Page 1

March 2017 Vol. 44, No. 2

Published by The Daily Herald and Senior Services of Snohomish County

Katrina Bagley’s life of strength and sorrow Page 4

Social Security should meet real needs Page 2

Hubby won’t quit betting if he keeps winning Page 7

Columns Savvy Senior . . . . . . . . . . . 3 History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Washington Watch . . . . . . 5 Travel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Tech Talk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Volunteers .. . . . . . . . . . . 10

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Audiologist Barbara Peregoy, far right, along with WSU student Megan Moore, conducts a hearing test on Dale Fowler at University Speech and Hearing Clinic in Spokane. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Boomers deal with hearing loss to preserve their quality of life By Treva Lind The Spokesman-Review Seated in a soundproof room, 67-yearold Dale Fowler listened carefully for tones coming through his earphone inserts. In an adjacent space during this appointment, audiologist Barbara Peregoy conducted a hearing test for Fowler at the University Hearing and Speech Clinic in Spokane. Helping Peregoy was Washington State University graduate student Megan Moore. Graduate students, under the supervision of licensed speech-language pathologists and audiologists, offer a range of hearing and speech services at the clinic, which is operated jointly by Eastern Washington University and WSU on the Riverpoint Campus in

Spokane. “Basically, we’re going to run through various frequencies we use for speech,” said Peregoy, who also is an EWU senior lecturer. “Vowels are lower in frequency; the consonant sounds are high frequencies. Boomers definitively lose hearing in the high frequencies first, so they start missing the consonant sounds in the words.” About 37.5 million Americans of all ages have some degree of hearing loss, Peregoy said, and baby boomers make up about 20 to 25 percent of that population. The American Speech-Language Hearing Association recommends that people age 50 and older have a hearing test every three years. Fowler wanted to know if he needed hearing aids, a check suggested by family members. He has to strain

sometimes to hear others speaking, especially in noisy places. “If I’m in a cafeteria and it’s loud and echoey, I really have to pay attention to make sure I’ve heard someone,” said Fowler, a retired harbormaster. Peregoy gave directions to Fowler through a microphone as she controlled an audiometer, which has a control panel with multiple knobs and distributes a range of frequencies. Peregoy and Moore could see Fowler’s face through a small window in the wall of the adjoining rooms. Fowler responded with a “yes” when he heard different frequencies, first in the left ear, then the right. “We work hard to find the lowestintensity level per frequency,” Peregoy said.



Social Security allows you to take charge of your future By Kirk Larson Social Security Western Washington Public Affairs Specialist


March is Women’s History Month — a time to focus not just on the past, but on the challenges women continue to face. Nearly 60 percent of the people receiving Social Security benefits are women, and in the 21st century, more women work, pay Social Security

taxes, and earn credit toward monthly retirement income than at any other time in our history. More than 68 percent of those over age 85 are women. Knowing this, you can be the author of your own rich and independent history, with a little preparation. Social Security has served a vital role in the lives of women for over 80 years. With longer life expectancies than men, women tend to live more years in retirement and have a greater chance of

exhausting other sources of income. With the national average life expectancy for women in the United States rising, many women will have decades to enjoy retirement. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a female born today can expect to live more than 80 years. Experts generally agree that if women want to ensure that their retirement years are comfortable, CONTINUED ON PAGE 12

Senior homes often insist on arbitration

Senior Focus is a publication of SENIOR SERVICES OF SNOHOMISH COUNTY 11627 Airport Rd., Suite B Everett, WA 98204-8714

Star Tribune Joan Maurer thought she had a strong legal case when she sued a local senior home over the sudden death of her 89-year-old father. In her possession, Maurer had a stack of documents showing that the assisted living facility, Lighthouse of Columbia Heights, had failed to respond promptly when her father, Gerald Seeger, repeatedly vomited and screamed for help while pointing to his badly swollen stomach. After hours of suffering, Seeger died of complications related to a common hernia. State investigators later cited the facility

Joan Maurer holds a photo of her father, who died in a senior home. (Glen Stubbe / Minneapolis Star Tribune) for failing to provide timely medical care. But Maurer is still fighting for a chance to hold Lighthouse accountable in court. Attorneys for the facility claim that she forfeited that right when she signed a densely worded contract that forced the

family into private arbitration if a dispute arose, even one involving a wrongful death claim. “I never believed they would arbitrate my father’s life like he’s a piece of paper, and not a living, breathing



March 2017

Senior Focus


Social Security should meet real needs of retired workers By Steve McGraw Senior Services of Snohomish County Social Security has been one of America’s best success stories of lifting senior citizens out of poverty. It was forged in the classic American values of rewarding work, honoring our parents and caring for each other. In 2015, one in six residents of Washington — 1,260,474 people — received Social Security payments totaling $19.4 billion in personal income. In Snohomish County over 190,000 seniors receive these payments, totaling more than $255 million annually (source: Social Security Administration, Congressional Statistics for December 2015, Washington — www.socialsecurity. gov/policy.) Those dollars are a critical lifeline for tens of thousands of people and families and promote economic activity across the county. As the Boomers age, the numbers of people relying on Social Security will increase. Social Security is quickly becoming the main source of income for many, due to wages not keeping up with the cost of living, the resulting decline in private savings, and the

decline and elimination of employer pension programs. A recent Bloomberg article referenced a survey by Greenwald & Associates for the National Institute on Retirement Security, concluding: “If current trends continue, the U.S. soon will face rates of poverty among senior citizens not seen since the Great Depression. Of the 18 million workers between the ages of 55 and 64 in 2012, more than 4 million will be poor or near poor at age 65. This includes 2.6 million Americans considered middle-class prior to retirement.” The report concluded that “Americans are united in their anxiety about their economic security in retirement and in their dissatisfaction with national policy makers’ inaction to address the nation’s retirement crisis.” The survey also found that: ■■ Eighty percent of those surveyed said the average worker “cannot save enough on their own to guarantee a secure retirement.” ■■ The high cost of long-term care is a major factor behind how tough it is to prepare for retirement, according to 88 percent of survey respondents. ■■ Eighty-two percent of Americans said that the government should

make offering pensions easier for employers. ■■ Making sure that Americans have a secure retirement should be a higher priority for Washington, D.C., according to 88 percent of those surveyed. Social Security’s benefits should be strengthened, increased and modernized to reflect the dignity and contribution of working citizens, to better cover health and long-term care costs, and to improve fairness. In order to modernize and strengthen benefits and assure longterm stability for future generations, Congress should eliminate the earnings cap on contributions. Social Security should not be privatized in whole or in part. The program’s retirement age, which is already scheduled to increase from 66 to 67, should not be raised further. Please contact your senator or representative today with your concerns. You can use this link to contact both your state and federal elected officials:

Steve McGraw is CEO of Senior Services of Snohomish County.

‘Age rating’ is unfair discrimination By Cathy MacCaul AARP Washington Advocacy Director Recently, members of Congress quietly introduced a bill designed to allow insurance companies to charge older workers five times what other consumers pay for the same health insurance policy. Supporters of the bill call it “age rating.” They can call it whatever they want, but the truth is it’s an unfair tax on older workers that would line the pockets of big insurance companies. This legal form of discrimination is priciest for Americans age 50 to 64, who are still too young for Medicare. Under HR 708, “The State Age Rating Flexibility Act of 2017,” the average 60 year-old would pay more than $3,000 per year in health insurance premiums, according to an AARP-sponsored analysis. Their insurance premiums could reach up to over $17,900 year. That is outrageous and it is why AARP is opposing this unfair age tax. If this bill becomes law, it could potentially force Washingtonians age 50 to 64 to dig a lot deeper into their pockets to pay for health insurance.

Even now, many Americans in the age 50-64 range are hard-pressed to handle their health care bills, and are no better able than other consumers to absorb a jolt in this expense. The economy may be improving, but who is in a position to absorb an insurance premium increase of more than $3,000? And it wouldn’t just be individuals picking up the tab. Further weakening the consumer protection on age rating would ratchet up the government’s own health care costs. AARP researchers have found that if the age tax was increased, taxpayers of all ages would have to spend an extra $6.7 billion in assistance for older Americans who need extra help. The current cap, which limits insurers to charging older consumers no more than three times the amount charged to younger consumers, is part of the Affordable Care Act. Under the ACA, the number of uninsured Americans age 50-64 has fallen in half — a real achievement that deserves far more attention. Instead of increasing profits for insurance companies, AARP

believes Washington, D.C., should focus on reducing health care costs for everyone, such as by cracking down on drug companies’ high prices. For example, Congress could pass legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies for lower drug prices. And, legislators could reduce barriers to global price competition by allowing for the safe importation of lower-priced drugs. There is no reason that Americans should continue paying the highest prescription drug prices in the world. On behalf of our more than 950,000 members in Washington state, AARP is committed to working with elected officials of both parties to find responsible solutions for the problem of rising health care costs. If you agree that it is a bad idea to force older consumers to pay thousands of dollars more for their care, please contact your members of Congress and ask them to stand up for older workers, not insurance companies, and declare their opposition to the State Age Rating Flexibility Act of 2017.

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Published monthly with a readership of 100,000+, the Senior Focus educates and entertaines readers (senior, family caregivers, service providers and other interested persons) with news and information that reflects the diverse interests and needs of the senior community. Signed articles are the opinon of the writer and not the opinion of Senior Services or The Daily Herald Distribution: Over 11,000 papers are mailed to households and senior-friendly businesses;1,900 papers are distributed at drop-off locations including senior centers, retirement communities, libraries, etc. Advertising: The existence of advertising (including political advertisements) in this publication is not meant as an endorsement of the individual, product or service by anyone except the advertiser. 1816708

Good lighting and handles make homes safer places Tribune News Service Even a house that has been a home for decades can become an obstacle course or pose unexpected problems. AARP suggests these modifications for your home: Vision: ■■ Make sure lighting is adequate on exterior pathways, porches and doorways. ■■ Improve lighting on stairs, such as with night lights or installing overhead fixtures or wall sconces. ■■ Add lighting to closets. ■■ During the day, open curtains, shades and blinds for plenty of natural light. ■■ Consider automatic, light-sensor night lights in rooms and hallways. ■■ Install glow-in-the-dark light switches. ■■ Adequate kitchen lighting includes over the sink, stove and other work areas. Be sure you can easily see the stove’s controls. Reaching and moving: ■■ Place rolling casters on chairs. ■■ Look into installing a walk-in or no-threshold shower and add a bath seat or bench plus an adjustable hand-held showerhead. ■■ Consider drawers designed to close automatically, and use adjustable and low rods and shelves in closets and cabinets. Handy tips: ■■ Lever-style door handles are easier to operate than round doorknobs. ■■ A chair or small table near your entrance door is a great place to put packages, mail or your purse while you lock or unlock the door. ■■ Those larger rocker-style light switches are easier to use than traditional toggle-style switches. The National Association of Home Builders offers these suggestions if you have a senior temporarily in your house: ■■ Clear pathways: Look for obstacles, and look for furniture that people usually have to maneuver around. Look for and move any electrical cords that might be in the path of your visitor. ■■ Light it up: Put nightlights in dark spots that might affect your guest, such as bathrooms, the guest room, nearby hallways and even the kitchen. Make sure there is a light source within easy reach of the bed. ■■ Don’t slip up: Make sure the guest’s shower has a non-slip floor, non-slip strips or a suction-attached non-slip mat. Beware of throw rug and bathroom mats. ■■ The right seat: Look for chairs that will best suit your guest. A chair or sofa that is too soft or low can make it difficult to stand up and maintain balance. A chair with arms provides something to grip while standing up or sitting down.

Senior Focus March 2017 D3


For a price, senior travelers can hire a companion By Jim Miller Q. Do you know of any services that help seniors with the rigors of traveling? My youngest daughter is getting married in a few months and would love to have my 82-year-old mother attend, but she needs help flying across the country. Searching Daughter Dear Searching, Traveling can be daunting under the best circumstances, but for elderly seniors, those with disabilities, or those recovering or rehabilitating from an illness or injury, it can seem particularly overwhelming or unmanageable. Fortunately, there are a number of companies that provide traveling companion/escort services to help older adults with the rigors of travel. Whether it’s seniors going on vacation or grandparents wanting to join their far-off families for weddings and graduations, travel companions

help clients who need help moving through airports, managing luggage, navigating busy terminals and hotel lobbies and much more. Some companion services even provide personal care like medication reminders, dressing, bathing and feeding. And for those with specific medical needs, traveling nurse services are available, too. But be aware that these services aren’t cheap. You will pay for the travel companion’s tickets, the companion’s hotel room if necessary, meals, incidentals and fees for the service. The price to accompany a client on a plane trip within the United States — including the companion fees and travel costs for all parties — can range from $1,500 to $5,000 or more for coach airfare. Business or first class would cost more. To locate a travel companion service in your area, search online for “senior travel companion” or “senior travel escort,” followed by your

mom’s city or state. Or use an experienced national service like Flying Companions (FlyingCompanions. com) or FirstLight Home Care (, which has a national network of franchises that provides in-home care for seniors, and offers travel companion programs in about one-third of its 130 franchises. Or, for medical travel companions do a search for “traveling nurse escort” or “medical travel companion,” or checkout Travel Care & Logistics (, which provides registered nurses as escorts. If, however, your mom doesn’t require a lot of assistance, or if you can’t afford a travel escort, consider asking a trusted family member or friend that has some air travel experience. Questions to ask: If you’re interested in hiring a travel companion service to help your mom, there things you need to check into to

ensure you get the right escort. First, if you mom requires personal or medical care while traveling, find out if the escort is trained to manage her healthcare needs. What sort of medical certifications do they have? (Nursing credentials? C.P.R. training? etc.) Also, find out how many trips the companion has taken with clients. Have they completed trips with travelers like your mom? How long has the travel service company been in business? What is the company’s safety record? And what sort of insurance does it carry, and what and who does it cover? Also, get a quote breaking down exactly what you’ll be required to pay, in addition to the companion’s fees. And, get a list of two or three clients/references who has used their service and call them. Send your senior questions to Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit

Study links specific exercises with increases in longevity Los Angeles Times You probably know that exercise is good for you, but do you know whether you’re better off riding a bike or swimming laps in the pool? Actually, if you want to get the biggest bang for your exercise buck, you should pick up a racket, new research reveals. An analysis of more than 80,000 adults who were tracked for nearly a decade finds that those who played tennis, badminton or squash had the lowest risk of dying. Compared with people who didn’t play racket sports, those who did were 47 percent less likely to die of any cause and 56 percent less likely to die as a result of cardiovascular disease.

If these kinds of sports aren’t your racket, you could don a swimsuit and googles. In the study, swimmers were 28 percent less likely to die for any reason and 41 percent less likely to die of cardiovascular disease than people who stayed out of the water. Another alternative is to join an aerobics, Zumba or other type of active fitness class. The results, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, are based on data from 43,705 women and 36,601 men who participated in the Health Survey for England or the Scottish Health Survey. These volunteers, whose average age was 52, told interviewers how often they exercised, what types of exercises they did and how intense

their workouts were. Swimming was the most popular type of exercise, claimed by 13.4 percent of study volunteers. Cycling was second, with 9.9 percent of volunteers saying they rode a bike either outside or in an indoor exercise class. Aerobics-type classes were third (6.4 percent of people took them), followed by running or jogging (5 percent), racket sports (3.6 percent) and football or rubgy (3.1 percent). Overall, 44.3 percent of people met minimum recommendations for some kind of physical activity. The study authors checked to see how many of the volunteers died in subsequent years, tracking them for an average of 9.2 years. Overall, 8,790 of the study participants died,

including 1,909 who succumbed to cardiovascular disease. The risk of death was not spread equally, the researchers found. Compared with people who didn’t get enough exercise, those who met the minimum standards were 27 percent less likely to die of any reason and 28 percent less likely to die of cardiovascular disease during the course of the study. Cyclists had a 15 percent lower risk of death from any cause than noncyclists, but cycling didn’t have a significant effect on the risk of cardiovascular death. Runners and joggers were no less likely than their counterparts to die of cardiovascular disease or anything else during the study period.

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March 2017

Senior Focus


Seniors seek health help on internet at low rate

A lifetime of strength and sorrow By Betty Lou Gaeng Picture a tiny dark-haired girl; her skin is aglow with health; her cheeks are flushed. Her brown eyes sparkle. Her little bare feet flash as she runs to join the other little ones in the games the native children played in the early 1880s. She struggles to keep up with her cousins William and Henry Shelton. Her family and playmates call her Bah-hahlth (Return to Good). Later she was known by an English name, Katrina, and sometimes she was called Katie. Years later her grandson, David Spencer, called her Kwi-tee. Born about 1876 in Snohomish County, Washington Territory, Katrina grew up The girl who would be known as Katrina Bagley grew near the Snohomish River up near Snohomish where her family lived in a native and the town of Snohomish longhouse. (Courtesy of John Campbell) where the family lived in a native longhouse with about was left a 16-year-old widow. three more children from 20 other family members. Her second husband was Katrina’s marriage to MauYears later the Tulalip Indian Henry Tukius from the Swin- rice James were lost to her: Reservation would become omish Tribe at LaConner. Anthony, 18; Wilbur, 14, and her permanent home. Katrina was soon widowed Christine, 12. Tuberculosis Katrina grew to become once again. had been running rampant a strong woman. Survival In 1894, Katrina married through the reservation. depended not only on Maurice Jim/James from the Since his induction into the strength, but also the ability Tulalip Reservation, and they Army in 1917, Katrina’s son, to adapt. While still maintain- were blessed with six chil- Elson James, had been serving her native language and dren. She suffered another ing in France during WWI teachings, Katrina learned loss when her husband Mau- as a scout and guide for the the way of the foreigners. She rice died in 1907 at the age of troops. He was often on nightbecame a savvy business- 39. In 1909, their 12-year-old time patrol behind enemy lines and Katrina worried. woman and she learned to daughter, Ella, lost her life. In 1908 Katrina married She was happy when finally a hold what was hers. No one took that from her — espe- for the fourth time. This hus- letter came from Elson telling cially her land. It was not band was a much younger her he would soon be home. considered the best land — Tulalip man, Francis (Frank) A short time later Katrina’s the government didn’t allot Sese. In 1912 Katrina was heart nearly broke. She was the best to the native people. again widowed. Two chil- notified that her heroic son However, it was hers and dren, Grace and Agnes had Elson had died of pneumoKatrina held it close. been born during this mar- nia in France on December Married and widowed four riage. While still a toddler, 11, 1918, as a result of those times before her final mar- Grace died. Agnes married many bitterly cold nighttime riage to Ambrose Bagley, and lived to the age of 25 and patrols. Katrina’s fifth and final Katrina’s life was one filled gave Katrina her first grandwith loss and sorrow. Her first child, David Spencer. David husband, Ambrose Bagley, marriage to a man named was the grandchild Katrina was a man with connecCampbell from Skagit was would take into her home to tions to the Duwamish Tribe so short it was almost forgot- raise as her own. as well as Tulalip. Katrina In 1914, another child, and Ambrose had one child, ten. They were married when Katrina was 15; when her 13-year-old daughter Edith a daughter, Katherine. In husband was murdered, she James, died. During 1917, 1933, Katherine married

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Alaskan native William G. Campbell and gave Katrina and Ambrose 12 grandchildren. Katrina and Ambrose farmed and lived in the large comfortable home they built on her allotment land at Tulalip. This home became a welcoming one, often filled with family and friends. Many of those friends were fellow parishioners at the old Tulalip Shaker Church. Long-time members of the church, Katrina and Ambrose donated the bell for the steeple. Katrina died in 1950, her age given as 74. Ambrose Bagley survived Katrina by six years. They are both buried at Tulalip’s Priest Point Cemetery. Katrina didn’t live to see yet another war and another loss for her family. This time Katrina’s daughter and sonin-law Katherine and William Campbell in July of 1970 received the sad news telling them that their 20-year-old son, Donald, was killed in action in Vietnam. Many years later the front page of The Everett Herald on Monday, September 22, 2008, featured a story about the remaining acres of Katrina’s 1904 allotment land which had become the property of her many heirs. On Saturday morning, some of those heirs gathered on the family’s land and with heartfelt love and appreciation they held a blessing for Bah-hahlth Katrina Bagley, a special woman they will always remember and honor. In his 2011 book, “Lifted to the Edge, The Reflections of a Tulalip Grandson,” David Spencer, Sr. wrote about his grandmother Kwi-tee, his grandfather Ambrose, and the years he lived with them. When asked about his memories of his grandparents, David Spencer’s usual reply is: “They showed me how to walk my life.”

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Senior citizens need more medical care than anyone else in the United States. And the internet is chock full of health information. Yet seniors are far less likely than other adults to tap into it, new research shows. A 2016 report in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that only about 18 percent of participants in the National Health and Aging Trends Study got health information online in 2014. That pales in comparison with the approximately 60 percent of adults of all ages who have told the Pew Research Center that they consult Dr. Google at least once a year — including the 35 percent who said they rely on the web to diagnose their own ailments or the maladies of people they know. Since 2011, thousands of Medicare beneficiaries in the aging trends study have been completing annual surveys that gauge their use of technology. In the survey’s first year, 64 percent of the survey takers had computers and 43 percent were hooked up to the internet. Their average age was 75. Apparently, these seniors had better things to do than research ways to prevent heart disease, manage symptoms of diabetes or stave off dementia. Email was far more enticing. Electronic banking (but not online shopping) was also a more popular choice. Among all 7,609 initial study participants, only 16 percent said they went online to learn about health. In addition, 8 percent said they filled prescriptions online, 7 percent used the Internet to get in touch with their doctors and 5 percent dealt with their insurance claims on the web. Altogether, 21 percent of seniors who were surveyed in 2011 used the internet for at least one of these four healthrelated tasks, according to the JAMA report. By 2014, that figure rose to 25 percent — a small yet statistically significant increase, the study authors wrote. Some senior citizens were more likely to go online for health-related reasons than others. For instance, the odds were twice as high for white seniors than for their black and Latino counterparts. College graduates were seven times more likely to handle health issues online than were seniors who didn’t finish high school.These disparities, along with the slow rate of uptake overall, prompted the study authors to fret that seniors aren’t taking full advantage of the health resources available online.

Senior Focus

How aging alters our strength, movement By Wina Sturgeon Adventure Sports Weekly As we get older, many of us fight the obvious signs of aging. Maybe expensive creams will diminish lines on faces, or supportive undergarments will restore our youthful outlines. But there are signs of aging we don’t notice. For example, once folks reach middle age or beyond, they tend to get lightheaded and dizzy more often. In its clinical form this is often defined as “vertigo,” a condition that causes its victims to keel over. This is not the typical trip-and-fall that creates the high statistics of injuries among seniors; but it certainly adds to those statistics. Many things can cause dizziness and loss of balance, including dehydration and prescription drugs. Look at labels for both prescription and over-the-counter drugs for any drug and will almost see the words, “May cause dizziness.” You may have noticed how older folks often bend their torso forward as they stand or walk, especially those who walk with a cane. There’s a distinct curve forward, almost as if the lower spine doesn’t have the strength to keep the whole spine upright. In a way, that’s true. Aging causes a natural loss of minerals, such as calcium. Important columns of supportive muscle, the spinal erectors, lose strength and bulk Vertebrae also lose mineral content, making each bone thinner. The spinal column becomes curved and compressed. Bone spurs caused by aging and overall use of the spine may also form on the vertebrae. One of the most dangerous things caused by aging is the “foot dragging syndrome.” Instead of lifting the feet a few inches up when taking each step, the feet are kind of dragged along the surface of the ground, which makes it easy to be tripped if a piece of sidewalk concrete is lifted up a few inches by tree roots. This sign of aging can be easily fixed. Go for a special walk in which you concentrate intensely on “marching” — lifting each foot at least six inches up with each step. It may take a while for the foot lifting to become a habit as you walk, but practice makes perfect here. Anything you can do to prevent a fall is good practice.

March 2017


Without a cure for Alzheimer’s, we’ll need 48 million caregivers By Cheryl M. Keyser One of the most devastating diseases, Alzheimer’s is also the most costly according to recent figures from the Alzheimer’s Association. Currently, there are more than 5 million Americans living with the disease with 15 million caregivers providing 18.1 million hours in unpaid care. It is the most expensive illness in the country at an estimated $236 billion annually. With an aging society, the number of people afflicted, and the increase in caregiving, both formal and informal,the overall cost will only increase. If no prevention, treatment, or cure is found before the year 2050, it is estimated that there will be 16 million individuals with Alzheimer’s. And at roughly three persons to care for each Alzheimer’s patient, that means 48 million caregivers will be needed. One bright light on the horizon is that Medicare has finally decided to pay for cognitive and functional assessments and care planning for Alzheimer’s patients and those with similar impairments. This is important as many patients also have chronic illnesses, such as heart disease or diabetes, and any care plan must take these into account. “Proper care planning results in fewer hospitalizations, fewer emergency room visits and better management of medication — all of which improves the quality of life for both patients and caregivers, and helps manage overall care costs,” said Robert Egge, Alzheimer’s Association Chief Public Policy Officer. For more information, visit the website of the Alzheimer’s Association at

Meals on Wheels to expand For years, that familiar knock on the door has announced the arrival of a Meals on Wheels volunteer delivering a hot meal to a home-bound individual.It is the largest, and in many cases, the only organization providing food to those unable to shop or cook for themselves. Now it is exploring an expansion of its role in the community, helping older adults remain in their homes, “while reducing their need for high-cost healthcare services.”

As Ellie Hollander, President and CEO of Meals on Wheels America noted, “funding to meet basic needs of at-risk seniors has declined and the healthcare system is overburdened,” at the same time as the aging population of the United States is growing. To achieve its goals, Meals on Wheels has entered into a partnership with Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Maryland and Quantified Ventures to work with the Pay for Success program to finance an extension of its services to more than just providing meals. With the resources from Pay for Success, it will undertake “a rigorous assessment of the impact [of its program] on both health outcomes and healthcare cost savings [which] will be conducted by an independent evaluator.” Pay for Success, also known as the Social Impact Bond initiative, is a creative way to leverage funding, albeit complicated. According to information on its website, “private investors pay for preventative…social services up front. Should these services deliver their intended results governments then reimburse the investors with a return on their investment…” For more information, visit the website at

Number confusion A new report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) indicates that there is a conflict between Census Bureau numbers and other government entities, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in the number of people who participate in an employment-retirement plan. The former found sharp declines in the number of employees participating in pension plans, while the latter reported an increase. “While the changes appear to have improved the accuracy of data on pension income (which increased under the redesigned Current Population Survey),” EBRI also noted that “they also resulted in historically sharp and significant reductions in the levels of worker participation in employment-based retirement plans.” This is a key financial measure of how future generations will support themselves in retirement. “Unless modifications are made to

the survey, using CPS for estimating the participation in pension and other retirement plans will provide misleading and inaccurate estimates and conclusions,” said Craig Copeland, EBRI researcher and author of the report. For further information, visit the website at

Predicting falls Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries among older adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every 11 seconds an older adults goes to an emergency room for a fall, and every 19 minutes one dies from a fall. A study at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, however,i ndicates it may have found a way to anticipate an individual’s risk of falling. Its study required older adults, average age 75, to first walk at a normal pace, then stand while listing alternate letters of the alphabet, and then do both at the same time. The study participants did this while using a non-invasive brain-imaging technology with senors measuring changes in oxygen levels in the front part of the brain. The participants were followed regularly over a four-year period. Of the 166 in the group, 71 fell 116 times and 34 fell more than once, although none of the falls were serious. The study found that with higher levels of brain activity there was an increase in the risk of falls. “Our findings suggest that changes in brain activity that influence walking may be present long before people exhibit any sign of walking difficulty. Now we need to find the underlying biological mechanisms or diseases that may be altering brain activity and, if possible, correct them to help prevent falls,”said Dr.Joe Verghese, M.B., B.S. study author. The National Falls Prevention Research Center, made up of more than 70 national organizations, has established a Falls Free Initiative to educate the public on falls prevention and to obtain funding for further research. For information, visit the website at or for the Falls Free National Action Plan at the National Council on the Aging website,


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March 2017

Senior Focus


We can include processed foods in our diets and still be healthy By Cara Rosenbloom Special to the Washington Post Ah, processed foods. The term has become a sweeping generalization for anything that comes in a bag or a box. Most nutrition advice usually includes the general statement “eat less processed food and choose fresh food instead.” But how we process the food matters. Some ingredients can undergo changes, (like being frozen, fermented or sprouted) that makes them equally or more nutritious than they once were. Not all processes are detrimental. An apple is more nutritious than applesauce, and both are better choices than apple pie. The more processed a food is from its original state, the less healthy it becomes. To make it easier to discern just how processed a food is, researchers developed four categories: Group 1. Unprocessed and minimally processed foods. These include basic whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, meat and milk. If processing is used, it’s to preserve shelf life, such as freezing vegetables and vacuum-sealing meat. This group makes up about 30 percent of the calories we eat, but the number should be higher for these nutritious options. Group 2. Processed culinary ingredients. These enhance the flavor of meals and include olive oil, salt, honey and dried herbs. Some like olive oil are more nutritious than others like sugar, but they only account for 3 percent of our calories when used in basic cooking, so they aren’t the main concern.

Group 3. Processed foods. These foods that undergo some processing and contain just two or three ingredients fall into this group. Examples are canned fish, salted nuts and sourdough (fermented) bread. We get about 10 percent of calories from these foods. Many are nutritious and convenient

Sprouted grains and beans are easier to digest, have minimal effect on blood-sugar and contain more protein, fiber and B vitamins than their non-sprouted counterparts. Look for whole grains, beans and breads that say “sprouted” on the package. Fermented foods contain probiotics: There’s been recent focus on fermented foods such as yogurt and kimchi is because of the beneficial probiotics they provide. Probiotics help support the immune system, relieve constipation, help prevent some types of cancer, and are being studied for their role in managing cholesterol and treating neurological disorders. Want to get more probiotics in your diet? Buy yogurt, kefir (an effervescent milk beverage) and tempeh (fermented soy). Or try refrigerated sauerkraut or kimchi, but not the shelf-stable ones.

Group 4. Ultra-processed foods. If you take processed (groups 2 and 3) foods such as enriched flour, sugar and high fructose corn syrup, add food coloring, and put them into a Pop-Tart, you get an ultraprocessed food. The foods in this group are the result of industrial formulations of five or more usually cheap ingredients. These foods provide almost 60 percent of our calories, but that number needs to be much lower. Collectively, ultra-processed foods are high in sugar, fat and salt, and lack fiber, vitamins and minerals. People who consume more ultraprocessed foods have a greater risk of obesity, hypertension and high blood sugar, which can lead to heart disease and diabetes. Examples of ultra-processed foods are candy, instant soups, ice cream, breakfast cereals, soda and hot dogs. Yogurt with added sugar or powdered cheese on deep fried potatoes are examples of processes that turn once-healthy food into less nutritious fare. But not all processes are bad ­— some forms of preserving and preparing food are very smart ideas.

Frozen foods retain more vitamins: If fresh vegetables wilt in your crisper, use frozen options instead. They are blanched and quick-frozen, which isn’t detrimental to their nutrients. In fact, a comparison study of fresh vs. frozen vegetables and fruit showed that vitamins C and E are the same or higher in frozen compared with fresh. My nutrition counseling comes with a revised message. Rather than avoiding all processed foods, I explain the groupings and recommend less ultra-processed food and more fresh food and some slightly processed items.

Sprouted foods are nutritious: Whole grains and beans are living seeds, and a little “processing” with the right moisture level and temperature can make them sprout.

Registered dietitian Cara Rosenbloom is president of Words to Eat By, a nutrition communications company.

Life Styles Change

Kaiser Health News More than 14 million adults have enrolled in Medicaid since the health law passed, and that has caused some hand-wringing over whether there would be enough primary care providers to meet the demand. Now a study suggests newly insured people are generally able to get timely appointments. In the study, published online in JAMA Internal Medicine, field workers posing as either new Medicaid patients or privately insured individuals called physician practices in 10 states and requested a newpatient appointment. They recorded whether they were able to get an appointment and how soon it could be scheduled. The states in the study (Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Iow Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Texas) represented a mix of states that expanded Medicaid coverage to adults and those that haven’t done so. An initial round of calls to more than 9,700 practices was made in 2012 and 2013, before most states had expanded Medicaid coverage, followed by a second round of calls to more than 7,300 practices in 2016. Over the study periods, appointment availability improved for Medicaid callers by 5.4 percentage points, and stayed stable for privately insured callers (though Medicaid callers still had a tougher time getting appointments in general). “It’s still true that fewer doctors are willing to see Medicaid patients than are willing to see commercial patients,” said Daniel Polsky, director of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at the University of Pennsylvania and the study’s lead author. “But if you have Medicaid, your access to doctors is still good.”


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Senior Focus


March 2017

There’s no way he could win — but wait! By Saralee Perel “What do you have behind your back?” I asked my husband, Bob. “What do you think it is?” He showed me the one dollar scratch ticket. “Bob, you said you wouldn’t waste money on these anymore.” He grinned and gave it to me. It was a forty dollar winner. “What on earth is going to motivate you to stop gambling if you keep winning?” I said. “Losing,” he said. “But you never do. Every month you get a winning check from the State Lottery Commission.” I went to his desk and pointed to the stack of scratch tickets. I looked through them and said, astonished, “Each one is a winner!” “You weren’t against gambling when I was on TV in ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire.’” (He really was, with Regis.) “Bob, gambling will get the better of you someday. You’ve got to stop.” The very next day, an email came in. The subject line was: “CONGRATULATIONS FROM GSN!”

Everybody is all smiles as Lucky Bob shows off his winnings. (Saralee Perel photo) I said, “Oh no. Now we’re getting scammed.” The email essentially read: Dear Bob, “CONGRATULATIONS from Game Show Network, LLC, on winning the ‘Winsanity’ Sweepstakes. The components of your Grand Prize includes: One (1) $100 Chicago Steaks Gift Card $5,000 cash (awarded as a check).”

The best hearing aid for you depends on several factors Mayo Clinic News Network Q. Why do hearing aids work for some people but not others? A. The type of hearing loss you have and how severe it is can impact how well a hearing aid works for you. A variety of hearing aids are available, so if the first one you try isn’t helpful, ask your audiologist to recommend another. For people who have hearing loss that does not benefit from hearing aids, a device called a cochlear implant may be a useful alternative.

Your ear has three areas: the outer, middle and inner ear. When you hear, sound waves pass through the outer ear and cause vibrations at the eardrum, which are transmitted through the three small bones of the middle ear to the fluid-filled inner ear. The inner ear is a snail-shaped structure called the cochlea. Within the cochlea are thousands of tiny hair cells that help translate the sound vibrations into electrical signals that are sent to your brain through your auditory nerve. The vibrations of different sounds affect

They asked for: “1. Affidavit of Eligibility & Publicity/Liability Release The winner must also provide a copy of their picture identification card. (His license.) 2. W-9 Form 3. Tax Compliance Form I’m deleting this!” I said. But Bob stopped me. “I did play Winsanity.” “Winsanity” is a game show on TV. To play, one watches the show live, sees the questions, and logs in to answer them on a cell phone.” “You’re going to give them our W-9 form? They’ll have our social security number and God-knows what else. Our banking information? They’ll steal our identity!” I replied to the email, “I’d like proof that you really are GSN.” They replied with the address of Game Show Network, along with the GSN website. Now, you know, anyone can send that address and website. I couldn’t talk Bob out of it. He sent in everything they requested. Their next email read, “There is one additional document we’ll need you

to sign. It’s a tax compliance form.” On that form, we were told we’d need to send them money first. “The winner must pay California income tax in the amount of $357.00 before the prize can be released.” I replied that we would not send them money. Amazingly enough, we received a gift card for $100 for the steaks. Weeks later, Bob handed me an envelope from the mail. The return address was from Game Show Network. His hands shook as he painstakingly slowly opened the envelope. Inside was a check for $5,000. He was ecstatic. “I won $5,000!” Still suspicious, I said, “Honey, I know you’re thrilled, but let’s wait for it to clear.” It cleared the next day. “What do you want to do with the money?” I said. “Give some to charity? Take a vacation?” He used 10 dollars of it buying 10 scratch tickets. He won $170.

these tiny hair cells in different ways, causing different signals to be sent to your brain. That’s how you distinguish one sound from another. In most people who develop hearing loss, the hair cells in the cochlea are damaged or missing, usually as a result of aging or exposure to loud noise, or due to genetic reasons. That means the signals can’t be transmitted efficiently to the brain. Hearing aids don’t replace or regenerate the hair cells that have been damaged, so they can’t completely restore normal hearing. They can improve your ability to hear by amplifying sound, helping you hear the sounds you’ve had trouble hearing. But even when the sound level increases with a hearing aid, you still may notice some hearing loss.

Most hearing aids are digital and can be programmed individually to analyze and adjust sound based on your specific hearing loss, listening needs and the level of the sounds around you. Hearing aids vary significantly in price, size and features. Some fit completely inside your ear canal. Some are placed in the outer portion of your ear. Others hook over the top of your ear and sit behind it. Your audiologist can review your options and help you choose which one might be best for your needs. It can take time to adjust to a new hearing aid and decide if it’s right for you. That’s why you have a trial period for hearing aids.

Award-winning nationally syndicated columnist, Saralee Perel, can be reached at or via

— Tribune Content Agency

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March 2017

Senior Focus


Vacations to pamper your mind and body By Kathy Witt Tribune News Service

spray and sunscreen, tanning oil and zinc for guests. In addition, the Tanning Butler calls on the adult pool each afternoon with custom-scented cool towels and Mai Tais — and it’s all complimentary. Presenting a beautiful balance of classic Hawaiian style and one-of-akind luxury, this 371-room sanctuary is located on the island’s lush and wild western coast. Guests find their serenity in the ocean views, the ancient Hawaiian healing therapies of the Naupaka Spa and relaxation experiences that include sunrise yoga overlooking the beach. Indoor/outdoor dining venues specialize in sustainable, local foods and take their culinary inspiration from the islands and its people. And then there’s the Tanning Butler and those deliciously cooling towels.

Need a favorite literary tome fetched? A cooling cloth spritzed with a custom fragrance for your sun-warmed brow? The in-room bar restocked with your preferred wines? This is your vacation ­— and it’s only fitting that you have what you want, when you want to have it. Your butler is here and reporting for duty.

Bed, bath and beyond No need to get up. Each morning, the butler at tony 42-room Falling Rock arrives at your guestroom with the requested coffee, juices and/or teas — all prepared to preference — draws the blinds, then pours the wake-up beverages and serves them while you lounge atop luxe sheets and hand-sewn chenille bedding. A five-star boutique hotel at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, Pennsylvania, www., Falling Rock, an homage to the organic architectural style of Frank Lloyd Wright, has just about everything you could conjure up for the perfect getaway, including fine farm-to-table and casual dining, golf, spa, casino, heated outdoor infinity pool and a full roster of yearround activities, arrayed on 2,000 acres in the Laurel Highlands of the Allegheny Mountains. But back to the butler. While you sip coffee or tea, the butler will assess the daily weather forecast. He’ll review your itinerary, perhaps lay out your attire for the day. In the evening, you’ll have the Bath and Pillow Menu and Cookie and Milk Turndown to look forward to, the latter of which includes warm homemade Belgium chocolate chip cookies and a chilled pint of local milk from Turner’s Dairy Farm, served at the requested hour. All of this is part of the resort’s 24-hour butler service that includes everything from unpacking and packing of luggage, ironing and steaming of garments, shoe shining and drawing a decadent bath in a 200-gallon soaking tub to 24-hour in-room dining service, check-in and check-out assistance, arranging of airport transfers.

Diamond-level living

The Commons Hotel pays homage to the University of Minneapolis through a playful learning environment that speaks to lovers of art and literature. (Sammy Todd Dyess / The Commons Hotel)

One for the books At the 304-room The Commons Hotel,, on the campus of the University of Minnesota, lovers of literature can get lost in a beloved classic or a bestseller. The hotel’s resident Book Butler delivers the desired reading material right to your room. Not only that, he also leaves literary quotes on guests’ pillows at turndown and delivers Sudoku puzzles with each in-room breakfast order. Taking its design cues from a geek-chic aesthetic — think smart, sophisticated step apart and plenty of art — the hotel’s public spaces feel more living room than lobby. Everywhere there is chalk art, paintings and books. Lighting is via molecular-designed chandeliers beneath tin-press ceilings and against a brick wall backdrop. Seating vignettes anchored by a statement fireplace invite cozy conversation.

Guestrooms coddle with a homey atmosphere, 500-thread count linens and a rain shower accented with brown leather, blue velvet and argyle. The hotel also offers a state-of-theart fitness center, complimentary access to the university’s Recreation and Wellness Center and playful experiences centered on literature, art and science — including flights of local brew and alchemist mixology lessons at The Beacon Public House.

Poolside pampering How can a five-star Hawaiian beach resort experience improve on its laurels? The brand new Four Seasons Oahu at Ko Olina, www., has figured it out — and it’s called the Tanning Butler. The Tanning Butler visits each of the resort’s three pools and private lagoon on a regular basis, offering 30 SPF and 50 SPF hair conditioning

With the Caribbean Sea before you and mangrove forests behind, it can feel delightfully remote at Mexico’s Royalton Riviera Cancun, Removing you even further from the hassles of life is Hideaway, the super-indulgent resort-within-the-resort that grants guests even more privacy. Yet another coddling step away from it all are exclusive Diamond Club services, including a personal butler — and one who knows what you need: Packing and unpacking of your luggage; ironing a set of clothing; stocking (and restocking daily) the mini-bar with your favorite wine and spirits; a beach area reserved just for you; a pillow menu and more. Onsite amusements are water sports, fitness programs and poolside mixology classes; three adults-only swimming pools; a private lounge with breakfast, hors d’oeuvres and desserts; plus a variety of shops, spa, night club and casino. Dining choices include Mexican, Mediterranean, American steakhouse, Italian, Tex-Mex, seafood and more. Your butler will make reservations and escort you, bouncing you to the front of the queue to be seated immediately. Kathy Witt believes you should reach the end of your bucket list. Contact her at

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Senior Focus

March 2017


TECH TALK Making peace with tech devices

Fake news, phishy numbers and batteries By Bob DeLaurentis Q. My daughter is upset with me because I get news from Facebook. I don’t understand why that is such a big problem. A. Social networks like Facebook and Pinterest get most of the information they present from users. Generally sites only filter extreme material like pornography. There is nothing to remove inaccurate information. To make the matter worse, financial incentives exist to create and distribute false information. In the race for attention, rumors and facts become indistinguishable from one another. Social networks are the most obvious examples, but these problems touch every corner of the internet. Thinking of the internet as one big electronic newspaper is bad for several reasons. Traditional newspapers operate in a world of consequences that tend to favor consistency, whereas the internet tends to reward viral headlines. Sensationalism is nothing new, yellow journalism and over-the-top headlines have existed for over a century. What is new is online technology. Physical newspapers have always been limited by the cost of distributing newsprint. The cost to distribute something online is almost zero. Sources are also more opaque. There are few if any human editors. A typical web page is assembled in an instant by a computer program that selects bits of data from dozens of different places with the primary

goal of capturing your time and attention. Capturing attention is the reason that so many sites are littered with headlines that seem more at home on a supermarket tabloid. The bottom line is that sorting truth from fiction on the internet is a skill. It requires a mindset based on the adage: Consider the source. Q. The other day my computer displayed a message that instructed me to call a toll free telephone number to fix a problem. I ignored the message, but a few days later my computer started crashing. Now I’m worried I made a mistake. How can I get this fixed? A. A web page that asks you to make a phone call to fix your computer is almost certainly fraudulent. This type of error message, which is known as “phishing,” is a style of attack aimed at some larger purpose, such as identity theft or stealing your credit card number. What was probably a random message on a web site can seem more sinister if some new glitch is suddenly discovered. While there is a slight chance they could be related, the resolution is no different: Follow the troubleshooting steps necessary to solve the underlying problem. Check that your system is up to date, that antivirus protection is in place, and try to isolate the crash to a specific program or action. Malicious instructions to place a telephone call are a widespread concern. And the delivery mechanism varies. I know of a case where


‘Facebook for Seniors’ By Ronnie Gill Newsday Name: “Facebook for Seniors: Connect With Friends and Family in 12 Easy Lessons,” by Carrie, Chris and Cheryl Ewin (No Starch Press, 332 pp., $24.95) What: An easy-to-follow guide for seniors or technophobes to access and use Facebook. What’s hot: If you have enough savvy to turn on your computer and access the internet, you can join and safely use Facebook by following the

a specific error message on Kindle, when searched on Google, would return a fake Amazon page with instructions to call a specific telephone number. Anyone who responded became a victim of fraud. Q. Last Christmas someone gave me an external battery to recharge my phone and tablet on the go. I’m planning a vacation and would like to use it on my trip. Are there restrictions for taking these on a plane? A. That is a great question with what might be a surprising answer. External lithium batteries, the type used in most portable power chargers, can be packed in your carry-on bag but are prohibited from checked luggage. Lithium batteries are extremely reliable. Unfortunately failures can be very dangerous. The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 debacle is a vivid example of the power they contain and the serious damage that results when things go wrong. As supplemental lithium batteries became larger and more popular, the FAA issued guidelines that expressly forbid them from checked airline luggage. Pack it inside your carry-on instead. My advice is to use care where batteries are concerned, follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and immediately dispose of them properly if the slightest defect appears. A lifelong tech enthusiast, Bob can be contacted at techtalk@bobdel. com. — Senior wire

directions in this handbook. Its large-type font and color illustrations for nearly every instruction make it a joy for seniors. After explaining what Facebook is and what it can be used for, the book walks users through the basics and, later, other features of Facebook. The authors smartly stress the importance of selecting a strong password, as well as maintaining privacy and security. Like a true workbook, there are activities sprinkled throughout to practice what you have learned. If you forget something, flip to the Solutions chapter at the back for a reminder. Although the guide wasn’t written for those comfortable with computers and social networking, it

WANDER THE WEB Bob’s picks for fun browsing Fact vs. fiction I suspect that the first urban legend appeared online about six seconds after someone first tapped the poweron button. Not long after the first websites appeared, Snopes started as an early effort to debunk urban legends. I have been reading it regularly for over 20 years, and it has only gotten better. They do not catalog every possible item, and I assume that sometimes they publish mistakes. But they have been in the business of sorting fact from fiction longer than just about anyone else online. Airline luggage safety The details on packing potentially hazardous items for travel is a complex topic. The FAA has posted a comprehensive chart of items with advice on how to “pack safe.” Note that like spare lithium batteries, the instructions are not always obvious. hazmat_safety/ Rambo the puppy When you need a restful diversion, check in on Rambo, an internetfamous Maltese-Yorkie mix with a lust for pizza and margaritas. This little guy’s lifestyle that looks more exciting than mine!

can be a convenient reference when you want to quickly remember or learn a Facebook function, such as setting up an event. What’s not: The book is designed to learn about and use Facebook on a computer, not the app. Some may find that there is too much hand-holding, but that’s preferable to assuming the reader already knows how to do something. Bottom line: Even if you missed the holiday season, this book would be a great gift. Serving the Greater Puget Sound Area for Over 45 Years

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March 2017

Senior Focus


Five ways to help out ... By John McAlpine RSVP Program Recruiter March your way into volunteering! Volunteer opportunities exist all over Snohomish County. No matter where you live we can probably match you with a job. Sponsored by Catholic Community Services, RSVP is America’s largest volunteer network for persons over 55 and the only agency where the collective contribution of the senior volunteer is recorded. RSVP exists to help volunteers 55+ find fulfillment in their volunteer work. Habitat for Humanity: The Snohomish County branch of this well-known organization has volunteer opportunities available that don’t require you picking up a hammer or saw. There are two retail stores (Lynnwood and Everett) using volunteers, help is needed in the office and there are opportunities to be on committees that support the Habitat mission. The construction phase for Snohomish County starts up again in this summer. Until then, please consider these as worthwhile places to help out. Volunteer transportation: Have you ever been inconvenienced by lack of personal transportation for a day or two? Imagine life without that luxury. How would you get to the grocery store, the doctor, the dentist? There are people in your neighborhood who live with this situation. Do you have a free morning or afternoon in your schedule? We have clients who could use your help. You must have a clean driving record (a ticket or two won’t stop you), current insurance, working lights, horn and brakes and a desire to help out. Clients enter and exit the vehicle on their own. Mileage reimbursement is

provided. You pick when and where you drive. Call or email me to get started today. SHIBA: If the world of insurance and regulations seems confusing and arbitrary, consider volunteering with SHIBA. A program of Senior Services of Snohomish County, SHIBA (Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors) provides 30 hours of training so you can assist callers with questions about their rights and options regarding insurance. You help them make an informed decision. The work location is in south Everett.

Lifelong Learning Institute volunteers work on numerous committees and tasks, such as mailing course catalogs and event information to members. (Lifelong Learning Institute photo)

Volunteers spend 20 years promoting lifelong learning

Academic mentors: School is well underway and mentors and coaches are needed. We work with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County, the Interfaith Family Homeless Shelter and local schools. All of them need your help for just a few hours a week. A teaching background is not needed for this.

Chicago Tribune WAUBONSEE, Ill. — In the fall of 1996, Plano’s Lin Bargemann was one of four individuals who lent their hands as facilitators for programs that were being offered to seniors 55 years old and older. At the time, Bargemann said Waubonsee Community College was interested in developing programs for seniors. Her class (“Julius Caesar and Its Ramification for the Modern Man”) and three others were so successful, they were repeated. Today, the Lifelong Learning Institute has grown to now offer about 90 different classes in topics ranging from railroading to the history of corn husk dolls. Members plan, lead, and participate in the courses, group officials said. Members just marked the 20th anniversary of Lifelong Learning Institute with a holiday luncheon, said Mary Maier, its member services coordinator. Founding member Kally Klose wrote in a recent newsletter, “In

Food Banks: Food banks in Snohomish County can use someone like you right now. Hunger does not take a day off. We have opportunities to volunteer all over the county. No matter where you live a food bank near you needs help. Some use drivers to go out into the community and pick up food. All need help inside the food bank with repacking food, assisting clients and so on. You can get involved in Arlington, Everett (2 locations), Lake Stevens, Lynnwood, Marysville (2 locations), Mill Creek, Monroe, Mountlake Terrace, Snohomish and Stanwood/ Camano. If you have any questions about RSVP, volunteering or any of the agencies you see listed here, please contact RSVP at 425-374-6374 or email me at

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the beginning there were only five or six people interested in Lifelong Learning. I was adamant about this new idea that people should continue learning their entire life. …” “Today, we have about 400 members participate in classes,” Bargemann said. “We have classes in the areas of history, music, and theatre and also offer extended trips.” One recent class offering was “Murder She Wrote, But!” which delved into the study of female authors whose protagonists are police detectives or private investigators. “It is amazing to see people who have no interest in a subject matter enroll in a class and become so deeply involved in it,” Bargemann said. When the group started, Bargemann said, individuals paid $20 a year to be members and $5 for each class. Today, the group, which is run exclusively by volunteers, charges $25 memberships and $5 per class. And the membership age has been lowered to 50.

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Senior Focus March 2017

Hearing loss CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 After about 30 minutes, she found in Fowler’s hearing range what she says is common among baby boomers: he had some minor hearing loss at high frequencies in one ear, but it wasn’t enough to warrant a hearing aid. Peregoy also checked both of his ears for any physical problems, and she asked common screening questions such as past noise exposure. She ended Fowler’s session with tips for improving communication skills, from requesting face-to-face dialogue to turning off the TV. Baby boomers tend to fall into that gray area of minor hearing loss, Peregoy said. “As an audiologist, I’d say they have enough hearing loss to have some communication difficulties. “Baby boomers probably have been exposed to noise either from work or recreation, sometimes both, but they’re also getting older, so they have noise-induced hearing loss and the aging of the auditory system.” For those who have a more severe hearing problem, hearing aids are recommended both for better understanding of verbal speech but also for brain activity, she added. “Hearing loss can definitely lead to cause a person to be more isolated, which is also a risk factor for dementia. People stop going to restaurants with friends, for example. “As we age, use of hearing aids can help keep the brain active. Hearing loss is a risk factor for dementia. We think nothing of vision correction, yet people kind of hem and haw about correcting hearing. It’s just as important, both for hearing and to keep the brain active.”

Delaying the inevitable In hearing tests, she checks how well people understand spoken words, screening possible issues

10 commandments for communication

with how the brain is processing words. With Fowler, Peregoy used a comfortable tone of voice to recite words loaded with high frequency sounds, and he repeated each one back to her correctly. At younger ages, people typically can hear a wide range of frequencies, with each frequency measured in a unit called hertz for the frequency of sound waves. “The range of frequencies we can actually hear are huge,” Peregoy said, from a low 20 hertz up to 20,000 hertz. “When we test for somebody’s hearing, we only test from 250 hertz to 8,000 hertz. That’s because those are the frequencies we need to be able to hear to understand speech. “People come in and say, ‘I can’t hear my grandchildren, or I can’t hear my spouse.’’” A five-year wait is the average length of time in the U.S. between when someone is told they need hearing aids and the point they actually go get them, Peregoy said. Some reasons for such a delay may be cost, denial, vanity, or even fear. “It’s called the hearing aid effect,” she said. “They’re afraid they’ll start feeling old, or people will start treating them like they’re old. People are getting better at accepting and getting treated for hearing loss. I think the trend is starting to turn that way.” Cost for the devices depends on the level of technology and the outcomes a patient desires, she added. “You can fit someone as inexpensively as $800 per ear,” Peregoy said. “But it’s going to be extremely basic... You can spend as much as $2,000 per ear for a hearing aid.” Higher-end hearing aids can help people cope with tinnitus, which is ringing in the ears, or filter out background noises. Certain hearing aids also can stream cellphone conversations. Some people ask Peregoy if they can get the smallest hearing aids possible, so they don’t show. She

Here’s what audiologist Barbara Peregoy hands to patients who have minor hearing loss: 1. Thou shall not speak from another room. 2. Thou shall not speak with your back toward the person with a hearing impairment (or their back toward you). 3. Thou shall not speak and walk away. 4. Thou shall not start speaking and turn away from the person with a hearing impairment. 5. Thou shall not speak in competition with something else (turn off the water or turn down the radio, TV). 6. Thou shall get the attention of the person with a hearing impairment before speaking. 7. Thou shall try to speak face-to-face at all times. 8. Thou shall try to remove obstructions while speaking (your hand from your face, etc.) 9. Thou shall try to speak distinctly. 10. Thou shall try to be patient.

often tells those clients about a favorite quote, “Hearing loss is more obvious than the hearing aid.” “We want people to come in to hear better and get the best technology, but sometimes people come in and say they’d rather spend money on a hearing aid that doesn’t show; they worry more about that. “Yes, they are designing hearing aids that are more aesthetically pleasing. It’s been that way for a while.” The Spokane clinic handled about 2,050 patient visits for the academic year 2015-16, said Doreen Nicholas, its director. It sets appointments for all ages and can bill insurance, or people can pay on a cash basis.

Experience for students Examples of the clinic’s services include patient support following a stroke, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s, concussive disorders, voice disorders and multiple sclerosis. Hearing-related support includes hearing tests, consultation for assistive listening devices, hearing aid assessments, and dispensing of

hearing aid equipment. A clinic hearing test typically costs $75 to $150, depending on what diagnostic services are provided, Nicholas said. “That should be reimbursed by most insurances.” Seeing older clients for hearing tests is common, she added. “We know for those over 60, you’re more prone to hearing loss.” Speech pathology students also are exposed to the clinic’s hearing services. To correct speech, their future clients must be able to hear errors they are making and corrections given to them during therapy sessions, Peregoy said. “We teach our clinicians to screen for hearing loss, refer when necessary and implement any management strategies recommended by the audiologist,” she said. Many clinic patients enjoy working with graduate students, she added. “We’re using evidence-based practices that we’re teaching graduate students. I think because we are a teaching clinic, we take a lot of time with people, and we’re able to educate the patients and the students.” —Tribune Content Agency

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March 2017 Senior Focus

Arbitration CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 human being,” said Maurer, 59, a retired loan officer. Over mounting objections from consumer groups and regulators, arbitration agreements like the one Maurer signed are proliferating in the senior care industry. Hundreds of Minnesota nursing homes and assisted-living centers now request that elderly people sign arbitration clauses on admission. The clauses require them to forfeit their right to a court hearing and, instead, lock elderly residents into a more secretive process for resolving claims. Even in cases of extreme neglect and death, nursing homes use the clauses to block residents and their families from pursuing lawsuits. But a breakthrough federal rule has emboldened growing numbers of elderly residents and their relatives to challenge these clauses. In 2016, federal regulators barred the 15,000 long-term care facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid funds from requiring that residents enter into arbitration before a dispute arises, known as “pre-dispute” arbitration. The rule has been blocked in court,

but the government’s case is now being cited as evidence that such clauses are invalid and that victims have a right to a day in court. “More and more people are waking up to the essential unfairness and lack of transparency of these clauses,” said Eric Carlson of Justice in Aging, a legal advocacy group. A spokesman for Lighthouse’s parent company, New Perspective Senior Living, declined to discuss Maurer’s case but noted that arbitration agreements are widely used across all types of businesses, including senior care. “Arbitration benefits both parties in dispute resolution by avoiding costly and lengthy court cases,” said Doug Anderson, vice president of marketing.

A system failure Investigators from the state Department of Health found multiple lapses in Seeger’s care. Despite a history of hernia problems, staff at the senior home failed to notify medical professionals immediately if he had any pain or tenderness in the groin area, state records show. On the evening before he died, Seeger

complained of stomach pain and vomited; but such symptoms were not promptly reported. “The cumulative effect of these omissions represent a system failure,” the state concluded. But when Maurer sought advice on how to pursue what she thought would be a “slam dunk” legal case, she learned of two conflicting arbitration provisions in the facility’s 36-page residency agreement. Maurer had signed the document in 2010, but alleges no one explained the clauses in the rush to admit her father. When Maurer asked for time to review the agreement with an attorney, she was told that the family would “lose the apartment,” she said. “It was take it or leave it.” Maurer’s attorney argued that a contract signed “under duress” is not enforceable. “Lighthouse had all the bargaining power when they said, ‘You must sign and you must sign now,’ ” said the attorney. A lawyer for New Perspective pointed to the terms of the arbitration clause, which explicitly covered “any dispute arising out of the services, treatment or care” of the resident. The provision applied to a broad range of possible disputes, including eviction, personal injury and wrongful death. The attorney denied Maurer had been under duress, and the family was free to pursue other options.

Social Security CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 they need to plan early and wisely. You can start with a visit to Social Security’s Retirement Estimator. It gives you a personalized estimate of your retirement benefits. Plug in different retirement ages and projected earnings to get an idea of how such things might change your future benefit amounts. You can use this valuable tool: You also should visit Social Security’s financial planning website at This provides information about how marriage, widowhood, divorce, self-employment, government service, and other events affect your Social Security. Your benefits are based on your earnings, so you should create your personal My Social Security account to verify that your earnings were reported correctly. Your account also can provide estimates of your future benefits. If you want more information about how Social Security supports women through life’s journey, you may find this booklet useful: “Social Security: What Every Woman Should Know.” Find it at pubs/10127.html.-

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Special Sections - Senior Focus 3.15.17  


Special Sections - Senior Focus 3.15.17