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Can you expand your brain?

Memory loss isn’t inevitable Whereas memory specialists have long concentrated on the physiological elements of the brain, the centers will move to improve the brain’s functioning by treating the lifestyle — eating, sleeping, exercising — of the individual to whom the brain belongs. “Slowing of memory and memory loss is a common occurrence as we age,” said Fotuhi, a Harvard Medical School graduate who got his Ph.D. in neurology from Johns Hopkins University. “But it doesn’t have to happen,” he said. “Through physical and mental activities, people can keep their brain and memory in good shape and ward off Alzheimer’s.” A recent article in AARP magazine noted that “a mounting stack of studies suggests that the condition of the body somehow affects the condition of the

DECEMBER 2013

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PHOTO BY CHIRSTOPHER MEYERS

By Robert Friedman “Just because your brain can’t hop on a treadmill doesn’t mean it can’t exercise,” said Dr. Majid Fotuhi, chief medical officer of the NeurExpand Brain Centers in Lutherville and a recently opened center in Columbia. The centers, which Fotuhi heads, treat “anyone who has concerns about memory and brain functions,” he said. “Our memory makes us who we are. It shapes the kind of life we live.” Fotuhi, a Baltimore-based neurologist, is fast becoming recognized by experts, from Dr. Mehmet Oz to RealAge author Dr. Michael Roizen, as being on the cutting edge of treating brain and memory problems. Fotuhi also plans for another center next year in Chevy Chase. Executives of the company that has been formed to run the brain centers have set a goal to open some 100 centers around the country in the next five years, according to the Baltimore Business Journal. “What this [center] is designed to do is to focus on what you can do to make your brain stronger and improve your memory,” said David Abramson, who helped put together the new company. He said that he sees a significant business opportunity among the millions of aging baby boomers concerned about their brain functions.

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Voluntourism makes for the trip of a lifetime; plus, how to rent a car and drive it in Europe page 25

Majid Fotuhi, chief medical officer of NeurExpand Brain Centers, examines an MRI of the brain. The centers help patients with memory problems by working to increase brain size through lifestyle improvements, memory exercises and biofeedback.

brain…Being obese quadruples the risk of [Alzheimer’s]. Diabetes can speed up brain shrinkage, as can high blood pressure,” as well as sleep apnea, depression and everyday stress. Depression, which used to be treated almost exclusively by psychiatrists going into mental histories and prescribing drugs, can now be greatly relieved, according to mental health specialists, through a change in lifestyle — especially increased exercise. And Fotuhi said not only could memory loss be averted, it could also improve through a 12-week, individualized program devised at the center and meant to grow the brain. “The best remedy for late-life Alzheimer’s

disease is mid-life intervention,” he said. While the program costs several thousand dollars, “all our testing and treatment protocols are covered by Medicare and major insurances,” Fotuhi said. “Patients do not need to have a major neurological disease to qualify.”

ARTS & STYLE

A new Baltimore poet finds her voice; plus, theater and music highlight the holiday season page 30

FITNESS & HEALTH k Bacteria that may fight fat k Raising a toast to grape juice

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Fighting brain shrinkage The treatment aims to expand the hippocampus, the portion of the brain deep within the temporal lobes that controls short-term memory and determines which remembrances are stored longterm. It’s the hippocampus that “makes See BETTER BRAIN, page 6

LAW & MONEY k Finding lost savings bonds k Obamacare scams

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VOLUNTEERS & CAREERS k Turning vets’ lives around

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DECEMBER 2013 — BALTIMORE BEACON

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Imperfect harmony You know how it is that sometimes a different gentleman who often attends something very ordinary strikes you as the same service cannot carry a tune. I have learned to tune out his meaningful in a new way? near misses on those occaFor example, I attend Sabsions when he chooses to bath services every week at a sing along. synagogue near my home. But this new fellow was difThere are a number of places ferent. He didn’t have any trouin the service where everyble keeping to his key. He was one is expected to sing along or sing in response. dead on — just in a different Normally, at these times, I key from everyone else, and it hear mostly my own voice in wasn’t a key that harmonized. my head. But if I stop singing He even had a nice voice. and listen for a moment, I can FROM THE He probably was well aware hear the whole room singing PUBLISHER of that, too, as he continued as if it were a symphony. By Stuart P. Rosenthal to sing quite loudly and clearThere are the lady sopraly in his own personal key, nos (with a diva or two), some altos, the every single note clashing against the othmale tenors and baritones, an occasional ers in the room, grating on my nerves. bass. All blend, usually, into a nice, rich In the sanctuary as a whole, his dissotone, at least when the tune being led is a nance was probably negligible. In fact, I familiar one. may have been the only person aware of it. For some reason, though, it continued But the other day, I was aware not of a symphony, but of a cacophony. A fellow sit- to occupy me long after the song was over. ting near me, apparently a visitor or new- (Yes, I daydream in synagogue. Somecomer, had begun to sing loudly right at times.) the start of the song — but at a note or two So I kept thinking: Why did this fellow, lower than the leader and, to my mind, the who evidently was quite musical, not realize that he was out of sync with everyone else? rest of us in the room. Or did he realize it and not care? Was Now, I happen to be used to the fact that

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The Beacon is a monthly newspaper dedicated to inform, serve, and entertain the citizens of the Greater Baltimore area, and is privately owned. Other editions serve Howard County, Md., Greater Washington DC and Greater Palm Springs, Calif. Subscriptions are available via third-class mail ($12), prepaid with order. Maryland residents add 6 percent for sales tax. Send subscription order to the office listed below. Publication of advertising contained herein does not necessarily constitute endorsement. Signed columns represent the opinions of the writers, and not necessarily the opinion of the publisher. • Publisher/Editor ....................Stuart P. Rosenthal • Associate Publisher..............Judith K. Rosenthal • Vice President, Operations........Gordon Hasenei • Director of Sales ................................Alan Spiegel • Assistant Operations Manager ..........Roger King • Managing Editor............................Barbara Ruben • Contributing Editor ..........................Carol Sorgen • Graphic Designer ..............................Kyle Gregory • Advertising Representatives ............Steve Levin, ........................................................................Jill Joseph • Publishing Assistant ....................Rebekah Sewell

The Beacon, P.O. Box 2227, Silver Spring, MD 20915 (410) 248-9101 • Email: info@thebeaconnewspapers.com Submissions: The Beacon welcomes reader contributions. Deadline for editorial is the 1st of the month preceding the month of publication. Deadline for ads is the 1st of the month preceding the month of publication. See page 35 for classified advertising details. Please mail or email all submissions. © Copyright 2013 The Beacon Newspapers, Inc.

he, perhaps, trying to make a statement? Did he think that, somehow, he was singing in the “right key” and everyone else was wrong? Was he listening so intently to his own voice that he remained truly unaware of the dissonance he was causing? Or did he view the clashing notes as a problem created by others, not himself? I have no idea who the fellow was or what, if anything, he was thinking. But I couldn’t help but see the whole experience as a metaphor of sorts — for human differences in personality, political beliefs, lifestyles and the like. Most of us are content to play our role in society and to focus for the most part on ourselves, with some secondary attention to those around us and to society as a whole. We prefer to do the work, or sing the part, that comes most naturally to us. (Perhaps that’s because when we must strain to reach beyond our register, our voices become “falsetto.”) Then there are some whose song/personality/belief is a bit different. It sounds to the rest of us like it’s off-key, or as if those people can’t carry the tune the way most of us can. But they’re singing along just the same, eager to participate in their way, and we generally respect that. But it can be harder to deal with those who, knowingly and unabashedly, insist on singing loudly in a different key altogether

— a key, in fact, that creates dissonance with the song the vast majority of us sing. Now, it’s interesting to realize that, were we to listen to this other song on its own, we might well think it is a perfectly fine song, as melodic as any other. It only produces dissonance when it’s sung a half-tone or so differently from the song others sing. (After all, it takes two to make a dissonance.) If yet more people start to pick up the same “off” melody, the resulting “dischord” can grow even more noticeable for awhile. But in some cases, so many others adopt the new melody that it can supercede the first one. We hear a lot nowadays about our diversity in culture, our conflicting political parties, and the split in opinions that deeply divide us. These are not subtle differences, and they can tear apart a family, an institution, even a government. Yet, on some level, we are all just trying to sing our song — sometimes following the notes, sometimes riffing on the melody, other times purposely belting out something completely different. It’s all just part of what it means to be a free human being, a member of the chorus, each with our own unique voice.

Letters to the editor Readers are encouraged to share their opinion on any matter addressed in the Beacon as well as on political and social issues of the day. Mail your Letter to the Editor to The Beacon, P.O. Box 2227, Silver Spring, MD 20915, or e-mail to barbara@thebeaconnewspapers.com. Please include your name, address and telephone number for verification. Dear Editor: Your September issue contained a travel guide to Myrtle Beach, S.C. Since I was planning a trip there, I read the article carefully. When I arrived, I was amazed at how many restaurants were available. However, for our last dinner, my friend and I ordered a carry-out dinner from Mr. Fish, one of the two places mentioned in the article. Wow! It was delicious, plentiful and a real bargain. My friend commented that

we should have eaten there when we first came because we would have had more meals there. When I picked up my meal, I told the cashier that Mr. Fish had been mentioned in your publication. He immediately called over the owner, with whom I had a lovely chat. Love your magazine, by the way. You have many informative articles. Grace Planalp Randallstown

BEACON BITS

Ongoing

MATISSE’S MARGUERITE

The Baltimore Museum of Art is presenting a special exhibition of prints, drawings, paintings and sculptures that provide a fascinating glimpse of Henri Matisse’s relationship with his only daughter, Marguerite. On view through Jan. 19, “Matisse’s Marguerite: Model Daughter” brings together more than 40 works from the BMA and other public and private collections to show Marguerite over the course of 45 years. Matisse made more portraits of his daughter than of all the other members of his family combined. The museum is located at 10 Art Museum Dr. For more information, visit www.artbma.org or call (443) 573-1700. Admission to the Museum is free.


BALTIMORE BEACON — DECEMBER 2013

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Health Fitness &

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RAISE A TOAST TO GRAPE JUICE In some ways, grape juice may provide more health benefits than red wine HIGH-DOSE FLU SHOTS The high-dose vaccine for seniors works better than the standard shot SCANS FOR SMOKERS Heavy smokers need yearly CT scans to help detect lung cancer earlier DRUG MUGGERS Many medicines can rob your body of essential nutrients. What you can do

The right bacteria might help fight obesity By Lauran Neergaard Call it a hidden ally: The right germs just might be able to help fight fat. Different kinds of bacteria that live inside the gut can help spur obesity or protect against it, say scientists at Washington University in St. Louis who transplanted intestinal germs from fat or lean people into mice and watched the rodents change. And what they ate determined whether the good germs could move in and do their job. The report in the journal Science raises the possibility of one day turning gut bacteria into personalized fat-fighting therapies, and it may help explain why some people have a harder time losing weight than others do. “It’s an important player,’’ said Dr. David Relman of Stanford University, who also studies how gut bacteria influence health but wasn’t involved in the new research. “This paper says that diet and microbes are necessary companions in all of this. They literally and figuratively feed each other.’’

Our intestines differ We all develop with an essentially sterile digestive tract. Bacteria rapidly move in starting at birth — bugs that we pick up from

mom and dad, the environment, first foods. Ultimately, the intestine teems with hundreds of species, populations that differ in people with varying health. Overweight people harbor different types and amounts of gut bacteria than lean people, for example. The gut bacteria we pick up as children can stick with us for decades, although their makeup changes when people lose weight, previous studies have shown. Clearly, what you eat and how much you move are key to how much you weigh. But are those bacterial differences a contributing cause of obesity, rather than simply the result of it? If so, which bugs are to blame, and might it be possible to switch out the bad actors? To start finding out, Washington University graduate student Vanessa Ridaura took gut bacteria from eight people — four pairs of twins that each included one obese sibling and one lean sibling. One pair of twins was identical, ruling out an inherited explanation for their different weights. Using twins also guaranteed similar childhood environments and diets. She transplanted the human microbes into the intestines of young mice that had been raised germ-free.

Some surprising findings The mice who received gut bacteria from the obese people gained more weight — and experienced unhealthy metabolic changes — even though they didn’t eat more than the mice who received germs from the lean twins, said study senior author Dr. Jeffrey Gordon, director of Washington University’s Center of Genome Sciences and Systems Biology. Then came what Gordon calls the battle of the microbes. Mice that harbored gut bacteria from a lean person were put in the same cages as mice that harbored the obesity-prone germs. The research team took advantage of an icky fact of rodent life: Mice eat feces, so presumably they could easily swap intestinal bugs. What happened was a surprise. Certain bacteria from the lean mice invaded the intestines of the fatter mice, and their weight and metabolism improved. But the trade was one-way — the lean mice weren’t adversely affected. However, the fatter mice got the bacterial benefit only when they were fed a lowfat, high-fiber diet. When Ridaura substituted the higher-fat, lower-fiber diet typical of Americans, the protective bug swap didn’t occur.

Why? Gordon already knew from human studies that obese people harbor less diverse gut bacteria. “It was almost as if there were potential job vacancies’’ in their intestines that the lean don’t have, he explained. Sure enough, a closer look at the mice that benefited from the bug swap suggests a specific type of bacteria, from a family named Bacteroidetes, moved into previously unoccupied niches in their colons — if the rodents ate right. How might those findings translate to people? For a particularly hard-to-treat diarrheal infection, doctors sometimes transplant stool from a healthy person into the sick person’s intestine. Some scientists wonder if fecal transplants from the lean to the fat might treat obesity, too. But Gordon foresees a less invasive alternative: Determining the best combinations of intestinal bacteria to match a person’s diet, and then growing those bugs in sterile lab dishes — like this study could — and turning them into pills. He estimates such an attempt would take at least five more years of research. — AP

Is it viral or bacterial? New test may tell By Lauran Neergaard It happens too often: A doctor isn’t sure what’s causing someone’s feverish illness but prescribes antibiotics just in case — drugs that won’t work if a virus is the real culprit. Now Duke University researchers are developing a blood test to more easily tell when a respiratory illness is due to a virus and not a bacterial infection, hoping to cut the dangerous overuse of antibiotics and speed the right diagnosis. It works by taking a fingerprint of your immune system — how its genes are revving up to fight the bug. That’s very different from how infections are diagnosed today. And if the experimental test pans out, it also promises to help doctors track brand-new threats, like the next flu pandemic or that mysterious MERS virus that has erupted in the Middle East.

That viral “signature could be quite powerful and may be a game-changer,’’ said Dr. Geoffrey Ginsburg, Duke’s genomic medicine chief. He leads the team that recently reported on a study that provided early evidence the test can work. Today, when symptoms alone aren’t enough for diagnosis, a doctor’s suspicion guides what tests are performed — tests that work by hunting for evidence of a specific pathogen. Fever and cough? If it’s flu season, you might be tested for the flu virus. An awful sore throat? Chances are you’ll get checked for strep bacteria. A negative test can leave the doctor wondering what germ to check for next, or whether to make a best guess. Moreover, rapid in-the-office tests aren’t always accurate and can miss infections. So patients may have blood or other sam-

ples sent to labs to try to grow any lurking bacteria and tell if it’s to blame — additional testing that can take days. “This is something we struggle with every day,’’ said Dr. Octavio Ramilo, infectious disease chief at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, who wasn’t involved in the new study. Particularly with children, a respiratory virus and a bacterial infection “in the beginning look completely alike,’’ he added.

Hints from our immune systems Hence researchers at a number of universities are trying to harness a fairly recent discovery: As your immune system detects an invading bug, different genes are activated to fend off a viral infection than to fight a bacterial or fungal one. Those subtle molecular changes appear to be occurring even before you feel any

symptoms. And they form distinct patterns of RNA and proteins — what’s called a genomic fingerprint. The Duke team discovered 30 genes that are switched on in different ways during a viral attack. The test essentially is a freeze-frame to show “what those genes are doing at the moment in time that it’s captured,’’ explained Duke lead researcher Dr. Aimee Zaas, an infectious disease specialist. Small studies spotted that viral signature in people who volunteered to be infected with different influenza strains for science. For a more real-world simulation, the researchers then analyzed blood samples stored from 102 feverish people who had come to the emergency room — and who See VIRUS TEST, page 5


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DECEMBER 2013 — BALTIMORE BEACON

A toast to benefits of red wine, grape juice The buzz about the benefits of red wine has many of us drinking a glass to good health. And for those who choose not to imbibe, it turns out the booze behind the buzz may not be necessary. Grape juice and dealcoholized wine can offer similar benefits. Studies show that a daily glass or two of red wine may lower the risk of heart disease. While alcohol content may be partially responsible for wine’s ability to relax blood vessels and increase levels of “good” (HDL) cholesterol, the hearty concentration of

flavonoid compounds, such as anthocyanin, catechins and resveratrol, play their own role in heart health by boosting antioxidants. It comes as no surprise that purple grape juice — essentially unfermented red wine — boasts flavonoid compounds, as well. Grape flavonoids seem to have similar protective effects in juice as they have in wine. Studies show that these compounds help prevent the oxidation of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol that leads to plaque formation

and build-up inside artery walls. According to a study in the journal Circulation, when 15 patients with cardiovascular disease were given a glass of grape juice each day for two weeks, their LDL oxidation was significantly reduced and blood flowed more freely through the arteries. And according to preliminary research in a 2007 Cardiovascular Research study, grape juice stimulated the production of nitric acid in cells lining the arteries, which allows for improved blood flow.

Grape juice better in some ways The flavonoid content in grape juice was shown to be similar to that of red wine. In addition, a study in the Journal of Biomedical Biotechnology found that one member of the flavonoid family in particular — anthocyanins — were better absorbed from grape juice than from red wine. The researchers believe the higher natural sugar content of grape juice may aid absorption. Furthermore, the absence of alcohol may boost the amount of time these antioxidant compounds stay in the body, according to findings reported in the January 2000 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. When volunteers were given red wine and then a de-alcoholized version of the

same red wine, catechin flavonoids remained in the blood more than four hours in the volunteers who drank the nonalcoholic wine, but just over three hours in those who drank the wine with alcohol.

But red wine has resveratrol Red wine comes out on top, however, when it comes to resveratrol, which has been linked with preventing heart disease and cancer in preliminary studies. Resveratrol is extracted from the skins of the grapes during the fermentation phase of winemaking, which doesn’t occur in grape juice. Both red wine and grape juice can, in moderation, be a healthy addition to a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutritious foods. Treat yourself to no more than one glass of wine a day for women and two for men. Or, enjoy a four-ounce glass of grape juice a day — be sure to scan labels for 100 percent juices with no added sugars. Reprinted with permission from Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of Belvoir Media Group, LLC. 1-800-8295384. Www.Environmentalnutrition.Com. © 2013 Belvoir Media Group. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

BEACON BITS

Nov. 27

HOW TO BE ACTIVE EVERY DAY Attend this discussion at the Seven Oaks Senior Center on how

to find more opportunities to be active, as well as exploring the benefits of walking and creating an activity plan on Wednesday, Nov. 27 at 10:45 a.m. The center is located at 9210 Seven Courts Dr. Sign up at the front desk if you plan to attend. For more information, call (410) 887-5192.

APARTMENT HOMES FOR ACTIVE ADULTS 62 OR BETTER Regency Crest is an extraordinarily carefree community because of the convenient lifestyle enjoyed by those who live here. We go the extra mile to provide our residents with distinctive amenities and service that cannot be found in ordinary active adult communities. COMMUNITY AMENITIES • Beautiful club room with theatre and demonstration kitchen • Salon • Indoor saltwater pool • Yoga studio & classes • Bingo, and many more planned activities • Movie theatre & Billiards room • Business center – 24 hours • Incredible courtyard and meditation garden with koi pond and gazebo • Guest suites PLANNED ACTIVITIES SUCH AS WATER AEROBICS, RESIDENT MIXERS, COOKING CLASSES, ZUMBA, MOVIE NIGHTS, BBQ’S AND MANY MORE!

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Why would a doctor want to know merely that a virus is present and not which virus? That’s enough information to rule out antibiotics, Zaas said. Unnecessary antibiotic use is one factor in the growing prob-

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were eventually diagnosed, the old-fashioned way, with either some type of virus or a bacterial infection. The genomic test proved 89 percent accurate in sorting out who had a virus, and did even better at ruling out those who didn’t, Zaas reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine. It took 12 hours to get results. The researchers hope to speed that up so that it might work as quickly as some in-office tests. Still, “it’s a promising tool,’’ said Ramilo, an Ohio State University professor who is doing similar research. He called the Duke study an important step toward creating a commercial test, and predicts one might reach the market within five years.

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lem of drug-resistant germs, which the government blames for more than 23,000 deaths a year. Plus, if a dangerous new virus begins spreading, like MERS, this approach could help avoid quarantining people unnecessarily by telling right away which ones are virus-free, Ginsburg added. In Ohio, Ramilo is exploring a more immediate need: When young infants have high fevers, they’re often hospitalized while doctors run a battery of tests to find the fraction who have a serious bacterial infection. He is leading a study involving 22 pediatric emergency rooms to see if a genomic fingerprint approach could separate which babies really need all that testing. But the virus-or-not question is just the beginning, Ramilo said. His research suggests genomic fingerprints also can distinguish a flu strain from other common viruses. And the Duke team is analyzing a huge study of students living in dormitories, to see if the genomic test detected who was incubating the flu before their first sniffle — and thus might be useful in stemming outbreaks. — AP

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Better brain From page 1 you, you,” said the 51-year-old Fotuhi. It’s also the part of the brain that shrinks with age more than any other. “When you get older, the hippocampus has a tendency

to shrink, usually .5 percent each year after 50, which would mean shrinkage of 10 percent in 20 years,” said Fotuhi. And the size of your hippocampus matters. “Changes in its size bring noticeable changes in a person’s memory and cognitive function,” he said. When it comes to peak brain

We specialize in short-term rehabilitation and long-term relationships. Mary came to ManorCare Health Service – Woodbridge Valley debilitated from an infection. Mary couldn’t even get out of bed!

DECEMBER 2013 — BALTIMORE BEACON

performance, bigger is undeniably better. But can natural shrinkage with age be reversed? Yes, Fotuhi said. He pointed to research published a few years ago in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in which one group of seniors did stretching exercises, while another group walked 45 minutes four days a week, both for a year. MRIs showed that while areas of the hippocampus in the stretchers shrank by about 1.5 percent during that period, those of the walkers increased by about 2 percent, “effectively reversing age-related loss in volume by 1 to 2 years,” the researchers said. Furthermore, the increased brain volume was associated with improved memory function and oxygen consumption in the walkers compared with the stretchers. In a book published in 2008, Fotuhi suggested that a great workout for the brain would be doing the New York Times crossword puzzle daily. He has also recommended that older adults put on their dancing shoes. Dancing is the perfect activity to keep the brain young, Fotuhi said. He told CNN that he began ballroom dancing when he was a student at Harvard Medical School, and that he and his wife Bita have mastered the tango. Dancing, crossword puzzles and other lifestyle changes may sound simple, but they’re based on sound science, Roizen said in an interview. “I think that what Dr. Fotuhi is recom-

didn’tknow know She told us ‘Ididn’t what to expect. I’ve never been hospitalized.’

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Fotuhi stressed that his 12-week program is not in any way akin to the “miracle” cures promised on TV infomercials for various health concerns. Rather, it is an individualized treatment plan with proven results. “I take pride in the fact that 90.6 percent of the patients who have gone through this

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mending is something that helps you expand your current brain power. Whether exercise or memory games, his treatment is at the forefront of medicine,” said Roizen, who heads the Wellness Clinic at the Cleveland Clinic and wrote the introduction to Fotuhi’s newest book, published in September. In the book, Boost Your Brain: The New Art + Science Behind Enhanced Brain Performance, Fotuhi calls the hippocampus “the gateway for new memories and essential for learning; as such, it is a major player in the quest for a bigger, stronger brain.” Look at the hippocampus as if it were the brain’s librarian, Fotuhi suggests in Boost Your Brain. “It processes all new information and decides what to keep and what to discard....The good stuff — that which the hippocampus deems storageworthy — is sent to various parts of the cortex for long-term storage.” What is deemed forgettable may be held for a short-time, then is tossed.

Charlestown: 1-800-989-6854 Oak Crest: 1-800-339-9326

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BALTIMORE BEACON — DECEMBER 2013

Health Shorts High-dose flu shot protects better A new high-dose flu vaccine for seniors works better than the standard shot in that age group, according to a long-awaited study by the vaccine’s manufacturer. Experts say regular flu shots tend to be only about 30 to 40 percent effective in

Better brain From page 6

people 65 and older, who generally have weaker immune systems. Sanofi Pasteur’s Fluzone High-Dose vaccine boosted effectiveness to 50 percent. “I wouldn’t call it great,” said Dr. Edward Belongia of the Wisconsin-based Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, a flu vaccine researcher who was not involved in the Sanofi study. But any improvement is welcome, and the results could mean fewer illnesses — and, hopefully, hospitalizations and deaths — in seniors, he said. For other ages, effectiveness can run 60

percent or higher for the regular vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration licensed the higher-dose Sanofi vaccine in late 2009, based on a study that showed it led to higher levels of flu-fighting antibodies in seniors a month after vaccination. The new study is the first to measure how much protection it actually provides against the flu. The study involved 32,000 seniors in the U.S. and Canada during the last two flu seasons. Half got a regular flu shot and half got the high-dose version. Researchers called the participants to see if they had flu symptoms or were hospitalized; tests to confirm

the flu were done in more than half of the people reporting symptoms. The high-dose shot was 24 percent more effective than the regular shot at preventing flu, against all strains, the company said. Sanofi has the only high-dose flu shot for seniors on the market. It was used last year in 1 in 5 seniors who got vaccinated, according to Sanofi. The $27 per dose cost is more than twice the $12 for the company’s older version. But Medicare pays for

Patients meet with a “brain coach” who helps them with tasks to boost memory, including memorizing a list of random items. Neurofeedback therapy — biofeedback applied to the brain using EEG — is also part of the program. Some patients, such as those who had a concussion in the past, require more training than others to enhance their brain function and are offered cognitive training. Stress reduction strategies and meditation are also offered as ways to improve memory and increase brain size. Treatments for sleep disorders and apnea are also available. In Boost Your Brain, Fotuhi said that “with a greater understanding of how to stave off brain atrophy, it’s likely that just as we have experienced an increase in lifespan over the

past century, we will see an increase in our ‘brain span’ — the portion of our lives that we live in peak cognitive condition. “Memory, creativity, mental agility — our ability to respond quickly or ‘connect

the dots’ — all can be improved with a bigger brain,” Fotuhi said. For more information on the NeurExpand Brain Center, call (410) 494-0191 or visit www.NeurExpand.com/BeaconBalt.

See HEALTH SHORTS, page 9

E M ! CO U E YO W TO

program have significant improvement of their memories,” he said. ”The one-size-fits-all approach does not work, and we need to assess each person’s current brain health and make a plan with that in mind,” he said. The plan starts with a doctor visit and extensive testing. Among other things, the participants give their health history, get bloodflow exams, physical stress tests and mental memory tests. An EEG (electroencephalography) checks out brain-wave function. After physical and mental habits are assessed, the doctor explains how to immediately embark upon a drug-free personalized treatment program.

7

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DECEMBER 2013 — BALTIMORE BEACON

Target Pharmacy has you covered. Members of AARP® MedicareRx plans, insured through UnitedHealthcare,® could save on Medicare prescription copays at Target Pharmacy. For more information, visit www.UHCPreferredPharmacyNetwork.com/Target.

Additional Medicare plans are also accepted. See pharmacy for details. Plan is insured or covered by UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company or one of its affiliates, a Medicare-approved Part D sponsor. UnitedHealthcare pays a royalty fee to AARP. These fees are used for the general purposes of AARP. ©2013 Target Stores. Target and the Bullseye Design are registered trademarks of Target Brands, Inc. All rights reserved. 483404 Y0066_PDPSPRJ14842 _000 IR


BALTIMORE BEACON — DECEMBER 2013

Health Shorts From page 7 both, and Sanofi executives say they don’t think cost is a significant deterrent. Instead, they believe doctors have been holding off until they saw real-world effectiveness studies.

Small 2014 Social Security increase Social Security benefits for nearly 58 million people will increase by only 1.5 percent next year, the government announced in late October. Social Security pays retired workers an average of $1,272 a month. A 1.5 percent raise comes to about $19. The annual cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, is based on a government measure of inflation. It is small because consumer prices haven’t gone up much in the past year. The increase is among the smallest since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975. This year’s increase was 1.7 percent. There was no COLA in 2010 or 2011 because inflation was too low. The COLA affects benefits for more than one-fifth of the country. In addition to Social Security payments, it affects benefits for millions of disabled veterans, federal retirees, and people who get Supplemental Security Income, the disability program for the poor.

The amount of wages subject to Social Security withholding is also rising. Social Security is funded by a 12.4 percent tax on the first $113,700 in wages earned by a worker, with half paid by employers and the other half withheld from workers’ pay. The wage threshold will increase to $117,000 next year, the Social Security Administration said. Wages above the threshold are not subject to Social Security taxes. In some years, part of the COLA has been erased by an increase in Medicare Part B premiums, which are deducted automatically from Social Security payments. But Medicare announced in October that Part B premiums, which cover doctor visits, will stay the same in 2014, at $104.90 a month for most seniors. (Premiums are much higher for those with high incomes.)

Medical implants will soon carry tracking codes Federal health regulators will begin tracking millions of medical devices, from pacemakers to hip replacements, using a new electronic system designed to protect patients by catching problematic implants earlier. The Food and Drug Administration published new rules in September that require most medical devices sold in the U.S. to carry a unique code — identifying its

Say you saw it in the Beacon | Fitness & Health

make, manufacture date and lot number. The codes will be stored in a publicly accessible database to help regulators, doctors and companies monitor safety issues with devices. The tracking system has been promoted by doctors and public safety advocates for years. Other industries, from food processors to automakers, have used unique identification codes to track their products through the supply chain for decades. “The rule that came out today is a victory for patients, hospitals and clinicians,’’ said Josh Rising, director of Pew Charitable Trusts’ medical device initiative. “Up until now, medical devices were among the only products on the market that could not be uniquely identified. This is going to be a tremendous victory for all of those interested in improving the performance of devices.’’ Rising says doctors, hospitals and insur-

9

ers will be able to add the codes to patients’ medical records, helping them quickly identify people who have received problematic implants and devices. The FDA tracking system follows years of highly-publicized recalls involving defibrillators, artificial hips and drug pumps, which have been plagued by design and manufacturing flaws. The FDA will begin phasing in the new system in the coming year, requiring identification codes on high-risk devices like heart stents and defibrillators. The tracking requirement will then be expanded to moderate-risk devices such as X-ray systems, surgical needles and power wheelchairs. Makers of those devices will have three years to implement the tracking codes. Many low-risk devices, such as bedpans and examination gloves, will be exempt from the requirements. — AP


10

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DECEMBER 2013 — BALTIMORE BEACON

Heavy smokers need yearly lung scans By Marilynn Marchione For the first time, government advisers are recommending screening for lung cancer, saying certain current and former heavy smokers should get annual scans to cut their chances of dying of the disease. If it becomes final as expected, the advice by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force would clear the way for insurers to cover CT scans, a type of X-ray, for those at greatest risk. That would be people ages 55 through 79 who smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years or the equivalent, such as two packs a day for 15 years. Whether screening would help younger

or lighter smokers isn’t known, so scans are not advised for them. They also aren’t for people who quit at least 15 years ago, or people too sick or frail to undergo cancer treatment. “The evidence shows we can prevent a substantial number of lung cancer deaths by screening” — about 20,000 of the 160,000 that occur each year in the United States, said Dr. Michael LeFevre, a task force leader and family physician at the University of Missouri. Public comments were taken through the end of August, and the panel is expected to issue its final advice by February. Reports on screening were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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that 10 million Americans would fit the smoking and age criteria for screening. The American Cancer Society (ACS) used to recommend screening with ordinary chest X-rays, but withdrew that advice in 1980 after studies showed they weren’t saving lives. Since then, CT scans have come into wider use, and the ACS and other groups have endorsed their limited use for screening certain heavy smokers. The scans cost from $100 to as much as $400, and are not usually covered by Medicare or private insurers now. But under the new healthcare law, cancer screenings recommended by the task force are to be covered with no co-pays. See LUNG SCANS, page 11

BEACON BITS INSIGHTS ON AGING

Join a group discussion at the Bykota Senior on the changes and challenges faced by seniors. The discussion takes place Monday, Nov. 25, from 10 to 11 a.m. The center is located at 611 Central Ave., Towson. For more information, call (410) 887-3094.

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The recommendation is a big deal for many reasons. The task force, an independent group of doctors appointed by the government, in recent years has urged less frequent screening for breast and cervical cancers, and no screening for prostate cancer, saying PSA blood tests do men more harm than good. There are no good ways to screen for ovarian cancer or other less common types. But lung cancer is the top cancer killer worldwide. Nearly 90 percent of people who get it die from it, usually because it’s found too late for treatment to succeed. About 85 percent of lung cancers in the U.S. are attributable to smoking, and about 37 percent of U.S. adults are current or former smokers. The task force estimates

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Nov. 27

BEREAVEMENT SUPPORT GROUP

Northwest Hospital offers an ongoing bereavement support group at its Education Center at 5401 Old Court Rd. in Randallstown. The next group will meet on Wednesday, Nov. 27, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. (Except for Nov. and Dec., the group meets on the third Thursday of the month.) Meetings are free, but registration is required. Call (410) 601-WELL.

Ongoing

HELP A CHILD WITH READING

Literacy tutors are needed to improve the reading skills of children in kindergarten through third grade. Volunteers must be at least 55 years old and speak, read and write English fluently. Tutors with this Experience Corps program will complete a 30-hour pre-service training, attend inservice trainings monthly and/or as assigned, and complete a minimum of 450 hours during the school year. For more information, visit www.experiencecorps.org.


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BALTIMORE BEACON — DECEMBER 2013

Lung scans From page 10 “It’s generally going to be covered by all health plans” if the advice gets final task force approval, said Susan Pisano of the industry trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans. She said her group may develop a response during the public comment period, but has had “high regard” for the task force in the past “because they rely so heavily on the evidence” in crafting their recommendations. The task force considered lung cancer screening in 2004 but said there was too little evidence to weigh risks and benefits. Since then, a major study found that

screening the age group covered in the task force’s recommendation could cut the chances of dying from lung cancer by up to 20 percent, and from any cause by nearly 7 percent. Screening “is absolutely not for everybody,” not even all smokers, LeFevre stressed. That includes President Barack Obama, who said a couple years ago that he had quit smoking. Obama is too young at 52 and too light a smoker (he reportedly smoked less than a pack a day), to be in the high-risk group advised to get screening.

Why screening isn’t for all

those showing a high risk are then directed to have a CT scan. The test is called the PAULA test, which stands for Protein Assay Using Lung cancer Analytes, and is named after the wife of a local physician who died of lung cancer at age 55 only a few months after diagnosis. The test is designed for smokers or former smokers who have at least a 20year history smoking a pack or more a day. Those who get the test should be age 50 or over, without lung cancer symptoms, and not currently receiving annual CT scans. Most insurances and Medicare cover the test, said Cohen. The blood test is done in a patient’s doctor’s office and sent to Genesys’ Rockville lab for analysis. For more information, ask your doctor, see www.BloodTestForLungCancer.com or call (240) 453-6342. — Barbara Ruben

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low-up tests, said Dr. Peter Bach, a cancer screening expert at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. The best way to prevent lung cancer is to quit smoking or never start, and screening doesn’t make smoking safer, doctors stress. “That’s everyone’s public health concern: People [may] see this as a pass to continue smoking,” Bach said of screening. “I don’t think it’s likely,” because people know how harmful smoking is, he said. — AP

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New blood test measures cancer risk A blood test to identify lung cancer risk has recently been developed by a company in Rockville, Md. Genesys Biolabs’ test, the second of its kind available in the U.S., examines a panel of six biomarkers in the blood that are associated with lung cancer. While the test doesn’t diagnose lung cancer, it identifies the risk level for having the disease. “Lung cancer is a silent killer,” said Barry Cohen, product manager for Genesys Biolabs. “The reason so many people die of the disease is that there hasn’t been a good way to identify those with the disease until it’s too late.” While CT scans can help identify those who may have lung cancer, the test is expensive and exposes patients to radiation. If the patient first has the blood test and is found to have a low risk of lung cancer, a CT scan may not be necessary, Cohen said. Conversely,

not outweigh its possible harms for people not at high risk of developing lung cancer. A suspicious finding on a scan often leads to biopsies and other medical tests that have costs and complications of their own. Ironically, the radiation from scans to look for cancer can raise the risk of developing the disease. “These scans uncover things, often things that are not important. But you don’t figure that out for a while,” and only after entering “the medical vortex” of fol-

For persons age 50 and over that smoked for at least 20 years. Can Identify Lung Cancer at earliest stages when most treatable. Covered by most insurances and Medicare.

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Julia Hernandez (410) 955-7789 Protocol Number: NA_00015657 PI: Barry Gordon, M.D., Ph.D.

11

Approved August 22, 2013


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Health Studies Page

DECEMBER 2013 — BALTIMORE BEACON

THE PLACE TO LOOK FOR INFORMATION ON AREA CLINICAL TRIALS

Understanding the dementia experience By Carol Sorgen Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is the second most common cause of early-onset dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common. While Alzheimer’s disease occurs most often in the elderly, FTD typically appears between 40 and 60 years of age. FTD also has a strong genetic component, with up to 40 percent of cases linked to positive family histories. Earlier diagnoses and genetic tests mean that people with FTD will spend more years in earlier stages of the disease,

aware of the fact that they suffer from this progressive illness. Currently, there are no published studies describing the personal experience or coping styles of individuals with FTD. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania are conducting an observational study to interview people with FTD and their caregivers to understand their experiences with the disease. The study, titled “Challenges of Living With Frontotemporal Dementia: The Perspective of the Affected Individual,” is

Exercise Research Study Healthy men & women 50-80 years old are needed to participate in an exercise research study at the University of Maryland / Baltimore VA Medical Center. Participation involves medical evaluations, blood draws, fitness tests and 2 weeks of exercise sessions. Compensation for your time is provided. Call 410-605-7179. Mention code EPC-X.

sponsored by the National Human Genome Research Institute in hopes that the information collected will help create better treatments and therapies for those affected by FTD.

diagnosis must be made by a behavioral neurologist, neuropsychologist, psychiatrist, or a group consensus of any of the above in a specialized dementia center.

Caregiver issues addressed In-depth interviews required To accomplish the study’s objectives, interviews will be conducted with 20 to 30 patients with FTD as well as their spouse/partner caregivers. Both sets of interviews will be audiotaped, transcribed and analyzed. Themes emerging in both members of each pair will be compared and contrasted in order to understand the subjective experience of the disease. In a similar study conducted in Great Britain, researchers studied whether or not people with dementia are aware of the level of distress experienced by their caregivers, who often suffer from considerable levels of anxiety and depression. Results showed that people with dementia were aware of their caregivers’ state of psychological health. The researchers concluded that the clinical implications of awareness of caregiver distress in people with dementia should be considered. FTD study participants will be recruited through Johns Hopkins University dementia care centers, private physicians, patient support groups and ClinicalTrials.gov. The

Caregivers must be a spouse or partner (non-spouse relatives or friends, healthcare providers, or hired caregivers are not eligible) who provides day-to-day care for the affected individual, and spends a minimum of 16 hours per week, on average in a month, in direct contact with the individual. Participants with FTD will answer questions about their experience with the disease, touching on their mental abilities, challenges and coping strategies. Caregivers will answer questions about their experience in caring for someone with FTD, also talking about their own challenges and coping strategies. They will also be asked about the person with FTD, and how aware they believe the patient is of his or her dementia symptoms. All participants will receive a small gift card as compensation for their time. No treatment will be provided as part of this study. For more information or to volunteer, call Weiyi Mu or Barbara Biesecker at (301) 496-3979. Or email or weiyi.mu@nih.gov or barbarab@nhgri.nih.gov.

BEACON BITS

Dec. 11

HOW TO BEAT CRAVINGS Once a craving hits, it is tough to get away from it. With all the

yummy foods around during the holidays, it’s great to have a tool set up to not only beat the cravings once they hit, but to avoid the craving in the first place. Bring your own tricks and hear more from dietitian Melissa Majumdar at this free event at Sinai Hospital on Wednesday, Dec. 11, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Meet in the Hoffberger Building, Suite 15 Conference Room, 2435 W. Belvedere Ave. Call (410) 601-0723 for more information. This event is open to the public, but specifically tailored for pre-op and post-op bariatric surgery patients.

Have You Fallen? Seeking Men and Women to participate in a research study at the University of Maryland & Veterans affairs of Baltimore to better understand balance and the prevention of falls in aging individuals.

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• Health evaluation • Balance, step, strength, and/or flexibility exercises • Compensation for your time If interested call: 410-605-7179 & Mention code: LIFT Baltimore VA/University of Maryland Gerontology Recruitment Line *You must be at least 65 years old and in good health *Participants will be seen at the Baltimore VA Medical Center and University of Maryland School of Medicine *You will attend approximately 41 visits for 1 to 4 hours of time per visit

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BALTIMORE BEACON — DECEMBER 2013

13

Consider this before entering clinical trial By Jim Miller Dear Savvy Senior: What can you tell me about clinical trials and how to go about finding one? My wife has a chronic condition, and we’re interested in tr ying anything that may be able to help her. — Looking For Help Dear Looking: Each year, hundreds of thousands of Americans participate in clinical trials in hopes of gaining access to the latest, and possibly greatest, but not-yet-on-the-market treatments for all types of illnesses. But you need to be aware that clinical trials can vary greatly in what they’re designed to do, so be careful to choose one that can actually benefit your wife. Here’s what you should know, along with some tips for locating one. A clinical trial is the scientific term for a test or research study of a drug, device or medical procedure using people. These trials — sponsored by drug companies, doctors, hospitals and the federal government — are conducted to learn whether a new treatment is safe and if it works. But keep in mind that these new treatments are also unproven, so there may be risks, too. Also be aware that all clinical trials have certain eligibility criteria (age, gender,

health status, etc.) that your wife must meet in order to be accepted. And before taking part in a trial, she’ll be asked to sign an informed consent agreement. She can also leave a study at any time.

the costs, but not always. • What if something goes wrong during or after the trial and your wife needs extra medical care? Who pays? • If the treatment works, can your wife keep using it after the study?

What to ask Before deciding to participate in a trial, you and your wife need to first discuss it with her doctor. Then, schedule an appointment with the study’s medical team and ask lots of questions. Here are some to get you started. • What’s the purpose of the study and can it improve your wife’s condition? You may be surprised to know that many drug or procedural trials are not designed to find a cure or improve a patient’s health, but only to provide scientific data. • What are the risks? Some treatments can have side effects that are unpleasant, serious and even life threatening. • What kinds of tests and treatments does the study involve, and how often and where they are performed? • Is the experimental treatment in the study being compared with a standard treatment or a placebo? • Who’s paying for the study? Will you have any costs, and if so, will your insurance plan or Medicare cover the rest? Sponsors of trials generally pay most of

How to find a trial Every year, there are more than 100,000 clinical trials conducted in the U.S. You can find them at condition-focused organizations like the American Cancer Society or the Alzheimer’s Association, or by asking her doctor. Or use the National Institutes of Heath’s website at www.clinicaltrials.gov. This site contains a comprehensive database of federally and privately supported clinical

studies in the U.S. and abroad on a wide range of diseases and conditions. You’ll find information about each trial’s purpose, who may participate, locations, and phone numbers for more details. If, however, you don’t have Internet access or could use some help finding the right trial, contact the Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation. This is a nonprofit organization that will take your wife’s information over the phone and do a thorough search of clinical trials for you, and mail or email you the results in a few days. Call 1-877-633-4376 for assistance. You can also find them online at www.ciscrp.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.


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DECEMBER 2013 — BALTIMORE BEACON

Many meds deplete important nutrients By Suzy Cohen Dear Pharmacist: I take a water pill (diuretic) for blood pressure. Now, my doctor says I have to take Boniva for osteopenia. Is there a connection? What’s next for me? — H.J. Dear H.J.: Oh yes, definitely connected! I don’t mean to be crass, but your diuretic makes you lose water volume (the point). But with every bathroom trip, you pee out minerals!

Many people are saying “Aha” now, because you started out taking a blood pressure med, then at some point, you were prescribed a bone building drug for osteoporosis. Often, you’ll find that each drug you take creates a side effect calling for another drug. I’ll share my side effect solutions with you because I realize you have to (or want to) take your prescription medications. You’ve asked, “What’s next for me?” Depending on the specific diuretic you take,

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you may eventually need an antidepressant, something for leg cramps, and maybe tinnitus (ear ringing). You may also need a drug for heart arrhythmias — all just to counter the mineral and electrolyte deficiencies that result from the “drug mugging” effect of drug number 1, your blood pressure drug! Shocked? When side effects due to nutrient depletion by a drug (drug mugging) are not recognized, you’ll get a new ‘disease’ and a new medication for it. This year, an estimated 163,000 people will suffer memory loss (perhaps Alzheimer’s) due to various prescription drugs that mug brain nutrients. About 61,000 people will hear the words “Parkinson’s disease,” but won’t realize it was druginduced. Another 32,000 of you will suffer a hip fracture from a drug-induced fall, and almost 8,000 people will die from internal bleeding caused by over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs. This gets me fired up! It’s why I wrote Drug Muggers (Rodale 2011) for you, because 75 percent of doctor’s office visits end with the physician giving you a prescription for a medication — and you need me to protect you! I’ll email you a longer version of this article with more side effect solutions if you sign up for my free newsletter at my web-

site, www.dearpharmacist.com. In the meantime, here are several side effect solutions to ask your practitioner(s) about. Don’t make changes without your physician’s approval: Parsley or dandelion: These are gentler diuretics, less likely to cause the harsh depletion of minerals; also less likely to cause dehydration in low doses. Marshmallow root: Bisphosphonate drugs for bones can irritate the esophagus in sensitive folks. Marshmallow root or slippery elm tea soothe and protect your esophageal tract. Green foods and supplements: Think of spinach, kale, spirulina or chlorophyll supplements, or wheatgrass shots. These are full of minerals to restore what the drug mugger (diuretic blood pressure pill) is taking from you. Take me seriously, mineral deficiency leads to heart beat irregularities, faintness, dizziness and depression. Coconut water: Unsweetened, unheated coconut water will restore electrolytes if you have to take diuretics or lisinopril, a popular blood pressure drug. This information is opinion only. It is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose your condition. Consult with your doctor before using any new drug or supplement. Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist, at www.dearpharmacist.com.


BALTIMORE BEACON — DECEMBER 2013

Say you saw it in the Beacon | Fitness & Health

15

Tamp down family feuds at Thanksgiving Dear Solutions: get along, will have some influence on I am in charge of Thanksgiving their husbands. every year, and I always To help your sons-in-law rehave the whole family here. frain from spoiling the day for My two daughters have everyone, I would also sugalways gotten along. My gest that you call each of older daughter remarried them separately and, without this past year, and, unfortaking sides in their argutunately, my two sons-inment, tell them you are countlaw who are in competing ing on them, as you are on businesses are in what I everyone who is invited, to would call a feud about help make the day a success. something that happened. Then put a big sign on your SOLUTIONS When they’re together, By Helen Oxenberg, outside door that they will see they argue constantly over MSW, ACSW as they enter. It should say everything, even the foot“Food, friends, football welball teams they support — and it seems come inside: Feuds must be left on the there’s always a football game to watch doorstep and may, if necessary, be picked during the holiday. My daughters stay up on the way out. No exceptions!!” out of the arguing because they really Dear Solutions: love each other and love to get together. Every time one of my kids or close What can I do about these guys so relatives has a problem and tells me they won’t spoil the day? — Upset about it, I start worrying and can’t stop. Dear Upset: I console them the best I can, and then Uh oh, here comes Thanksgiving, and when I don’t hear from them for a while, here, in your case, come the three Fs — I just keep worrying over and over food, football and feud. about what will happen. The same thing Hopefully your daughters, since they happens when it’s my own problems.

How do I stop being a worrier? — Hilda Dear Hilda: OK, so you’re a worrier. First, stop worrying about it. It keeps you from moving on, so accept that about yourself and then focus on what you can do about it. After you’ve consoled your kids and then don’t hear from them, I’ll bet they’ve solved their problem and have moved on, while you leave yourself stuck in the same place. So, until you hear from them again, assume they’ve solved their problem. When you’re stuck worrying about a problem of your own, try removing yourself. Step back and visualize a friend asking your advice about that problem. What would you tell her/him?

Also, when you’re feeling very nervous, try deep breathing. Take a deep breath, hold it for a count of four, release it slowly through your mouth and repeat. And each time the worrying starts and you haven’t found a solution, take a time out. Actually say the words out loud — “time out” — and watch a movie, read a book, anything that will engage your mind, After you’ve done all this, please tell me how it has worked. If I don’t hear from you, I’ll worry. © Helen Oxenberg, 2013. Questions to be considered for this column may be sent to: The Beacon, P.O. Box 2227, Silver Spring, MD 20915. You may also email the author at helox72@comcast.net. To inquire about reprint rights, call (609) 655-3684.

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FLOATING-RATE FUNDS Floating-rate bonds retain their value when interest rates rise, unlike most other bonds

Money Law &

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Helping with kids’ and grandkids’ finances By Jill Schlesinger Every few months, I like to empty out the inbox, which has definitely piled up recently. This month and next, I will answer a variety of your questions. As a reminder, if you have a financial question or a comment about a column, send it to: askjill@jillonmoney.com. If you would like to be a guest on my syndicated radio show, call 1-855-411-JILL. Q. I have three young grandchildren, and my broker suggested that I open 529 college savings accounts for them. Although I live in New York, he has recommended a plan from Rhode Island. When I saved for my own kids, I used custodial accounts, so I am not as familiar with a 529. Is there any reason that I would use a Rhode Island 529 versus one from New York? — Delia A. 529 plans are operated through states and allow you to save for higher education in a tax-effective way. Here’s how they work: You invest an after-tax dollar into a 529, and then choose from a variety of investment options, which usually include different kinds of mutual funds.

The money grows without any current taxation, and when the child is ready to attend college, it can be withdrawn on a tax-free basis to pay for qualified education expenses. While I agree with the advice to establish a 529 plan as the college savings vehicle, it makes little sense for you to use a plan from Rhode Island. The main reason is that, as a New York resident, you would be missing a great opportunity. Some states, like New York., offer special state tax benefits to residents. New York allows for a state income tax deduction of up to $5,000 per year by an individual, and up to $10,000 by a married couple filing jointly. (Only contributions made by the account owner, or if filing jointly, by the account owner’s spouse, are deductible). [Editor’s Note: In Maryland, each account holder can deduct up to $2,500 of contributions each year per beneficiary. Account owners who are District of Columbia taxpayers may deduct up to $4,000 in plan contributions each year on their D.C. tax return (up to $8,000 for married couples filing jointly, if both taxpayers own an account and make contributions). Virginia 529 account owners who are

Virginia taxpayers may deduct contributions up to $4,000 per account per year.] Perhaps you are wondering why on earth your broker would suggest the Rhode Island plan. The most likely answer is that the Rhode Island plan would pay him a commission. You can research 529 plans at www.savingforcollege.com. Q. I offered to help my son and his wife with the down payment on their home. When they went through the mortgage application process, the bank asked for my bank statement. Is that customary? I don’t feel comfortable sending the details of my finances. — John A. The mortgage process has changed dramatically since the housing boom and bust. Not only do borrowers have to provide lots of information, but when a gift is involved, the lender is likely to ask for a donor letter/affidavit and could require the donor’s account statements to verify the source of funds. According to mortgage brokers, this new twist has more to do with rules to prevent money laundering than for underwriting purposes. Bottom line: If you want to help your

kids, you need to comply with the new rules. Q. I have run the numbers and have determined that with my pension and retirement savings, I can probably retire as early as age 55, though I was planning to keep working until 59 1/2 so I could tap my 401(k) account without penalties. Recently, a co-worker told me that I could use something called Rule 72-T to get the money earlier. Is that true? — Jerome A. IRS Rule 72(t) allows for penalty-free withdrawals from a retirement account before age 59 1/2, as long as distributions are made as part of a series of substantially equal periodic payments over your life expectancy. The account owner must take at least five substantially equal periodic payments, and the amount depends on the account owner’s life expectancy (as calculated with various IRS-approved methods). If you want to take advantage of Rule 72(t), you must separate from service with the employer maintaining the plan before the payments begin. Keep those questions coming, readers. I enjoy hearing from you! © 2013 Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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17

Investor lessons from the financial crisis We have now passed the fifth anniver- different asset classes, such as stocks, sary of the financial crisis, which tested bonds, cash and commodities. In September 2008, a client every investor in America — shrieked to me that “everything from neophytes to the most is going down!” But that was not jaded traders on Wall Street. exactly the case: this person’s 10 As Chicago Mayor Rahm percent allocation in cash was Emanuel once said, “You just fine, as was her 30 percent never want a serious crisis to holding in government bonds. go to waste. And what I mean That did not mean that the by that is an opportunity to do stock and commodities posithings you think you could tions were doing well, but not do before.” overall, the client was in far While Emanuel was talking about politics, I think we can RETIRE SMART better shape because she owned more than risky assets. apply his statement to in- By Jill Schlesinger 3. Maintain a healthy emergency revestor behavior leading up to and during serve fund. Bad luck can occur at any the financial crisis. With five years of distance from the eye time. One great lesson of the crisis is that of the storm, here is my list of the top five those who had ample emergency reserve funds — six to 12 months of expenses for lessons every investor can take away: 1. Keep cool: There are two emotions those who were employed, and 12 to 24 that influence our financial lives: fear and months for those who were retired — had greed. At market tops, greed kicks in, and many more choices than those who did not. While a large cash cushion seems like a we tend to assume too much risk. Conversely, when the bottom falls out, fear waste to some (“it’s not earning anything!”), takes over and makes us want to sell it allowed many people to refrain from selling assets at the wrong time and/or from ineverything and hide under the bed. If you had sold all of your stocks during vading retirement accounts. Side note: The home equity lines of the first week of the crisis in September 2008, you would have been shielded from another credit on which many relied for emer40+ percent in further losses (stocks bot- gency reserves vanished during the crisis. 4. Put down 20 percent for a morttomed out in March 2009). But how would you have known when to gage (and try to stick to plain vanilla home get back in? It is highly doubtful that most in- loans, like 15- or 30-year fixed rate mortvestors would have had the guts to buy when gages, unless you really understand what it seemed like stock indexes were hurtling you are doing!) Flashback to 2004-’07, and you will liketowards zero! Yet, stocks are now up close to ly recall that you or someone you knew 150 percent since the March 2009 lows. 2. Maintain a diversified portfo- was buying a home or refinancing with lio...and don’t forget to rebalance. One of some cockamamie loan that had “features” the best ways to prevent emotional swings that allowed borrowers to put down about is to create and adhere to a diversified 3 cents worth of equity. There’s a good reason that old rules of portfolio that spreads out your risk across

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thumb work. Yes, Virginia, house prices can go down. And despite the recovery, please shun the advice from so-called experts like Suze Orman, who are once again saying that 10 percent down is just fine. 5. Understand what is in your target date fund: Pre-crisis, many investors had started to use funds in which the fund manager “targets” your future date of retirement and adjusts the allocation as you near the time that you will need to access the money. Unfortunately, many of these funds

were far riskier than investors understood. Whether it’s a target date fund or an agebased investment for your kid’s college fund, be sure to check out the risk level. Living through a crisis is never easy, so let’s try to at least learn from it! Jill Schlesinger, CFP, is the Senior Business Analyst for CBS News, a former options trader and CIO of an investment advisory firm. She welcomes comments and questions at askjill@jillonmoney.com. © 2013 Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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Got bonds? Consider floating-rate funds By Elliot Raphaelson Bond funds and individual bonds have not done well this year. Many investment advisors have consistently urged clients to maintain a common stock/bond ratio of 60/40. Some recommend that retirees adjust the percentage of their portfolio invested in bonds to match their age. For example, hold 65 percent in bonds if you are 65, 70 percent if you are 70, and so on. Up until this year, investors who fol-

lowed this advice would have done well. In 2013, however, most bond investors, especially those with a high proportion of their holdings in long-term or intermediateterm bonds, have seen a negative return. This was so even for investors with holdings in Treasury bonds and investmentgrade bonds. It’s true that investors in high-yield (socalled “junk”) bonds have shown a positive return this year. The reason is because there is a high correlation between these bonds

and the stock market, and this has been a very good year for the stock market. The reason most bond investors have been hurt this year is the rise in interest rates. When interest rates increase, the value of bonds fall. Longer-term bonds fall in value by higher percentages than intermediate-term and short-term bonds when rates increase. This is true even for Treasury bonds, backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. This is known as interest-rate risk.

Some bonds rise with rates There is one category of bonds that retain their value when interest rates increase: floating-rate bonds. Interest rates on these bonds are adjusted periodically (generally 30, 60 or 90 days) to a pre-determined formula using rates such as LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate) or the Federal Funds rate. Financial institutions protect themselves when they lend money by utilizing a variable interest rate rather than a fixed rate. When interest rates increase, the banks increase the rate that borrowers pay. Loans based on variable interest rates are packaged and offered to mutual funds that offer them to investors. Investors who purchase these floating-rate bond funds

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are not subject to interest-rate risk. (They are subject to other risks, which I will discuss in a moment.) Therefore, in periods when interest rates are expected to increase, floatingrate funds become more popular. In 2013, investors in these bonds generally had a positive return on their investment. For example, the Fidelity Floating Rate High Income Fund (FFRHX), which receives a four-star rating from Morningstar, had a year-to-date return of 2.27 percent, as of September 2013. (This compares favorably to most bond funds, many of which had losses exceeding 2 percent.)

Still some risks What are the risks associated with floating-rate bonds? One important one is credit risk. This is the risk that the payer of interest will default. Regarding floating-rate bond funds, the interest is being paid by bank customers taking out loans. The magnitude of credit risk is much greater than it is with a Treasury fund or a high-quality corporate bond fund. The credit risk is equivalent to that associated with a junk bond fund. Vanguard has issued an excellent “Primer on Floating-Rate Bond Funds,” See FLOATING RATES, page 19

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Say you saw it in the Beacon | Law & Money

19

Let software remember passwords for you By Jeff Bertolucci Security experts tell us to create long, complex passwords (think numerals and symbols) for every online account. But how are we supposed to remember all of those mind-numbing character strings? Fortunately, there is software that manages your passwords for you. These programs allow you to store your passwords in one file by creating one ultra-secure master password to serve as the portal to all your other user names and passwords. Here are three of our favorites:

Dashlane This is an excellent choice for the password-challenged. Not only is it highly secure, but it’s also a breeze to use. Dashlane (www.dashlane.com) is a free download for Windows and Mac PCs and most smartphones and tablets. Enter a master password (be sure to remember it because Dashlane doesn’t save it) and the app automatically encrypts your passwords and other private information using military-grade AES-256 encryption, which has never been hacked. Dashlane imports new and existing passwords from your Web browser into its

Floating rates From page 18 written by Donald G. Bennyhoff and Yan Zilbering. It’s available online, and it discusses in depth the advantages and disadvantages of this type of investment. For example, the authors explain that investors should also be aware of inflation risk. Even though floating-rate bond funds may provide a positive return, the returns may not keep pace with inflation. On a long-term basis, you may obtain higher returns with a balanced fund or target fund, both of which have a significant percentage of holdings in common stocks, which should provide better inflation protection. Another issue for those interested in floating-rate bond funds is timing. Although these funds provide positive re-

“vault.” The program can remember your shipping and credit card information, as well as auto-fill online checkout screens. Dashlane also works within your Web browser to monitor your online activities. When you log in to your online email, for instance, Dashlane pops up and asks whether it should save your user name and password. Plus, it rates the strength of your existing passwords (and tells you if they should be changed), and it generates strong passwords for new sites that you join. If you signed up for two-step verification using Google Authenticator (you need a code generated by an app in addition to your password), you may continue to use it.

turns during periods of increasing interest rates, it is not that easy to predict when rates will increase or decrease. As we have seen this year, it is not easy to predict the policies of the Federal Reserve from one announcement to the next. Investors who are very concerned about capital preservation and need income can consider some investment in floating-rate bond funds. However, taking into consideration other risks associated with the product, I don’t believe this type of investment should be a significant part of your overall portfolio. They make the most sense if you want to retain some bonds in your portfolio, but want to reduce your exposure to interest-rate risk. Elliot Raphaelson welcomes your questions and comments at elliotraph@gmail.com. © 2013 Elliot Raphaelson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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This is another top-notch free password manager. Like Dashlane, LastPass (www.lastpass.com) prompts you to create a master password, integrates with the browser, detects when you log in to password-protected sites, and asks whether you want it to remember log-in information. It also generates strong passwords for new sites and auto-fills credit card and shipping information. Unlike Dashlane,

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DECEMBER 2013 — BALTIMORE BEACON

Obamacare scams targeting older adults By Kimberly Lankford Q. I received an email telling me I need to buy a health insurance card that shows I have coverage under Obamacare or I will have to pay a penalty. The email looked legitimate, but it asked for my credit card number. Is it a scam? A. Yes. Although the Affordable Care Act requires people to have health insurance in 2014 or pay a penalty, there is no special card to buy.

This is just one of the many ways that crooks are trying to take advantage of misconceptions and misinformation so that they can get your credit card number, bank-account information or cash. Here are a couple of other scams to watch out for: • The Medicare-card scam. The healthcare law will make few changes to Medicare in 2014, but scam artists are invoking Obamacare as a scare tactic. One woman in San Diego received a call

from a person claiming to be from Medicare who said she needed a new Medicare card because of Obamacare and asked for her personal information and checking-account number. (He already had her name and address.) The woman was told that her Medicare benefits would stop if she didn’t provide the information. She became suspicious and contacted the California Senior Medicare Patrol, one of 54 programs throughout the country that work with the U.S. Department of

Health and Human Services to fight Medicare-related fraud. Not only does the new healthcare law not require you to get a new Medicare or healthcare card, but Medicare will never, ever call you. Instead, like the IRS, Medicare will contact you about any personal issues through the mail. You can call 1-800-633-4227 or go to Medicare.gov for more information, or See SCAMS, page 21

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Say you saw it in the Beacon | Law & Money

BALTIMORE BEACON — DECEMBER 2013

Scams From page 20 contact the Senior Medicare Patrol in your state (www.smpresource.org). • Fake navigators and exchange sites. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded $67 million in grants to community organizations to help people sign up for coverage through the new healthcare exchanges (also called marketplaces). Now scam artists are posing as these community “navigators” and saying that they’ll sign you up for coverage if you send them or wire them a few hundred dollars to get started, said Emily Peters, of Patient Fusion, which provides medical records and health spending tools to consumers. Legitimate navigators will not cold-call you or send you an e-mail. To find a legitimate navigator in your area through your state’s exchange, go to the “How do I get help enrolling in the marketplace?” fact

sheet at Healthcare.gov or call 1-800-3182596 for more information and resources. Q. Does the new healthcare law prohibit medigap insurers from denying coverage or raising rates because of health? A: No. Even though starting in 2014 most health insurers won’t be able to reject applicants or charge them more because of their health, the new law doesn’t apply to Medicare supplement policies (often called medigap). You can buy any medigap policy regardless of your health within six months of signing up for Medicare Part B. But after that initial enrollment period, insurers can reject you or charge higher rates because of a medical condition. There are some exceptions. For example, you may qualify for medigap coverage without medical underwriting if you are in a Medicare Advantage plan that discontinues operations, or if you move out of that plan’s service area. A few companies will

let you switch from one version of medigap coverage to another without new medical underwriting, especially if you’re switching to a plan with more cost-sharing — such as to the high-deductible Plan F or Plan N. If your medigap premiums increase significantly, try applying for a new medigap policy, even if you have minor health issues. It generally takes about 60 days for a medigap policy to go through medical underwriting, but some companies will process the policy in 15 to 30 days, said Eric Maddux, senior Medicare adviser for eHealthMedicare, which provides price quotes and sells policies from many companies. If you can’t qualify for a new policy, another option is to switch from medigap to an all-in-one Medicare Advantage policy during open-enrollment season, which runs from October 15 to December 7. Any Medicare beneficiary can buy a Medicare Advantage plan during that time, regardless of his or her health. These policies

provide both medical and prescriptiondrug coverage from a private insurer. But keep in mind that Medicare Advantage policies tend to have restrictive provider networks (make sure your doctors, hospitals and pharmacies are included), and you could have a tough time finding in-network providers if you travel a lot. They also tend to have more cost-sharing than medigap plans, so while your monthly premiums may be lower, you may have more out-of-pocket costs throughout the year. And if you change your mind later and decide to switch back from Medicare Advantage to a medigap plan, you could be rejected because of your health. Kimberly Lankford is a contributing editor to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine and the author of Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, $18.95). Send your questions and comments to moneypower@kiplinger.com. © 2013 Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Passwords From page 19 your sensitive personal data stored in the cloud.) The app also supports Google Authenticator.

Keeper If all you want is a free password manager and little more, Keeper (www.keepersecurity.com) is appealing. Like its competitors, the app uses bulletproof AES-256 encryption. The app supports two-step verification, but it doesn’t rate the strength of your passwords. Jeff Bertolucci is a freelance writer for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. © 2013 Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

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Does your organization use senior volunteers or do you employ a number of seniors?

Careers Volunteers &

If you do and you’d like to be considered for a story in our Volunteers & Careers section, please send an email to info@thebeaconnewspapers.com.

Volunteers help turn vets’ lives around generations of veterans haven’t had it any easier, said Erbe, and among the general public, there doesn’t seem to be much awareness of what these former soldiers have gone through — and continue to go through once they return home. That’s where the Baltimore Station comes in. Over the past 25 years, the organization has transformed from a small group of citizens who assisted the homeless in South Baltimore into a 144-bed therapeutic residential treatment program.

Combating PTSD About 80 percent of the residents are veterans, and many of them suffer from the effects of combat, including post-traumatic stress disorder. They often turned to drugs to cope with the trauma they experienced. “The cycle can spin out of control, leading to poverty, estrangement and homelessness,” said Erbe, who notes that her own brother-in-law suffered from the early stages of PTSD when he returned from Vietnam. It takes a highly structured environment to break that cycle, and most of the

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staff at the Baltimore Station are in recovery themselves; half are also veterans. They like to say that recovery is not a “quick fix,” but “a long, tough war.” In the first month of the 18month program, residents learn to “sit still.” They attend counseling sessions, drug and alcohol education, and acupuncture treatment to assist with withdrawal symptoms. In months two to six, they focus on life skills such as job readiness, budgeting, education and household responsibilities. Months six to 12 are a

transition period, during which residents are allowed to live with minimal superviSee BALTIMORE STATION, page 23

PHOTO COURTESY OF SANDRA ERBE

By Carol Sorgen Sandra Erbe was unfamiliar with the Baltimore Station until two years ago, when she was asked to donate one of her paintings to the organization’s annual “restART with ART” fundraising event. Now Erbe is the volunteer chair of the nonprofit’s fund development and communications committee, spending about 10 hours a month in support of its mission to “turn lives around.” The Baltimore Station is a therapeutic residential treatment program supporting veterans and others who are committed to moving from poverty, addiction and homelessness to self-sufficiency. (Of the 408,000+ homeless in this country, approximately 35 percent are veterans.) In addition to being a contemporary abstract artist, Erbe professionally serves as director of marketing and communications for Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake. She prefers not to give her age, but does have vivid memories of Vietnam veterans returning home, and the lack of respect with which they were met. “I didn’t support the war, but I always respected our veterans,” she said. Future

Sandra Erbe volunteers with the Baltimore Station, a residential treatment program for veterans who are homeless and/or addicted to drugs. The nonprofit organization is seeking volunteers to help with an array of jobs, from carpentry to fundraising.

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Say you saw it in the Beacon | Volunteers & Careers

BALTIMORE BEACON — DECEMBER 2013

Balitmore Station From page 22 sion, go to school or work, apply life skills, save money, repair relationships, incorporate relapse-prevention strategies and mentor others. Finally, after 18 months in the program, most residents are living independently, employed and/or enrolled in college. The program has many success stories to its credit. Take Paul, who now works as a therapy case manager — and role model — for other residents at the Baltimore Station. For 33 years, drugs ruled Paul’s life. Although gainfully employed as a chef for more than two decades, the bulk of his salary went toward buying and using drugs, a lifestyle that took a toll on his health, eventually leading him to undergo open-heart surgery. While hospitalized, Paul was evicted from his home and returned to find his possessions on the curb. When he saw his birth certificate floating down the street in the pouring rain, he realized it was time to change. Since entering the program, Paul returned to school, earned his GED, graduated summa cum laude with a BS in addictions counseling, and earned a master’s in education from Coppin State University in 2012. He is a member of Chi Sigma Iota, Psi Chi and Pi Gamma Mu honors organizations and was awarded the Rehabilitation Counseling Program Award (2013) and Dean of Graduate Studies Award (2013) for his academic accomplishments.

“The Baltimore Station taught me to take personal responsibility for my life and to change my life,” Paul said.

The Baltimore Station has an ongoing need for volunteers who can help in a number of ways, such as sharing their talents and skills. For example, experienced painters and carpenters are needed to keep the facilities in top shape for residents, graphic designers to assist with creating promotional materials, and experts to lead educational sessions with its residents. Other volunteers may host a fundraising event at their church, school, business or social club. Some — like Erbe — serve on a committee (in addition to fund development and communications, there is an events committee and a facilities committee), while others serve and supply meals or offer expertise in counseling, health-related issues, education and spiritual en-

“Your roadmap to the right health care is me.”

I’m here for you.

ACT LOCALLY AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE GLOBALLY

Diane Witles, R.N., health care navigator, has been helping residents of

Ten Thousand Villages at 1621 Thames St. is looking for individuals who are supportive of fair trade and interested in assisting artisans in other countries. Volunteers work in the retail store to explain the mission of Ten Thousand Villages to customers, arrange merchandise, restock, clean, unpack shipments, greet customers and assist them in making their selections. Volunteers are asked to assist for 4 hours at a time. For more information, visit http://baltimore.tenthousandvillages.com.

Ongoing

North Oaks live independently for as long as they can since she started here 22 years ago. Like other staff, she knows everyone by name – and most of their family members as well. If someone needs medication reminders, immunizations or consultation with a physician, they turn to her. Diane is often the first to pick up on a resident’s changing health needs. Perhaps you should be living at the address where she works.

ACTIVITY VOLUNTEERS SOUGHT AT CHARLESTOWN

Spend time assisting residents in Charlestown’s skilled nursing and assisted living facilities with various activities such as bowling, bingo, crafts, storytelling, cards, checkers and more. Charlestown is located at 715 Maiden Choice Ln. in Catonsville. For more information, visit www.ericksonretirement.com or call (800) 917-8649.

could I not help?” For more information on volunteer opportunities at the Baltimore Station, call (410) 752-4454.

Many volunteer needs

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Ongoing

richment. Of her decision to become a volunteer with the Baltimore Station, Erbe said, “With such a compelling mission, how

When you live in this senior living community, you’ll enjoy a close connection with staff members whose work and wishes are to connect you to the best in life. Please call (410) 486-9090 to learn more. 725 MOUNT WILSON LANE

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Volunteers & Careers | More at TheBeaconNewspapers.com

You’re on top of your medications. But we make a good back up. You know it’s important to stay on your medications exactly as prescribed. However, if you miss a dose, want a lower-cost alternative, or experience any side effects, we can answer any questions. Speak to your local CVS Pharmacist to learn more. Find a store near you at www.cvs.com

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BALTIMORE BEACON — DECEMBER 2013

Say you saw it in the Beacon

Travel

25

Leisure &

Things you need to know before renting a car in Europe. See article on page 27.

Voluntourism makes for trips of a lifetime across volcanic crevices, fought off ticks and other clingy critters, been “decorated” with soupy loon feces, evaded hippopotamuses in the moonlight, sweltered under the Grecian sun, and had an infected toenail treated atop a trashcan at a clinic in African bush country. To me, these were challenging, mindexpanding adventures, and many were trips of a lifetime.

PHOTO BY DUSTIN ENGLEHARDT

By Glenda C. Booth “Pardon me. You did what?” asked an incredulous friend. “I caught crocodiles,” I replied coolly, when asked about my two-week Earthwatch volunteer expedition studying the Nile crocodile in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. And that’s just one of many things I have done on vacation. I have: • Filmed young marmots frolicking in the French Alps; • Identified dolphins by their dorsal fins’ nicks and streaks in Greece’s Amvrakikos Gulf; • Yanked invasive vines from an ancient heiau (temple for women) on Maui; • Helped band loons wintering in the Gulf of Mexico; • Weighed migrating shorebirds on Delaware Bay; • Mapped and macheted invasive plants in the Galapagos Islands; and • Cleared trails on St. John’s in the Virgin Islands National Park. I’ve tangled with prickly briars, tiptoed

Volunteer vacations

PHOTO COURTESY OF GLENDA C. BOOTH

Some call it voluntourism, volunteering for conservation or another cause while vacationing. Others dub it eco-immersion or “citizen science.” Usually, it involves traveling outside one’s home area and working with a group under the leadership of a scientist or other expert. Most projects do not require subjectmatter expertise, as leaders train volunteers on-site. It’s travel with a purpose, and service without pay. There’s usually little time to read a book, sip margaritas, or lounge in a beach chair. Senior volunteering is rising and is now at a 10-year high, with one in three people over age 55 volunteering in the U.S. or elsewhere. “More than 20 million senior volunteers gave nearly three billion hours of service, at a value of $67 billion,” announced the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) in May. A 2008 CNCS study reported that more than 1 million people volunteered overseas.

Making a difference

The author, Glenda C. Booth, films marmots in the French Alps, on an Earthwatch project.

Most people say they volunteer for conservation and similar projects to do something meaningful, to make a difference. Conservation-oriented organizations promote a healthier planet, a more sustainable environment. Earthwatch volunteers, for example, often help scientists collect data that informs public policy and advances science. Vermonter Victoria Kohler, who has gone on 15

Earthwatch volunteers near the Arctic Circle in Canada use ground-penetrating radar to collect data on permafrost and soil for climate change research. An increasing number of older adults are taking part in volunteer vacations, which offer unique experiences and allow them to help the environment and communities around the world.

Earthwatch expeditions, commented, “I really enjoy working with animals, and hope that my efforts will help further knowledge about them and maybe even help save them from decline or possible extinction.” Part of a conservation project’s mission might be to help people who live near the project site. Claudia Seldon, an Earthwatch volunteer and retired nurse from Detroit, Mich., said, “I’ve always enjoyed meeting with local people. It’s different from traveling as a tourist. I enjoy giving back to society.” Conservation projects are usually in outdoor settings — nature’s classrooms — in all kinds of weather. Many projects are in remote locations. That attracts Kohler. “It gets me to unusual and interesting places where the average tourist does not go,” she said. Many volunteer projects are rich learning experiences. Volunteers gain new knowledge, such as learning about animals and plants, and master new skills, like using GPS systems or tools. They often hone their observation skills. For some, volunteering abroad allows them to brush up on a foreign language. On his fifth Earthwatch expedition

studying loons wintering in Louisiana, Ron LeMahieu said, “I do it because I’m a frustrated field biologist. Holding a loon is like holding the wilderness in your arms.” Volunteering abroad can also enhance your understanding of world events, generate insights into cultural values and assumptions, and can bolster respect for differences. Volunteer vacations appeal to many people who love to travel but do not have a compatible or willing traveling companion. Usually, others on the project are likeminded and may be of a similar age. The other volunteers wouldn’t be there if they did not have common interests. Because projects are often “away from the headlines” and are hands-on and in the field, they are a healthy respite from the Internet, email, cellphones, television and other technological trappings of today. Bottom line: They enrich your life.

Tips for choosing trips Extended volunteering requires thoughtful planning. “A lot of pitfalls can be avoided when people research their volunteer opportunities well. It helps set the See VOLUNTOURISM, page 26


Leisure & Travel | More at TheBeaconNewspapers.com

Voluntourism From page 25 volunteers’ expectations,â€? said Genevieve Brown, executive director of the International Volunteer Programs Association. “Traveling to another country, people will experience some level of culture shock, so it is important to eliminate a lot of the unknowns that can surround a volunteer placement,â€? Brown added. Here are some tips: • Understand the physical requirements, and assess your capabilities realistically. Projects may require backpacking, walking in muck or over treacherous terrain, standing for extended periods or steady on a boat, getting in and out of boats, and lifting heavy equipment. Can you tolerate weather extremes, very hot or very cold weather?

• Determine your minimal requirements for sleeping arrangements. Expect few frills. You may sleep on the ground, on cots, and in sleeping bags, tents or dormitories and you’ll likely have a roommate. • Understand meals. Explain your food preferences and allergies ahead of time. You may have kitchen duty. • Decide if one, two or more weeks are desirable. Weather can reduce the number of work days, but there may be indoor work too, such as typing data into a computer. • Understand the costs. Most likely, you will have to pay for your transportation to and from the site. Understand what’s included in the organization’s price. Clarify what expenses, if any, are tax deductible. • Understand the insurance provided to volunteers by the sponsoring organization. Consider travel insurance and extra health insurance if leaving the U.S.

DECEMBER 2013 — BALTIMORE BEACON

• Don’t expect healthcare facilities, medicines or medical personnel like those you have in the U.S. • Pay close attention to the list of supplies recommended. Some projects require specialized gear, like headlamps for night work. Take every item recommended and don’t over pack, expecting porters. You’ll likely have to lug everything yourself. • Don’t expect much privacy or free time. While there’s always some “down time,â€? generally, your time will not be your own. • If traveling abroad, learn about the country beforehand — its governance, politics, cultural factors and restrictions based on age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and religion. The sponsoring organization can likely connect you with someone who has been there. • Don’t expect to save the world. “I think the biggest pitfall for people is expecting to change the world in the time of their volunteer placement,â€? Brown said. “Volunteers should go into their placement with the attitude of service, but also open to learning and striving to understand. “The greatest benefit from volunteer service is the bridge of cross-cultural understanding,â€? she observed.

Plan thoughtfully

not for everybody. A woman whose husband of 30 years asked for a divorce signed up for a trip to Ecuador to “get away,� but spent much of the two weeks dysfunctional and grieving. Another failed to bring strong hiking boots and twisted her ankle the second day, disabling her and confining her indoors for most of the project. Most volunteer travel experiences require a tolerant, patient, flexible attitude. Once there, it’s usually hard to leave, so you have to “stick it out,� whatever the circumstances. To help you make informed decisions about volunteering abroad, check out www.idealist.org/info/IntlVolunteer or www.voluntourism.org/traveler-start.html. Most of all, volunteer travel requires a curiosity, a willing spirit and an open mind. You might learn something new about yourself. For many people, it is transformational. Wit Ostrenko, president of the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, Florida for the last 24 years, found volunteering on Earthwatch’s Gulf of Mexico loon project had a profound impact on him. “This expedition was humbling for me, and it changed my life,� said Ostrenko. “Being part of the Earthwatch volunteer team allowed me to be a scientist again, and it changed my life as a science center

While many volunteers come home raving about the experience of a lifetime, it’s

See VOLUNTOURISM, page 27

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BALTIMORE BEACON — DECEMBER 2013

Say you saw it in the Beacon | Leisure & Travel

27

How to rent a car and drive it in Europe By Ed Perkins Don’t ever think you’re too old to rent a car and drive through Europe. You can’t beat driving for catching all the interesting sights along the way and enjoying the many — and usually inexpensive — roadside restaurants. As far as I know, Ireland is the only country in Western Europe where renting a car is difficult or impossible if you’re over 70. If you’re OK to drive at home — really OK, not just barely making it — you should be OK to drive in Europe. Just make a few adjustments.

What to rent

Voluntourism

servation) www.biosphere-expeditions.org • Cross-Cultural Solutions, www.crossculturalsolutions.org • Idealist, www.idealist.org • Passport in Time, USDA Forest Service, www.passportintime.com/ • Wilderness Volunteers, www.wildernessvolunteers.org For more organizations offering a range of volunteer opportunities abroad, visit www.volunteerinternational.org/memberlist.html. To learn about traveling with minimal impact on the environment or cultures, visit www.responsible-travel.org. Glenda C. Booth is a travel writer in Alexandria, Va.

From page 26 president. I was reminded that it’s the doing that matters, not the talking and the showing.” The following organizations offer volunteer travel opportunities: • Earthwatch, www.earthwatch.org • Sierra Club, www.sierraclub.org/ outings • Road Scholar, Service Learning, www.roadscholar.org/programs/srvclearning.asp • World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, www.wwoof.org • Biosphere Expeditions (wildlife con-

If you’re comfortable with a stick shift, you’ll pay about $50 a week less than you’d pay for an automatic. And you’ll also enjoy better mileage, although today’s automatics do a lot better than they did when I started driving in Europe. The main exceptions: I recommend an automatic in Britain, where driving on the wrong side of the road takes enough concentration that you don’t want to add the hassle of shifting — with the shift also on the wrong side. I also recommend an automatic when

you plan a lot of mountain driving, where, again, the driving is enough of a challenge that you don’t need to add shifting. Air conditioning, on the other hand, has almost disappeared as a problem. When I started renting in Europe, air was available only on luxury cars or at a huge price premium on a smaller car. Now, however, even European secondhand car buyers want air conditioning, so you find it in most cars — even in compacts — in most central and southern Eu-

ropean countries. Get a diesel, if you can; the fuel is usually cheaper, and you get fantastic mileage. Unfortunately, many companies won’t promise a diesel, but diesels do make up a big percentage of their fleets.

Weigh where to rent You’re going to drive through Austria, so you rent in Austria, right? Not necessarSee RENT A CAR, page 29

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DECEMBER 2013 — BALTIMORE BEACON


Say you saw it in the Beacon | Leisure & Travel

BALTIMORE BEACON — DECEMBER 2013

Rent a car From page 27 ily. Sometimes, renting in a nearby country can cut your bills a lot. For example, on this trip, I rented in Munich rather than Innsbruck: It’s less than two hours away, and German rates are about $100 a week less than Austrian.

Germany is also sometimes a better place to rent than higher-cost Switzerland and even Northern Italy; France is sometimes a practical alternative for Switzerland or Italy. Don’t drive an extra day to cut the rental rate, but if you add only an hour or so, take a look. Also, in many countries, rates at downtown offices are less than those at airports.

When I crossed the border from Austria to Italy, the price of diesel went up from 1.40 euros to 1.75 euros. Obviously, I filled up in Innsbruck and won’t fill again until I return to Austria in four days. To play the low-cost fuel game, check the website http://fuel-prices-europe.info/ for country-by-country price variations.

Where to stay

BEACON BITS

Dec. 8

WASHINGTON HOLIDAY CONCERT

Join Senior Box Office as it travels to Washington, D.C., on Sunday, Dec. 8, for a holiday concert by the U.S. Army Band at DAR Constitution Hall with lunch at Pier 7. Tickets are $65. For reservations, call (410) 882-3797.

Dec. 9+

PLAY AND SHOP IN DOVER, DELAWARE

Victory Villa Senior Center invites you to enjoy Dover Downs, shopping at Christiana Mall, and Delaware Park Casino on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 9-10. Cost is $139/double. Reserve a spot by calling (410) 887-0235.

Dec. 11

Driving is ideal for seeing the countryside, so you want to avoid cities as much as you can. That means finding hotels far enough outside the cities that you have open-lot parking next to the hotel. Even if you want to go into some of the cities, stay on the urban fringe, where you have a choice of driving into the city when you want to or leaving your car at the hotel and hopping a bus, tram or metro. Expect to make some mistakes. No mat-

29

ter how skilled a driver you are, driving in Europe is different from driving at home. You will make mistakes — take wrong turns, head into the wrong lanes and such. I find, especially, that it’s all too easy to find yourself in a “right turn only” lane because the only marking is an arrow painted in the street when you’re almost into the intersection. If that happens, turn right, find a place to turn around, and try again. Don’t let it get to you — laugh it off and figure it’s part of the experience. And if you hate to be tailgated, don’t drive in Italy. Send e-mail to Ed Perkins at eperkins@mind.net. Perkins’ new book for small business and independent professionals, “Business Travel When It’s Your Money,” is now available through www.mybusinesstravel.com or www.amazon.com. © 2013 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

CHRISTMAS IN LANCASTER

See the Christmas Show at American Music Theatre, with a visit to the National Christmas Center and lunch at Good and Plenty in Lancaster, Pa., on Wednesday, Dec. 11. The trip is hosted by Seven Oaks Senior Center and is $90 per person. Call (410) 887-5192 for reservations.

Dec. 20

IT’S A SWEET TRIP TO HERSHEY

Join the Edgemere Senior Center on Friday, Dec. 20, for a guided tour of Hershey, Pa., including the Milton S. Hershey School, time on your own at Chocolate World, a ride through Hershey Sweet Lights, attendance at a Christmas show and lunch, all for $95 per person. Call (410) 477-2141 to reserve a spot.

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DECEMBER 2013 — BALTIMORE BEACON

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Style Arts &

A festive Lincoln is part of a Civil War Christmas music show at Center Stage. For more information on this and many more holiday events, see story on page 31.

A new Baltimore poet finds her voice While the slim volume of verse is Amour’s first written publication, she has also previously released two spoken word CDs, “Love’s Journey” and “ilovemesomewords.” “My true love, though, is the written word,” she said, adding that while she’s “pausing” now between projects, she hopes to write other books in the future, including a guide to self-publishing and a book of short stories.

A poetic memoir Free to Be Me explores Amour’s geographical and emotional journey from childhood to adulthood, and from the Caribbean, where she was born, to Canada, Detroit and now Baltimore. The poems deal with both feelings of abandonment and the personal remedies she has developed through the years for healing. Amour’s poems tell her stories of being separated from her parents when she was just two years old. They moved to England for their education, leaving Amour and her siblings with their grandparents, returning to them six years later. “They had a good reason for leaving,” said Amour, explaining that educational opportu-

A Season of Hits at Toby’s Dinner Theatre! OPENING NOVEMBER 15 Just in time for the Holidays!

nities were not readily available in the Caribbean. “But still, for six years I didn’t have my parents. “I was inspired to begin writing this poetic memoir shortly after my mother’s passing,” said Amour, “particularly because we had worked through many of our mother/daughter issues caused by my feelings of abandonment. “It took years for me to fully accept my parents’ reasons for making difficult life choices, and many more years for me to forgive and heal. I hope my book will give readers a point of reference for their own journeys.” Her poetry also helped Amour cope with the loss of her sister in 2004 from lupus-related complications. When her sister died, Amour, who had always sought her advice when it came to love Cherrie Amour recently published her first book and relationships, was left again of poetry at age 50. Her poems focus on loss, separation and her family. without a confidante. “The writing has been therabe made up primarily of women, she’s depeutic for me,” she said. And apparently to others as well, said veloping quite a male following as well, Amour, who relates that people who have with one man telling her that it’s not often come to her author appearances have told men can find out what women are thinking her that through her writings they have in a “non-combative” way. “A lot of men say they’re buying the felt empowered to confront some of their book for their girlfriends or wives,” Amour own challenges. said, clearly pleased at this unexpected PHOTO COURTESY OF CHERRIE AMOUR

By Carol Sorgen At the age of 50, Cherrie Amour feels that she is finally finding her creative voice, and it has resulted in the release of her first book of poetry, Free to Be Me: Poems on Life, Love and Relationships. “It’s a little scary to be doing this at this stage of life,” said the Mount Vernon resident, a public relations practitioner by profession, “but maybe I’m finally getting my courage up.” Amour, born Cherrie Woods, was first given the moniker that has turned out to be her nom de plume by her mother. The name is a take on the 1969 Stevie Wonder song, “My Cherie Amour.” Amour is also the French word for love, which is the focus of much of her writing. Fascinated by the written word, Amour said she’s an avid reader and has been keeping written journals since she was in high school. Indeed, there were so many journals that when she moved to Baltimore from Detroit five years ago to take a position with the Reginald F. Lewis Museum (she now works for Baltimore City), she decided it was time to thin out the collection a bit —though she continues to add to it anew.

Appealing to men and women While Amour expected her audience to

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Say you saw it in the Beacon | Arts & Style

BALTIMORE BEACON — DECEMBER 2013

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Theater, music highlight holiday season By Carol Sorgen From musical concerts to theatrical productions, Baltimore’s performance venues take on a holiday air this time of year, so take out your calendar and start making plans. It’s going to be a busy season! “A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration”

Tuesday, Nov. 19 through Sunday, Dec. 22 CenterStage, 7 N. Calvert St. www.centerstage.org Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel looks at Christmas from the longago vantage point of the Civil War in a musical production that, in the spirit of the season, centers on hope and forgiveness.

On a frigid Christmas Eve in 1864 all along the Potomac, from the White House to the battlefields, friends and enemies alike find their lives intertwined.

Through both traditional carols and folk songs, this is, according to the New York See HOLIDAY, page 32

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BSO

Tickets Make A Great Gift

Cirque Musica performs acrobatics while the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra plays holiday favorites at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall Dec. 11 to 15.

DECEMBER 12TH

MARCH 4TH & 5TH

Talking on the phone can be easy again. You have our word.

Using voice recognition technology, a Captioned Telephone operator makes it possible for you to receive on-screen captions of what your caller says as you listen. You may qualify for a Captioned Telephone, amplified phone, or other devices through the Maryland Accessible Telecommunications program at no cost.

To learn more, visit mdrelay.org or call 1-800-552-7724 (Voice/TTY).

Captioned Telephone from Maryland Relay

R55Word-for-word captions R55Easy-to-read display R55Simple to use

MAY 28TH - JUNE 1ST

410-547-SEAT MODELL–LYRIC.COM For tickets visit the Modell Lyric Box Office (M-F 10a-4p).


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Arts & Style | More at TheBeaconNewspapers.com

Holiday From page 31 Times, a “beautifully stitched tapestry of American lives.” Elf the musical Friday, Nov. 22 through Sunday, Nov. 24, various show times Patricia & Arthur Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric, 140 West Mt. Royal Ave. www.lyricoperahouse.com You’ll want to take the little ones to this holiday-themed musical. Elf is the entertaining story of Buddy, a young orphan who crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. When his enormous size and poor toymaking abilities make him realize he’s only human, Buddy sets off to New York City to find his birth father and discover who he truly is. When he discovers that his father is on the “naughty,” not “nice,” list and that his step-brother doesn’t even believe in Santa, Buddy vows to win over his new family and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas. Irving Berlin’s White Christmas Tuesday, Dec. 3 through Sunday, Dec. 8 Hippodrome Theatre at the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center, 12 North Eutaw St. www.france-merrickpac.com The classic holiday movie White Christmas gets new life in this musical that in-

DECEMBER 2013 — BALTIMORE BEACON

cludes such Irving Berlin hits as “Blue Skies,” “How Deep is the Ocean?” and the unforgettable title song, “White Christmas.” As in the movie, the show tells the story of two friends putting on a show in a small Vermont inn and finding their perfect mates in the process. You’ll be dreaming of a white Christmas too by the time you leave the theater. The Snowman Thursday, Dec. 5 and Friday, Dec. 6, at 10 and 11:30 a.m. each day Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St. www.bsomusic.org Another one for the youngsters in your life, as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra tells the musical tale of a young boy’s magical friendship with a snowman as they travel the world together. Handel’s Messiah Friday, Dec. 6 and Saturday, Dec. 7, 7:30 p.m. Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St. www.bsomusic.org The BSO once again ushers in the holiday season with its powerful performance of Handel’s oratorio, featuring the stirring “Hallelujah Chorus.” 30th Annual Merry Tuba Christmas Saturday, Dec. 7, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Harborplace Amphitheater www.harborplace.com More than 20 tuba and euphonium play-

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ers will help get you in the holiday mood as they blend their unique styles and rhythms. BSO Holiday Cirque Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 13, 2 and 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 14, 2 and 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 15, 2 p.m. Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St. www.bsomusic.org Bring the entire family to hear holiday favorites while also enjoying the performance of Cirque Musica with its gasp-inducing aerial feats, strongmen and mind-boggling contortionists. Mannheim Steamroller Patricia & Arthur Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric Thursday, Dec. 12, 8 p.m. www.lyricoperahouse.com If it’s nearing Christmas, then it’s time to break out the Mannheim Steamroller CDs. Get a head start with this live performance at the Lyric. Soulful Holidays Saturday, Dec. 14, 8 p.m. www.france-merrickpac.com Hippodrome Theatre at the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center, 12 North Eutaw St. Soulful Symphony’s holiday show runs the gamut from rousing renditions of Christmas carols to traditional holiday favorite adaptations of the Messiah and The Nutcracker. Carolers on the Court The Walters Art Museum

Sunday, Dec. 15, 1 and 4 p.m. www.thewalters.org A cappella caroling ensemble Joyous Voices returns to The Walters this year to entertain with traditional Christmas melodies, medieval and Victorian to popular favorites. Cocoa and goodies will be on hand! The Nutcracker Family Concert Patricia & Arthur Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric Friday, Dec. 20, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 22, 3 p.m. www.lyricoperahouse.com This timeless tale of The Nutcracker is an annual tradition for many families. This production brings together the BSO, Baltimore School for the Arts, Maryland Institute College of Art and the Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric for a retelling of this holiday classic. Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker Hippodrome Theatre at the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center Saturday, Dec. 21, 12:30 p.m., 4 p.m., 8 p.m. www.france-merrickpac.com Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker features 40 top Russian dancers, falling snow, silk puppets and a spectacular “Dove of Peace,” as two dancers become one stunning bird with a 20-foot wingspan, all set to Tchaikovsky’s complete score.


Say you saw it in the Beacon | Arts & Style

BALTIMORE BEACON — DECEMBER 2013

Poet

“HERMOSO NEGRO”

From page 30 turn of events. For a newly published poet, Amour has been well received, and one of her poems, “Hermoso Negro,” written about her father, garnered an Honorable Mention in the Allen Ginsburg Poetry Awards, sponsored by the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College in New Jersey. “Hermoso” means handsome in Spanish. Amour has appeared in Baltimore, and will be reading from her work later this month in New York. Writing the book took close to two years, and while Amour contemplated looking for conventional publishing options, she felt that, creatively, it was time for her to release the book now. That is why she went the self-publishing route. “Besides,” she laughed, “poetry is a really hard sell.” Free to Be Me: Poems on Life, Love and Relationships is for sale, both in print and e-book format, on Amazon.

FROM PAGE 34 ANSWERS TO SCRABBLE

ANSWERS TO CROSSWORD F L U B

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S C R E W A B C S L U R I T R I N I R E D O D G I K I L H A V E O N E A P T S D

H E N C A E B B D I L A E V M A N A B A N

I T E M A S O N I C A C E

D L E O R O T N I G H T E A S P S O R E S K E T C C O R E R K S K A I T I C P E R E E K S O F T S H O L L I D O U T S S T

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BEACON BITS

Dec. 1

HANUKKAH FEVER CONCERT

Celebrate Chanukah with the Mama Doni Band at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts, 3506 Gwynnbrook Pkwy. in Owings Mills, on Sunday, Dec. 1 at 3 p.m. Doni Zasloff Thomas, besides being Mama Doni, is a music teacher, songwriter, lead singer for the band, and herself a mom. Mama Doni celebrates Jewish culture with its high-energy, interactive family rock concerts, such as this one for Hanukkah. Tickets are $10 per person in advance, $12 at the door. For more information, visit www.jcc.org/gordon-center or www.mamadoni.com.

“Hermoso Negro,” my Dad would say As he pulled the hairs from his chin with a tweezer I would watch him move his face closer to the mirror in the bathroom “Hermoso Negro,” he would say again.

My dad would respond with a toothy grin. He would set up conferences with my teachers To ask if I should watch soap operas The merits of reading fiction books What my appropriate bedtime should be.

Handsome black man, I guess that’s how my Dad saw himself Or that’s what he said And when he visited my school on parents/teachers night My female teachers acted like he was handsome.

I often wondered if my teachers understood most of what he was saying Because at no time did he ever try to conceal his Caribbean accent.

6’ 2”, not so dark-skinned with a strong Caribbean accent A professional man My Dad was a novelty at my school in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

I remember being embarrassed in front of my friends When he would say “tree” for three, “glass” for window “How ya going?” instead of How are you? But he always spoke unapologetically.

“Mr. Woods, you look like Harry Belafonte,” my home room teacher said

That part I liked.

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DECEMBER 2013 — BALTIMORE BEACON

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Puzzle Page

Crossword Puzzle Daily crosswords can be found on our website: www.TheBeaconNewspapers.com Click on Puzzles Plus Enjoy Yourself by Stephen Sherr 1

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1. Attendee at a new student mixer 6. Unused 10. GE product 14. It’s used as a weapon a lot 15. Hot to ___ 16. He has a steakhouse at Caesar’s Palace 17. Complete 180 18. O: Pretty good blackjack hands 20. O: Last stop for supplies 22. Nile snakes 23. One of the w’s in www.crossword-dictionary.com 24. Achy 26. Fundamentals 29. O: Neurotic one 35. Gruesome 37. Cross the goal line 38. Match match 39. South Caribbean islander 40. TV ET HQ 41. Ann Taylor offering 43. Resentment 44. Hawaiian Island with no traffic lights 46. After Jack, he has won the most majors 47. O: New model greenlighted by Lee Iacocca in 1990 50. Concluding event 51. Jobs creation 52. “Oh no; a mouse!” 54. It turns clay to bricks 56. O: A good cleanser, bar none 61. Enjoy yourself (or what all the O’ed clues do) 64. Trojan hiding place 65. ___-Day (vitamin brand founded over 25,000 days ago) 66. Type of jazz or rock 67. Expels 68. War vet’s problem 69. Brooklyn team, since 2012 70. Short-tailed weasel

1. Botch 2. Pro ___ 3. Burden of proof 4. O: Attaches 5. In conclusion 6. One story or two lovers 7. Party pooper 8. Diary 9. Ending of the Bible 10. “I’ll be right there” 11. Senate tie-breaker 12. White-bellied Sea Eagle, and relatives 13. Ballot proposition options 19. Most pucker-producing 21. Start of a sonnet rhyme scheme 24. Home to the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center 25. “___ the fields we go” 26. Other ref. nbr. 27. Small donkey 28. Wept 30. ___ Boomer (an intense post-war kid) 31. Left-over parts 32. Ole buddy 33. Begot 34. Face in a crowd scene 36. No-win situation 42. O: Evicts 45. Gardner of The Barefoot Contessa 48. Biblical mountain, in present-day Jordan 49. Arbiter or arbitrate 53. Community spirit 54. He could write of Pure Reason 55. Folk singer Burl 56. Feature of a 41 Across 57. He made 425 new cars in 1901 58. Roughly 59. “The Thin Man” dog 60. Annoyance 61. Short flight 62. Lifetime ___ (permanent expulsion) 63. Get a top grade

Answers on page 33.

Answer: What the clerk got when she decorated the gift package -- "WRAPPED" UP IN IT Jumbles: USURP APPLY POWDER BEHELD


BALTIMORE BEACON — DECMEBER 2013

CLASSIFIEDS The Beacon prints classified advertising under the following headings: Business & Employment Opportunities; Caregivers; Computer Services; Entertainment; For Sale; For Sale/Rent: Real Estate; Free; Health; Home/ Handyman Services; Miscellaneous; Personals; Personal Services; Vacation Opportunities; and Wanted. For submission guidelines and deadlines, see the box on the right. CAVEAT EMPTOR! The Beacon does not knowingly accept obscene, offensive, harmful, or fraudulent advertising. However, we do not investigate any advertisers or their products and cannot accept responsibility for the integrity of either. Respondents to classified advertising should always use caution and their best judgment. EMPLOYMENT & REAL ESTATE ADS: We will not knowingly or intentionally accept advertising in violation of federal, state, and local laws prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, familial status or handicap in connection with employment or the sale or rental of real estate.

Financial Services ACCOUNTING, BOOKKEEPING, TAXES – conscientious CPA, 37 years experience, reasonable rates, looking for additional business, personal and eldercare clients. Call 410-653-3363.

For Rent 2ND-FLOOR APARTMENT – 2 bedrooms. Living and dining room. Kitchen and 1 bathroom. Open porch. Heat included. $600 per month. 410-298-8048, 410-523-8844.

For Sale

Home/Handyman Services SANFORD & SON HAULING Trash removal, house & estate clean-outs, garage cleanouts, yard work & cleanups, demolition, shed removal. 410-746-5090. Free Estimates. Insured. Call 7 days a week 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. FEDERAL HOME SOLUTIONS - Certified Aging in Place Specialists. We are a full-service, custom-remodeling company specializing in modifications for accessibility. 410-409-8128. MHIC# 104589. BASEMENT OR FOUNDATION PROBLEMS? LEVELIFT SYSTEMS, INC. offers honest, professional, no-pressure inspection, consultation & repair quotes for owner-occupied homes with settling, cracking & buckling basement walls. Our 23-year-old Jessup, Marylandbased firm has a spotless record with Angie’s List, Better Business Bureau and Maryland State Home Improvement Commission. Ask for Paul. Office: 301-369-3400. Cell: 410-365-7346. Paulm@levelift.com. MHIC #45110. MIKE RUPARD – A FULL SERVICE PAINTING contractor. Interior. Exterior. “No job is too small.” 30 years experience. Free estimates. Fully-licensed and insured. 301-6741383. BALTIMORE’S BEST JUNK REMOVAL – Clean Outs: Whole House, Emergency, Attics/Basements. Furniture and Junk Removal, Yard Waste Removal, General Hauling, Construction Debris Removal. Free estimates. 10% Senior Discount. Licensed, Bonded and Insured. Call Jesse, 443-379-HAUL (4285). HANDYMAN MATTERS will help you stay safe in your own home. Professional, Reliable Skilled Craftsmen. Grab Bar Installation, Bathroom Modifications and your to-do list! 410-549-9696. MHIC # 89094.

Personal Services ESTATE SPECIALIST, experts in estate clean-outs and preparing your house for sale. Trash removal, house cleanouts, light moving, demolition, yard work, cleaning. 410-746-5090. Free estimates. Insured. Call 7 days, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

2 BURIAL LOTS AT PARK VIEW CEMETERY – in Parkville. New sect. Garden of Peace. Mrs. Schafer, 410-569-5686.

FEMALE COMPANION, EXPERIENCED – light housekeeping, cooking, errands, organizing, pet care. 443-243-1280.

WEIGHT EQUIPMENT – ALL CHROME Paramount 4 station. Cost $5,000. Will sell for $1350 firm. Also upright Sears Freezer, 16 cubic ft. Never used. $125. Full size Brunswick Slate pool table with green felt, $625. 443-797-4800, Richard.

LEARN ENGLISH – SPANISH – ITALIAN – FRENCH – PORTUGUESE Conversational. Grammatical. Private lessons. Reasonable Rates. Tutoring students. 443-352-8200.

2 SALVADOR DALI woodblock prints from Dante’s Divine Comedy. Signed and framed. Asking $900 for the pair. Can email pictures if desired. Call Steve, 410-913-1653.

Wanted

Health WORLD’S LARGEST HEALTH AND WEIGHT LOSS company. Incredible 30 free milkshakes. Offer while supplies last!! www.results44.com. 443253-2640.

VINYL RECORDS WANTED from 1950 through 1985. Jazz, Rock-n-Roll, Soul, Rhythm & Blues, Reggae and Disco. 33 1/3 LPs, 45s or 78s, Larger collections of at least 100 items wanted. Please call John, 301-596-6201. WE BUY OLD AND NEW JEWELRY, Coins, Silver and Gold, Paper Money Too. Watches, Clocks and Parts, Military Badges and Patches Old and New. Call Greg, 717-658-7954.

BEACON BITS

Ongoing

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Say you saw it in the Beacon

AFRICAN AMERICAN ARTIFACTS

“The Kinsey Collection: Shared Treasures of Bernard & Shirley Kinsey — Where Art & History Intersect” is a world-class collection of art and artifacts chronicling over 400 years of African American history and culture from the 1600s to the present. Highlights of this exhibition at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History and Culture include an early copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, a signed copy of Brown vs. Board of Education, and rare works from early 19th century artists. The exhibition makes its final stop of a national tour in Baltimore through March 2, 2014. For more information, visit www.rflewismuseum.org or call (443) 263-1800. The museum is located at 830 E. Pratt St. Admission is free for members, $6 for those 65 and older.

TO PLACE A CLASSIFIED Deadlines and Payments: Ad text and payment is due by the 5th of each month. Note: Only ads received and prepaid by the deadline will be included in the next month’s issue. Please type or print your ad carefully. Include a number where you can be reached in the event of a question. Payment is due with ad. We do not accept ads by phone or fax, nor do we accept credit cards. Private Party Text Ads: For individuals seeking to buy or sell particular items, or place a personal ad. Each ad is $10 for 25 words, 25 cents for each additional word. Business Text Ads: For parties engaged in an ongoing business enterprise. Each ad is $25 for 25 words, 50 cents for each additional word. Note: Each real estate listing counts as one business text ad. Send your classified ad with check or money order, payable to the Beacon, to:

The Beacon, Baltimore Classified Dept. P.O. Box 2227, Silver Spring, MD 20915-2227 Wanted

Wanted

MILITARY ITEMS Collector seeks: helmets, weapons, knives, swords, bayonets, webgear, uniforms, inert ordnance, ETC. From 1875 to 1960, US, German, Britain, Japan, France, Russian. Also Lionel Trains. Please call Fred, 301-910-0783. Thank you.

FINE ANTIQUES, PAINTINGS AND QUALITY VINTAGE FURNISHINGS wanted by a serious capable buyer. I am very well educated [law degree] knowledgeable [over 40 years in the antique business] and have the finances and wherewithal to handle virtually any situation. If you have a special item, collection or important estate I would like to hear from you. I pay great prices for great things in all categories from oriental rugs to Tiffany objects, from rare clocks to firearms, from silver and gold to classic cars. If it is wonderful, I am interested. No phony promises or messy consignments. References gladly furnished. Please call Jake Lenihan, 301-279-8834. Thank you.

OLD AND NEW WE BUY Sterling Silver Flatware, Tea Sets, Single Pieces, Fountain Pens, Lighters, Tools, Cameras, Glassware, Art Work. Toys From Trains to Hotwheels to Star Wars. Call Greg, 717-658-7954. CASH BUYER FOR OLD COSTUME JEWELRY – pocket and wrist watches (any condition). Also buying watchmaker tools and parts, train sets and accessories, old toys, old glassware & coins. 410-655-0412.

BEACON BITS

Ongoing

BRITTANY IN BALTIMORE

“La Lumiere Fantastique: Brittany Shines in Baltimore” is on view through Dec. at the Graduate Student Center: Sheila and Richard Riggs and Leidy Galleries at the Maryland Institute College of Art, 131 W. North Ave. The exhibition features works by 65 MICA artists created during and after their residencies in Brittany, France. For more information, visit www.mica.edu or call (410) 669-9200.

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BB12/13

Winner of six 2010 Tony Awards, including Best Play, Red, playing at Everyman Theatre through Dec. 8, is an exploration of the mind of artistic genius and abstract expressionist Mark Rothko. Set against the changing landscape of the early 1960s, the celebrated artist has just landed his biggest commission: a series of massive murals for New York’s posh Four Seasons Restaurant. Everyman Theatre is located at 315 W. Fayette St. Tickets are $32 to $60. For more information, phone (410) 752-2208 or go to www.everymantheatre.org.


36

DECEMBER 2013 — BALTIMORE BEACON

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47604

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IMPORTANT CONSUMER INFORMATION: Jitterbug is owned by GreatCall, Inc. Your invoices will come from GreatCall. All rate plans and services require the purchase of a Jitterbug phone and a one-time set up fee of $35. $300 savings calculation based on market leaders’ lowest available monthly published fees. Coverage and service is not available everywhere. Other charges and restrictions may apply. Screen images simulated. There are no additional fees to call Jitterbug’s 24-hour U.S. Based Customer Service. However, for calls to an Operator in which a service is completed, minutes will be deducted from your monthly balance equal to the length of the call and any call connected by the Operator, plus an additional 5 minutes. Monthly minutes carry over and are available for 60 days. If you exceed the minute balance on your account, you will be billed at 35¢ for each minute used over the balance. Monthly rate plans do not include government taxes or assessment surcharges. Prices and fees subject to change. 1We will refund the full price of the GreatCall phone and the activation fee (or set-up fee) if it is returned within 30 days of purchase in like-new condition. We will also refund your first monthly service charge if you have less than 30 minutes of usage. If you have more than 30 minutes of usage, a per minute charge of 35 cents will be deducted from your refund for each minute over 30 minutes. You will be charged a $10 restocking fee. The shipping charges are not refundable. Jitterbug and GreatCall are registered trademarks of GreatCall, Inc. ©2013 GreatCall, Inc. ©2013 by firstSTREET for Boomers and Beyond, Inc.


December 2013 Baltimore Beacon Edition