ups, cavalry unit. and being yelled at constantly. He continued his parachute “The Army’s theory is that they training, which paid an extra $110 per have to break you down to build you month — a lot of money in the midback up,” says Snyder. “It was a pretty ’60s. tough six months, and about 60 “If I was going into combat, I wanted to go with the guys who were volunteers, who were well trained, who were there because they wanted to be part of that unit. And that’s what I got in an airborne unit,” says Snyder, who adds that his training INTELLIGENT. EDUCATED. HONEST. prepared him to be a soldier, but “I don’t think anything can prepare you for the reality of combat.” In July 1965, President Lyndon Johnson ordered Snyder’s cavalry division to Vietnam. On Aug. 15 they departed aboard a transport ship, the USNS Geiger, from Savannah, Georgia. After passing through the Panama Canal and stopping in Hawaii and Guam, they landed in mid-September - Run errands for you or with you in Qui Nhon, in central Vietnam. - Chauffeur you to appointments, functions, etc. Snyder and his men expected to - Help with organizing, de-cluttering - Help with home office chores land in a hostile environment, with - Be your right-hand helper enemy soldiers shooting at them as Also available for Antique Appraisals and help with Downsizing they got off the boat. Instead, they were greeted by TV cameras and Please phone or email: signs saying “Welcome to Jones Beach Meredith Ann Whipple East.” “So much for landing under fire,” 808-286-5547 jokes Snyder. But his unit soon got down to business. They were flown by Chinook helicopters to a base camp in the Central Highlands. For

Jay Snyder’s war ended 51 years ago. But after retiring from a distinguished career working for the Pennsylvania state government and as the leading tennis official in the United States, the war now seems as close as it’s been since he left Vietnam in 1966. Snyder was a minister’s son, so he frequently moved as he was growing up. His father was working in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, when Snyder finished high school, so he attended nearby Susquehanna University and graduated in 1964. Realizing he had a very low draft number, Snyder decided to enlist in the Army. When the Army recruiter pointed out that he’d have a better life as an officer than as an enlisted man, Snyder signed up for Officer


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September 2017

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nearly a month the duty was mostly uneventful, with occasional mortar rounds being lobbed into the base. Snyder’s unit went on patrols to chase away the attackers. Snyder’s first battle took place in the Suoi Ca Valley. Snyder and his company of about 110 men spent a couple days on search-and-destroy missions, going into villages to look for signs of enemy activity. The men destroyed a number of rice caches used by the Vietcong, but Snyder insists, “We did not burn rice that belonged to villagers.” The men received sporadic gunfire but suffered no casualties. They spent the night in rice paddies, where they encountered one of their most annoying enemies — leeches — which came out of the ground in heavy rain. “We found out pretty quickly that they’re not nice beasts,” says Snyder. Like all soldiers, Snyder relished each mail delivery. Besides receiving letters from family and friends, he started corresponding with a woman named Jeanne, who was his sister’s college roommate. What started out as “a fake romance” would later blossom into a 50-year marriage that’s still going strong. Snyder’s unit was later flown by chopper into the Pleiku Campaign, which lasted from late October to late November 1965. Despite heavy fighting all around them, Snyder and his men at first saw very little combat. “For whatever reason, the North Vietnamese chose not to engage us,” he says. “We were all walking on eggshells, thinking they’re going to hit us any second now, and they didn’t.” Up to that point in the war, Snyder and his men were lucky to avoid casualties. But they didn’t stay lucky. In January 1966, Snyder was leading a patrol near the village of Bong Son. A captain radioed Snyder to move faster so his platoon of about 25 men could rendezvous with other units. “We were in a combination of

jungle and open area, and it just didn’t feel right to keep moving faster. I took point and I walked my platoon right into an ambush,” recalls Snyder. Vietcong guerillas peppered the men with rifle fire, killing one man. Another died when his grenade exploded in his hand. Several other Americans were wounded. Snyder radioed for artillery support, which drove off the attackers after about nine minutes of intense combat. “The shrapnel would go off over our heads,” recalls Snyder. “It sounded like a freight train driving over your head.” After some R&R in Bangkok, Thailand, Snyder flew into another battle in a helicopter and nearly died when the helicopter was hit with a 50-caliber round and landed hard. Five weeks later, Snyder and his unit were moving up a mountain when they were nearly surrounded by Vietcong. Outnumbered in heavy jungle, the men resorted to a tactic known as a “mad minute” — with everyone opening fire for about a minute. “The mad minute saved us,” says Snyder. Several of his men died in the battle. Snyder received shrapnel wounds in his left shoulder and buttocks from mortar fire but remained in the fight until the enemy fled. Snyder had to wait a full day before he could be medevacked by chopper. He spent three weeks in the 85th Evacuation Hospital at Qui Nhon. An infection developed, so he was flown to Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines and then to the U.S. Fortunately, he made a full recovery at Valley Forge Hospital outside Philadelphia, but a fragment lodged in his left shoulder still causes pain whenever the weather changes rapidly. He met Jeanne there in person soon after his return, and they got married in August 1967, about two months after he left the Army. Snyder took management training and went on to a distinguished career working for several state agencies. He spent much of his spare time working as a tennis umpire, and in 1990, he was promoted to U.S. director of officiating.

He umpired matches involving all the top men’s and women’s players, including the 1993 Wimbledon semifinal between Andre Agassi and John McEnroe. Like many umpires, he incurred the wrath of volatile players such as McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. But he later became good friends with McEnroe, whom Snyder credits for being an honest competitor. He and Jeanne adopted a Vietnamese son, and they now have three grandchildren. They have visited Vietnam twice, and Snyder has been deeply impressed by how the people have welcomed their former adversary, and how a united Vietnam has recovered from the devastation of war. During these years of constant activity, Snyder was able to put his war experiences in the rearview mirror. He even boxed up all his medals and put them in a barn. “I got over my experiences in Vietnam by working my butt off,” he says. But once he retired, painful memories rose to the surface. “Vietnam has always been with me,” says Snyder. “It took a while for me to realize that PTSD was something I needed to face up to.” To this day Snyder regrets the men he lost when he led his company into an ambush, but he’s not sure what he could have done differently. “You’re responsible for those lives, and you can’t ignore that. I can’t explain how difficult that is, how your decisions cost somebody their life. I just kept that way in the background.” Snyder has received professional help, including group therapy. And he has started writing about his war experiences as part of a veteran’s writing project, which has been a cathartic experience. Snyder, now 75, occasionally shares his Vietnam experiences in public talks, including one in June 2017 in Centre County. You can hear his story by visiting Fy1M4g. Robert Naeye is a freelance journalist living in Derry Township. He is the former editor-in-chief of Sky & Telescope magazine.

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September 2017


Dear Pharmacist

I Bet I Can Make You Yawn Suzy Cohen

Last week I forced myself to stay up two nights in a row to work. I certainly had work to do, but I also wanted to evaluate my brain function after sleep deprivation. The following morning, I was yawning quite a bit while sharing the story with my husband, Sam. He jokingly snapped, “Hey, stop that! You’re making me yawn!” I thought that was hilarious and kept my eye on him for several minutes, and sure enough, when I yawned, he yawned. Yawns are known to be “contagious,” especially if you are emotionally connected with one another. Did I get you to yawn just yet? Saying the word out loud or reading “yawn” triggers a yawn. They’re usually satisfying in nature,

and if they’re not, it is thought to be your subconscious inability to let go. One yawn lasts about six seconds, and during that time, your heart probably beats faster. A yawn does not always happen just because you’re bored or tired. For decades, doctors said it was your brain’s attempt to pull more oxygen in for its tissues. But research on animals published

Stories of ordinary men and women called to perform extraordinary military service. From 1999–2016, writer and World War II veteran Col. Robert D. Wilcox preserved the firsthand wartime experiences of more than 200 veterans through Salute to a Veteran, his monthly column featured in 50plus LIFE. Now, for the first time, 50 of those stories— selected by Wilcox himself—are available to own in this soft-cover book.

Simply complete and mail this form with your payment to the address below to order Salute to Our Veterans. On-Line Publishers • 3912 Abel Drive, Columbia, PA 17512 Name_ _______________________________________________________ Address_ ______________________________________________________ City_______________________________ State_ ____ Zip_ ______________ Phone_ _____________________ Email______________________________ Number of copies_ ______ (Please include $20.80 for each copy) Credit card #______________________________________ Exp. date________ Signature of cardholder_________________________________CVV #________

Or send a check made payable to On-Line Publishers, Inc. You can also order online at!


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in The International Journal of Applied Basic Medical Research in June 2017 points to yawning as a way to drain lymph from around the brain. That’s interesting because we are only now realizing the brain actually has a lymphatic system. We, meaning humans, yawn in the womb—and yes, it’s boring in there for sure—but around 11–20 weeks post-conception, it can be seen on ultrasound. Another interesting fact about yawning is that medications can cause it. For example, one of the biggest offenders is antidepressant medication, especially the SSRIs and SNRIs like Prozac and Cymbalta, respectively. Benzodiazepines (clonazepam, alprazolam) and opiate analgesics (hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine) will often trigger yawning attacks—it’s a well-documented side effect during normal treatment. It’s more apt to happen during “interdose withdrawal” (the hours in

between your scheduled doses of the day) or more likely when you quit taking these drugs, which requires a long tapering process. Yawning attacks induced by antidepressants, benzos, and opiates are almost always annoying and uncomfortable. Anesthetics used to sedate you before surgery can cause yawning. And a big yawn-inducing category is the dopaminergics used in Parkinson’s, such as L-dopa or levodopa (Sinemet contains that) or Apokyn (apomorphine). Did you know that the complete disappearance of yawns could indicate damage to your hypothalamus? It’s specifically damage to the dopaminergic (dopamine-producing) neurons. This is why Parkinson’s patients yawn less frequently. Likewise, the effectiveness of Parkinson’s drug therapy can actually be gauged if the patient begins to yawn again. Some researchers think you yawn more if you are depressed. I’m not really convinced of that. Confirming this is difficult because depressed folks often have insomnia, so they are going to naturally be more fatigued during the day and probably yawn more too. This information is not intended to diagnose, prevent, or treat your disease. For more information about the author, visit

Need more LIFE in your life? Get 50plus LIFE sent straight to your mailbox! Simply mail this form and $15 for an annual subscription to: 50plus LIFE • 3912 Abel Drive, Columbia, PA 17512 Or, subscribe online at! Name_ ________________________________________________________ Address_ _______________________________________________________ City_______________________________ State_ ____ Zip_ _______________ Please specify edition: oChester oCumberland oDauphin oLancaster oLebanon oYork

Parenting 2.0: The Evolving Role of Grandparents By Natasha Shane

For some grandparents, it can be embarrassing and frustrating when they don’t know things related to technology and curriculum topics. It’s even harder when they don’t feel they can reach out for help. Supporting a school-aged child takes a lot of time and energy. It also requires a lot of engagement on the grandparent’s part. Here are five tips to help you navigate this year’s back-to-school season and help your grandchildren have the best school year yet.

Over the last decade, more and more grandparents have taken on the responsibility of raising their children’s children. For many today, the notion of spoiling their grandchildren for a few hours and then “giving them back” just isn’t a reality. According to AARP, there are more than 2.5 million grandparents raising grandchildren in the United States. In Pennsylvania, nearly 240,000 children under age 18 live in homes where the 1. Engage with your grandchildren and their householders (caregivers) are grandparents or other teachers. Interact with your student and familiarize relatives. Sept. 10 is National Grandparents Day yourself with what they’re learning. Grandparents are not only providing for their It’s also important to have an open line of grandchildren’s day-to-day needs, but they are also communication with your student’s teachers. This playing a bigger role in their education than ever will make it easier to help your student stay on top of assignments and spot before, which means learning new technologies and communication tools. It when they fall behind. also means becoming their grandchild’s learning coach and mentor. For some, communicating with teachers doesn’t come naturally. Many 2. Look into any school programs that assist your grandchildren while grandparents raised children at a time when there wasn’t a lot of direct they’re at home. Some schools offer classes that give parents and grandparents communication with teachers other than periodic parent-teacher conferences. Nowadays, teachers are emailing daily; we can receive information about our tools to support their students with math strategies, the writing process, and note taking and test taking, among other skills. children’s test scores and behavior patterns in real time.   Technology is also advancing so rapidly that it’s difficult for those who 3. Keep technology skills sharp or learn new ones by taking advantage aren’t fully immersed in it to keep up. Schoolchildren have grown up in of technology support sessions or classes. Students today are immersed in this technology culture, and it creates a large gap between them and older generations who haven’t adapted to the change. please see GRANDPARENTS page 12

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September 2017


The Green Mountain Gardener

Gardening Questions You Might Ask in September

Dr. Leonard Perry

This month, many gardeners ask these three questions. What are some good fall flowers other than garden mums? Garden mums are the standard fall flower for color. In the colder parts of our region, they should be called fall mums rather than hardy mums, as most won’t survive consistently from year to year. Flowers that are perennial, and will survive and provide fall color, include Helen’s flower (Helenium) and fall asters. You may find Helen’s flower called sneezeweed, but it is the ragweed, not this flower, that causes fall allergies. There are many types of asters, from low hybrids suitable for containers to the tall New England asters (3-4 feet tall).

There are some great cultivars (cultivated varieties) of goldenrod you might consider as well. These do not even resemble the common wild ones, and as with the Helen’s flower, they do not cause allergies. For annual flowers for fall, consider some of the many ornamental kales

and cabbages with white to purple foliage. You may also find potted pansies and other annuals that will tolerate a light frost. How do you overwinter tender dahlias and gladiolus? Dr. Lois Berg Stack, of the

University of Maine Cooperative Extension, recommends cutting dahlia stems back to 1 foot high just before a hard frost. Remove root clumps from the ground, digging wide and deep to avoid damage. Gently tap off the soil, and then allow the clumps to dry for a few hours before packing into sand or dry vermiculite in a paper bag. Store cool (35-40 F) and dry over winter. Check roots monthly, and add water only if they are shriveling badly. In spring, cut apart the tuberous roots when they sprout, making sure each piece has a new sprout on it. Pot them or plant directly in the garden. For gladiolus in the fall, allow them to grow at least six weeks after flowering. They can receive some please see GARDENING page 12

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September 2017

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any purpose. The amount of money that will be available is determined by the appraised value of the home, the amount of equity, and the age of Rob Miller, President the homeowner. But increasingly, seniors are using a reverse mortgage to downsize and have no mortgage payment as long as they live in their new home. When you sell your current home, a reverse for purchase allows you to leverage your available cash into approximately twice the purchase price you would ordinarily be able to afford. Of course, you must maintain your new home and pay property taxes and homeowner’s insurance. With a reverse mortgage, there is no loan repayment until both homeowners no longer live in the home. You never owe more than the home is worth.

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September 2017


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September 2017

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GRANDPARENTS from page 9 technology that advances more quickly than ever before. It’s important to understand how your students are using technology such as email, social media, and tools like DropBox to help them maximize their benefits, as well as to keep them safe online. There are often resources available at community centers or local colleges if your school doesn’t offer this support. 4. Take advantage of your school’s mentoring support. Mentors are fantastic resources with a wealth of

knowledge and practical advice to share. They can provide tips on how best to help the students in your life succeed in and out of the classroom. 5. Take a deep breath. It can be overwhelming to stay on top of new technology and the new ways in which some subjects are taught. Natasha Shane is a family involvement manager at Commonwealth Charter Academy, a Pennsylvania public cyber charter school with year-round open enrollment. For more information, please visit

GARDENING from page 10 heavy frosts. Then lift carefully with a garden fork, shake off soil, and allow the corms (rounded bases similar to bulbs) to dry for a few days. Store cool and dry as with dahlias, only in paper bags, trays, or boxes. How do you collect seed for next year from this year’s flowers? Most herbs and a number of annual and perennial flowering plants are good choices for seed collecting in the fall, according to Margaret Hagen of the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension. Any plant that is a true botanical species—one that is not produced by commercial hybridization and extensive selection—can be grown again from seed from the parent plant. Keep in mind that many annual flowers are hybrids, so they won’t come true (offspring won’t resemble parents) from seed. Neither will

perennial cultivars (cultivated varieties) closely resemble their parents in many cases. During the fall you can collect seed from dill, thyme, basil, bachelor buttons, lavender, hollyhocks (these often cross too), cosmos, some snapdragons, many wildflowers, and others. If seeds are borne in a flower head, cut off the seed stalks just before the seeds are dry and start to scatter. Dry the stalk, and then rub or shake the seeds off into a bag for storage. If the seeds are in a pod-like structure, allow the pods to turn brown before harvesting. Dry the pods in a warm, dry site and then shell as you would peas. Label and store seeds in a cool, dry place, such as airtight jars in a refrigerator. Dr. Leonard P. Perry is an extension professor at the University of Vermont.

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Tinseltown Talks

Barbara Rush and Her Leading Men Nick Thomas

Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

Credit: Universal Pictures

Barbara Rush and Dean Martin in The Young Lions.

The many faces of Barbara Rush in Captain Lightfoot, The Black Shield of Falworth, and It Came from Outer Space.

The list of actors with whom Barbara Rush shared the big screen is impressive. “I did work with a lot of interesting and talented men,” said Rush from Los Angeles. “And actresses, too, such as Jane Wyman. I found the nicest people were actually the biggest stars because they were all so gracious and helpful.” Just considering 1958’s The Young Lions, she worked alongside Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, and Dean Martin. “It was a serious war film, but Dean still made me laugh—a lovely man. He would say, ‘I don’t drink anymore … I don’t drink any less, but I don’t drink any more!’ I never saw him drunk; it was all an act.” With a career that includes extensive television and theatrical roles, Rush was prolific on the big screen throughout the ’50s, including three films with Rock Hudson. “You couldn’t help but love someone like Rock, who had a wonderful sense of humor and just loved to laugh. He was just the funniest actor I ever worked with.” Playing a pair of Native Americans in the Western film Taza, Son of Cochise, Rush’s character was named Oona. “Off camera, Rock would call me ‘Oona, dos, tres!’” But laughs were scarce in 1956’s Bigger than Life, where Rush’s

character suffered abuse at the hands of a drug-crazed James Mason. “It was based on a true story about a teacher and the side effects he experienced from addiction to the new drug cortisone. James was fascinated by the story and wanted to produce and star in the movie.” And, she adds, he was “truly a wonderful actor with an unforgettable voice.” Rush was also married to popular leading man Jeffrey Hunter. “We never really did a film together. He was always wandering around the world making movies, and so was I. There was a period of about a year and a half when we never saw each other. I told him that was ridiculous and he agreed. We divorced but remained friends.” Rush also counted the late Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne among her many entertainment friends. “I remember Bob calling me up one time and saying, ‘We’re playing one of your old films tonight.’ There was a time when I didn’t like seeing myself in those early films, but I watched that evening and thought, ‘Hey, I was actually pretty good!’ If you work with great actors, it rubs off on you. I think I gave some performances I can be quite proud of.” And at 90, she recently found herself in front of the camera again to complete a short promo—Bleeding Hearts: The Arteries of Glenda

Credit: Universal Pictures

Rock Hudson and Barbara Rush in Taza, Son of Cochise.

Bryant—for a new TV series her niece, General Hospital actress Carolyn Hennesy, is pitching to networks. “I play a kind of vampire— something quite new for me! But it was fun to do.”

Photo courtesy Carolyn Hennesy

Carolyn Hennesy and aunt Barbara Rush on the set of Bleeding Hearts: The Arteries of Glenda Bryant. Nick Thomas teaches at Auburn University at Montgomery, Ala., and has written features, columns, and interviews for more than 600 magazines and newspapers. Follow @TinseltownTalks

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September 2017


The Bookworm Sez

Dreaming the Beatles Terri Schlichenmeyer

holiday with his wife, Cynthia, and son, Julian, he could do little but mope about how he missed his mates. In light of how an album is made today, their work was astounding: their first album was recorded in one 13hour day, the same day some of the lyrics were written; against popular wisdom of the times, their publisher allowed them to perform their own songs rather than covers of 351 pages other tunes. Not long after, advertisement their touring schedule would be likewise brutal: The Beatles would play a half-hour in one tiny venue, then dash to the next joint to do it again in the same night. They squabbled, compromised, If you want a funeral with an expensive casket and laughed, mourned losses and and embalming, go to a funeral home! celebrated successes. They learned If you are interested in affordable cremation services, to “stop swearing and eating and we are the name to remember! drinking and belching onstage” and We specialize in cremation only, statewide, no removal fees. became pros who were sometimes No Embalming No Caskets annoyed by “the scream.” In the end, they were so sick of one

There are places you remember. And things: the basement rec room in your parents’ house, where the family stereo sat. Your upstairs bedroom and the portable turntable bought with babysitting money. The transistor radio on the beach or at your part-time summer job. You hear a certain song, and they’re all practically in front of you, and in Dreaming the Beatles by Rob Sheffield, you’ll revisit them again. No matter what age you are, says Sheffield, you know exactly who they are: John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Even today’s grade-schoolers know Beatles songs from half a century ago—but why? What made those “lads” so special? “It wasn’t their timing,” says Sheffield. “It wasn’t drugs. It wasn’t

that they were the voice of a generation … yet the allure of the music keeps on growing, nearly 50 years after the band split.” They were just four talented boys among thousands back then. John met Paul at a village fair. They interviewed George for the band. Ringo, almost a pro with his personalized drum kit, came along later. Dreaming the Beatles: The Love They meshed and Story of One Band and became so close to the Whole World By Rob Sheffield one another that c. 2017, Dey Street when John went on


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September 2017

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another that none could wait to be rid of the rest. And yet—they couldn’t completely let go … Although it’s nearly totally subjective and perhaps itching for argument, Dreaming the Beatles is a Fab Four fantasy for fans. Truly, it’s hard to imagine debating with anyone other than author and Rolling Stone columnist Rob Sheffield on this subject. Sheffield writes with the patter of an AM-radio deejay, as he moves from album to band biography to musician profile in his reasoning for naming the Beatles as the best band ever. In leaving room for dissent and inviting discussion, that opinionated evidence offers enough memorysparkers to take boomers back a few decades and plenty of insider gossip to satisfy younger readers. So, argue and ponder, enjoy Dreaming the Beatles, but give yourself time to listen to the songs, too. You won’t be sorry, in any case: You know you love the music, and you may have read other books about the Beatles, but in your life, you’ll love this more. The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 14,000 books.

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Puzzle Page


Solutions for all puzzles can be found on page 16


1. Stigma 6. Vitriols 11. Prayer word 14. Get up 15. Inert gas 16. Modern 17. Wyoming park 19. Compass pt. 20. Negatively charged particle 21. More spooky 23. Sod 26. Mosquito 28. Wanders

29. Retired 30. Burst 32. Via 33. Baseball’s Doubleday 36. Wave rider 38. Annex 39. Actress Ruby or Sandra 41. Digit 42. Distress call 45. Fears 48. Pour 50. Sp. girl 51. Golf item 52. Cookie

53. Use up 55. Scruff 58. ___ Breckinridge 59. Adhesives 61. Witchcraft trials locale 63. Conjunctions 64. Some cartoons 69. Shoshonean 70. Dwelling 71. Coral reef 72. Small indefinite amount 73. Chordophones 74. Disreputable

22. Lasso 23. Path 24. Garden offspring 25. Looking good! 27. Tipster 31. Goad 34. Lyric poem 35. Cool! 37. Fixed charge 40. Promised land 43. Ace 44. Gr. Portico 46. Lease 47. Coastal

49. Travel back and forth 50. Ancient Greek city 53. Gush 54. Transfer paper 56. Strides 57. High note 60. Jungle boy 62. Gr. letters 65. Decompose 66. Fish eggs 67. Time of life (poet.) 68. Cunning

Down 1. Utter 2. Three (It.) 3. Suffer 4. Azores, e.g. 5. Sign gas 6. Incendiarism 7. Snoozes 8. Vow words 9. Finished 10. Express contempt 11. Special date 12. Ornamental coating 13. Pitchers 18. Peruke

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September 2017


Kickstarting the Fast Food Nation By Randal C. Hill

Puzzles shown on page 15

Puzzle Solutions

The Great Depression strangled the economies of many of American cities, including Manchester, New Hampshire, the hometown of the McDonald brothers. Determined to do better than their factoryworker father, Richard (born 1909) and Maurice “Mac” (born 1902) McDonald set off for Los Angeles in the late 1920s, their sights set on the burgeoning movie industry. Each was armed with a high school diploma and a desire to become a millionaire by age 50. They landed jobs at Columbia Studios, where they pushed around movie sets and props. They worked hard, saved their money, and rented a small movie theater. After four years, though, they had yet to see a profit. “It was the Depression,” Richard McDonald said. “There wasn’t much money around.” Yet one drive-in neighbor was doing well. “Wiley’s Root Beer Stand was one of the few businesses in town that was taking in any real cash,” McDonald said. “That’s why we got into the drive-in business.” The brothers opened McDonald’s, a small hot dog stand, in nearby Pasadena. Staffed by comely teenage carhops, their new venture proved profitable. But the brothers saw the rapidly growing bluecollar town of San Bernardino—50 miles east—as offering greater potential. In 1940, they moved their operations there, bought cheap land downtown, erected a new facility, and expanded their menu. Times were great for the next seven years. McDonald’s became the “in” spot in town, with teenage cruisers often filling the 125 parking spaces. However, the kids tended to loiter, make noise, spend little money, and keep adult customers away. The brothers wanted to attract families more than rowdy adolescents. They shut down their business and planned a new approach. Receipt records showed that, while McDonald’s


September 2017

By the late 1990s, McDonald’s claimed to be opening a new store somewhere in the world every three hours.

offered over two dozen menu items (including tamales, chili, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches), about 80 percent of their sales came from burgers, as well as side orders and soft drinks. So the pair decided to reopen with a new concept: sell only the high-volume items most customers wanted, offering people tasty food at low prices. And they would make some other changes, too. Big changes. Really big changes. Richard and Mac McDonald opened for business again in December 1948 to an initially befuddled clientele. Gone were the carhops, as well as the jukeboxes, cigarette vending machines, pay phones, and newspaper racks. Paper wrappings and cups replaced silverware and plates that required dishwashing. With no indoor seating, customers now had to line up at service windows, where spotlessly uniformed and smiling young men dispensed food items and took cash, often in less than a minute. Taking a cue from Henry Ford’s groundbreaking assembly-line idea, the McDonald brothers had

developed the “Speedee Service System.” Food was now prepared ahead of time in a mechanized kitchen manned by a 12-person crew, each member repeatedly doing one specific task. The most common window order was a burger that included ketchup, mustard, two pickles and a sprinkling of chopped onion. Each came wrapped in paper and was kept warm by heat lamps. The price for each was 15 cents (4 cents extra for a cheeseburger). Milkshakes cost 20 cents, fries and sodas were a dime each, coffee a nickel. Now even the poorest of families could enjoy an occasional meal out. The fast food business had been born. Many McDonald’s customers weren’t ready for the abrupt and unique changes. Some folks drove off when no carhops appeared. Others complained about the new procedure or the limited menu or that the food was already prepared. Business dropped in half. “We almost threw in the towel,” Richard McDonald once admitted. “People said we were cuckoo. Nobody wanted to wait on themselves or throw away their own trash.” But the brothers hung tough, and ultimately customers came around. Did they ever! It seemed that every hungry San Bernardinoan drove to McDonald’s on busy North E Street. Sometimes window lines numbered 200 hungry folks at once. By 1953, the brothers were raking in $300,000 annually and claiming a net profit of $100,000. They became among the richest people in San Bernardino. Richard McDonald, his wife, and the still-single Mac McDonald lived together in splendor in a sprawling 25-room mansion with a tennis court. Each year they bought three new Cadillacs. When the Carnation Corporation offered to develop a national chain with them, the brothers said no. But the idea inspired the McDonald brothers to consider franchising. Richard McDonald set about changing the store’s look, replacing the old octagonal McDonald’s building with a modern, eye-catching design that featured the soon-to-become-iconic Golden Arches. Then the franchising idea faded … for the time being. One day in 1954, a Chicago milkshake-mixer salesman named Ray Kroc showed up in San Bernardino. He wanted to find out why the McDonald brothers had ordered eight of his Multimixer machines—capable of whipping up 48 creamy shakes at once—for only one location. Quickly sensing a potential business goldmine, Kroc bought the rights to franchise the brothers’ restaurant nationwide. please see FAST FOOD page 18

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Chester County

Calendar of Events

Support Groups Free and open to the public Sept. 5, 1:30 p.m. Grief Support Group Phoenixville Senior Center 153 Church St., Phoenixville (610) 327-7216 Sept. 5 and 19, 6:30-8 p.m. Bereavement Support Group Brandywine Hospital Conference Room 2N 201 Reeceville Road, Coatesville (610) 998-1700, ext. 226 Sept. 5 and 19, 5-6:30 p.m. Bereavement Support Group Main Line Unitarian Church 816 S. Valley Forge Road, Devon (610) 585-6604 Nondenominational; all are welcome.

Senior Center Activities

Sept. 6, 6 p.m. Memory Loss and Dementia Support Group Sunrise Assisted Living of Paoli 324 W. Lancaster Ave., Malvern (610) 251-9994

Sept. 13, 1:30 p.m. Family Caregiver Support Group Sarah Care 425 Technology Drive, Suite 200 Malvern (610) 251-0801

Sept. 11 and 25, 10:30 a.m. to noon Caregiver Support Group Adult Care of Chester County 201 Sharp Lane, Exton (610) 363-8044

Sept. 13, 7 p.m. Hearing Loss Support Group Christ Community Church 1190 Phoenixville Pike West Chester (610) 444-445

Sept. 12 and 26, 6:30-8 p.m. Bereavement Support Group Jennersville Hospital Conference Room B 1015 W. Baltimore Pike West Grove (610) 998-1700, ext. 226

If you have an event you would like to include, please email information to for consideration.

Sept. 19, 6 p.m. Family Caregiver Support Group Sunrise of Westtown 501 Skiles Blvd., West Chester (610) 399-4464 Sept. 27, 6 p.m. Living with Cancer Support Group Paoli Hospital Cancer Center 255 W. Lancaster Ave., Paoli (484) 565-1253

Community Programs Free and open to the public Sept. 5, 11:30 a.m. West Chester University Retirees Luncheon For restaurant location, please email Sept. 7, 7:30 p.m. Compassionate Friends Valley Forge Chapter Good Shepherd Lutheran Church 132 E. Valley Forge Road King of Prussia (484) 919-0820

Sept. 13, 12:10-1:10 p.m. Immaculata University Speaker Series: Take Charge of Your Health 1145 King Road, Immaculata (484) 323-3238 Sept. 19, noon AARP Valley Forge Chapter Meeting St. Luke Evangelical Lutheran Church 203 N. Valley Forge Road, Devon (610) 647-1823

Sept. 24, 2-4 p.m. Community Fun Day Grove United Methodist Church 490 W. Boot Road, West Chester (610) 696-2663 Sept. 27, 12:10-1:10 p.m. Immaculata University Speaker Series: Travels to Cuba 1145 King Road, Immaculata (484) 323-3238

Library Programs Downingtown Library, 330 E. Lancaster Ave., Downingtown, (610) 269-2741 Sept. 5 and 19, 6 p.m. – Knitters Club Sept. 12, 6:30 p.m. – Film Forum Sept. 28, 6:30 p.m. – Reading the Classics

parks and recreation Sept. 6, 5-6 p.m. – Weeding Wednesdays, Springton Manor Farm Sept. 10, 1-3 p.m. – Beginner Nature Photography, Springton Manor Farm Sept. 23, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Community Day, Warwick County Park

Coatesville Area Senior Center – (610) 383-6900 250 Harmony St., Coatesville – Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 10:30-11:15 a.m. – Going Fit Exercise Program Sept. 7 and 21, 11 a.m. to noon – Veterans Coffee Club Sept. 13 and 27, 1-2 p.m. – Bingo Downingtown Senior Center – (610) 269-3939 983 E. Lancaster Ave., Downingtown – Mondays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m. – Balance and Flexibility Tuesdays, 11 a.m. – Chorus Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to noon – “Boom” Move It Dance Class Great Valley Senior Center – (610) 889-2121 47 Church Road, Malvern Sept. 6, 1 p.m. – Meet & Eat at Paoli Hospital Café Sept. 13, noon to 2 p.m. – Summer Picnic in the Pavilion Sept. 26, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. – A rt and Hors D’oeuvres Party Kennett Area Senior Center – (610) 444-4819 427 S. Walnut St., Kennett Square – Oxford Senior Center – (610) 932-5244 12 E. Locust St., Oxford – www.oxfordseniors. org Wednesdays, 8:30-11:30 a.m. – Paint Class Phoenixville Area Senior Center – (610) 935-1515 153 Church St., Phoenixville – West Chester Area Senior Center – (610) 431-4242 530 E. Union St., West Chester – Thursdays, 1 p.m. – WCASC Chorus Just a snippet of what you may be missing … please call or visit their website for more information. 50plus LIFE u

September 2017


FAST FOOD from page 16 Ray Kroc, a high school dropout, opened his first McDonald’s in 1955 in Des Plaines, Illinois. A mere six years later, he bought out the brothers for $2.7 million in cash. Richard and Mac McDonald kept their San Bernardino business going, though, renaming it “Big M.” Kroc retaliated by opening a McDonald’s

nearby and driving the brothers out of business. Anyone who knew the hard-driven Kroc probably wasn’t surprised. He once said of his business rivals, “If any of my competition were drowning, I’d stick a hose in their mouth and turn on the water.” Numerous feuds ensued, which

drove many a stake between the aggressive Ray Kroc and the company’s more mellow founders. For a while, Kroc called his Des Plaines location the “original” McDonald’s and opened new stores with wall plaques that featured his likeness and an obviously hyperbolic description of how “his vision, persistence, and

leadership have guided McDonald’s from one location in Des Plaines, Illinois, to the world’s community restaurant.” Really, Mr. Kroc? Randal C. Hill is a rock ’n’ roll historian who lives at the Oregon coast. He may be reached at

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September 2017

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Savvy Senior

Finding Help for Seniors Addicted to Opioids Jim Miller

Dear Savvy Senior, I’m worried about my 72-year-old mother, who has been taking the opioid medication Vicodin for her hip and back pain for more than a year. I fear she’s becoming addicted to the drug, but I don’t know what to do. – Concerned Daughter Dear Concerned, The opioid epidemic is a national problem that is hitting people of all ages, including millions of older Americans. Here’s what you should know and do to help your mother. The Cause The main reason opioid addiction has become such a problem for people over age 50 is because over the past two decades, opioids have become a commonly prescribed (and often overprescribed) medication by doctors for all different types of pain, such as arthritis, cancer, neurological diseases, and other illnesses that become more common later in life. Nearly one-third of all Medicare patients—almost 12 million people— were prescribed opioid painkillers by their physicians in 2015. That same year, 2.7 million Americans over age 50 abused painkillers. Taken as directed, opioids can manage pain effectively when used for a short amount of time. But with longterm use, people need to be screened

and monitored because around 5 percent of those treated will develop an addiction disorder and abuse the drugs. Signs of Addiction Your mother may be addicted to opioids if she can’t stop herself from taking the drug and if her tolerance continues to go up. She may also be addicted if she keeps using opioids without her doctor’s consent, even if it’s causing her problems with her health, money, family, or friends. If you think your mom is addicted, ask her to see a doctor for an evaluation. Go to the family or prescribing physician or find a specialist through the American Society of Addiction Medicine (www. or the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry ( It’s also important to be positive and encouraging. Addiction is a medical matter, not a character flaw. Repeated use of opioids actually changes the brain.

goal is to help your mom stop using the drug and avoid using it again in the future. To help her stop using the drug, her doctor can prescribe certain medicines to help relieve her withdrawal symptoms and control her cravings. These medicines include methadone (often used to treat heroin addiction), buprenorphine, and naltrexone. After detox, behavioral treatments—such as individual counseling, group or family counseling, and cognitive therapy—

can help her learn to manage depression, avoid the drug, deal with cravings, and heal damaged relationships. For assistance, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration confidential helpline at (800) 662-4357 or see www.samhsa. gov. They can connect you with treatment services in your state that can help your mom. Also, if you find that your mom has a doctor who prescribes opioids in excess or without legitimate reason, you should report him or her to your state medical board, which licenses physicians. For contact information, visit Jim Miller is a regular contributor to the NBC Today show and author of The Savvy Senior Book.

Treatments Treatment for opioid addiction is different for each person, but the main

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Rover Community Transportation is Chester County’s paratransit provider. Specializing in sharedride services funded by the PA Lottery and Chester County Commissioners, you can ride for as little as $1.00 — Visit our website to register and call us to reserve a ride today!


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September 2017


Faith comes by hearing. God’s Word 24/7. On-air, online, on demand, and on the app.

50plus LIFE Chester County September 2017  

50plus LIFE — formerly 50plus Senior News — is a monthly publication for and about Central Pennsylvania’s baby boomers and seniors, offering...

50plus LIFE Chester County September 2017  

50plus LIFE — formerly 50plus Senior News — is a monthly publication for and about Central Pennsylvania’s baby boomers and seniors, offering...