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Something’s different... Regular readers may notice some narrower) from what we had been using. changes to Fifty Plus this month. You are not We have taken advantage of that extra height to enlarge all our ads imagining things: our paper as well as the space for text. stock and size have changed. Hence, the “dif ferent” Why? I received an email paper you are holding in your 10 days before this issue was hands. We hope you like our going to press from the comnew look, but if you don’t, we pany that has printed Fifty hope you’re pleased we were Plus for many years. The able to get this issue to press email announced the sudden in time anyway! closure of the company, to Of course, we would like to take effect in a week’s time. hear what you think of the That sent us scrambling to changes. We love to hear make other arrangements to FROM THE from readers (especially print the December issue of PUBLISHER Fifty Plus. Fortunately, the By Stuart P. Rosenthal when they have either nice things to say or constructive company that prints Fifty criticism). Plus’s sister publication, the For example, we received a lovely letter Beacon, was able to take on this additional peppered with both praise and criticism print job. But their paper is somewhat different from a reader a few weeks ago. Bill in weight and size (it’s taller and slightly Hogate of Henrico wrote the following:

CORRECTION: Freelance writer Martha Steger, author of last month’s cover story, apologizes for an error in attribution in that story. The book, For Any Young Mother Who Lives in a Shoe: A Christian Survival Guide, and the quote, “[I] wrote the book when I was in the thick of being Mommy,” should have been attributed to author Annie Tobey, editor of Boomer Magazine rather than to Bonnie Atwood, the subject of the cover story. Fifty Plus also regrets the error.

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Editorial Mission: Fifty Plus is dedicated to providing readers with accurate information, professional guidance, and useful resources. Our publication is intended to both reflect and enhance fifty-plus lifestyles, and to encourage reader dialogue and input. Fifty Plus is published monthly and distributed free of charge. The advertising deadline is the 20th of each month for the upcoming issue. The entire contents of Fifty Plus are ©2018, The Beacon Newspapers, Inc. No portion may be reproduced in whole or in part by any means without the express written consent of the publisher. The views and opinions expressed by writers and columnists do not necessarily represent those of Fifty Plus or its staff.

Publisher/Editor: ........................Stuart Rosenthal Vice President, Operations: ..........Gordon Hasenei Vice President, Sales and Marketing: ..Alan Spiegel


Dear Sir: When you find a gem you’d like to share with fellow seniors (Fifty Plus), it’s disappointing to see a broken distribution system. As I’ve stated in previous correspondence, when The Beacon publishers acquired Fifty Plus, the amount and quality of written materials important to seniors jumped to a new level! Kroger is often where I shop (and get my copy of Fifty Plus). Yesterday when I stepped into the [store] there was no Fifty Plus available. Instead, your space was jammed with Style Magazine. I also know the YMCA I belong to carries Fifty Plus, but one never knows if or when the current issue will show up (the bin’s been empty for at least two weeks). It may be that there is only one distribution service distributing free publications like Fifty Plus. If so, I just wish they’d “get on the ball!” I reprint his letter here in my column (rather than in our Letters to the Editor, below) because I thought he raised a number of concerns that other readers may share, and this gives me an opportunity to address them. First, Fifty Plus is typically printed at the end of the first full week of each month. As our former printer was located in Philadelphia, it took a few days to get the copies down to Richmond, and we distributed them starting the following Monday. With our new printer (and a new print schedule), we are now printing in the middle of the first full week of each month. As a result, distribution should begin on that Friday. So that’s another benefit of our recent change: copies should be available a little earlier in the month. Our distribution services deliver 35,000 copies of Fifty Plus to more than 400 free distribution sites throughout the Richmond metro area each month. These sites include public libraries, senior and recreation centers, places of worship, housing communities, doctors’ offices, Walgreens and CVS pharmacies, and other places older adults live, work and shop. Most of

those sites receive copies only once a month; a few are refilled mid-month. About one-third of our copies are delivered by Distributech, a company that secures multi-publication racks at stores like Kroger and Wawa, and rents out the spaces. We currently rent one space on all the Distributech racks at Kroger and Wawa. Distributech is scheduled to refill those racks twice a week: on Tuesdays and Fridays. So, if our shelf in one of those stores is empty (or, as apparently happened recently, has an interloper in our spot!), that should be corrected within a few days, unless it’s close to the next issue date, in which case we may simply have run out of that month’s edition. As it’s nearly impossible for us to keep tabs on all 400+ distribution sites, we rely on loyal and helpful readers like Mr. Hogate to let us know when there are problems. Sometimes we can take steps to correct them. For example, if your local Y is running out of copies early in the month, we can boost the number of copies we leave there. Similarly, if there is a store or other location where you think Fifty Plus would prove popular, please speak to them and ask a person with authority to call us (our number is in the box on this page) to arrange free monthly delivery. Again, we love to hear from you, and appreciate any and all assistance you can provide in being our eyes and ears in the community. And I mean that with respect to more than our distribution. Have a great idea for a story? Did we get a fact wrong? Have we overlooked something important? Please let us know! Feel free to write, email, call or submit a comment via our website: We look forward to hearing from you! Happy Holidays from Fifty Plus.

Letters to the editor Readers are encouraged to share their opinion on any matter addressed in Fifty Plus as well as on political and social issues of the day. Mail your Letter to the Editor to Fifty Plus, P.O. Box 2227, Silver Spring, MD 20915, or e-mail to Please include your name, address and telephone number for verification.

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Dear Editor: Thank you, Fifty Plus, for allowing us super-agers to express our likes and opinions on your pages. Today with cold temperatures making us shiver, I’d like to comment on November’s article, “Two warm, filling soups good for cold days.” Soup has always been a part of my life. My mom and dad in the “old country”

often spoke of days of World War I when soup and dry bread was daily sustenance. Years later, my mom made awesome soups, and the dry bread had been replaced with crunchy, buttered loaves. And, yes, the soup was then followed by yummy desert! Bon appetite, Fifty Plus! Fran Nunnally Richmond



Feature Story Entertainer says it all started with Santa

The road to Snow Queen

The real deal For decades, visitors to Miller & Rhoads’ Santaland in Richmond raved about “the Real Santa.” Asked about what made the store’s Santa more real than most, Dorman Hartley, retired M&R vice president and director of its 24 stores in Va. and N.C., said, “Because he is real — he must be about 150 years old by now, but he’s real! “Everything about Santa and the whole setting was so authentic,” Hartley added. “[Bill Strother] was a former California stunt man, and it was his idea to have a hearth with a huge chimney next to his and the Snow Queen’s chairs. There was always a crowd of onlookers to watch him emerge from that chimney at the beginning of every day during the holiday season. “I also think the Snow Queen was a big part of the perception that M&R had the real Santa. Her biggest job was to get the

College and family life Graduating from UR with studies in theatre, music and journalism, Deekens was able to transfer a bit of Snow Queen magic to the rest of her personal and professional life. She worked in public relations, marketing and fundraising for governmental, corporate and nonprofit organizations. She also performed professionally as an actress, soloist, entertainer and public speaker. But she always returned to See SNOW QUEEN, page 5

In this photo taken around 40 years ago, Donna Deekens poses with Bill Strother, who was Miller & Rhoads’ “Real Santa” and turned out to be a distant cousin of hers. Deekens recalls him as “magical and fatherly, a Fred Rogers figure who talked to children calmly and reassuringly.”

first name of each child and speak it into her [hidden] mic, which Santa could hear. That meant Santa greeted each boy and girl by name when they came to sit on his lap, and they thought, ‘Wow, this really is Santa — he knows my name!’”

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At five, Deekens couldn’t foresee that she would later have a role with that magical figure, but looking at events in Deekens’ childhood provides insight into her later life in terms of the skills and personality traits on which she built success. Her confidence began building when she started private voice lessons in elementary school at the urging of both the children’s choir director at Portsmouth’s Cradock Methodist Church and her piano teacher, Mary Hoffler. She holds fond memories of Hunter Purdie, director of chorus and band at Tuckahoe Junior High School, where she was a cheerleader, and of Nancy Shield and Vicki Nalls, for the chorus at Douglas Freeman High School, where Deekens became a majorette.

She went on to take dance instruction from Richmond’s Marian Meese and voice from Helen Rhodes until her graduation from Freeman in 1969. “All of my teachers were very encouraging to me,” she said. Albert Biddle, drama teacher at Freeman for almost 40 years, was another mentor. Deekens played the female lead in the musical, The Fantasticks under his direction. Taking advantage of entertainment-related opportunities at the University of Richmond’s (UR) Westhampton College, she reprised her cheerleader role from junior high school. But she found her forte as a soprano in the college’s concert choir under the direction of the renowned Jim Erb. As a college sophomore, she was asked to be a member of Thalhimers’ ‘Deb Council,’ While on the council, she participated in ribbon-cuttings and modeled for bridal and themed fashion shows. But she says her most influential college experience was traveling with 41 other members of the concert choir to Europe in 1971 — “nine countries in three weeks,” she recalled. “We were the first UR college choir to travel to Europe. “Later, I applied for a position at Miller & Rhoads. The person interviewing me saw my varied entertainment background and said she thought I’d be a good fit for a Snow Queen position,” Deekens recalled. (Several queens were required to cover day, night and weekend shifts during the busy holiday season.) Little did she know at the time that she would continue in that role for more than 20 years.


By Martha Steger Were you in Richmond for Christmas between 1971 and 1991? If so, Donna Strother Deekens is probably part of your holiday memories, whether you know it or not. If you were a child, parent or perhaps very young grandparent who made the trek to see Santa in downtown Richmond, or read about Santaland in the local newspapers, then you probably saw Deekens as the Snow Queen — Santa’s helper at Miller & Rhoads department store and, after M&R had closed, at Thalhimers department store. You might even have had a holiday lunch at the M&R Tea Room, when Deekens sang as the Snow Queen with a favorite Richmond accompanist, Eddie Weaver, at the piano. What first brought the 5-year-old Donna Strother and her family from Portsmouth to a Richmond Christmas at M&R was the store’s reputation for its Santa. By coincidence, the man who played Santa happened to have the same last name as theirs. But it was years before Deekens confirmed that Bill Strother was a distant cousin of hers. Related or not, he was the Santa everyone loved to visit. “Everyone in Tidewater at that time either came — or wanted to come — to Richmond for Christmas,” said Deekens, whose family ended up moving to Richmond in 1963 when C&P Telephone Company transferred her dad here. “Miller & Rhoads’ Santa was the Santa I visited as a child. He was the epitome of Santa — magical and fatherly, a Fred Rogers figure who talked to children calmly and reassuringly,” she said, which led to him being known as “the Real Santa.”



Fitness &


DOG YEARS Dog owners have better heart health and a lower risk of death. Learn why VOLUNTEERS NEEDED Healthy older adults are sought for studies seeking to prevent Alzheimer’s KEEP THAT APPENDIX Mild appendicitis can be treated with antibiotics rather than surgery ESCHEW THE FLU These steps help you avoid the flu and avoid infecting others if you get it

An eye scan may detect early Alzheimer’s Results from two studies show that a new, non-invasive imaging device can see signs of Alzheimer’s disease in a matter of seconds. The researchers show that the small blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye are altered in patients with Alzheimer’s. Even patients who have a family history of Alzheimer’s but have no symptoms show these telltale signs. Researchers also showed that they can distinguish between people with Alzheimer’s and those with only mild cognitive impairment. Results from these studies were presented at the recent annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

A window to the brain A new kind of precise and non-invasive

imaging called optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA) has assisted much of the recent research on the eye’s connection with Alzheimer’s. It enables physicians to see the smallest veins in the back of the eye, including the red blood cells moving through the retina. Because the retina is connected to the brain by way of the optic nerve, researchers believe that the deterioration in the retina and its blood vessels may mirror the changes going on in the blood vessels and structures in the brain, thereby offering a window into the disease process. Diagnosing Alzheimer’s is a currently a challenge. Some techniques can detect signs of the disease but are impractical for screening millions of people: Brain scans are

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expensive and spinal taps can be harmful. Instead, the disease is often diagnosed through memory tests or observing behavior changes. By the time these changes are noticed, the disease is advanced. Even though there is no cure, early diagnosis is critical as future treatments are likely to be most effective when given early. Early diagnosis would also give patients and their families time to plan for the future. The goal of this latest research is to find a quick, inexpensive way to detect Alzheimer’s at the earliest signs. Researchers at Duke University used OCTA to compare the retinas of Alzheimer’s patients with those of people with mild cognitive impairment, as well as healthy people.

They found that the Alzheimer’s group had loss of small retinal blood vessels at the back of the eye, and that a specific layer of the retina was thinner. Even people with mild cognitive impairment did not show these changes. “This project meets a huge unmet need,� said Dr. Sharon Fekrat, a professor of ophthalmology at Duke. “It’s not possible for current techniques, like a brain scan or lumbar puncture (spinal tap), to screen the number of patients with this disease. “Almost everyone has a family member or extended family affected by Alzheimer’s. We need to detect the disease earlier and inSee EYE SCAN, page 6 | Fitness & Health


Snow Queen

at least in their early years,” she recalled.

From page 3

A series of books

her Snow Queen role at the end of each year. Deekens even used her vacation time when she was D.C. press aide to the Rep. David E. Satterfield III, who represented Virginia’s 3rd district in Congress, to return to Richmond and be Snow Queen again. She met her husband of 41 years, Bill Deekens, on a blind date. Of course, getting married wouldn’t interfere with continuing as the Snow Queen. When their sons were born in 1985 and 1990, her appearances even took on added meaning. “Our boys, Brent and Greg, always knew that Mom had an ‘in’ with ‘the real Santa.’ They knew Mom was a Snow Queen, but they thought the one they saw when we took them downtown [to Santaland] was [one of my helpers.] I didn’t want to miss that experience from a ‘mom and dad’s’ point of view. They also came to hear me sing in the Tea Room when I performed as Snow Queen.” The real Santa also paid a visit to the Deekens home for many years for a private party for family and friends’ children. And each season, Santa would give them a personal telephone call as well. Deekens admits taking advantage of this relationship to help keep Brent and Greg in line. “I would tell the boys that I might have to report any naughty behavior of theirs to Santa. That seemed to help,

It was a short step from having Snow Queen experiences to writing about them. Deekens had jotted down notes through the years on stories she recalled, and pursued a contact at the History Press, which she got from George Bryson, an M&R vice president and co-author of Under the Clock: The Story of Miller & Rhoads. “The History Press was willing to take a chance on me — never having published anything,” Deekens said. “I’m happy to say the book, published in 2009 [Christmas at Miller & Rhoads: Memoirs of a Snow Queen], has done very well — reprinted at least six times. It definitely helped that Under the Clock was such a success.” Deekens followed up on her first success with Santaland: A Miller & Rhoads Christmas, a 2010 History Press hardback (now out of print) for ages 3-12. In 2013, she collaborated with the retired railroad engineer and author, Doug Riddell, on a book, Virginia’s Legendary Santa Trains. Deekens considered herself “privileged to ride one of the last Santa trains as a Snow Queen in 1971, sponsored by the RF&P Railroad and Miller & Rhoads. “I was anxious to tell the history of that magical ride — along with [that of] other magical Santa train excursions throughout the Commonwealth that Doug and I discovered in our [research about] the

heyday of the Santa trains — from the 1940s to the early 1970s,” she said. Deekens says she’s probably most proud of her 2014 book, The Real Santa of Miller & Rhoads: The Extraordinary Life of Bill Strother. Also published by History Press, the book was “truly a project dear to my heart, as Santa Bill was my childhood Santa, and I was able to confirm in my extensive research that, indeed, he and I are related.” With marketing and event planning in her background, Deekens has been a natural at reaching her audience as an author, according to J. Banks Smither, her commissioning editor at the History Press & Arcadia Publishing, the largest publisher of local history books in the country. “While Donna is a very good, profes-

sional writer, what she excels at is being able to market her nostalgic titles to her audience,” he said in a telephone interview from his New York office. “She knows her audience well. Richmond is very interested in its local history, more so than most communities, I think,” Smither added. “Her books reach a segment of the community that remembers what life was like years ago.” Deekens is now moving in a different editorial direction, though one that still involves nostalgia — a book on the history of the Portsmouth neighborhood, Cradock, where she grew up. She plans to pick up the project with two historians in early 2019. To contact Deekens or order any of her books, email, or call (804) 240-8436.


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Fitness & Health |


Why dog owners have better heart health By Steve Calechman Are you a “dog person”? You know, one of those people who talks about their dogs all the time, shares photo after photo online (or, worse, in person), and considers their dog as a semi-human member of the family? (In the interest of full disclosure, I am a dog person.) If you are, here’s a medical news story that may confirm what you’ve suspected all along. And if you aren’t a dog person, this may confirm your suspicion that researchers can prove just about anything they want. According to a recent study, your risk of having a cardiovascular event (such as stroke or heart attack) and your risk of death are lower if you have a dog. Some of the proposed explanations for this might surprise you. This study reviewed the health and death records of more than 3 million people in Sweden ages 40 to 80 over more than a decade, and found that:

Eye scan From page 4 troduce treatments earlier.”

Confirmed by Israeli study Because genes play a significant role in how Alzheimer’s disease begins and pro-

Compared with people in multi-person households without dogs, people living in multi-person households with dogs had a risk of death that was 11 percent lower, and risk of death due to a cardiovascular cause that was 15 percent lower. These findings were even more dramatic for those living alone. Risk of death was 33 percent lower among dog owners, cardiovascular deaths were lower by 36 percent, and the risk of heart attack was 11 percent lower. The benefit was greater for owners of certain breeds of dogs, such as retrievers and terriers.

The most obvious explanation for why dogs might provide their owners with certain health advantages is that dog owners tend to be more active. For many people, taking their dogs out of the house or apartment several times a day to “do their business,”

and walking their dogs, is far more physical activity than their dogless neighbors get. And this could explain why more active dog breeds (such as retrievers) are associated with the greatest benefit, and why single people (who must shoulder the entire “burden” of walking the dog) benefit the most. But there are other potential explanations that researchers have considered, including: — Improved immune function. Believe it or not, having a dog that brings dirt and germs into the home could improve how the immune system functions, and reduce harmful inflammation in the body. — Modifying the microbiome. The huge number of bacteria in our digestive tracts changes not only with changes in diet, but also with pet ownership. It’s possible that having a dog alters the types of bacteria we harbor, which in turn could affect inflammation in the body and resultant cardiovascular risk. — Social impact. Dog owners must, to at

gresses, another team of researchers, from Sheba Medical Center in Israel, examined 400 people who had a family history of the disease but showed no symptoms themselves. They compared their retina and brain scans with those who have no family history of Alzheimer’s. They found that the inner layer of the

retina is thinner in people with a family history. The brain scan showed that their hippocampus, an area of the brain that’s first affected by the disease, had already begun to shrink. Both factors, a thinner inner retina layer and smaller hippocampus, were associated with scoring worse on a cognitive

What’s the connection?

least some degree, focus outside themselves, which can promote social interaction. In addition, dog owners tend to bond with one another as their dogs play together and check each other out. Past research has found that social contact is linked with lower cardiovascular risk and rates of death. — Improved mood. Some have proposed that the unconditional affection and companionship of dogs can improve mood, and through this effect improve health.

Will a dog extend your life? Not so fast. This study only found that dog owners tend to live longer and have fewer heart attacks than those without dogs. But that does not prove dog ownership itself is the reason. Maybe healthier, more active people get dogs more often than sedentary people, and it’s that self-selection that accounts for See DOG OWNERS, page 8

function test. “A brain scan can detect Alzheimer’s when the disease is well beyond a treatable phase,” said lead researcher Dr.Ygal Rotenstreich, an ophthalmologist at the Goldschleger Eye Institute at Sheba Medical Center. “We need treatment intervention sooner. These patients are at such high risk.” | Fitness & Health



Studies aim to prevent Alzheimer’s disease By Marilyn Marchione It may be too late to stop Alzheimer’s in people who already have some mental decline. But what if a treatment could target the very earliest brain changes while memory and thinking skills are still intact, in hope of preventing the disease? Two big studies are going all out to try. Clinics throughout the United States and some other countries are signing up participants — the only studies of this type enrolling healthy older people. “The excitement in the Alzheimer’s field right now is prevention,” said Dr. Eric Reiman, executive director of the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix, which is leading the work. Science so far has failed to find a drug that can alter the progression of Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia; 146 attempts have failed over the last decade, a recent industry report found. Even drugs that help remove the sticky plaques that clog the brains of people with the disease have not yet proved able to stave off mental decline. It may be that they were tried too late, like lowering cholesterol after someone has suffered a heart attack whose damage can’t be undone, Reiman said. “What we have been learning, painfully, is that if we really want to come up with therapies that will modify the disease, we

need to start very, very, very early,” said Dr. Eliezer Masliah, neuroscience chief at the National Institute on Aging. His agency is funding the prevention studies with the Alzheimer’s Association, several foundations, and Novartis and Amgen, makers of two experimental drugs being tested.

ily member or close friend with it, she said. Langbaum’s 67-year-old mother, Ivy Segal, gave a DNA sample through a cheek swab and joined the registry in August. Her father was a patient at Banner and died of Alzheimer’s in 2011 at age 87. Watching him go from a mild-mannered man whose smile could light up a room to what he was like when he died was devastating, she said.

Impeding plaque The goal is to try to block the earliest steps of plaque formation in healthy people who show no symptoms of dementia but are at higher risk for it because of age and a gene that makes it more likely. To participate, people must first join GeneMatch, a confidential registry of folks interested in volunteering for various Alzheimer’s studies who are ages 55 to 75 and have not been diagnosed with any mental decline. They are checked for the APOE4 gene, which doesn’t destine someone to develop Alzheimer’s but raises that risk. About one in four people have one copy of the gene and about 2 percent have two copies, one from each parent. More than 70,000 people have signed up since the registry began three years ago, said Jessica Langbaum, one of the Banner study leaders. “Most of them have been touched by the disease personally,” either by having a fam-

Must have APOE4 gene Just being in GeneMatch doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll find out if you have the gene — folks with and without it may be contacted about various studies. But to be in one of the two prevention studies, people must agree to learn their APOE4 status and have at least one copy of the gene. Participants get periodic brain scans and memory and thinking tests every six months. They are given experimental drugs or placebo versions of them for several years. One study is enrolling people with two copies of the gene. They are given either shots every few months of a drug intended to help the immune system clear plaque from the brain, or daily pills of a

drug intended to prevent the first steps of plaque formation — or placebo versions of these experimental treatments. The other study is in people who either have two copies of APOE4 or one copy of the gene plus evidence on brain scans of plaque starting to build. They will get one of two doses of the drug to prevent plaque formation or placebo pills. Larry Rebenack, 71, of the Phoenix suburb of Surprise, Arizona, joined GeneMatch in August. “I have a lot of friends and acquaintances I’ve seen deteriorate,” including one who started blowing through stop signs on a route to a golf course they had safely traveled for years, and another who forgot not only where he had parked his car but even what kind of car it was, Rebenack said. “It’s a disease that takes a little part of you away each day.” Rebenack has decided to learn whether he has the gene if researchers give him the chance to find out. “It’s like any other piece of information. It helps you plan your life. And you owe it to all your loved ones, too.” For details about GeneMatch, visit

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Fitness & Health |


Antibiotics an alternative for appendicitis By Dr. Howard LeWine Q: A friend was recently treated with antibiotics for appendicitis. I thought appendicitis required an operation. What’s changed? A: For more than 100 years, appendicitis was considered an emergency that required immediate surgery to remove the appendix (an appendectomy). Today a course of antibiotics offers a safe alternative in many cases. Before we had CT scans and ultrasounds, doctors had to diagnose appendicitis based on the patient’s symptoms and the physical exam. Good diagnosticians got it right about 85 percent of the time. So it was very acceptable to remove a normal appendix once out of every seven

surgeries. That’s because surgeons were most worried about missing a severely infected appendix or one that had ruptured. Nobody would consider running a study to compare antibiotics alone to surgery for symptoms of acute appendicitis. But when CT scans came into common use, doctors had a great tool to help diagnose the cause of abdominal pain. With the detailed pictures CT scans provide, doctors can determine who has “mild” inflammation of the appendix that has little chance of developing into an abscess or rupturing. This opened the door to consider antibiotic treatment as an alternative to immediate appendectomy. Doctors began offering antibiotics to some patients with simple appendicitis. Nine years ago, researchers launched

a formal study comparing the two strategies. The study included 530 adults with simple appendicitis diagnosed by CT scan. They were randomly assigned to have surgery right away or to take antibiotics. The researchers just reported the longterm study results in the Journal of American Medical Association. For those that were assigned to antibiotic treatment, 39 percent had recurrent appendicitis over the next five years. Most recurrences occurred within the first 12 months. The surgery patients in the study had a traditional open appendectomy. Today it’s more common to have a laparoscopic procedure. This is done through small incisions. Recovery is much faster than with the larger incision needed for open appendectomy. When I had appendicitis three years ago,

I was offered antibiotics or surgery. I chose immediate laparoscopic appendectomy. I didn’t want risk a recurrence, especially since I like to travel, and I was able to adapt my work schedule without much hassle. Someone else with appendicitis might have different priorities. He or she may find it very inconvenient to have immediate surgery, and would rather postpone an operation, or not have one at all unless appendicitis recurs. Howard LeWine, M.D., is an internist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. For additional consumer health information, please visit © 2018 President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Dog owners

some contribution from other “non-dog” factors is challenging. We’ll need to have a better understanding of whether dog ownership itself truly provides health benefits and just how it works. Naturally, similar questions will arise regarding cats and other pets. Until we know more, the apparent health benefits of dog ownership should be encouraging to dog people everywhere. And if you aren’t a dog person, this latest research might convince you to be-

come one. © 2018. President and Fellows of Har-

vard College. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

From page 6 the observations of this latest research. It’s also possible that economic factors play an important role. Dog ownership can be expensive, and those who can most afford to own a dog might receive better healthcare, have better health insurance, or have healthier lifestyles. While the researchers tried to account for some of these possibilities, excluding


Dec. 19


Byrd Theatre presents a screening of A Christmas Story on Wednesday, Dec. 19 from 7:15 to 9 p.m. Set in the 1940s, a young boy named Ralphie attempts to convince his parents, his teacher and Santa that a Red B.B. gun really is the perfect Christmas gift. Tickets cost $5. The theater is located at 2908 West Cary St., Richmond. For more information, visit or call (804) 358-3056. | Fitness & Health



Don’t enable abuse; stand up for yourself Dear Solutions: ogizes, but I know it will happen again. I hope you can help me find a better It’s happening more and more. way to react to my husband when he What should I do? blames me for things and — Donna yells and screams at me. Dear Donna: We went to dinner with Don’t clam up — speak two other couples, and I up! Your husband will not wanted to order a clam aptake responsibility for his petizer. The other two own actions or inaction as women wanted to share it, long as he can bully and so we ordered it for the scream at you and get away three of us. When the with it. other two men saw it, they He has temper tantrums wanted it also and decided like a spoiled child or, more to order it for the three of SOLUTIONS threateningly, like an abuBy Helen Oxenberg, them to share. sive husband. My husband hates clams, MSW, ACSW Tell him, before another but he said nothing, let them incident happens, that you order it, made a gesture of eating some, will not accept blame for anything you didand then sat in a glum, silent mood all n’t do, and you will not hang around to evening. watch or listen to his tantrums. Abuse, unWhen we got home, he exploded at less stopped in its tracks, does not get betme, yelling that I had no right order- ter. It often erupts into physical violence. ing clams when I know he hates Insist that he go for therapy. If he rethem, and that I gave the idea to the fuses, get out — there’s no gain in this others. pain. He carries on this way ever y time Dear Solutions: something goes wrong and blames Very soon after my good friend died, me. When this happens, I start shak- her husband remarried. Now he’s being and crying and feel sick. coming more and more disabled and is I don’t say anything because a day having a lot of trouble walking. or so later he brings flowers and apolAt a meeting the other night, we

saw him having a hard time while this new wife just sat there and didn’t even try to help him. I wanted to poke her and tell her to help him. I think we — the old friends — should say something to her about how inconsiderate she’s being, but my husband says no. I thought I could just say nicely, “Doesn’t he need help? I think you should help him.” He limps and wobbles when he walks. What do you think? — Old Friend Dear Old Friend: No matter how he “limps and wobbles” it’s his limp and his wobble, and therefore his independence. Many handicapped people would rather struggle than accept help because that struggle still allows them to hold onto a feeling of control. Give “this new wife,” as you describe her, the benefit of the doubt and assume that she knows whether he wants help or not. Don’t ask her. That would sound as if he’s a child and she’s his mother. You can only ask him if he wants help, and then respect his wishes. It’s hard to lose a good friend and then see someone else taking her place. But if this man is also a friend of yours, be happy for him that he’s found a companion.

Too fast? For mature adults, even fast can sometimes feel too slow. Dear Solutions: I met a man at a program that I attended recently. He was very, very attentive and flattering to me, and kept insisting that we should see each other in the future. He lives in a different state, though, and instead of making arrangements, he just keeps calling and talking on the phone. Should I volunteer to travel to his state to meet with him since he doesn’t say anything about coming to me? He’s still very flattering, but I’m a little cautious now because people at the program who knew him warned me that he’s what they called “an operator.” — Gladys Dear Gladys: Trouble is, he’s a long distance operator! Suggest once that he come to your state or that you meet halfway. If he says no, hang up. He’s the wrong number. © Helen Oxenberg, 2018. 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 To inquire about reprint rights, call (609) 655-3684.

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Fitness & Health |


How to avoid the flu and colds this winter Q: It seems like everyone I know is The effectiveness of the flu shot varies getting sick with a cold or the flu re- each year, but it always decreases your cently. How can I protect myself from chance of getting the flu when compared getting sick too? to not getting the shot at all. A: With chilly air and Even if you still get the flu, if snowy weather come all kinds you’ve had a flu shot, your of conditions — the flu, the symptoms may last a shorter common cold and everything amount of time, or be less sein between. However, there vere. are a number of things you Also consider that getting can do to keep yourself well a flu shot helps to keep you and prevent the spread of from spreading the flu to germs to loved ones. those who cannot get the Here are some tips to help shot, such as very young avoid colds & flu this winter: DR. R children and people with imX • Wash your hands often mune systems that don’t By Heather Rucker and for at least 20 seconds. function well. This is about as long as • Sneeze or cough into singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. your sleeve — and make sure to wash Be sure to scrub the backs of hands, be- your hands after contact with your nose or tween fingers, and underneath nails, mouth. where germs can be found. Use an alco• If you’re feeling sick, stay home to hol-based rub if soap and water is not avoid spreading germs to others. The available. CDC recommends those with respiratory • Get your flu shot each year! Getting symptoms and fever stay home until at vaccinated is the most important way to least 24 hours after the last fever ends. prevent spread of the flu and flu-related See DR. Rx, page 11 complications.

New drug shortens, eases flu symptoms U.S. health regulators have approved the first new type of flu drug in two decades. The approval of Xofluza for people age 12 and older comes just ahead of the brunt of this winter’s flu season. Xofluza is a pill that can reduce severity and shorten duration of flu symptoms after one just dose. It was developed by the Roche Group and Shionogi & Co. It works about as well as Tamiflu, Roche’s older flu treatment, which is also available in cheaper generic versions. Tamiflu is taken twice daily for five days. Health officials have said an estimated 80,000 Americans died of flu and its complications last winter, the disease’s highest death toll in at least four decades. The severe flu season increased demand for Tamiflu and led to spot shortages. Roche’s Genentech unit launched Xofluza in November. It costs $150 without insurance. The need for only one dose is an advantage since patients don’t always take all their medicine, said Dr.

Mark Eisner, Genentech’s head of development of infectious disease medicines. “With thousands of people getting the flu every year, and many people becoming seriously ill, having safe and effective treatment alternatives is critical. This novel drug provides an important, additional treatment option,” said U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. In company testing on 1,064 people, Xofluza ended coughing, sneezing and fever, or greatly reduced symptoms, in just over two days on average. A comparison group given Tamiflu fared similarly. While Xofluza didn’t work faster than Tamiflu, it did reduce the level of the virus in patients’ noses and throats quicker. Further testing is planned to determine whether Xofluza is better than Tamiflu for preventing spread of the flu to others, and for treating patients at high risk for hospitalization and pneumonia, such as people with diabetes or lung disease, pregnant women, young children and the elderly. — AP | Fitness & Health



Roasted salmon with a honey-lime glaze Pairing perfectly roasted salmon with a spiced-up honey-lime glaze required a cooking technique all its own. Slashing the skin encouraged it to render and crisp quickly, but we also needed to give the flesh a strong, flavorful crust that would stand up to (as well as hold on to) a thick coating of glaze. Applying a rub of cornstarch and brown sugar to the flesh and searing it in a hot skillet provided that browned crust and firm texture on the double. Once flipped, the skin side needed just a minute to crisp. We spooned the thickened glaze over the fillets and transferred the skillet to a moderate oven where our salmon hit its target temperature in less than 10 minutes. Glossy and appealingly sweet-tart, these fillets were an easy, satisfying upgrade.

Dr. Rx From page 10 • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, as germs can easily be spread this way — from you to others, and from others to you. • If someone you live with or share common areas with is sick, don’t forget to wipe down surfaces like sinks and door handles with a disinfectant.

To ensure uniform pieces of fish, buy a whole center-cut fillet and cut it into four pieces. If your knife is not sharp enough to cut through the skin easily, try a serrated knife. You will need a 12-inch ovensafe nonstick skillet for this recipe.

Honey-lime glazed roast salmon Servings: 4 Start to finish: 40 minutes Honey-lime glaze: 1/4 cup honey 1 teaspoon grated lime zest plus 2 tablespoons juice 1 teaspoon chili powder 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper Salmon: 1 teaspoon packed light brown sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt

• Eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, and be sure to get enough exercise and sleep. This is always important, but especially so during cold and flu season to keep your immune system functioning properly to prevent getting sick. With a little care — washing your hands often, taking preventative steps like getting a flu shot, and avoiding spreading to others any germs you might catch — you and your loved ones can stay healthy

1/4 teaspoon cornstarch 1/8 teaspoon pepper 1 (1 3/4- to 2-pound) center-cut skin-on salmon fillet, 1 1/2 inches thick 1 teaspoon vegetable oil For the honey-lime glaze: Whisk all ingredients together in small saucepan and simmer over medium-high heat until thickened, about 1 minute; remove from heat and cover to keep warm. For the salmon: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 F. Combine sugar, salt, cornstarch and pepper in bowl. Cut salmon crosswise into 4 fillets. Make 3 or 4 shallow slashes diagonally, about 1 inch apart, on skin side of each fillet, being careful not to cut into flesh. Pat salmon dry with paper towels, and rub sugar mixture evenly over flesh side of salmon.

Heat oil in 12 inch oven-safe nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Lay salmon flesh side down in skillet and cook until well browned, about 1 minute. Carefully flip salmon and cook on skin side for 1 minute. Off heat, spoon glaze over salmon fillets. Transfer skillet to oven and roast until center is still translucent when checked with tip of paring knife and registers 125 F (for medium-rare), 7 to 10 minutes. Serve. Nutrition information per serving: 364 calories; 123 calories from fat; 14 g. fat (2 g. saturated; 0 g. trans fats); 109 mg. cholesterol; 254 mg. sodium; 20 g. carbohydrate; 0 g. fiber; 19 g. sugar; 39 g. protein. For more recipes, cooking tips and ingredient and product reviews, visit — America’s Test Kitchen via AP

this winter and enjoy all that the holidays have to offer! Be sure to visit your community pharmacist for your yearly flu shot and to ask any questions you may have about staying well.

Heather Rucker is a fourth-year Pharm.D. student at VCU School of Pharmacy. She majored in chemistry at James Madison University, with minors in business and medical Spanish. Her areas of interest include internal medicine, transitions of care and academia.

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Fitness & Health |


Less-invasive surgery less effective too By Carla K. Johnson New evidence about a cancer operation in women finds a higher death rate for the less invasive version, challenging standard practice and the “less is more” approach to treating cervical cancer. The unexpected findings are prompting changes at some hospitals that perform radical hysterectomies for early-stage disease. The more rigorous of the two studies was conducted at more than 30 sites in a dozen countries. It found women who had the less invasive surgery were four times more likely to see their cancer return compared to women who had traditional surgery.

Death from cervical cancer occurred in 14 of 319 patients who had minimally invasive surgery and 2 of 312 patients who had open surgery. Results were published online by the New England Journal of Medicine. Radical hysterectomy is standard treatment for women with early-stage cervical cancer. Rates are declining because of widespread screening. The number of operations has fallen, too, to several thousand a year in the United States. Some women with early-stage cervical cancer are choosing fertility-sparing techniques, treatments not included in the new research. In both studies, researchers compared two methods for radical hysterectomy, an


Dec. 31


The Richmond Triangle Players’ Cabaret Series will celebrate New Year’s Eve with beloved Richmond cabaret performer Scott Wichmann in two performances of his new show “A Very Good Year” Monday, Dec. 31 at 8 and 10:30 p.m. Tickets are already limited for the 8 p.m. show and are on sale now. Scott will be joined by long-time music director and collaborator, Ryan Corbitt on piano, with Claude Arthur on bass, and Bryan Connelly on drums, and there will be special appearances by performers Tony Primavera and Eva DeVirgilis. Both shows take place at Robert B. Moss Theatre at 1300 Altamont Ave., Richmond. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call (804) 346-8113.

operation to remove the uterus, cervix and part of the vagina. The surgery costs around $9,000 to $12,000 with the minimally invasive version at the higher end.

Differences in surgeries Traditional surgery involves a cut in the lower abdomen. In a newer method, a surgeon makes small incisions for a camera and instruments. Patients recover faster, so laparoscopic surgery, which has been around for more than a decade, gained popularity despite a lack of rigorous long-term studies. It’s not clear why it failed to measure up. Experts suspect there may be something about the tools or technique that spreads the cancer cells from the tumor to the abdominal cavity. Some hospitals went back to traditional hysterectomy after the results were presented at a cancer meeting in March. “We immediately as a department changed our practice and changed completely to the open approach,” said Dr. Pedro Ramirez of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Ramirez led the more rigorous study, which randomly assigned 631 patients to one of two surgeries. After 4 1/2 years, the rate of those still living without disease was 86 percent with less invasive surgery

and 96 percent with traditional surgery. The experiment was halted early in 2017 when the higher death and cancer recurrence rates showed up. The original plan was to enroll 740 patients in the study, which was funded in part by surgical device maker Medtronic. For 33-year-old Alicia Ackley, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer in July, the recommendation for traditional surgery came as a surprise, but she followed the advice of her doctor at MD Anderson after hearing about the research. Tests following her September operation show no signs of cancer. “I’m very glad I went that route,” Ackley said. “The open hysterectomy got everything.” The other study looked at 2,461 women with cervical cancer who had radical hysterectomies from 2010 through 2013. It found a 9.1 percent death rate after four years among women who got minimally invasive surgery compared to 5.3 percent for traditional surgery.

‘Surprising’ and ‘alarming’ findings “We’re rethinking how we approach patients,” said study co-author Dr. Jason Wright of New York-Presbyterian Hospital. “There’s a lot of surprise around these findings.” The research is “a great blow” to the technique, and the findings are “alarming,” said Dr. Amanda Fader of Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. She said Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore has stopped doing less invasive hysterectomies for cervical cancer until there is more data. While some patients with small tumors might do as well with minimally invasive surgery, “surgeons should proceed cautiously” and discuss the new information with patients, Fader wrote in an accompanying editorial. — AP




Richmond RSVP is looking for skilled volunteers to devote their time and experience to helping local organizations. RSVP, short for the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, provides opportunities for individuals 55 and older to make a difference in their community using their unique skills. For more information, visit | Fitness & Health


Health Studies Page



Drug study will try to halt memory loss By Barbara Ruben With 5.7 million Americans already living with Alzheimer’s disease — a number that is expected to more than double in 30 years — researchers are racing to find the culprits that lead to the memory loss and confusion Alzheimer’s disease can cause. One suspect is a type of protein in the brain called beta-amyloid. Researchers believe fragments of this protein can accumu late and stick together forming plaques, disrupting communications between brain cells and causing cell degeneration and death. A new clinical trial called TrailblazerAlz targets beta-amyloid plaques with a novel investigational drug that is aimed at stimulating the body’s natural cleaning system to clear this plaque away. Preliminary research with this drug suggests that plaques may be completely removed in as little as three to six months.

This is the first clinical trial that examines whether this novel drug can help people with Alzheimer’s. “If the removal of amyloid plaque in the brain is the key to slowing or stopping the progression of Alzheimer’s, then this drug may well be what we need ,” said Dr. James McKenney, an investigator with the Alzheimer’s Research Center in Richmond. Finding a way to stop the disease process with drugs is the most important way to fight Alzheimer’s, according to McKenney. “ “We are very hopeful that drugs such as this one will be successful, and will someday soon be available to the millions of people with beginning memory loss to stop the disease,” McKenney added. The Alzheimer’s Research Center, located at 2809 Emerywood Parkway in Richmond, is one of 70 facilities in the U.S. and Canada participating


Dec. 13+


There will be free wellness workouts on Thursday, Dec. 13, 20 and 27 at First Baptist Church, 2709 Monument Ave., Richmond at 11:30 a.m. Walk-ins welcome. For more information, visit

Dec. 16


Do you speak German? Book People is hosting German Scrabble on Sunday, Dec. 16 from 3 to 5 p.m. at 536 Granite Ave., Richmond. For more information, visit or call (804) 288-4346.



Check out James River Art League’s art exhibit at Tuckahoe Library, open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday/Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., through Monday, Dec. 31. The library is located at 1901 Starling Dr., Henrico. For more information, visit

in the Trailblazer-Alz study.

Volunteers are needed To take part in the study, patients must be age 60 to 85, with either mild Alzheimer’s disease, or have had memory loss for six months or more that has become gradually worse over time. The study will last for up to two years and five months, and will involve up to 26 study appointments. Participants must have a family member or close friend who is with them for at least 10 hours per week and can attend some of the study appointments as well. During the double-blind study, patients will be randomly divided into two groups. One will receive the plaque-removing drug, and the other will receive a placebo, a similarly administered drug with no active ingredient. Neither the patients nor the doctors will know who is receiving


Dec. 16


Bill Sizemore will be representing his book Uncle George and Me at the 5th Annual Brew-HoHo at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery on Sunday, Dec. 16 from 2 to 5 p.m. at 2408-2410 Ownby Ln., Richmond, Va. In the book, Sizemore tells the story of his slave-owning Virginia ancestors, their slaves, and those slaves’ descendants — a story that lay buried by a century of denial and historical amnesia. Its threads run through the Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the Great Migration, the struggle for civil rights, and the crippling legacy of slavery that still plagues the nation today. For more information, email or call (804) 644-3090.

which substance. Volunteers will go through a screening process during which their eligibility to participate will be determined. They will receive all study-related care from a research doctor at no cost, and may be compensated for time and travel expenses. For more information or to volunteer, call (804) 755-2300 or visit


Fitness & Health |




Home for the Holidays: a checklist for families

The Resource for Aging Well Executive Director’s Message


Dr. Thelma Bland Watson Executive Director, Senior Connections, The Capital Area Agency on Aging

ear Fifty Plus Readers and Community Friends: We extend thanks to Fifty Plus for including this Home for the Holidays Supplement in time for the upcoming holidays and as a future reference. Our intent is to reach caregivers who might not otherwise know of Senior Connections and the information we offer.

What is the importance of connecting with caregivers?

Connecting with caregivers gives us the opportunity to recognize the many individuals who are caring for loved ones — spouses, parents, siblings, children and friends who are confronting a range of health concerns, including Alzheimer’s and related dementia, or the declining ability to manage business affairs. We celebrate and recognize the myriad of contributions made in families every day. Caregiving responsibilities range from helping with grocery shopping, housekeeping, personal care and medication assistance, to making decisions about health and medical care. The daily activities of caregiving are rewarding and challenging. Important sources of information for caregivers include: • For the Richmond Metropolitan area (City of Richmond and Counties of Charles City, Chesterf ield, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, New Kent, Powhatan): Senior Connections, The Capital Area Agency on Aging at (804) 343-3000 or Toll Free at 1-800-989-2286, • For areas in Virginia outside of Richmond: The Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services at (804) 662-9333 or Toll Free at 1800-552-3402,

• Outside of Virginia: National Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 or

What should caregivers be on the lookout for when caring for their loved ones?

Most of us find caregiving rewarding and beneficial. However, caregiving opportunities can also be challenges. Caregivers might want to take a few minutes to learn that they are not alone. Research shows that most of care, about 83%, that is given to older relatives and friends is provided by informal caregivers, family members and friends. Caregivers need to be on the lookout for illness, neglect of self, loss of financial resources, frustration, anger, fatigue, stress and confusion. They need to recognize that they are caregivers and what this means. Caregiving, like other jobs, consists of tasks, some more time consuming and complex than others. Some caregiving requires more skills than others. Caregivers should make lists of their tasks — helping with meals, rides for medical appointments, help with grocery shopping, medication management, support with business affairs and others. Write down questions and share with trusted friends, family members, medical professionals and others. Caregivers may experience denial, anger and social withdrawal. They should seek advice and ask for help that provides respite, support and relief. They should also learn as much as possible about their loved ones and their health condition or illness. The more caregivers know, the better they are able to find resources and provide care and support.

(See Director’s Message on next page)

Formerly “Mature Life”

There’s no place like home for the holidays, but the truth is that those brief home visits can become stressful if you notice your aging parents declining quickly. You can preemptively combat this stress by preparing a list of items to check up on during your home visit, even if it’s just for a few days. Here are the four areas to check if you have 48 hours at home for the holidays. 1. Check for home maintenance issues. ✔ Air filters ✔ Light bulbs ✔ Locks on all windows and doors ✔ Faucets ✔ HVAC ✔ Loose boards on stairs or the porch ✔ Make sure there are non-slip mats in the bathrooms. ✔ Assess the amount of extra stuff in the house: Are there piles of newspapers that could cause a fall or be a potential fire hazard? ✔ Vehicles: Ensure the starter turns over, the brakes work, and there aren’t any service lights on in the dash.

2. Understand their financial situation and know where important documents are located. ✔ Bank account numbers, names of financial institutions, and the location of financial records ✔ Monthly expenses and income — are your parents able to pay the bills?

✔ Health insurance status, including Medicare and Medicaid, and the location of health insurance docs ✔ Location of medical records ✔ Ask if they’ve named a power of attorney for both finances and healthcare, and if so, where those documents are located ✔ Location of any titles, deeds, etc. in case a medical situation escalates and downsizing becomes necessary

3. Check nutrition, medications, and memory. ✔ Check pantry and fridge for fresh fruit, vegetables and protein. ✔ If you’re concerned about your parents eating too much pre-packaged or fast food, consider applying for Meals on Wheels. ✔ Check that medications are organized and labeled properly. If they aren’t, buy a few days-of-the-week pill containers and fill and label them yourself. ✔ If medications are prescribed by a few different doctors, write down the names of the drugs and ask your own pharmacist if they’re safe to take together. ✔ Ask people who see your parents often — like neighbors, friends or even grocery store clerks — if they’ve noticed any changes in your parents’ behavior that may indicate failing memory. ✔ If you’re concerned about signs (See Checklist on next page)

Engage at any Age!



Mom, we need to talk: How to communicate with parents about aging


aving the talk with parents about aging is one we may dread, but can’t avoid when it’s no longer safe for them to continue living independently. “The Talk” may be triggered by a health-related event. Mom broke her hip, and the hospital won’t let her go home because the only bathroom is on the second floor. Or it could be simply the culmination of a slow but noticeable decline: Dad’s house has become so cluttered you’re worried that should he have a heart attack, emergency services won’t be able to get to him. Whatever brought your family to this juncture, the goals are the same. First, to ensure a safe living environment that offers the level of care seniors need today and will need in the future. And second, to accomplish this without adding to the stress your parents are already experiencing as

Director’s message ( from previous page)

When should around-theclock care be considered?

The average caregiver provides 20 hours of care per week. However, most caregivers feel they are on 24/7. We are always caregivers. When seeking around-the-clock care, safety is a primary concern. What is needed to keep our loved ones safe with the best care possible? The options may be different for families, based on needs and circumstances. This is why advance planning is so important. It is important to discuss shared values and desires. A combination of approaches may be considered — help from family members, friends, shared homes, adult day care services, respite, in home care, nursing homes, assisted living, continuing care retirement communities and others.

they are forced to face a difficult transition. That’s a tall order for any family, and it often requires an emotionally fraught conversation. Here is how to talk to your parents about aging, and reach the best possible decision together.

Start early

Don’t wait until a health emergency requires an immediate decision. The sooner you start thinking about how to talk to your parents about the situation, the more options you’ll have available when the time comes. You can take some of the edge off the talk by selecting a casual setting — such as drinking iced tea on the back porch — and asking them about their own relatives. For example, what happened to Grandma after Grandpa died? How did she manage? Didn’t Aunt Lucy

end up in a senior care facility? Did you ever visit her there? As we age, our memories become increasingly important to us, so think about how to talk to your parents by getting them to tell stories about their loved ones. Follow up by asking your aging parents if they’ve thought about what they would do in a similar situation. As long as they’re comfortable, keep asking open-ended questions about what they want, how they see their lives progressing, and how they plan to pay for it. A key tip for how to talk to parents about any stressful topic is to keep your voice and body language at ease, and just listen. If your parents start getting tense, let it go. Assure them that nothing has to be decided today, and that you only want to know so that you can help them continue living on their own terms.

What options are available for around-the-clock care?

What are some of the risk factors our aging loved Care Coordination, Long-Term ones encounter?

Care Insurance, Care Giver Support Assistance, PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care of the Elderly), Home Health Care, Adult Day Care, Family and Friends, Support Groups (to learn from experiences of others), Assisted Living, Continuing Care Retirement Communities — Medicare/Medicaid Benefits.

How can we make our current living environments safer for our aging loved ones?

Remove barriers, guard against falls, install grab bars, use ramps, use hospital beds/chair lifts and assistive devices/technology to help with mobility, accessibility and reaching. Retrofit rooms, update furniture, make home modifications and seek professional assistance.

• Lack of Transportation • Need for Nutritional Supports, Nutritious Food, Exercise, Activity • Social Isolation — loss of connections, feeling lonely • Fear of Aging and Dependency — not wanting to be a burden • Lack of Financial Resources • Unwilling to Accept Help • Wanting to remain at home, and lack of knowledge about other options As we celebrate the holidays, we also encourage caregivers to consider being “home for holidays” as not only a time to connect with loved ones but also to connect with resources. Senior Connections is a ready resource for caregivers. Please connect with us at (804) 343-3000, or visit our website at Thank you.

Understand their motivations

Just as the medical field has made a science of childhood development, geriatric development is becoming an increasingly important research topic, providing critical insight into what’s going on with us mentally, emotionally and physically as we age. For most seniors (those without cognitive issues), the top two priorities are maintaining control and creating a legacy, according to David Solie, a leading geriatric specialist and author of How to Say it to Seniors: Closing the Communication Gap with Our Elders. Seniors grapple with the day-to-day reality of losing control as their abilities decline, and often become increasingly adamant about holding on to whatever control they have left. With this insight, talk to your par(See Talk with Mom on next page)


( from previous page)

of dementia, make a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible and plan to go with your parents. Many causes (like medication side effects or kidney problems) can be remedied if caught early.

4. Ask what they need or want. ✔ Do they need anything taken to Goodwill or the dump? ✔ Do they feel safe? Is there a plan in place in case of emergencies? ✔ Are they bored? There are tons of fun classes and events that accommodate older adults. Start by contacting your local aging services office and check with churches in the area. ✔ Are they feeling lonely or ignored? Make sure that tending to their physical needs doesn’t overshadow valuable time you could be spending together.

Steps for preventing falls among your older loved ones Engage at any Age!


Did you know that one in four older Americans falls every year? Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for people 65+. Falls can result in hip fractures, broken bones and head injuries. And even falls without a major injury can cause an older adult to become fearful or depressed, making it difficult for them to stay active. If you have an aging parent, grandparent or neighbor in your life, helping them reduce their risk of falling is a great way to help them stay healthy and independent as long as possible. The good news about falls is that most of them can be prevented. The key is to know where to look. Here are some common factors that can lead to a fall: Balance and gait: As we age, most of us lose some coordination, flexibility, and balance — primarily through inactivity, making it easier to fall. Vision: In the aging eye, less light reaches the retina —making contrasting edges, tripping hazards and obstacles harder to see. Medications: Some prescriptions and over-the-counter medications can cause dizziness, dehydration or interactions with each other that can lead to a fall. Environment: Most seniors have lived in their homes for a long time and have never thought about simple modifications that might keep it safer as they age. Chronic conditions: More than 80% of older adults have at least one chronic condition like diabetes, stroke or arthritis. Often, these increase the risk of falling because they result in lost function, inactivity, depression, pain or multiple medications.

Talk with Mom ( from previous page)

ents about how aging without a plan in place is actually eroding their control. For example, maybe Mom can’t climb the stairs anymore so she’s limiting herself to living on the first floor. Or Dad routinely forgets to take his medication for congestive heart failure and requires repeated hospitalizations. Then offer various options to remedy the situation: What if we brought in someone a few times a week to help around the house? What if we retrofitted the house to make it easier to get around? What if you moved into a facility where you could get the medical


6 steps to reduce falls

Here are six easy steps you can take today to help your older loved one reduce their risk of a fall: 1. Enlist their support in taking simple steps to stay safe. Ask your older loved one if they’re concerned about falling. Many older adults recognize that falling is a risk, but they believe it won’t happen to them or they won’t get hurt — even if they’ve already fallen in the past. If they’re concerned about falling, dizziness or balance, suggest that they discuss it with their health care provider who can assess their risk and suggest programs or services that could help. 2. Discuss their current health conditions. Find out if your older loved one is experiencing any problems with managing their own health. Are they having trouble remembering to take their medications — or are they experiencing side effects? Is it getting more difficult for them to do things they used to do easily? Also make sure they’re taking advantage of all the preventive benefits now offered under Medicare, such as the Annual Wellness visit. Encourage them to speak openly with their health care provider about all of their concerns. 3. Ask about their last eye checkup. If your older loved one wears glasses, make sure they have a current prescription, and they’re using the glasses as advised by their eye doctor. Remember that using tint-changing lenses can be hazardous when going from bright sun into darkened buildings and homes. A simple strategy is to change glasses upon entry, or stop until their lenses adjust. attention you need? Your parents may not love the choices offered, but the very fact that they can choose for themselves provides some control that can help reduce the tension and make them more comfortable with whatever decision is made.

Be patient

Even without cognitive issues, we all start to forget things as we age. So just because Mom agreed to move into a senior housing facility last month doesn’t mean she won’t change her mind as the time comes closer. If that happens, don’t argue with her. Ask her why she has changed her mind. Listen to her concerns and

Bifocals also can be problematic on stairs, so it’s important to be cautious. For those already struggling with low vision, consult with a lowvision specialist for ways to make the most of their eyesight. 4. Notice if they’re holding onto walls, furniture or someone else when walking, or if they appear to have difficulty walking or rising from a chair. These are all signs that it might be time to see a physical therapist. A trained physical therapist can help your older loved one improve their balance, strength and gait through exercise. They might also suggest a cane or walker — and provide guidance on how to use these aids. Make sure to follow their advice. Poorly fit aids actually can increase the risk of falling. 5. Talk about their medications. If your older loved one is having a hard time keeping track of medicines or is experiencing side effects, encourage them to discuss their concerns with their doctor and pharmacist. Suggest that they have their medications reviewed each time they get a new prescription. My mom had an elaborate spreadsheet to keep track of her medications and schedules. Adding a timed medication dispenser that my sister refilled each month promoted her peace of

mind and allowed us to ensure her adherence to the prescribed regime. Also, beware of non-prescription medications that contain sleep aids — including painkillers with “PM” in their names. These can lead to balance issues and dizziness. If your older loved one is having sleeping problems, encourage them to talk to their doctor or pharmacist about safer alternatives. 6. Do a walk-through safety assessment of their home. There are many simple and inexpensive ways to make a home safer. For professional assistance, consult an Occupational Therapist. Here are some examples: Lighting: Increase lighting throughout the house, especially at the top and bottom of stairs. Ensure that lighting is readily available when getting up in the middle of the night. Stairs: Make sure there are secure handrails on both sides of all staircases. Bathrooms: Install grab bars in the tub/shower and near the toilet. Make sure they’re installed where your older loved one would actually use them. For even greater safety, consider using a shower chair and handheld shower. — Courtesy of the National Council on the Aging. For more information, visit

look for opportunities to be positive and reassuring. Respond with something like, “I understand that can be intimidating, but have you considered...?” Then offer your help, not your opinion (unless you’re asked for it).

and keep them safe while you keep communication open. — Courtesy of Legacy Navigator At Legacy Navigator we work with families in transition. We can empty an entire house within days, sorting what items to keep, sell, donate and discard. Our employees pack and move everything, then prepare the house for sale. Call us for a free consultation at 800-913-7747. Our advice is based on our experience cleaning out and settling estates for our clients. Each project is different, and each state’s laws are different. We always recommend that you consult personally with experts about your particular situation before making any important decisions.

Know when to quit

One of the hardest things we may have to do as adult children is to accept our parents’ decisions. As long as they are mentally sound and legally competent, they have the right to live out their lives as they choose. Even if you don’t agree with their decision, tell them you respect them and will support their choices. The critical thing is to maintain their trust,

Engage at any Age!



Caregivers: don’t neglect your own health

By Lauran Neergaard Skipping your checkup but not your mom’s? Caring for an older loved one is a balancing act, and a new poll shows that too often it’s the caregivers’ health that’s neglected. The survey, by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, found about a third of caregivers have gone without a routine physical or dental care, skipped or didn’t schedule a test or treatment, or even forgot to fill a prescription or failed to see a doctor for their own illness or injury because they were too busy with their caregiving duties. Doctors miss opportunities to help. Most caregivers go to medical appointments with the seniors they care for, yet the poll found they’re less likely to get information about self-care, support programs, or other services during those visits than if they make time to see their own physicians for advice. “We have a long, long way to go until this is a routine part of practice,” said AARP long-term care specialist Lynn Feinberg. “This survey really points out

the need to look at both the person and the family.”

Full-time job for many

Four in 10 Americans have provided long-term care to an older relative or friend — a volunteer workforce that’s growing as the population ages. The AP-NORC survey found that for nearly a quarter of them, especially caregivers who are over 40, the amount of time spent on caregiving duties is equivalent to a full-time job. Most informal caregivers view their role as key to their identity. But it can be difficult to meet their own physical and mental health needs. Nearly 40 percent of caregivers have a health problem, physical disability or mental health condition that impacts their daily life or limits their activities, the poll found. More than a quarter of caregivers say it’s difficult to manage their own health along with the caregiving duties. Even more who have chronic conditions, 40 percent, find it a struggle. Deborah Ecker and her husband recently moved her fiercely independent elderly parents into their

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Ask docs for advice

The AP-NORC poll found only a quarter of caregivers talk with their own doctors about their caregiving responsibilities — but among those who did, half received information about caregiving support services and three-quarters learned important information about self-care. In contrast, the vast majority of caregivers accompany the person they assist to medical appointments, usually going into the exam rather than staying in the waiting room. Yet fewer than 40 percent gleaned advice on caregiver resources during those visits. Caregivers and their charges “should be treated simultaneously,” said University of Pittsburgh aging specialist Richard Schulz. “They should be looked at as a unit,” because if the caregiver burns out, the patient may have no one left. The health system marginalizes caregivers partly because there’s no way to bill for assessing caregivers during someone else’s visit, but also because doctors don’t always know what community resources are available to recommend, Schulz said. Ralph Bencivenga, of New York City, lost so much weight while caring for his terminally ill wife and undergoing his own cancer treatment that he finally sought help from a nutritionist at the Mount Sinai Health System — advice that also paid off as he assumed the couple’s grocery shopping and cooking duties. “I had no idea the kind of stress that put me under,” he said of the overall caregiving duties. The new poll found many caregivers find healthy ways to cope — such as praying, meditating, spending time outdoors or talking about their situation. But 44 percent sleep less, and 17 percent increase alcohol or tobacco use. Read more information from the poll at www. An AP-NORC Center video interactive explores the perspectives of informal caregivers at — AP


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home, spurred by some frightening hospitalizations. Ecker’s father, at 89, requires full-time oxygen for emphysema and had contracted pneumonia. Her mother, 88, was hospitalized with congestive heart failure and severely high blood pressure. “I’ve thrown myself into this, and I’m not sorry,” said Ecker, 61, who with her husband is a missionary. but for now isn’t accompanying him on their ministry travels. “They deserve to be taken care of. They’re so loving and generous.” But a few months ago, Ecker realized she needed to pay more attention to her own health. She’d undergone successful cancer treatment in 2016 but is overweight, and the hours of exercise that once were routine have fallen by the wayside. A post-hospitalization monitoring program gave Ecker more confidence in caring for her mother, and she was able to carve out time to see her own doctor. Insulin resistance was putting on pounds, Ecker learned, and she started medication and a dietary program. Next she’s planning how to work in time to exercise. “I feel like I’m on track,” Ecker said. “At the end of this I want to be strong enough and healthy enough to have a life of my own.”


Money Law &


DON’T IGNORE CREDIT SCORE Even if you’re not expecting to need credit, it’s smart to keep your score up BENEFITS TO DIE FOR Veterans are eligible for a variety of burial and funeral benefits ANNUITY MISTAKES Annuity types and terms can be complex. To avoid costly mistakes, you should know these facts

Shop around to find good savings interest By Sarah Skidmore Sell Savers rejoice — you can finally earn a little more on the money you’ve been setting aside. To draw in customers, banks — particularly online institutions — have been getting more competitive with the rates they are offering on savings, CDs and even checking accounts. That means a savvy consumer may be able to earn far beyond the norm if they are willing to shop around. Take the humble savings account: The average interest rate in the U.S. is 0.09 percent, according to the FDIC. And that is just an average — some banks are offering rates as low as 0.01 percent while many others are at or above 2 percent. To someone with $5,000 sitting in an account, that means the difference between earning 50 cents a year in interest versus $100. In the low-interest rate environment that followed the Great Recession, banks routinely paid little to nothing on many personal accounts. The Federal Reserve began to raise its rates in 2015, but traditional banks were slow to do the same for customers. They had little incentive — customers had grown complacent after years of low interest rates. And traditional banks were large enough that they had huge deposits and other business lines that served them well.

Options online and off A number of online banks spotted an opportunity and began offering much higher rates to attract more customers. They could afford to because they didn’t have the cost of maintaining a storefront on every corner. But also, not having the benefit of size, they needed to offer more attractive rates to survive. Some bigger banks took notice and, wanting to better serve a more online-focused customer base, began to respond with higher rates themselves. While interest rates are still low historically speaking, they are on the upswing. Experts say more banks are getting into the rate race and consumers should take note. So while lesser-known players, like Bank5 Connect, offer a 2.05 percent annual percentage yield, or APY, on a savings account, bigger banks have some

nice offerings as well. Marcus, the online bank of Goldman Sachs, also has a 2.05 percent rate on its savings account, and HSBC Direct offers a 2.01 percent rate. “The outlook for savers is very positive, and the opportunity cost of not moving your money is only going to grow,” said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at That’s because money earning little to no interest is losing its purchasing power over time if the rate earned on it does not keep pace with inflation. Here are a few things for consumers to consider: Complacency isn’t going to earn you anything, and experts say many consumers are missing out simply because it takes effort. “One of the biggest mistakes we make is getting into a product that is not right for us,” said Paul Golden, spokesman for the National Endowment on Financial Education. “I think consumers should shop around.” It won’t take long: Take a look at your existing accounts and find out what you are getting paid. Then do a quick search online to get a sense of comparable rates. (Many websites, such as, compile and sort the data for you.) Online banks are leading the way on rates. Community banks and credit unions may offer competitive rates as well. And many big banks are rolling out options with highly competitive rates. Want to stick with your traditional big bank? Even switching to a different type of product may earn you more. Or if you’re an established customer of a bank, try to negotiate a better rate.

Look closely at terms It also pays to look at all the features of any existing or new accounts to make sure things are as good as they seem. Can you access the money easily? How easy is it to transfer among accounts? Is there a balance requirement? What kind of fees might you face? Will the rate change over time? And are there any other restrictions that might limit how you earn or access the funds? Golden also suggests making sure there have not been any security or data breaches at that institution recently.

You may want to take a look at online reviews to see what other customers say. And always make sure your account is FDIC insured, which means there is federal backing that your money will be there — up to a certain level — if there were a bank failure. You can make money on a variety of accounts these days, so consider what best suits your needs. A traditional savings account is a great fit for money that you need access to but don’t plan to tap often. The money is liquid and can be easily transferred into other accounts. But beware, Federal Reserve rules limit these accounts to no more than six withdrawals or transfers a month. A money market account traditionally pays a higher rate than a savings account. The average national rate for a money market account is 0.15 for deposits under $100,000 and 0.24 for those over. Compare that to 0.09 for a savings account. These accounts vary, though, because they typically offer some check-writing and

ATM access. But money market accounts usually require a higher balance in exchange for those benefits, and face the same withdrawal rules as a savings account. CDs, or certificates of deposits, also offer higher rates than a savings account — the national average is as high as 1.18 percent — but these lock up your money for a specific amount of time. When you open a CD, you essentially agree not to withdraw the money until its maturity date. If you do before that time you face an early withdrawal penalty that may wipe out anything you earned. That makes these a good choice if you have a long-term savings goal and you are confident you won’t need the cash in the meantime. You may even want to consider an interest-bearing checking account if you don’t want to limit access to your money but still want to earn a little on it. The rate may not be as high as other options See SHOP AROUND, page 20

Five best moves for your portfolio By John Waggoner These portfolio moves will help boost the income you get from your portfolio, shield it from inflation, and make it less volatile, too. Dial down volatility. Stocks with low volatility should weather dips better than jiggier peers. Invesco S&P 500 Low Volatility ETF (symbol SPLV, $48) holds the 100 stocks in the blue-chip index with the lowest volatility; iShares Edge MSCI Min Vol USA ETF (USMV, $55) tracks low-vol stocks by sector. Fight inflation. The principal value of Treasury inflation-protected securities adjusts according to changes in the consumer price index. Buy them from Uncle Sam at, or consider Vanguard Inflation-Protected Securities Fund Investor Shares (VIPSX). Plump up your yield. SPDR S&P

Dividend ETF (SDY, $93) holds the highest-yielding stocks of large companies that have raised their dividend payouts for the past 25 years. The fund yields 2.5 percent. First Trust NASDAQ Technology Dividend Index ETF (TDIV, $36) buys tech’s biggest dividend payers and yields 2.5 percent. Play rising rates. Higher rates mean lower bond prices, but they hurt short-term bonds least. Consider lowcost Schwab Short-Term Bond Index (SWSBX). Or cash in on higher rates with Fidelity Floating Rate High Income (FFRHX). Cut costs. Fidelity Zero index funds charge no fees and require no minimum investment. You must be a Fidelity brokerage customer. © 2018 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC


Law & Money |


Can you finally ignore your credit score? By Liz Weston At some point, you’ll buy your last car and refinance your last mortgage. Surely then you can stop worrying about your credit scores. Well, not really, although there are situations when credit scores shouldn’t be anyone’s main concern. Let’s start with some reasons why credit scores still matter, even when you don’t plan to borrow money. Lenders aren’t the only ones checking your credit Most insurers use credit-based insurance scores, which use information from credit reports to help set premiums for auto, homeowners and renters policies. A drop from excellent to poor credit can more than triple homeowners’ premiums in some states. Credit can have a bigger impact on auto insurance premiums than any other factor, including someone’s driving record, according to an investigation by Consumer Reports. That’s not all. Cellphone companies

often reserve their best deals for those with the best credit. Many employers check credit reports, which could be an issue should you want to work or return to work in retirement. Utilities and landlords also typically check credit scores, which might become an issue if you move. Senior housing, assisted living and continuing care retirement communities also may use credit histories or scores to evaluate applicants. Your borrowing days may not be over Life happens. You may need to borrow money to pay medical bills, replace a car, help a family member, make home repairs, or remodel your home to allow you to age in place. If you have to move, you may need a new mortgage. If money gets tight, you may want to access some your home equity with a reverse mortgage. Reverse mortgages allow homeowners age 62 and older to tap their home equity

Shop around

checking accounts, came up with a unique option. It is offering customers a 2.02 percent APY if they keep their daily balance at $2,000 or above. However, the rate is variable, and if you dip below $2,000, you don’t earn that same high rate. — AP

From page 19 though: The national average is 0.06 percent, according to the FDIC. But again, competition has bred some innovation. Simple, an online bank that only offers

without having to repay the loan until they sell, move out or die. Reverse mortgage lenders typically don’t have minimum credit score requirements, but a credit check is part of the financial assessment needed to get the loan. Keeping good scores isn’t that hard A single credit card is enough to maintain good credit scores. Any card will do, as long as it reports to all three credit bureaus (most do). The card should be used lightly but regularly, and balances paid in full, since there’s no credit score advantage to carrying debt. When credit scores shouldn’t be your top priority A lifetime habit of responsible bill payment can be hard to break. But financial well-being sometimes requires putting concerns about credit on the back burner, especially as you get older. Some examples: • You’re struggling to pay your bills: It makes little sense to keep sending money to credit card companies and most other lenders if you’re having trouble paying for necessities: shelter, food, utilities, medications. You also need help if you’re being sued over debt or hounded by collectors. Consider talking to a credit counselor affiliated with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, and to an experienced bankruptcy attorney about your options.

• You need to file bankruptcy: If bankruptcy is the best option, you have plenty of company. The rate of Americans over 65 filing for bankruptcy has tripled since 1991, according to the Consumer Bankruptcy Project. But bankruptcy is not the credit score killer it’s often reputed to be. Credit scores typically plunge in the months before a bankruptcy filing, but then start to rise soon after. With responsible credit use, it’s possible to get back to near-prime credit scores within a few years after bankruptcy. • You’re trying to escape an onerous timeshare: There is often no easy way out of a timeshare, a kind of vacation ownership that requires paying annual fees and other costs. Sometimes owners can give the timeshare back to the resort developer, or sell or give it away. Other times, the only way to get rid of it is to stop paying and experience the consequences, which can include foreclosure and credit score damage. It’s impossible to predict the potential costs of lower credit scores, but older people with less reason to borrow may well decide the hit to their scores — which can linger for up to seven years for most negative marks, and up to 10 years for bankruptcy — is better than continuing to struggle for the rest of their lives. — AP

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Veterans benefits continue after death Dear Savvy Senior: no cost to the family. Does the VA provide any special burThese include a gravesite; opening and ial benefits to old veterans? closing of the grave; perpetMy dad, who has late-stage ual gravesite care; a governParkinson’s disease, served ment headstone or marker; during the Vietnam War in a United States burial flag the 1960s. that can be used to drape — Only Child the casket or accompany the Dear Only: urn (after the funeral servMost U.S. veterans are eliice; the flag is given to the gible for burial and memorial next-of-kin as a keepsake); benefits through the Departand a presidential memorial ment of Veterans Affairs (VA) certificate. National Cemetery Adminis- SAVVY SENIOR National cemetery burial tration. Veterans who were By Jim Miller benefits are also available to discharged under conditions spouses and dependents of other than dishonorable are eligible. veterans. To verify your dad’s discharge, you’ll If your dad is cremated, his remains will need a copy of his DD Form 214 “Certifi- be buried or inurned in the same manner cate of Release or Discharge from Active as casketed remains. Duty,” which you can request online at Funeral or cremation arrangements and costs are not, however, taken care of Here’s a rundown of some of the differ- by the VA. They are the responsibility of ent benefits that are available to veterans the veteran’s family. that die a non-service-related death. If you’re interested in this option, the VA offers a pre-need burial eligibility determiNational cemetery benefits nation program at your dad is eligible and would like to be need, or call the National Cemetery buried in one of the 136 national or 111 grant- Scheduling Office at (800) 535-1117. funded state and tribal VA cemeteries (see for Private cemetery benefits a list), the VA provides a host of benefits, at If your father is going to be buried in a

private cemetery, the benefits available include a free government headstone or marker, or a medallion that can be affixed to an existing privately purchased headstone or marker; a burial flag; and a Presidential memorial certificate. Funeral or cremation arrangements and costs are again the responsibility of the family (some burial allowances may be available; see below), and no benefits are offered to spouses and dependents that are buried in private cemeteries.

Military funeral honors Another popular benefit available to all eligible veterans buried in either a national or private cemetery is a military funeral honors ceremony. This includes an honor guard detail of at least two uniformed military persons, folding and presenting the U.S. burial flag to the veteran’s survivors, and the playing of Taps by a bugler or an electronic recording. The funeral provider you choose will be able to assist you with all VA burial requests. Depending on what you want, certain forms may need to be completed, and it is always better to have done so in advance.

For a complete rundown of burial and memorial benefits, eligibility details and required forms, visit or call 800-827-1000.

Burial allowances In addition to the burial benefits, some veteran’s survivors may also qualify for a $300 burial allowance (or $780 if the veteran was hospitalized by VA at time of death), as well as $780 for a plot, to those who choose to be buried in a private cemetery. To find out if your dad is eligible, see To apply for burial allowances, you’ll need to fill out VA Form 21P-530 “Application for Burial Benefits.” You need to attach a copy of your dad’s discharge document (DD 214 or equivalent), death certificate, funeral and burial bills. They should show that you have paid them in full. You may download the form at Send your questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

Tell them you saw it in Fifty Plus!


Law & Money |


Five mistakes not to make with annuities By Abigail Havermann Recently, we learned an elderly client had unexpectedly cashed out of an annuity that was part of her portfolio, and moved her money to another product. In the process, she accepted a $13,000 surrender charge, increased the amount of time her funds will be tied up with a different annuity, and guaranteed herself a lower rate of return. When I called her, she said an insurance agent had advised

her to make the change. It’s frustrating to see someone taken advantage of that way — but I know why it happens. Although annuities get a bad rap, there are ways to use them to complement an overall financial plan. Unfortunately, the types and terms are complicated. I find that even some insurance agents don’t understand all the moving parts, or they don’t seem motivated to clear up the confusion for their customers.


Dec. 16


Crossroads Art Center will have a holiday open house on Sunday, Dec. 16 from noon to 4 p.m. There will be live artist demonstrations, vendors, a silent auction benefitting the Hawthorne Cancer Foundation, refreshments, a cash bar and live music. The center is located at 2916 Staples Mill Rd., Richmond. Admission is free. For more information, visit

Here are five things you should know about annuities to avoid making an expensive mistake: 1. You can’t just back out. In exchange for the income guarantees an annuity offers, you’ll likely have to agree to a surrender period — a designated amount of time you’ll wait before withdrawing more than a predetermined percentage of your money. (Usually, 10 percent per year.) If you break that agreement and cash out early, you may have to pay a hefty fee. To be clear, there are cases in which the structure of an annuity is so dismal that taking a reasonable surrender penalty might make sense. But any agent encouraging you to pay a penalty should show you the math behind why it makes sense to do so. 2. Don’t confuse interest rates, withdrawal rates and cap rates.

I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t mix these up. And for good reason: Annuity contracts are often complex, and even the people selling them can get lost in the language. • An interest rate is the percentage that will be credited to your principal (the money you originally put in the investment). This rate may change depending on the type of annuity you purchase. With a fixed-indexed annuity, for example, if the market is up 8 percent for the year, you may see 4 percent; but if the market is down, your principal is protected and you won’t lose any money. A fixed annuity, on the other hand, has a set interest rate regardless of what the market does, and these days you can’t expect See ANNUITIES, page 23

M A R K YO U R C A L E NDAR Page Bond Gallery presents “Gaither,” a group exhibition of works by established and emerging artists from Virginia, featuring sculpture, glass, photo-based works, paintings and more. “Gaither” features pieces by a total of 20 artists. The gallery is located at 1625 West Main St., Richmond, and the exhibit is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit or call (804) 359-3633.


FREE TAX PREP HELP United Way and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

program offer free tax preparation for families and individuals with incomes of $55,000 or less. Tax prep sites are located throughout Richmond and Petersburg. For more information and a list of locations, visit or call (804) 775-6433.

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Annuities From page 22 that rate to be more than 2 to 3 percent. If you think you’re getting a guaranteed 5 percent interest on your investment, you probably misunderstood something. • A guaranteed annual withdrawal rate is the amount an annuity company will guarantee you can take from your investment for the rest of your life. Here’s a simplified example: If you put in $500,000 and the contract says you can withdraw 6 percent annually, that means you can take out $30,000 per year for the rest of your life, even if your $500,000 principal has been spent. The mistake I see so many people make when they leave a broker’s office is they believe their account is going to go up by a guaranteed 6 percent per year. That 6 percent is the amount you can pull off your investment; it is not the amount by which your investment will grow. • To further confuse matters, many annuities offer cap rates. A cap is the highest amount of interest you can make in any given year. For example, we had a client who — before working with us — invested in an annuity that had a 2 percent cap. The maximum he could make every year was 2 percent, no matter what the market did. The market could soar 50 percent, and this annuity would only return 2 percent. In

addition, his adviser added an unnecessary feature to the contract that cost 1 percent per year. So, the most the client could earn was 1 percent per year — a terrible investment. 3. Beware of bonuses. Insurance companies aren’t in business to lose money. If they’re offering a bonus to consumers — such as extra interest in the first year — they likely are making up the money with a lower interest rate for the life of the investment. While bonuses can be useful, it’s a mathematical equation to decide whether the overall product is more advantageous than another one without a bonus. 4. Be mindful of how your money is moved. When you move from one annuity to another, the money should go directly from institution to institution. The professional with whom you’re working must check a box on the application that says you are replacing an existing annuity, and this triggers an audit for your protection. The annuity company then researches whether switching annuities is appropriate. In the case of our elderly client, the insurance professional had her cash out her annuity with us and move the money to her bank account. The new annuity was then purchased with a check. Neither annuity company did an audit because they didn’t know they were dealing with a replacement. An audit would have revealed the move was not in the best interest of the client, and the invest-

ment would have been denied. Another important point: When you do need to write a check, always write it to a third party, such as TD Ameritrade, Fidelity Investments or the insurance company. Remember Bernie Madoff? He had everyone write checks directly to his company name so he had direct control over the funds. 5. Know how the person selling your annuity is licensed and paid. An insurance agent usually takes a lump-sum commission after the sale of an annuity — and usually, the longer the annuity’s term, the more he or she will make.


Financial professionals who are licensed to sell both securities and insurance have less incentive to choose one investment over another. They should be looking out for your best interests, not the bigger paycheck, which decreases conflicts of interest and supports more consistent service. I’ve seen annuities do amazing things for people (including helping avoid what happened to so many investors in 2008). But all annuities are not created equal. Follow the points listed above, and work with a financial professional you trust. © 2018 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC


Jan. 12


The Beacon Theatre presents an acoustic evening with country star Travis Tritt on Saturday, Jan. 12. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the show begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $45 to $65 in advance; $50 to $70 at the door. The theater is located at 401 N. Main St., Hopewell. For more information or to buy tickets, visit



Stonebridge Recreation Center hosts Hobby Central with arts and crafts every Monday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Bring whatever you’re working on — from knitting to crocheting, hand sewing, and small craft projects. The center is located at 230 Karl Linn Dr., North Chesterfield. Admission is free, and no registration is required. For more information, call (804) 768-7890.


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Leisure &


The ancient Hindu/Buddhist Temple City Angkor Wat draws more than 12 million visitors a year to Cambodia.

In low-cost Cambodia, there’s much to see

Know before you go You’ll run across the word “Khmer.” It has multiple meanings. It’s the official language of Cambodia. A Khmer is a native of Cambodia. It’s also the name of the ancient kingdom that reached its peak of power in the 11th century. Cambodia is about the size of Okla-

homa. Most of its 16 million residents practice Theravada Buddhism. With an average annual income of about $1,500 per capita, it’s the second poorest country in Southeast Asia. So far, it remains one of the least expensive countries to visit. Luxury hotel rooms can cost less than $100 a night, and the country has plenty of accommodations in all categories, including guest houses and hostels. Meals in moderate restaurants rarely cost more than $5. Weather is warm year-round. Little rain falls from November to May. March to May is the hot season. Days in June through October see daily afternoon monsoon deluges, and it is the quietest time for tourism. There are no direct flights from North America to Cambodia. You must take connecting flights from major destinations elsewhere in Southeast or East Asia, such as Bangkok, Singapore or Ho Chi Minh City. You will need a visa ($30, plus an extra passport photo). Fill out the paperwork provided on your flight, and obtain a tourist visa upon arrival at the Siem Reap or Phnom Penh airport. Currency is the Riel, about 4,000 to $1, with Riel currency coming in denominations from 50 to 100,000. The U.S. dollar is accepted everywhere, and all ATMs dis-


By Jamie Lee Pricer Once the site of one of Asia’s most significant early civilizations, Cambodia today presents a rural society far less populated and economically developed than its neighbors, Thailand and Vietnam. And that is the crux of the country’s charm and appeal. Visitors throng to the country’s premier tourist draw, Angkor Wat, but you will find much to see and do on the road to this ancient temple, now a World Heritage Site. A popular tourist trail starts in the south at the country’s capital, Phnom Penh, and heads north on modestly maintained Highway 6 to Tonle Sap, a lake so large it looks like a sea. The six- to eight-hour drive ends at the city of Siem Reap, the launching point for exploring Cambodia’s temple country.

In Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, modern motor scooters ride past Wat Ounalom, a temple compound built in 1433 that serves as headquarters of Cambodian Buddhism. The grounds include 44 structures.


pense U.S. dollars. Roads have improved in the past few years, but many are still narrow and bumpy. If you are on your own, buses are the cheapest and most convenient way to travel between towns. Shared taxis are another possibility, but they are stuffed with passengers, and the drive is notoriously heart-pounding. The choice of self-driving is littered with government obstacles, so it’s better to hire a car and driver. In town, the best choice is a tuk-tuk — some form of covered seating pulled by a scooter. Another option is a moto, a scooter taxi where a passenger rides behind the driver. Rides go for $1 to $2. Scooters are the transportation mode du jour. It’s not unusual to see mom, dad and two kids plus their groceries amazingly packed on a scooter. Goods that you might expect to be hauled by truck are roped onto scooters.

Chow down Angkor Wat, over 400 acres in size and surrounded by a moat, is one of the largest religious monuments in the world. It was built in the 12th century. Some of the Buddhist shrines on the site, such as this one being entered by a monk, are encased in huge tree roots.

Cambodian food is a mishmash with influences from France, Vietnam, China and Thailand. It is more delicately spiced, with less chili and sugar than Thai food.

The national dish is amok, a thick soup cooked with fish, meat, vegetables, eggs and coconut milk, often with hints of lemongrass or light curry. Chicken, pork, fish and rice are staples. The markets offer a wide range of vegetables. That’s also where you will find trays of fried grasshoppers, beetles and crickets. Sold by the bag, they are eaten like sweets. The cheapest food is street food prepared on portable stoves or barbecues. Favorite offerings are fried noodles, baguettes, fresh fruit and ice cream. Cheaper restaurants simply place their pots in front, you lift the lid and point to what you’d like. It will be served with a plate of rice. In the larger cities, you can find more upscale restaurants with international cuisine. Tourist restaurants with English-language menus and Western cuisine are found in larger towns and traveler hubs. Cambodians eat early. Restaurants tend to close by 9 p.m., although some stay open longer in tourist areas. Important note: Don’t drink the tap See CAMBODIA, page 25 | Leisure & Travel


Cambodia From page 24 water. To be safe, use only bottled water, even when you brush your teeth.

Phnom Penh Evacuated and left to ruin by the Khmer Rouge (the communist rulers of Cambodia from 1975 to 1979) a generation ago, Phnom Penn is now flourishing and experiencing rapid development. Situated at the confluence of three rivers, including the Mekong, the city is crisscrossed by broad tree-lined boulevards and dotted with colonial villas, modern architecture, and boutique hotels, hostels and restaurants. Still it’s not totally recovered. Side roads are in poor shape, some of the villas are ruined beyond repair, and the old drainage system backs up whenever it rains. Poorer people live in shanty villages on the city’s outskirts. Phnom Penh offers the country’s most happening nightlife with late-night bars and clubs along the waterfront. Choices range from girlie bars, karaoke, dance halls and local discos to high-end options. One stop hardly ever missed by visitors is the enormous, hot, noisy and crowded shopping mecca, Psar Toul Tom Poung (Russian Market). It’s “the place” to buy textiles, antiques and silver, motor bike parts, bootleg DVDs, fake designer bags and

handicrafts. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The best cultural highlights are the Royal Palace, probably the city’s most memorable sight; the Silver Pagoda, home to a sacred emerald Buddha; the National Museum, with a top collection of sculptures from Cambodia’s temples; and, sadly, the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum, which recalls the many Khmer Rouge atrocities. Continuing north, a popular stop for tourists is the little town of Skuon, less than an hour’s drive on the highway from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. It is famous for its edible spiders. They are a type of Asian tarantula about 2 inches across, that are served deep-fried with a hint of salt and garlic. At 4,000 square miles, Tonle Sap is the largest lake in Southeast Asia. It stretches along for about half the distance between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Thousands of families live along or on it, supported by fishing. Most live in primitive conditions. Those along the shore have built homes on stilts; at the height of the wet season in September water levels can rise well above 30 feet. Others live in floating villages that move seasonally to keep floating in the shallow lake. Vendors offer various boating tours of the area.

Markets and museums

dia’s temple area. More modern than the rest of the country, it’s packed with hotels, restaurants, bars, boutiques, tourists and tour operators. Nonetheless, it retains a bit of small-town colonial charm. As in Phnom Penh, shopping is not to be missed. Here, the most popular spot is the Angkor Night Market, with hundreds of closely packed stalls that offer every kind of craft and collectible produced in Cambodia. Hours are from about 5 to 10 p.m. daily. The Angkor National Museum tops the list of best cultural highlights. If possible, it’s best to visit here before the temples. Pieces of ancient Khmer sculpture are exhibited in wide galleries. Multimedia presentations provide background on Cambodian history, heritage and religion. Another choice is the Artisans d’Angkor, where you can see students hone skills in


wood and stone carving, lacquer-work, gilding and silver-working. The end products can be bought in a boutique at the center. A stroll along the riverside walkway, running along both sides of the Siem Reap River, lands you at the formal Royal Gardens, flanked by two venerable hotels.

Temples of Angkor The temples of Angkor are a monument to the greatest ancient civilization of Southeast Asia. Angkor was the heart of the great Khmer Empire spiritually, politically and geographically. More than 100 temples to various deities are scattered over 150 square miles. They were built between the late 6th century through 1200. In the great days of the empire, See CAMBODIA, page 26


Dec. 26


The Valentine presents a Holiday Glitter Walking Tour on Wednesday, Dec. 26 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Enjoy the lights and glitter of Monument Avenue while learning about the history of the homes, architecture, residents and their holiday traditions. The tour is held rain or shine and costs $15 for adults; $5 for children and Valentine members. Advance tickets are strongly encouraged, and space is limited. Wear comfortable shoes, bring water, and meet on the Monument Ave. median across from 1805 Monument Ave. For accommodations, call in advance at (804) 6490711, ext. 301.

Siem Reap is the gateway to Cambo-

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Leisure & Travel |



the mass of bus parties is 7 to 9 a.m.

From page 25

If you go

each temple was the center of a busy community. As they were typically built of wood, they are now entirely vanished. At its height, the region boasted a population of 1 million at the time London was a small town of 50,000. Today, 2 million tourists clamber through the crumbling ancient monuments each year. Tickets are required to enter what is loosely called the Angkor Archaeological Park. Admission is $20 for one day. Tickets are printed with your photo, and they are checked at various stops. The fine for entering without a ticket is $100. The most popular of the temples built by god-kings is Angkor Wat. Other bestvisited stops are the walled city of Angkor Thom, where you’ll see dozens of towers plastered with faces, and Ta Prohm, with its semi-ruined shrines and statues smothered by giant tree roots. Angkor Wat is the national symbol and the highlight of any visit to Cambodia. Dominated by five lotus flower towers, it was built in the 12th century to honor the Hindu god Vishnu. It is the largest, best preserved and most religiously significant of the Angkor temples. On approach, you first cross a vast moat on a broad causeway. Once you enter the main building, you climb through a series of galleries and courtyards before reaching the central sanctuary, which gives views back to the causeway and across the surrounding countryside. Intricate stone carvings adorn nearly every surface, with more than 1,000 Apsaras, or celestial dancers, sculpted into the walls. Along the outer gallery walls run the longest continuous bas-relief in the world, which narrates stories from Hindu mythology. Be ready to climb steps to reach different levels, as well as a steep ladder-like staircase to the top. Due to its popularity, Angkor Wat can be crowded. The best time to visit to avoid

Cambodian hotels can be very inexpensive. The ones below have English-speaking staffs and websites in English and represent the range of prices.

Phnom Phen You Khin, a three-story guest house with pool. Rates range from $39 to $59. The Quay, a 32-room boutique hotel overlooking the Tonle Sap River and Mekong Rivers. Rates range from $75 to $95. Raffles Hotel Le Royal is a luxury hotel with rates from $230 to $292.

Siem Reap Low-price Ivy Guest House has non-airconditioned rooms for $6 to $8. Rooms with air conditioning are $15. The moderately priced Villa Medamrei offers free pickup from the airport or bus station. Rambutan Hotel has some rooms with private rooftop terraces and apartments that range from $126 to $152. All come with complimentary foot massages. For further tourist information, contact: • Cambodian Ministry of Tourism, country’s highlights, information on accommodations, history and Khmer culture. • Canby Publications, convenient online extracts from Cambodian city guides. • Cambodian Information Centre, information on everything from clubs and organizations to the legal system. The least expensive roundtrip flight to Phnom Phen from Byrd International Airport in mid-January is $1,089 on United Airlines.


Dec. 15


Pamplin Historical Park and the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier invite visitors to experience the splendor of a 19th century Christmas on Saturday, Dec. 15 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bring the grandkids to meet a ‘Thomas Nast’ Santa Claus, complete with photo opportunities, cookies and hot chocolate. Nast is considered to be the “Father of the American Cartoon.” All activities are included with regular park admission ($15 for adults; $12 for military, students, and adults 62 and older; $8 for children six to 12). Children five and under are admitted free. The park is located at 6125 Boydton Plank Rd., Petersburg. For more information, visit

Dec. 15


Clayworks Supplies is holding an all-ceramic Holiday Warehouse Show and Sale on Saturday, Dec. 15 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This annual event features 18 RVA area potters who represent a wide range of ceramic styles. There will be light refreshments, and a percentage of the sales will benefit the Circle Preschool Program. Clayworks is located at 2277 Dabney Rd. F, Richmond. For more information, contact Le Hazelgrove at (804) 319-6329.




Arts &

Holly can brighten both homes and gardens during the holidays. See story on page 28.

Virginia Rep presents hits on two stages

Charismatic star The star of the show — Felicia Curry,

playing Deloris Van Cartier — is truly a star in every sense. She is a dynamic powerhouse with Tina Turner legs and Michelle Obama arms, and she can do it all — sing, dance, and act. Curry brings such warmth, depth and charisma to her performance that my cheeks hurt by the end of the show from smiling so much. New to Virginia Rep, Sincée J. Daniels is too charming for his own good as badboy club-owner Curtis. The audience wants to dislike him, but how can we? His voice and dance moves are as smooth as velvet; no wonder Van Cartier found herself under his spell! Daniels is ably supported by Paul S. Major as Joey, Mark Parello, Jr. as Pablo, and Anthony Cosby as TJ. All three have the chance to show off their groovy dance moves and comedic chops in “When I Find My Baby.” Durron Marquis Tyre also charms — though in a less menacing way — as Sweaty Eddie, the slightly anxious police officer who helps protect Van Cartier, his high school crush and the girl who gave him his less-than-flattering nickname. Despite his moniker, the audience can’t help but root for him. Our fondness for him grows when Tyre nails his ballad to nerds everywhere, “I Could Be That Guy.” All the nuns bring entertainment to the production through perfectly harmonizing


By Catherine Brown It’s an old adage that God laughs when man (or woman) plans. That is certainly the experience of Sister Act’s Mother Superior, played with depth and gravitas by veteran Virginia Rep actress Andrea Rivette. Keenly aware of her church’s dire financial situation and impending sale to a couple of antique salesmen, Mother Superior prays for a solution. Little does she know the solution will come in the form of a brash, provocatively dressed, Donna Summer wannabe who must hide out in the convent for protection after having witnessed her club-owner boyfriend murder one of his underlings. What begins as a story of a fish out of water ends with an opening of hearts, a realignment of priorities, and the formation of authentic, tested relationships. Along the journey, there are multiple smile- and laugh-inducing moments from each cast member. Performing upbeat, life-affirming songs and fantastic disco moves that take you back to the 70s, the entire cast works impressively hard to keep the energy high. Kudos to Director Robin Arthur for casting actors with beautiful voices, funky dance moves, and the ability to garner laughs.

Felicia Curry, center, stars in the Virginia Repertory Theatre’s production of Sister Act, a musical comedy based on the 1992 movie of the same name that starred Whoopi Goldberg. On the run after witnessing a murder, a wannabe cabaret singer disguises herself as Sister Mary Clarence, bringing boisterous songs to the sedate convent that becomes her refuge.


voices and unique personalities. Newcomer Gwynne Wood debuts as the postulate Sister Mary Robert, a girl working to figure out her place. Wood recently earned her BFA in musical theater, and she stuns the audience with her beautiful performance of “The Life I Never Had.” Kelsey Cordrey shines as the bubbly Sister Mary Patrick, while Susan Sanford reveals her comedic talent in her entertaining performance as rapping Sister Mary Lazarus. Through their cheerful, boisterous songs, the Sisters along with Monsignor O’Hara, played by Michael Hawke, reinforce the show’s message that we are better when we work together. The show’s feel-good story, compelling message of redemption and connection, and energetic performances make it perfect for a cold winter evening.

Holiday-themed Sherlock Holmes

The Game’s Afoot: Holmes for the Holidays is a farce starring Scott Wichmann as an actor who plays Sherlock Holmes, who must work to solve the mystery of his own attempted murder.

Virginia Rep provides another opportunity for holiday entertainment with The Game’s Afoot: Holmes for the Holidays. Described as a farcical thriller, the show centers on a famous Broadway actor who must reprise his role as Sherlock Holmes

to solve the mystery of his own attempted murder during a holiday cast party. Written by Ken Ludwig (Lend me a Tenor, Crazy for You) and directed by Deb Clinton, Holmes for the Holidays is the first performance of the season at Hanover Tavern. Clinton directed last year’s holiday show, Miracle on South Division Street, and several of the performers return, including Scott Wichmann who plays William Gillette (the actor playing Sherlock) through Dec. 30 (Joe Pabst takes over for the January performances); Catherine Shaffner, who performs as his mother, Martha Gillette; Audra Honaker as Inspector Goring; and Donna Marie Miller as scheming theater critic Daria Chase. For fans of Sherlock Holmes and whodunits, the show is not to be missed. Sister Act is on stage at the November Theatre, 114 W. Broad St., Richmond, and The Game’s Afoot is on stage at the Hanover Tavern, 13181 Hanover Courthouse Rd., Hanover. Sister Act tickets range from $36 to $63, and all tickets for The Game’s Afoot are $44. Both run through January 6. For tickets and more information, see or call (804) 282-2620.


Arts & Style |


Deck home and garden with festive hollies By Lela Martin Bearing green leaves during the dead of winter, evergreen holly is the subject of pagan beliefs and European folklore as well as traditional English carols. Think of “deck the halls with boughs of holly” and “The Holly and the Ivy.” English Holly (Ilex aquifolium) is the plant these songs

celebrate. When the new world settlers saw American holly (Ilex opaca), they embraced its familiarity, planting it near many colonial homes. George Washington included holly on his own Mt. Vernon estate. After spending Christmas 1926 in Virginia, the bishop of Aberdeen, Scotland,


Dec. 14+


Photoworks presents the first solo exhibition of work from Frank Van Riper’s bestselling book, Recovered Memory: New York & Paris 1960-1980. The exhibition opens Friday, Dec. 14 from 6 to 8 p.m., including a lecture and book signing, and will remain open through Sunday, Jan. 20. The gallery is open to the public for free on Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m. and on Sundays from 1 to 8 p.m. For more information, visit

Dec. 15+


Modlin Center for the Arts presents Christmas in Killarney on Saturday, Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 16 at 2 p.m. Enjoy an evening and afternoon of Irish traditions and your favorite Christmas songs, while the energy of Irish dancers leaping through the air and tapping their feet transport you to the old village of Killarney, Ireland, where some of the most iconic Christmas traditions originated. Tickets are $35 for those 65+; $40 for other adults. The center is located at the University of Richmond, 410 Westhampton Way, Richmond. For more information, visit

wrote, “In every window hangs a holly wreath, and a holly wreath on every door.” We continue the winter tradition in our own homes by decorating with sprigs, wreaths and swags of evergreen holly. Native to Virginia, American holly, which sports spine-tipped deep green leaves and bright red berries, is the holly Richmonders think of at yuletide. One cultivar is even named ‘Merry Christmas.’ American holly grows as a pyramidal tree from 25 to 60 feet high. It likes sun to partial shade, and serves as a woodland tree. It grows in well-drained soil that is moist, acidic and sandy. As are many hollies, American Holly is dioecious, meaning that there are separate male and female plants. A male is needed to provide pollen for sexual fertilization and the subsequent fruit set, with the female bearing the berries. The ratio is typically one male for ten female plants. The male and female holly plants must belong to the same species, must be planted in the same vicinity, and must bloom at the same time.

Holiday-inspiration hollies The Ilex genus contains more than 780 evergreen species of trees and shrubs. Among those, there is a wide range of shapes, sizes and types. Here are a few

The Nellie Stevens holly is a cross between English and Chinese hollies.

with green leaves and stereotypical red berries: Although English Holly does not do particularly well in our heat and heavy soils, cultivars with white variegated leaf margins such as ‘Argenteomarginata’ are very distinctive. A native plant, Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria), is a tall shrub or small tree ranging from 10 to 20 feet tall. Although it has thick bunches of red berries in fall, its See HOLLY, page 29 | Arts & Style


Holly From page 28 small gray-green leaves are oval without spines. It can tolerate poor dry soils as well as wetland locations. A dwarf cultivar, ‘Nana,’ grows 3 to 5 feet tall but spreads to 6 feet wide. Chinese Holly (Ilex cornuta) has very glossy, prickly leaves. “Cornuta” means horned; on the leaves of many Chinese Hollies, the central spine points down, while the two on either side point up like horns. They are one of the few hollies that produce berries without male pollination. One of the most popular cultivars is ‘Burfordii.’ A Burford Holly can be grown as a large, dense shrub, or limbed up into a small tree. A dwarf form of ‘Burfordii’ with slightly puckered leaves grows to about 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide.

Hybrid hollies Numerous hybrid hollies make beautiful indoor decorations and outside trees or shrubs. Read more about each one to ensure that you select the right plant for the right place. Here are a few choices: Although used by my home builder as a foundation shrub, Nellie Stevens Holly (Ilex × ‘Nellie R. Stevens’) is actually a small tree and is not appropriately placed near a house. It is a cross between English and Chinese Holly, grows rapidly, and bears prolific red berries. This variety is self-pollinating; however, berry production can be increased by most any Chinese Holly males. Another choice is a cross of the English

Holly called Meserve Holly or Blue Holly (Ilex ×meserveae). Foliage is blue-green and glossier than the American Holly, with spines that aren’t as sharp. Blue Hollies are very cold hardy. It is the female that has red berries. Blue Hollies grow to about 7 feet high. China Girl and China Boy Holly (Ilex ×meserveae ‘Mesog’ and ‘Mesdob’) are related to Blue Hollies. They are dense mounding shrubs. China Girl will produce red berries if China Boy is nearby. For narrow spaces, Dragon Lady Holly (Ilex ×aquipernyi Dragon Lady) is an upright columnar holly with very spiny traditionally shaped leaves and red berries. Foster’s Holly (Ilex ×attenuata ‘Fosteri’) grows 20 feet tall and narrow. It has spinetipped leaves and numerous, attractive berries. In addition to providing holiday décor and visual pleasure in the landscape, members of the genus Ilex support a solitary bee, and their fruits attract birds and other wildlife. Hollies are resistant to damage by deer. Remember that, when har vesting branches for decorations, you are pruning your tree or shrub. Make sure to follow proper pruning techniques. Then you’ll have a jolly holly-day by decorating with evergreen sprigs and branches. For a Virginia Cooperative Extension publication about evergreen hollies, visit Lela Martin is a Master Gardener with the Chesterfield County office of the Virginia Cooperative Extension.

back at the romance and drama. Starting in December


Dec. 17


There will be an introduction to smartphones on Monday, Dec. 17 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Stonebridge Recreation Center, 230 Karl Linn Dr., North Chesterfield. Learn what they do and about computer settings, how to install applications, and how to access Wi-Fi. Bring your smartphone to class fully charged and learn about the different types. The class is taught by Thinking Cap Technologies. No pre-requisites required. Class fee: $26. For more information or to register, call (804) 748-1623 and use course #34068.


Henrico County Public Library offers a free computer basics class, where students will learn to use the keyboard and mouse, on Tuesday, Jan. 8 at 2 p.m. at Twin Hickory Library, 5001 Twin Hickory Rd., Glen Allen. Register ahead online. For more information about this and other classes, visit

through early January, catch-up on Seasons 1 and 2 of VICTORIA on WCVE/WHTJ Passport before Season 3 begins on Sunday, January 13.

WCVE/WHTJ Anytime. Anywhere. TV members get extended


Jan. 8

Anticipate the return of this regal series with a look







access through WCVE/WHTJ Passport. Stream online or download the PBS Video app to your mobile device or your smart TV.






For more information go to



CLASSIFIEDS As of 11/12/18, all classified ads must be submitted and paid for online, via our website, classifieds Deadlines and Payments: To appear in the next issue, your ad text and payment must be entered by the 5th of the preceding month (for Baltimore and Howard County editions); by the 20th (for Washington and Richmond editions). Cost will be based on the number of characters and spaces in your ad: • $25 for 1-250 • $35 for 251-500. • $50 for 501-750 (maximum length). The website will calculate this for you. Note: Maryland contractors must provide a valid MHIC number. • Each real estate listing qualifies as one ad. • All ads are subject to publisher's discretion. Payment will be refunded if unacceptable for any reason.


TV/Cable DIRECTV. CALL AND SWITCH NOW — Get NFL Sunday Ticket for FREE! Every Game. Every Sunday. CHOICE- All-Included Package. Over 185 Channels. $60/month (for 12 Months.) CALL 1- 888-572-4953. DISH NETWORK. 190+ CHANNELS. FREE Install. FREE Hopper HD-DVR. $49.99/month (24 months) Add High Speed Internet - $14.95 (where avail.) CALL Today & SAVE 25%! 1-844-560-5837.

GOT AN OLDER CAR, VAN OR SUV? Do the humane thing. Donate it to the Humane Society. Call 1-844-230-2952.

Health STOP OVERPAYING for your prescriptions! SAVE! Call our licensed Canadian and International pharmacy, compare prices and get $25.00 OFF your first prescription! CALL 1-888-9817657 Promo Code CDC201725. DENTAL INSURANCE. Call Physicians Mutual Insurance Company for details. Not just a discount plan, real coverage for 350 procedures. 844-366-1003 or 320 Ad# 6118. PORTABLE OXYGEN CONCENTRATOR — May Be Covered by Medicare! Reclaim independence and mobility with the compact design and long-lasting battery of Inogen One. Free information kit! Call 855-851-0949.

Home/Handyman JUNK/YARD DEBRIS REMOVAL — Attics, basements, garages, furniture, appliances, brush piles, old wood, almost anything. No job too small! 804-514-2938.

Legal Services WERE YOU AN INDUSTRIAL OR CONSTRUCTION TRADESMAN and recently diagnosed with lung cancer? You and your family may be entitled to a significant cash reward. Call 1-888-351-0312 for your risk free consultation. SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY? Up to $2,671/mo. (Based on paid-in amount.) Free evaluation! Call Bill Gordon & Associates. 1-866970-0779. Mail: 2420 N St NW, Washington, D.C. Office: Broward Co. FL., member TX/NM Bar.

Miscellaneous ENJOY 100% GUARANTEED, DELIVERED to-the-door Omaha Steaks! Save 75% plus get 4 more Burgers & 4 more Kielbasa FREE! Order The Family Gourmet Buffet — ONLY $49.99. Call 1-844-302-3754, mention code 51689JCT or visit

In Agreement 1




Stephen Sherr













SPECTRUM TRIPLE PLAY! TV, Internet & Voice for $29.99 ea. 60 MB per second speed. No contract or commitment. More Channels. Faster Internet. Unlimited Voice. Call 1-888-3667573.

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Wanted 32

MILITARY ITEMS WANTED: Collector seeks to purchase military uniforms; flight jackets, patches, insignia, medals, etc. from the Civil War through Vietnam. Especially seeking U.S. Army Air Corps, USMC, Airborne, and German/Japanese/Italian items from WWII. ALSO BUYING old Boy Scout, Airline Items, Toys, Lighters. Call Dan, 202-841-3062.



NEW! Submit and pay for your classified ad online. MARK YOUR CALENDAR



Little Sisters of the Poor are looking for volunteers to visit the St. Joseph’s Home and brighten the day of its residents. Assist them from their rooms to the dining room for lunch, take a stroll through the garden, or just be present when they need someone to listen. They also need drivers, “hidden services” providers to fold clothes, ironing and more, bingo callers, talented performers, and more. For more information, visit or contact Sister Colette at (804) 377-4605.

Dec. 19


Magnolia Grange is hosting a Christmas-themed tea on Wednesday, Dec. 19 from 1 to 3 p.m. Enjoy a selection of specialty teas, finger sandwiches and sweets. Magnolia Grange is located at 10020 Iron Bridge Rd., Chesterfield. Fee: $30. For more information, contact Lorie Arnold at (804) 748-1498.


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42 45 50







Financial DONATE YOUR CAR, TRUCK OR BOAT to Heritage for the Blind. Free 3-Day Vacation, Tax Deductible, Free Towing, All Paperwork Taken Care Of. CALL 1-844-855-7670.

Crossword Puzzle


47 53


48 54

49 55











Across 1. Coal plant output 6. Just a bit of 1 Across 10. Hoax 14. Hawkeye 15. Like BWI or IAD airports 16. Actress Spelling 17. Heineken and kin 18. Use a rifle 19. It might be the end of hymn 20. An alliance against common foes 23. Joseph Lauder’s life and business partner 25. Video game company, originally called Service Games 26. “___ it ain’t so, Joe” 27. One incompatible with a Horse, according to the Chinese zodiac 28. Loud clamor 30. Roman goddess of Earth 32. Fairy tale villain 34. Bicycle adjuster 36. “I’m with ___” (Valentine’s day T-shirt) 39. Demonstrate cooperation 42. Muppet originally voiced by Jim Henson 43. Most of a Yahtzee game set 44. Quinceanera celebrant 45. Aussie greetings 47. Environmentalist’s prefix 49. Thumbs down vote 50. Gradually weaken 52. Flower or wine, depending on the accent 54. Boorish 56. Words of support 59. Greek goddess of Earth 60. Put on the payroll 61. Seeker’s foe 65. Flirty girl 66. Oklahoma tribe 67. Agenda entries 68. Second to speak at the debate


69. Norway’s most populous city 70. First performance

Down 1. Bro or sis 2. Bro of Curly (but not Larry) 3. Finance a car 4. In gold, 24 is pure 5. Opposite of “preceded” 6. ‘net connection, at Starbucks 7. Letters OK’ing a contract change 8. Illegal speed contest 9. Brand that promises to remove dust 10. Get top billing 11. All the people 12. Venue for indoor football games 13. Like most Mentos 21. Horse’s comment on a See ‘n Say 22. Madcap comedy 23. ___ to please 24. Worst place to attach a fort 27. Part of a Star Wars costume 29. Is unprepared for job interviews 31. Deteriorate 33. City in Northern Oklahoma 35. “___ expected” (smug selfcongratulation) 37. Brainstorms 38. Disavow 40. Visibly sad 41. City 210 miles south of Medina 46. Chocolate drink, since 1926 48. Flower used in perfumery 50. Spreadsheet icon meaning “sum up” 51. “You can say that ___” 53. Swashbuckling Flynn 55. Go fly ___ 57. Emmy winner for Best Comedy 1979-1981 58. “How can anyone ___ mean?” 62. Society newcomer 63. Big flightless bird 64. Last of “FIRST”

Answers on page 29.





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December 2018 | Fifty Plus Richmond  

December 2018 | Fifty Plus Richmond Edition

December 2018 | Fifty Plus Richmond  

December 2018 | Fifty Plus Richmond Edition