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It Was 50 Years Ago Today
‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ Randal Hill
The first time the world heard of Brooklynborn Robert John was in 1958, when he was 12 years old. Back then, the singing youngster was going by his real name: Bobby Pedrick Jr. An appearance on TV’s American Bandstand — occasionally the ticket to stardom for a struggling unknown — showcased his “White Bucks and Saddle Shoes,” a catchy but forgettable Big Top Records ditty. It struggled nationally to a lowly No. 79 slot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Similar teen-oriented follow-ups — “Pajama Party,” “Summer Nights” — sank without a trace. Five years later, as the lead singer of doowopping Bobby and the Consoles, Pedrick recorded another adolescent-oriented 45, a silly piece of fluff called “My Jelly Bean” on the Diamond label. With surf and hot-rod records roaring up
the 1963 singles charts, doo-wop was in its death throes. “My Jelly Bean” earned some East Coast airplay but not enough to make it a national hit. Pedrick and his pals never earned a second invitation into Diamond’s recording studio. But Pedrick proved tenacious and felt in his heart that his distinctive and powerful voice would prove to be his ticket to the top of the Billboard charts someday. Maybe he would even reach No. 1? During the ’60s, he drifted from label to label, leaving behind a few failed singles at Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds, circa 1941. From each stop. Later in the decade, he changed his left, Solomon Linda, Gilbert Madondo, Boy Sibiya, Gideon stage name to Robert John (John being his Mkhize, Samuel Mlangeni, and Owen Sikhakhane. middle name). He then turned to songwriting for such established artists as Bobby Vinton “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and Lou Rawls. By Robert John John signed with Atlantic Records in 1971 February 1972 and drew closer to making his lifelong dream a reality when he recorded “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” which rose to No. 3 on the Hot 100. The song is one of those tunes that seems to have been around forever, with various renditions being released as “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and by its earlier title, “Wimoweh.” The tune has actually been a worldwide standard since 1939, when it had been created and first recorded as “Mbube” (Zulu for “lion”). The song had been written in South Africa by a 30-year-old factory worker named Solomon Linda, who packed 78-rpm discs and swept the floors for the Gallo Record Company. On weekends, he performed with his vocal group the Evening Birds. One particular crowd favorite was his “Mbube,” which incorporated a calland-response pattern, well known to the Zulus and common in Black churches everywhere. Linda utilized an underlying chant and a meshing of male voices, with countertenor leader Linda yodeling and howling throughout. Gallo had the Evening Birds record the tune. During the third taping, Linda improvised the melody that would become familiar to audiences internationally. “Mbube” sold 100,000 copies and made Linda a star, although he would die in poverty later, with $22 to his name. His contribution to music has lived on, though, through such groups as Ladysmith Black Mambazo. As for Robert John? In 1979, he released his final hit, “Sad Eyes,” which rocketed all the way to No. 1. Randal C. Hill is a rock ’n’ roll historian who lives at the Oregon coast. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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3 Ways Saffron Helps Age-Related Macular Degeneration
If you’ve ever cooked using saffron spice, you know that this unique spice is flavorful and aromatic. For me, saffron is a musthave for dishes such as plain rice (or paella), soups such as chicken soup or bouillabaisse, and certain bread/pastries. The active medicinal compounds in saffron come from a tiny part of the flower, not from a bulb or the leaves like other herbs. The painstaking labor required for harvesting it by hand makes the price of saffron extremely high. That’s why it has not been studied for very many human diseases the way we study other less expensive herbs, such as rosemary, turmeric, garlic, or sage. Specific components of saffron spice have demonstrated benefits in several eye ailments. These diseases include age-related February is Macular Degeneration/ macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, and cataracts. Let’s focus on AMD today. Low Vision Awareness Month Age-related macular degeneration may lead to blindness, especially among people over 65. The eye disease occurs gradually and with little to no warning. It begins with a loss of central vision and may eventually progress to total blindness. We know that breakdown of the macula occurs, but researchers are not sure why. The macula is next to the retina. Obviously, reversing the progressive condition would be the dream scenario, but halting it would suffice. Recent research indicates that oxidative damage is a culprit in AMD. Studies on saffron suggest it offers protection against oxidative damage in patients with early AMD. First, it is essential to note that, to date, conventional medicine has found no way of restoring vision lost to AMD. Treatments such as prescription drugs and laser surgery may slow its progression. So if an herb can augment your current protocol, I’d have a conversation with your ophthalmologist about it. Here are three reasons why:
more benefit in terms of increased visual acuity! The data was published in The Journal of Translational Medicine. We know saffron can improve a low mood, and now it appears that oral saffron supplementation may partially reverse damage to visual perception. No one is claiming that saffron cures AMD, but the benefits are pretty crisp! Even a modest improvement in eyesight is a big deal to many people because it can greatly improve quality of life. Please ask your doctor if it’s right for you. You can cook with saffron as a spice. Saffron teas, supplements, and extracts are available nationwide. This information is not intended to diagnose, prevent, or treat your disease. For more information about the author, visit suzycohen. com.
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1. Saffron contains many different constituents, including crocin and crocetin. These have shown neuroprotective properties for the eye in multiple double-blind, placebo-controlled studies. 2. Saffron contains potent antioxidant capabilities, meaning it neutralizes those troublesome free radicals that attack the retina and the macula. 3. A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial offers information free of unconscious bias. Two of these types of studies have produced information about saffron that is impossible to ignore. In one trial (using their proprietary form of saffron from France), patients who supplemented for three months with low-dose saffron (20 mg/day) experienced improvements in retinal sensitivity, color perception, and visual contrast. When the trial was extended over a year, the participants experienced even www.50plusLifePA.com
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under the care of Lancaster County Children and Youth,” she said. Abel, who served as a CASA (court-appointed Candace Abel has “always had a heart for those special advocate) with the local chapter, said that who had less than me.” As one way to reach out to Second Grace was inspired by the “mother of my others, Abel has adopted 12 girls and two boys (in very first CASA child appointment … she herself addition to two biological sons and one biological was really in need of strong and loving guidance, daughter.) but she did not fit When her first into any of the local adopted child was lost programs for single in a car accident, she moms. She needed a used the knowledge CASA but was too old gained from her social for one.” work degree to start Witnessing the heartBrittany’s Hope, wrenching difficulties a local nonprofit this young mother organization that faced planted the seeds advocated for specialfor the creation of the needs international Second Grace program. adoption through Young mothers grants and sponsored enrolled in the program life-sustaining projects are referred to as in those countries. Graces, and they will “I gained a great be assigned trained deal of knowledge mentors who are on establishing a referred to as Sages. nonprofit with that A Grace will have experience,” said Abel, regular contact with of Elizabethtown. “I her Sage, who will eventually retired and From left, Second Grace leaders Carla Rissmiller, “offer advice, assess handed the reins over Candace Abel, and Deborah Wilson Gadsden at their mental state, to an adopted daughter, Girl Crush headquarters in Mount Joy, Pa. make arrangements, Mai-Lynn Abel, Not pictured: Karen Jaskot. and encourage them who had the unique to meet Children and qualifications of being Youth Agency goals,” Abel said. an international adoptee and holding a master’s in During her first year, the Grace will work international social work.” to stabilize and correct missteps, such as drug Although she was retired from Brittany’s Hope, offenses, neglect of her children, and unhealthy Abel was still keeping busy. Since one of her relationships. The second year will include the adopted children has a genetic disease requiring work phase of the program, and this is where Girl regular blood transfusions, Abel said, “I decided I Crush will come in. would do all I could to keep him healthy.” “Once the Grace is determined to be ready, To her, that meant healthy food and clean she will work several days a week in Girl Crush products on his skin, so she started a “soap-making … it will be a somewhat sheltered experience, as journey of discovery,” creating bath and body our managers will have training on handling the products using all fresh, good-for-you ingredients. unique needs of the Graces. There will be a phase Friends and family discovered the products and after that second year, and we are in the middle of started placing orders, and so in 2017, Abel decided writing that curriculum now,” Abel said. to turn her “bath and body addiction” into a Deborah Wilson Gadsden, an adjunct professor business — and her company Girl Crush was born. at Elizabethtown College who serves on the Second The name is a “nod to the constant reaction to Grace board of directors, holds graduate degrees in my adoption of yet another daughter,” she said. both human services and social work. Today, in addition to her successful and But the Mount Joy resident faced some struggles continually growing bath-and-body-products as a young mother as well, so she was more than business, Abel is also the president of Second happy to lend her wisdom to the organization. Grace, a “unique, local two-year program for single She was introduced to the Second Grace mothers below the age of 24 who meet our criteria www.50plusLifePA.com
program by a fellow professor because of her extensive involvement with child welfare and her experience as an intake investigator, casework supervisor, and training professional. Experienced in writing curricula, Gadsden has “guided a team to write the training for Second Grace, and I serve on the Bridge committee,” she said. “Second Grace is seeking to carve out a unique space of helping women who need support in a variety of ways.” There is a strong emphasis on training for those who will serve as Sages in the program. “It is imperative that those women understand the breadth and scope of the experiences that women involved with child welfare may have navigated,” Gadsden said. Karen Jaskot, ACSW, LCSW, CAADC, of Mount Joy, also serves on the board of directors, and she agrees with the importance of extensive training for those volunteering to serve as Sages. “It is critically important that the mentors be well trained before they progress to being assigned to a mother,” she said. “The woman that will be mentored will have likely had different experiences than her mentor.” Jaskot has committed more than 34 years to being a therapist for families and individuals. “Because of my commitment to healthy families, it was easy to join in Candace’s vision and commit to helping build Second Grace,” she said. “The additional component of having a mentor, educational series, and employment opportunities for these young mothers sold me on Second Grace!” Carla Rissmiller, an Elizabethtown resident who serves as the secretary for the program, has always been a big proponent of giving back to others. “It was a natural fit for me to help with this new organization,” she said. “I’m pretty organized and good with technology, so serving as the secretary was a perfect fit for me.” The goal is to have the Second Grace program up and running in early 2022. “We were ready to launch and had hired a director when COVID hit, and the county shut down,” Abel said. “It was a lost year for us … and we heard often of young mothers who may have benefited from our program … it was painful and disheartening.” But it also provided them with the opportunity to strengthen their curriculum, build the program further, and be even better prepared when they were able to launch. Second Grace is currently seeking women who are willing to be trained to serve as Sage mentors. “It is extremely important that our mentors are prepared for an arduous two-year commitment,” Abel said. “It will require someone with stamina, patience, and courage. The young mothers will not be easy to love or understand … but I’m sure that when we make a good match, it will be life changing!” Abel and her team are ready to watch their graduates become healthy and happy and even become mentors themselves, so they can help others who are experiencing some of the same challenges. The Second Grace team hopes to someday be able to offer additional job training, scholarship programs, and even housing for the Graces in the program, and they would be thrilled to have the program succeed and grow to other counties — to go statewide and even nationwide. “We want to watch our program grow to include mentoring young, at-risk women before they become pregnant, depressed, addicted, or homeless,” Abel said. “Having someone believe in a person and make the time to show they genuinely care is a powerful force in the life of someone trying to make changes,” Jaskot said. “Second Grace and the mentorship relationship between the Sage and the Grace are built upon the core belief that having a support person makes a difference in a person’s life.” For more information on the Second Grace program, visit secondgrace.org. www.50plusLifePA.com
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It’s Time to Rethink Heart Health On average, someone in the United States dies from cardiovascular disease (CVD) every 36 seconds, approximately 2,380 deaths each day, according to the American Heart Association. Each day, 405 deaths occur in the U.S. as the result of strokes, an average of one death every three minutes and 33 seconds. More people die annually from CVD than from any other cause, including cancer, COPD, diabetes, lung infections, and the flu, according to the American Heart Association 2021 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics. Consider these steps to #RethinkCVRisk to change the course of the disease and your life.
and high blood pressure. Other factors that contribute to risk are family history, prior cardiovascular (CV) events, smoking, being overweight or obese, and unhealthy diet and exercise habits. Over time, these risk factors can lead to injury of the blood vessel lining, causing inflammation, which can then trigger plaque growth. Plaque grows at different rates and in different arteries in the body for everyone and is often a slow, gradual process without symptoms. As plaque buildup continues, the risk of suffering a CV event — such as heart attack or stroke — increases. If plaque ruptures, the body will try to repair the injury, potentially causing a blockage to form, and when an artery becomes fully blocked, blood flow is restricted. Blocked blood flow to the heart causes a heart attack, while blocked blood flow to the brain causes a stroke.
Understand Your Risk COVID-19 has shown that those with underlying CVD face an especially high risk of February is American Heart Month serious COVID-19-related illness or even death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Managing Risk Factors Regardless of whether you’ve received your COVID-19 vaccination, now is a The most effective way to prevent CVD is to understand and address risk good time to discuss your risk for heart disease with your doctor. factors. Triglycerides play an important role in heart health; they store unused How Cardiovascular Disease Develops calories to give your body energy and are the most common type of fat in the Risk factors for CVD include high cholesterol, high triglycerides, diabetes, body. Triglycerides come from foods you eat, such as butter, oils, and other fats, as well as carbohydrates, sugars, and alcohol. Your diet, lack of exercise, medical conditions, certain drugs, and genetics can all cause high triglycerides. In the past, medicines used to lower triglycerides, like fenofibrates and niacin, were commonly prescribed to help manage CV risk along with statins. However, clinical studies failed to show benefits, and both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and American Diabetes Association discourage combining niacin and fenofibrates with statins. Some turn to dietary supplement fish oil to help manage CV risk. However, supplements contain only 30% of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, with the majority of the product consisting of non-omega-3 ingredients, including saturated fats. Some data suggests certain ingredients in dietary supplement fish oils, such as DHA and saturated fats, may raise bad cholesterol. While high triglycerides are an indicator of CV risk, lowering them won’t necessarily reduce your risk. However, addressing the underlying causes of high triglycerides can help, according to the AHA.
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Treatment Options With ongoing research, new standards of care are emerging. High cholesterol is a key CV risk factor, with statins currently the first-line therapy for lowering cholesterol. Statins, diet, and exercise can lower your CV risk by about 25-35%, but, for many people, controlled cholesterol doesn’t eliminate CV risk. This residual risk, or “persistent CV risk,” puts millions of patients at risk and has been the focus of therapeutic development for many years. Talk with your doctor about FDA-approved options that can help further reduce your heart risk if you already take statins. For more information about CVD and what you can do, look for #RethinkCVRisk on social media or visit truetoyourheart.com. www.50plusLifePA.com
Famous Presidential Last Words By James E. Patterson
1849, in Nashville, were to his wife. “I love you, Sarah, for all eternity, I love you.” President Millard Fillmore, our 13th president, As we celebrate Presidents Day, it is a good time died March 8, 1874, age 74, in Buffalo, New York. to consider some of their famous last words — many As he was being fed soup in bed, Fillmore said: “The remained philosophical and elegant in their final nourishment is palatable.” moments. James Buchanan, 15th president, died at Wheatland While historians agree on the last words of some in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on June 1, 1868, at age presidents, they strongly disagree on others. Thus, 77. His final words: “O Lord Almighty, as thou wilt.” their last words may have changed since you learned The last words of Theodore Roosevelt, 26th them in school. I consulted History.com and other president, who died at age 61 on Jan. 6, 1919, were: reliable websites for the famous last presidential words “James, will you please put out the light.” James was below. his valet. It is believed Roosevelt died of a blood clot The last words of George Washington, who lived to Photo credit: DC Public Library Commons. Flickr.com to his lungs. be 68, were uttered at Mount Vernon. “It is well,” said President William McKinley, left, and his The last words of Woodrow Wilson, 28th president, the president as he closed his eyes a final time on Dec. successor, Theodore Roosevelt. who lived to be 67 and died in Washington, D.C., 14, 1799. were to his wife. On Feb. 3, 1924, Wilson said: John Adams, who lived to be 91, died in Quincy, Presidents Day is Monday, Feb. 21 “Edith, I’m a broken machine, but I’m ready.” Massachusetts. On July 4, 1826, Adams, our second The last words of William McKinley, who died in president, whispered his last words: “Thomas Jefferson Buffalo, New York, on Sept. 17, 1901, were from the hymn “Nearer, My God, to still survives.” Jefferson had died two hours earlier. Thee,” according to some historians. McKinley was the 25th president. Jefferson, third president, died at Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Grover Cleveland, 22nd and 24th president, died in Princeton, New Jersey, at July 4, 1826. On his deathbed, Jefferson’s last words were: “This is the Fourth of July.” Some historians assigned even loftier words to Jefferson, including: “I resign age 75. On June 24, 1908, Cleveland’s last words were: “I have tried so hard to do right.” my spirit to God, my daughter to my country.” th Through war, peace, and hard economic times, perhaps all presidents “tried so Ulysses S. Grant, 18 president, lived to be 63. His last word, uttered at Mount hard to do right.” McGregor, New York, was “Water.” Grant died of throat cancer. Benjamin Harrison, our 23rd president, died on March 13, 1901, in James E. Patterson is a Washington, D.C.-based writer and speaker. Indianapolis, Indiana. His last words: “Are the doctors here? Doctor, my lungs.” Harrison died at age 67 of pneumonia. Franklin D. Roosevelt served as our 32nd president. He was the only president 69% of Caregivers Receive No Paid Help elected for four terms. In 1945, Roosevelt died in office at age 63. His last words, uttered at The Little White House in Pine Mountain, Georgia, were: “I have a All Need Products and Services to terrific pain in the back of my head.” Help Them on Their Journeys. John Quincy Adams, sixth president and eighth secretary of state, died in Washington, D.C., at age 81. His last words: “This is the last of earth, but I am composed.” The last words of Andrew Jackson, seventh president, who died June 18, 1845, at age 78, were uttered at the Hermitage in Nashville, Tennessee. “I hope to meet you all in heaven. Be good children, all of you, and strive to be ready when the change comes.” •Y our focused message reaches its targeted audience. Historians long believed Jackson died of heart failure. In 1999, scientists determined he died of lead poisoning, likely from bullets lodged in his body from •M ulti-venue promotion — online, in print, duels. and through social media platforms. The last words of President James K. Polk, 11th president, uttered on June 15, •Y ear-round distribution — annual Women’s
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The Beauty in Nature
Spruces, Snow, and Birds Clyde McMillan-Gamber
One early afternoon in February a few years ago, I was working at my desk by a window that allowed views of our back lawn. At the time, beautiful snowflakes fell gently through still air from a gray sky. Some fluffy flakes were particularly visible and appealing, dropping before a line of four tall, stately Norway spruce trees in our suburban neighborhood before settling lightly on those conifers’ densely packed needles or on the ground. As I occasionally continued to watch the snowfall from my desk, all bushes, trees, and lawns in our neighborhood became heaped with lovely snow. The world visible from my desk changed dramatically in one afternoon. And as I watched snow float down lightly before those majestic, snowcovered spruce trees, I noticed about
24 handsome mourning doves perched snugly on needled boughs. Each bird was hunched in its lightbrown, fluffed-out feathers that kept it comfortably warm in the cold and snow. And most of the doves were dozing between feeding forays to nearby birdfeeders and harvested cornfields. Later in the afternoon, as dusk crept onto the snowy suburbs, I saw a little flock of sparrow-sized dark-eyed juncos flutter up from a birdfeeder and into the shadowy depths of lower spruce limbs. I saw the white tail feather on each side of every bird’s dark tail that causes a white V when the birds fly away. And I noticed those white tail feathers disappear in the shady depths of those conifers when those little birds landed on Mourning dove. needled twigs, where they will spend each winter night protected from cold wind and predators by those needled branches. As the late-afternoon light faded, I continued to enjoy the peaceful beauty of the lightly falling snowflakes still piling slowly on needled branches and the ground. And those snowflakes, plus the deepening twilight, drew a veil before the comfortably resting doves and juncos that probably will spend the night in relative safety and comfort in the shelter of those beautiful spruce trees. The simple beauties of those Norway spruce trees in our neighborhood, the falling snow, and the birds nestled for the night in those trees were all enjoyable and inspiring to me that snowy afternoon, as is most of nature, most of the time. Readers, too, can enjoy nature right in your own neighborhoods. One only needs to look around, either through windows from inside or by going outdoors.
A nature blog by Clyde McMillan-Gamber, retired Lancaster County Parks naturalist and longtime 50plus LIFE columnist
Each story is like a walk with your own naturalist. NaturesWondersByClyde.BlogSpot.com
Pet of the Month
THE CARGO IS
Thatcher lost everything when his owner passed away. He arrived with all the signs that he was very loved since being adopted from the shelter last summer. We’re on a mission to place this terrific dog with someone who will love him just as much. His owner’s family made the very hard decision to bring him back to the shelter since their dogs didn’t get along with Thatcher. They say Thatcher walks well on a leash, listens to basic commands, is house trained, kennels well, and is good with kids and other large dogs. He’s done well here in dog playgroups, too. What more could you ask for? Thatcher’s adoption fee has been generously sponsored. For more information, contact Brandywine Valley SPCA, 1212 Phoenixville Pike, West Chester, at (484) 302-0865 or bvspca.org.
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Tax Breaks for Caregivers of Elderly Parents Jim Miller
Dear Savvy Senior, Are there any tax breaks that you know of for family caregivers? I help financially support my 82-year-old mother and would like to find out if I can write off any of these expenses on my taxes. – Supplemental Sam Dear Sam, There are actually several tax credits and deductions available to adult children who help look after their aging parents or other relatives. Here are some options along with the IRS requirements to help you determine if you’re eligible to receive them. Tax Credit for Other Dependents If your mom lives with you and you’re paying more than 50% of her living expenses (housing, food, utilities, healthcare, repairs, clothing, travel, and other necessities), and her 2021 gross income was under $4,300, you can claim your mom as a dependent and get a nonrefundable tax credit of up to $500.
If you happen to split your mom’s expenses with other siblings, only one of you can claim your mom as a dependent, and that person must pay at least 10% of her support costs. This is called a “multiple support agreement.” The IRS has an interactive tool that will help you determine if your mom qualifies as a dependent. Go to irs. gov/help/ita, scroll down to “Credits,” and click on “Does My Child/ Dependent Qualify for the Child Tax Credit or the Credit for Other Dependents?” Medical Deductions If you claim your mom as a dependent and you help pay her medical, dental, and/or long-term care expenses, and weren’t reimbursed by insurance, you can deduct the expenses that are more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). So, for example, if your adjusted gross income is $80,000, anything beyond the first $6,000 of your mom’s medical bills — or 7.5% of your AGI — could
Older Adults Encouraged to Use Food Box Program This Winter Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and Aging Secretary Robert Torres recently highlighted a successful rebrand of the PA Senior Food Box Program in 2021, formally known as the Commodity Supplemental Food Program. Since taking steps to improve access to and awareness of the program, more than 7,100 new seniors have enrolled. “Not being able to serve Pennsylvania’s seniors in need of food assistance was not an option,” said Redding. “I want to see every one of our eligible seniors in Pennsylvania have access to nutritious food; it’s their right.” Key to the effort is a partnership between the departments of Agriculture and Aging that has enabled the Department of Aging’s PACE pharmaceutical assistance program to conduct outreach to its enrollees who may also be eligible for the Senior Food Box Program. The Pennsylvania Senior Food Box is a product of the federally funded, state-administered Commodity Supplemental Food Program. It works to improve the health of low-income seniors by providing a
supplement to groceries of a variety of nutritious, shelf-stable products, including shelf-stable fluid milk, juice, ready-to-eat cereal, rice, pasta, dry beans, peanut butter, canned meat, poultry, fish, and canned fruits and vegetables. It is administered by Hunger-Free Pennsylvania through their network of 17 food banks. Once signed up, eligible seniors can choose to receive their monthly box via pickup, drive-thru, or delivery from a program partner, including senior apartment complexes, senior community centers, and food pantries. In Pennsylvania, eligible participants for the Pennsylvania Senior Food Box Program include low-income individuals who are at least 60 years old and whose household income is at or below 130% of the U.S. poverty level. To apply, seniors may call (800) 468-2433 to be directed to the regional food bank distributing the Senior Food Box in their county. Or go online at agriculture.pa.gov/seniorfoodbox and fill out the Senior Food Box Application Form. www.50plusLifePA.com
be deductible on your return. So, if you paid $8,000 in medical bills for her, $2,000 of it could be deductible. You can also include your own medical expenses in calculating the total. You should also know that your state might have a lower AGI threshold, which means you might get a break on your state income taxes even if you can’t get one on your federal income taxes. To see which medical expenses you can and can’t deduct, see IRS Publication 502 at irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p502.pdf. Dependent Care Credit If you’re paying for in-home care or adult daycare for your mom so you are free to work, you might qualify for the dependent care tax credit, which can be worth as much as $4,000. To be eligible your mom must have been physically or mentally incapable of self-care and must have lived with you for more than six months. To claim this tax credit, fill out IRS Form 2441 (irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f2441.pdf) when you file your federal return. Flexible Health Savings Accounts If you have a health savings account (HSA) or your employer offers a flexible savings account (FSA), you can use them to pay for your mom’s medical expenses if she qualifies as a dependent. But be aware that if you use an HSA or FSA to pay for your mom’s medical costs, you can’t take a tax deduction on those expenses too. For more information, see IRS Publication 969, Health Savings Accounts and Other Tax-Favored Health Plans, at irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p969.pdf. Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit savvysenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of The Savvy Senior book.
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The History of Ordinary Things
Red-Red Lipstick Doris Montag
Cleopatra colored her lips with red dye from the crushed shells of the cochineal bug, which is still used today to make carmine, a red food coloring. In ancient Greece, it was mandated that prostitutes wear red lip pigment, lest they be confused with respectable women. Their lipstick was made with red dye, sheep sweat, and crocodile droppings! In the 1500s, Queen Elizabeth I wore red lipstick for her signature look: an alabaster-white powdered face, plucked eyebrows, and a receding hairline, which was the definition of beauty at the time. In the 1700s, cosmetics were outlawed in England on the basis that women were using cosmetics to seduce men into marriage. Women could be charged with witchcraft and the marriage annulled. The seduction list included red lipstick, perfumes, paints, cosmetic washes, artificial teeth, false hair, iron stays, hoops, high-heeled shoes, and bolstered hips. Imagine! In mid-1800s, England’s Queen Victoria declared cosmetics “improper, vulgar, and acceptable only for use by actors”; thus, women who wore cosmetics were considered
Woman applying lipstick with a compact in Washington, D.C., 1943.
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“painted ladies,” or prostitutes. French perfumers in 1884 created the first commercially produced lipstick from deer tallow, castor oil, and beeswax. It was discretely packaged in paper or in paper tubes. The use of cosmetics remained underground into the early 1900s, when American suffragettes like Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Elizabeth Cady Stanton began to publicly wear bright-red lipstick. Their primary purpose was to shock men, who considered it sinful and sexually amoral. In 1912, Elizabeth Arden Cosmetics distributed thousands of metal tubes of red lipstick to the marching suffragettes in New York City and beyond. Red lipstick was quickly adopted as a sign of rebellion and liberation. The flappers of the 1920s continued the tradition by flaunting their red lips. In the 1930s, Hitler’s Nazi party decreed that a “wholesome, clean, and fresh-face” look defined the ideal German woman, while in Allied countries, wearing red lipstick represented strength in femininity. By the 1940s, bold, red lips were associated with
Are you getting your share of the
SILVER ECONOMY? Which buyers make up the Silver Economy? • 962 million men and women over the age of 60 • A group with 11 times more wealth than millennials • Persons with a life expectancy in the U.S. is about 78.87 years • Persons who prefer in-person contact when possible • A group that wants to age at home as long as reasonable
Why do you want to reach these buyers? • They are free of many economic burdens • They like to take care of themselves, be active, eat well, be fashionable, and have fun • They have more free time • They are looking for products and services to help them age well
What sectors are on the rise? The obvious:
• Home improvements/renovations • Tourism and leisure activities tailored for them • Caregiver solutions • Financial products geared for seniors • Retirement living
• Security technology – mobile apps, sensors, wearable devices, smart clothing, etc. • Pet care – pet sitting, walking, grooming, food, accessories, etc. • Gardening/lawn services combined with snow removal • Mobile esthetic and concierge services – hairstylist, manicurist, massage, facials • Personal services – running errands, shopping
What are you waiting for? 51% of people aged 52-70 spend fewer than 11 hours a week online. While businesses need an online presence, print adds power to a media campaign. Most boomers and seniors are open to and love classic media.
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opposition to fascism. Knowing that Hitler hated red lipstick, American women wore red lips to symbolize patriotism and victory. In 1941, at the urging of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Gen. George Marshall, the Women’s Army Corps was created. Elizabeth Arden was commissioned to create a regulation lipstick for these servicewomen. Arden introduced Montezuma Red, a bright, vibrant red perfectly matched to the red piping and chevrons on women’s military uniforms. Montezuma Red was issued in an official kit that included the red lipstick, a matching cream rouge, and nail polish. To respond to civilian women, Elizabeth Arden created Victory Red, so any woman could proudly honor her country. Other lipsticks had names like Fighting Red, Grenadier Red, and Patriot Red. As a public service notice, the current 1938 federal cosmetic regulations do not require U.S. manufacturers
to show their ingredients. Concerns about contaminated makeup appeared in the 1980s. Lipstick and lip gloss hold a mixture of petroleum-based chemicals, often untested for safety. An FDA study in 2010 found lead in 400 lipsticks, including high levels in some American-made brands. Toxic chemicals in some lipsticks include methylparaben, polyparaben, retinyl palmitate, synthetic dyes from aluminum or petroleum products, and tocopheryl acetate. Over 80% of American women wear lipstick or lip gloss. It is estimated that women who use lipstick daily involuntarily eat around 4 pounds of lipstick in their lifetime. Besame Cosmetics’ 1941 Victory Red lipstick, inspired by the patriotic shade distributed by Elizabeth Arden during World War II.
Doris Montag is a homespun historian and an exhibit curator who researches and displays historical collections of ordinary things, such as can openers, crochet, toy sewing machines, hand corn planters, powder compacts, egg cartons, and more. Contact or follow her on Facebook, HistoryofOrdinaryThings.
Art & Antiques by Dr. Lori
Discovering Queen Victoria’s Jewelry Gift Lori Verderame
With Valentine’s Day celebrated pin enhanced with gold links and this month, jewelry is on the minds seed pearls. I appraised this special of both givers and receivers. pin at one of my antiques appraisal One of the most popular and events during my nationwide tour. growing collecting categories The gold-and-seed pearl pin was is antique and vintage jewelry, a gift from HRH Queen Victoria particularly in precious metals like herself and was owned by a relative gold and silver. of a lady-in-waiting to the queen, Many collectors and resellers who gifted the pin in the late 1800s. are looking for fine-gold jewelry With its impressive provenance from the 19th and 20th centuries and the recent sale of Queen at auctions and online. They are Victoria’s jewels at auction, this pin looking for jewelry pieces at thrift commanded a very high value on stores, yard sales, antiques shops, the antique-jewelry market. and estate sales, too. Today, it is more difficult to find These pieces are stunningly pieces of 15-karat gold jewelry. Photo credit: Staff of www.DrLoriV.com Photograph portrait of beautiful and highly sought-after in Why? Because 15-karat gold is Gold double-heart pin, a gift from Queen Victoria, 1882. today’s very active jewelry market. a gold-purity standard that was HRH Queen Victoria, appraised by Dr. Lori. If you are a collector or reseller of discontinued in 1932. In the early antique or vintage jewelry, you need 1930s, 14-karat gold became the to know the many different international gold-purity marks that are found on gold standard for jewelry. both silver and gold jewelry. These marks can indicate time period or age and There two basic reasons for the switch from 15-karat gold to 14-karat gold. point to value. One is that 14-karat gold is somewhat more durable for everyday jewelry wear Recognizing foreign marks will help treasure hunters find fine-jewelry than 15-karat gold. th pieces. For example, some pieces of jewelry that date to the mid- to late 19 And, jewelry collectors are more attracted to the golden color of 14-karat century — also known as Victorian jewelry made during the years of Queen gold when compared to 15-karat gold pieces, which have a mossy-green hue. Victoria’s reign (1837-1901) — are not marked the same way American jewelry A piece of 15-karat gold jewelry has approximately 4% more pure gold than pieces of the same era are marked. 14-karat gold. This difference impacts the color of 14-karat gold, which many In the Victorian period, some gold pieces from Great Britain were marked collectors prefer. 15-karat gold or with the numbers 625. These British purity marks mean that Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, and award-winning TV personality Dr. Lori a piece of gold jewelry is 62.5% pure gold or has a gold fineness measuring 15 presents antique appraisal events nationwide and appears on The Curse of Oak Island karats. For instance, this 15-karat gold mark can be found on this gold double-heart on History channel. Visit drloriv.com and youtube.com/drloriv or call (888) 431-1010. www.50plusLifePA.com
Willing to Wander
Civil Rights Sites Recall Struggle for Freedom Victor Block
As the Civil War drew Plantations, churches, to a close, soldiers of and schools are among the 55th Massachusetts locations where Volunteer Regiments skirmishes in the effort occupied a plantation took place. Some serve as on James Island, reminders of tragedies, South Carolina, which others of victories, in the earlier had been held struggle. by Confederate forces. The McLeod They were among the Plantation was established approximately 185,000 in 1851 near Charleston, U.S. Colored Troops, as South Carolina. The they were called, who property includes the Photo credit: Calvin L. Leake/Dreamstime.com Photo credit: EmilysFolio/Dreamstime.com fought with the North. main house, slave cabins, In September 1963, a bomb exploded Alcatraz Prison atop Alcatraz Island in the San th Visitors may relive that a cotton ginning house, at the 16 Street Baptist Church in Francisco Bay, where Native American civil rights Birmingham, Ala., killing four Black girls. demonstrators maintained control for 19 months. chapter of history and and sweeping oak tree the story of African slaves allee (alley). who lived and toiled at Churches have played February is Black History Month the plantation. This is one a major role in the Black of numerous sites around civil rights movement. the country that recount pages from the fight for freedom and equality that has They long have been a source of the struggle for equality and at times the site of been waged by segments of our population. violence.
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At the 16th Street Americans. A Native Baptist Church American civil rights in Birmingham, movement born in Alabama, a clock is the 1960s led to frozen at 10:22 a.m. the occupation of That was the time on Alcatraz Island in Sept. 15, 1963, when San Francisco Bay, a bomb exploded, site of the former killing four Black prison. girls between 11 and The demonstrators 14 years old. maintained control The church was there for 19 months, targeted by members claiming it was of the Ku Klux compensation for the Klan because it U.S. government’s was a place where violation of Photo credit: Charleston County Parks Photo credit: Charleston County Parks Slave cabins along the oak tree alley of McLeod Plantation House, established civil rights activists numerous treaties. McLeod Plantation House. in 1851 near Charleston, S.C. met and trained. It They offered to pay continues to house for it with beads and an active congregation and also is trinkets. open for tours. Two places associated with the Probably the most famous, or fight for Latino/Hispanic rights are infamous, school that captured the National Chavez Center and headlines related to the civil rights Cesar Chavez National Monument movement is Central High School in in California. They recall the legacy Little Rock, Arkansas. of the labor activist remembered for In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court fighting for the rights of migrant ruled that segregated schools are farmworkers. unconstitutional and that children His most memorable achievement may not be denied admission was spearheading a strike of grape because of their race. Three years pickers in 1965. The protest lasted later, when nine African American five years and led to boycotts that students sought to enroll in all-white ultimately resulted in an agreement Central High, they were blocked. that provided benefits to the workers. Photo credit: Calvin L. Leake/Dreamstime.com It took an order by President That and other of his Visitors at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., site of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. Dwight Eisenhower, who directed accomplishments are recalled where the Arkansas National Guard to Chavez is buried near the former escort the youngsters into the building, to end the impasse. Central High headquarters of the United Farm Workers of America. remains a functioning school that, according to its motto, seeks to help “all When you visit any of these monuments to the civil rights movement, students feel valued and respected … in a diverse and changing world.” remember that they are much more than brick and mortar. Each tells a story of Other places, some well known and others somewhat surprising, provide hardship and sacrifice, along with victory over hate and prejudice by those who introductions to the fight for equality. The National Museum of African fought, and sometimes died, for their cause. American History & Culture in Washington, D.C., which is part of the After gallivanting around the world, Victor Block still retains the travel bug. He Smithsonian Institution, is the largest in the world devoted to its topic. believes that travel is the best possible education. A member of the Society of American The focus of permanent collections ranges from activism and the American Travel Writers, Victor loves to explore new destinations and cultures, and his stories West to religious groups and segregation. Exhibits like Louis Armstrong’s about them have won a number of writing awards. trumpet paint a positive picture, while others — iron collars from slave ships and a rope used in a lynching — are not for the faint of heart. The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson houses interactive galleries that demonstrate “the systematic oppression of Black Mississippians and their fight for equality.” They also recall the brave responses of those who challenged racism. Medgar Evers Home Museum in the same city honors the civil rights leader who, in 1963, was assassinated in the driveway of his house. He was returning home from a meeting carrying t-shirts that read “Jim Crow Must Go.” Martin Luther King Jr. is memorialized by buildings, highways, and other monuments around the country that bear his name. The most poignant reminder is the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was fatally shot on April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony. The building now is part of the National Civil Rights Museum, which traces the history of human rights from the 17th century to the present. Of course, the fight for equality in the United States isn’t restricted to African www.50plusLifePA.com
Scram to Scams Karen Telleen-Lawton
Yes, the abbreviations can be cryptic. Parenthetically, if enough of us call to inquire about enough transactions, credit card companies likely would demand clearer labels from merchants. Besides the accounting advantage, credit cards usually have consumer protections against fraud. You can contest a charged payment and get your money back more easily than if you had paid cash. My husband says the best advantage of using credit cards for large purchases is the flight mile rewards. These do seem to get harder to use over time, though. One of the trickiest scams to protect against is the computer link that thrusts us headfirst into cyberspace. Links connect us to the rich value of the internet for business, shopping, and amusement. Links are also a common way for scammers to burrow into our computers. Can you trust a link sent by a favorite retailer, a friend, or a shipper like Amazon or FedEx? Your first line of defense is to hover your cursor over the link without clicking it. This will give you the underlying website URL. A short, straightforward link to the correctly spelled location you’re familiar with is a good sign. Government websites should have a suffix of .gov, companies .com, and other organizations use .org. If there is anything suspicious looking about the link, then call, email, or do a browser search for the sender using an address you find independently. You also might want to copy and enter (without clicking on it) the suspicious link into a link checker. Norton, Google, and URLVoid all provide these services. Shippers send links when your package is on the way. It would be simple to click the link but safer to return to the original email confirming your original purchase. Use the link provided there, or call or chat using information provided with your purchase. As a financial adviser, I was occasionally asked how to discern a legitimate investment from a scam. Some people enjoy — and can afford — risky investments that might pay off big or come up short.
Puzzles shown on page 7.
My most worn keyboard key is “delete.” On my phone, the hang-up button gets more than its fair share of use. It costs me a lot of energy to reduce my email inbox to a manageable level and avoid clicking on misleading ads. How can we all be savvy decision-makers without devolving into suspicious old geezers? How can we be open, confident consumers without getting scammed? Scams are crimes whose perpetrators prey upon our misplaced trust and sometimes our naiveté. Granted, we must maintain some level of trust to operate in the world. We are social creatures who want and need to trust our fellow human beings. When the trust involves sharing our information or money, three good consumer habits will discourage scammers from making moves on us. A fourth will discourage them from preying on the next guy because of the reception they got from you. As we approach and enjoy our Medicare years, scammers begin targeting us because that’s where the money is. They also hope we’re not evaluating decisions as clearly as in our younger years. The clearest way to fight back is to verify the source of any demand for payment, prize offer, or information request. Never offer or provide your valuables (money or information) until you are certain it is justified. Be gracious but firm. If your polite, reasonable requests for clarification are unsuccessful, be impolite and firm. For purchases you do make, consider the advantages of credit card transactions. We remember the days when cash was the safest. It’s still a good idea when your main concern is keeping a strict budget. However, credit cards have several advantages and no extra costs if you pay them off each month. For one, cardholders receive a monthly credit card statement that shows where you’re spending your money. Always review your credit card statement and call when there are charges you don’t understand.
The first step would be to determine a single sum or monthly amount you can afford to lose, and stick to your limits. Seek information from trusted friends and advisers, not unsolicited proposals or emails. Then research the investment vehicle — gold, cyber coin, REITs, options, or whatever. Allow yourself the thrill of the game. After all, it’s only money. Finally, if you are subject to a scam or an attempt, report it immediately to the Federal Trade Commission. This may get you some resolution, but even if you’re still
Scramming Scammers 1. Trust but verify. 2. Know your credit card. 3. Be wary of links. 4. If you’re scammed, report it.
out some cash, it may prevent others from falling prey to those crimes. Let’s make sure these guys get what they deserve: a criminal record, not our hard-earned money! Karen Telleen-Lawton helps seniors help themselves by providing bias-free financial advice. She is a Certified Financial Planner professional, the principal of Decisive Path Fee-Only Financial Advisory in Santa Barbara, California (decisivepath.com). You can reach her with your questions or comments at email@example.com.
Taking Away Your Parent’s Car Keys By Dr. Ken Druck Who can forget what it was like to give our kids the keys and watch them pull out of the driveway on their first solo ride? Fostering independence is one of the most important parts of raising a teenager. If our kids act responsibly, they win our trust and earn more privileges. If they don’t, we’re in for a long ride, holding them accountable at every turn. When our mother and father get older, some of us find ourselves in the same position, except this time it’s with our aging parents. We get complaints about Dad’s erratic driving from our mother, who’s terrified of getting into the car with him — or from our father telling us, “Your mother’s driving 40 miles an hour on the freeway. Cars are honking and speeding past us at 75, and she won’t listen when I tell her to get out of the fast lane!” Talking to your aging parents about the changes in their lives like this can be difficult, but it’s a critically important part of being a good son or daughter. Whether precipitated by a harrowing drive with Dad or a new health concern that could render them dangerously unfit to drive, we need to have “the talk” about giving up driving. And when we do, it’s essential to approach it with patience, understanding, and loving support. 7 Guidelines for Having ‘the Talk’ 1. Summon the courage and set a gentle tone for an exploratory conversation with your parent, where you can calmly express your concerns, talk about options, and propose constructive solutions. To prepare, organize and write down simple, clear talking points you will want to convey. 2. Show compassion, sensitivity, and empathy for how difficult this loss of independence and freedom might be for your parent. Have practical suggestions available for helping your parent adjust to the possibility that their driving days may be coming to an end. The emotional tone will, of course, depend on your parent’s ability and willingness to face the problem and take action. 3. Decide who is best suited to have this talk with your parent. Might the best person to talk with them be you, or maybe it should be a trusted family member, physician, priest, minister, rabbi, or close friend? It must be an effective communicator your parent trusts and who can reason with them about something as sensitive as this. Come up with an effective plan for who and how to best approach your parent before rushing into this. www.50plusLifePA.com
4. Make sure everybody (in your family and who is caregiving your parent) understands what’s going to happen and what role, if any, they will play. Hopefully, things will go well and you’ll come to an agreement — but this isn’t always the case. It may be necessary to resort to a tough-love approach. Your parent may become angry and defensive — like your kids did when you took away their car keys — because they view this as a major loss of independence. 5. Be loving and supportive but also direct and factual, with a concrete suggestions and a plan for modifying their driving habits. If you are met with resistance, suggest going for an eye exam, taking a driving test, or leaving the decision to their doctor or the DMV. Set a positive, caring tone at the outset. Be direct in voicing your concerns, but don’t allow the conversation to escalate into an argument. If things are going sideways, step back and allow some breathing room. A few open-ended questions, such as, “Mom, do you understand why we’re concerned?” or, “What do you propose as a solution, Dad?” or, “What would you do if it were your father and you were worried about his safety?” might get the discussion back on a good track. 6. As you wind down the conversation, summarize what’s been said and decided in a clear statement to your parents, family, caregivers, and anybody else who’s involved so that everybody understands what is now going to happen. 7. Follow through on everything that has been discussed and decided. Continue to help your parents adjust to their new life, acknowledging the benefits that will accompany this change. And continue to hold them accountable. Take a deep breath and give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done. Being a good son or daughter is sometimes very difficult. So is watching your parents get older. You can take pride in knowing you’ve done the right thing in assuring their — and other people’s — safety, and in helping them make difficult but necessary quality-of-life decisions and changes. Dr. Ken Druck is an international authority on healthy aging and author of the new book Raising an Aging Parent (kendruck.com/programs/products). He has spent four decades helping people grow into the more courageous, compassionate, and resilient version of themselves by transforming adversities and losses of every kind into opportunities.
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