Can a Debt Collector Take My Social Security Benefits? ‘My Cosmetic Eye Surgery Experience’ Square Dancing: Fun for Singles, Couples
Issue 53 • September/October 2018 For Active Adults in the Rochester Area
Evangelist for Science Adam Frank, a University of Rochester astrophysics professor, preaches the virtues of exploring The Great Unknown
The incredible Bruce Rychwalski: At 69, he just ran his 300th marathon Bitten by the travel bug: Meet Caroline Povero, 65, of Victor
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September / October 2018 - 55 PLUS
CONTENTS 55 PLUS
Can a Debt Collector Take My Social Security Benefits?
‘My Cosmetic Eye Surgery Experience’ Square Dancing: Fun for Singles, Couples
Issue 53 • September/October 2018 For Active Adults in the Rochester Area
Evangelist for Science Adam Frank, a University of Rochester astrophysics professor, preaches the virtues of exploring The Great Unknown
The incredible Bruce Rychwalski: At 69, he just ran his 300th marathon
Bit by the Travel Bug: Meet Caroline Povero, 65, of Victor
Savvy Senior 6 Financial Health 8 Dining Out 10 My Turn 20 Addyman’s Corner 44
Long-term Care 46
16 TIME OFF
Jean York, 94, served as a military nurse during the war collecting more than 70 different military patches from soldiers she helped. P. 48 4
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• Gates man suffered a serious heart issue seven years ago. This past July he ran his 300th race
• 677 Rochester homes were burglarized in 2017. How to reduce your risk
• Brighton man preaches the virtues of exploring The Great Unknown
• ‘I’m the same as I always was, but my lifestyle reminds me that I’m not’
• Medical leave also helps seniors
• Grasta’s Wigs in Hilton not just your ordinary beauty salon
• Enthusiasts say square dancing keeps them mentally and physically active
55 PLUS Q&A
24 COSMETICS • Journalist goes for a $3,000 eye-job. He shares his experience
26 TREND • Ebeth, 81, and John, 82, are just not ready to live together
• Tool Thrift Shop an instrument to aid community, offer volunteer opportunities
38 TRAVELING • Caroline Povero: Bitten by the travel bug
40 LIVING • Independent living community: What to know before you sign
40 EDUCATION • Should you earn your degree?
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Call us today at 585-274-4186 September / October 2018 - 55 PLUS
savvy senior By Jim Miller
Can a Debt Collector Take My Social Security Benefits?
hether your Social Security benefits are garnishable or not depends on whom you owe. Banks and other financial creditors, for example, can’t touch your Social Security checks. But if Uncle Sam is collecting on a debt, some of your benefits are fair game. Here’s what you should know. Creditor Protections — If you have credit card debts, medical bills, unpaid personal loans or pay day loans, you’ll be happy to know that your Social Security benefits are safe from your creditors. Section 207 of the Social Security Act prohibits debt collectors or a bankruptcy court from dipping into your bank account to take Social Security money for purposes of paying off what you owe. Supplemental Security Income (SSI), veterans benefits, federal employee and civil service retirement benefits and benefits administered by the Railroad Retirement Board Administration can’t be touched either. But be aware that your creditors can still take legal action against you to recover what you owe them, and depending on your state’s law, they may be able to garnish your wages and tap into other allowable assets, if you have any. Government Garnishment — If, however, you owe money to Uncle Sam, it’s a very different story. The federal government can garnish a portion of your Social Security benefits for repayment of several types of debts, including federal income taxes, federal student loans, state-ordered child support and alimony, nontax debt owed to other federal agencies, defaulted federal home loans and certain civil penalties. (If you receive SSI, those benefits cannot be garnished under any circumstance.) How much can actually be taken depends on the type of debt you owe.
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In most situations, the government can pull 15 percent of your benefits to cover your debt, but under the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, it must leave you at least $750 each month. That is, unless the levy is for federal income taxes. In that case, the government isn’t required to leave $750 behind. The other exception is for child support or alimony payments. Depending on your state laws, the court may be able to take half of your benefits or more to pay your obligations to your children or ex-spouse. If you think your Social Security benefits might be raided to pay overdue bills, you need to address the problem — don’t ignore it. Most government agencies are happy to work with you so long as you’re willing to work with them. The government typically sends several letters about a debt before it takes action. The final letter will inform you of the intent to levy Social Security payments, and after that, you have 30 days to contact the agency and work out a payment plan. Get Help —To get a handle on your debt problems, consider contacting a nonprofit financial counseling agency, which offers free and low-cost services on managing financial problems. To locate a credible agency in your area, use the National Foundation for Credit Counseling website at NFCC.org or call 800-388-2227. You also need to make sure you’re not missing out on any financial assistance programs. The National Council on Aging’s website (BenefitsCheckup.org) contains a database of more than 2,500 federal, state and local programs that can help seniors with prescription drug costs, health care, food, utilities, and other basic needs. The site will help you locate programs that you may be eligible for and will show you how to apply.
Editor and Publisher Wagner Dotto
Associate Editor Lou Sorendo
Writers & Contributing Writers Deborah J. Sergeant Christine Green, John Addyman Mike Costanza, Donna Cordello, Todd Etshman,Colleen M. Farrell Ernst Lamothe Jr.
Jim Terwilliger, Susan Suben Jim Miller, Bruce Frassinelli
Anne Westcott, Linda Covington
Office Assistant Kimberley Tyler
Layout and Design Dylon Clew-Thomas
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.
Mailing Address PO Box 525 Victor, NY 14564 © 2018 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@roc55.com
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6/4/18 12:13 PM
financial health By Jim Terwilliger
Watch out for Retirement Income Tax Traps
enjamin Franklin hit the nail on the head when he was quoted “…nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” This is as true today as it was in 1789 when he uttered these words. Even being retired will not cut you any slack when it comes to taxes. If you are already retired, you are aware that income taxes don’t end when retirement begins. For those who are nearing retirement, it is important to recognize, plan for and minimize the tax bite that awaits. Social Security. If you file as an individual and your annual “provisional” income (adjusted gross income without Social Security + nontaxable interest + half of your Social Security benefits) is between $25,000 and $34,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits. If the total is more than $34,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable. If you file jointly, the preceding range increases to $32,000 to $44,000. If you have yet to file for Social Security, you may choose to withhold 7 percent, 10 percent, 12 percent or 22 percent of your monthly benefit for taxes. If already receiving Social Security, you are grandfathered at a prior range of rates capped at 25 percent. Or you may decide to have no withholding. You need no NYS withholding since Social Security benefits are not taxed by New York state. Net Investment Income Tax. Keep a close eye on adjusted gross income (AGI) as higher amounts may cost you more money beyond the standard tax tables. For example, the Affordable Care Act provides for an additional tax if your modified AGI exceeds $200K if filing as single or $250K if filing jointly. This tax is 3.8 percent of the lesser of 1) net invest-
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ment income (interest, dividends, and capital gains) or 2) excess of AGI over one of the two AGI thresholds previously mentioned. Medicare Premiums. This is another “stealth” tax of sorts. Medicare premiums are now means-driven, with modified AGI as the measure of means. There are five tiers of premiums, and the tiers are continually becoming more aggressive. In the bottom tier, where a majority of Medicare participants find themselves, 2018 monthly premiums are about $134/person. At the top tier, monthly premiums are $503.40/person. These numbers do not include additional costs for private supplemental (plus Part D) or Medicare Advantage insurance. Required Minimum Distributions. Required minimum distributions (RMDs) are minimum amounts you must withdraw annually from employer retirement plans, starting in the year you reach 70½ years of age or, if later, in the year in which you retire (subject to certain conditions). For IRAs, you cannot delay beyond age 70½. The first payment can be deferred until April 1 of the year following the year in which you turn 70½, but the IRS will then require a second RMD that year. Minimum distributions are not required for Roth IRAs. If you expect to have large RMDs that could push you into a higher tax bracket, it may be beneficial to begin taking distributions prior to 70 1/2 .Or, you could convert some of your IRA into a Roth IRA, which will help shelter future gains from taxes. Charitable Contributions. If you are charitably inclined, age 70 1/2 or older, and do not need your RMDs to live on, making direct, non-taxable transfers of part or all of your IRA RMD to charities is generally the optimal ap-
proach to take. Doing so reduces your AGI and taxable income. This is key with the new federal tax law which will drive most taxpayers to take the standard deduction Estimated Taxes. Any anticipated major shortfall in withholding can be accommodated by paying “estimated taxes” which, for a given tax year, are due on the 15th of each April, June, September, and January of the following year. Both federal and NYS follow this same schedule. If a shortfall is large, an insufficient-payment penalty may be assessed if certain exceptions do not apply. Taxable income for which withholding is not available might include interest, dividends, and realized capital gains from investments. The latter may include the sale of a residence if the gain from such a sale exceeds the allowable $250K for a single taxpayer or $500K if filing jointly. Lots of Moving Parts. There are a lot of factors to juggle when managing income taxes in retirement. The list above is far from complete. You will be doing yourself a favor by working with a tax preparer and trusted financial planner to ensure that your tax tactics and strategy work in your favor.
James Terwilliger, CFP®, is a senior vice president and senior planning adviser with CNB Wealth Management, Canandaigua National Bank & Trust Company. He can be reached at 585-419-0670 ext. 50630 or by email at email@example.com.
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Visit joinMVPmedicare.com MVP Health Plan, Inc. is an HMO-POS/PPO/MSA organization with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in MVP Health Plan depends on contract renewal. This information is not a complete description of benefits. Contact the plan for more information. Limitations, co-payments, and restrictions may apply. Benefits, premiums and/or co-payments/ co-insurance may change on January 1 of each year. You must continue to pay your Medicare Part B premium. The provider network may change at any time. You will receive notice when necessary. Medicare evaluates plans based on a 5-star rating system. Star Ratings are calculated each year and may change from one year to the next. Y0051_3741 Accepted (04/2018) September / October 2018 - 55 PLUS MVPad1808004_201808 MVP Medicare Ad Publication: CNY 55 Plus—Rochester Edition
DiningOut By Christopher Malone
Eating at this Penfield restaurant makes it clear why it has been open for over 50 years
n 1967, the Penfield establishment Charley Brown’s, located at 1675 Penfield Road, opened as a family-style, comfort food establishment. That’s according to what the restaurant boasts. The stout, rustic looking restaurant could be easily missed while driving by, save the tall sign with the red neon lights. Clearly this could be an original staple. Considering the glowing sign and Italian and American fare, all this information could foreshadow the experience beyond the door. The dimly lit restaurant first presents the bar. It has a classic appeal with hanging lights and a wooden-bodied, glossy-topped bar. In the immediate right corner, which would prove itself later at the end of the meal, is a perfect place for a small band. A keyboardist and saxophonist provided a tasteful 10
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dinnertime soundtrack. The dining area has three distinct sections: the well-lit back corner with a skylight, which was where we were placed, the main dining area with hanging ceiling lamps and a room with floor-to-ceiling windows. The glass-cased seating exterior has surrounding shrubbery, which allows it to resemble the conservatory of a Clue board game. With all this considered, the tables dressed in upscale fashion to the nines, and a very clean bathroom with a reusable hand towel dispenser, Charley Brown’s Mafioso-esque atmosphere is pretty killer. Reservations aren’t required, according to the gent I spoke to on the phone earlier in the day, but evenings could be busy. Charley was pretty packed around our arrival at 6 p.m.,
so the reservations worked in our favor. The demographic that evening was mostly adults, middle-aged and older, but there were a couple younger patrons as well. The attire is casual, but it isn’t a T-shirt kind of place (aside from someone wearing a dry fit athletic shirt and mesh shorts). Shorts and jeans aren’t frowned upon, but I wouldn’t suggest cargos or denim with holes. Our server, Susan, was cordial and attentive through the night. She and her busser made sure our dishes of food made it to the table, our water glasses filled, and our minds and bellies content with what we were eating. The three of us started off with sharing the eggplant parmigiana ($11.50). The breaded veggie cutlets
The penne ortellano.
Ravioli at Charley Brown’s.
weren’t blanketed with unnecessary breading, which allowed the crust of the appetizer to be crispy. The cutlets were coated with mozzarella and red sauce. It was enough of an appetizer for three people, as it wasn’t overly filling. The eggplant dish proved a great first impression and primed our stomachs for the entrees to come. The menu, a large and laminated front-and-back cardstock print features a variety of options, a variety of starters and salads to categorized entrees. There is even a snack section featuring a few pub fare items such as a grilled chicken sandwich and a burger. Susan also placed a card with daily specials on our table, which is easier than trying to remember everything. The menu features copious familiar dishes, and many of which are prepared the same way. For instance, the poultry and veal sections feature dishes of parmigiana, French and marsala to name a few. The seafood, pasta and meat sections feature more diversity. There is also a vegetarian section as well, and the options caught our eyes. We opted for smoked mozzarella and roasted red pepper raviolis with a tomato, spinach and cream sauce ($15.95); the penne ortellano with sautéed tomatoes, artichokes, spinach and capers ($15.95); and the gnocchi dinner ($13.95) with vodka sauce ($2 extra). The pasta and vegetarian entrees come with a soup or a salad. One of us opted for the Caesar salad. The dressing was creamy and the veggies sounded fresh and crisp. I and another opted for the soup du jour, which
was a roasted red pepper soup with asiago cheese and spinach. Asiago isn’t my first choice of cheese, because too much can present an overpowering flavor. However, there was a perfect amount shredded atop the creamy soup. It was a delightful accompaniment, and I could eat it every day if I had to. Between the salad and soups and arrival of the entrees, there was a little bit of a lag. Especially for three meals, it had us scratching our head. However, Susan, who apologized, must have read our minds and came to check in and let us know that the food was on its way. It was tough to determine whether some of the pasta was homemade or not. The penne pasta was a boxed brand, but was cooked al dente. The raviolis may have been homemade. Aside from tasting wonderful, the pasta’s bulge was filled with more air than ricotta. The gnocchi, I have decided, was also not homemade, as they were very uniform of each other;
Charley Brown’s Address: 1675 Penfield Road, Rochester Phone: 585-385-9202 WEBSITE/SOCIAL www.charleybrownspenfield.com/ www.facebook.com/TheOwlHouseNY HOURS Lunch Mon – Fri: 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Dinner Sunday – Thursday: 4 p.m. – 10 p.m. Friday & Saturday: 4 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Gnocchi with vodka sauce. however, they were cooked perfectly. The sauces, however, are a different story. Each of the three dishes features different sauces, which presented themselves with confidence. They added a lot of flavor to the meals, and were complimented by the other ingredients. The capers in the ortellano weren’t overpowering either; there were enough of them to make their presence known. Having too many of those little flavor bombs can be too much. The portion size was good to great. The ravioli dish was eaten in one sitting, but it was the right portion of food. Leftovers of the other two plates were taken in to-go boxes. My gnocchi dinner was a generous portion; eating the entire thing would have left me incapacitated. The experience at Charley Brown’s left us with a $67 and change bill for three people, an appetizer and three entrees. We opted for iced teas, waters and soft drinks as well. Charley Brown’s presented a very family-oriented experience, even for a group of friends. The food tasted very home-cooked, something my parents or grandparents would present. It’s clear why this family-run restaurant has been open for over 50 years. September / October 2018 - 55 PLUS
Bruce Rychwalski in 2016 participating in one of his 300 races
Marathon Man’s Big Milestone Bruce Rychwalski suffered a serious heart issue seven years ago. After that he started running 5K marathons — in July he ran his 300th race
ruce Rychwalski is on the go all of the time. And that’s not just when he runs, although he does plenty of that. The Gates man rides horses, volunteers, works out, and runs 5K races locally. Oh, does he run. Rychwalski ran his 300th 5K race July. That would be a huge achievement for most people, but it’s a pretty big one considering that’s not Rychwalski’s 300th race over a lifetime. It’s his 300th 5K since getting a pacemaker/defibrillator in 2011. Asked to estimate how many 5K races he’s run in total, Rychwalski, 68, chuckled and said he can’t even begin to try. Rychwalski, who grew up
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By Colleen M. Farrell in Gates, went to St. Helen’s and Gates Chili High School. He served in the United States Air Force for four years until 1972 and earned the rank of staff sergeant and was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal. He took up running during his military service. This was during the time that aerobic training was becoming popular, Rychwalski said. One day, a secretary, who was a jogger, asked if he wanted to tag along. “I was hooked,” he said. After serving in the military, Rychwalski went to Monroe Community College and SUNY Brockport. He worked as a buyer/planner for Eastman Kodak Co. for 25 years. Running remained a big part
of his life. One day in April 2011, while working out on a treadmill in the exercise room of his apartment complex, he started feeling unwell. “All of a sudden, I couldn’t catch my breath. I was sweating profusely. Something wasn’t right, so I got off the treadmill.” His breathing eventually regulated but he still didn’t feel well. The desk clerk called for an ambulance. Paramedics discovered his heart rate was extremely elevated so he was shocked with an automated external defibrillator. “Oh boy, did that hurt,” Rychwalski recalled. Unity Hospital doctors discovered that he had cardiomyopathy, a genetic disease of the heart muscle
“Do whatever you can do. If you can’t run, jog. If you can’t jog, walk. But keep moving.” Bruce Rychwalski on how to stay healthy. which makes it harder for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body. Rychwalski had to have a pacemaker/defibrillator put in. While recovering from the procedure, he swapped out running for brisk walking. “No one ever discouraged me or told me to stop running,” he said. “The cardiologist just told me not to go out there and run like a 30-year-old and make sure I don’t get my heart rate up too high.” He completed his first 5K race post-surgery that August (four months after his procedure). He set a goal of 100 races, which turned into 200, which became 300. He’s only had one episode where his defibrillator shocked him. It happened when he crossed the finish line of a race. That has not deterred him. “A couple times, [my cardiologist] looked at the reading and she’ll say, ‘What were you doing Saturday, July 20 at 9 o’clock in the morning’ and I’ll say, ‘Oh, I was running a 5K’ and she’ll say, ‘You were pushing yourself too much. Your heart rate went up,’” Rychwalski said, chuckling. “I can’t get away with anything.” Rychwalski, who said he has been active his whole life, volunteers for Ganondagan State Historic Site in Victor. At 50, he took up horseback riding. He volunteers for Purple Pony Therapeutic Horsemanship at Double G Ranch in Bergen. The program offers opportunities to persons with disabilities and other special needs. “That’s when I’m the happiest: when I’m on a horse out in the middle of the woods,” he said. About a year ago, he started Rochester Running Heroes, a club for runners who have chronic health conditions like diabetes and heart
Bruce Rychwalski, 68, completed his 300th 5K on July 15 at the Seneca Park Zoo Society's Jungle Jog at Seneca Park. Photo provided. disease or a spinal, neurological, gastroenterological or urological disorders. The club is open to runners who have medical devices like heart valves or insulin pumps, too. Rychwalski is a member of the Greater Rochester Track Club and has been awarded its Silver 100 Mile Milestone Patch every year since 2012. He hopes to get it again this year. He has racked up awards for his running achievements and is member of the Gates Chili Central School District Hall of Fame. In April 2016, he was chosen by the Rochester American Heart Association to be recognized by an American Heart Association Banner for his accomplishments. The banner is displayed at the association’s annual events. “Bruce is a motivated individual and proof that a cardiac event or stroke doesn’t have to define you. He is a shining example of what life after recovery can be,” said Marc Natale, executive director of the Rochester & Buffalo American Heart Association.
Not bad for a guy who never played sports. Last year, he ran 56 5Ks. This year, he is aiming for 33. Rychwalski said he plans to keep on running after he crosses the finish line of his 300th 5K. “I’m not putting out a goal of 400,” he said decidedly. “I think 300 is a good number. And I’ll just do a 5K here and there.” In addition to being a way to stay fit, participating in races is a great way to socialize, Rychwalski said. “It’s kind of a humbling experience for me now because most of the people that were my friends and in my age group, I used to beat them all the time and now they beat me,” he said. “You just have to accept your limitations.” Indeed, pushing through limitations is his advice to people who may want a more active lifestyle but have some barriers. “Do whatever you can do. If you can’t run, jog. If you can’t jog, walk. But keep moving.” September / October 2018 - 55 PLUS
I’m Not Old I By Donna Cordello
recently overheard someone talking about the older woman in the black SUV. When I realized she was referring to me, I just about fell over. I still like to blast rock and roll when I’m driving in my car. Yes, I’m the nut bag at the red light bobbing her head and dancing to the music. I still laugh out loud with my friends, hold hands with my husband and sing karaoke with my kids. I’m not old! In fact I feel exactly like I did when my waist was the size of my arms. Only problem is, my body doesn’t get it. In fact, some days, it completely ignores me. My body thinks I’m a lot older than I really am. And, honestly, it’s like I went to sleep in my teens and somehow woke up with gray hair and arthritis. I guess I’m at that awkward age where I’m going through mental pause, which is that special time in a person’s life when you realize your mind and body are no longer in synch and probably never will be again. Because even though in my mind, I’m the same as I always was, my lifestyle reminds me that I’m not. I go to bed at the same time I used to get ready to go out. I can’t drink coffee after 4 o’clock. I have to take antacids if I eat spicy food, I need glasses to read a menu. I can’t parallel park as easily as I used to. And I can’t remember the last time I actually slept through an entire night without getting up to go to the bathroom. I don’t know what happened to all the years gone by when it seems like I just got here. I go to more wakes than weddings. I have a doctor for every different part of my body — and I spend more time in their waiting rooms than I care to admit. I know it’s said that you should age gracefully and I’m trying. But I have my setbacks like when I see another person the same age as me. I tend to take notes and compare. Are
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‘In my mind, I’m the same as I always was, but my lifestyle reminds me that I’m not. I go to bed at the same time I used to get ready to go out. I can’t drink coffee after 4 o’clock. I have to take antacids if I eat spicy food, I need glasses to read a menu. And I can’t remember the last time I actually slept through an entire night without getting up to go to the bathroom.’
they healthier or in worse shape? Are they content or miserable? And then the shallow me studies their looks. Depending on who I run into, I’m either doing a happy dance or running out to buy another anti-wrinkle cream. Some of my friends are replacing their parts, especially their hips and knees. Others are complaining of everything from bad backs to bursitis. And the things that we never thought much about in prior years are the same ones that give us trouble now. For me, it’s something as simple as doing yard work — which leaves me walking crooked for days afterward. I’ve also become sensitive to commercials that target elderly people and I think, “Jeez, is that what I have to look forward to?” There’s one on television now about pretty panties that are actually diapers for incontinence. I don’t care if they have imported lace or soft leather — you’ll never convince me that wearing a diaper is sexy. I also hate the commercials for pre-planning long term care, rehabs and finally, choosing our resting places, as they so gently call it. Maybe someday I’ll be ready to buy an urn or coffin, but for now, I’ll just stick to going to the mall. And don’t get me started about
all the products for men to enhance their sexual performance, as they grow older. Did you ever notice that the female partners in those commercials are much younger? Probably because women the same age as the men don’t have ‘all night marathons’ high on their priority list. And what’s up with the couple who are soaking side by side in two bathtubs outside? Who does that? Some people my age try to hide the year they were born by pretending they are younger. But that never made sense to me. If anything, I’d pretend I’m 10 years older. Then, you’re sure to have people tell you how great you look! Sometimes we try to defy aging with breast enhancements, tummy tucks or face lifts. While I could probably use all three, I’d wish for something else — like replacing my flat throbbing feet. It might not improve my looks but it sure would improve my well being. I realize that getting older is a privilege that others may not have had and I am thankful with each passing birthday. But instead of having an “I hope” list, I tend to have a whole lot of “I hope nots.” I hope I don’t live too long or die too young. I hope I don’t lose my mind. I hope I don’t shrink four inches and walk hunched over. I hope I don’t end up in a wheelchair or need portable oxygen to breathe. I hope I don’t die in a hospital from a debilitating disease. I hope my family doesn’t have to watch me suffer or, worse, that I have to watch someone I love suffer. I hope that I’ll always have both my hair and my teeth to brush. But I realize all the hoping in the world might not be my reality, so for now, I’ll just concentrate on enjoying the rest of my ride. I find it’s better to use humor when it comes to growing older. For example, people are usually surprised when they discover that my husband and I both have pacemakers. Actually, he got his first and I wanted to prove that I can do anything that he can! I tell people we are a magnetic force. But when I first got it, I wasn’t joking about it, which proves that over time, I guess you just get used to
anything and everything that comes your way. Truth is, most of the time, I don’t ever think about having a pacemaker. In fact, the only time I remember that I have one is when I have to go in another line at the airport. I’ve also gotten used to knowing what I can and cannot do. Don’t get me wrong. I can do anything. I just think about the consequences before I do them, like if I have too good of a time, do I really want to suffer a threeday hangover? Or if I go to bed really late, do I really want to go through the next day at work like a zombie? Or if I eat too late, do I really want to pop Tums all night long? I have to think about stupid things that never concerned me before. One thing is for sure. I’ll savor the good times and get through the bad, just like I always have. I’ll love fiercely, laugh till I cry and, no doubt, have times when I wipe away tears. I’ll cherish my family and friends and be grateful for all of my blessings. I’ll work and be productive as long as possible. Or maybe, I’ll be able to just relax in my pajamas on days when I feel lazy. I’ll probably have regrets about the bad choices I’ve made along the way. Or maybe wish that I could have done more with the time I’ve wasted. But, I’ll never regret that I didn’t go skydiving, white water rafting or climbing a rocky mountain — because I never really wanted to. I’ll try to be the feisty old broad you want to be around and not the miserable one you try to avoid. I guess the hardest part about aging, especially for a control freak like me, is that I cannot control it! So I’ll try to do everything humanly possible to accept the wrinkles, aches and pains, and everything else that goes along with getting older. But it could be a real challenge for me. Because no matter how I look at it…..aging sucks! Donna Cordello, 61, is a freelance writer with local , national and international publications. She lives in Penfield and can be reached at donnacordello@ icloud.com.
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September / October 2018 - 55 PLUS
Medical Leave Also Helps Seniors Family Medical Leave Act and Paid Family Leave also protect people who need to take care of elderly parents, sick spouse
any people may think of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Paid Family Leave (PFL) as the laws that help working women who have a baby; however, it can also help you take care of elderly parents or a sick spouse. And if you need to use it, you should. “There’s a reluctance to use it because there’s a certain stigma attached to it that it would be negatively viewed in the workplace,” said Justin Cordello, attorney and principal at Cordello Law, PLLC in Rochester. “Folks are concerned about retaliation in the workplace. Everyone’s trying to avoid drawing attention to themselves.” The FMLA provides built-in protection against job loss and retaliation for taking leave. FMLA protects employees who qualify against demotion, termination and loss of health benefits. Because FMLA time may be used intermittently, workers can take off time as needed in 15-minute increments to the full 12 weeks to help a family member. “More times than not, it’s helping parents to different appointments they have, or dealing with short-term health crises,” Cordello said. Employees must have worked sufficient hours in the past year. Employees who qualify receive up to 12
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By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant weeks of unpaid leave within a year. They must have worked 26 consecutive weeks (full-time employees) or 175 days (part-time employees). Employers of fewer than 50 don’t fall under FMLA rules, and certain industries are exempt. Many New York workers may be eligible for PFL. It covers qualifying employees who work at an insured employer of one or more employees. PFL provides job and insurance protection and prevents retaliation, but also pays a portion of the employee’s wages, too, based on the statewide average weekly wage. In 2019, the updated the statewide average weekly wage will increase by up to 50 percent. Similar minimum working hours apply as with FMLA. Under PFL, workers may use up to eight weeks of PFL in 2018, 10 weeks in 2019 and 2020, and 12 weeks in 2021. If the employer allows, employees could take paid vacation time in the midst of PFL to help bolster their paychecks. Increments of PFL must be taken by the day, so if your chronically ill spouse needs a ride to the doctor’s office, you’d have to take the full day off if you want to use PFL. While reaching out to the company human resources department seems a sensible way to learn more, Cordello said HR departments don’t always have the employees’ best in-
terests in mind. Employees should notify their employers a minimum of 30 days before the FMLA or PFL leave begins, if possible, to fill out the request for leave. FMLA and PFL aren’t the only answers to helping an ill spouse or aging parents. Working from home a couple times per week may help you cover some days when Mom needs someone around. Or shifting your working hours, depending upon the type of work, could help you get home in time to pick up her from adult day care and fix dinner. Working with siblings can help reduce the need to use FMLA and PFL hours. For instance, if your siblings alternate days as to who takes care of Dad as he recovers from pneumonia, none of you will need to take off as many hours of work at a time. Using standard paid time off hours can also help you help your folks without diminishing your paycheck. Cordello added that the key is finding a supervisor who’s willing to work with employees who face these challenges. For a concise infograph comparing and contrasting FMLA and PFL, visit http://pfl.shelterpoint.com/ blog/pfl-vs-fmla.
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September / October 2018 - 55 PLUS
Carl and Eileen Webster met at a square dancing event and wound up getting married. Photo courtesy of Jet Thomas.
Square Dancing: Fun for Singles, Couples Enthusiasts say square dancing keeps them mentally and physically active By Colleen M. Farrell
hink of square dancing and an image might come to mind. Petticoats. Cowboy boots. Lots of “do-si-dos.” But the music of Lady Gaga probably isn’t part of that image. Indeed, square dancing today is not what it used to be, according to local enthusiasts. Chances are, you’ll hear “modern music — not the music you heard on ‘Bonanza,’” Debbie Blood said. The music isn’t the only thing that’s changed. So have the outfits. Old-time garb like petticoats and Western shirts has given way to jeans, pants and skirts, she said. The Greece woman and her husband, Jeff, go to square dances several nights a week. In square dancing, four couples arranged in a square
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move together as the caller shouts out different calls, or dances. Eighteen clubs, stretching from Auburn to Buffalo to Penn Yan, belong to the Rochester Area Federation of Western Round and Square Dance Clubs. They each hold their own dance events, but club members often visit other clubs. “You could square dance every night of the week,” said Eileen Webster, 71. The Spencerport woman took up the activity in the 1980s when she was a single mom. “I immediately fell in love with it and it’s been my passion ever since,” she said, noting that she met her current husband at a dance. “It’s very difficult to square dance and not smile.” Debbie Blood, 62, agreed.
“If you asked me to go to the gym for half an hour I’d have a hard time, but if you asked me to go square dancing for two hours, I’d have no problem,” she said. She and her husband first went to a square dance in 1979 at the suggestion of her boss. They both loved it right away. “You can’t worry about the things going on at work. You have to focus on what the caller is telling you,” Jeff Blood, 66, said. “It would kind of give us a recharge.” The Bloods danced for about 15 years until their careers and their kids took up more of their time. They recently retired and have gone back to dancing. “We are now dancing two to three nights a week, and we just retired so it’s working out very well for us,” Debbie Blood said. “We love the people and we love the exercise and it’s so much fun.” Besides being a great way to get physical, Webster said square dancing is good for mental acuity, too. “The calls come right after the other and your brain has to stay in shape to do what the calls say,” she said. “It really helps to keep your mind sharp.” There’s also a huge social aspect to the activity, participants said. There are picnics, special dances, and movie outings. There are also national and international square dancing festivals. Debbie Blood recalled a trip to Washington, D.C. in which she and other attendees danced among the monuments on the National Mall. Locally, the clubs begin recruiting in September for those interested in taking classes. The basic, or mainstream, level requires about six months of classes to learn all of the calls. “There is a learning curve. It depends on how much you’re committed. The more you dance, the better dancer you are, and the easier it gets,” Debbie Blood said. Webster’s advice to would-be dancers is to give it a try, noting that there are clubs for both singles and couples. “We always tell people, ‘If you can walk and basically know your left from your right, you can square dance.’” For more information, visit www. squaredancingrochester.org.
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September / October 2018 - 55 PLUS
my turn By Bruce Frassinelli Email: email@example.com
The ‘New Senior Man’ We are really lucky, gentlemen, so let’s make the best of it
was unaware of it, but I am a “new senior man.” After I had read co-author Thelma Reese’s explanation of who this man is, I suddenly felt a little younger, I had an extra bounce in my step, and I swear that I was walking a little more upright and less stooped over. She has reminded me and other male retirees that we could conceivably have one-third more of our lifetime ahead of us at retirement, and we can spend it on living life to the fullest. What a gift! Reese and her colleague, Barbara Fleisher, interviewed more than 100 men between the ages of 60 and 100 and compiled 50 stories of “The New Senior Man.” These are men who have had, in some cases, three careers, some of them in retirement. I can relate to this. I retired at 59 ½ from a lifelong publishing career. In retirement, I have taken on two new careers — teaching and writing. So most of these men are active well into retirement and have decided they would not retire to nothing. Don’t get me wrong: All of the issues associated with aging still are there; there are no fountains of youth, no magic potions, no shamans doing voodoo dances to reverse the aging process, but, apparently, the new senior man doesn’t need any of these gimmicks, because he has changed and has the strength to deal with challenges and adversities much better than his predecessors did. The researchers identified these four advantages that today’s new senior men have: technological, medical, visibility and developmental. A recent survey by the prestigious Pew Research Center shows that just 17 percent of those over 80 have smartphones, but more than half between the ages of 65 and 69 have them and 82 percent of the latter group
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use the internet. I see this disparity in my own family. My brother, who is eight years older than I, uses a flip-top phone but does not have and does not care to have internet access. He has no interest in technology whatsoever. On the other hand, I use the internet frequently, not only for my new-found careers, but also for socialization and entertainment. I am on email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Instagram and Instant Messenger. I have never, however, gone onto an internet dating site, but many single or widowed men my age have. I text my children and grandchildren, because this is their preferred way of staying in touch. If I waited for a phone call from any of them, I would be growing cobwebs. While young people are certainly more tech savvy than most of those my age, we have enough knowledge to be in the game rather than on the sidelines. A dozen or so times a day, when I have a question to which I do not know the answer, I turn to my new encyclopedic partner, Ms. Google.
If I want to hear a ‘50s oldies song that I have not heard in years, it’s available at the touch of a button on my smartphone. If I need to know when someone was born or died or some other arcane fact, I am rarely disappointed by Ms. Google and her crew. Yes, many curse the technology that has given us access to this new world of information, and, of course, there are many opportunities for abuses, but I still marvel at how instantaneous information is available to me compared to when I was a kid and had to trek to the library to find my answers there or remain ignorant of the answers. Although I am in pretty good physical condition and do a daily fivemile walk, I still get the aches, pains and occasional illnesses that befall all of us. Retirees of yesterday, however, found that their illnesses were more serious and led to less physical activity, a restricted lifestyle and an earlier demise. Researchers Reese and Fleisher point to remarkable advances in science and medicine, reducing some
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former fatal diseases to chronic status. Even replacing key body parts, such as knees, hips, hearts, lungs, kidneys, etc. has led to longer life. Life expectancy for men is about 78, about four years less than for women, but, get this: If a man makes it to age 65, his life expectancy is another 18 years, or about two and an half years less than women of that age. In 1930, the average life expectancy for men was 58; by 1960 it had risen to nearly 70. This dramatic changing demographic makes the new senior man visible, because he is now part of a rapidly growing number. And the researchers have saved the best until last: “Today’s man who enters what used to be called the `retirement years’ is on the threshold of a period of self-discovery and personal growth.” If you don’t believe that, just pay attention to TV commercials to see how marketers view the importance of this age group. By 2029, the U.S. Census predicts that 20 percent of the U.S. population will be age 65 or older. These men now have time in retirement to develop what they lacked previously: a support system of friends who listen to each other. The researchers also said that this is going to be a time of deepening personal relationships, of exploring new interests that beckoned but were out of reach and learning new ways of self-expression. “It is a time to repair the family if it needs it and to repair the world with his skills and ideas,” the researchers said. We are really lucky, gentlemen, so let’s make the best of it.
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We invite you to visit our member facilities in your community. Aaron Manor Rehabilitation & Nursing Fairport, NY | 585.377.4000 Ashton Place Clifton Springs, NY | 315.462.3140 Avon Nursing Home Avon, NY | 585.226.2225 Baird Nursing Home Rochester, NY | 585.342.5540 The Brightonian Nursing Home Rochester, NY | 585.271.8700
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For Skilled Nursing Care, News from Local Facilities and Events, visit GHFA.org As a service to the community, the above facilities are receiving properly packaged and contained used syringes. Please call the facility nearest you for drop off times, accepted packaging, and other information. In conformity with the requirements of the Civil Rights Compliance Unit of the New York State Department of Health, we hereby affirm that it is the policy of the above member facilities of the Genesee Health Facilities Association to prohibit discrimination in the admission, retention, and treatment of residents who are appropriate for placement in skilled nursing facilities in accordance with all applicable Federal and State legal requirements on the basis of race, color, creed, blindness, sex, national origin, age, disability or handicap, marital status, sexual preference, sponsor, or any other classification protected by law (EOE).
55 PLUS - September / October 2018
ave you ever felt like you can’t leave Mom or Dad at home alone without the risk of them falling and not being found? Fear not as UR Medicine Home Care has launched UR Home Safe. You might ask why choose a personal emergency response system unit? Here are some reasons why: • One in three Americans age 65 and older fall at least once a year; • Chances of surviving a fall are six times greater if you’re found within the hour; • The danger of permanent disability rises dramatically each minute a stroke victim is left unattended; • Over 20 percent of the 1.6 million Americans who suffer heart attacks every year die because help didn’t arrive on time. UR Home Safe is providing service in seven counties — Wyoming, Monroe, Livingston, Ontario, Wayne, Yates and Seneca — and can be installed within 24 hours. Some of the features that the devices have are: • 24/7 emergency monitoring service; • Easy to set up and operate; • Necklace and wrist-band pendants are waterproof design for use in the shower; • When button is pressed subscriber’s latest position coordinates are sent to a local response center. UR Medicine Home Care’s personal response professionals bring skill and compassion to every call. Using a two-way voice connection, they carefully handle every call to make sure subscribers get help quickly and efficiently. If you have an emergency, a push of our button brings help immediately. Your loved ones and key holders are contacted and they stay with you until help arrives. If you are looking to keep Mom or Dad safe in their home, or you are looking to stay safe, please call 585274-4186 or visit our website at urmhomecare.org!
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September / October 2018 - 55 PLUS
2 Months After Bilateral Lower Lid Blepharoplasty ONLY
Journalist Todd Etshman shares the before and after photos of his eye surgery. Photo provided.
My Cosmetic Eye Surgery Experience Journalist goes for a $3,000 eye-job. He shares his experience By Todd Etshman
nce upon a time when I was young or even into middle age, I looked upon people who had plastic surgery with some disdain. After all, I thought, age should be worn like a badge of honor — and who has the time or the money to spend on something that’s largely unnecessary, isn’t approved by your personal physician and the health insurance won’t pay? But as time moved inexorably on and age-related physical changes started showing up, one of them really started to bother me. For years I thought the bags under my eyes were there because I was tired. In fact, I was tired most of the time. Having kids, commitments and working a couple jobs will do that to you. Unfortunately, however, it became apparent that the under-eye bags were
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there to stay no matter how much rest I got. A comedian (whose name I’ve forgotten), joked that his eye bags were so big, the airlines started charging him for the extra baggage. Facial creams claimed to reduce or even eliminate the eye bags but if the cause of the eye bags is age-related sagging redistributed fat pockets, no cream in the world is going to eliminate them no matter how much it costs. Genetics may have something to do with it, too. My parents had them and my brother had under-eye bag plastic surgery called blepharoplasty in his late 30s which made me want to have it done even more as time went on. Blepharoplasty is the removal of eyelid skin from the upper or lower eyelid as well as the removal or redistribution of fat in the upper or
lower eyelid. Under-eye blepharoplasty is considered cosmetic since it does not affect a patient’s vision. But it can affect his psyche and the more I looked into it, the more enticing it became. Potential patients should do their own homework but what they’ll find is blepharoplasty is a procedure the vast majority of patients are very satisfied with. As my doctor, Katherine Whipple, says, it’s one of the most common cosmetic surgeries in the United States today. She practices at Envision Eye & Aesthetics on Monroe Avenue in Pittsford. I could have started on some other body part such as thinning hair for example but the cost and satisfaction rate aren’t nearly the same for hair plugs or whatever they do to a man’s thinning pate these days plus I heard a sports talk show host implore his listeners not to have hair from heaven knows where stapled to your head. But few say blepharoplasty isn’t worth it, if you can afford it. “The eyes are one of the first parts of the body to age because the skin is so thin,” Whipple says. “Often, simply correcting the eyelids can make a person look years younger.” Whipple is one of only two boardcertified oculoplastic specialists in Rochester. Still in her 30s, Whipple grew up in Webster, went to SUNY Geneseo, did her residency at the University of California at San Diego followed by a fellowship in San Diego before returning to Rochester and opening her Pittsford practice in 2015. Even though doctors with her credentials are rare, picking someone you’re comfortable with and have confidence in is essential since they’ll be taking a sharp instrument to a very delicate area. She says her work is a combination of technology and artistry that allow her to work on the most visible part of the body, the eyes and face. “In Rochester, my experience is that people fear being judged for caring enough about their appearance to do something about it,” she says. That should not be the case, she adds. “In San Diego, everyone is doing it and they are proud of it. Where we as
a society get into trouble is when we over value that attribute, because it’s just one portion of what makes up an individual.” A lot of people in Rochester are having cosmetic surgery, too, Whipple says, as she mentions that Rochester is in the top 10 in the country per capita for cosmetic procedures. Unlike Californians, we’re just not flaunting it. The cost of blepharoplasty and cosmetic surgical and non-surgical procedures varies widely by city, region, practice and procedures. It also depends on the surgical time involved and the medication and equipment used. Blepharoplasty is in the top five cosmetic surgeries nationwide along with breast augmentation, liposuction, rhinoplasty and a tummy tuck. Non-surgical laser procedures are increasingly popular and offer more and more improved appearance options, too. A financially-challenged paralegal and journalist found there is a way to reduce the cost of blepharoplasty if you can stand it and your doctor offers it, which is to forego general anesthesia (I opted for local anesthesia) and the cost of a private recovery room. I’m not exactly courageous but since it meant saving $2,500 or more, I had it done at her office. The cost of my procedure came to a little over $3,000. I didn’t think twice about it. Recovery time varies by individual. The procedure took about an hour and bruised my left eye way more than the right. No matter how fast one heals, you’ll look like you lost a boxing match by a wide margin the first week or so and it will take a few weeks or more for all the bruising to go away. If you’re going to spend thousands on the procedure, you should follow the rules of recovery to maximize the benefit. Just like the boxer with the swollen face, it’s going to take a lot of soft ice packs for the swelling to go down. For the not-retired, you’ll most likely be going back to work with bruising your co-workers might notice. Men have a reputation for not noticing what other men look like but my barber was one of the first to notice. He stood back, took a second look and asked what the hell happened. But, hey, if they can be proud of it in San Diego then we can, too, as long as you don’t get carried away with it. I’m done, I think, at least for now.
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September / October 2018 - 55 PLUS
New Trend: Living Apart Together Couples Ebeth, 81, and John, 82, are just not ready to live together By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
lizabeth “Ebeth” Merkle, and John Denninger of Rochester go dancing weekly, eat out often and attend festivals and other events together. Though the sweethearts have assigned each other pet names and swoon at “their” song, the couple has no plans to marry. Merkle, 81, and Denninger, 82, offer an example of what demographers call a “living apart together” (LAT) couple: romantic partners who date but never wed or cohabitate. Research presented in April 2018 by Huijing Wu, a graduate student at Bowling Green State University, stated that of the 50-plus aged people surveyed who were coupled, 39 percent were in LAT relationships, 31 percent were dating and 30 percent lived together outside of marriage. With older adults remaining healthier longer, and with more opportunities to socialize such as various senior groups and meet-ups, it’s not surprising more find someone special. That’s how Merkle and Denninger met nearly two years ago while eating at Lily Cafe at the Maplewood Family YMCA in East Irondequoit. “He asked if anyone had any coupons to take his daughter out to dinner,” Merkle recalled. “I had scads of them. I took them in for him and he used them. He asked if he could take me out to thank me.” She said that Denninger had been a widower of 21 years at that point and craved socializing. As a widow of five years, she felt the same way. They had enjoyed spending time at Lifespan and going to the YMCA, but together, the couple really sparked.
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They established a ritual of dancing on Fridays at Market Café in Webster where Johnny Matt Band plays. “We need sociability, companionship, understanding and the feeling that somebody cares,” Merkle said. “The people who enjoy being alone are a different type of people. Everyone is gregarious in their own ways, but we can’t believe the fun and laughter we have. We just click. John says, ‘If you’re over 80, there’s still a chance for life and love.’” Merkle said that she’s heard many people her age saying they’re finding a second chance at love, but they’re not interested in marriage, either. LAT works for them as well. “When you’re 80 and the government steps in, they take so much out of your Social Security if you’re a family unit,” Merkle said. She and Denninger also prize their independence and living arrangements. Unlike couples just starting out, they both have entire households full of furnishings. Combining this aspect of their lives would likely involve paring down their belongings. LAT makes life easier. She owns a dog and cat; he has five dogs. She likes to play cards and attend Red Hat Society meetings. He likes working out at the YMCA. But getting together for dates and outings suits them fine. “I didn’t look for this; believe me,” Merkle said. “We both had very happy relationships, each raising three children.” The couple has enjoyed their time together so much that they hosted a commitment ceremony at the Lily Cafe on — what else? — Valentine’s
Day, Feb. 14, 2018, but they’re not married. Merkle said they’re happy without marriage. “Even thinking about the times we spend together, I just glow,” Merkle said. “We have nicknames. We have ‘Beauty and the Beast’ as our theme song. He asked, ‘How did you get with a beast like me?’ and calls me ‘Beauty.’” Stephen Ryan is a geriatrician practicing at ElderONE, affiliated with Rochester Regional Health, said that a LAT relationship benefits health. “Cognitive decline, anxiety and depression seem to be less,” Ryan said. “You have the opportunity for people to explore more parts of themselves, like new hobbies or travel they didn’t have the confidence to do before by themselves. It can be helpful to get the insights of someone else.” Maria Schantz, intake social worker for the ElderONE, said that couples like Merkle and Denninger aren’t so unusual anymore. She calls the trend of second-chance love “heartwarming,” but expressed concern when a person in a LAT relationship needs medical care. “If something does happen to our loved one and the significant other wants to be part of the decision making, he has no rights,” Schantz said. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) even prohibits providers from sharing medical information without a legal sign-off from the patient. Merkle said that in her case, both their families approve of their relationship and would let the other know if a medical emergency arises. For LAT couples where this isn’t the case, signing paperwork at their doctor’s office and within their health system can help their significant other gain access to their health information. The health care proxy is a different legal instrument that designates the person who makes health care decisions. Oftentimes, people designate an adult child to fill that role. For now, Merkle and Denninger take life one day at a time. “It’s just magic how every day is another great day,” Merkle said. “You should be able to get up and enjoy every day. We’re spontaneous and it’s fun. Nothing has to be planned and promised.”
Rochester residents John Denninger, 82, and Elizabeth â€œEbethâ€? Merkle, 81.
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Can Yours Be Next? 677 Rochester homes were burglarized in 2017. How to reduce your burglary risk By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
hough local home burglaries have decreased in the past two decades, according to the 2017 Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report maintained by the FBI, the burglaries of 677 Rochester homes were reported to authorities in 2016 and 617 were reported in 2017. While hiring a home security company to install a top-of-the-line system would definitely reduce your risk of burglary, you have many other simple, cost-effective steps to take. Deputy Todd Thurston, Zone “A” crime prevention officer with Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, said that landscaping can affect crime. “Trim shrubs,” Thurston said. “Burglars don’t want to be seen. Hedges provide places to hide.” Especially for homes set back from the street, burglars have an easier time getting inside unseen. It’s also important to secure items that can be used to climb inside windows, such as 28
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ladders. Thurston said that outside lights can help deter crime. You don’t need to leave a light on all night. Hardware stores sell motion-sensing solar lights starting at around $40. These can lend the effect that someone’s home and flipping on the light should someone pass by the sensor. Mark Concordia is Roberts Wesleyan College’s associate professor of criminal justice, director of the homeland security and applied intelligence program, and director of the Justice & Security Institute. He worked as a police officer for 22 years, working as a patrolman, all the way up to counter-terrorism. Like Thurston, he said that lights can deter crime. He encourages home owners to install motion-sensing solar lights at the front and rear of the home. “Most burglars, if they’re going to find a point of entry, it will likely be in the back of your home, away from
where others will see them,” Concordia said. “Many go to the back of the home and gain access through the garage. Then they can kick in the door to the home without being seen.” But he cautioned that most burglaries happen during the daytime. To prevent these crimes, home owners need to make their homes a tougher target. “Use deadbolt locks and install steel exterior doors,” Concordia said. And then actually use the locks. Concordia said that many neglect to lock their doors when they’re at home. Or they leave windows open when they’re showering or working in the flower garden behind their home. That way they’re prime targets for burglary. Simple door and window alarms can help, too. For around $12, hardware stores sell wireless kits that sound loud sirens and text your smartphone if the door or window is opened without turning off the device
first. Hardware stores also sell security system signs without the system, which Concordia said can help. “Cameras and a robust alarm is the most protective, but they’re expensive,” he said. “Something is better than nothing. Any type of intrusion alarm is important.” Don’t post information about your whereabouts or latest expensive purchases on social media. For example, don’t post pictures during your dinner or vacation while you’re gone. Share information only with friends. Have your grass cut and mail held or picked up while you’re on vacation. Ask a trusted friend or family member to periodically stop in to keep your home looking lived-in. Use light timers or solar lights inside while you’re gone. Break up boxes for high-end purchases and tuck them into your recycling bin. Leaving them on the curb can raise your burglary risk. Don’t leave expensive, easy-to-sell items near windows, such as a pricey tool set in the garage. Newspaper announcements can make your home a target. “I worked on an investigation where a ring was combing the obituaries to look for funeral announcements,” Concordia said. While the families attended the calling hours and funeral, burglars helped themselves to the bereaved ones’ belongings. People you know and trust may allow another person to take advantage of your relationship, such as the friend of a neighbor kid who feeds your cat while you’re on vacation. The neighbor kid may think nothing of allowing his sketchy buddy to tag along. Remodelers may have good ratings, but bring in a crew of subcontractors. A grandchild may bring over a new friend who’s up to no good. “Maybe have substance abuse issues or they want jewelry or money in the home to cover debts,” Concordia said. “Be very careful about who you let in your home or what you show in your home.” He added that burglars posting as solicitors may knock on your door hoping no one answers. If you do, they may have a bogus story as to why they’re on your porch. Most municipalities require a license to solicit. Remember, you do not have to an-
swer the door and you should call the police if you suspect a caller of bad intentions, see a strange car parked for long periods on your street or observe a loiterer. If you can’t afford the real thing, non-functional cameras and signs deter these thieves. Amazon.com sells dummy cameras that boast a flashing red “record” light and warning decals for around $8 each. Concordia also recommends calling the non-emergency number for the police to request a home walkthrough for issues that could be remedied to reduce your risk of burglary.
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HearingLossRochester.org September / October 2018 - 55 PLUS
Photo courtesy of University of Rochester / J. Adam Fenster.
Evangelist for Science Brighton man preaches the virtues of exploring The Great Unknown By Mike Costanza 30
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Five Things You Didn’t Know About Adam Frank
t all started for Adam Frank with pictures of space travel on the covers of pulp science fiction magazines. “It was all those images of other worlds, and the vastness of space,” the 56-year-old says. “It just completely blew my mind.” Those dramatic depictions of spacemen and women, rocket ships and new, mysterious worlds helped send that young boy on a journey all his own. Frank is now a University of Rochester astrophysics professor who researches the formation and destruction of stars, and he is the author of four books. The Brighton resident’s latest work examines climate change, the most serious problem facing humankind, from a cosmological perspective. We should have expected climate change,” Frank says. “Any civilization that arises on a planet that develops our kinds of capacities will have feedback on the planet.” The self-styled “evangelist for science” has also penned op-eds for The New York Times, been interviewed on WXXI-AM 1370’s popular Connections talk show, written for National Public Radio, and traveled the country speaking about topics of critical importance to the future of this planet. Not bad for a kid from Belleville, N.J.
“Publications like Analog Science Fiction and Fact, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction have long grabbed readers with their colorful depictions of what could be. Frank, the youngest of three children in his family, was 5 years old when he first spied the covers of his late father’s pulp magazines. Jerome Frank was a science fiction fan. “One was guys in these sort of Michelin-tire-man space suits, the bubbly ones,” he says. “They’re on the moon and they’re kind of looking down over the valley. I can still see it.” The images led the young boy
to look beyond his hometown and the troubles he went through while growing up in the 1960s. Belleville was largely Italian-Irish back then, and Frank’s mother had divorced his father and married an African-American. Altogether, the town was a tough place for a Jewish kid to grow up in. “There just couldn’t have been more strikes against me,” Frank says. “I had a lot of friends when I was growing up — great people — but there was a considerable amount of racism and anti-Semitism.” Faced with such difficulties, his thoughts turned skyward. “The stars were kind of a refuge,”
— Likes to read comic books, particularly those drawn in the Japanese style — Many breakfasts consist of yogurt mixed with granola and blueberries. — Studied the writings of the great scholars of religion, philosophy, and mythology before writing “The Constant Fire: Beyond the Science vs. Religion Debate.” — Prefers to hike alone and has backpacked part of the Appalachian Trail solo — Calls his wife, Alana Cahoon, his “best friend” he said. “The idea of all these other worlds, all these other possibilities, was helpful.” Jerome’s gift of a book of science fiction stories fed that desire to look beyond Earth. “They were all short stories from the golden age of science fiction, from the ‘50s to the early ‘60s,” Frank says.
Brush with Einstein Frequent visits to New York City’s Hayden Planetarium with his father further fueled Frank’s interest in the heavens. There were models of Mars and the Moon, dioramas of the surfaces of other planets and other exhibits —including scales that told him how much he would weigh on other planets. “It was so cool,” Frank explains. “On Jupiter, I’d weigh, like, 2,000 pounds.” Though he knew little about Albert Einstein, Frank spent hours at an exhibit at the planetarium that included a bust of the theoretical physicist and some of his equations on general relativity. A chance thunderstorm helped turn the young boy’s curiosity about space into an interest in the sciences. “I remember being terrified, and my dad gives me this really cogent explanation of what thunder and lightning is,” Frank says. “It taught me the value of science.” Interest in science and the stars eventually helped Frank choose an academic direction. September / October 2018 - 55 PLUS
“Astronomy came from the science fiction, and the stars, and loving to look at the stars, (and) in the sense of freedom from the stars,” Frank says. “As I started to learn about astronomy, I realized that I’ve got to learn about physics. Our understanding of extraterrestrial objects is really based on our understanding of physics.” After completing an undergraduate honors study of the theory of relativity, Frank stood before the Hayden Planetarium’s Einstein exhibit once again. “I’d been looking at that since I was 5 years old, and now it’s, ‘Oh, my God, I know what those equations are!’” Frank says. “It was a pretty cool
moment.” After acquiring a Ph.D. in physics, Frank went on to the University of Rochester, where he is now a computational astrophysicist. “My group uses supercomputers to model or simulate processes like the formation of stars from clouds of gas, or stars blowing up — things like that,” he explains. While others might think that scientific investigations are dry, Frank has retained his passion for them down through the years and for what they can reveal. ‘Awe’ is my favorite word,” he says. In addition to researching and teaching, Frank enjoys riding his
View from the Stars Living on Earth means rolling with the changes By Mike Costanza
dam Frank wants to change the way people look at the sciences. “I’m trying to get people to see how cool science is,” says Frank, an astrophysics professor at the University of Rochester. “I’m an evangelist of science.” Frank’s writings reflect that passion and his wide-ranging interests. “The Constant Fire: Beyond the Science vs. Religion Debate,” drew upon scholarly writings on religion, mythology and philosophy to show connections between science and religion. “One of the things I was trying to express was how science is the gateway to the experience of awe, and even sacredness,” he says. “I’m interested in the way that the world we encounter drives us to a spiritual feeling.” That “spiritual feeling” does not have a religious basis — Frank is an atheist. “Light of the Stars: Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth,” Frank’s latest work, examines climate change from a cosmological perspective. Based upon extensive astronomical research, the author states the uni32
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verse is home to a “billion trillion” planets that have the right basic conditions for the existence of life. Civilizations probably have arisen on at least some of those planets, bringing the same kinds of problems that afflict Earth today, he claims. “Climate change is a kind of generic response of a planet to having a civilization on it,” he explains. “Any civilization that arises on a planet that develops our kind of capacities will have feedback on the planet.” In that context, climate change can be seen as a stage through which a planet, and those on it, must pass. “It’s not a problem that has to be solved. It’s a dangerous transition that has to be navigated,” Frank says. How might we navigate that transition successfully? To begin with, we need to see ourselves as the result of the latest experiment that produced life on this planet, he said.
Major energy change needed “The Earth runs the experiments, and however the experiments work out, either that species gets to stay or the Earth just moves on,” Frank explains.
mountain bike, backpacking and hiking, and has climbed about seven of the Adirondack High Peaks. Local trails, like those of Mendon Ponds Park, are a particular source of pleasure. “Mendon Ponds is the gift that keeps on giving,” Frank says. “I’ve been hiking there for 20 years, and just the other day, I found a new trail.” In addition to enjoying the outdoors, Franks listens to music, swing dances, watches plays, and in other ways partakes of the local arts scene, sometimes with his wife, Alana Cahoon. Though they married two years ago, they’ve been together for nine. Frank is also the father of two grown children from a previous marriage. Then, we have to make basic changes in the way we generate power, work and live. “We have to change infrastructures,” Frank says. “It’s not that big a deal — just stop using fossil fuels.” In the best of all possible situations, we would all eventually switch to renewable energy sources, according to Frank. This, too, would be a transition. “Maybe in the meantime, we’re going to have to use nuclear or something — just not fossil fuels,” he says. Humans have undertaken widespread infrastructure changes before: People and goods once traveled long distances via canals, but now do so mainly by road, rail and air. The question today is whether those on Earth are willing to make much more widespread changes. Sizeable numbers of people in the United States do not accept the scientific basis for doing so. “We live in a weird moment where people are all using the fruits of science every day, and then they’ll turn around and say a whole branch of science is a hoax because they heard that on their favorite political radio show,” Frank asserts. “That’s super dangerous, because it’s a slippery slope.” What happens if we don’t successfully make the transition to a non-fossil-fueled world? Well, we won’t end life on Earth — though our planet might “move on.” “We’re what the biosphere is doing now,” Frank explains. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to be what the biosphere will be doing 1,000 years from now.”
Who You Gonna Call? Making sense of it all through ‘Ghostbusters,’ astrophysics By Mike Costanza
t’s all in “Ghostbusters.” Well, sort of. Whenever Adam Frank is a guest on the popular WXXI AM1370 talk show “Connections,” host Evan Dawson might throw him a comical curve. “I like to surprise him with audio on my show from the movie ‘Ghostbusters,’ because I think just about everything in the world can be explained with some reference to ‘Ghostbusters,’” Dawson explains, with more than a touch of humor. Of course, that’s the original 1984 movie — you have to go to the source for these things. Dawson’s playing of audio from the flick has become a running gag, but a useful one. “We always get a good laugh out of that, and amazingly, it enhances the
explanation of the science,” Dawson explains. Frank, a University of Rochester astrophysics professor with a wide range of interests, has appeared on “Connections” a number of times in the past few years, most often to discuss his work pertaining to climate change. His conversational style and use of humor have helped make serious, esoteric subjects understandable to listeners. “He’s the best science communicator that I have ever met,” Dawson says. “He understands how to make science truly accessible, and even enjoyable, to a mass audience.” Frank was on “Connections” recently to discuss his latest book, “Light of the Stars: Alien Worlds and
the Fate of the Earth.” The work examines climate change from a cosmological perspective. Frank’s interests range far beyond the sciences. He and his wife, Alana Cahoon, meditate together and share other pursuits. “We like to go hiking together,” Cahoon says. “We love to dance together — swing dance.” The duo also steps out for concerts, movies, theatrical performances and the like, and have memberships in Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery, the Little Theatre, the George Eastman Museum and other local venues for the arts. Good friends are a particular joy, along with the conversations they bring. “It can be almost about anything,” Cahoon says. “He has an inquisitive nature that can just dissect an apparent mundane subject to find the root of it and how it’s created, and turn almost anything into something interesting.” Cahoon heads her own one-person business, GROW 2 B U. “I’m a coach, and I help people bring balance into their lives,” she says.
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journey Locks of Love
Grasta’s Wigs in Hilton not just your ordinary beauty salon By Christine Green
haron Grasta sold her very first wig at age 11. A little girl at her school had alopecia — an autoimmune condition that results in loss of hair — and her other schoolmates cruelly teased by her. Grasta’s heart ached for her friend. She invited the girl over to her mother’s beauty shop (LuRue’s Beauty & Wig Salon on Lyell Avenue) for a homework date. After they finished their homework, the girls played “dress up” with her mother’s wigs. The little girl looked in the mirror and saw a new person with a lovely, full head of hair. She went home that night and told her mother all about Grasta’s kindness. The child’s mother later went to the shop and paid for the wig in installments until the girl’s birthday. She told Grasta, “You made my daughter whole.” Grasta’s mother gave her the money and told her, “Sharon, you’ve just sold your first wig!” Grasta’s kindness and generosity has helped countless people over the years feel better about themselves. Today, she owns and operates Grasta’s Beauty and Wig Studio in Hilton.
Chasing a passion While 11 may seem young to start in the beauty business, Grasta’s career 34
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actually started much earlier in life. As a young child, she would comb the hair on the many dolls her father bought for her. When he saw her styling the hair on one of them, he decided she needed a real wig to work on. From then on, she paid careful attention to the hair and wig styling lessons her mother gave her and she eagerly helped around the shop with customers. Grasta later graduated from the Continental School of Beauty as well as Chadwicks of England Beauty School. Her first beauty and wig shop was located on Flower City Park in Rochester. She also worked with patients dealing with medical hair loss at Rochester General Hospital, and now all area hospitals refer patients to her for help with wigs. Today, her shop in Hilton offers one of the largest wig inventories in Western New York. Grasta’s reputation as a top-notch wig stylist has attracted clients from all over New York. She regularly sees people from places such as Baldwinsville, Naples, and even from as far away as Long Island. People make the trip to Hilton
from such distances because Grasta, as client Amanda Pollard from North Tonawanda put it, “has an encyclopedic knowledge of wigs. The quality of the wigs is extraordinary.” Bill Yeoman of Greece agrees. His wife Linda has purchased several wigs from Grasta over the years. “Sharon is very knowledgeable about the wigs and she has quite a variety available. Her wigs are very nice and we’ve had no problems with any of them. It’s been a really good experience,” Bill said. Each client’s appointment with Grasta is totally private and no walkins are allowed. This gives Grasta’s clients peace of mind knowing that they have her undivided attention and that their reason for coming is kept completely confidential. Grasta carefully takes measurements and studies a client’s bone structure and skin tone in order to help them purchase the wig that best suits them. She has a large stock of wigs including her own line made with the human hair from Europe. She can also custom order wigs if needed.
Special touch Grasta works with many different types of clients, including those in community and school theater programs. She helps them find just the right wigs for their shows. She has even worked with a local Santa and Mrs. Claus to help prep their wigs for the Christmas season. Grasta also caters to several clients in the transgender community in addition to customers who have thinning hair due to aging or medical hair loss. Pollard is a transgender woman who came to Grasta to support her transition in 2016. “I found my way to her at a time when I was at my wit’s end. I have nothing but the highest regard for Sharon. I love her,” she said. Grasta comforted Pollard and helped her find the wig that was perfect for her as she embarked on this life journey. She added that Grasta “immediately made me feel comfortable and accepted. She was extraordinarily kind and helpful. In a very real way, she has made my life possible.” This level of care is important to Grasta. “I understand the feeling of love they need and I take care of them. I’m there for them. I fulfill their needs,” she said. She has also sat with many cancer patients whose struggle with their illness had taken an emotional toll. She always has a box of tissues on hand and lets them talk or cry as needed. Her years of hard work and loving dedication helps her know exactly how to handle the emotional process of choosing a wig while undergoing cancer treatment. She recalls her time working at area hospitals: “They didn’t want balloons, they didn’t want candy. They wanted to look and feel great.” Joy Burrell of Greece suffers hair loss due to alopecia, stress, and menopause. When she went to Grasta, she wanted someone who would make her feel and look good since “a woman’s hair is her crowning glory.” She was so pleased with the Grasta’s kindness and the quality of the wigs that she bought four. Burrell said she has gotten many compliments on her wigs. Grasta’s clients are extremely important to her, and every day she takes joy in helping her customers.
Sharon Grasta: “I do this with my whole heart and soul. I just love this work and it is my life. It’s my calling.” September / October 2018 - 55 PLUS
Sign promoting the bargains the store offers.
Tool Thrift Shop in Fairport.
Implementing Usefulness Tool Thrift Shop an instrument to aid community, offer volunteer opportunities By Christine Green
f you walk into the Tool Thrift Shop at the Fairport Village Landing in Fairport looking for a bargain on some hardware, you just might be lucky enough to see the “Frank and Frank Show.” Witty banter, funny jokes, and
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quite a few giggles come with the show, and you’ll be tempted to join in the fun while browsing through used tools. Frank Grant and Frank Jug man the counter, organize inventory, and generally create a convivial, friendly air about the place.
Grant and Jug are just two of the more than 40 volunteers that help make the Tool Thrift Shop the success that it has been for almost eight years. Senior Options for Independence is the outreach arm of Fairport Baptist Homes that helps seniors age in place and live independently in the Fairport-Penfield community. SOFI provides help with everything from navigating insurance options to transportation. It also connects seniors with many of the services available to them around the county. Several years ago, Ellen O’Connor, former director of community services at Fairport Baptist Homes-SOFI, was looking for ways to help enhance the services they offer. “The SOFI team was well aware that the need for our services was going to increase and funding was not just because of the change in demographics around the world. We were concerned with how do we raise more revenue,” she said. O’Connor knew that Craft Bits & Pieces, a local used crafts and home goods store, donated its profits to SOFI. What if it could open a similar store but sell tools instead of craft items? O’Connor consulted with John Gehret of Penfield who was eager to
The Tool Thrift Shop recently moved to a larger space in the Fairport Village Landing. help SOFI by assisting seniors who needed to make their homes easier to live in. Together, they formed a steering committee and by November of 2010, the doors to the Tool Thrift Shop were open to the public. The grand opening took place in January 2011. At the time, Gehret wasn’t exactly sure what the future would look like. “We were wondering if we would last past a year,” he said. But he needn’t have worried. Since 2011, revenue and popularity have grown exponentially. To date, the SOFI program has received $405,000 from the Tool Thrift Shop. The program is also good for the environment as it keeps countless items out of local landfills by recycling what does not sell. As of 2018, it had recycled 105,961 pounds of metal and received $16,538 in revenue from scrap recycling. The store’s success has inspired volunteers in Albany and Utica to open similar stores using the Tool Thrift Shop model.
Sense of Purpose Volunteers like Jug and Grant have found a home away from home at the Tool Thrift Shop. Bill Evans of Fairport, a dispatcher at the Rochester 911 center, first came to the shop as a customer but soon realized that he could help his community by volunteering. Today, he is a store manager and member of the management team and said the Tool Thrift Shop is “an awesome place to be and it’s a community within itself. It provides a means of recreation and enjoyment and a purpose for many senior citizens.” Gehret agrees that this sense of purpose is vital for people when they retire. He said volunteering in a friendly place like the Tool Thrift Shop can help those searching for direction after retirement. He said it is important for seniors “to develop a strong purpose in life to keep you going. It is not only good for the individual, but it is good for the community. And that’s a large part of what we are about — giving people
The Frank and Frank Show: Frank Grant and Frank Jug man the counter at the tool store, organize inventory and generally create a convivial, friendly air about the place.
a sense of purpose as well as giving back to the community.” Store manager Bill Karpinski of Fairport also noted the shop volunteers enjoy a family-like atmosphere that keeps them coming back time and again. “The Tool Thrift Shop is different, because one of the two goals in setting it up was to provide an opportunity for the retired members of our community to give back in a way that they enjoy and that makes use of their professional and hobby skills and knowledge, in a collegial environment,” he said. Of course, the fact the Tool Thrift Shop supports SOFI also makes the work the volunteers do that much more important to them. Gehret’s spouse and current volunteer coordinator at the shop, Jeanne Gehret, truly enjoys knowing that the work she and her volunteers do is helping others right in their own community. “It gives deep pleasure to give back to a caring organization that has done so much for our loved ones. SOFI staff assisted my parents when they moved out of their home in their 90s and recently helped my 102-yearold dad qualify for insurance benefits,” she said.
Well-loved tools “Tools have a very emotional component to them,” said O’Connor. When someone is donating tools after a loved one passes or because they themselves are no longer able to use them, they want them to go to a good home like the Tool Thrift Shop. These were items that crafted memories and sometimes were vital to the livelihoods of the people that used them. John Gehret often picks up donated items for the shop and knows that giving away old tools and hardware can be very emotional. “These people are giving us their memories as well as their products. That is huge, especially for widows or widowers. We see the tears and some of us join in on those tears,” he said. The Tool Thrift Shop recently moved to a larger space in the Fairport Village Landing and is planning a Sept. 7 grand reopening. For information on shop hours, how to donate, or how to volunteer, visit toolthriftshop.org. September / October 2018 - 55 PLUS
Victor resident Caroline Povero in Ring of Kerry, Ireland...
Bitten by the Travel Bug Going solo: Traveler overcomes fear, selfdoubt to take on world of journey By Christine Gree
aroline Povero, 65, of Victor likes to wander the beaches of Cape Cod thinking and taking in the beauty of the
ocean. One day in November of 2014, she found something in the sand that changed her life. It was a little rock painted with the affirmation, “Now I’ll do what’s best for me.” She knew this message was meant for her. She knew it meant that it was time to see the world. Povero, a retired Ontario County confidential secretary to the district attorney, didn’t embark on her first international trip until 2001 when she accompanied her daughter on her senior trip to Italy and Switzerland. Before then, she hadn’t done much traveling at all. There never seemed to be the time and her husband didn’t have the desire to travel. So when the chance to go with her daughter came up, she took it. She caught the travel bug after that and in 2002 she returned to Italy, this time alone. Next was her 2005 trip to Spain then a 2013 trip to Paris with EF Go Ahead Tours, the same company that coordinated the 2001
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trip she took with her daughter. In 2015, she helped EF Go Ahead Tours coordinate another tour to Paris. She’s been travelling with and coordinating trips for EF Go Ahead Tours ever since. In addition to visiting Paris, Spain and Italy she has also been to Budapest, Hungary and Ireland and is coordinating an October trip to the Albuquerque Balloon Fest and several national parks.
Going solo Povero enjoyed traveling alone, but chose to do it in the safety of an organized group. When she travels with EF Go Ahead Tours, she knows all the details will be taken care of and there will be people around if she is seeking company. It also allows her the space to be independent. “To try and plan something on your own is kind of daunting,” she said. Katie Graham, EF Go Ahead Tours’ communications director, agreed that going solo on an international trip is a great idea but doing it with a tour can help alleviate the stress and worry of solo travel.
“We truly see that first-time travelers feel more confident and empowered by traveling with a group even before taking off. There are no worries about logistics, such as flights, hotels, and transfers, which eliminates an enormous amount of unease,” said Graham. Povero also enjoys the pacing of EF Go Ahead Tours. The tours she attended and coordinated stayed in one city for a week at a time rather than moving every day. “With some companies, you are staying a different place every night. That gets to be exhausting and that’s not for me,” she said. Povero knew she could help other people who wanted to travel but didn’t have a friend who wanted to join them. “Once I started traveling solo on these trips, folks kept saying, ‘Oh, I could never do that; I don’t want to travel alone,’” she said. That’s when Poverto realized there was a need to help other wouldbe solo travelers have the confidence to just go for it within the safety of a group. Yes, escorted bus tours are not for
... in Lake Balaton, Hungary
... and in Seville, Spain everyone, but they do fill a void. It’s perfect for some people; you’re independent, yet have the safety and security of a dedicated tour director, all the details of transportation, hotels, and some meals are all included in the price, Poverto noted. She helps EF Go Ahead Tours find travelers for tours and helps everyone get ready for their big trip. She organizes meetings so travelers can meet each other beforehand and get answers to their questions about the itinerary. She also plans a post-trip reunion so travelers can reminisce and share photos.
Benefits of going solo Many people who go it alone almost always meet new friends when traveling. When Povero travelled to Paris in 2016 for a few days before meeting up with her group in Florence, Italy, she randomly met some fellow Americans. They ended up spending the next day together and are still friends now. “You don’t know who you are going to meet and the experiences you will have,” Povero remarked. Travelers tell Graham all the time about the new people they meet and how important these encounters are to them. “We hear time and time again that friendships made on tour continue long after returning home, and we even see travelers going on their next tour with friends they met on their previous trip,” she said. But friendships aren’t the only benefits a person can gain from traveling alone. Solo travel can also reveal a person’s hidden strengths.
Dawn Oryszak, 63, of Fairport learned a lot about herself when she started traveling on her own about 20 years ago. “I had decided that I was getting to an age where I didn’t want to wait for everybody to decide they were going to do it with me. It was a matter of deciding that life was too short and I was going to go ahead and set out on my own,” she said. During the trip to Paris with Povero in 2015, she not only overcame her fear of flying, she also found out that she is capable of much more independence than she previously thought. One day, the group took a trip to Versailles, France but she decided to stay behind. She sat in her hotel room feeling lonely and bored, so she willed herself to just go out into the Paris streets and explore. She went to cafes and shops and an old Parisian cemetery. She strolled around the busy city, meeting new people and seeing things she would have missed had she gone to Versailles that day. “I learned so much more about the people, about Paris, and about the feeling of the place than I did on everything else we did. I learned so much about how strong I am,” she said. “I faced the fear and found the joy in it. If you look for the joy you will find it. When you face that fear and realize how short life is, you give yourself a chance to explore.” Jane Adams, 66, of Irondequoit always wanted to see the world with her husband when they retired. Sadly, he passed away when she was only 49, before they could embark on the extensive travel they dreamed of. In 2007, she and another friend
decided to plan a trip to Arizona. It was a wonderful experience and since then, she has been all over the world including Portugal, Spain, Ecuador, and Peru. She’s joining Povero for her October national parks tour as well. She didn’t let a few nerves hold her back. “It may seem a bit scary at first, but I never backed away from a challenge and the desire to travel pushed me to go on these trips. I found that it is a wonderful way to travel and make new friends along the way. There are many more trips in my future, and places I am longing to see,” Adams said.
Overcoming obstacles Oryszak, Adams, and Povero all overcame their initial apprehension about traveling alone by recognizing what their fears were and facing them head on. Fear of being alone, not knowing the language, and fear of flying are all very common stumbling blocks for people who want to travel alone. But Povero knows that letting a taste for adventure lead the way can help you let go of a need to control and help you let go of fear. Povero said her desire to see, explore, and experience things was greater than her fears and apprehensions. Povero pondered what her favorite trip has been so far and couldn’t pick just one destination experience. “It’s like asking a parent if they have a favorite child. Each is special in his or her own way, and each carries great memories and experiences,” she said. September / October 2018 - 55 PLUS
Independent Living Community: What to Know Before You Sign By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
erhaps you’ve decided that your large, family-sized home isn’t what you need any more, since the children have long since left the nest and you’re tired of all that lawn maintenance and snow removal hassle. An independent living community could be just what you need: privacy, independence and a secure place to live with accessibility to help should you need it. Before you make your final choice, consider the various factors in the decision. Below is what some of pros say about place selection. • “Is it handicapped-accessible, even if at the time of move-in you don’t need it? Walk-in showers and things like that help you age in place. • “Some communities are starting to do independent living to assisted living to nursing home living on the same campus. I think that’s something that’s becoming very popular
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among baby boomers. The buildings that supply added services need to have licensure in place. • “At least access to a few transportation services to get to doctor’s appointments, shopping or the hairdresser’s. • “Find a location where you’re close to family. • “Look for a secure building with a buzz-in system or security on-site. Maybe even a small store in the building, laundry and things that make life easier. Maria Schantz intake social worker for the ElderONE program at Rochester Regional Health • “Can you afford it and how long can you afford it? Once your care level is beyond independent living, now you’re looking at assisted living or a nursing home and the cost goes up enormously. • “Ask about extra hidden costs,
like a fee for a garage. • “If you’re not cooking anymore, how does the food taste? • “Ask about transportation. It may be like Wednesday we go to the store; Thursday, we go to another store; Friday is doctor day — if you can get an appointment on Friday. If not, you’ll have to wait. Most transportation services will only go to a certain radius. • “Another really important thing is how happy the people look in that building. Are the staff planning to stay? • “If you fall in your apartment and you’re single, how will you summon help from the floor? Do they provide you a button or is that an extra fee you should consider?” Jennifer Meagher Owner and geriatric care manger, Senior Life, LLC, Rochester • “Is there an initial, up-front
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122 Fairport Village Landing 585.223.0484 ToolThriftShop.org Tues 4–8pm l Thur 3–7pm l Fri 11am–6pm l Sat 9am–4pm payment? What is their usual rent increase? Do you have a lock-in rate for three years at ‘x’ amount of dollars? • “Can you get the money back if you pre-pay? • “People don’t think about what happens when their money runs out. Maybe start thinking of a smaller place, like a one-bedroom, so along the way you can save money. Many offer gathering spaces and you can rent out the dining room with kitchen facilities. • “Do they allow pets there? • “Are you allowed visitors 24/7? How do you get in and out after hours? If you still drive, what’s parking like? Is it covered or will you have to sweep off your car in the morning? Extra parking for guests? • “If you want your grandchildren to stay over or you regularly babysit, are there restrictions?” Dee Schwartz Director of aging, Jewish Family Services of Rochester • “I watch interactions between staff and residents. I look for a warm, caring atmosphere. Do they seem to
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know all the residents and take care to make resident feel welcome? I’d be very concerned about the feel in the dining room. That’s an important part of it. • “Every independent living community will have an activities director and a calendar, but how many activities are planned during the day? How many over the course of a week look like ones I’d be interested in? Do those activities change over time according to the needs of the residents? • “The physical amenities of the community are important, not just the apartment, but what about all the other spaces there? There are multiple spaces where people can gather, play cards, visit with family and have a special occasion like a birthday party. Are these spaces warm and welcoming? Are there nice gardens? • “I almost always have family members on tours with me to help make this difficult decision.” Mike Kearney Owner, Senior Care Authority, Rochester
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tures, like a dining room, where they can have community meals. • “You will need to know who takes care of lawns and snow removal. • “Ask about what happens should you break the lease. Senior communities are different because it’s not necessarily just a rental situation for seniors. If it’s a little more expensive, they’re looking at what the assets are of the person coming in and they have to qualify with the assets available to make sure they’re not bringing in someone for the short term. • “Have you looked at enough places? We created a database of communities with all their amenities. When we sit down with a senior or children or caregiver, we can place the senior in the best community possible from the start so they don’t go in and then have to go to a different community.” Kim Barrett Owner, Magellan, Inc. Real Estate and Relocation, Rochester
• “Some people want certain feaSeptember / October 2018 - 55 PLUS
Should You Earn Your Degree? Experts weigh in on whether 55-plus workers should go for a higher level of education By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
ou’ve made it this far in your working life without achieving a higher level of education. Is it worth it to gain more? That depends upon many factors. Susan Larson, a Rochester-based transition coach, said that some people gain personal fulfillment from continuing their education. If that’s all you want, and you have the money to pay for it without compromising your retirement, go for it. If you’re thinking of further studies to increase your earning potential, you have many more considerations. “It can take you in new directions and open new possibilities,” Larson said. For some people who hit a career plateau, more education can help them continue on their earning trajectory or shift to a different, better-earning career. Larson encourages mid-career and older workers to consider both the cost of the education and the number of years they’ll still be able to work. Their hiring potential also matters. 42
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“There’s age bias in some fields,” Larson said. “If they already have a foundation in the field, age bias wouldn’t be as big of an obstacle. If someone has a good track record at making a good living, this person could go on and make more money.” The time and money needed to obtain the education also matters. For example, becoming licensed to work as a massage therapist is much less of an investment than deciding to become a medical doctor. Larson said that if the jump is too big, workers should consider a small shift instead. Audrey Berger, Ph.D, is also a transition coach in Rochester. She said that would-be scholars should weigh the disruption caused by obtaining more schooling. “Ask yourself, ‘Do I have the ability, time, money and interest in going back to school?’” she said. “If all of that checks out, you also have to think about research — a lot of research. Before you go back to school, you really want to understand that getting a degree does not guarantee anything.” Look into the demand for the type of position you hope to get after completing your additional education, especially as it relates to where you live. Would you want to move to a different state to pursue your dream job? “To increase your chances if you’re looking at changing fields, look at the employment rates for new graduates,” Berger said. “If you choose a field that has very low employment rates, you’re obviously adding more obstacles.” For some career changes, a bachelor’s or associate’s degree may not be necessary. Certificate programs cost less and combined with experience, may provide a better return on investment, according to Berger. She wants people to look into more creative ways to solve employment and life issues. She said that those unfulfilled in their position could remake it by picking up different responsibilities and delegating others, if their boss is onboard with the idea. Perhaps telecommuting a couple days a week or working four, 10-hour
days to provide three-day weekends would help those who do enjoy their careers but feel burned out. Leslie Rose McDonald, founder and president of Pathfinders, CTS, Inc. near Syracuse, pointed out that many more people remain healthier into their older years. If you plan to keep working past retirement age, then additional education may be worthwhile. “If you feel you might be at risk for downsizing or right-sizing, more education can help you keep up with colleagues,” she said. “It could help sharpen skills to stay relevant.” She added that to keep experienced employees onboard, some employers will reimburse educational expenses. For out-of-pocket education, McDonald recommends community college, certificate programs or online leaning, all which tends to cost less than traditional college classes. The non-traditional route may also fit your life better now, especially if you still have children at home or help care for your elderly parents. “Some schools, depending if you’ve been in school before, may accept previously earned credit or work experience and accomplishments,” McDonald said. She likes www.Petersons.com as a one stop shop to look at the different types of educational institutions available. “You or I could get hit by a bus tomorrow,” McDonald said. “I believe in going for what you want to. Don’t get into debt to endanger your retirement; do it to bring value to yourself or your career.”
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Q: I’ve decided I want to FRIEN03252_55Plus_Ad, 3.5”w xare 4.75”h, 4Con many Security benefits based 03252_55Plus_Ad_F.indd 1 12/13/17 years of earnings — generally your retire. Now what do I do? highest 35 years. To learn more about A: The fastest and easiest way Social Security retirement benefits, to apply for retirement benefits is visit www.socialsecurity.gov/retire. to go to www.socialsecurity.gov/ onlineservices. Use our online application to apply for Social Q: What are the rules for getting Security retirement or spouses Supplemental Security Income benefits. To do so, you must: (SSI)? I’m thinking about applying • Be at least 61 years based on my disability. and 9 months old; A: To be eligible to receive SSI • Want to start your benefits benefits, you must be disabled, blind in the next four months; and or age 65 or older and have limited • Live in the United States or one income and resources. Income is of its commonwealths or territories. money you receive such as wages, Social Security benefits, and penQ: My cousin and I are both sions. Income also includes the value retired and get Social Security. We of such things as food and shelter worked for the same employer for you receive from others. Resources are things you own such as real years, but he gets a higher Social estate, bank accounts, cash, stocks, Security benefit. Why is that? and bonds. You may be able to get A: Your payments are based on SSI if your resources are worth no your earnings over your lifetime. more than $2,000. A couple may be Unless you are both the same age, able to get SSI if they have resources started and stopped work on the worth no more than $3,000. Learn exact same dates, and earned the more by reading our publication, very same amount every year of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), your careers, you wouldn’t get the at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs. same benefit as your cousin. Social September / October 2018 - 55 PLUS
addyman’s corner By John Addyman
A Romantic Evening on Sodus Bay — Or So We Thought
very now and then a romantic thought crashes through my head. My dear wife, Gayle, and I have been married for a couple hundred years, and some of that longevity is attributable to the occasional lovestruck notion. So here was my idea: we would attend the Sodus Point Sunshine Parade, held the night before the Fourth of July. It’s a rolling car show with a patriotic tinge. All kinds of drivers and their neat cars and trucks come out of the woodwork for this parade. We’d have dinner beforehand in one of the restaurants on Sodus Bay, watch the parade, and maybe stay for the Ring of Fire and fireworks. Sounded like fun and maybe a little romance. I decided to try Captain Jack’s Goodtime Tavern for dinner, and things went very smoothly. Until I had to use the men’s room. The night was quite warm, so I was in shorts. As I was finishing things up in the men’s room, my zipper stuck. The head of the zipper had gone all the way down and stayed there. I couldn’t grab the little handle with my fingers, and I was wrestling with the thing. The dilemma was real: I couldn’t go back into the restaurant, which was very crowded, with a lot of gentle breezes pushing through my nether parts from a wide-open zipper. So I struggled trying to dig the zipper out and get myself back together. I had my back to the door of the small restroom and as luck would have it, another patron came in, and obviously could not figure out what the heck I was doing, but he decided he’d just as soon wait outside until I completed whatever it was that had me so occupied. Trying to reclaim the zipper head, I now had my shorts half off, was do44
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What happens when the head of a zipper goes all the way down and stays there ing stand-up contortions, praying that no other patron would come in and find me in that condition. I also had a flash thought of patron number one standing outside as patron number two arrived and was on his way into the restroom. “You don’t want to go in there,” patron number one would say. “Why not?” patron number two would ask. “You don’t want to know,” patron number one would say. The two would look at each other for a moment, and just stand there, awkwardly. Meanwhile, inside the restroom, I’d given up on trying to get the zipper zipped up like it belonged. I mustered my courage and checked the mirror to make sure I had my most nonchalant face on. And out of the restroom I strode, keeping that I-couldn’t-care-less look on my face and staring straight ahead to my table.
Patron number one wasn’t buying it. He looked at me like perhaps he might have seen me on a police registration somewhere. I got back to our table and told my wife what the problem was. “What are you going to do?” she asked. “You’re going to fix it,” I said. “Here?” I didn’t know whether she was thinking that I was asking her to fix my zipper at the table or if we were going to go into a restroom together. “No,” I told her, while her head was beginning to spin, “we’re going to fix it in the car.” “Just how do you propose to do that?” she asked. I had a plan. We left the restaurant and walked down the sidewalk, all the while I’m praying that some kid won’t stop and point at me and yell, “Hey! XYZ Mister!” for all to hear. Or that some mom would cover the eyes of her daughters because
the odd little man walking down the sidewalk had a stuck zipper in the “down” position. We got to the car without obvious incident. My car: it is a Miata, a small sports car, and it’s pretty tight inside. Yes, my wife could have sat in her seat and I could have sat in my seat, but she would have had to lean over and bend down to fix the zipper… we do have windows in the car and I could readily see that people would instantly get the wrong idea of what was happening inside the car. “What’s your plan?” my wife asked, obviously thinking to herself, “This isn’t going to be good.” “I’m going to hand you my shorts and you’re going to fix the zipper,” I told her. “That’s not going to be easy,” she said. When she’s right, she’s right. I struggled to get out of the shorts, all the while hoping someone wouldn’t come up to the window and ask me why I was sitting there in my underwear — we were parked at the edge of the ballfield across the from the little park, with the back of the car toward the street, and people were walking on the sidewalk right behind us — and Sodus Point was crowded that night, so many people waiting for the parade to start. Lots of people were passing by the back of the car; in fact, some were standing right behind it, and just to the one side. The shorts didn’t come off without a fight. I had to get the belt off first, and I got a leg cramp trying to twist and turn and gyrate to loosen the shorts and slide them off me, but finally, I handed them to my wife. She fixed the zipper in 10 seconds and handed the shorts back to me. She had that look on her face. “You know,” she said, “if you’re not careful, you’re going to spread the zipper and get it stuck again.” I looked at her. “Can we have some good news in this car tonight?” I asked. So I was careful. I got the shorts on, but I had to get out of the car to fasten the belt, keeping my back to the people standing behind us. All straightened out and zippered up, I asked my wife how I looked. “Like the man I married,” she said.
Welcome to The Woodlands. Distinctive Senior Living. Community. A unique retirement community featuring luxurious one and two bedroom apartments with open floor plans, modern kitchens and multiple layouts. Meet with friends at our restaurant for a chef-prepared meal. Participate in activities and enjoy time with neighbors on the patio or in our fireside lounges. Flexibility. Amenities are designed to be tailored to your needs. Choose from flexible meal packages, housekeeping options, in-home support services and benefit from priority consideration to our continuum of care. Vitality. Located in the picturesque, tree-lined StoneBrook community in Fairport, The Woodlands is close to Perinton Square Plaza, Wegmans, Eastview Mall and more. Explore the neighborhood, discover a new interest or stroll through the nearby nature trails.
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long-term care By Susan Suben
An Unexpected Pot of Gold! Life settlement is becoming a popular estate and long-term care planning strategy
hat would you do if you found out you had thousands of dollars available to you that you never knew about? Buy a new car? Take your grandkids on a trip to Disney? Pay off your mortgage? Would you be surprised if I told you that all of these wishes could come true? The life insurance policy that you have been paying premiums on all these years, and perhaps no longer need, can bring you money while youâ€™re still alive to give you a better quality of life, more enjoyment and peace of mind. You can sell your life insurance policy to a third party for a sum greater than the cash value, the amount you would receive if you canceled the policy, but less than the death benefit. This third party will become the owner of your policy, continue to pay your premiums and collect the death benefit when you die. This is known as a life settlement, which is becoming a popular estate and long-term care planning strategy as individuals live longer and need access to more income for living expenses or funds to pay for home care or nursing home care. The life settlement carriers usually purchase policies from individuals over the age of 65 who have a permanent (universal or whole life policy) or convertible term policy with a minimal face value (death benefit) of $100,000. When you first bought your life insurance policy you were probably healthy and young. The life settlement companies are generally looking for clients who are older and not as healthy. They would ideally like to
55 PLUS - September / October 2018
pay premiums on your policy for 10 years or a bit longer. The value of your policy is determined by the cost to the life settlement provider to keep your policy in force based upon your life expectancy. An actual mathematical analysis is used to help the provider determine what their return would be if they purchase your policy. Typically, you can expect to receive up to 30 percent of the death benefit. The life settlement industry was under-regulated for quite some time which made individuals and their attorneys/financial advisers shy away from this type of planning strategy. Today, many life settlement agents are life insurance agents so they have a better understanding of life policies, and life settlement providers must adhere to state regulations and provide consumer disclosures. Providers are required to tell consumers about tax risks and alternative solutions to a life settlement. They must also disclose how an agent or broker is compensated. However, even with all of these regulations, it is still extremely important to work with a reputable company and read through your agreement. Life settlements remain a complicated transaction and should be entered into fully educated. The transaction process takes about four months and consists of an application, document disclosure (your medical records; an illustration on the policy you would like to sell) and life expectancy reports. Once this information is reviewed, an offer will be made to you that you can choose to accept or not. You would be under no obligation. If you do accept, a closing packet will be sent to you that will contain a change of ownership, the
actual contract and other documentation. Once this packet has been executed, the funds from your life policy will be transferred to you. Note that any proceeds from your life insurance policy are income tax free up to the cost basis. Life settlement funds are taxable if they exceed the sum of all premiums paid into the policy. There are pros and cons to every retirement planning strategy. If you no longer need your policy, want to supplement your retirement income, repair your home, take a trip, set up college savings accounts for your grandkids, pay off your mortgage, or have a nest egg for long-term care, selling your life insurance policy might be a very worthwhile transaction to do. If you are planning to apply for Medicaid or if selling your life insurance policy would have negative tax consequences, it may be wise to forgo this planning strategy and keep your policy so that your beneficiaries receive the death benefit tax-free. Think about this. If you no longer need your policy to pay off debt and you are not concerned about leaving the death benefit to your heirs, why not profit from your policy while you are still alive? With a life settlement you can have some return on your policy now in order to have extra funds to do the things you want to do, and feel more financially secure about your future.
Susan Suben, a certified senior adviser, is president of Long Term Care Associates, Inc. and Elder Care Planning. She is a consultant for Canandaigua National Bank & Trust Company and can be reached at 800-422-2655 or by email at email@example.com.
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47 12/8/16 3:42
q&a Jean York, 94 55+
By Ernst Lamothe Jr.
Rochester woman served as a military nurse during the war collecting more than 70 different military patches from soldiers she helped Q: How did your nursing career begin? A: I got into the U.S. Cadet Nursing Corps in 1943 at Middletown State where I studied psychiatrics. As a young girl, I would travel with my father, Clarence, who was a veterinarian. Depending on where the call was, my father would take me with him. I thought it would be nice to do something like that someday. There was something about helping people. I started doing medical, surgical, and obstetrics training at Fordham Hospital in New York City. When it came to getting into the nursing field, it was just something you did in war time as one of our options. There were not many choices for women to better ourselves. After I graduated, I went to Rhodes General Hospital in Utica and I was just 21 years old caring for wounded service members. The patients from the Japanese prison camps were some of the worst cases I saw. It was difficult but I just really enjoyed helping others so this was something that I was meant to do. Q:How did you wind up in Rochester? A: After the war ended, I married my high school sweetheart, Donald, who was in the Navy. I got married in 1945. We met in history class and he was a little bit older than me and then he went off to college. He had to go to war because that was just the way life worked back them. He flew blimps in the war. We had three great kids. We did so much travelling. I lived in California, New Jersey and we eventually made our way to Rochester. We came to Rochester in 1960 and we have been here ever since. Later in life, I worked at Highland and St. Mary’s in the neonatal intensive care unit for 25 years. 48
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Q: Tell the story about how you got all those patches. A: I don’t know how it started. All of a sudden I just started talking to patients and asking them if I could have their patches. I was getting them from so many places and I have more than 70. I have patches from Persia, Africa, Alaskan patches and others. They are all so very different and beautiful. It is interesting distingusing one from another. Talking to the soliders helped me to get to know them and their lives. Each patch has a person’s personal story because most soliders are a quiet group. They weren’t the kind of people who talked about their injuries or what was going on during the war. They were here because they were injured and we were a rehabilitation hospital. They were in so much pain and it helped just to be able to talk with them for a little while. I just saw the patches as beautiful and it really helped me connect to the soliders. I didn’t expect to collect this many. Q: What do you enjoy about the Rochester and Upstate New York area? A: I just think it is beautiful here. You have great looking
buildings and a strong community. If you like sports, there are a ton here. I enjoy the libraries and there are great nature hikes and nature clubs. I like looking at the different birds you find in this area. It is just a nice place to live. Q: What do you enjoy doing to relax? A: One of my favorite things is gardening. It is so relaxing. There are so many different types of plants that I am interested in. I learned a lot about gardening through “Victory Gardens” which was the name of a television show that I used to watch. I am part of the Green Thumb Society at St John’s Home. There are so many great people I have met at St. John’s and really makes you feel like you are part of a community. It is just something that I have always loved. Q: What do you believe is the reason for your longevity in life? A: I never cared to smoke or drink. But I still had fun in life. One time, my friend and I stuffed our bunks with pillows and snuck out of the army base to go dancing. I took the train from Utica to New York City and we were back before morning. We were tired the next day, but we didn’t get caught. We just decided we wanted to kick up our heels for the night.
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I’m ready to live. That’s why I’m making the move to Chapel Oaks—while I’m still young enough to enjoy the pool, the fitness center, the excursions, dining, entertainment and all the friendly people. Lots of people my age want to slow down. Not me, I’m just getting started.
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