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EE Irondequoit: Region’s Highest Concentration of Seniors

FR Jim Terwilliger: Inheriting IRAs Not As Easy As You May Think

55 PLUS

Issue 12 November / December 2011

For Active Adults in the Rochester Area

JACK MARREN Profile of Victor’s Mayor

Bette Davis Was Right: Growing Old Is Not for Sissies

GARTH FAGAN

Defying age with his world-renowed dance technique

Meet the volunteers of The Chorus of the Genesee and The Tool Thrift Shop in Fairport November / December 2011 - 55 PLUS

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55 PLUS - November / December 2011


Christkindl Market Nov. 5th

Dinner & Dance

with the Skycoasters! $25/person Reservations Required

Nov 11: 1 -7PM • Nov 12: 10 AM-6 PM • Nov. 13: 10AM-4PM Adults $6 • 12 and under Free! • Over 100 Juried Artisans • Live Music • Great Food, Wine and Beer • Carriage Rides• Women’s Council Bake Sale • Free Elf School for Kids • Visits from Santa, Mrs. Claus and the Christkindl Angel

FESTIVAL of TREES Nov 11 - Dec 10

• Beautiful Holiday Display of over 100 Unique community creations • Silent Auction!

Granger Homestead and Carriage Museum 295 N. Main St. • Canandaigua, NY 585-394-1472 • www.canandaiguachristkindlmarket.com

November / December 2011 - 55 PLUS

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55 PLUS - November / December 2011

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55 PLUS

55 PLUS

November / December 2011

CONTENTS

31

8 HealthWatch 6 Financial Health 11 Long-Term Care 35

8 PROFILE

• Mayor Jack Marren relishes the fact his is the fastest growing town in the region

12 AGING GRACEFULLY

• Bette Davis was right: Growing old is not for sissies

14 LIVING

• Irondequoit: Highest number of seniors in the region

18 LIFESTYLE

• Mall-walking season coming

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22 VOLUNTEERING

• People from all walks of life keep the Tool Thrifty Shop in Fairport open for business

24 COVER STORY

• Acclaimed choreographer Garth Fagan, 71, in five acts

31 HOBBIES

• Meet the members of The Chorus of the Genesee

37 COMPUTING

• Seniors nowadays are more comfortable shopping online

42 LAST PAGE

• Canandaigua resident Rosemary Heidecker authors new book

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November / December 2011 - 55 PLUS

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HEALTH WATCH

55PLUS

Fighting Aging? Skip the Botox and Go for the Face Cream

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eople might like you more if you don’t have surgery or get injections to look younger, a new study suggests. The results show that study participants felt more warmth toward a woman, and said she was less vain, if they were told she fought the signs of aging by staying out of the sun or using face cream than if they were told she had used the cosmetic drug Botox or had a face-lift. “This is important because it shows that despite the emphasis on looking younger in society, there are possible negative social consequences to fighting the signs of aging,” using more extreme methods, said study researcher Alison Chasteen, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto. “Despite the rapid expansion of the anti-aging cosmetic industry,

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55 PLUS - November / December 2011

the present findings suggest that age concealment has not yet become universally accepted,” the study authors wrote. In one experiment, researchers asked 260 women to read about a woman who was in her 50s, 60s or 70s, who used either facial cream or Botox injections to look younger. Half of the participants were young (their average age was 18) and half were older (their average age was 70). The older participants had more positive feelings toward women who used any type of anti-aging techniques than the younger participants did. But all participants felt more warmth toward the woman they read about, and said she was less vain, if they were told she used facial cream rather than Botox. In a second experiment, 100 female participants read about women who had used one of four anti-aging techniques: avoiding the sun, using facial creams, getting Botox injections or undergoing a face-lift. Again, the less that a woman had done to try to look younger, the more the study participants said they liked her. The study also showed that although middle-aged adults are most likely to use some type of antiaging product, people may view them less favorably than older adults who do.People who are tempted to fight the effects of aging “should consider the possibility that they may encounter other, unanticipated, social consequences,” the researchers concluded. The study was published in July in the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences.

Editor and Publisher Wagner Dotto

Associate Editor Lou Sorendo

Contributing Writers

Amy Cavalier, Mike Costanza, Ken Little, Renee Rischenole, Jason Schultz, John Kares Smith, Jeanne Gehret, Karen Boughton Siegelman

Columnists

Jim Terwilliger, Susan Suben Bruce Frassinelli Harold Miller

Advertising

Marsha K. Preston, Marlene Raite Beth Clark

Office Manager

Laura J. Beckwith

Layout and Design Chris Crocker

Cover Photo

Chuck Wainwright 55 PLUS –A Magazine for Active Adults in the Rochester Area is published six times a year by Local News, Inc., which also publishes In Good Health–Rochester–Genesee Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper.

Health in good

Rochester–Genesee Valley’s Healthcare Newspaper

Mailing Address PO Box 525 Victor, NY 14564 Subscription: $15 a year © 2011 by 55 PLUS – A Magazine for Active Adults in the Rochester Area. No material may be reproduced in whole or in part from this publication without the express written permission of the publisher. Third class postage paid at Syracuse, NY. Permit Number: 3071

How to Reach Us P.O. Box 525 Victor, NY 14564 Voice: (585) 421-8109 Fax: (585) 421-8129 Editor@GVhealthnews.com


Study links poor sleep to higher rates of dementia

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etting a good night’s sleep may be extra important for women as they age. A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at a possible link between dementia and poor sleep. They asked 298 older women who didn’t have dementia to spend the night in a sleep lab to record their sleep patterns and behaviors. Then they followed them for several years, checking their brain function. Women with sleep-disordered breathing, such as sleep apnea, were 85 percent more likely to develop dementia or mild difficulty in thinking

clearly. The results suggested that having low oxygen at night was the likely connection between the women’s sleeping problems and their cognitive trouble. Tr e a t i n g s l e e p - d i s o r d e r e d breathing with air-pressure devices called CPAP machines has been shown to slow and even improve cognitive impairment in people with Alzheimer’s disease. According to the researchers, the new results suggest that treating these sleeping problems might also help protect people from developing dementia.

Certain Foods Said to Help Lower Bad Cholesterol Combining nuts, plant-based foods with low-fat diet produces biggest drops, researchers say

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dding specific cholesterollowering foods, such as nuts, to your diet can lower your cholesterol more than a low-fat diet alone can, new research suggests. Foods with plant sterols also have known cholesterol-reducing properties, and combined with a lower fat diet, they lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol by more than 13 percent. A low-fat diet alone produced only a 3 percent reduction in LDL, according to the study. “Giving people a diet enriched with food components that the FDA has already allowed health claims to be made for, based on their cholesterol-lowering ability, lowered their LDL cholesterol between 13 and 14 percent,” said Dr. David J.A. Jenkins based at the University of Toronto. Jenkins added that these people

were already “diet-interested” and tended to have better-than-average diets. “The extra effort of choosing the right foods had a very good effect,” he noted. The findings were published in the Aug. 24–31 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Changes in diet, such as eating fewer foods that contain animal fat or more foods high in fiber, can lower cholesterol levels, though these reductions may be modest. Certain foods, however, are more likely to reduce cholesterol. According to the study, these include: foods containing substances called plant sterols such as enhanced margarines; foods with significant amounts of viscous fiber such as oats and barley; soy protein found in soy milk, tofu and soy meat substitutes; and nuts such as tree nuts and peanuts.

HEALTH WATCH

FDA Approves Botox for Incontinence Treatment lasts up to 10 months

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he U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of Botox to treat urinary incontinence in people with neurological conditions, including spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis and overactive bladders. Botox is injected into patients’ bladders, causing them to relax and increase their storage capacity and decrease urinary incontinence. Doctors inject the Botox using a cystoscope, which allows them to visualize the interior of the organ. The procedure requires a general anesthesia. The effect of the injection lasts for about 10 months, according to an FDA statement. The effectiveness of Botox, usually used in cosmetic procedures, was demonstrated in two clinical studies involving 691 patients. The most common adverse side effects from the procedure are urinary tract infections and urinary retention. The latter condition may require selfcatheterization to empty the bladder. November / December 2011 - 55 PLUS

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profile

Jack Marren, 56 Victor mayor relishes the fact his town has been in the news as the fastest growing town in the Rochester region By Mike Costanza

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sk Jack Marren what brings him back to his office day after day, and the supervisor of the town of Victor speaks of the little things. “You’ve got that interaction with that resident on the phone, and you can really kind of make their day a lot of times,” the 56-year-old says. That desire to serve Victor and its residents shows in other ways as well. “Day or night, if there is something that has come up about a business, he’s available,” says Kathy Rayburn, executive director of the Victor Local Development Corporation. T h e Vi c t o r LDC stimulates e c o n o m i c development in the town and its village. The town made the headlines this year, when the census re v e a l e d t h a t between 2000

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and 2010, its population grew to 14,275—about a 43 percent increase. The increase put Victor ahead of all of Rochester’s other suburbs in terms of population growth during that period. Marren was born in Springfield, Mass. His father worked for a liquor distributorship, in a job that eventually took him and his family to Pittsford. Marren enrolled at Monroe Community College and found a job at the Eastview Mall, though he came back from work one day with more than a paycheck. “I met my [future] bride through working at the mall as a youngster in the ‘70s,” he says. Marren went on to obtain a bachelor ’s degree in criminal justice at Rochester Institute of Technology, he says. Instead of entering law

e n f o rc e m e n t , h e t o o k a m o re lucrative job with a nationwide liquor distributor. Though he worked for liquor distributorships in positions of growing responsibility for about 32 years before retiring, he speaks of that decision with a touch of wistfulness. “I got comfortable, the bills were being paid, and the family was growing,” he says. Marren married his wife, Linda Sue, in 1978, and the couple moved to Farmington, Victor’s neighbor to the east, and began raising a family. The family moved to Victor in about 1982, he says, after which he began volunteering as a coach for Victor Community Baseball. The private nonprofit gives town and village kids the chance to play organized baseball and softball. “I’ve always been a really big baseball fan,” he says. Marren event ually b ecame president of Victor Community Baseball, he says. He has also held seats on the zoning board of appeals and the Urban Renewal Agency of the village of Victor. In 1995, Marren decided to try his hand at politics, running for the Victor town board on the Democratic ticket. “I was born and bred in Massachusetts,” he says, with a grin. “I think it’s probably at your baptism you’re declared a Democrat.” The affiliation placed Marren at a disadvantage in Victor, where Republicans outnumbered Democrats three to one. He also lacked the time needed to conduct a complete grassroots campaign. “I didn’t have the time to do the door-to-door,” he says.


Though he lost the race, Marren says the loss taught him a few lessons about political campaigns. They came in handy a few years later, when he ran for a seat on the village of Victor board of trustees. Here’s how the chance to run for the position came about. Richard Kalb, then mayor of the village of Victor, resigned his post in 2001 and moved out of the area. Deputy Mayor Thomas Walker moved to the head of village government. Marren was appointed to fill the resulting empty seat on the board of trustees. As the end of his term on the board approached, he decided to run for the seat. “I had nine months under my belt, and said, ‘This is something I’d like to do,’” he says. Though Marren joined the Republican Party in the late 1990s, the board of trustees does not function on the basis of party affiliation, he says. He ran for a seat on the board as an independent, and created his own party, called “March Madness.” Since the election was scheduled to take place around St. Patrick’s Day, Marren adopted the shamrock as his party’s symbol. This time around, he went door-to-door seeking votes— an experience he says he found humbling. “You’re trying to sell yourself— ‘I’m asking for your support on election day,’” Marren explained. Atop the feel of seeking votes in this way, Marren found himself confronted by Democrats who were unable to forgive him for switching parties. “The first time or two, you’re really taken aback by that,” he says. Marren won the election, and remained on the board of trustees for several years, eventually rising to deputy mayor. When then-town supervisor Leslie Bamann resigned in 2008 to spend more time with her family, Marren ran for the seat against Heather Zollo, a Democrat. He won, gaining the right to finish out Bamann’s term in office. He admits that the idea of heading the town of Victor seemed a bit daunting at first. “When you first got sworn in and you start the job, believe me, there are some challenging days,” he explained. Marren ran again in 2009, winning by a landslide against town board

member John Palomaki, a Democrat. Nowadays, Victor faces many of the challenges that confront towns around the country. Rising fuel costs threaten its bottom line, Marren says, as does the cost of providing health care to its 56 employees. To attack the latter problem, the town undertook the lengthy process of joining the Finger Lakes Municipal Health Insurance Trust in 2010. “I was representing the town throughout that process,” Marren says. Membership in the consortium allows municipalities to save on health insurance costs. Marren says that as a result of joining the consortium, Victor has managed to keep its 2011 employee health insurance costs about the same as they were in 2010. Personal challenges have marked Marren’s time in office, as well. He and his family were thrust into the spotlight in August 2009 when Marren’s oldest son, 35-year-old Shane, struck and seriously injured two pedestrians on Main Street in Victor. After the incident, Shane drove home and told his father what had happened. “I’m the one who called the sheriff,” Marren says. Shane pleaded guilty to firstdegree vehicular assault, felony aggravated driving while intoxicated and other charges, and was sentenced to up to four years in state prison. Instead of refusing to discuss the incident, Marren was candid about Shane’s difficulties with alcohol, and spoke of his concerns for both his son, and the victims. Marren can put in long days on the job these days. Evening meetings of the town board or local groups can keep him out late, and he’s never far from the office. “I live here in the village, so I walk home,” he says. Even when home, he can sometimes be found answering calls from Victor’s residents and those who own businesses in the town. “What I like about Jack is he listens—I find that an exceptional trait in a politician these days,” says Mitch Donovan, president of the Victor Chamber of Commerce. On his off time, Marren likes to walk Victor’s trails and neighborhoods with his wife.

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November / December 2011 - 55 PLUS

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I am one of the administrators in a local ENT practice and am looking to make changes to my waiting room. I am continually discouraged when I look at the magazines that we receive in the office. Whether it is the latest issue of People, revealing some sort of scandal or Time, making my patient’s blood pressure rise with the fall of the economy — they are not contributing to a peaceful and healthy office environment. I have recently attended a conference where a major point was made of “looking at your waiting room.” Coming back to the office, I am dedicated to making changes. The first change that I want to make is to offer publications that reflect on our community and what is going on around us. That is why I am appealing to you. While looking for publications in

Correction

Golfers Who Can’t Get Enough In the last edition of 55 Plus, the story on senior golfers incorrectly

the Rochester area, I was struck by the magazine that you offer. I find that 55 PLUS offers positive articles that are closely tied with our community. This is obviously a magazine that the adult population in our area can relate to. I feel that your publication, 55 PLUS, would fit in nicely with our office. We do have a large population of patients over the age of 55 and are one of the leading offices in the area for treatment of ENT disorders that are more common in an aging population (i.e. hearing loss and vestibular dysfunction). I would like to ease the minds of our patients and offer them an appropriate magazine that they can read while waiting to be seen. 55 PLUS is the magazine we like to have here. Sarah Powers, practice administrator, Rochester stated that Oak Hill Country Club member Bill Thaney had a tree dedicated in is honor located on the club’s Hill of Fame. Although Thaney does have a tree dedicated elsewhere at the club for his decades of faithful service, the trees on the Hill of Fame are dedicated to nationally renowned figures in the game of golf. We regret the error.

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55 PLUS - November / December 2011


financial health By Jim Terwilliger

The ABCs for Inheriting IRAs Inheriting an IRA from a spouse not so simple as it seems

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s we have often said, how can something that should be so simple be so complicated? Case in point: inheriting an IRA from a spouse or other relative. Improper handling of an IRA after a death can result in the inability of intended beneficiaries to stretch the IRA out over their expected lifetimes. Not keeping beneficiary designations up to date can yield the same undesired consequence. Beneficiaries — It is critical for the IRA owner to name at least one primary beneficiary. Naming of a contingent and even a third-level beneficiary will allow the IRA to pass to others in the event the primary (and contingent) beneficiary predeceases the IRA owner. This needs to be coordinated with one’s will so that the two are consistent and reflect the IRA owner’s wishes. Designated Beneficiaries — According to the IRS, only designated beneficiaries are allowed to receive post-death distributions over their expected lifetimes. Only individuals, or carefully-designed trusts, may qualify as designated beneficiaries. Charities and estates are not considered designated beneficiaries. Non-Spouse Beneficiary — A non-spouse beneficiary receives an inherited IRA. This IRA is not owned by the beneficiary, however, and may not be rolled over to a traditional IRA or converted to a Roth IRA. Generally, the beneficiary must start receiving required minimum distributions (RMDs) beginning the year following the death of the IRA owner unless the beneficiary chooses to liquidate the account within five years. The distribution rate is dictated by the life expectancy listed in the IRS Single Life

Table. If the IRA owner dies on or after the required beginning date, more distribution choices are available. The beneficiary can name followon beneficiaries, but the term cannot extend beyond the initial term. Spouse Beneficiary — While a spouse can follow a similar approach, a spouse has another, more-favorable option: to roll the inherited IRA over to his or her own IRA. This allows the spouse to waive RMDs until age 701/2, use a less-aggressive distribution schedule which can stretch the IRA through the spouse’s full lifetime (vs. a fixed-number-of-years expected lifetime), combine with other IRAs, and convert to a Roth IRA if desired. Estate as Beneficiary — One should avoid leaving an IRA to an estate. Doing so generally requires the estate to liquidate the IRA and pay associated income taxes at muchhigher estate income tax rates vs. individual rates. This happens when the estate is named as the beneficiary or when there is no beneficiary named. Once liquidated, the reduced post-tax proceeds then pass to heirs according to the will. Why would someone not name a beneficiary? Sometimes this is a result of neglect on the part of the IRA owner. Other times it is misguided thinking that a will directs IRA distributions. Wrong! The will plays no part. Beneficiary designations trump the will. Charity as Beneficiary (good) — For IRA owners having both family and charitable interests in their estate plans, it is far more tax-efficient to leave pre-tax IRA assets to a charity and other, after-tax assets to family, given that the charity pays no income tax and the latter generally is incometax-free to heirs. Most folks, however,

do just the opposite — leave taxable IRAs to family and cash to charity. Charity as Beneficiary (bad) — If a decedent names both individuals and a charity in the same level in the beneficiary hierarchy, because a charity is not a designated beneficiary, inclusion of the charity precludes individual heirs from stretching the IRA over their expected lifetimes. This “defect” can be corrected, however, if the executor takes appropriate action (see the following). Multiple Beneficiaries — Segregating the IRA into separate shares by Dec. 31 of the year following death allows each beneficiary to use his or her own life expectancy to calculate RMDs. It also allows the unbundling of designated and undesignated beneficiaries so that the former can use their life expectancies for distributions and the latter (charities, for example) can receive and liquidate their shares. If not unbundled, the designated (individual) beneficiaries would be forced to liquidate before they might desire. The estate executor plays the major role here to separate the shares and protect the interests of the designated beneficiaries. Your Plan — Working with a competent, trusted personal financial planner is the key to ensure that your plan for transferring IRAs to heirs is well-designed and fulfills your wishes. James Terwilliger, CFP®, is vice president, Financial Planning, Wealth Strategies Group, Canandaigua National Bank & Trust Company. He can be reached at 585-419-0670 ext. 50630 or by email at jterwilliger@cnbank.com.

November / December 2011 - 55 PLUS

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55+

aging gracefully

Bette Davis Was Right: Growing Old Is Not for Sissies Arthritic knees, cholesterol-controlling drugs, capped teeth, cataracts — Not easy to turn 69 By John Kares Smith

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ette Davis was right when she said that growing old is not for sissies. It takes courage and good fortune to have a 69th birthday, as I just did. We humans think of ourselves as a self and a body, a kind of spirit in a box. We know we are growing, altering, hopefully getting wiser or mellower — or both. But we know that, eventually, the body will drag us down every time. When it starts to rain, I used to run for cover someplace. Now, my arthritic knees only let me hobble for cover. I get a lot wetter than I used to. Lots of other changes: capped teeth, cholesterol-controlling drugs, beta blockers. I never knew I even had a beta til my cardiologist insisted on blocking it. And, of course, eye problems. I recently had cataract surgery. You know, where the doctor takes a tiny razor to your eye, removes your old, clouded lens and puts in a new one. I was petrified — would I ever see again? Of course, I ignored the obvious: there is more to look at because there is less time to look. But, believe it or not, the surgery was not only successful but also absolutely painless. One of the healthcare providers at the surgery told me that, with the kind of anesthesia that is now used, 12

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the doctor could take my eye out, roll it across the floor, put it back in and I wouldn’t know the difference. I thought I had behaved very well under the light anesthesia until the doctor told me that I had threatened to recite the Magna Carta while still under. He needn’t have worried: I don’t know the Magna Carta. Last year I was invited to my 50th high school reunion; I was not sure I would go. I told my classmates that they had gotten too old. But I did go and had a wonderful time. So many of the bumps of young life had been smoothed out. So many of the things that were important at 16 — like who would go with me to the sock hop (if you don’t know what that is, ask someone over 50 to tell you), who would be my new lunch-mates my senior year. One of my classmates told me at the reunion she thought I was kind of hot in


high school. I replied that it was too late to learn that now. While it was fun to learn so late in life, it would have helped my self-esteem as a 16 year old. None of that matters now. The beautiful girl I knew in junior year is now a beautiful older woman with grandchildren; the high school runner is now setting records for his age group. The classmates I thought would succeed and did, and the classmates I thought would succeed and did not. And the ones who came up to me to tell me how meaningful and inspiring my relationship was to them back in high school, as I squint through my 60-plus eyes to read their name tag because I honestly didn’t remember that at all. And those who died: a handful of women, a few dozen men — actuarially, what would have been expected. Our senior class adviser was quite a young teacher when we were in high school. Turns out she is only a couple of years older than we are. She came to the reunion and was our dinner speaker: gracious, warm, witty, smart, accomplished, still caring, still knew our names. But being on the threshold of 70 has its fine compensations. For the most part, the career climb is done. I can let go of my improbable dreams and enjoy the ones that came true.

The rat race is over. Was I the rat that won everything or the rat that didn’t win everything or the rat that left the race proudly or the rat that just got tired of it all? The children are mercifully out of the house — our two kids asked me several years ago what I wanted for my birthday. I replied: different zip codes! Not that I don’t want to be around them (of course I do), but it was and still is time for them to be well on their own. One lives in California, the other in the Adirondacks — different zip codes indeed. No need for a second job because the mortgage is paid off. No need to save money for tuition bills. I now have what my father used to call “go-to-hell money.” That is, resources that let an employee say no

to supervisors. There were things the boss could get us to do years ago just by hinting. Now we can refuse. We don’t need to win the rat race any more I have learned much from our very old dog. Natasha came to us in 1995, full of energy. She could run like the wind and loved to be out in the woods chasing after squirrels, often snapping off their tails as they scampered up a tree. Then, at home, she would be the perpetual coach potato — very content to rest on a sofa, take long naps and accept belly rubs gladly. After 16 years, she was blind in one eye, full of arthritis, hard of hearing and cognitively impaired. But she still loved her walk in the woods every day. I could look at her and see the young, vibrant dog but I could look at her and see the very old dog whose face had a very simple message: I accept what has happened to me. Near the end, she was a living tribute to the maturity, which comes from age — and with it the acceptance of limitations and infirmities. Yes, those of us so fortunate to live out a good life know that getting old, as Bette Davis said, is not for sissies. It’s not for rats either. It’s a time to look around, probably with new eyes, to see what we can still do. We have lessons to learn about the life we not only have left to live, but the joy we will experience as we continue to participate as fully as our arthritic knees will allow us. It’s a time for acceptance of our limitations, contentment with what we have accomplished, and know that we may be approaching three score and ten but, if we don’t think we’re sissies, we still have some living to do.

DR. JOHN KARES SMITH is SUNY Oswego’s professor of communication studies and has served on its faculty for over 30 years as professor, administrator, consultant, performer, mediator, civic leader, colleague and researcher.

ALLOWAY MANOR A Community for Seniors 62 years or better A 24-unit affordable housing development for seniors located in the historic Town of Farmington near Routes 96 and 32. Rents are determined based on household income. Residents pay 30% of income for rent. Income Limits Apply Give us a call or stop by today!

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100 Dunn Tower Drive • Rochester, NY 14606 585-429-5520 • www.dunntower.com

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November / December 2011 - 55 PLUS

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living

Irondequoit

A Seniors’ Haven Town boasts of having the highest concentration of seniors in Rochester area. 41.2 percent of its population is 50 and older By Jason Schultz

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ituated on the shore of beautiful Lake Ontario, the town of Irondequoit has ridden the rising tide of aging America by providing a wide range of recreational and social services to its senior residents.

Founded in 1839, the many tourist and recreation attractions along the Irondequoit’s lakefront earned the town the title of “The Coney Island of Western New York.” In more recent times, the town has become a draw for seniors of all stripes looking for

Golfer Bob Holdeen works on his short game at the Durand-Eastman Golf Course early in the fall. “I can’t usually play more than nine holes, but even if I just come out to hit a few balls or sink a few putts, it feels good to be out here. I really like visiting this park; it’s wonderful to just stand on the beach, look at the lake and hear the waves crash on the shore.”

a relaxed and safe community to call home. People interviewed for this story said factors for Irondequoit’s extensive senior population include the town’s excellent school system, which encourages many families to set deep roots in the community, and the proximity to parks, commercial space and senior care facilities that make transitioning to new living arrangements easy and accessible. According to the 2010 census, Irondequoit reported 21,283 of its 51,692 residents as being 50 years old or older, which is 41.2 percent of its population. In comparison to neighboring towns, Irondequoit had a higher senior population than Penfield (40.7 percent), Perinton (39.9 percent), Greece (38.7 percent), Webster (37.9 percent), Brighton (36.5 percent), and most notably Rochester, which reported only 25.2 percent of the population being 50 or older. This compares to information from the 2000 census, which saw Irondequoit with a population of 52,354, of which approximately 38.4 percent were 50 or older. In keeping with the national aging trend, neighboring communities experienced a similar increase in their older residents.

Baby Boomer Impact According to the most recent census figures, the median age for the country’s residents has trended u p w a rd s a s t h e b a b y b o o m e r

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living

It’s bingo night every Monday Irondequoit Senior Community Center where several Irondequoit residents try their luck to win a prize. Shown are, from left, Virginia Serrian, Tony Gianvecchio, Josie Migliore, Marie Budnik, Helen Leo and Virginia Gallow . generation moves from middle age to their golden years. The median age for Americans is 37.2, with seven states possessing a median age over 40 and New York slightly above average at 38 years old. The 45 to 64 age group saw a 31.5 increase since the last census, and this age group now comprises over a quarter of the country’s population. Jim Cunningham, 67, is one of the many seniors that can be found enjoying Irondequoit’s DurandEastman Park, where he frequently walks “Murphy,” his English springer spaniel. A 38-year resident of the town, he said many seniors choose to stay in or move to town for its abundance of natural beauty and walk-able neighborhoods. “There are so many trails here in town where you can walk safely,” Cunningham said. “Between the river trail, [Durand-Eastman] and Seneca Park, there are many good, safe places to walk and enjoy nature.” Cunningham said many seniors can be found working on their golf games at the Durand-Eastman Golf

Course, swimming laps at the high school’s aquatic center or enjoying a delicious meal and game of bingo at the Senior Community Center. Bob Holdeen, 71, of Irondequoit was one of the many senior duffers that could be found at the public golf course, where he was working on his short game. Holdeen, who moved to town nine years ago from Parma, said he was primarily drawn to Irondequoit by the area’s proximity to natural and social attractions, as well as to be closer to his children and grandchildren. “I try to make it out to golf at least once a week,” Holdeen explained. “I can’t usually play more than nine holes, but even if I just come out to hit a few balls or sink a few putts, it feels good to be out here. I really like visiting this park; it’s wonderful to just stand on the beach, look at the lake and hear the waves crash on the shore.”

New attitude Marcey Anderson, program director of the senior center for the past

25 years, said she has seen a change in focus at the community center over the past quarter century, as seniors have realized the importance of becoming active and staying active. “We try to offer as many programs as we can to keep seniors moving,” said Anderson, pointing out the tripling of exercise classes offered over the past five years, as well as the senior softball program, which brings dozens of town residents to McAvoy Park every morning during warm weather months Monday through Thursday. Anderson said approximately 60 to 70 seniors come by the center every weekday at 11:15 a.m. for lunch and stay for group activities such as bingo, card games and billiards. “The older they get, the more active they become,” Anderson said. “People used to turn 70 and just sit, but now they realize staying active really improves their quality of life.” As part of the effort to keep her visitors on the move, Anderson said the center offers a variety of day trips to places such as Canandaigua, November / December 2011 - 55 PLUS

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living younger, spryer days, though now he likes to come for lunch several times a week.

Senior facilities abound

Dennis Landgren, 89, of Irondequoit enjoys visiting Durand-Eastman Park for the annual Rochester Irish Festival, one of the many events in town that offers fun for all ages. the Seneca Reservation casino and extended trips to places like Cape Cod and one long trip annually, which will be to Hawaii next April. Anderson said that she, like many seniors in town, grew up in Irondequoit and chose to stay here because of the variety of services available close by or in their homes. “Many people chose to stay, so we must be doing something right,” she said. The Monday bingo group was in attendance during a visit to the senior center, and group members shared reasons for coming week after week. Virginia Gallow, 81, said she has been coming to the center to play bingo for over 20 years, and has made many friends over the years. “Monday is always a big group,” she said. “A lot of people like to come for the bingo, but stay to catch up on what’s happened with each other over the past week.” Tony Gianvecchio, 91, is another long-time regular for lunch. An Irondequoit resident since 1961, Gianvecchio said he was an avid bocce ball player at the senior center in his 16

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Due to this exploding senior population, the town’s senior living resources are seeing expanded growth. A visit to the St. Ann’s Community I ro n d e q u o i t c a m p u s re v e a l e d construction of a new transitional and palliative care center as the organization transitions to a new phase in its focus on senior care. The construction is expected to be complete and the buildings occupied by March 2012, St. Ann’s representative Taylor Wellman said. Residents of The Heritage skilled nursing facility on the St. Ann’s campus will then transition with the choice of moving to St. Ann’s Home or the new long-term care home at Cherry Ridge in Webster. Wellman said St.Ann’s Community serves hundreds of seniors in town with nursing facilities, day programs, independent retirement housing, a transitional care program, assisted living and outpatient primary care. Wellman said residents of the Heritage are constantly involved in activities for themselves and others, and dropped in on a Monday knitting group to see what new yarn was being spun that day. Volunteer Nancy Williams said the group was started five years ago, with residents and visitors using mostly donated yarn to make items for the center’s palliative care unit. “The residents here really get a kick out of doing things for others,” Williams said. “They are always hard at work making things to donate, and I think it motivates them much more than making things for themselves would.” I ro n d e q u o i t re s i d e n t J e a n Voellinger, 83, was hard at work making a baby blanket, which she plans to give to her grandchildren when she next sees them. “I really like living here in Irondequoit,” she said. “Everything’s so close by, and it’s easy for me to visit family and babysit my grandkids.” St. Ann’s resident Carolyn Alfieri,

96, showed age was no deterrent to knitting skills as she finished another in a series of hot pads to donate. “What can I say, I like to cook,” said the two-year resident of The Heritage and East Irondequoit native. Margaret Hart, 94, who has lived at The Heritage for the past seven years, said besides the weekly knitting sessions, she enjoys keeping her mind sharp with a variety of puzzles and games. Added the 30-year Irondequoit resident, “I’ve really enjoyed my time here in town; there’s so many different things for seniors of all age groups and interests to discover and enjoy.” Whether a couple of empty-nesters looking for affordable retirement living and nearby green space or a long-time town native wishing to expend his or her social circle at the weekly bingo session, Irondequoit is poised to accommodate its burgeoning senior ranks with a wide range of services in a safe, friendly atmosphere.

St. Ann’s Community resident Carolyn Alfieri, 96, is shown with her collection of colorful hot pads made during the weekly knitting session at The Heritage senior living center. “What can I say, I like to cook,” said the East Irondequoit native.


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new study in Ophthalmology (online), the journal of the Am e r i c a n A ca d e my o f Ophthalmology, says that an implantable miniature telescope (IMT) makes a positive difference in the lives of some people with end-stage agerelated macular degeneration (AMD). These patients had lost most of their central vision and were considered legally blind. They had either stopped responding to AMD medications or had a form of the disease for which no treatment is available. AMD is the leading cause of blindness among older people in the United States. By the end of the two-year study, vision improved in 76 patients. Most patients could once again see people’s faces rather than just blurry outlines, and could get around the market or their backyard on their own. Overall, these IMT patients’ lives improved substantially and at a reasonable cost. Quality of life was measured using a system called human value gain, with standards based on the experiences of people with vision loss. A year ago the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the treatment — knows as IMT — for end-stage AMD. Only patients who meet strict criteria, pass pre-surgery tests with an external eye telescope and agree to vision training afterward are eligible. The FDA plans to follow IMT patients for at least five years to check for long-term effectiveness and safety. IMT surgery and related care cost $18,494 per patient. But restoring vision often eliminates the need for other medical services. Medicare covers IMT treatment in some states. The tiny telescope, implanted in the back of the eye in the lens capsule, magnifies images so that the retina can relay better visual information to the optic nerve. Peripheral (side) vision is somewhat reduced by the IMT, but the patient’s other, non-implanted eye is able to help with that, once the patient receives training that helps the brain learn to fuse the images received from each eye.

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lifestyle

Mall-walking High Season Many seniors hit the mall on a daily basis — and as the weather gets cold, mall walking may be one of the best options for exercise By Jason Schultz

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Florence Paxson, 68, does her rounds at Greece Ridge Mall Thursday mornings. 18

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s attitudes about senior exercise and fitness have changed over the past several decades, more and more people have embraced an active lifestyle in their golden years. Part of that includes regular exercise such as walking, and every day Rochesterarea malls host hundreds of seniors who enjoy the comfort and safety of such places to stay active. Low-impact and requiring only a sturdy pair of shoes and some free time, walking is one of the easiest and most frequent exercise choices for the nation’s seniors. An 160-pound individual, walking at a moderate pace of three miles per hour, burns around 250 calories, while avoiding the stresses and strains of more strenuous exercise activities. The U.S. Department of Health recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise five times per week, along with appropriate strength training exercises and, of course, a healthy diet. One mall regular is Charles Gertner, 82, of Pittsford. He can be found almost every day making the rounds at Eastview Mall in Victor, where he goes to get his daily dose of heart-strengthening cardio. Gertner, tall and trim with a full head of silver-white hair, moves quicker than his eight decades of age would suggest. Dodging shoppers and weaving between the lines of the food court during the noon lunch

rush, he talked about his reasons for being such a fastidious mall walking regular. He said he started walking the mall about 10 years ago, at the suggestion of his doctor that he become more active. He said he walks two to three laps of the entire mall, which comes out to about a mile per circuit, if done correctly. “I always walk around all the [entrance halls,” Gertner said. “I don’t like to cut any corners.” He said the most important aspect of heart-healthy activities is the amount of time spent doing them more than the intensity, which is why it is so important to take the extra time to do his circuit correctly. Although focused on time over tempo, Gertner still prefers to walk alone most times, so that he can move at the pace best suited to him (he said his best time is just over 52 minutes for three laps). “I used to go more often with my wife, but our paces are very different,” he explained as he started the second of the day’s laps, beginning as always at the entrance to Sears. “If I went at her pace, it was too slow for me, and she had trouble keeping up at the speed I wanted, so I found it was best for me to go at my speed. And I think that goes for a lot of men in general; usually women you see walking in pairs, and men going alone.” Like many seniors who choose to frequent indoor shopping centers,


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Members of the Walk and Talk group meets every weekday at Marketplace Mall. As the name suggests, they walk, talk and enjoy a cup of coffee together. Left to right are Walt Bittner, Gene Weltzer, Diane Weltzer, Joan Curtice, Barbara Bittner, Don Cooper and Paul Burke. Gertner cited the consistent surface and climate for making his daily exercise routine easier. “There’s no hills to worry about, no rain and no snow; which is important when you’re trying to walk every day in a climate like Rochester’s,” he explained. Having walked an estimated 1,000 miles a year and over 10,000 miles total inside Eastview Mall, Gertner has become familiar with the many people he sees on his daily constitutionals. From the worker at a food court restaurant who counts out his laps to him each time he passes, to the other regular walkers he gives wave to as they pass, he is at home as he strides past the stores and kiosks of the mall. The proper shoes are of course an important accessory for the serious mall walker, and Gertner swears by his pair of all white Rockport Pro Walkers. As he finished up his second lap,

Gertner concluded by saying he has benefited greatly from his consistent exercise, which has given him more energy and improved his quality of life. He recommended seniors of all ages and abilities given such a regimen a try, if they are able. “It used to be people would reach a certain age, 70 say, and you were just expected to slow down and sit around the house,” he said. “But as you get older it becomes more and more important to get regular exercise; it strengthens your heart, your bones, it keeps extra weight off, and can add years to your life.” Fellow walker Florence Paxson, 68, has been coming to Greece Ridge Mall the past five years almost every day to get her four laps in around the mall’s many stores. Since retiring a few years ago, Paxson said she needed an outlet for her excess energy, which walking the mall provides. “I was looking for a way to stay active, and I knew people my age

often stop being active once they retire, which adds to a lot of problems with aging,” Paxson said as she did her rounds through the mall on a Thursday morning. “Not having to worry about weather extremes or uneven surfaces, it’s a lot easier, especially with our winters, to get consistent exercise.” Although she usually travels alone, Paxson said she can also be found at the mall with her husband at her side clicking off the miles toward a healthier future. In contrast to these two solo routines, the Walk and Talk group that meets every weekday morning at Marketplace Mall in Henrietta is more social affair. Walt Bittner, 81, of Rush started the tradition in 1988, after a heart-bypass operation forced him to become more active. He was soon joined by wife Barbara and a group of about a dozen other area seniors. The group, which meets at 9 a.m.,

November / December 2011 - 55 PLUS

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Charles Gertner, 82, of Pittsford has become familiar with the many people he sees on his daily walk at the Eastview Mall. He estimates to have walked 10,000 miles at the mall in the last 10 years. had just finished their walk for the day and was gathered for coffee and gossip in the food court. The Bittners were joined that morning by Barbara’s cousin Diane Weltzer, 78, and her husband, Gene. Barbara, who is 77 herself, sat next to her sister Joan Curtice, 79, of Chili, who enjoys the physical and social benefits of walk the mall with family and friends. “I think it’s a good way to start the day,” Curtice said. “You get to catch up on what people are doing while getting your exercise in for the day.” Paul Burke, 85, of Chili who has been a Walk and Talk member since 1990, added the mall’s layout is very conducive to the needs to seniors of all ability levels. “There’s plenty of benches along the route, plenty of places to rest,” Burke said. “This is a great group here; there’s always someone to talk to, to share your problems and get advice.” Walt Bittner himself said the benefits of the group have been obvious to him, based on input from his doctors following his surgery over two decades ago. “The docs have said to just keep on doing what I’m doing, and that’s all the motivation I need,” he said. Member Don Cooper said he had been a member of the informal group since 1992, when a chance run-in with the Bittners brought him into the fold. “I was out here by myself walking one day, one thing led to another, and I was hooked,” said Cooper, adding he, like many seniors, took to walking as a practical way to get much-needed cardio exercise. “Most men have existing heart problems, and that’s what brings them to join the group and find support in staying healthy.”


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volunteering

Repurposed Lives What do these plant managers, research scientists, engineers, college professors, finance managers, librarians and paralegals have in common? They’re all retired and they all volunteer at the Tool Thrift Shop in Fairport By Jeanne Gehret

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he three Rs used to refer to reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic. But in today’s ecology-minded society, people are more apt to think of “reuse, recycle, and reduce.” Indeed, that could be the mission statement of the Tool Thrift Shop, where an all-volunteer staff makes donated tools available for reuse by recycling used items. In the process, members of the mostly-retired staff also recycle their skills from their paid-employment days into charitable contributions to benefit senior citizens in their community. Instead of scheduling their lives around TV, golf or lunch outings, these volunteers dedicate one or more half-day sessions to help at the Fairport-based store. Shop workers 22

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have held jobs as plant managers, research scientists, engineers, college p rof e ssor s, f i n a n ce ma n a g e r s, librarians, and paralegals, to name a few professions. Carol Christensen, for example, responded to the shop’s ad for volunteers because she’s enjoyed using tools for furniture building and remodeling. A former dental hygienist, she serves as cashier one afternoon a week. It all began in early 2010 when a handful of people connected to the Fairport Baptist Homes Caring Ministries were brainstorming ways to generate more donations. That group met throughout the summer and on Thanksgiving weekend last year opened the Tool Thrift Shop to recycle used tools and sell them at

bargain prices to benefit seniors. “The shop has not only been successful way to raise money for SOFI [Senior Options for Independence] programs but has also created a way for many retired folks to do something enjoyable in support of their community,” says Ellen O’Connor, the shop’s liaison to the Fairport Baptist Home. “More than one volunteer has expressed thanks for this opportunity.” The original team of three grew to a leadership team of eight and expanded to more than 40 volunteers. Weekly proceeds — between $800 and $1,000 — have far exceeded expectations. Originally attracting customers though notices in the Perinton churches, the store currently draws shoppers from all over Monroe


55+ County and it’s becoming a destination for visitors from farther afield, as well. In addition to finding homes for all those tools and hardware, in 2011 the Tool Shop crew has also taken several thousand pounds of scrap metal to Alpco in Macedon for recycling. According to Rob Rhodes, a retired finance manager and one of the early member of the leadership team, the shop will soon make its first of many quarterly donations to Senior Options for Independence (SOFI), the Perinton-based community outreach program of the Fairport Baptist Homes Caring Ministries. Rhodes, who is also a Navy veteran, helps to manage the store one shift per week and also drives the Elderbus for SOFI. “SOFI provides many services such as transportation, friendly visits, safety checks, assistive devices like walkers, mental health evaluation, as well as connections to all other services that help seniors stay independent in their own homes, “ says Rhodes. “They serve people over 60 who live in Perinton or in the village of Fairport at no charge.” Jon Gehret, a former electrical engineer and the initial program manager for the project, was elated when Rhodes offered his services. “When Rob first contacted us he said, ‘I don’t know anything about tools but if I can help, call me.’ When he told me he’d been an accountant, I couldn’t wait to get him on board because none of us tool guys want to manage the finances.” At an informal gathering every Monday, Rhodes reports the number of customers and monies raised to the attentive volunteers. “Most of us are here because we have a strong interest in helping seniors in our community,” says store manager Bill Karpinski, who is a retired manufacturing plant manager. “Rob’s reports help us keep our motivation strong and also give us an opportunity for some goodnatured competition.” The shop is open Tuesday evening, Friday, and Saturday, and the three crews jokingly brag to each other whenever their

volunteering

group makes top sales for the week. Christensen’s donation of a set of retired dental tools sparked a round of teasing about amateurs buying the tools to give each other free dental care. “The atmosphere is friendly and fun,” she says. “That’s part of what keeps me from coming back.” The good-natured fun spills over from the staff onto customers. Many of

them stop in every week to see what’s new and to guess at the “mystery tool.” If they correctly identify the tool, they receive a $5 store credit. Past mystery tools have included such implements as a cobbler’s hammer, pineapple eye snipper, razor blade sharpener, and a child-sized corn husker. Former mechanical engineer continued on page 38

Thanks to a group of volunteers, the Tool Thrift Shop in Fairport is open for business. Large photo on the opposite page shows Raymond Roe and Pat Micari; Ken Rasch, Joe Malik are on the top left photo on this page. At right is Rob Rhodes. Shown on the bottom row, from left, are Carol Christensen and Bill Karpinski.

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Garth Fagan

A Choreographer of Life For more than 40 years, Rochester choreographer Garth Fagan has wowed audiences, been acclaimed by the critics, and defied age with his world-renowned dance technique By Amy Cavalier

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ritics have called Garth Fagan “a true original,” “a genuine leader,” and “one of the greatest reformers of modern dance.” Founder and artistic director of the award-winning and internationally acclaimed Garth Fagan Dance, Fagan is practically a household name as a result of his choreography in Walt Disney’s Broadway musical ““The Lion King”.” The 71-year-old admits he was attracted to dance at the age of 16 for shallow reasons — the flashy clothes, nice cars, and high society. He stayed with it because he fell in love with it. And he changed the world of dance with his vision. In the past 40 years, Fagan’s dance troupe has performed on all continents except Antarctica, touring throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, Asia, the Near and Middle East, North and South America, New Zealand, Australia and the West Indies. “We’ve been to all those places representing Rochester,” Fagan says with a smile. “We sell out before we get there, so that’s been a big blessing to me.” Fagan’s work has been seen by millions and reviewed by handfuls of dance critics and fine arts writers. For his ability to express cultural statements through movement to

his techniques aimed at producing well-rounded dancers capable of performing well into their adulthood, Fagan has been showered with praise, nine honorary doctorates and awards aplenty. But one of the most satisfying moments in Garth’s career came in pleasing his first and most important critic — his father. “I really loved him and cared for his counsel so much,” says Fagan. “As hard as he was, he made the man I am.”

Act I - His Biggest Critic Fagan was born in Kingston, Jamaica, in May 1940. He grew up in a large, nurturing family of 13 aunts and uncles. He describes his father S.W. Fagan Webster as an Oxford educated man and a Virgo. Webster was a strict Methodist and chief education officer for Jamaica; Fagan, a Taurus with a rebellious streak. “He kept me under surveillance… heavy manners, that’s what they say in Jamaica for disciplining a child,” Fagan reminisces, “but he also taught me something about hard work, quality and criteria. He loved criteria. If you liked something, you’d have to say compared to what, and you’d

have to say what, where and why. You had to have some substance to back it up.” Fagan’s father felt his pursuit of the art of dance was a frivolity, preferring his son to pursue a career in the medical field or science or math. That didn’t stop the young Fagan from following his own dreams. Starting at the age of 16, Fagan danced his way from Ivy Baxter’s Jamaican National Dance Company, t o Wa y n e S t a t e U n i v e r s i t y i n Detroit, becoming principal soloist and choreographer of the Detroit Contemporary Dance Company and the Dance Theater of Detroit. In the 1960s, Fagan had plunged himself into the New York City Dance scene, and by 1970, he’d landed a teaching position at SUNY Brockport and founded his own dance company in Rochester called Bottom of the Bucket But…Dance Theater. In 1973, he decided to take the dance troupe to Jamaica. “I wanted them to really see Jamaican society, how positive it was, especially upper class and upper middle class Jamaican society, to give them some nourishment as to all that they could become,” Fagan says. “We had no money in the company. I charged a lot of it on my dad’s charge card.” Fagan reserved a box seat for November / December 2011 - 55 PLUS

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eight people for his father, all the while warning the dancers that he may not show up. Fagan’s father did come, along with a full box of friends and family. Fagan recalls his father’s words of praise, ‘what a wonderful show. If you had told me it had cultural significance and intellectual content, I never would have fought you as hard.’ Two weeks later, Fagan’s father flew him back to Jamaica, where they sat on a veranda and talked about the show. Fagan got up the courage to tell his father about the money he had charged on his credit card, and told him they could arrange a payment schedule. His father says ‘you don’t owe me a dime. I’m so impressed with you that you don’t owe me a dime.’ About one year later, his father suffered a stroke. Fagan says he’s thankful he brought the dance company to Jamaica when he did. “I would have always been wondering what dad would have

thought,” he says. “Is this a worthwhile endeavor?”

Act II – Bright Lights and Fast Cars Fagan was big into social dancing as a teenager, winning prizes for the mambo and the cha cha. “That’s what everybody did, not as a career or art, but for fun,” he says. “I was good at it and that was it.” Then he was introduced to the Ivy Baxter ’s Jamaican National Dance Company. Baxter was teaching gymnastics in his school and she convinced Fagan to come to her studio and take classes. “I don’t have any idea what she saw,” Fagan says. The transition from party dancing to concert dancing was easy, but Fagan says, he didn’t value the art right away. Instead he saw the flashy lifestyle and a place he could learn.

“It took me on tours, and all the people in her dance company were the best dressed, fastest and most sophisticated people in Kingston because they traveled around the world, had sports cars and wore the newest clothes,” he recalls. “I’m ashamed to say all my reasons for pursuing this were shallow, shallow.” While attending Wayne State University, Fagan met Pat Welling, a dance teacher that really “nourished” him. She helped him with his first solo, “Contemplations,” which he danced in complete silence. “That was really bold for the early 1960s,” he recalls. “At that point, I was really beginning to taste it — dancing could be a career. I got great reviews, the audience went wild. Now that I look back on it, it was so vulgar, showing off tricky things you could do to engage the audience.” Following college, Fagan became a member of the Detroit Contemporary Dance Company and the Dance Theater of Detroit, serving as principal soloist and choreographer for both groups. He made his way to New York City and studied with the likes of the Martha Graham Company, and his friend and mentor Alvin Ailey. All the while, Fagan had his dreams set on forming his own dance company, one consisting of dancers who didn’t have any previous training or “people dancing, as opposed to dancers portraying people,” as he describes it. “I always look for what’s not been done,” he says. “I didn’t want to repeat what other people had done. I wanted my own voice, my own technique, my own way of moving.”

Act III – Finding His Place

Fagan receives the Musgrave Medal from Former Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson in 1998 for his Contribution to the World of Dance and Dance Theater. 26

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Before SUNY Brockport made him an offer to teach a dance class in the summer of 1970, Fagan had never even heard of Rochester before. “It was just an exit on the freeway as far as I was concerned,” Fagan says.


55+ Fagan figured he’d teach in Rochester for a few years and then head back to New York City, the dance capital of the world. He taught at Brockport for the summer and was asked to return again in the fall. In the meantime, Fagan started his dance company Bottom of the Bucket, But…Dance Theater. “That was because I didn’t have trained dancers, and because we were the bottom of the bucket now, but watch what we were going to do,” he says. The company of about 16 dancers was based at the Education Opportunity Center on Andrews Street. In addition to performing, the company offered public classes, which were well subscribed to. But Fagan had much larger dreams. “I wanted to create a company where my dancers were salaried, so they’d get paid for what they do,” he says. “In my day, it was four to five dancers to one hotel room. I didn’t want to subject my dancers to that because they’re professionals that work hard on their bodies keeping them in shape.” Within two or three years, Bottom of the Bucket, But… was performing in New York City. Within four years, the dance company was performing with award-winning choreographer/ dancers Twyla Tharp and Carmen De Lavallade. In an early review in The New York Times, Anna Kisselgoff wrote of Bottom of the Bucket…But: “Garth Fagan, their brilliant choreographer and director, has literally worked wonders on several levels. His use of black thematic material has several features in common with that of other black choreographers. But he started mainly with performers with minimal dance training. As a result, much of his choreography is really an incorporation of street vernacular style into patterns that suggest dance. The method works superbly and is responsible for the rousing raw energy that suffuses the choreography.” In the 1980s, Bottom of the Bucket…But was changed to Garth Fagan Dance. Natalie Rogers-Cropper joined Garth Fagan Dance in 1989 after

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The dance company in a 1993 photo. Photo courtesy of Steve Labuzetta seeing a performance in Houston, Texas. She was just coming off of eight years of working as a dancer for several companies in New York City, “I saw them perform and that was that, I moved to Rochester to follow my dream,” she says. “The music spoke to me in a way that said ‘that’s what I want to be doing’.” Rogers-Cropper hadn’t even been accepted into dance troupe, she says she just wanted to study the work and learn the technique. Immediately, Fagan saw talent in the young dancer and invited her to rehearsal. Within four months, she was a member of the company. “It was the shortest time anyone had been here before they joined Garth Fagan Dance as a company member,” she says. “I was very proud of that. I haven’t looked back. It’s been the same ever since, just wonderful.” Rogers-Cropper is now director of the Garth Fagan School of Dance and assistant rehearsal director for the company. “Garth encouraged me to be

more consistent and you will rise to the highest level,” she says. “Practice and perform at the same level, and suddenly your performance gets better and better. That’s what I tell all my dancers now. You’re worrying too much about the end result and not about the process of learning. You want to get there before you do the work.” Bill Ferguson is Fagan’s artistic and administrative liaison and a dancer with the company. He teaches and choreographs for the Garth Fagan School of Dance. After graduating from the University of Missouri in Kansas City, Ferguson moved to Rochester to dance with Garth Fagan. “Two months after I moved up here, we were performing in Sicily on a 2,500-year-old amphitheater that they had built a stage on for the [Garth Fagan Dance] company to perform on, and I’ve been hooked ever since,” he says. That was 1989. Ferguson married Nicolette Depass, the lead woman November / December 2011 - 55 PLUS

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Receiving the Tony Award for Best Choreography for his work on Walt Disney’s “The Lion King” in 1998. dancer with the company. He says Fagan’s vision of what concert dance should be is very unique. “The quality and depth of our artistic product, not only is unique to Garth…but the ability of Garth’s work to show us our humanity and communicating clearly is one of those things that helps keep the integrity of the company and the quality of their work so deep and successful,” he says.

Act IV – The Fagan Technique Rogers-Cropper says she was drawn to the “humanness” of Fagan’s technique. “This was a means of expression that’s very rare to see in the dance world, where the movement is contributing to a statement about humanity…that’s what I wanted to do. It was a very powerful moment for me to recognize that without acting, through movement, you can do exactly the same thing and affect 28

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people in the same way an actor would, without words, just with movement.” Fagan’s style has been described as having the weightiness and the floor work of modern dance, the torso centered movement of African/ Caribbean dance, the speed and precision of ballet, and the rule breaking experimentation of postmoderns. The company’s “fearless” dancers are “able to sustain long adagio balances, to change direction in mid-air, to vary the dynamic of a turn, to stop on a dime,” writes David Vaughan in “Ballet Review.” But Fagan’s approach extends far beyond mastering dance techniques. He believes in nurturing the whole dancer. His father being a professor, Fagan says he reveres education, and it shows in the way he runs his dance company. “My dancers are the brightest dancers on the planet because besides the work they do in the studio, I take them to jazz concerts, poetry readings, art galleries, and they have to discuss and rank how they liked whatever it is they just saw and back up their

opinion,” Fagan says, admitting the practice harkens back to his own upbringing. “Just last night we read an article in The New York Times and we ranked it, and you’ve got to back it up.” B y s e e i n g t h i n g s f ro m a l l perspectives, Fagan says, you can share ideas with people and prevent yourself from becoming insular and removed. For a Fagan dancer, the skills they acquire in the studio are just as important as their understanding of their world. “As we tour the world, I always have it in my contract that we have a day off to explore the art and culture of the county,” he says. In Australia, company members danced with the Aborigines, in New Zealand, the Maoris. In Africa, dancers tried different foods and learned different rhythms performing side by side with other dance companies. “My dancers always meet with the audience after the show out in the lobby; that way you hear from the people who buy the tickets to your show; you experience the different walks of life.”

An award-winning 40 years • In 1998, Fagan received Jamaica’s Special Gold Musgrave Medal for his Contribution to the World of Dance and Dance Theater and the Prime Minister’s Award. In 2001, he was presented with the Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander by the Jamaican government. • Awarded the Tony Award for Best Choreography, the Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Astaire Award in 1998, as well as the 2000 Laurence Olivier Award, 2001 Ovation Award, and 2004 Helpmann Award for his work on Walt Disney’s The Lion King. • Fagan received the Golden Plate Award and was inducted into the American Academy of Achievement in 2001. • In 2003, Fagan received the George Eastman Medal from

the University of Rochester for “outstanding achievement and dedicated service.” • Garth Fagan Dance’s Mudan 175/39 was named third of the top six dance watching moments in 2009 by The New York Times. • Named Fulbright 50th Anniversary Distinguished Fellow. • Other awards include the 2001 Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award; a Guggenheim Fellowship; Dance Magazine’s Award for “significant contributions to dance during a distinguished career” in 1990; the Monarch award from the National Council for Culture and Art; the Arts Achievement Award from his alma mater Wayne State University; and the Bessie Award (New York Dance and Performance Award) for Sustained Achievement.


55+ Fagan says his technique is designed to keep his dancers performing well into their adult years. “Garth really does take care of his dancers,” Fagan’s principal male soloist Norwood Pennewell says in an article in “The Wall Street Journal” by Pia Catton. Fagan’s technique puts as much focus on the mind as it does the dancers’ bodies. “Fagan makes sure that we are educated in general — in every aspect of life. He keeps your mind, spirit, emotions and body always focused on getting better. You could spend 10, 11 years just learning movement or how to phrase your movement.” Anthony Bannon, director of the George Eastman House, was a dance critic and filmmaker back when Garth Fagan Dance was billed as Bottom of the Bucket…But Dance Theater. “He was a delight to be around, just a kaleidoscope of realizing what’s possible; greedy about knowledge, and about making the most delightful hypothesis.” says Bannon. “What if someone’s arm was to go to the left and their big toe to the right, while upside down and twirling the right foot, and drawing I-shapes with the left arm? What if we were to create this seemingly impossible scenario, might it be possible? And if so, what would it look like? And if it seemed of interest, what in the world would you do next. And he hasn’t changed one bit.”

Act V – “The Lion King” Walt Disney came calling in the mid-1990s, expressing an interest in seeing some of Fagan’s work for “The Lion King”. According to an article by Louise Levene in “The Sunday Telegraph,” “the show came to life in 1994 when Walt Disney Theatrical Productions, flushed with the success of Beauty and the Beast began the search for a new stage hit. They settled on the monster-grossing cartoon feature “The Lion King”, the heart-warming tale of a baby lion who

finally faces up to his responsibilities as the King of the Beasts.” “I hadn’t seen ““The Lion King”” and what I knew of Disney musicals was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Sleeping Beauty,” Fagan recalls. He wasn’t sure why Disney would be interested in him. One of his more recent hits was Griot, performed with the Brooklyn Academy of Music with Wynton Marsalis composing the music and Martin Puryear doing sculpting. “It was a big hit and one of the pieces that stopped the show was a duet for a topless man and woman called Spring Yaounde,” Fagan says, wondering how Disney could be interested in the choreographer of such a sensual hit. Nevertheless, when the Garth Fagan Dance Company performed in London, people from Disney were there. And in Long Beach, Disney was there. When Fagan got word he was one of the final three choreographers being considered, he called his friend Janet Lomax who had young kids and asked to borrow her copy of “The Lion King”. “I saw it and fell madly in love with it, and I said, ‘Oh, I really could do this,’” Fagan says. “I’d been to Africa several times, had been all over Africa. So then I got all excited and inspired, and I went to meet Julie [Tamor, director of “The Lion King”] and we hit it off. In Chinese astrology, both Julie and I are dragons. We’re demanding, we work hard, and we go for what it is, so she and I hit it off immediately.” Fagan was selected to choreograph Disney’s “The Lion King” in the winter of 1996 and he immediately set to work on the movements with his lead dancers Rogers-Cropper and Pennewell. “I wanted the broadest range of dance a Broadway show has ever seen. I wanted hip hop, because that was current at the time, African Caribbean Dance, modern dance, ballet,” Fagan says. “It’s all in there because I wanted the kids who saw “The Lion King” to see the dances that they knew and some other dances they didn’t know,

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for them to understand how rich and varied the world really is outside of what we know, and this is one of the blessings that traveling all over the world has given me, different tastes in food, drink, attitude. I mean, it’s such a rich, rich, rich smorgasbord the creator has given us.” “The Lion King” premiered on 42nd Street in November 1997, and is still on Broadway, in London, Hamburg, Germany and Tokyo. It was also presented in Syracuse for nearly a month until early October. There are still eight shows a week being performed around the world. Rogers-Cropper said Fagan has definitely left his mark on “The Lion King”. “That’s what you want to do as a choreographer,” she says. “You want people to be able to tell without looking at the program. I think that was just genius.” The experience is a reflection on the values which Fagan’s father instilled in him. “If you want quality, you’ve got to stick your neck out,” he says. “Quality is not going to come easy.”

The Final Act? Since coming to Rochester in 1970, Fagan has taught for over three decades at Brockport. He holds nine honorary doctorates, including ones from the Julliard School, the University of Rochester, Nazareth College, and Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Fagan has choreographed for the New York City Ballet, Dance Theater of Harlem, Alvin Ailey Company, and the Limon Company, among his many accomplishments. The company boasts five Bessie Award Winners, one of which belongs to Fagan himself. That’s the highest award in dance. Fagan has turned over the reins of the Garth Fagan School of Dance to Rogers-Cropper, Ferguson and Pennewell. The school provides weekly classes for children, teenagers and adults, taught by current and former members of Garth Fagan Dance, as well as additional instructors trained in the “Fagan Technique.” It also November / December 2011 - 55 PLUS

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hosts a Summer Movement Institute every year for three weeks in July and August. About 42 dancers participated in this summer’s session. Fagan lives in Rochester’s Park Avenue neighborhood and his studio is located on Chestnut Street. He has a daughter who died at age 3, a son with two children, and a great grandson. While “The Lion King” has catapulted Fagan’s reputation for concert dance and acquainted it with more mainstream audiences, Fagan admits he’s still the largest financial contributor to the company after 40 years. “The ups and downs of the economy have really screwed us,” he says. “Earned income is down,

The critics

“Once in a while there comes a true dance original – a choreographer who breaks all, or at least most, of the rules, and creates a style, or rarer, even a technique, all of his or her own. Just such an original is Garth Fagan.” Clive Barnes, New York Post. “It’s a tribute to Fagan’s thoughtful, disciplined teaching that his dancers have long careers and that even the newest recruits to the 14-member company…look as if they’d been born into Fagan’s unique style of modern dance with a slight, but pungent, AfroCaribbean accent. Which means that none of them gives signs of having ever studied ballet – and I intend that as a compliment.” Deborah Jowitt on Fagan’s 40th anniversary piece “Thanks Forty” for The Village Voice. “The dancers face off across the stage in columns. Like chess pieces come to aggressive, silky life, they crouch low, legs stamping as their torsos slowly churn. There is a precision to their movements but also an almost tossed-off quality; shoulders shrug at the end of confrontational phrases as 30

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bookings are down, not just with us, with everybody, because people need money for food, gas and Pampers, so to go to the theater, they don’t really have discretionary funds. So we have really felt it, and the arts were always very marginal in America anyway from the economic standpoint.” Fagan says another problem is society’s obsession with shows like “So You Think You Can Dance” and “America’s Got Talent. “ “Major papers don’t have dance sections or dance critics anymore,” he says. “It’s changed. We’re a lot more interested in amateurs than we are professionals.” Fagan admits, running a dance company would have been easier in

if to invite a fight and laugh it off simultaneously.” Claudia La Rocco on Thanks Forty for The New York Times. “Mudan moves like wind chimes on a mercurial day. Pennewell and Benton merely anchor that blustery, then tranquil, spirit to human experience so it stays with us after the curtain falls.” Appollinaire Scherr on “Mudan 175/39” for Financial Times. “Over the years — 37 and counting — Garth Fagan’s Garth Fagan Dance has developed a unique dialect of dance based on rhythmic runs, off-center balances, wild curveting spins and explosive, asymmetric leaps. And, oh yes, stillness.” Clive Barnes on “Mudan 175/39” for the New York Post. “He doesn’t just supply steps that marshal the huge cast in and out of action, he has also created distinct physical languages for all the performers who stalk, prowl and scamper about the stage until it pulses with the life of the savannah.” Louise Levene on “The Lion King” for The Sunday Telegraph.

a bigger city, but he says he stayed in Rochester for his sanity. “I like a smaller place when I’m choreographing a dance,” he says. “I like solitude so I can focus on what it is I’m doing and saying and it’s hard to find solitude in New York City. I like all the green fields, corn fields and old farm houses that I can drive 15 minutes outside of Rochester. That calms me down and soothes me…but if I am out of New York City for more than two months I feel completely uncivilized. Three months away from Manhattan is all I can survive. I need the fix every so often, the sophistication and clothing.” Rogers-Cropper says Fagan is a visionary and a genius who is “way ahead of his time.” “The thing about Garth is he’s so focused on people and relationships, and he’s passed that onto us,” she says. “He’s a father and a mentor and he can’t help it. He always has to make sure that we’re being taught. That’s his thing. This is unique. In the dance world, the choreographer gives you the movement and direction, but in terms of that kind of nourishment, Garth has passed it onto us and now I’m passing that onto the young people.” Fagan’s advice for dancers is “work hard and be vulnerable.” “When you’re stuck in your ways, you keep repeating the same old, same old,” he says. “When you’re vulnerable, choreographers can get you to do things you had no idea you could do, and that the dance you’re working on needs, not your good old tricks that have been done already.” Fagan shows no signs or desire to slow down, pointing out that Merce Cunningham worked until he was 91. “No retiring,” he says. “That’s nonsense, because all that you learn in life, you put back into your work, and stuff that you didn’t know when you were 20, now that you are 30 you know, and stuff I didn’t know at 50, now that I’m 71, I know. That’s how life works, and since this is an art form, great artists always put their life experiences into their work. I don’t want to stop.”


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Members of The Chorus of the Genesee led by chorus director Allen Weitz, front, wearing a blue T-shirt.

Keeping More Than Just the Vocal Chords in Shape Members of The Chorus of the Genesee say their hobby brings fun times and good health By Karen Boughton Siegelman

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ingers are exercising more than their vocal chords, according to researchers. Recent studies show that there are many potential health benefits of singing. While those who enjoy singing in the shower or crooning in the car already realize carrying a tune can be a mood lifter, researchers are finding proof that there are many more physical, mental and emotional benefits to belting out a stanza or two. In a recent edition of the U.S. Journal Of Behavioral Medicine, scientists at the University of Frankfurt in Germany reported the

results from testing the blood of people who sang in a professional choir before and after their rehearsal of “Mozart’s Requiem”. The researchers found that the concentration of hydrocortisone, an anti-stress hormone, and other antibodies that improve the functioning of the immune system, increased significantly during the rehearsal. They concluded that singing strengthens the immune system. Another German study has shown that group singing can lead to significant increases in the production of a protein considered

as the first line of defense against respiratory infections. In addition, professor Greg Cohen of George Washington University tracked a Senior Singers Chorale in Arlington, Va., and found the members suffered less depression, made fewer doctor visits and took fewer medications. The results of these recent studies do not surprise some of the members of The Chorus of the Genesee, a musical group comprised of 80 men of all ages from around the Rochester area. This choral group sings fourpart a capella music, specializing November / December 2011 - 55 PLUS

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One of many presentations by The Chorus of the Genesee throughout the year. in barbershop harmony. Three of the group’s active members sing the praises of the chorus and the positive effect their participation has had on various aspects of their lives. Joe Bradbury, 73, of Ontario, joined The Chorus of the Genesee 38 years ago. He has enjoyed singing his entire life and was a member of both his high school and college choral groups. “I’ve always been interested in harmony,” said Bradbury, who is president of The Chorus of the Genesee. “We used to sing a lot on automobile trips as a kid, and when my wife and I would take our seven daughters anywhere, we would always be singing in the car.” Bradbury lists “stress relief” as the greatest health benefit of singing with the chorus. “After attending one of our rehearsals, you go home exhilarated,” said Bradbury. “It usually takes awhile to unwind after a rehearsal or singing performance. 32

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There is a natural high that accompanies our music.” “Barbershop harmony always brings a smile to the faces of those who are singing, as well as those who are listening,” Bradbury continued. “The singers are joyful because we are able to participate in creating the chords in the music we sing, and the listeners are usually amazed that human voices alone can create so much music.” Bradbury has such a strong belief in the power of singing and music that he went back to college at age 62 to earn a master’s degree in music therapy. He is now one of about 6,000 board-certified music therapists in the country and he works almost exclusively with senior Alzheimer patients. Another long time member of the Chorus of the Genesee, Jack Thomas, claims his participation in the chorus keeps him young. “It keeps the mind challenged as you cannot sing while you’re

thinking of other things,” said Thomas, who started singing with the chorus 33 years ago. “The way we sing and learn the music and words needs our full attention.” Thomas said that singing also expands lung capacity, and a study by professor Graham Welch, of the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom, backs up his claim. Welch found that singing tones abdominal muscles and the diaphragm and improves aerobic capacity because it requires deeper breathing than many forms of strenuous exercise. Lee Shepter, 57, is one of the younger members of the Chorus of the Genesee. He only joined the group about two years ago, but he insists that this experience has benefited his mental health “more than anything I’ve done in my whole life”. “I am employed full time and my position can be stressful,” said Shepter, who is vice president of chapter development for the chorus.


55+ “I leave our Tuesday evening rehearsals wishing I could do it all over again. Attempting to improve the craft of harmony allows a total escape from the day to day drudgery.” “My stress level is better managed,” Shepter added. “I’m a better listener and a better partner for my wife.” Shepter describes the chorus as a “brotherhood” and notes that there are members who have found singing with this group to be a cure for whatever stress they are experiencing in their life. “I have welcomed several men who have found a new home on Tuesdays while they recover from the loss of a loved one,” Shepter said. “I have also welcomed members who are in the medical field, one who works as a clinical psychologist and another who works with homeless men. Both of these men find singing with the chorus relieves the burden of their everyday work.” Researchers at the University of Manchester have discovered one of the physical reasons that singing is such a stress reliever is that it stimulates the sacculus, a small organ in the inner ear. This organ is responsive to low frequency, high intensity sounds such as singing. It responds within a few seconds of hearing the singing and sends a message to the part of the brain responsible for registering pleasure.

hobbies The chorus members stress one is never too old or too off key to join their group or similar organizations in order to reap the many physical, mental and emotional benefits of making music. In fact Shepter admits he didn’t read music, never played an instrument and only sang rock music in his car and hymns at church before joining the group. “I am so far removed from being considered musically inclined,” said Shepter. “However the members of the chorus are willing, able and excited to help each individual achieve their best vocal ability,” Shepter added,” and I can attest to their ongoing patience. It is not rocket science, but just good clean fun, and when we all hit the right notes, what a beautiful harmony sound we make.” Shepter also reports that his voice has improved to the point where he is working his way into singing with one of the chorus’ many quartets. This experience will be rewarding in many ways too, he said. “It’s awesome blending your voice with three others,” said Shepter. “For our next performance we will be singing to the patients and staff at a rehab facility, so what matters is the impact and the effect our singing may have on our audience that matters the most.” For more information on The Chorus of the Genesee, go to www. chorusofthegenesee.org.

Social Security

Q&A

Q: Is it true that if you have low income you can get help paying your Medicare premiums? A: If your income and resources are limited, your State may be able to help with your Medicare Part B premium, deductibles, and coinsurance amounts. State rules vary on the income and resources that apply. Contact your State or local medical assistance, social services, or welfare office, or call the Medicare hotline, 1-800MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), and ask about the Medicare Savings Programs. If you have limited income and resources, you also may be able to get help paying for prescription drug coverage under Medicare Part D. Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778) or visit any Social Security office. Also, see our publication, Medicare (Publication 10043), at www.socialsecurity.gov/ pubs/10043.html. For even more information, visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov. Q: If I go back to work, will I automatically lose my Social Security disability benefits? A: Social Security has several work incentive programs to help people who want to work. You may be able to receive benefits and continue your health care coverage during a trial work period. For information about Social Security’s work incentives and how they can help you return to work, you should: • Visit our special work site at www.socialsecurity.gov/work; • See the Red Book on work incentives at www.socialsecurity. gov/redbook; • Call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-3250778); or • Contact your local Social Security office (www.socialsecurity. gov/locator). November / December 2011 - 55 PLUS

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Why we volunteer has an impact on our health

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eople who give, live longer, studies have shown. Now, a new study shows that why people volunteer—not whether they volunteer—is what really counts. People who volunteer because they want to help others, live longer than people who don’t volunteer at all, University of Michigan researchers found. But those who volunteer mainly for some sort of personal benefit live no longer than non-volunteers, on average. “We’ve known for a long time that volunteering can have benefits not just to the people receiving help but also to those who give their time and energy,” said Sara Konrath, the lead author of the study and a social psychologist at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR). “On the surface, volunteering seems to be a purely selfless act. But, in fact, people volunteer for a wide range of reasons, from getting out of the house and meeting new people to doing something good for people who need help and groups they support.” For the study, published online by the American Psychological Association in the peer-reviewed journal Health Psychology, Konrath and colleagues analyzed data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, which follows a random sample of Wisconsin high school students who graduated in 1957. The data used in the analysis were collected in 2004 and included 3,376 men and women who were about 65 years old at the time. Overall, they found that 57 percent of those surveyed reported doing at least some volunteer work in the past 10 years. Participants were contacted again four years later, in 2008. Researchers found that just 2.3 percent of the volunteers had died, compared to 4.3 percent of nonvolunteers. They further found that how much people volunteered 34

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mattered as well—only 1.8 percent of regular volunteers were deceased, compared with 2.5 percent of occasional volunteers. Mortality risk was reduced even more for each hour older adults volunteered per month. But what really made a difference were people’s motives for volunteering. Even after controlling for confounding variables that might affect mortality, such as physical health, the researchers found that motives for volunteering still have an effect on mortality. People rated how important they found various reasons for volunteering, and the more important they rated other-oriented reasons, the more likely they were to be alive after four years. These reasons included feeling compassion for people in need or because it was important to their loved ones. Those who rated motives related to personal benefit as more important were marginally more likely to have died after four years. In fact, those who volunteered for

personal benefits were just as likely to die as those who didn’t volunteer at all, the researchers found. These reasons included volunteering because they enjoyed the social contact, to get out of the house, to escape their own problems, or to explore their own strengths. “Our analysis clearly demonstrates the importance of motives when considering the health benefits of volunteering,” Konrath said. “This research did not examine why motive matters so much, but work by my co-author Stephanie Brown and others has shown that concern about others helps us tap into the same system that operates in mothers and other caregivers. “This system is a suite of thoughts, emotions, and underlying neurological and psychophysiological circuitry that helps deactivate stress responses and activate hormones, such as oxytocin, that restore physiological function. Basically, it buffers the stress of caregiving and promotes well-being.” The researchers plan to conduct future research to examine this idea in relation to volunteering but in the meantime, Konrath says the current finding suggests it may be a poor idea to encourage people to volunteer because it’s good for them. “Volunteering is increasingly being encouraged in schools and organizations via the media— including Oprah Winfrey’s ‘Angel Network’ and even by President Obama,” she said. “Some groups emphasize that it’s okay to want some benefits for yourself, and encourage people to think of volunteering as an exchange rather than something you do for other people who aren’t as fortunate as you are. Some groups even emphasize the health benefits received through volunteering. “Of course, it’s reasonable for volunteers to expect some benefits for themselves. But it’s ironic that the potential health benefits of volunteering are significantly reduced if self-benefit becomes a person’s main motive.” Copy of study: www.apa.org/ pubs/journals/releases/hea-201117888-001.pdf


long-term care By Susan Suben

A Valuable Benefit for Your Business

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o you think you will live a long life? Do you think your employees will live a long life? Have you considered what the probable consequences of living a long life will have on your family or your employees’ families if a longterm care illness occurs? The fastest growing employee benefit is long-term care insurance (LTCI). This is understandable. More baby boomers are seeing their parents require LTC services and they see how the impact of paying for these services depletes retirement savings. Even more important is the fact that many baby boomers are actually providing hands-on care and they do not want to see their spouse or children feel the burden of this responsibility should they become ill. LTCI is like no other employee benefit or federal program. Disability insurance replaces lost income due to an illness or accident. Health insurance pays for hospital stays, medical bills and tests. Neither benefit pays for LTC services or settings. Medicare is health insurance that pays for some LTC services but with limits. If someone is in a hospital for three days and then enters a skilled nursing facility, Medicare will pay in full for the first 20 days of care and then there is a co-pay for the next 80 days. After 100 days, Medicare pays for nothing. Medicare does not pay for adult day care or assisted living. It can pay for skilled home care, three days per week / three hours per day, but does not pay for custodial care such as bathing, dressing, toileting and transferring. Once a patient is

assessed to have reached their peak level of functioning, Medicare will no longer pay for home care services. Medicaid is health insurance designed for individuals with limited assets and income. There are spenddown requirements to qualify for LTC coverage. Unlike LTCI, Medicaid is geared toward nursing home care. Very few assisted living facilities accept Medicaid payments. What is the value of LTCI to your business and employees? It will definitely enrich your benefits package. It will protect your employees’ financial future. Executive carve-outs will help attract and retain key personnel, and it will fill in the gaps in health and disability insurance. It can run with minimal administrative cost or cost-free. Most importantly, it will prevent lost productivity. According to the AARP Public Policy Institute in a June 2007 study, 59 percent of caregivers are employed and 83 percent of caregivers arrive late for work, leave work early or take time off from work due to caregiving responsibilities. It is estimated that businesses in America lose approximately $33 billion in lost productivity. Your employees work hard for you and this is a chance to give back to them. An LTCI program will help protect their 401K accounts, pension plans and personal investments. An LTCI policy will give them a steady stream of income to pay for home care, adult day care, assisted living and nursing home expenses. The premiums are discounted, the policies are portable, and NYS offers a 20 percent tax credit on the premiums of tax-qualified policies. Family members are eligible to participate in the program with discounted premiums and possible

underwriting concessions. This is a great way for younger employees to provide coverage for their parents or grandparents. The coverage will alleviate the financial, emotional and physical stress of caregiving. The policies offer choice of care settings with a greater ability for the policyholder to stay at home. Valuable advice and resources are available through case management, respite care and discount provider services. Executive carve-outs can be initiated because LTCI is not subject to discrimination rules. Coverage can be offered to any sub- group of employees and their spouses. Other features of interest are limited pay options (guaranteed paidup premium by retirement), Return of Premium riders and cash plans that offer ultimate flexibility. Employers can offer LTCI as cost-free voluntary benefit or as an employer-paid program. With an employer-paid LTCI program, 100 percent of the premiums can be deducted as a business expense depending upon how the company is set up. The premium is not considered income for the employee and the benefits are tax-free. In this economic climate, businesses are struggling to remain profitable while trying to keep their employee benefits comprehensive yet affordable. This is a great way to round out your benefits package, give your employees peace of mind, and take advantage of tax concessions. Susan Suben, MS, CSA, is president of Long Term Care Associates, Inc. and a consultant for Canandaigua National Bank & Trust Company. She can be reached at 800-422-2655 or by email at susansuben@31greenbush.com. November / December 2011 - 55 PLUS

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Seniors More Comfortable With Shopping Online By Kenneth Little

A

growing number of seniors are embracing the Internet and many of the online shopping services it offers. That’s good news for marketers as the holiday season approaches. It’s better news for those who dread braving the mall and its crowds of shoppers. A recent eMarketer Digital Intelligence article cites data from the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing that shows a majority of seniors who use the Internet do so, in part, for online shopping. The data shows that online shopping among elder Internet users

age 65 and older was second in popularity only to email use. Priscilla Minster, executive director of the Rochester OASIS chapter, agrees. OASIS is a nationwide educational program for adults over 50. “I shop almost exclusively on the Internet, as does my husband. The reasons are numerous. I am 67 and he is 70,” she said. “I use it because I can use it any time of the day or the night. I’m not limited to store hours,” Minster said. “I can shop a lot of different places to get the best price.” Another plus, she said: “I often don’t have to pay taxes.”

Other advantages to shopping online include free returns on many sites and free shipping, Minster said. “Once you are familiar with the site, for example, with clothing you know how the sizes run so you can feel comfortable with ordering shoes or clothes. You get a larger selection,” Minster said. According to a 2009 Pew Internet & American Life Project study, older generations use the Internet less for socializing and entertainment and more as a tool for information searches, emailing, and buying products than their younger generation counterparts. As computers become more November / December 2011 - 55 PLUS

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ingrained in American popular culture, uneasiness about employing them for tasks such as shopping and keeping in touch with family members has lessened. “In many cases, it’s relatives who want them to get a computer. They’re almost getting forced into it by television, if not by relatives,” said Jerry Taylor, who taught science, math, and computers for more than 20 years in the Greece School District. From 1995 until his retirement in 2006, Taylor was school district technology integration specialist, instructing teachers and administrators how to integrate the use of computers into their work. Taylor now uses his expertise to provide computer use instruction to seniors through his company, SeniorTech, which serves Rochester

residents and areas east of the city. Once seniors become familiarized with the Internet, they are more apt to shop there, and even sell, said Taylor, who lives in Macedon. “They’ll certainly window shop and they’ll certainly start to buy,” Taylor said. “I’ve helped people set up Craigslist accounts and eBay accounts and that brings digital photography into it.” Most people gradually overcome “that uncomfortable threshold” of fear surrounding computers, said Taylor, who advises seniors to take their time learning to avoid frustration. For online shoppers like Minster, secure shopping is a matter of taking sensible precautions. “I never worry about that. I have one particular email [address] I only use for shopping and I get all the junk

Repurposed Lives: They’re all retired and they all volunteer at the Tool Thrift Shop in Fairport Continued from 23 and antique expert Paul Kleinstuber assigns the mystery tool, frequently offering a not-for-sale item from his own vintage collection. Kleinstuber, who does pricing for the shop, grew up on a family farm using tools from his father and grandfather. “This taught me to appreciate tools and to treat them with respect by taking care of them,” he says. “We’re becoming a throw-away society,” he continues. “Some people buy cheap tools, use them till they wear out, and throw them out— especially battery-powered ones. They don’t think about the effect this has on landfills. But our customers appreciate quality tools that have stood the test of time and still have a lot of use in them.” Kleinstuber is particularly proud of the shop’s selection of vintage tools and notes that some customers come in specifically seeking 38

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older U.S.-made tools because they’ll probably be good for another several decades. Vintage tools vie for shelf space with implements for the yard, automobiles, electrical work, woodworking, plumbing, and even jewelry making. Kleinstuber and other pricers usually value items at less than one-half its retail value, often even less than rental cost. For several weeks now, customers have profited from a sale on selected hardware items where you get three packs for the price of one. This three-for-one sale especially appeals to Whitney and Andrew Wronski since they bought an auction house that had been stripped of copper plumbing, electrical outlets, and its entire kitchen. “We’ve stocked up on nails, faceplate covers, outlets, light switches, drills, and many other

mail there,” she said. “I don’t let them keep the charge card on file. I only use it once.” Minster has other reasons she prefers online shopping. Like many older Americans these days, Minster works full time “and I don’t have a lot of time to go shopping,” she said. There are also health concerns. “I have a bad back and it’s tough for me to walk. Older people like me have visual problems so shopping online is a Godsend.” According to the 2009 Pew study, Generation X (Internet users aged 33-44) continues to lead in online shopping. But 56 percent of Internet users aged 64-72 and 47 percent of Internet users 73 and older also identified themselves as online shoppers.

tools,” says Andrew. “One day we calculated that we spent $25 and saved over $150 compared to what we would’ve spent at a big box store.” Most of the people who donate their used tools are as happy as the customers. People clear out their parents’ or spouse’s things and come in carrying boxes and bags of stuff. “We offer them a tax donation form for their trouble,” says firefighter and 911 Five/EMS Dispatcher Bill Evans (one of the still-employed volunteers). “Many wave away the form, however, saying that they are grateful to preserve their loved one’s memory by having someone continue to use those tools.” The Tool Thrift Shop, located at 126 Fairport Village Landing in Fairport, is open 5–9 p.m. Tuesdays; 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Fridays; and 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Saturdays. Call for pickup of large items for donation. For more information, visit www. ToolThriftShop.org or call 585-2230484. Editor’s Note: Writer Jeanne Gehret is also a volunteer manager for the Tool Thrift Shop.


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Making House Calls Former Greece teacher helps those who need help with computers, Internet By Karen Boughton Siegelman

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erry Taylor helps senior citizens cope with their trepidation over a mouse—not the tiny, furry rodent, but the device of the same name that is plugged into a computer. Taylor, 66, of Hilton, makes house calls through his business, SeniorTech, to those who are a bit apprehensive about clicking their computer’s mouse and accessing the Web. Taylor started Senior Tech in 2006 after nearly 40 years in the educational field. Before retiring, he taught math and science in the Greece Central School District for 19 years, and then became a technical integration teacher. In this position he spent his days

driving from school to school showing teachers, administrators and students how to expand their use of computer technology. For several years he also worked as a part-time adjunct professor at the SUNY Brockport teaching a course titled, “Integrating Technology into Teaching”. Although Taylor has been hooked on computers since 1977, he realized from conversations with his peers that many of them had experienced some obstacles that were preventing them from using computers. “Seniors that I talked to told me they had taken computer classes through continuing education, but

much of what was said in those classes went right over their heads,” explained Taylor. “There were too many younger participants who seemed to already know about computers, so the seniors felt intimidated and hesitated to ask questions when they were confused.” “Probably the worst thing about these classes,” Taylor continued, “was that when they got home their own computer looked and operated very differently from the one they used in class.” Based on these revelations, Taylor realized the only way to effectively teach seniors about computers was November / December 2011 - 55 PLUS

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Computer tips for seniors from SeniorTech • No reputable website or email message will ask for your social security number. Just don’t give it out. • If you are looking for advice on what computer to buy, I suggest you gather as much input as possible from older friends of yours who have been using computers for awhile. • I think Facebook is a wonderful tool for seniors to get involved with. It’s a great way to stay in touch with family, friends and old classmates • Many seniors have developed the bad habit of double clicking on everything. Remember that 95 percent of the time a single click will suffice. • I used to recommend buying a laptop as a second computer, but now laptops are so much nicer that I see no problem with someone choosing a laptop for their only computer

one on one, in the comfort of their own homes, on their own computer. The instruction he offers through SeniorTech is custom fitted to each individual senior’s needs and wants. “I never assume that a client of mine has even basic computer knowledge,” Taylor explained. “I can usually tell within five minutes what their starting level is. I have them show me what they already know how to do on their own computer. I never sit in the driver’s seat. I always let them operate the mouse and keyboard.” “It’s a very different approach from what a younger person does when trying to teach Grandma or Grandpa how to use their computer,” Taylor added. “Younger people seem to think that teaching means showing, so they come over to 40

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their grandparent’s house, sit at the keyboard and then go “click-clickclick” while the grandparent watches. They don’t have the patience to spend an hour with Grandma while she masters the subtle difference between a single-click and a double-click.” During the initial 20-minute meeting, which Taylor offers his clients for free, he takes an inventory of the programs that are already installed on the senior’s computer. In follow-up sessions, Taylor can assist the client in learning computer basics or expanding their skill level so they can use the Internet for anything from shopping and playing online games to storing digital photos and buying and selling items on the Ebay auction site. Taylor also recognizes that it might take a senior a little longer to become computer savvy. “It is important to be extremely patient with older computer uses,” Taylor said. “I spend a lot of time repeating a concept until it gets understood. “ Taylor also assists those seniors who do not own a computer yet or want to upgrade to a newer model. “As part of my SeniorTech service,

I offer to actually go with a client to the computer store to help translate the jargon that the salesperson will undoubtedly spew out,” said Taylor. “ I also have helped many clients order a new computer online and then I will go to their house when it arrives and set the whole thing up.” Taylor has many success stories to share, since he estimates that he has met with close to 200 seniors in their homes. “I have one senior who was very timid about using her computer when we started working together about six months ago,” Taylor commented. “Now after seven or eight lessons she has progressed to where she is creating her own DVDs, complete with musical slide shows of her travels around the world.” “Another senior I work with just finished publishing a novel that her late husband had written just before he passed away,” Taylor continued. “We cleaned it up, I showed her how to upload it to a self publishing website and she created her own professionallooking book. She ordered multiple copies of it and is in the process of distributing it to her children and grandchildren.” Taylor is committed to doing everything he can to show seniors what an invaluable tool a computer can be. For those who are still skeptical, he shares the results of a recent scientific study that indicates computer use can improve a senior’s mental health. This study, conducted by Village Care of New York, a not-for-profit long-term care provider, found that regardless of the number of hours spent on the computer, seniors who were computer users reported significantly fewer depressive symptoms than seniors who did not use computers. However, Taylor recognizes that sometimes computers can bring some negativity into one’s life. He shares one bit of free advice to seniors who are having a bad day with their computers: “If you’re starting to get frustrated and confused, turn the darned thing off and come back tomorrow.”


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By Lou Sorendo

Rosemary Heidecker, 72

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his Canandaigua resident recently authored a book, “Emmie,” a story about a girl growing up in West Virginia during the World War II era. She shares her experience as a writer. The book is available through www. authorhouse.com. Q. What was the inspiration behind writing “Emmie?” What motivated you to write the book? A. It all started with a teacher at community college. He gave me a homework assignment and when I handed it in, she was so excited about my writing. I had never written anything before in my life. She said I had a way of holding a person’s interest and encouraged me to do more of it. A few months later, I was going through a very traumatic time in my life and a doctor told me exactly the same thing, so I started writing a book. Q. Is it fiction or non-fiction? Who published the book? A. It’s fiction, but I took my memories and my grandmother ’s memories and put them together. Plus the setting is West Virginia, which is a place we both love. My grandmother was born in Granny’s Creek, and everything is centered there. AuthorHouse Book Publishing Co. is publishing the book. Q. Briefly, what is the book essentially about? A. It’s about a charming little girl growing up in the humbling mountains of West Virginia starting in 1942 and extending through wartime. It deals with all the family trauma and drama going on, clear through to adulthood. A lot of it deals with dayto-day challenges and growing up. Q. How would you characterize your style of writing? Are there any authors that you try to emulate? A. It’s a down to earth style, 42

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because it deals with real life and there is nothing pretend about it. It’s fiction because it is not about a real person, but 80 to 90 percent of it is based on real life experience. I don’t have other authors that I’m trying to be like or copy. There was a lot of people I liked growing up but that was about the end of it. Q. What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book? A. Just the day-to-day challenges. I tried to work on it every day, no matter how much of small portion I did. I started it when I was still working for Ontario County and did some of it on my job. I had access to a computer all day long and worked on it even though it was not my job. I enjoyed writing in the morning because that was when I was well rested. The big thing I had on my mind when I was writing this book was that I wanted something that would help my children and family be proud of me. That was my goal. Q. What kind of demographic does the book appeal to? Does it have wide range appeal to all ages? A. Women, because the story is based on a woman’s way of thinking more than anything else. Even though the publisher has it listed as a children’s book, it was never written as a children’s book. I feel that it helps a woman look at more of the inside of her self to see where she is going and where she came from. This is the feedback I’m getting from friends and relatives who have read it. Q. When you are not writing, what do you do for recreational activities? A. Most of what I do is tole painting and for a while I taught tole painting. My daughter and I do a lot of crafts together and we used to sell them at shows. Now I just do one show a year. Q. How supportive is your family in

regards to your writing endeavors? A. I divorced my husband in the middle of all this, but we’re still in communication with each other. We talk to each other on the phone. He was still with me when I started writing the book and was very encouraging. I sent him a copy of it so he can read it and give me an opinion too. I have five children, one in Arkansas and the rest in New York. I have nine great-grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. Q. Do you plan on writing another book? A. I’m working on a second book now, “Home to Granny’s Creek,” but it is not due to come out until spring, mainly because it is self-published and I don’t want to pay for it through the Christmas holidays. It takes up Emmie’s life where the last book left off. It’s a lot more involved as far as the story is concerned and introduces something new that I will keep a mystery. Q. What do you enjoy most about writing? A. It brings out things in my mind and puts them on paper. I’ve always been able to tell stories but I never was able to write them down. Even in school, teachers always had me tell a story out loud. It’s something I’ve always done, like making up things for my children when they were young. I never thought about putting it down on paper until the opportunity and suggestions came.


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