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Can you expand your brain?

MAY 2014

I N S I D E …

PHOTO BY CHIRSTOPHER MEYERS

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

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

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

sure,” as well as sleep apnea, depression and everyday stress. Depression, which used to be treated almost exclusively by psychiatrists going into mental histories and prescribing drugs, can now be greatly relieved, according to mental health specialists, through a change in lifestyle — especially increased exercise. And Fotuhi said not only could memory loss be averted, it could also improve through a 12-week, individualized program devised at the center and meant to grow the brain. “The best remedy for late-life Alzheimer’s disease is mid-life intervention,” he said. While the program costs several thousand dollars, “all our testing and treatment protocols are covered by Medicare and

major insurances,” Fotuhi said. “Patients do not need to have a major neurological disease to qualify.”

Fighting brain shrinkage The treatment aims to expand the hippocampus, the portion of the brain deep within the temporal lobes that controls shor t-term memor y and determines which remembrances are stored longterm. It’s the hippocampus that “makes you, you,” said the 51-year-old Fotuhi. It’s also the part of the brain that shrinks with age more than any other. “When you get older, the hippocampus has a tendency to shrink, usually .5 percent each year after 50, which would mean See YOUR BRAIN, page 13

Constellation Theatre offers a modern take on an ancient tale; plus, Toby’s Shrek: a jolly green giant of a musical page 46

FITNESS & HEALTH 4 k Statins for (almost) everyone! k Hepatitis C cure quick but costly SPOTLIGHT ON AGING k Newsletter for D.C. seniors

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LAW & MONEY 31 k The effect of higher interest rates k Stock buybacks can mislead you LEISURE & TRAVEL 40 k Puerto Rico’s Vieques Island k Wonders of the Amazon PLUS CROSSWORD, BEACON BITS, CLASSIFIEDS & MORE


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Once more, with feeling Why should I get more positive feedThose of you who have been reading my monthly column for a few years know that back to personal columns laced with angst or pathos or vented anger, I occasionally write about my when they seldom had anparents’ experiences with swers to the questions I healthcare, finances, moving raised? and the like. I think I am only recently, You also know that my faand gradually, coming to unther, may he rest in peace, derstand why this may be so. died a few weeks ago, just shy When it comes to major of his 94th birthday, and that changes in life — the various my 84-year-old mother has turning points we all experimoved to this area from Texas ence — all the objective inforto be near my brother and me. mation in the world cannot reThe first time I wrote about FROM THE ally prepare us for what we my parents in this column, I PUBLISHER was concerned that readers By Stuart P. Rosenthal will encounter. I have spent 25 years workmight think it odd that I would discuss personal matters in this ing with our staff to write, select and edit arspace. After all, the Beacon generally focus- ticles meant to cover every aspect of our es on topical news and objective informa- lives after 50: the health conditions and chaltion, rather than personal accounts. lenges, financial hurdles and legal matters, But I received many favorable comments family matters, employment issues, housing — from friends and strangers alike — to options, even entertainment and travel opthat first column. And indeed, later columns portunities. While we were gathering and sharing all that touched on my personal experiences and those of my parents continued to gen- this practical knowledge, I thought I was also absorbing everything I would need to erate an unusual amount of response. For years, I’ve wondered: Why was this know to prepare myself and my family for so? Wouldn’t my more objectively re- the future. I wasn’t going to be blindsided searched columns — or my carefully rea- by unexpected problems or feel helpless soned (and reasonably argued) positions or uninformed! But the columns I wrote about my famion matters of the day — be more likely to ly, as I look back on them, were not crowelicit response from readers?

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The Beacon is a monthly newspaper dedicated to inform, serve, and entertain the citizens of the Greater Washington DC area, and is privately owned. Other editions serve Greater Baltimore, Howard County, Md. and Greater Palm Springs, Calif. Readership exceeds 400,000. Subscriptions are available via first-class mail ($36) or third-class mail ($12), prepaid with order. D.C. and Maryland residents: add 6 percent for sales tax. Send subscription order to the office listed below. Publication of advertising contained herein does not necessarily constitute endorsement. Signed columns represent the opinions of the writers, and not necessarily the opinion of the publisher. • Publisher/Editor ....................Stuart P. Rosenthal • Associate Publisher..............Judith K. Rosenthal • Vice President of Operations ....Gordon Hasenei • Director of Sales ................................Alan Spiegel • Managing Editor............................Barbara Ruben • Graphic Designer ..............................Kyle Gregory • Assistant Operations Manager ..........Roger King • Advertising Representatives ........Doug Hallock, ................................................Dan Kelly, Cheryl Watts • Publishing Assistant ....................Rebekah Sewell

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ing about how everything fell into place beautifully. On the contrary, they generally shared my frustrations and disappointments in how real life often didn’t match up to my expectations. It was the surprises, the challenges, the failures of our systems that moved me to write those columns. Many readers saw their own reality mirrored in my words. Others were happy just to see me recognize that an individual’s experiences may differ — sometimes greatly — from the “typical” or regular case. And everyone, I think, appreciated having human feelings added into the mix. One ingredient often missing from our otherwise well-written and helpful articles is how it feels to experience a change. There’s just no substitute for experience when you want to know not what the best “answer” or option is, but how it will feel when you choose it. Each of us will face life’s challenges in our own personal way. But when we get a glimpse into how other people live their lives, and how each decision they make truly affects them and their family, we gain a new and valuable perspective. So I plan to continue writing, occasionally,

about my family’s experiences. I can tell you now that, despite my state-of-the-art knowledge about many topics, in these few weeks since my father passed away, my mother has daily enlightened me as to how it feels to cope with the loss of a spouse (after 63 years of marriage), the move to another state, the separation from one’s friends and support network, and the adjustment to a new community. Needless to say, there is fodder here for several columns. I hope many of you will, in turn, share your thoughts and personal experiences with me and our readers as well. Thanks, as always, for reading this column and for reading the Beacon.

CORRECTION: On our April cover page, we erroneously identified the person posing with Margo Arnold as her skydiving instructor. Actually, it was Antoine Adams, a co-worker, who joined Arnold on the tandem skydive.

Look for the Montgomery County League of Women Voter’s Guide in our June issue

Letters to the editor Readers are encouraged to share their opinion on any matter addressed in the Beacon as well as on political and social issues of the day. Mail your Letter to the Editor to The Beacon, P.O. Box 2227, Silver Spring, MD 20915, or email to barbara@thebeaconnewspapers.com. Please include your name, address and telephone number for verification. Dear Editor: I read the letters to the editor in the April issue, and Nelson Marans states he was put on ibuprofen, [which he wrote is] a nonNSAID, after having trouble with naproxen, an NSAID. Ibuprofen is also an NSAID, and this correction should be made so other readers are not misinformed, which could lead to people who have difficulty with NSAIDs to take ibuprofen. I am a registered pharmacist and feel this could cause some trouble. Ely Shell Rockville, Md. Dear Mr. Rosenthal: I just read the beautiful tribute to your father in April’s Beacon [“A man of valor”]. I can actually feel his pride in his son. What a wonderful role model he was! I had my friend read the “Valiant Woman” at my mother’s funeral years ago. Prayers and blessings in your grief, and in gratitude for all your parents gave you. Sister Kathy Weber Holy Cross Caregiver Resource Center Silver Spring, Md.

Dear Mr. Rosenthal: I just finished reading your column, “A man of valor.” I lost my own dear dad last November after a valiant 15-year battle against dementia. My husband and I cared for him until four years ago. We always loved reading the Beacon, and often Dad would even page through it. It was familiar, the articles were always helpful, and for those of us who were often a little down, worried and weary, it was a relaxing respite. So when you take the time and emotional energy to write about your own dear dad, please know your thoughts may help someone to cope with sadness, deal with despair, or even chuckle at a good memory. I saw my parents weather the storms of life and never complain. I pray I’ll always be so strong. Deborah Bukszar Baltimore, Md. Dear Editor: I was elated to read “A Man of Valor” See LETTERS TO EDITOR, page 53


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WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — M AY 2 0 1 4

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Now Open! NeurExpand Brain Center, introducing one of the first clinical treatments to build your brain’s capacity to resist memory loss and cognitive decline. Aging is inevitable, but memory loss is not. You can take steps right now to improve brain fitness. Our new location in Chevy Chase can assess your risk and create a treatment plan shown to measurably improve memory, focus, and cognitive performance in patients. Developed by renowned neurologist Majid Fotuhi, M.D., Ph.D., this clinical program, covered by Medicare and most major insurance plans, is your best chance to ensure that your mind and memory remain sharp. Visit NeurExpand online today.

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Health Fitness &

DARK SECRETS Not only is dark chocolate yummy, it helps fend off diabetes and dementia NEW HEPATITIS C CURE A new drug can help cure hepatitis C in 12 weeks, but it costs $1,000 a pill SMOOTH SKIN SANS SURGERY Fillers, lasers and chemical peels can rejuvenate skin without surgery DON’T GIVE UP GRAINS It’s a fad to cut out grains, but that risks the loss of many important nutrients

New drugs can greatly lower cholesterol By Marilynn Marchione A new class of experimental medicines can dramatically lower cholesterol, raising hopes of a fresh option for people who can’t tolerate, or don’t get enough help from, Lipitor and other statin drugs that have been used for this for decades. Several companies are developing these drugs, which are aimed at 70 million Americans and millions more worldwide who have high LDL or “bad” cholesterol, a major risk for heart disease. Three studies of Amgen Inc.’s version of these drugs, called evolocumab (ev-ohLOKE-you-mab), found it lowered LDL or “bad” cholesterol by 55 to 66 percent from baseline levels compared to others who took a fake drug, and by nearly that much when compared to Merck’s Zetia, another cholesterol medication.

Do they prevent heart attacks? As impressive as that is, it’s still just part of the picture. Doctors want evidence that the way these drugs lower cholesterol also will lead to fewer heart attacks and deaths, because that proof already exists for statins. New studies are underway to test this, but Amgen said it will seek approval for its drug this year based on cholesterollowering alone. That was enough to win approval for statins and Zetia, but use of Zetia has declined since 2008, when research showed it failed to help prevent heart attacks even though it cut cholesterol. Hopes are high that the new Amgen drug and others like it will do better. “I would be happy to see it approved” on the cholesterol results alone, said Dr. Hadley Wilson, a cardiologist at Carolinas Health-

Care System. “We need additional agents other than statins” to help patients, he said. Nearly all current cholesterol medicines — fibrates, niacin and top-selling statins — are decades old. Statins such as Lipitor, Zocor and Crestor curb cholesterol production. Zetia, which came out about a decade ago, helps block the absorption of cholesterol from the intestine. The new drugs block PCSK9, a substance that interferes with the liver’s ability to remove cholesterol from the blood.

Expensive injections They have big drawbacks, though. Statins are pills sold as generics for as little as a dime a day. The new drugs are proteins rather than chemicals, and those tend to be very expensive to make. They also must be given

as shots every two weeks or once a month. People can give the shots to themselves with a pen-like device. The companies developing the new medicines have not said what they might cost. “We were very, very pleased” about how well patients accepted the shots, and if they offer better results, especially for those with inherited conditions, “people will accept it,” said Dr. Michael Koren of Jacksonville Center for Clinical Research in Florida, who helped lead two of the studies. The three Amgen studies involved about 2,000 patients in all. Doctors tested the drug in people with high cholesterol who were not taking other medicines, as a long-term (one-year) treatment in people already taking various medications, and in combination See LOWER CHOLESTEROL, page 5

Half of US adults 40 to 75 eligible for statins By Marilynn Marchione Almost half of Americans ages 40 to 75, and nearly all men over 60, qualify to consider cholesterol-lowering statin drugs under new heart disease prevention guidelines, an analysis concludes. It’s the first independent look at the impact of the guidelines issued in November, and shows how dramatically they shift more people toward treatment. Supporters say the guidelines reveal the true scope of heart risks in America. Critics have said they overreach by suggesting medications such as Zocor and Lipitor for such a broad swath of the population. “We wanted to be really objective and just quantify what the guidelines do, and not get into a discussion about whether they are correct,” said Michael Pencina, the Duke University biostatistician who led the analysis, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Under the new guidelines, 56 million Americans ages 40 to 75 are eligible to consider a statin; 43 million were eligible under the old advice. Both numbers include 25 million people taking statins now. “That is striking, eye-opening,” Dr. Daniel Rader of the University of Pennsylvania said of the new estimate. But since too few people use statins now, the advice “has the potential to do much more good

than harm,” said Rader, a cardiologist who had no role in writing the guidelines. Nearly half a million additional heart attacks and strokes could be prevented over 10 years if statin use was expanded as the guidelines recommend, the study estimates. The guidelines, developed by the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology at the request of the federal government, were a big change. They give a new formula for estimating risk that includes blood pressure, smoking status and many factors besides the level of LDL or “bad” cholesterol, the main focus in the past.

Tailored guidelines For the first time, the guidelines are personalized for men and women and for blacks and whites, and they take aim at strokes, not just heart attacks. Partly because of that, they set a lower threshold for using statins to reduce risk. The guidelines say statins do the most good for people who already have heart disease, those with very high LDL of 190 or more, and people over 40 with Type 2 diabetes. They also recommend considering statins for anyone 40 to 75 who has an estimated 10-year risk of heart disease of 7.5 percent or higher, based on the new formula. (This means that for every 100 peo-

ple with a similar risk profile, seven or eight would have a heart attack or stroke within 10 years.) Under this more nuanced approach, many people who previously would not have qualified for a statin based on LDL alone would now qualify, while others with a somewhat high LDL but no other heart risk factors would not. The Duke researchers gauged the impact of these changes by using cholesterol, weight and other measurements from health surveys by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They looked at how nearly 4,000 people in those surveys would have been classified under the new and old guidelines, and projected the results to the whole country.

Helped those 60+ the most The biggest effect was on people 60 and older, researchers found. Under the new guidelines, 87 percent of such men not already taking a statin are eligible to consider one; only 30 percent were under the old guidelines. For women, the numbers are 54 percent and 21 percent, respectively. Dr. Paul Ridker and Nancy Cook of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston have criticized the risk formula in the guidelines. Ridker declined to be interviewed, but in a statement, he and Cook

noted that most people newly suggested for statins do not have high cholesterol, but smoke or have high blood pressure. They feel those problems, and lifestyle changes that address them, should be tried before prescribing medications. Dr. Neil Stone, the Northwestern University doctor who helped lead the guidelines work, stressed that the guidelines just say who should consider a statin, and they recommend people discuss that carefully with a doctor. “We think we’re focusing the attention for statins on those who would benefit the most,” Stone said. Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a Yale University cardiologist who has long advocated this approach, agreed. “The guidelines provide a recommendation, not a mandate” for statin use, he said. Pencina, the leader of the Duke study, said his own situation motivated him to look at the guidelines more closely. His LDL was nearing a threshold to consider a statin under the old guidelines, but under the new formula for gauging risk, “I’m fine,” he said. For more information on cholesterol see http://tinyurl.com/2dtc5vy. A risk calculator can be found at http://my.americanheart.org/cvriskcalculator. — AP


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with statins and other drugs in people with an inherited cholesterol disorder. In general, side-effect rates were about the same for evolocumab vs. placebo or Zetia. In some studies, muscle aches, nausea and a few other problems were a little higher with the experimental drug. Overall safety “is very, very encouraging,” said Dr. Scott Wasserman, Amgen’s executive medical director. Researchers also said: • Alirocumab, a similar drug being developed by Sanofi SA and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc., lowered LDL cholesterol by 47 percent (vs. 16 percent for Zetia) in a study of about 100 people not taking any other drugs for high cholesterol. • Bococizumab, from Pfizer Inc., lowered LDL 45 percent to 67 percent, depending on dose, compared to placebo in 354 people with high cholesterol also taking a statin.

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“There’s great interest” in all of these drugs, but doctors will wait for evidence that they lower heart risks, said Dr. Neil Stone, a Northwestern University cardiologist and spokesman for the American Heart Association. It may be easier to justify their use in patients with genes that cause high cholesterol at an early age, he said. A spokeswoman for the federal Food and Drug Administration, Sandy Walsh, suggested that might be the case. “Although we cannot comment on the likelihood of approval based solely on specific indications or populations,” two drugs recently were approved based on cholesterol-lowering for people with inherited conditions, she noted. A decision on approval also will be influenced by how much the drug lowers cholesterol, its effects on other fats in the blood and other heart signs such as inflammation and blood pressure, and its safety, she said. — AP

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Blood test rules out heart attacks in the ER By Marilynn Marchione A simple test appears very good at ruling out heart attacks in people who go to emergency rooms with chest pain — a big public health issue and a huge worry for patients. A large study in Sweden found that the blood test plus the usual electrocardiogram of the heartbeat were 99 percent accurate at showing which patients could safely be sent home rather than be admitted for observation and more diagnostics. Of nearly 9,000 patients judged low risk by the blood test and with normal electrocardiograms, only 15 went on to suffer a heart attack in the next month, and not a single one died. “We believe that, with this strategy, 20 to 25 percent of admissions to hospitals for

chest pain may be avoided,” said Dr. Nadia Bandstein of the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm. She helped lead the study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and presented at the cardiology college’s annual conference in April. Chest pain sends more than 15 million people to emergency rooms in the United States and Europe each year, and it usually turns out to be due to anxiety, indigestion or other less-serious things than a heart attack. Yet doctors don’t want to miss one — about 2 percent of patients having heart attacks are mistakenly sent home.

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mitted to a hospital so doctors can keep an eye on them. But a hospital stay raises the risk of picking up an infection and having expensive care they’ll have to pay a share of, plus unnecessary tests. The study included nearly 15,000 people who went to the Karolinska University hospital with chest pains over two years. About 8,900 had low scores on the new blood test for troponin, a substance that’s a sign of heart damage. The test has been available in Europe, Asia and Canada for about three years, but it has not yet been approved for use in the United States. The patients were 47 years old on average, and 4 percent had a previous heart attack. About 21 percent of them wound up being admitted. Researchers later looked back to see how the blood test and electrocardiogram would have predicted how they fared over the next month. They determined that in order to find

one heart attack in patients like this, 594 would have to be admitted — a huge waste of resources. A test like this would be “enormously useful,” and the study’s results are “almost too good to be true,” said Dr. Judd Hollander, an emergency medicine specialist at the University of Pennsylvania. He believes the test should be available in the U.S. and that the amount of evidence that FDA regulators are requiring to approve it is too high. Dr. Allan Jaffe, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic, said the problem is not what the test rules out, but what it might falsely rule in. It’s so sensitive that it can pick up troponin from heart failure and other problems, and cause unnecessary tests for that. “I think the strategy long-term will be proven,” but more studies underway now in the U.S. are needed to show that, he said. — AP

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Fairfax County’s free family caregiver telephone support group meets by phone on Tuesday, May 13 from 7 to 8 p.m. Register beforehand at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dfs/olderadultservices/caregiver.htm. To participate, call (703) 324-5484, TTY 711.


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What’s all the fuss over dark chocolate? By Lori Zanteson In addition to its great taste and enduring popularity, dark chocolate may help you fend off heart disease, diabetes, dementia and stroke. Chocolate has a variety of health-protective qualities thanks to its antioxidant flavonoids. The darker the chocolate, the higher level of flavonols (the main antioxidant found in cocoa and chocolate) it contains. Dark chocolate has a protective effect against cardiovascular disease. It lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, and may protect the heart by improving the function of cells that line the heart and blood vessels (the endothelium). It also improves insulin resistance, a predictor of diabetes, according to a November 2013 study in the journal Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition Metabolic Care. In addition, cocoa flavonols are absorbed into, and accumulate in, the areas of the brain involved in learning and memory. According to a study in a 2013 Neuroscience and Biobehavior Reviews, long-term flavonol consumption may have protective effects against cognitive decline, including dementia and stroke. In addition to the gustatory pleasures of enjoying a rich square of dark chocolate, it also may improve mood, with the potential to ease symptoms of anxiety and depression, according to a study in a 2013 Journal of Psychopharmacology.

How it’s made and processed Chocolate is made from beans harvested from the cocoa tree, Theobroma cacao. The ancient Mayans first discovered chocolate’s health potential. They ground the beans into a bitter brew that they used as traditional medicine for heart ailments,

depression and other conditions. Today, chocolate manufacturers remove cocoa beans from their pod and ferment, dry, roast and grind them into cocoa liquor. The beans may be further processed into cocoa butter and cocoa powder. Cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, sugar and vanilla are then combined to make chocolate. Dark chocolate contains higher amounts of cocoa solids and smaller amounts of sugar than milk chocolate, resulting in a richer, deeper flavor. When shopping for chocolate, go as dark as your palate allows for the biggest boost of flavonoids and health benefits. Most studies use chocolate with 70 percent or higher cocoa content. Ingredients should include cocoa butter (but not other fats such as palm or coconut oils), sugar, vanilla, and not much else.

Note that just one ounce of 70 to 85 percent dark chocolate has 168 calories and 12 grams of fat, so it’s best to keep portions petite — about one ounce. Pair your squares with other flavonoid-rich treats like red wine (in moderation) or a handful of almonds. An alternative way to the health benefits of dark chocolate — one with fewer calories and fat — is to add natural cocoa powder to your foods. (Try it in hot oatmeal!) One to two tablespoons of natural cocoa powder provide a similar level of flavonoids as the amount of dark chocolate used in

studies suggesting health benefits. The powder alone tastes quite bitter, however, so some sweetener is typically called for. As for chocolate milk and hot cocoa mixes: those are typically made with Dutched cocoa. Unfortunately, the processing that makes Dutch cocoa also removes most of the flavonoid compounds. Reprinted with permission from Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of Belvoir Media Group, LLC. 800-829-5384. www.EnvironmentalNutrition.com. © 2014 Belvoir Media Group. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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AVOID KNEE SURGERY New FDA Approved Treatment Proven to Relieve Knee Pain

HAS KNEE PAIN BROUGHT YOU TO YOUR KNEES? END YOUR SUFFERING! Chronic pain can be excruciating, and millions of people suffer just like you do, every single day. And just like you, others have spent years looking for answers about how to deal with extreme knee pain that stems from arthritis, osteoarthritis, sports injuries, and other sources. Physicians have spent years trying to find ways to relieve their patients' p ' ain. And pharmaceutical companies have also spent years looking for better ways to mask the pain. Advanced Spine & Wellness Center has found a natural way to eliminate your daily suffering and chronic knee pain. This FDA approved treatment can get you back to living an active lifestyle WITHOUT surgery and the endless trial and error cycle of trying different pain medications. The results can be felt almost immediately, as quickly as the time it takes to make a call to Advanced Spine & Wellness Center for your FREE consultation.

If You Consider Surgery, Consider This! Here are the facts to take into consideration about knee replacement surgery: • Surgery is costly, regardless of the percentage of services covered by insurance. • Surgery requires lost time from work and typically requires a regimen of rehabilitation and medications. • With surgery, there is always a risk for unwelcome complications. And you could be back to where you started. • Medications will be required for relief from surgery, and you have been down that road before. Potentially, addictions to these pain medications can cause side effects, something you do not want to experience. • Rehabilitation can take years.

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Health Shorts Vaccine cuts senior pneumonia rates and complications A vaccine against pneumonia, blood and other infections met its goal of preventing illness in vulnerable older adults in a huge study required by the Food and Drug Administration. Prevnar 13 protects against 13 strains of pneumococcal disease, which can cause painful children’s ear infections, pneumonia and life-threatening bloodstream infections. The study, known by the acronym CAPi-

TA, included about 85,000 patients 65 and older. It found that, compared to study participants getting a dummy shot, those getting the vaccine had about 46 percent fewer cases of pneumonia and about 75 percent fewer cases of invasive pneumococcal disease such as bloodstream infections. The top-selling vaccine in history, Prevnar 13 brings its maker, Pfizer, Inc., $4 billion in annual revenue. Launched at the end of 2009, it’s now on sale in more than 120 countries. In the U.S., it’s approved for children from six weeks to 17 years old and for adults aged 50 and older. In 2011, the Food and Drug Administration granted accelerated approval to use the vaccine in the 65and-up group, but required a large study to verify it actually prevented illness in them. Seniors are particularly vulnerable to in-

M AY 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

fections by pneumococcal bacteria, and potentially life-threatening complications, because their immune systems don’t work as well as when they were younger. For the same reason, vaccines generally are only about 50 percent effective in patients 65 and older. Pfizer noted the study is the first of any pneumococcal vaccine showing a significant reduction in pneumococcal infections in adults. That could help Prevnar 13 take more market share from rival Merck & Co.’s Pneumovax vaccine. — AP

Fixing heart valves without surgery A new study gives a big boost to fixing a bad aortic valve, the heart’s main gate, without open-heart surgery. Survival rates were better one year later for people who had a new valve placed through a tube into an artery instead. The results prompted some doctors to predict that, in the near future, far fewer people will be having the traditional operation. “It’s going to be very hard to tell a patient that if they need an aortic valve, surgery is going to be their best option,” said Dr. Prediman K. Shah of Cedars Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles. A bad aortic valve can stiffen and narrow with age, keeping blood from passing through as it should. Until a few years ago, the only solution was a major operation to open the chest, cut out the bad valve, and sew in a new one. That changed in 2011, when Edwards Lifesciences Inc. won federal approval for an expandable valve that could fit in a catheter into a leg artery, be guided to the heart, and be placed inside the old valve. Studies showed survival was comparable

to surgery or a little better, but strokes were more common after the catheter approach, making some leery of it. Earlier this year, a rival device — Medtronic Inc.’s CoreValve — was approved for treating people at too high a risk to have surgery. The new study tested it in nearly 800 people who were less sick — eligible for the operation but still with elevated risks. One year after treatment, 19 percent of the surgery patients but only 14 percent of those given a CoreValve had died. Stroke rates also seemed lower, though this was not one of the main results researchers were tracking. After one year, 13 percent of surgery patients and 9 percent of the others had had a stroke. Two-year follow-up is not complete, but “we are certainly encouraged” that trends appear to be continuing, said one of the study’s leaders, Dr. David Adams of New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital. There were drawbacks to the CoreValve, though — twice as many patients needed pacemakers afterward. Other complications were a tradeoff — more vascular problems with the CoreValve but more problems with a fluttering heartbeat called atrial fibrillation among those who had surgery. Still, several independent experts praised the results. “It’s a great leap forward” for fixing valves through blood vessels, said Dr. David Kandzari of Piedmont Heart Institute in Atlanta. The study was paid for by Medtronic, and many study leaders consult for Medtronic, Edwards or other heart device makers. Results also were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Doctors say both companies’ artificial valves need more long-term study to see if they hold up as well as the ones implanted surgically, which typically last 20 years. Other firms are also testing catheterplaced valves. — AP

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WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — M AY 2 0 1 4

9

Is one drink a day too much? It depends By Dr. Terry Schneekloth Dear Mayo Clinic: I enjoy a glass of wine each night with dinner and sometimes have another before bed. My husband is concerned and thinks I should take a break from it to make sure I’m not becoming addicted. Is it possible to become an alcoholic just by having one or two drinks at night? I never drink to the point of feeling drunk. Answer: For most people, an occasional glass of wine with dinner or a drink in the evening is fine. When drinking becomes a daily activity, though, it can put you at risk for health problems. From your description of your drinking habits, it may be time to take a closer look at how much you drink. In general, drinking alcohol in moderation is not a cause for concern. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, or NIAAA, no more than three drinks in any one day, and no more than seven drinks a week, is considered to be in the moderate or low-risk range for women. For men, it’s no more than four drinks a day and no more than 14 drinks a week.

How large is a drink? Those guidelines are based on standardsize drinks. One standard drink contains about 14 grams of pure alcohol. That equals 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer,

8 to 9 ounces of malt liquor and 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits or “hard” liquor. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to drink more than a standard drink in one glass. For example, many wine glasses hold far more than 5 ounces. You could easily drink 8 ounces of wine in a glass. If you have one of those glasses during a meal and another before bed, you’re actually consuming about three standard drinks in one evening. You mention that you never drink to the point of feeling drunk. Although that’s a common way people gauge how much they should drink, it can be quite inaccurate. In fact, researchers who study alcohol abuse find that people who do not feel the effects of alcohol after they drink several alcoholic beverages are at higher risk for alcohol-related problems than those who do. It is important to note that even though you may not feel the effects of alcohol, you still have the same amount of alcohol in your body as someone who does start to feel intoxicated after one or two drinks. Your lack of response to the alcohol may be related to an increase in your body’s alcohol tolerance over time, due to your regular drinking. Drinking more than the NIAAA-recommended limits puts you in the category of “at-risk” drinking. That means you have a higher risk for negative consequences related to your alcohol use, including health

and social problems. You’re also at higher risk of becoming addicted to alcohol.

Alcohol-related health issues Alcohol can damage your body’s organs and lead to a variety of health concerns. For women, this damage happens with lower doses of alcohol because their bodies contain less water than men. That’s why the moderate drinking guidelines for women and men are so different. The specific organ damage that happens with too much alcohol use varies considerably from one person to another. The most common health effects include heart, liver and nerve damage, as well as memory problems and sexual dysfunction. Unless you or your husband notice spe-

cific negative consequences related to your drinking, it probably is not necessary for you to quit drinking alcohol entirely. However, I would strongly encourage you to reduce the amount you drink, so it fits within the guidelines of moderate drinking. For more information about alcohol and health, visit the NIAAA web site: www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health. — Terry Schneekloth, M.D., Psychiatry and Psychology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. To submit a question, write to: medicaledge@mayo.edu. For health information, visit www.mayoclinic.com. © 2014 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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M AY 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

Replacing hips and knees at record pace By Marilynn Marchione It’s not just grandma with a new hip and your uncle with a new knee. More than 2 of every 100 Americans now have an artificial joint, doctors are reporting. Among those over 50, it’s even more common: Five percent have replaced a knee, and more than 2 percent, a hip. “They are remarkable numbers,” said Dr. Daniel J. Berry, chairman of orthopedic surgery at the Mayo Clinic. Roughly 7 million people in the United States are living with a total hip or knee replacement. He led the first major study to estimate how prevalent these procedures have become, using federal databases on surgeries and life expectancy trends. Results were reported at an American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons conference. More than 600,000 knees and about 400,000 hips are replaced in the U.S. each

year. But until now, there haven’t been good numbers on how many people currently are living with new joints. The number is expected to grow as the population ages, raising questions about cost, how long the new parts will last, and how best to replace the replacements as they wear out over time. Why the boom? “People are aware that they’re a success” and are less willing to put up with painful joints, Berry said. The term “joint replacement” is a little misleading, said Dr. Joshua Jacobs, chairman of orthopedic surgery at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and president of the orthopedic surgery association. What’s replaced is the surface of a joint after cartilage has worn away, leaving bone rubbing against bone and causing pain and less mobility. In a replacement operation, the ends of bones are removed or

resurfaced, and replaced with plastic, ceramic or metal materials. Arthritis is the main reason for these operations, followed by obesity, which adds stress on knees and hips. Baby boomers are wearing out joints by playing sports and doing other activities to avoid obesity. Knee replacement surgeries have more than tripled in the 45-to-64 age group over the last decade, and nearly half of hip replacements now are in people under 65, federal numbers show.

Surgery not for everyone “It’s not for anybody who has pain in the joint,” Berry warned. Surgery won’t help people with pain and stiffness from arthritis but whose joints are not damaged, said Berry, who gets royalties from certain hip and knee implants. Surgery also is not for people who

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haven’t first tried exercise, medicines and weight loss, Jacobs said. But for a growing number of people, it can mean a big improvement in quality of life. Mary Ann Tuft, 79, who owns an executive search firm, said her right knee was painful for a decade before she had it replaced in 2005. “I live in downtown Chicago, take a lot of walks along the beach. I could barely walk a block” by the time the operation was done, she said. “I’m very social, but I found going to cocktail receptions where you had to stand a long time, I would just avoid them.” After the operation, “I felt better pretty much right from the beginning,” she said. “You don’t even know you have it in there, which is amazing.” Cynthia Brabbit, a dental hygienist from Winona, Minn., had hip replacement in 2007 when she was 52. She developed hip problems in her 20s that distorted her gait and even caused one leg to grow longer than the other. “I was running marathons, doing half marathons, playing tennis,” but the problem grew so bad she couldn’t even walk more than half a mile, she said. “Now I can walk an hour a day,” and is training for a 100-mile bike ride this summer, she said. “What a world of difference.”

Recall and failure concerns Not all patients have fared as well, though. Implant recalls and big patient lawsuits show the danger when a device is flawed. Last June, Stryker Corp. recalled certain hip implant products because of corrosion and other problems. Last month, another device maker, Biomet, agreed to pay at least $200,000 each to hundreds of people who received artificial hips that were later replaced. And in November, Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $2.5 billion to settle roughly 8,000 patients’ lawsuits over an all-metal hip implant it pulled from the market in 2010. Even good implants can fail over time — about 1 percent or fewer fail each year. After 10 years, more than 90 percent of them are still functioning, Jacobs and Berry said. It costs about $20,000 for a knee or hip replacement, but a recent study suggests they save more than they cost, because they reduce lost work days and improve mobility. “There’s a cost for not doing the procedure,” Jacobs noted. To help a joint replacement succeed and last, doctors recommend doing physical therapy to strengthen bones, muscles and the new joint. Other tips include maintaining a healthy weight, cross training so you don’t overdo one type of activity or sport, spending more time warming up, and letting muscles and joints recover between workouts. For more information, see www.orthoinfo.org and www.aaos.org/research/stats/ patientstats.asp. — AP


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WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — M AY 2 0 1 4

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M AY 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

New hepatitis C pill is quick, costly cure

©2013 The Washington Home & Community Hospices

By Matthew Perrone U.S. health officials recently approved a highly anticipated hepatitis C drug from Gilead Sciences Inc. that is expected to offer a faster, more palatable cure to millions of people infected with the liver-destroying virus. The Food and Drug Administration approved the pill Sovaldi in combination with older drugs to treat the main forms of hepatitis C that affect U.S. patients. Current treatments for hepatitis C can take up to a year of therapy and involve weekly injections of a drug that causes flulike side effects. That approach only cures about three out of four patients. Sovaldi is a daily pill that in clinical trials cured roughly 90 percent of patients in just

12 weeks, when combined with the older injected drug cocktail.

Baby boomers at risk The new treatment option comes as the U.S. government urges all baby boomers to get tested for the disease. People born between 1945 and 1965 are five times more likely than other age groups to have hepatitis C, with many having contracted the virus by sharing needles or having sex with an infected person in their youth. Hepatitis C symptoms may not appear until two or three decades after infection, though the virus can cause liver failure, cirrhosis and cancer if left untreated. Between 3 and 4 million Americans,

many of them baby boomers, are estimated to carry the blood-borne virus, though most do not even know they are infected. Others have tested positive but are waiting for more effective treatments to become available. Dr. Donald Jensen of the University of Chicago said he’s optimistic that new drugs like Sovaldi will increase treatment of the disease, which is blamed for 15,000 U.S. deaths per year. “I’m hoping that these new, less toxic therapies will drive more people to get tested, and more primary care physicians to test their patients, knowing that the therapy is going to be more effective and easier,” said Jensen, who directs the university’s center for liver diseases. Gilead Sciences Inc., based in Foster City, Calif., is one of a half-dozen companies battling over the market for more effective treatments for hepatitis C. Many industry analysts expect Sovaldi to quickly dominate the field, with sales of the new drug totaling more than $2.3 billion already this year.

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patients. Then in 2011, the FDA approved two new drugs from Merck and Vertex Pharmaceuticals that raised the cure rate to about 65 and 75 percent, respectively, when combined with the older treatments. Gilead’s once-a-day pill pushes the cure rate much higher. In a company study of patients with the most common forms of the disease, 90 percent of participants had undetectable levels of the virus after 12 weeks taking Sovaldi plus the older pilland-injection cocktail. The forms of the disease studied in the trial account for more than 75 percent of hepatitis C cases in the U.S. Gilead’s drug is less effective in treating a less common form of the disease that accounts for about 10 percent of U.S. cases. Patients with that strain of the virus had to take the drug for 24 weeks, twice the normal duration, to achieve an 85 percent cure rate. But even for those patients, experts say Gilead’s drug represents an important step forward.

Pricey pill But the drug isn’t cheap, and at $1,000 per pill, critics have complained it will be unaffordable for many patients. A 12-week supply costs $84,000. Patients with a less common subtype of the disease may need to take the drug for 24 weeks, raising the cost to $168,000 for one course of treatment. Drugs already on the market run between $25,000 and $50,000 for a course of treatment. For most of the last 20 years, the standard treatment for hepatitis C involved a grueling one-year regimen of pills and injections that caused nausea, fever and headaches, and cured fewer than half of

No more injections? In February, Gilead filed for FDA approval of a combination pill containing sofosbuvir and ledipasvir, another antiviral drug, that could become the first all-oral regimen for the most common form of hepatitis C, long viewed as the holy grail of treatments by drugmakers. The combination oral drug can cure some types of hepatitis C in eight weeks. Similar development efforts are underway from competitors, including Abbott Laboratories, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Vertex Pharmaceuticals and others. — AP

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WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — M AY 2 0 1 4

Your brain From page 1 shrinkage of 10 percent in 20 years,” said Fotuhi. And the size of your hippocampus matters. “Changes in its size bring noticeable changes in a person’s memory and cognitive function,” he said. When it comes to peak brain performance, bigger is undeniably better. But can natural shrinkage with age be reversed? Yes, Fotuhi said. He pointed to research published a few years ago in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in which one group of seniors did stretching exercises, while another group walked 45 minutes four days a week, both for a year. MRIs showed that while areas of the hippocampus in the stretchers shrank by about 1.5 percent during that period, those of the walkers increased by about 2 percent, “effectively reversing age-related loss in volume by 1 to 2 years,” the researchers said. Furthermore, the increased brain volume was associated with improved memory function and oxygen consumption in the walkers compared with the stretchers. In a book published in 2008, Fotuhi suggested that a great workout for the brain would be doing the New York Times crossword puzzle daily. He has also recommended that older adults put on their dancing shoes. Dancing is the perfect activity to keep the brain young, Fotuhi said. He told CNN that he began ballroom dancing when he was a student at Harvard Medical School, and that he and his wife Bita have mastered the tango. Dancing, crossword puzzles and other lifestyle changes may sound simple, but they’re based on sound science, Roizen said in an interview. “I think that what Dr. Fotuhi is recommending is something that helps you expand your current brain power. Whether

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

How the program works Fotuhi stressed that his 12-week program is not in any way akin to the “miracle” cures promised on TV infomercials for various health concerns. Rather, it is an individualized treatment plan with proven results. “I take pride in the fact that 90.6 percent of the patients who have gone through this program have significant improvement of their memories,” he said. ”The one-size-fits-all approach does not work, and we need to assess each person’s current brain health and make a plan with that in mind,” he said. The plan starts with a doctor visit and extensive testing. Among other things, the participants give their health history, get blood-flow exams, physical stress tests and mental memory tests. An EEG (electroencephalography) checks out brain-wave function. After physical and mental habits are as-

sessed, the doctor explains how to immediately embark upon a drug-free personalized treatment program. Patients meet with a “brain coach” who helps them with tasks to boost memory, including memorizing a list of random items. Neurofeedback therapy — biofeedback applied to the brain using EEG — is also part of the program. Some patients, such as those who had a concussion in the past, require more training than others to enhance their brain function and are offered cognitive training. Stress reduction strategies and meditation are also offered as ways to improve memory and increase brain size. Treatments for sleep disorders and apnea are also available.

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In Boost Your Brain, Fotuhi said that “with a greater understanding of how to stave off brain atrophy, it’s likely that just as we have experienced an increase in lifespan over the past century, we will see an increase in our ‘brain span’ — the portion of our lives that we live in peak cognitive condition. “Memory, creativity, mental agility — our ability to respond quickly or ‘connect the dots’ — all can be improved with a bigger brain,” Fotuhi said. Fotuhi will talk about his work at an event on May 22 at 10 a.m. at the Leisure World Clubhouse One, 3700 Rossmoor Blvd., Silver Spring, Md. For more information on the NeurExpand Brain Center, call (301) 200-8106 or visit www.NeurExpand.com.


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M AY 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

Some insights into depression and pain By Dr. Michael Craig Miller Q: Can pain be caused by depression and anxiety? A: People with depression and anxiety do experience more pain than average. We don’t know the exact cause. But we do know that pain in these individuals can be more severe or last longer. And it can be harder to treat. Up to two-thirds of patients seeking help for depression also report at least one pain symptom. Chronic pain is depressing. And some people “feel” depression as physically

painful. Pain shares some biological features with depression and anxiety. So psychotherapy and drug treatment aimed at the mental disorders can also relieve pain. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one approach. It is an established treatment for anxiety and depression. CBT is based on the idea that thoughts, feelings and sensations are all related. Patients who learn coping skills from a CBT therapist can better manage their pain, rather

than be victimized by it. Stress makes pain worse, so relaxation training for stress can help ease pain. Techniques include progressive muscle relaxation, yoga and mindfulness training. Hypnosis is another useful tool. A therapist helps a patient achieve a trance-like state, and then provides positive suggestions. Some patients can learn self-hypnosis. Some psychiatric drugs can relieve pain symptoms, too. For example, some antidepressants may help with nerve pain. Antiseizure drugs, often used as mood stabilizers, can regulate abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Chronic pain in particular involves nerve hypersensitivity. So that’s why some of these drugs may provide relief. Patients with pain often find a combination of psychotherapy and medicine helps most. That approach is reminiscent of treatments for anxiety and depression. Pain, depression and anxiety have a wide variety of causes. So good treatment usually depends upon working with your doctor to move carefully through the options. Hold on to what works and let go of the rest. Q: I lost my brother several months ago. There are days when I still feel overpowered by sadness. Is it normal to grieve this long? A: I’m sorry to learn of your loss. Everyone grieves differently. Grief rarely has a clear beginning, middle and end. There is not one way to move through emotions. A big loss doesn’t always resolve with closure. Grief doesn’t neatly end at six months or one year. One factor is the strength of the bond you had. If a bond is strong, grief can be lifelong. Parents who lose a child often say they never get over the loss. The loss of a spouse can be just as devastating.

The loss of other loved ones, including siblings, can take a long time to get over, as well. But even in those cases, grief usually does soften and change over time. How this goes depends on your emotional style. Your support system is a factor. Your culture also determines how grief goes. The loss of a sibling has a unique quality. Siblings share an upbringing and history. You share many happy and sad memories. Those memories draw attention to the loss. You may feel sadness or anger. You may feel abandoned. The range of feelings is huge. Feelings can be triggered by birthdays, weddings, anniversaries or holidays. A familiar scent. A song you both liked. All of this is entirely normal. Siblings are part of your generation. That may raise concerns about your own mortality. The raw, all-consuming shock of early grief usually tails off within weeks or months. Gradually, at their own pace, most people find themselves adjusting. They slip back into their usual routines. So give yourself time. Many people find that the mourning period is a time for reflection. It can be a time for growth. Many people emerge from the depths of their grief with greater confidence in their ability to manage life’s sorrows and difficulties. Michael Craig Miller, M.D., is an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and an associate physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Mass. He is a senior medical editor at Harvard Health Publications. For additional consumer health information, please visit www.health.harvard.edu. © 2014 President and Fellows of Harvard College. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Preserving youthful skin without surgery Age isn’t kind to skin. Years of accumulated sun exposure leave their mark in the form of fine lines, wrinkles and discoloration. By the time you reach your 60s or 70s, much of the damage has already been done, but that damage isn’t indelible. “There are a lot of things you can do about the changes that time, aging and sun exposure have brought about,” said Dr. Kenneth Arndt, clinical professor of dermatology at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (Boston, Mass.) and medical editor of the Harvard Medical School Special Health Report, Skin Care and Repair (www.health.harvard.edu/SCR). The first step is to slow the pace of further damage by staying out of the sun and wearing adequate sun protection whenever you are outside. That means completely covering exposed skin with an SPF30 or higher sunscreen, and wearing sun-protective clothing, wraparound sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat that shields your face, neck and ears.

Time erasers To minimize wrinkles and age spots that have already etched themselves into your skin, Arndt suggests the following nonsurgical cosmetic techniques. 1. Smooth and fill The most common skin rejuvenation tools Arndt uses on his patients are dermal fillers and neuromodulators.

Neuromodulators (Botox, Dysport, Xeomin) are injections to relax the muscles that create the appearance of wrinkles when you smile, frown or laugh. “These products diminish the frown lines and forehead lines, and sometimes the crow’s feet, and they do it well, reliably and safely. People are almost always happy with the results,” Arndt said. Dermal fillers are injections that plump up sagging areas of skin. They’re sometimes called “liquid facelifts,” because they can create a more youthful look without the downtime and risks associated with cosmetic surgery. Dermal fillers are often used to soften the “laugh lines” that run from the side of the nose down to the mouth. Often the two treatments are used together. Neuromodulators diminish frown lines, while fillers plump up the appearance of the lower face, cheeks, chin and laugh lines. Combining the two enhances and prolongs their effects. Arndt said both techniques are safe, with very few side effects. Botox and similar injections may cause a little bruise at the injection site or a slight heaviness of the brow, but these effects are temporary. Fillers also may cause some slight, temporary bruising. Also remember that the effects of these treatments are temporary. To keep seeing results, you’ll need to return for repeat sessions — Botox two or three times a year,

BEACON BITS

May 28

LEVELS OF HEALTHCARE

Kelly Arthur of Virginia Hospital Center will give a free presentation on the different levels of healthcare in and out of the hospital. Learn the differences between acute care and inpatient or outpatient rehab, homecare and home health, and what each involves. “What You Need to Know Before You Are Hospitalized” will take place at Virginia Hospital Center, 601 S. Carlin Springs Rd., Arlington, Va. on Wednesday, May 28 from 11 a.m. to noon. To register, call (703) 558-6859.

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and fillers once or twice a year. 2. Rejuvenate For skin discoloration, including freckles, age spots and liver spots, Arndt recommends laser resurfacing or pulsed light therapy. Fractional laser resurfacing aims very small beams of high-energy light at the skin to smooth and tighten the surface and stimulate the development of collagen — the protein that gives skin its elasticity. Because fractional laser resurfacing works only on fractions of the larger areas treated at a time, redness is minimized and healing is quick. However, you may have some itching and swelling in the treated area. Pulsed light therapy exposes the skin to

intense broadband wavelengths of light energy — unlike the laser, which emits one specific wavelength. This technique, which also stimulates collagen production, reduces the look of sun damage and brown spots, and minimizes wrinkles. Side effects are usually mild, but there may be some redness afterward.

Less costly options The treatments listed above can be pricey — Botox injections range from $300 to $700 per session, and fractional laser resurfacing can exceed $1,000. If you don’t want to invest quite as much money, consider these options: See YOUTHFUL SKIN, page 17


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Talk to doctor before taking probiotics By Dr. Brent Bauer Dear Mayo Clinic: I keep hearing about all the health benefits of probiotics. Are there any negative side effects? Do I need to talk to my doctor before I take them? Answer: Some research has shown that taking probiotics may have health benefits. They appear to be especially useful in promoting digestive health. In healthy adults, side effects from probiotics are rare. Before you start taking probiotics, how-

ever, it is a good idea to discuss it with your doctor. Probiotics contain strains of living bacteria that are similar to the healthy bacteria normally found in your digestive system. The purpose of taking probiotics is to increase the levels of those healthy bacteria. You can get probiotics from your diet. For example, yogurt, some types of soft cheese such as Gouda, miso soup, sourdough bread and acidophilus milk all contain probiotics. Probiotics also are available in pill form as an

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over-the-counter dietary supplement. Although more research is needed, there is evidence that probiotics may be useful in treating some disorders of the digestive tract. In particular, probiotics appear to be helpful in treating diarrhea, especially following treatment with certain antibiotics; treating irritable bowel syndrome; and speeding treatment of some intestinal infections. Some research suggests probiotics can help reduce the recurrence of bladder cancer, as well. One research study of children in daycare settings found that those who regularly took a probiotic supplement developed fewer colds and were less likely to get the flu than those who did not. Another study of probiotics followed a group of people who worked night shifts — a population that has been shown to be more susceptible to viral illnesses. Its findings were similar to those of the daycare study: People who took probiotics got sick less often than those who did not.

Not all are the same It is important to note, though, that not all probiotics are the same. The specific type of probiotic used to treat irritable bowel syndrome, for example, may not be the one that can help fight eczema. Identifying the differences between the

A lot more than you thought. For a lot less than you think. The Village at Rockville— the area’s greatest value in Continuing Care Retirement You probably didn’t realize that The Village at Rockville included a friendly neighborhood of one- and two-bedroom cottage homes within a beautiful 30-acre enclave. You get all the benefits of home ownership without the burden of upkeep and maintenance—we take care of all of that for you, inside and out. An additional benefit: You have access to our highly-rated continuum of care, including our new Assisted Living suites (expanding in September 2014), Long Term Care, as well as myPotential Rehabilitation in newly-renovated private rooms.

products can be confusing, and it’s often difficult to know which one is right for you. That’s why talking with your doctor before you start taking a probiotic can be helpful. The two of you can discuss whether taking a probiotic supplement might be useful for you in the first place. Then, if it is, your doctor can help you determine what type of probiotic will be best for your situation. Side effects from probiotics are uncommon. Most healthy adults can safely add probiotics to their diet without any problems. Before you start taking a probiotics supplement, however, you should review with your doctor any other medications or supplements you’re taking, and discuss any additional health concerns you may have. In some people who have immune system problems or intestinal damage, taking probiotics may not be recommended. Because the use of probiotics is relatively new, it is possible some doctors may not be familiar enough with them to guide you through the process of choosing the right probiotic. In that case, consider talking with your pharmacist about it instead. — Brent Bauer, M.D., General Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. © 2014 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Upcoming Events Senior Resource Fair & Community Tours Thursday, June 19, 2014 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Summer BBQ & Community Tours Wednesday, July 23, 2014 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. To RSVP, visit our website or call.

Would you like to learn about The Village at Rockville? Call 301-354-8487 to schedule your personal tour of our community. 9701 Veirs Drive | Rockville, MD 20850 | 301-354-8487 | www.thevillageatrockville.org The Village at Rockville is sponsored by National Lutheran Communities & Services, a faith-based, not-for-profit ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, serving people of all beliefs.

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WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — M AY 2 0 1 4

Youthful skin From page 15 Chemical peels use chemicals such as glycolic acid to strip away the outer layer of damaged skin. “They’re reasonably mild,” Arndt said. “The skin is left refreshed, a little pink, and shiny.” A glycolic acid peel can cost as little as $80, but it needs to be repeated every few weeks or months to continue showing an effect. Microdermabrasion uses tiny exfoliating crystals to buff off the top layer of skin and reveal the smoother surface below. Although the technique is different from a chemical peel, the results are similar, according to Arndt. The cost is around $100. Mild laser resurfacing (Clear and Brilliant) is a gentler version of fractional laser resurfacing. It involves smaller areas of

skin, and the beam is less intense, so there’s less downtime and discomfort afterward than with a traditional laser resurfacing procedure. The cost ranges from $200 to $500, depending on the area of skin treated.

2008 to 2011, calling into question the safety of some medspas. If you do decide to see an esthetician instead of a dermatologist, make sure the practitioner is licensed in your state and is certified by the National Coalition of Es-

theticians, Manufacturers/Distributors and Associations (NCEA). — Harvard Women’s Health Watch © 2014. President and Fellows of Harvard College. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Where to go Most of these techniques are available at both dermatologists’ offices and “medspas” — nonmedical facilities that offer a range of cosmetic services. Well-trained estheticians can perform some of these procedures. However, Arndt cautions, “In some spas and similar offices, people who are not well trained do some of the treatments. That’s where it gets dangerous.” In October 2013, a study in JAMA Dermatology found that the percentage of lawsuits from skin laser surgery performed by nonphysicians more than doubled from

BEACON BITS

May 8+

EYE HEALTH SEMINARS

The Prevention of Blindness Society presents two free eye health seminars during May. The first, “The Remarkable Retina,” features retina specialist Dr. Robert P. Murphy on Thursday, May 8 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. in the Charles E. Beatley, Jr. Central Library, 5005 Duke St., Alexandria, Va. To register, call (703) 746-1762. The second, “Tour of the Eye,” features ophthalmologist Amy Nicholas-Hwang on Thursday, May 29 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at JCC of Northern Virginia, 8900 Little River Turnpike, Fairfax, Va. There will be free glaucoma screenings from 11 a.m. to noon and from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Bring a dairy brown bag lunch (no meat). Beverages and dessert are provided. To register, call (703) 537-3095.

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Say you saw it in the Beacon | Fitness & Health

WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — M AY 2 0 1 4

19

Rediscovering spelt, an ancient grain By Lori Zanteson Spelt enjoys a rich past as one of the most popular grains of ancient times. Once a staple in ancient civilizations, and seen as a healer of illness in the Middle Ages, spelt lost its luster in the U.S. with the modern cultivation of wheat. Fortunately, spelt has reappeared on the food scene, appreciated as a nutrient-rich, nutty-flavored and versatile whole grain. Spelt is readily available on health food and specialty store shelves. Spelt (Triticum aestivum spelta) and wheat are distant relatives with much in common, such as their role as a primary ingredient in traditional recipes for bread and pasta. Like wheat, spelt also is available in its whole grain kernel form (known as spelt berries) as well as milled into flour. Spelt has a higher protein content than common wheat, and though it doesn’t always cause the sensitivities common to people who are wheat-intolerant, studies have not yet proven this, despite supporting anecdotal evidence. Spelt, like wheat, contains gluten, and thus is not appropri-

ate for people with celiac disease.

Packed with protein and fiber Spelt offers a healthy list of nutrients, including over 100 percent DV of manganese, 30 percent DV of dietary fiber, and 21 percent DV of protein in a one-cup serving. (DV or Daily Value is the daily nutritional recommendation based on 2,000 calories per day.) Spelt is high in dietary fiber and may play an important role in managing type 2 diabetes and heart-disease prevention. According to a 2010 study published in the journal Endocrine Practice, increased consumption of whole grains, such as spelt, is associated with improved glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity in both diabetics and non-diabetics. Another 2010 study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found eating three servings of whole grains daily can significantly reduce cardiovascular disease risk in middle-aged people by lowering blood pressure. Spelt can be found in health food stores year-round in a variety of forms, including

spelt berries, flour, bread and pasta. Like any grain, spelt should be purchased sealed (or covered, in the case of bulk bins) for freshness and moisture prevention. Store in a cool, dry, and dark place. Rinse and soak spelt berries at least eight hours or overnight. Bring one part spelt and three parts liquid to a boil, then lower heat to simmer for about an hour. Spelt makes a novel rice substitute, a nutritious hot cereal (top with fresh fruit), or a flavorful addition to salads, stuffing or soups.

Notable nutrients Spelt, cooked, 1 cup Calories: 246

Dietary fiber: 8 g. (30 percent Daily Value) Protein: 11 g. (22 percent DV) Thiamin: 0.2 mg. (13 percent DV) Niacin: 5 mg. (25 percent DV) Iron: 3 mg. (18 percent DV) Magnesium: 95 mg. (24 percent DV) Phosphorus: 291 mg. (29 percent DV) Zinc: 2 mg. (16 percent DV) Copper: 0.4 mg. (21 percent DV) Manganese: 2 mg. (106 percent DV) Reprinted with permission from Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of Belvoir Media Group, LLC. 800-829-5384. www.EnvironmentalNutrition.com. ©2014 Belvoir Media Group. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Health Studies Page

M AY 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

THE PLACE TO LOOK FOR INFORMATION ON AREA CLINICAL TRIALS

Testing drugs to treat overactive bladder By Barbara Ruben Those with overactive bladder often memorize where bathrooms are all over town. Some try to refrain from laughing or coughing to help avoid an “accident.” The sudden urge to urinate, known as overactive bladder, often has no discernible cause. It can lead to social isolation as sufferers choose to stay home rather than worry about bladder problems when they go out. While men can be affected, it is more

common among women. From 40 to 50 percent of women experience incontinence at some point. Incontinence also becomes more common with age. “This can really affect quality of life,” said Dr. Amy Park, an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and urology at Georgetown University Medical Center, and a principal investigator with MedStar Health Research Institute. “A lot of people are really self-conscious, and many say they don’t want to go out,”

BEACON BITS

June 24+

BILINGUAL POLL WORKERS NEEDED The Montgomery County Board of Elections is seeking bilingual

voters to work at early voting sites and at polling places on Election Day. Voters with Spanish speaking fluency are especially needed. Volunteers are needed for Election Day, on Tuesday, June 24, and during “Early Voting,” every day from June 12 to June 19. Workers must be registered to vote, age 17 or older, be a U.S. citizen, and be able to speak, read and write in English. There will be compensation for training and work. For more information, visit www.777vote.org or call (240) 777-8532.

Park is currently leading a study at MedStar Washington Hospital Center to see whether taking two drugs already approved by the FDA for overactive bladder will work better than taking just one. “The hope is the drugs will potentiate, or work in synergy with, each other, to provide better relief,” she said.

Two drugs work differently The study looks at whether adding a new medication called mirabegron, recently approved to treat overactive bladder, to treatment with solifenacin succinate, which goes by the brand name of Vesicare, can be more effective in controlling incontinence. The two drugs work differently on nerve receptors in the bladder. Vesicare has a risk of several side effects, including constipation and dry mouth and eyes. Mirabegron can raise blood pressure. While both drugs work better at higher doses, side effects can be more pronounced. Park said the study is looking at whether using the two drugs together will allow for lower doses of each in order to limit side effects while effectively controlling overactive bladder symptoms. During the study, all participants will initially be chosen randomly to take 5 mg. of Vesicare or a placebo for four weeks. The doctors will know who is getting the real medicine. Some of the participants will not qualify to continue with the study after this. Continuing participants will be randomly selected to take both medications together or one of two strengths of Vesicare.

No one will be assigned a placebo. For this part of the study, neither the researchers nor the patients will know who is taking what drugs. The study lasts for five months, and participants will visit MedStar Washington Hospital up to seven times. During the study, participants will keep a diary of their urinary symptoms. Those who complete the study will receive $350; the amount will be prorated for those who are not selected for the entire five months.

Who may volunteer? To qualify for the study, participants must be at least 18 years old; there is no upper age limit. Participants must have had overactive bladder symptoms for at least three months, and have at least two incontinence episodes a day. The study is primarily seeking volunteers with urge incontinence, which is the sudden and strong urge to urinate. Participants may also have stress incontinence, where leakage occurs during coughing, sneezing, exercising and other activities, but urge incontinence should be their primary problem. Those with catheters or symptoms of a urinary tract infection may not participate in the study. Patients with chronic inflammation, such as interstitial cystitis, bladder stones, previous pelvic radiation therapy, or previous or current malignant disease of the pelvic organs, also do not qualify. For more information about the study, or to volunteer, call (202) 877-0526.

Do You Know Someone Who Suffers From Sudden Urges to Urinate and Incontinence? We’re conducting a clinical research study combining two drugs for overactive bladder. Each of the drugs works in a different way, so the study may determine if the combination offers additional relief. Participants will receive, at no cost, study-related care, monitoring and the study drug. To learn more, please contact 202-877-0526.

This study has been reviewed by the Chesapeake IRB and is funded by Astellas Pharma Europe Ltd.


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WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — M AY 2 0 1 4

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Think twice before giving up all grains By Marsha McCulloch, R.D. Though going grain-free is a popular diet trend, grains — especially in their whole form — provide a significant portion of important nutrients in the diet. You’ve likely noticed the proliferation of books, websites and specialty foods aimed at helping people avoid gluten-containing grains — and all other grains, too. While a small group of scientists, medical professionals and bloggers are leading the charge for grain-free diets — declaring grains a mismatch based on human evolution — the majority of experts believe grainfree diets for the masses are a wrong move. If you’ve considered ditching grains, it’s important to understand the science and the potential pitfalls if you do so.

Who should avoid certain grains? Clearly, those with an allergy to wheat or other grains must avoid them. And the one percent of the population with celiac disease, and the six percent with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, must avoid all gluten — a protein found in grains, including wheat, rye and barley. With a doctor’s approval, most people with a gluten sensitivity can eat small amounts of uncontaminated oats; all other uncontaminated, gluten-free grains are typically allowed.

According to an August 2013 review in Current Allergy and Asthma Reports, multiple case reports suggest gluten can play a role in some autoimmune diseases beyond celiac disease, but large studies are lacking. Autoimmune diseases that occur most commonly in combination with celiac disease are autoimmune thyroid disease, autoimmune liver disease, Type 1 diabetes, Sjogren’s syndrome and psoriasis. If you have an autoimmune condition or health concern that has a scientifically documented relationship with gluten, talk with your doctor about celiac disease testing.

The nutrient gap Gluten-free diets carry the concern of nutritional deficiencies, and completely grain-free diets only heighten that risk. Julie Miller Jones, PhD, CNS, LN, professor emerita of nutrition at St. Catherine University, St. Paul, Minn., summarizes data showing grains provide the following amounts of nutrients in the U.S. diet: Seventy percent of folate; 60 percent of thiamin; 50 percent of iron; 40 percent or more of niacin, riboflavin and selenium, and 25 percent of magnesium and zinc. Jones is especially concerned about the impact a grain-free diet could have on folic acid intake. “Since the mid-1990s, when it became mandatory to add folic acid to enriched

FR&ElEunch t

even

grain products, the incidence of neural tube birth defects, such as spina bifida, has dropped by more than 50 percent,” she said. Proponents of grain-free diets voice concern about “anti-nutrients” in grains. Grains, especially whole grains, contain a substance called phytate that impairs the body’s absorption of some minerals. However, in populations with well-balanced diets, this may be of little consequence. There are ways to minimize phytate, too. “Breads made with longer fermentation times, such as Julia Child’s French bread (which requires at least six hours of rise time), and classic sourdough bread, have significantly lower phytate levels,” Jones said. Lectins, another type of anti-nutrient in grains, also may be inactivated by lengthy fer-

mentation, and some are destroyed by heat.

Unique fiber in grains Fiber in grains is not the same as the fiber in other foods. “Some people reason that if they eat more broccoli, for instance, then it won’t matter if they don’t eat grains. But thinking you don’t need grain fiber because you get a lot of vegetable fiber is like saying that if you get enough vitamin A you don’t need any vitamin C. That’s just plain wrong,” Jones said. For example, beta glucan, the fiber best at lowering cholesterol, is present only in oats and barley. And it’s grain fiber, rather than fiber from any source, that is linked See GOOD GRAINS, page 22

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Don’t have to play tennis to get its elbow By Dr. Howard LeWine Q: My doctor says my elbow pain is due to tennis elbow. But I don’t play tennis. Could you explain how this has come about and what I can do about it? A: “Tennis elbow” is a common term for a condition doctors call lateral epicondylitis. It’s caused by inflammation of the ten-

don that connects the extensor muscles of the wrist to the outside of the elbow. Probably fewer than 10 percent of people get this by playing tennis. The usual causes are recreational activities such as gardening, job-related lifting, using a screwdriver or wrist overuse. The medial epicondyle can also get in-

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Professionals working with seniors are invited to our Monthly GROWS meetings on the first Thursday of the month at 8:15 a.m. usually at Holiday Park Senior Center, 3950 Ferrara Dr., Wheaton, Md.

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flamed. In this condition, called medial epicondylitis, the affected tendons connect the flexor muscles of the wrist to the inside of the elbow. It’s commonly called “golfer’s elbow” or “pitchers elbow.” Tightening and twisting the wrist from activities such as golfing or throwing a baseball can cause it. Most people with medial or lateral epicondylitis feel pain when their doctor applies direct pressure to the inflamed area. He or she might ask you to push your wrist against resistance, which could also cause pain. You might also feel pain with handshaking, lifting a briefcase or heavy pot, or similar activities.

Treatment options There is treatment for both conditions. You could wear a wrist splint or forearm brace to prevent overuse of the muscles of the forearm. You can also try a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID, such as ibuprofen or naproxen) and ice packs to help relieve symptoms. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy, especially if you need to return to a job or activity that

Good grains From page 21 with a reduced risk of colon cancer. A 2009 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that healthy adults on a gluten-free diet for a month had a significant decrease in protective gut bacteria, while potentially unhealthy bacteria increased in number. These findings are similar to an earlier study of children with celiac disease following a long-term gluten-free diet (Journal of Medical Microbiology, 2007). In the typical American diet, wheat supplies at least 70 percent of inulin and

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caused the problem. Sometimes doctors recommend one or two steroid shots over the affected epicondyle. But there is some risk of tissue loss around the elbow with repeated shots. The symptoms of “tennis” or “golfer’s” elbow normally get better within a few months with conservative therapy. Once the symptoms disappear, you should begin gradual stretching and strengthening of the tendon and muscle attachments. Is a specific activity likely to have caused your condition? Try exploring a different swinging action or different equipment to avoid another episode. Despite trying all the above, lateral or medial epicondylitis can sometimes persist for many months. If that happens, talk with your doctor about referral to an orthopedist. Howard LeWine, M.D., is a practicing internist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Mass., and Chief Medical Editor of Internet Publishing at Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical School. © 2014 President and Fellows of Harvard College. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. oligofructose, which are prebiotic starches that fuel the growth of good bacteria. When all is said and done, the more restricted your food options are, the more careful you’ll need to be to ensure your body gets what it needs. So, look beyond diet books’ bestseller headlines and sensationalistic stories to make sure any dietary change is appropriate for you. Reprinted with permission from Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of Belvoir Media Group, LLC. 800-829-5384. www.EnvironmentalNutrition.com. © 2014 Belvoir Media Group. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — M AY 2 0 1 4

When your body produces pain-causers Dear Pharmacist: up in your gut, or in your blood, then this I have chronic pain and take ibuprofen triggers a physiological response in your daily, plus hydrocodone and body that causes cells to recelecoxib. I’m willing to do lease pain-causing chemicals anything right now that could called cytokines. help. Two types of cytokines impliThe craziest thing is that cated in pain are the leukotrienes nothing happened to me, I and the prostaglandins. Those just developed pain over are big names for such little subthe years. No accidents, no stances, but too much of these trauma. Can you help me? will make you hurt. Your goal as — D.W. a pain sufferer is to reduce levDear D.W.: els of both. DEAR Pain is a symptom, not a First up: leukotrienes! These PHARMACIST disease in itself. It’s your clue are a subclass of eicosanoids By Suzy Cohen that something is out of bal(pronounced I-koss’-anoids). ance in your system. When you say that out loud, the Without knowing more details, it’s hard last syllable sounds like the word “annoyed,” to hit the nail on the head, so I will give and that’s exactly what you will be if you have you (and other readers who are suffering too much. They are very annoying and irriin pain) some general information. tating! My goal today is to teach you about two Leukotrienes spark production of other different pain chemicals that your body re- compounds involved in allergies, food senleases in response to something. What sitivities, autoimmune disorders and anathat “something” is could be different for phylactic reactions. Leukotrienes tend to everyone. increase if you consume food coloring, like Sometimes pain is triggered by foods yellow dye #5, tartrazine, and other artifilike gluten or nightshade vegetables, cial substances. sometimes it is from a nutrient deficiency If you have pain, non-steroidal anti-in(like lack of magnesium or CoQ10), and flammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as sometimes it is from poor elimination. ibuprofen and naproxen (Advil and Aleve, If you are constipated and toxins back respectively) can help. These are sold

over-the-counter at pharmacies nationwide. The prescription drug Celebrex (celecoxib) can also help. Interestingly, researchers have found that some natural compounds, like boswelia and quercetin, can reduce those annoying eicosanoids. Since about 2001, the medical literature has shown that dark chocolate can reduce eicosanoids, too. Other natural rescue remedies include omega 3 fatty acids, flax seed, perilla seed oil, curcumin and glycyrrhiza. The prescription medications Accolate and Singulair may help too, especially if your problems are primarily allergies. Next up: prostaglandins. Excessive amounts of this cytokine occur with arthri-

tis, heavy menstrual cycles, premenstrual syndrome, migraines, multiple sclerosis, chronic Lyme disease, as well as colon and breast cancer. What substances reduce prostaglandins? Fish oils, white willow bark (salix alba), ecklonia cava (a brown algae), meadowsweet (don’t take if you’re allergic to salicylates like aspirin), turmeric, skullcap, ginger root and passionflower. Medications to consider include aspirin, celecoxib, and the NSAID class including ibuprofen and naproxen. Ask your doctor if any of these are right for you. This information is opinion only. It is not See DEAR PHARMACIST, page 24

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Soy protein additives not a big health risk Q: I see soy protein in the ingredi- isoflavones in a serving of these foods is ents of so many breads, bars, cereals equal to about one-tenth to one-third of a and other foods now. Is serving of a traditional soy that likely to push me food such as tofu, edamame, above what is considered a soymilk or soynuts. safe level of soy consumpEarly lab research had sugtion? gested that too many isoflavones A: Moderate consumption may increase breast cancer risk. of soy is 1 to 2 standard servNow, larger and stronger studies ings daily of whole soy foods, have demonstrated up to three such as 1/3 cup tofu or 1 cup servings a day does not link to soy milk. One serving averincreased breast cancer risk. ages about 7 grams of protein Soy is seen as a healthful and 25 milligrams of NUTRITION part of Asian diets, where it has isoflavones, compounds with WISE been a long-term dietary staple a chemical structure similar By Karen Collins, for generations. But keep in MS, RD, CDM to estrogen. mind that whole soy foods conYou’re right that different tain many other nutrients, so forms of soy protein, including isolated soy we can’t assume that processed forms of protein, are added to many foods today to soy protein have the same links to health. improve texture or moistness or to boost It is possible that if you eat large protein. However, the amounts that are amounts of soy protein fortified bars and added are so small that the amount of cereals daily, you could exceed recom-

mended isoflavone levels. In addition, eating that sort of diet would have you missing out on many nutritious foods, which would be unhealthy in itself. Bottom line: as long as your concern is not related to some sort of soy allergy or intolerance, normal use of these foods with small amounts of soy protein added likely poses neither a concern nor added health benefits. Q: Are wheat tortillas a good choice as I tr y to eat whole grains more often? Do the ones with spinach and tomato offer extra nutrition? A: Most wheat tortillas are made with enriched wheat flour, which is a refined grain and not the same as whole wheat. If you are buying tortillas to use at home, look for “whole-wheat” flour tortillas, with whole-wheat flour first on the ingredient list (or get whole-grain corn tortillas). Most of the time, the colored tortillas labeled with vegetable names, such as “spinach” or “tomato,” are made with refined wheat flour, so they are not wholegrain. Furthermore, the amount of vegetable used in making them is just for color, providing zero to four percent of daily value for vitamins A or C, which is nutritionally minimal.

Despite how healthy it sounds to have a “vegetable” tortilla, you’ll make a much bigger contribution to your health by making sure that what you roll up inside the tortilla includes lots of vegetables. Keep in mind that even among wholewheat options, differences in tortilla diameter and thickness produce a wide range in calories. Compare brands when shopping: You’ll typically find choices with 150 to 200 calories per tortilla. That makes each tortilla equal in calories and carbohydrate to two or two-and-a-half slices of bread. For a healthy meal, have one wholewheat wrap or tortilla filled with plenty of vegetables and some beans or chicken for protein. Then, if you’re still hungry, add an extra salad or raw vegetables on the side. The American Institute for Cancer Research offers a Nutrition Hotline, 1-800843-8114, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. This free service allows you to ask questions about diet, nutrition and cancer. A registered dietitian will return your call, usually within three business days. Courtesy of the American Institute for Cancer Research. Questions for this column may be sent to “Nutrition Wise,” 1759 R St. NW, Washington, DC 20009. Collins cannot respond to questions personally.

Dear Pharmacist

any new drug or supplement. Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist and the author of The 24-Hour Pharmacist and Real Solutions from Head to Toe. To contact her, visit www.dearpharmacist.com.

From page 23 intended to treat, cure or diagnose your condition. Consult with your doctor before using

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WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — M AY 2 0 1 4

Chinese chicken salad gets an update Chinese chicken salad has been around since at least the 1950s, where it probably first appeared in San Francisco. A vintage cookbook from 1963, Eight Immortal Flavors, by Johnny Kan, has the recipe for one served at his then-famous restaurant in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Kan’s chicken salad, typical of Cantonese cuisine, was a modest combination of chicken, hot mustard, scallions, cilantro and sesame seeds, served on a bed of shredded iceberg lettuce. It was austere compared to the version I grew up on, the retro classic including canned mandarin orange sections, deep-fried chow mein noodles, and a dressing of soy sauce, rice vinegar and toasted sesame oil. When I got the yen to update this savory-and-sweet salad, my goals were to use crisp fresh greens with more flavor than iceberg lettuce, and to reduce the fat and sodium. My first decision was to keep the citrus and scallions, but skip the fried noodles. Using sliced fresh bok choy keeps the crunch of the lost noodles. Tossing it with scallions and spinach adds more flavor along with a nutritional boost. Then I discovered that when you slice a Clementine crosswise, the slices fall apart into petite wedges. These bite size pieces are perfect to replace the canned man-

darin orange slices. To improve the dressing, I combined juice from a Clementine with ginger and a hit of sriracha hot chile sauce, and added these to the expected soy sauce and rice vinegar. The flavor from their heat let me use less sesame oil and sodium-laden soy sauce. Finally, toasted almonds on top replace Kan’s sesame seeds.

Bok Choy and Spinach Salad with Chicken and Clementines 2 (6 oz.) skinless and boneless chicken breasts 3 cups fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth 3 cups baby spinach, lightly packed 4 leaves bok choy 1/2 cup sliced scallions, green and white parts 2 Clementines 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar 1 tsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce 1 tsp. grated ginger 1/2 tsp. sriracha hot chile sauce, optional 1/4 tsp. salt Freshly ground black pepper 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted In medium saucepan, place chicken and broth over medium-high heat. When bub-

bles just appear, about 8 minutes, reduce heat and cook with liquid simmering until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees when inserted into thickest part of breast or chicken looks white when cut in center, about 20 minutes. Cool chicken in broth until cool enough to tear into bite-size pieces. (Pour broth through strainer lined with paper towel, and reserve for another use.) Place spinach in salad bowl. Cut white part of bok choy leaves crosswise into thin slices and add to spinach. (Reserve green leafy part to use in soup or stir-fry.) Add scallions, and arrange chicken over greens. Cut one Clementine crosswise into thin slices. Remove outer peel, sepa-

rate slices into thin wedges, and add to salad. Halve remaining Clementine crosswise and squeeze juice into small bowl. Add lime juice, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, sriracha sauce (if using), salt and 3 to 4 grinds pepper, whisking to combine. Whisk in oil. Pour dressing over salad. Sprinkle on almonds. To serve, toss salad, and divide among four individual, wide salad bowls or medium-sized plates. Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 185 calories, 7 g. total fat, (1 g. saturated fat), 10 g. carbohydrate, 23 g. protein, 2 g. dietary fiber, 290 mg. sodium.

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M AY 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

How to change the behavior of so-and-sos Dear Solutions: her as “the late Mrs. so-and-so.” That I have this friend who never arrives should throw her a little, but don’t count anywhere on time. I wait for her and on it to change her habits. I guess she then spend the rest of the thinks if she’s there before it’s appointment angry. If I’m over, she’s on time. the one who invited her to What you have to do is stop join us at dinner or elseindulging her, friend or not. where, I feel guilty when I Tell her, loud and clear, this is have to introduce her to the time we’re meeting. If the others waiting. you’re not there we will leave I’m really tired of lying (or eat or whatever) without to her about the time of you. these appointments, makAnd do it, or her habit — ing it a half hour earlier in for whatever reason — will SOLUTIONS the hope that she’ll get never change. By Helen Oxenberg, there on time accidentally. Dear Solutions: MSW, ACSW She’s a good friend in I am the grandmother of other ways, but what to do? a lovely, unmarried 30— Rose year-old woman. Dear Rose: I was at an affair recently with people When she finally does arrive, introduce who know my family. First an old uncle

BEACON BITS

May 20

ANTI-CANCER NUTRITION

Hope Connections for Cancer Support presents a discussion about healthy nutrition for cancer patients and survivors on Tuesday, May 20 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Nutritionist Lynda McIntyre will discuss free radicals, antioxidants and how they impact your health. This free event will take place at the Beaumont House, 9650 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, Md. For more information, contact (301) 634-7500 or info@hopeconnectionsforcancer.org.

sat down next me and began asking about the family. He asked, “How come so-and-so isn’t married? Does this mean she’s never going to get married? Is there something wrong with her?” I just said, “No there is nothing wrong with her, and she’ll decide when or if she’ll be married.” But inside I was furious. I know other people my age will ask the same thing when we meet and talk about our families. How do you answer this without being absolutely nasty? — Her Grandma Dear Her Grandma: To that uncle, or the next one, you might say, “Oh, Uncle so -and-so, she keeps looking for someone as perfect as you, and that’s hard to find, so I guess she just keeps putting it off.” And if it’s another grandma or old aunt: “She doesn’t like housework, so she’s said she’ll never be a “housewife” like we were, and so the rest is up to her. And thanks for being interested.” Enough said. Dear Solutions: I recently invited my daughter-inlaw’s young adult children from a former marriage to my vacation home in a warmer climate. I helped plan many activities for them, as well as making many meals both in and out.

It’s true that they warmly thanked me for inviting them and for all the meals and activities, but I still feel that I should have gotten a written thankyou note. Aside from appreciating the effort and thought that it would take, I think it would teach them a lesson in real manners, which is mostly gone today. Should I say anything to their mother, my new daughter-in-law? — Fannie Dear Fannie: You obviously did not weigh the enormous burden of writing a note against the burden of cooking, cleaning, planning and entertaining, or you would have decided that writing a note was too much to ask! Since their mother is your new daughter-in-law, I think you could tell her how you enjoyed and admired her children, and look forward to reading their thankyou notes — even on email, which would bring the old fashioned practice of thankyou notes into the modern world and make it easier for them. © Helen Oxenberg, 2014. Questions to be considered for this column may be sent to: The Beacon, P.O. Box 2227, Silver Spring, MD 20915. You may also email the author at helox72@comcast.net. To inquire about reprint rights, call (609) 655-3684.

Metro’s free travel training was a true blessing. The training is free. The benefits are life-changing. If you know a senior citizen or someone with a disability who doesn’t use Metrobus or Metrorail because they don’t know how, let us show them. For more information about Metro’s free travel training, just call Access Services at 202-962-1100 or email traveltraining@wmata.com.


WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — M AY 2 0 1 4

Say you saw it in the Beacon

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DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA OFFICE ON AGING

Spotlight On Aging VOLUME XXV, ISSUE 5

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S MESSAGE

A newsletter for D.C. Seniors

May 2014

RSVP Volunteer Honored

By John M. Thompson, Ph.D., FAAMA Happy Older Americans Month! In this issue of “Spotlight on Aging,” I am elated to celebrate the achievements and contributions of our seniors across the District of Columbia! This year’s theme, “Safe Today. Healthy Tomorrow,” underscores the importance of helping our seniors to stay healthy and active while mitigating unintentional injuries, such as falls. By remaining focused on our service to District seniors, we can be confident that they will experience a better quality of living in their communities for many years. According to the U.S. Administration for Community Living, older citizens are at a much higher risk of unintentional injuries and even deaths as compared to the younger population. For older Americans, unintentional injuries result in at least 6 million visits to medical facilities and more than 30,000 deaths every year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that medical costs associated with unintentional injuries are estimated at $30.4 billion. Besides healthcare costs being astronomical, some of these seniors lose some of their independence, which means adapting to a new lifestyle that could threaten their level of physical activity. DCOA is here to assist every District senior in maintaining their independence and remaining healthy. Seniors can take advantage of the free wellness centers located across the District of Columbia. At these centers, seniors can strengthen their physical well-being as well as enhance their emotional wellbeing. For the month of May, seniors can participate in free special programs held at our wellness facilities. These events include, “Enhancing the Health & Safety of Older Americans,” “The East River Swing: A Special Evening of Elegance,” “Senior Awareness Day Event,” “Senior Health & Fitness Info Fair,” “Senior Appreciation Day,” and many more events. For information on the locations of our senior wellness centers, hours of operation, and the dates and times of the special programs, please contact the District of Columbia Office on Aging at 202-724-5626, check out our website at www.dcoa.dc.gov, or e-mail us at dcoa@dc.gov.

DCOA Executive Director John Thompson (left) and Langdon Educational Center Assistant Principal Ethel Greene (right) congratulate RSVP volunteer Celeste Ellerbee. DCOA Executive Director John M. Thompson presented the Volunteer of the Year Award at the Retired and Senior Volunteer Recognition Program (RSVP) held at the Navy Yard. Celeste Ellerbee was nominated by the principal of the Langdon Educational Center for her work as a classroom aide at the school. She has been an essential part of the classroom there for the last 13 years. She is known to adapt to the learning styles, behaviors and abilities of each of her students to ensure they are successful no matter how difficult the assignment. Ellerbee has a talent for helping students with different learning styles, behaviors and abilities. In the classroom, she has taken the time to develop a relationship with each student. She also has the ability to teach each student in such a way that the students do not realize the difficulty of their assignments. Ellerbee

believes that each student is as unique in their learning as their personality. Her teaching methods reflect her beliefs about children. According to the principal at Langdon, Shannon Foster, the staff appreciate Ellerbee because she is an innovator, mentor and a leader. She is continually sharing ideas, mentoring and helping colleagues and peers. No matter the situation, she continues to conduct herself in a respectful and professional manner. Foster added, “I believe that Celeste Ellerbee is everything that the Outstanding Volunteer of the Year should be: VALUABLE, COMMITTED AND INSPIRATIONAL. Every principal yearns to have a staff member like her, and I consider myself extremely fortunate to have her at my school.” DCOA applauds Ellerbee for her dedication and commitment to early childhood learning in the District of Columbia.

Train to Be a DCOA Ambassador Make a difference in your community by learning more about the programs and services offered by DCOA. Your knowledge can help connect us with persons in the community who need our assistance. Sign up today for the DCOA Ambassador training by calling, 202-724-5622 to register!


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M AY 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

D.C. OFFICE

ON

AGING NEWSLETTER

Thurgood Marshall Trust Fund Honorees 2014 Clarence “Buddy” Moore Ward One’s 2014 Phenomenal Senior Honoree, Clarence “Buddy” Moore, has been actively involved in several political, social and economic campaigns and programs both locally and nationally, while providing leadership training and scholarship opportunities for the Metropolitan Police Department Youth Advisory Council students. Moore is also a dedicated advocate for caregivers, who believes quality and dependable assistance is essential to today’s overworked primary caregivers. Moore has received numerous awards from, but not limited to, the US Attorney’s Office, the Ward One Council on Education, the Metropolitan Police Department and the Government of the District of Columbia. Currently, Moore is a volunteer with the ALS (Lou Gehrig disease) Association and established the Carolyn J. Moore Memorial Scholarship Award in memory of his late wife. Moore continues to assist seniors at the Bernice Fonteneau Senior Wellness Center by writing their memoirs and developing their personal portfolios.

and has given back to his alma mater Howard University by supporting student art exhibitions. A few of his noteworthy commissions are: designing the Independence Day invitation for the White House in 1982 at the request of First Lady Nancy Reagan, creating the print “American Beauty Rose” for the Washington, D.C. Area Host Committee in 1986 at the request of Mayor Marion Barry, designing and making the print “Breathing Hope” to honor Howard University’s incoming President H. Patrick Swygert in 1996, in addition to designing and creating stunning prints for President Barack Obama’s inauguration.

Martha Ford-Gladden Ward Four’s 2014 Phenomenal Senior Honoree is Martha Ford-Gladden. Her interest in the law led her to volunteer for AARP’s Legal Counsel for the Elderly (LCE) program, and she is still involved with the legal aid group 20 years later. She currently is on the Board of Directors and Advisory Committee as a client representative, and was recently recommissioned as a notary for the District of Columbia.

Billy Wright Ward Two’s 2014 Phenomenal Senior Honoree, Billy Wright, has held several positions in the government, ranging from being a runner for one of the largest broker firms in D.C., an auditor for the National Credit Union Association, and a security transaction analyst for the Bureau of Public Debt. Wright has been involved with the Office of Aging and is currently an active member of the George Washington University Community Friends group.

Lou Stovall Ward Three’s 2014 Phenomenal Senior Honoree is the world-renowned printmaker and artist Lou Stovall. He gives back to his community by sharing his wisdom with young emerging artists. Stovall is the founder of Workshop, Inc., which began as a small, active studio that focused primarily on community posters in 1968. Workshop, Inc. has now evolved into a professional and highly respected printmaking facility in the nation’s capital. Stovall’s effort and encouragement to build a community of artists in Washington extends far beyond founding his studio. He also leads by example through service in the community. Stovall has provided apprenticeships to numerous young artists in the city,

Romaine Thomas Ward Five’s Phenomenal Senior Honoree is Romaine Thomas. As a retired career educator, Thomas enjoys traveling, reading, theater and spectator sports, in which her eight grandchildren are enthusiastic participants. Thomas is the chairperson of the D.C. Commission on Aging. Thomas also serves the Michigan Park Christian Church, Woodridge Civic Association and AARP, and has served as the president of the Washington D.C. chapter of AARP.

Naomi Monk Ward Six’s 2014 Phenomenal Senior Honoree, Naomi Monk, is a longtime resident of Southwest D.C., where she has exhibited leadership and delegation in community organizing and community involvement. Monk has focused on public safety issues, working with the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and neighborhood Police Service Area for years. She seeks to fight crime and to make the streets and neighborhoods of Southwest D.C. safe through constant advocacy to protect and improve pedestrian access and rights. With the growing economic development in the Southwest area, Monk has also worked to help her communi-

ty keep up with the latest breaking news. She’s helped build a large network of Southwest and other city residents through a specifically tailored email blast information network. Through such information sharing, she has proven to be as efficient as an email list service and blog combined, emphasizing the responsibility of all people to make their respective communities livable and walkable.

Edward Harris Ward Seven’s 2014 Phenomenal Senior Honoree is Dr. Edward Harris. His interest in community involvement, community planning and organizing provided the foundation for his work in education. Harris was a professor of sociology at the Washington Sat-

urday College at Howard University. Harris is also an ordained minister, an artist, and served as a musician under the direction of Louis Jones.

Alethea Campbell Ward Eight’s 2014 Phenomenal Senior Honoree, Alethea Campbell, has served as both chairperson and vice chairperson of the D.C. Commission on Aging for more than 10 years. As a senior advocate for seniors in Ward Eight, she was instrumental in the building of the Congress Heights Senior Wellness Center, where she currently volunteers daily. Campbell has also been a driving force behind the Ward Eight MiniCommission on Aging. Congratulations to all the honorees.

Spotlight On Aging continues on page 29, following the Housing & Home Care Options magazine at the right Please pull out and keep the magazine. You may also pull out and keep Spotlight on Aging.


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M AY 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

Respite care offers a break for caregivers By Barbara Trainin Blank With a husband, a child still at home, and a job, Cheryl had her hands full. But then it really got interesting. Her father, who was her mother’s caregiver, had heart surgery and rehab, and needed somewhere to recuperate. He came to Cheryl’s house. But then, what about her mother, who had medical issues of her own? Cheryl’s mother was able to go to Brooke Grove Retirement Community in Sandy Spring, Md. — first for rehab and then temporarily for assisted living, while her family worked to figure out long-term caregiving arrangements. Cheryl was taking advantage of a service known as “respite care” — temporary assistance for a care receiver designed to give

his or her family caregiver some time off.

The value of respite care With its 24/7 schedule and high stress factor, caregiving without a break can burn a person out. Respite care allows caregivers to go on vacation, meet other family obligations, deal with a medical emergency, or just recharge so they can become more effective caregivers. Sometimes, a couple living in a retirement community has one spouse with caregiving needs. Respite care can come in handy for them if the caregiver spouse temporarily needs assistance due to their own health problem or the desire for a break, or if the spouse being cared for needs a higher level of care than the other

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spouse can currently provide. Brooke Grove, a Continuing Care Retirement Community (or CCRC), offers its permanent residents the full range, or continuum, of senior housing and healthcare: independent living in villas, assisted living in a group home environment, as well as skilled nursing services and facilities for residents with memory impairment. Respite services at Brooke Grove are available to those from outside the community in assisted living or skilled nursing settings. The community has no specific rooms set aside for respite; availability for the public depends on whether a room in the facility the person needs is available, according to Janet Wright, director of admissions. A twoweek minimum stay is required. Another possible reason to take advantage of a respite stay is to try out a community and see how it “fits” you. “A lot of people [from outside] who start out as respite decide to stay” at Brooke Grove, Wright said.

Like a CCRC a la carte One of the benefits of a continuing care community is that residents who move in for independent living can take advantage of assisted living and nursing care on the premises without giving up their home or apartment. Clara Randall, an 89-year-old widow, was in independent living at Falcons Landing, a community for retired military and their spouses in Sterling, Va. When Randall fell, a hip replacement done 23 years ago came undone, and her bone became infected, requiring nursing care. Randall went to Falcons Landing’s skilled nursing building, the Johnson Center, and later to assisted living as she recovered. After about a month, she is back in her home. For those who do not live in such a community, respite care offers nonresidents the opportunity to take advantage of the assisted living and nursing care services for a short-term stay. Falcons Landing’s assisted-living facilities at West Fall and the skilled nursing Johnson Center require a two-week minimum stay, but “we generally work with the resident on a case-by-case basis,” said Elizabeth Hamil-

ton, health services administrator. While permanent residents of Falcons Landing must have a military or government service background to move in to independent living, that isn’t true at the health center. “It is open to the general population — based on space availability,” Hamilton said. One thing to keep in mind is that those seeking respite care at retirement communities must have a clinical assessment, including medication and medical report, as required by the state where they operate. “Respite admission has to meet all the requirements of a permanent admission,” Hamilton said. Because of the paperwork, it’s advisable that a family member seeking respite services begin the process 30 to 60 days in advance, if possible. But once the paperwork is done and you’re in the system, return visits can be easier. A family that has used respite before may return a few times a year to that same senior community, Hamilton said. Cheryl believes her mother’s placement in respite care was eased by the fact that she had used Brooke Grove years ago and her information was in place.

Hiring a caregiver Another option, especially when respite is needed quickly, is an at-home professional caregiver, who can be obtained through home-care agencies. Locally, one of the services with the longest history is Family & Nursing Care, which provides primarily nonmedical care. Services include mobility assistance, medication reminders, exercises, personal hygiene, transfers, light homemaking, companionship, and transport to medical appointments, senior centers and more. “We think of care as much for the spouse or adult children [caregivers] as much as we do for the individual client,” said Neal Kursban, president. Family & Nursing Care is accustomed to last-minute requests, but if possible, it’s best for the caregiver and care receiver to get to know an aide before the caregiver See RESPITE CARE, page B-4


Say you saw it in the Beacon | Housing Options

WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — M AY 2 0 1 4

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Living with Granddad on the waterfront By Judi Hasson Al Weaver was unhappy with his living situation, but he didn’t know what to do. A widower with Parkinson’s disease, Weaver was staying at an independent-living facility that he didn’t care for. He tried visiting his daughters, spending a week with one, then the other. It was difficult because they were working, and he was alone most of the day. In April 2012, Weaver’s grandson, Corey Vaughn, a professional water skier and coach, stepped forward to help. “Granddad living with me is a very natural fit,” said Vaughn, 27. “He showered my life with love and the gift of his time and energy, and to get the chance to return that favor even a fraction has been a blessing.”

Lakeside living These days are slow and sweet for Weaver and Vaughn. Weaver, 83, spends the spring, summer and fall at Vaughn’s water skiing school, Peace Love and Water Skiing, in Bumpass, Va., about an hour from Richmond. Vaughn instructs about

70 students a year. They live in an old farmhouse next to a lake. Usually, Weaver uses a riding lawn mower to get down the hill to the lake, or Vaughn drives him to the dock to watch the classes. “Everyone is younger than me,” Weaver said, laughing. “It makes me feel younger to watch the lessons.” He retired from a management job at NASA in 1988. Their lifestyle may be a bit unusual, but the living arrangement is becoming more common as families look for solutions to care for aging relatives. Gail Hunt, president of the National Alliance for Caregiving, said family members are taking on a greater caregiving role because “people are just living longer,” and seniors want to avoid institutional care. A 2009 survey by the alliance estimated that 18 percent of caregivers are between 18 and 34, like Vaughn.

Alzheimer’s disease, died in 2011. He came home to take care of his grandfather. On a typical day, Vaughn makes their meals and helps Weaver get dressed. He also provides his granddad with assistance for bathing and other personal hygiene. “Moving at an 83-year-old’s pace can have its challenges and limitations, but what in life doesn’t present challenges?” Vaughn said. For Weaver it’s a life without hassles or loneliness, and offers precious time to spend with Vaughn, one of his 10 grand-

children. His grandson takes him to the barbershop for a haircut, to the movies for fun, or to hang out with new friends and Vaughn’s students. In 2012, Weaver and Vaughn were on the road for 50 days when Vaughn skied competitively and coached. Vaughn “really pushes me, and it works out well,” Weaver said. “He makes me do things I wouldn’t ordinarily do when I exercise.”

See GRANDSON, page B-4

Precious time together Vaughn was in Mexico working at a resort when his grandmother, who had

On the cover: Al Weaver (center) continues to water ski with the help of his grandson Corey Vaughn, right, with whom he lives in a farmhouse on a lake in Virginia.

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Call to schedule a personal tour. 703-834-9800 12052 N. Shore Dr. Reston, VA 20190 www.TallOaksAL.com Coordinated Services Management, g Inc. Professional Management of Retirement Communities since 1981


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Affordable Senior Communities Discover how great senior living is at one of our affordable apartment communities. Many of our communities feature 24-hour emergency maintenance, full activities programs, spacious floor plans, affordable rents, caring and dedicated staff, and much more. We are conveniently located near shopping, including grocery stores and pharmacies. Let us help you live life to the fullest. Call or visit our web site to view these communities:

2201 Savannah Street SE Washington, DC 20020

7010 Schoonmaker Court Alexandria, VA 22310

202-678-5699

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Wingler House Apartments 20900 Runny Meade Terrace Ashburn, VA 20147

703-858-9507 From $893

Respite care From page B-2 leaves, say, for a two-week trip. Respite care from homecare services can be especially helpful if a caregiver wants to get away for a few hours once in a while, perhaps to go shopping or have lunch with friends. Agencies often have a four-hour minimum per day, but some can be flexible, said Kursban.

Adult day care For a few days of respite here and there, or during the work week for caregivers with another job, another option is an adult day care center. These are non-residential facilities that provide meals, medication management, activities, and sometimes therapy for older adults in a group setting. They also generally provide door-to-door transportation to and from the facility. Centers typically operate 10 to 12 hours

Grandson From page B-3

Back on water skis Vaughn coaxed Weaver to try one of his lifelong passions again — water skiing. Weaver had taught his entire family to water ski when they were kids and has skied most of his life. “I skied for the first time in seven years when I was in Acapulco [with Vaughn]. That was a lot of fun,” Weaver said. Kathy Cannon, one of Weaver’s daughters and Vaughn’s aunt, said the arrangement is good for the family and for her father. “When you have a person who struggles with Parkinson’s and has trouble walking around, it’s pretty amazing to get him up on water skis,” she said. Vaughn’s girlfriend, Amelia, accompanied the pair on a ski trip to Costa Rica and

5999 Emerson Street Bladensburg, MD 20710

Rent based on income

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5101 River Road, Suite 101 • Bethesda, MD 20816

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per day, to accommodate working caregivers. Some focus on care for persons with memory problems or dementia. Many centers have a nurse on-site. Some also offer support groups for caregivers. Families can choose to use an adult day care center from one to five days a week; some centers offer extended care on weekends. Payment is out-of-pocket, though long-term care insurance may cover, depending on the policy. To locate adult day care centers in Virginia, check the Virginia Department of Social Services website at www.dss.virginia.gov/facility/adcc.cgi, in Maryland, visit https://mhcc.maryland.gov/consumerinfo/longtermcare/AdultDayCare.a spx. Additional information and locations can be found at www.agingcare.com, www.caring.com, or www.alz.org. Barbara Trainin Blank is a freelance writer and coauthor of What to Do about Mama? A Guide to Caring for Aging Family Members.

often spends time with Granddad. “She obviously contributes to the normalcy of my life,” Vaughn said. Vaughn said that only family members care for his grandfather. Relatives step in to give Vaughn time off. Weaver contributes to household expenses and pays for his own personal costs. Both men love the arrangement. “Vaughn is a joy to live with,” Weaver said. And Vaughn has an answer to anyone who wants to know why a guy in his 20s is hanging out with his grandfather. “I would rather spend most of my waking hours making memories with this guy that I love,” he said, even if it means “occasionally losing out on the opportunity to do normal 27-year-old stuff.” © 2014, Kiplinger. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

ASSISTED LIVING

301-779-6196

Mrs. Philippines Home for Seniors, Inc. 18889 Waring Station Road Germantown, MD 20874

M AY 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

Brooke Grove Retirement Village 301-260-2320 18100 Slade School Road Sandy Spring, MD 20860 www.bfg.org This community hums with warmhearted camaraderie and a zest for life shared by residents and staff alike. Experience all that makes assisted living at Brooke Grove extraordinary. Cozy, homelike dwellings with easy access to beautiful courtyards and walking paths. Caring staff trained in using memory support techniques, building independence and lifting selfesteem. Innovative LIFE® Enrichment Programming with meaningful activities and off-site adventures. Visit us to see why Brooke Grove Retirement Village is one of the most sought-after continuing care retirement communities in the state. Living here is simply different … because what surrounds you really matters.


Say you saw it in the Beacon | Housing Options

WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — M AY 2 0 1 4

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How to think about assisted living options By Dr. Leslie A. Morgan Older adults and their families often face difficult decisions about whether to try to remain at home — managing complex health conditions themselves or with aides — or to move to an Assisted Living (AL) community, where daily needs are addressed, such as meals, housekeeping, and assistance with bathing, dressing and medications, as required. While AL may be unaffordable for some, it can be a good solution for others whose health requires monitoring, whose mobility is challenged by stairs, or whose health results in unwanted isolation, due to the difficulty of connecting with friends or community members. Once a decision has been made to move into an AL community, most people want to remain there as long as possible. The marketers and managers often encourage potential residents to think of this as “their home,” and may describe it being the last move needed. Additionally, no one wishes to think that their health status may decline enough to require additional care, which might indicate a move to a nursing home. But it’s a good idea to think ahead. AL settings typically require residents to move out in certain circumstances. These may involve the development of greater healthcare needs than the community can meet (such as tube feedings), or issues related to a resident’s safety of the safety of others — such as trouble standing, wandering away, needing help to eat, or aggressive behaviors toward others.

Less care than nursing homes In addition, assisted living is not intended to provide the same services as nursing homes are able to offer, since nursing homes have larger staffs, more equipment and more medically-trained personnel. Nursing home care is also, correspondingly, more expensive, unless the person receiving care is eligible for Medicaid or is willing to spend down their remaining assets to qualify for Medicaid. While ALs have limits to the care they provide, those limits vary across settings. To maximize one’s stay in AL, there are several important steps to undertake early. In our research in AL at the University of Maryland Baltimore County over the past 10 years, we have observed that some providers are willing to accommodate residents with changing needs, while others are less flexible. So, while things change over time, several steps may help to make sure your stay is as long as possible, and the disruption is deferred or perhaps even avoided.

mitted end-of-life care. Some ALs are open to having outside services, like hospice, in the AL, enabling a person to remain in a familiar environment to the end of their lives. Others consider such care to be beyond the scope of AL. 3. Think about the money. Some people must leave AL care because they have outlived their resources; this often results in a move to a nursing home. Though no one knows how long they will live, people often live much longer than they expected to, so consider cost as one of many important factors in your choice of an AL. 4. Develop a productive working relationship with the staf f and managers of the AL. While it is likely that there will be challenges along the way, es-

tablishing a positive relationship before issues arise is generally helpful to coming to an understanding about what actions are best. 5. Consider alternatives. While moving is disruptive, other ALs may be better able to care for you or your family member. Be open to selecting, or moving to, another AL if required. Some ALs also welcome the hiring of private care aides to supplement services they provide. While an aide can be costly, moving to a higher level of care is also costly and may offer less privacy. Staying in the AL, if adequate care or supervision can be provided, may be the best option. Leslie A. Morgan, Ph.D., is a professor of sociology and gerontology at UMBC.

Finding the right facility 1. Avoid surprises. Before signing a contract, ask about the community’s policies regarding conditions or behaviors that could require you to move out. Someone with dementia may enter an AL calmly but later become loud or disruptive. Knowing the kinds of health or other circumstances requiring transfer may help you decide if this is the right community for you. 2. Ask whether residents are per-

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B-6

Housing Options | More at TheBeaconNewspapers.com

CONTINUING CARE RETIREMENT COMMUNITY

The Virginian 703-385-0555 9229 Arlington Boulevard Fairfax, VA 22031 Welcome to the Virginian – one of Northern Virginia’s most respected Continuing Care Retirement Communities. Since 1980, our community, located on 32 wooded acres, has been home to hundreds of residents from all walks of life. With accommodations of one and two bedroom apartments in Independent, Assisted, and Enhanced Assisted Living, The Virginian also offers Long Term Nursing, Rehabilitation, and now, Home Health Services. Residents are encouraged to take advantage of the many amenities offered. We offer age in place apartments ideally suited for mixed level of care couples. Call today to schedule a tour and enjoy a complimentary lunch or dinner. The Virginian offers surprisingly affordable luxury living in the heart of Fairfax. Come see why our residents are proud to call The Virginian home.

INDEPENDENT LIVING

Sommerset 703-450-6411 22355 Providence Village Dr. Sterling, VA 20164 www.sommersetretirement.com Your Search is Over for Premier Retirement Living! At Sommerset Retirement Community, located in the heart of Sterling, Virginia, you’ll experience exceptional independent living at its best, with a comfortable, fulfilling, secure and active lifestyle. Our residents enjoy the privacy of home, without the burdens of home ownership. Sommerset’s unique amenities include restaurant style dining, housekeeping, 24-hour front desk personnel, private transportation, and a calendar full of exciting and fun activities. Enjoy the convenience of being just minutes from medical services, shopping, banking and entertainment. Call us or visit our website to request more information or to schedule your tour and complimentary lunch. Also be sure to see our video, our commercial and many testimonials.

INDEPENDENT LIVING

Emerson House 301-779-6196 5999 Emerson Street Bladensburg, MD 20710 Emerson House Apartments is conveniently located on Emerson Street, just off of Rt. 450 and 57th Ave in Bladensburg, Md. A quaint residential setting, just minutes from neighborhood shopping, the community is convenient to Prince George's Hospital, a local library, public transportation and parks. Activities within Emerson House include: exercise classes, a Wii bowling league, arts and crafts classes, bingo, movie night, parties, bus trips and much more. Emerson House is a nine story, community designed for today’s seniors (62 and older). Our 220 one-bedroom units offer Section 8 rent subsidy for low- to moderate-income households. Please call today to request an application or make an appointment to tour our community. 301-779-6196. Monday – Friday 8:30 to 5:00.

M AY 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

Online home-price estimates vary widely By Patricia Mertz-Esswein If you’re thinking of selling or refinancing your home, or you’re simply curious to see its latest market value, you can get an estimate in seconds. Just plug your address into an online home-value estimator, such as Zillow.com, Trulia.com, Eppraisal.com or the CoreLogic tool often found on bank websites. All estimators collect data from public records, pull the facts for your home and recent comparable sales, and run the data through a computer model to produce an estimated value. But the results are only as good as the data input. I put four estimators to the test for my home and received wide-ranging results — a difference of more than $200,000 between the highest and lowest estimate!

How recent is the data? Each of the estimators started with outof-date information because the public record of my home failed to reflect an additional bedroom and many square feet of living space that resulted from a major renovation we did with proper permits. (All the estimators except Eppraisal let you edit your home’s data and update the valuation.) Also, the estimators can’t assess the impact of good or poor condition, extra quality in design and construction, renovations that didn’t require permits, a purple exterior, or a dump next door, said Richard Borges, president of the Appraisal Institute.

Housing Notes By Barbara Ruben

New assisted living group homes This month, Eden Homes Group plans to open two new assisted living homes in single-family houses in McLean, Va. Eight residents will be cared for in each house. Eden Homes has similar homes in Maryland: four in Bethesda, one in Potomac and one in Silver Spring. The homes have full- and part-time registered nurses for round-the-clock nursing care, and activities are coordinated by art and music therapists. All meals are cooked from scratch and use produce from the homes’ gardens. For more information, call (301) 2992637 or see www.edenhomesgroup.com.

Ashby Ponds expands care choices Ashby Ponds, an Erickson Living retirement community in Ashburn Va., opened

Assessing the details Zillow and Trulia describe their estimates as a “starting point.” Zillow also recommends that you supplement a “Zestimate” with a visit to a property, an appraisal, or a comparative market analysis from a real estate agent. I followed that advice with the help of Chris Pritchard, an agent with McEnearney Associates, a McLean, Va., real estate agency. She observed that my home has many unique features that make a comparable analysis challenging. For example, we can’t add a paved driveway or a patio, deck or garage because of a local ground-coverage limit. She estimated my house’s market value close to Trulia’s estimate. Zillow’s estimate was about $80,000 higher, Eppraisal’s was $52,000 lower, and CoreLogic’s was $121,000 less. Zillow.com and Trulia.com are most useful if you’re buying or selling a home. You can see list prices of homes on the market or check recent sale prices (although they may be neither current nor comprehensive). The sites also list price history and property taxes, so you can see market values for your neighbors’ homes, and check out how much they paid for them and what they pay in property taxes. Patricia Mertz Esswein is an associate editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. © 2014 Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

its continuing care neighborhood this spring. The addition allows the community to provide all levels of healthcare in one building, making it the first of its kind in Loudoun County. The new continuing care neighborhood features 132 apartments for assisted living or memory care, as well as rooms for postacute rehabilitation and skilled nursing care. Members of the public may take advantage of rehab and skilled nursing services without being residents of Ashby Ponds. Residents in assisted living or memory care may obtain outpatient rehab within the same building as their apartment. The neighborhood has been designed to foster independence and support person-centered programs, providing residents the ability to participate in a variety of engaging activities. “At Erickson Living, we strongly believe in our person-centered approach,” said Amy Grossman, director of continuing care at Ashby Ponds. “Our employees place great emphasis on getting to know our residents and developing meaningful relationships in order to provide individualized care.” The new neighborhood includes private apartment suites with full baths and showers, walk-in closets and granite counterSee HOUSING NOTES, page B-7


Say you saw it in the Beacon | Housing Options

WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — M AY 2 0 1 4

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Don’t get scammed by a moving company By Glenn Gillen Selling your home and moving to a new community can be physically and emotionally exhausting. On top of all the tasks associated with relocating to a new home and deciding what to keep or discard, the last thing you want to deal with is a potential moving scam. The National Council on Aging reports that seniors are often targets of scams because they are considered to have accumulated savings over their lifetime, even though low-income older adults are also at risk. From August 2012 to August 2013, the

Housing notes From page B-6 tops. Spas and salons, a theater room, family-style kitchens and outdoor courtyards are some of the neighborhood amenities. For more information, call 1-800-8393496 or see www.ericksonliving.com.

Better Business Bureau had 1.4 million inquiries and 9,000 complaints about moving companies. “Complaints to BBB about movers are primarily about damaged or lost goods, and final prices in excess of original estimates,” said Mallory Wojciechowski, spokesperson for BBB of Eastern North Carolina. How can you avoid moving scams? Try these tips.

Never accept estimates over the phone from companies that will not send a representative to your home. Seniors are often targeted for telephone scams because they make twice as many purchases over the phone as average Americans. Get in-home estimates from three different companies, and be suspicious of extremely low quotes. Disreputable movers often lowball the estimate but then tack on unreasonable charges at the end. If your move is interstate, ask the compa-

Step away from the Internet. Instead of relying on websites, ask around for sug-

gestions. Chances are your neighbors may have used a reputable company that they can recommend. Ask local real estate agents. They know local movers and will most likely know which ones have the best reputations. Vet the companies or have someone else do so for you. Look at companies that have a physical location in your area, and have been in business for 10 years or more. Ask for an in-home estimate. Move estimates are usually based on not only distance, but also the weight of the items being moved.

iors’ expenditures is going toward mortgages and home equity payments. In 2012, interest payments constituted 4.3 percent of expenditures for those in the 65 to 74year-old range, an increase from 2.7 percent in 1990.

Seniors are allocating more of their money toward discretionary purchases, but credit card debt has skyrocketed as well: • For 65- to 74-year-olds, the average credit card balance was $6,000 in 2010, up from only $2,100 in 1989. For individuals

75 and above, the average balance was not even measurable in 1989 but had ballooned to $4,600 by 2010. For the full text of “How Are Seniors Spending Their Money?” see www.ncpa. org/pub/ib135.

Get local advice

Home equity continues to rise

Ask how you can

Americans 62 years old and older now have more equity in their homes than at any time since mid-2008, according to data recently released by the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association. The new information comes from the Reverse Mortgage Market Index, which analyzes trends in the home values, home equity, and mortgage debt of homeowners 62 and older. The index is updated quarterly and tracks back to the start of 2000. It has now risen for six straight quarters. Over the past two years, the aggregate home equity held by Americans 62 and older grew 12.5 percent to a total of $3.34 trillion. Mortgage debt held by seniors stands at $1.08 trillion — a slight increase from the prior two quarters when debt levels were at 1.07 trillion. Over the long term, home equity has proven to be a valuable resource. The collective home equity of Americans 62 and older has grown by 83.7 percent since the Reverse Mortgage Market Index began in 2000.

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S A V E $

3000

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ONE-BEDROOM RESIDENCE

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WHERE

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CONVENIENCE —————

COMES FULL CIRCLE

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Senior living at The Residences at Thomas Circle puts you right in the heart of downtown D.C., in a diverse and lively neighborhood that’s a quick walk or Metro ride from cultural and historical attractions. And because Thomas Circle is downtown’s only independent senior living community with all levels of care on-site, you need never move. Complete convenience; total peace of mind. You’ll find it all in the Circle.

More mortgage and credit card debt Although seniors may have more equity in their homes, more are carrying mortgages and have credit card debt than 25 years ago, according to a recent report from the National Center for Policy Analysis. Compared to two decades ago, the spending patterns of today’s retirees have changed dramatically: • Since 1989, the percentage of 65- to 74year-olds with a mortgage or home equity loan payment rose from 21 percent to 37 percent in 2010. For 75-year-olds and above, that number rose from 6 percent to 21 percent. • Additionally, a greater portion of sen-

See MOVING, page B-8

Call us at 202-626-5761 or visit www.ThomasCircle.com.

Where senior living comes full circle. 1 3 3 0 M A S S A C H U S E T T S AV E N W | W A S H I N G T O N , D C 2 0 0 0 5 | T H O M A S C I R C L E . C O M NP/Beacon


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HOMECARE SERVICES

Family & Nursing Care (301) 588-8200 www.familynursingcare.com

When is the right time to explore home care? The right time to explore home care is before it’s needed, but the reality is that people call for help when they are in crisis – maybe your spouse is increasingly forgetful and keeps leaving the stove on, or dad fell and broke his hip. The emotional and physical toll of an urgent need can be very stressful on the entire family. We recommend making the time to consider options in a non-urgent state, which often prevents crises from occurring. Initiating the emotional conversation about home care with loved ones can be difficult, but once families begin with Family & Nursing Care, the overwhelming majority tell us they wish they had gotten help much sooner.

SENIOR APARTMENT COMMUNITY

The Oaks at Olde Towne 301-495-5700 9 Chestnut Street Gaithersburg, MD 20877 The atmosphere at The Oaks at Olde Towne is filled with gracious living. Here, you will appreciate not having to worry about maintenance chores. At the same time, you can take advantage of nearby shops, library, banks, and postal services as well scheduled trips on the Oaks at Oldetowne mini bus. Downtown Gaithersburg and the historical attractions of the area are just minutes away. Enjoy carefree leisure living at The Oaks at Olde Towne, an affordable senior apartment community for persons 62 or better. Call today for your tour!

M AY 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

How to choose the right home stair lift Dear Savvy Senior: My wife is having an increasingly difficult time going up and down the stairs in our house. We are interested in purchasing a stair lift, but aren’t sure what to get or where to look. Can you help us? — Need a Lift Dear Need: A good home stair lift is a wonderful solution for those with mobility issues who have trouble with steps. A stair lift will carry your wife up and down the stairs in a safe seated position, giving her easy access to the second story or basement level of your home. But with so many options available, how do you choose one that best meets your needs and budget? Here are a few shopping tips, along with some good companies to consider.

Types of lifts There are two basic types of stair lifts that are sold today: straight and curved. The type you need will depend on the design of your staircase. A straight stair lift is one that travels in a straight line up a flight of stairs uninterrupted by landings, bends or curves. This type costs between $3,000 and $5,000 installed. Curved lifts, however, are much more elaborate and will go around corners, bends and changes in direction. Curved lifts are also much more expensive — typically running between $10,000 and $15,000 or more, depending on the complexity of the installation. Also available through certain companies are weatherproof lifts for outdoor steps, and standing stair lifts (also called perch lifts) for

Moving From page B-7

CONTINUING CARE RETIREMENT COMMUNITY

Vinson Hall Retirement Community 703-536-4344 6251 Old Dominion Drive McLean, VA 22101 www.vinsonhall.org Our not-for-profit, continuing care retirement community enhances the lives of our residents through person-centered care and services while fostering dignity, security and friendship. As an innovative not-for-profit community, we attract leaders in the field of aging who design research and pilot new initiatives and technology to help improve the lives of our residents and seniors everywhere. Vinson Hall provides independent living to commissioned military officers and their immediate family. Everyone is welcome at Arleigh Burke Pavilion, where we provide assisted living, skilled nursing and private pay nursing care services, and at The Sylvestery, where we offer assisted living care for those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

ny for its U.S. Department of Transportation license and Motor Carrier number, and then verify it at www.protectyourmove.gov. Ask for references and take the time to call them. That way you can get a true evaluation from past customers. Don’t pay up front, and don’t pay cash. “Seniors are often perceived as easier to persuade, and are often asked to pay cash upfront for these types of services,” added Wojciechowski.

Be proactive Ask for pickup and delivery dates in writing. Ask for a bill of lading. This is a written contract that sets forth terms and conditions of your move, and should be provided by all commercial movers for both interstate and intrastate moves. Read it carefully and keep a copy until the move is completed to your satisfaction. Take inventory of your items to be moved. Ask the movers to prepare a written inventory, or prepare your own. Take photos or video of your valuable property

those who have trouble bending their knees. You also need to know that all stair lifts mount to the stair treads, not to the wall. So they are very sturdy and can be installed in almost any home. If your wife is a large person, you may need to get her a heavy-duty lift with a wider seat and bigger lifting capacity — all companies offer them. Or, if she’s tall, find out about raising the seat height during installation. Most stair lifts available today also have seats, armrests and footplates that fold up out of the way, as well as swivel seats that make getting into and out of the chair easier. They also come with standard safety features, like seatbelts, braking systems and footrest sensors, push-button or rockerswitch controls located on the armrest for easy operation, and “call/send” controls, which allow you to call or send the unit to the other end of the stairs. Make sure the lift you choose has all these features. Depending on the company, you may also have the option of choosing between an electric (AC) and a battery powered (DC) stair lift. Battery powered units charge at the base station (some recharge anywhere on the track), and are quieter and smoother than electric lifts. Also, they will work even if there’s a power failure in the home.

Where to shop While there are many companies that make, sell and install stair lifts, the most respected in the industry are Bruno (www.bruno.com, 1-866-345-7537) and Stannah (www.stannahstairlifts.com, See STAIR LIFT, page B-11

prior to the move so you will be better able to note any damage after shipment. Ask for the truck to be weighed. The company may trick you into thinking the truck is heavier than it is, and raise the price. Make sure you are only paying for what you need. Consider getting full-value protection. Investing in full-value protection means any lost or damaged articles will be repaired or replaced, or a cash settlement will be made to repair the item or replace it at current market value. Ask, ask, and ask. Don’t be afraid of bothering the workers. You have a right to know everything. You are paying good money for your belongings to be transferred, and should ask as many questions as you need. If you are not satisfied with the service you received after the move, let the company know as soon as possible. If needed, file a written complaint with the company no later than nine months after delivery. For interstate moves, contact the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration at 1888-368-7238 or http://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov. Note, however, that FMCSA cannot resolve claims. For complaints about intrastate moves, contact your state Attorney General’s office and lodge a complaint.


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WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — M AY 2 0 1 4

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✃ FREE HOUSING AND OTHER INFORMATION For free information from advertisers in this special section, check off those that interest you and mail this entire page to the Beacon. Please do not request info if you are not interested. All replies have an equal chance to win. To be eligible for Wolf Trap package, your reply must arrive by May 20. Later replies will be entered into a drawing for tickets to a different show, to be announced.

HOUSING COMMUNITIES: MARYLAND ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑

Brooke Grove . .B-4, B-14 & B-16 Council House . . . . . . . . . . .B-2 Covenant Village . . .B-4 & B-14 Emerson House . . . . .B-4 & B-6 Homecrest House . . .B-5 & B-12 Largo Landing . . . . . . . . . . .B-5 Mrs. Philippines Home . . . . .B-4 Oaks at Old Towne . . .B-2 & B-8 Riderwood . . . . . . . .B-3 & B-14 Solana . . . . . . . . . . .B-2 & B-10

VIRGINIA

WASHINGTON, DC

❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑

❑ Residences at Thomas Circle . . . . .B-7 & B-10 ❑ Robert L Walker House . . . . .B-4

Ashby Ponds . . . . . .B-3 & B-10 Chesterbrook Residences . .B-11 Greenspring . . . . . . .B-3 & B-12 Gum Springs Glen . . . . . . . .B-4 Herndon Harbor House . . . . .B-4 Morris Glen . . . . . . . . . . . . .B-4 Potomac Place . . . . . . . . . .B-11 Sommerset . . . . . . .B-6 & B-11 Tall Oaks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .B-3 Vinson Hall . . . . . . . . .B-5 & B-8 Virginian, The . . . . . .B-6 & B-13 Wingler House . . . . .B-4 & B-12

HOME CARE SERVICES: ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑

Espirit Home . . . . . . . . . . .B-13 Family & Nursing Care . . . . .B-8 Old Dominion Home Care . . .B-3 Options for Senior America .B-13

HOME DECORATING: ❑ Dan Kugler Carpet & Blinds .B-15 ❑ ELA Drapery Workroom . . . .B-15

Check the boxes you’re interested in and return this entire coupon to: The Beacon, P.O. Box 2227, Silver Spring, MD 20915-2227. You may also include the free info coupon on page 5. One entry per household please. Name __________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Address ____________________________________________________E-mail_______________________________________________ City _______________________________________________________ State ______________________ Zip ____________________ Phone (day) _______________________________________________ (eve) ________________________________________________ TB 5/14

Please provide your telephone number and e-mail address so we may contact you promptly if you win the drawing.


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CONTINUING CARE RETIREMENT COMMUNITY

The Residences at Thomas Circle (202) 626-5761 1330 Massachusetts Ave NW Washington, DC 20005 www.ThomasCircle.com The Residences at Thomas Circles is an exceptional senior living community located in the heart of the district in Washington, DC. Here, residents enjoy a stimulating lifestyle filled with activities and entertainment as well as the company of a diverse group of interesting people. The excellent location means residents can easily visit area attractions, museums, theater, special events and more via the Metro or a short walk. In addition to Independent Living, The Residences at Thomas Circle is the only in-town senior living community to offer an on-site continuum of health services: Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, or Memory Care. Ask about our new respite program, Circle Stays: special savings in Assisted Living and Memory Care. Visit www.ThomasCircle to learn more or call 202.626.5761.

CONTINUING CARE RETIREMENT COMMUNITY

Ashby Ponds 703-723-1999 or 1-800-564-0155 21170 Ashby Ponds Boulevard Ashburn, VA 20147 EricksonLiving.com Ashby Ponds in Ashburn offers maintenance-free retirement living combined with a vibrant lifestyle--all in a beautiful, private and gated community. Without the worries of a house and yard, you can spend more time pursuing your passions. Travel, volunteer, take a college class and explore some of Ashby Ponds many clubs and interest groups. Campus restaurants offer a variety of delicious dining options, while security offers protection and peace of mind. Enjoy the stability of predictable monthly expenses and look forward to a healthy future with our health care and wellness services. Whatever your passions in life, you’ll find the freedom and opportunity to follow them at Ashby Ponds. Continuing Care at Ashby Ponds is now open and features assisted living, nursing care, post-acute rehabilitation, and memory care.

ASSISTED LIVING

The Solana Olney 301-570-2611 2611 Olney-Sandy Spring Road Olney, MD 20832 www.brookdaleliving.com/solana-olney.aspx The Solana® Olney, in Olney, Maryland, provides Assisted Living and Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care options for seniors. Our community offers residents an intellectually stimulating, physically invigorating and emotionally fulfilling life. Those who desire to retain their independence but do not require the skilled nursing care provided in nursing homes will appreciate our friendly staff’s assistance with activities of daily living. We also provide speciallydesigned programs and care for those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia-related illnesses. At The Solana Olney, you and your loved one will enjoy a stylish, comfortable and inviting community environment to share with neighbors and friends, along with all the features and amenities needed to enhance your personal lifestyle. We invite you to call to learn more.

M AY 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

Finding the right long-term care facility By Kimberly Lankford About 10 years ago, when Donna Braley was 79, her family started to notice that she was having trouble doing the things she’d always loved to do — crocheting, cooking, doing crossword puzzles. Because her children lived in different states, it took a while for them to piece together their stories and discover that their mother needed help. The family hired a geriatric care manager, and “her assessment made it obvious to us that Mom would soon no longer be able to live at home without full-time caregiving,” said her daughter Kathi Dunn. The family moved Braley to a semi-independent apartment in a locked Alzheimer’s facility in Roseville, Calif., near her son Scott and his wife, Amy. But after she was there for a few months, she became combative and difficult to manage. So they found another Alzheimer’s facility that “looked like a model home with a gourmet chef,” said Amy. “But it was too large.” Braley would roam the huge hallways and go in and out of people’s rooms, disturbing their belongings. When money started to run short, the family searched for another option. They heard about a 15-person facility that focused on dementia, which seemed like a better fit and was less expensive. The third time was the charm: For the past two years, Braley has required total care and uses a wheelchair full-time, but the staff at her new home has found ways for her to be as active as she can. When her grandchildren visit, they play in the backyard as if it were grandma’s house, and the residents’ families watch out for one another.

Start the search When it’s time to get extra care for your parents or spouse, you may be forced to decide quickly, especially if your loved one has been in the hospital and needs extra help as soon as he or she is released. “You’re making a traumatic and important decision under pressure,” said Byron Cordes, a geriatric care manager. “The hospital may say you need to move your dad by the end of business today, then just hand you a magazine about senior-living options and say, ‘Good luck finding a nursing home,’” he said. Cordes recommends that you take the time to find out exactly what your spouse or parent needs. That often means talking to the doctor, social worker, nursing staff, case manager and discharge manager. Or it may mean hiring a geriatric care manager to help coordinate the various care providers. It can be challenging to balance quality and cost. According to the Genworth 2013 Cost of Care Survey, the median price of a private room in a nursing home tops $6,900 per month nationally (and can be

much higher in this area). Assisted living facilities on average cost more than $3,400 per month (again, more around here). So unless your loved ones have longterm-care insurance, they — or you, if you’re helping to pay the bills — may not be able to afford the ideal setting for very long. Medicare covers very little long-term care, and most people aren’t eligible for Medicaid until they’ve spent almost all of their money. But new resources can help you make the decision. “The landscape has changed for senior housing,” said Andy Cohen, CEO of Caring.com, where people share reviews of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. “Some are more like college dorms for seniors, with good food, transportation and activities. A lot of children feel guilty, but after they visit these places, they say that mom’s healthier and happier.” Assisted living in many cases can take the place of nursing-home care, at least in the early stages of care, said Sandra Timmermann, a gerontologist in Fairfield, Conn. Some facilities (including Continuing Care Retirement Communities, known as CCRCs) offer a range of care, and residents can move to another wing or facility in the same community if they need more supervision. Or you can hire a caregiver to provide extra assistance in an assisted living facility so that you don’t have to move your spouse or parent to a nursing home. And people with dementia and Alzheimer’s have many options for memory care. Medicaid generally covers nursing homes but not assisted living facilities, so you can usually choose assisted living only if your loved one has enough savings or long-term-care insurance to pay for it. (Maryland is one of several states offering Medicaid waiver or voucher programs, which allow a limited number of people to use Medicaid money for assisted living; see Medicaid.gov for each state’s rules.) The Medicare Nursing Home Compare tool (www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/search.html) assesses more than 15,000 nursing homes throughout the U.S. based on inspections, complaints and staffing ratings. But it doesn’t include most assisted living facilities, which have different licensing requirements in each state. You can go to the Eldercare Locator (www.eldercare.gov, 1-800-677-1116) or your local Area Agency on Aging for help finding assisted living facilities, but these resources don’t assess the services. Several services can help you with your search. CareScout (www.carescout.com) includes ratings and profiles for more than 90,000 assisted living facilities, nursing homes and home-care providers. For $495, you can work with a care advocate, who See LONG-TERM CARE, page B-11


Say you saw it in the Beacon | Housing Options

WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — M AY 2 0 1 4

Long-term care From page B-10 helps assess your needs and narrow the list to three or more facilities to visit. The advocate can also negotiate discounts at the facilities. Many Genworth policyholders get free access to CareScout for themselves or their parents, and some employee-assistance programs include access to similar services.

Hire a pro? A geriatric care manager can help you explore your options. Care managers are also familiar with local facilities and benefits programs, so hiring one can be a good idea if your family has multiple siblings or if you’re researching care options from a distance.

Stair lift From page B-8 1-800-877-8247), followed by Harmar (www.harmar.com, 1-800-833-0478) and Sterling (www.handicare.com, 1-866-2765438). Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover stair lifts, but many states offer Medicaid waivers that will pay for lifts for those that qualify. Also, the VA offers cash grants to veterans with disabilities for home safety improvements. To save some money, you may want to consider purchasing a used or refurbished

Go to www.caremanager.org to search for care managers throughout the U.S. They generally charge $100 to $180 per hour, and are not allowed to accept finder’s fees from facilities. After you narrow your list to two to five places, visit and ask questions. And don’t just talk with the marketing people; talk with the people who are providing the care. “Go completely unannounced and walk in at whatever time of day you can,” said Cordes. “I’ve been in nursing homes when they’ve announced that a tour is coming in. You see the housekeeping staff spraying the halls with Febreze and closing the doors to patients’ rooms.” See how people are treated at mealtime, and how they’re treated at 8 p.m. Next, schedule a meeting with the mar-

model. Or, if you need a stair lift for only a short period of time, consider renting one. Most companies offer these options, and many also offer financing. To get started, contact some stair lift companies who will put you in touch with a dealer in your area. All dealers provide free in-home assessments and estimates, and can help you choose an appropriate lift. Send your questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

keting director to get more details about how the facility cares for residents. Every nursing home resident is required to have a care plan. What would be in the care plan for your spouse or parent? What activities would the facility offer? How are the residents’ physical needs monitored? Ask about the patient-to-staff ratio (Cordes usually recommends 18 to 20 patients per caregiving staffer). What type of specialized training do the staff have in dealing with your spouse’s or parent’s medical condition? Ask if your loved one will get any time outside the facility, especially if he or she is in a locked memorycare wing of a long-term care facility (some have courtyards). Ask for a list of the costs, especially for assisted living. In some facilities, you may get a set number of hours of personal care, and you may be charged extra if your

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spouse or parent needs more. After your visit, ask yourself: Is this a place where you would want to spend time? Is it clean? How does it smell? Are the residents showered, with clean clothes? Is the food healthy and tasty? How would your spouse or parent fit in with the other residents? “Does the staff treat the residents with respect or, better yet, like beloved grandparents?” added Amy Braley. Your loved one may start out in assisted living but eventually need care in a nursing home. No matter what, monitor their care with the same critical eye you brought to the selection process. If the place isn’t a good match, don’t be afraid to move your spouse or parent to one that feels like home. © 2014, Kiplinger. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribute Content Agency, LLC.

Voted #1 in Prince William County


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INDEPENDENT LIVING

Wingler House Apartments (703) 858-9507 20900 Runnymeade Terrace Ashburn, VA 20147 www.qpmgmt.com Wingler House Apartments in handsome Ashburn Village is the 55+ retirement community that offers you a charming home close to everything you need. Ashburn Village is one of Greater Washington’s premiere residential communities, near Dulles Airport for easy traveling, surrounded by shopping, restaurants, and historic sites and just 25 miles from downtown Washington. Wingler House makes the most if its location, surrounding you with supermarkets, pharmacies, restaurants, and specialty retail stores. Loudoun Hospital Center and many other medical care providers are also minutes away. We offer one- and two-bedrooms at one of the best rates in Loudoun County. Please call today to request an application or make an appointment to tour our community. 703-858-9507. Monday-Friday 8:00-4:30. We are currently open on Saturdays from 10:00-3:00 and have apartments ready for immediate occupancy.

CONTINUING CARE RETIREMENT COMMUNITY

Greenspring 703-913-1200 or 1-800-788-0811 7410 Spring Village Drive Springfield, VA 22150 EricksonLiving.com Situated in beautiful Springfield, Greenspring is the perfect place to enjoy an active lifestyle now, with added peace of mind for the future. Everything you need is right on campus, including continuing care services, should your health needs ever change. Greenspring is supported by the nation’s largest integrated health and wellness system for seniors. Nestled on 58 acres and bordered on three sides by wooded parkland, Greenspring is home to more than 2,000 residents. A refundable deposit guarantees there is no financial risk and the monthly service package includes utilities, maintenance, and flexible dining plans you can use in any of the four on-site restaurants. On-site amenities include restaurants; stores; medical center with full time physicians; an all-season swimming pool; a fitness center with full-time trainers; barber shop and hair salon; bank; and a full-time, interfaith pastoral staff.

INDEPENDENT & PERSONAL CARE COMMUNITIES

B’nai B’rith Homecrest House 301-244-3579 14508 Homecrest Road Silver Spring, MD 20906 www.homecresthouse.org Homecrest House is a non-profit, affordable subsidized community offering two options: independent and personal care services. PERSONAL CARE offers: assistance with bathing, daily meals, weekly housekeeping and laundry services with optional medication administration. Homecrest is nestled on ten beautiful acres with its own pond and neighbors Leisure World. Residents may qualify approximately 30% of their adjusted income for rent, and personal care subsidies. Homecrest offers a full array of activities both in-house and around the metro area via our van service. Our computer lab, beauty shop, exercise room, library and social halls are just a few amenities our residents enjoy at Homecrest House. Call today for a personalized tour or visit us on the web at www.homecresthouse.org.

M AY 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

Home buyers offer convenience to sellers By Daniel Groner and Rebekah Sewell For many, the process of selling their home can involve major stress — from selecting a real estate agent, to fixing up the property, to enduring open houses, contract negotiations, inspections and contingent contracts. Danny Pham wanted to help sellers avoid all this when he started his company, Swan Properties, 11 years ago. The investment company offers homeowners another way to sell their residence. Pham’s is one of several local companies that inspect a property to evaluate what they deem the home to be worth in its current condition. Once a full inspection has been completed, investors will negotiate with the homeowner to purchase the home “as is,” usually paying in cash. From start to finish, the entire process using a home buying service may last only a few weeks, if not days. One local company, Express Homebuyers USA, promises an offer for your home over the phone within seven minutes. “You always talk to a live person... It’s a hasslefree way to sell a home in three simple steps,” said Brad Chandler, owner.

Selling “as is” avoids repairs Traditional real estate agents may expect home owners to make certain repairs so their home is more presentable or suitable for potential buyers. These costs could include painting, carpeting, landscaping, electrical work and other minor repairs. Because investment companies buy homes in whatever condition they are in, homeowners needn’t incur any additional fix-up expenses. Once the sale is complete, it’s the company’s headache to sort through. The downside of selling to home buying services rather than using traditional real estate agents, however, is that you will likely sell your home for a lower price. This trade-off is that you may accomplish the task more quickly and without complications. This can be particularly attractive when sellers inherit a house in a different state. On the other hand, you may keep more of the purchase price when going through a home buying service, because Realtors typically collect a commission of 6 to 7 percent of the sale price from the seller. When selling to investors through home buying services, there are no commissions per se. Instead, the future costs of fixing up the property for sale — and the value to the seller of the greater speed and convenience of the process — are factored into the purchase price offered by the investors. Charles Taylor, head of acquisitions for

Classic Cottages, notes that his company offers flexibility and convenience for its clients, especially older owners who have accumulated clutter over the years. “We tell people if there are things in the house they don’t want to move, just leave them there. We’ll take care of them after settlement,” he said. Another advantage is timing tailored to the homeowner rather than the buyer, Taylor said. “If you list your property on the open market, people expect that if you accept your offer, they want to move in within a month or two. If you sell to a homebuyer and say you want to move six months from now, you can come to an agreement with the homebuyer,” he said. “We can give you as much time as you need. You can have plenty of time to find another place to live and settlement can be scheduled whenever works for you. You don’t have to deal with the showings and keeping your house clean all the time.”

Watch out for scams Those wishing to sell their homes through home buying services would be well-advised to research the companies first. Because these sales can be quite lucrative for savvy investors, they lend themselves to the possibilities of scam artists posing as investors. Look for companies that have established credible and reliable track records. Here are some questions to ask when evaluating possible investors. • Has the buyer told you where his offices are located? Set up an appointment to meet at the company’s permanent location. • Do they employ a full-time staff? Any well-established company will have multiple people familiar with the entire business and able to answer all of your questions. • How do they plan to finance the purchase? Reliable companies have established lines of credit. • How long has the company been in business? Ask for references, and call them to discuss their experiences. • Have you — and your attorney — read the purchase contract carefully? This is the most important point. Take your time and be sure you know what is being offered. Never let a buyer pressure you into a faster sale. Take the time needed to review the contract and ask about anything you do not fully understand. • To check with the local Better Business Bureau, call (202) 393-8000 or look for the company information at the bureau’s website, www.bbb.org.

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WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — M AY 2 0 1 4

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Tighter rules may limit reverse mortgages By Rachel L. Sheedy Seniors shopping for a reverse mortgage will find the rules for these loan products are getting tighter. That means borrowing costs are increasing and loan amounts are shrinking. And some cashstrapped people may find it tougher to qualify for a loan. One major change: the merger of the Standard and the lower-cost Saver programs. Last fall, the Department of Housing and Urban Development combined these products. Borrowers will now receive about 15 percent less in proceeds compared with the Standard product, but they will get more than with the Saver, said Peter Bell, president of the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association. The merged product charges 0.5 percent for an upfront mortgage insurance premium, compared with the Saver’s 0.01 percent and the Standard’s 2 percent. However, some seniors may get hit with a higher 2.5 percent upfront premium if they take more than 60 percent of the proceeds during the loan’s first year. “If you’re above the 60 percent threshold, you can still get the loan, but it will cost a little bit more,” said Gregg Smith, president of One Reverse Mortgage. The annual premium of 1.25 percent of the loan amount remains the same.

How reverse mortgages work A reverse mortgage allows homeowners 62 or older to tap their home equity. The loan does not have to be repaid until the homeowner dies, sells the house or moves out for at least 12 months. Nearly all reverse mortgages are insured by the Federal Housing Administration. With the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage, or HECM, the government pays the lender if the house sells for less

than the loan’s balance. When the loan comes due, the homeowner will never owe more than what the home is worth. HUD made these changes to strengthen the mortgage insurance fund, which suffered in recent years from a struggling housing market and a growing number of defaults by borrowers. As housing prices dropped, lenders often could not recoup the full amount of the loans when they came due. “The changes were made to ensure the program is open for business tomorrow,” Smith said. HUD also has asked Congress for about $1.7 billion to shore up the fund.

Less money upfront One new rule limits the proceeds a borrower can take within a year of the loan closing. “Before, you could take 100 percent of the available proceeds on day one,” said Lori Trawinski, senior strategic policy adviser for the AARP Public Policy Institute. Now, in the first year, the borrower can generally take no more than 60 percent of the total proceeds he’s eligible to receive. A reason for the new limit: Borrowers taking all proceeds upfront were more likely to use up the money early on. Often those borrowers were left without enough cash later on to pay property taxes and homeowners insurance, and the loans went into default. “HUD has learned that loans with a larger upfront draw have more risks,” Bell said. There is an exception to the 60 percent limit. The borrower can take more in the first year if the amount of “mandatory obligations” plus 10 percent of the maximum allowable proceeds is larger than 60 percent of the proceeds. Mandatory obligations include the up-

front insurance premium, the loan origination fee, and money needed to pay off a regular mortgage. Borrowers who take more than 60 percent will pay the higher

upfront insurance premium of 2.5 percent. Say a borrower with a home value of See REVERSE MORTGAGES, page B-15


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INDEPENDENT LIVING

Brooke Grove Retirement Village 301-260-2320 18100 Slade School Road Sandy Spring, MD 20860 www.bfg.org You’ll feel it as soon as you drive onto our 220-acre campus of lush pastures and hardwood forest—all that makes independent living at Brooke Grove different. Beautiful cottages in a truly picturesque setting. Maintenance-free living, with more time for what you really want to do. Personalized fitness programs, meals prepared by talented chefs, clubs and social events. Neighbors who share your interests and passions. Come for a visit and see why Brooke Grove Retirement Village is one of the most sought-after retirement communities in the state. Living here is simply different … because what surrounds you really matters.

CONTINUING CARE RETIREMENT COMMUNITY

Riderwood 301-495-5700 3140 Gracefield Road Silver Spring, MD 20904 EricksonLiving.com Ideally located in Silver Spring, Riderwood offers maintenance-free retirement living combined with a vibrant lifestyle―all in a beautiful, private community. Without the worries of a house and yard, you can spend more time pursuing your passions. Travel, volunteer, take a college class and explore some of Riderwood’s many clubs and interest groups. Multiple campus restaurants offer a variety of delicious dining options, while 24-hour security offers protection and peace of mind. Enjoy the stability of predictable monthly expenses and look forward to a healthy future with our full continuum of health care and wellness services.

INDEPENDENT LIVING

Covenant Village (301) 540-1162 18889 Waring Station Road Germantown, MD 20874 www.qpmgmt.com • Spacious 2 bedroom plans with washer/dryer in each apt. • Covenant Village shuttle bus for shopping and local trips • Fitness room, billiard room, game/crafts room, movie theatre • On-site beauty salon, garden plots It’s all about our residents, says Kathy the Property Manager. The staff ensures that the residents always have interesting and exciting activities going on. Some of the fun includes movie nights, new resident meet and greet, holiday parties, fashion shows, and community dinners. Attendance at the wine and cheese and ice cream socials is close to 100%. Covenant Village was recently awarded a trophy by the Property Management Association for being Maryland’s Best Affordable Community in their category! Please call today to make an appointment for a tour.

M AY 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

Decor made-to-order with 3-D printers By Sarah Wolfe Looking for that perfect light for your home office? A new chair or coffee table? You might try making it yourself, at home, with just the click of a button. Three-D printing, a novelty once reserved for science fiction, is going mainstream thanks to cheaper, more accessible technology. The printers, which now cost as little as $300, use lasers to blast 3D wallpaper out layer upon layer of plastics or other materials, forming three- “shop owners,” or designers. The honeycomb-inspired Veroni lampshade, for indimensional objects. And if you don’t have the time, money stance, costs as little as $15 and comes in a or inclination to invest in a 3-D printer of variety of colors and materials, ranging from your own, there are hundreds of websites the standard plastic to raw metal and steel. selling lights, coasters, sculptures, furniWall hangings ture and even wallpaper crafted by Statement pieces for your 3-D printers. walls run the gamut in the N e w Yo r k - b a s e d 3-D printing world. Shapeways, for examShapeways’ ethereple, allows users to al “Whales” ($48) make, buy or sell lends modern sothree-dimensional phistication with its designs. Products airy rendition of two include a delicate, swimming whales twig-like egg cup crafted from white for $8 and a lamp plastic. They almost that looks like a nuseem to spring off the clear mushroom cloud wall. Florida-based Proton for $1,389. 3D Studio offers a little kitsch “ We a r e c o n s i s t e n t l y with a Pop Art-like plastic Pi amazed by the incredible uses Veroni lampshape symbol ($21) and the word our customers find for these materials,” said Alex English, owner of the “geek” crafted in orange plastic script let3-D printing plastics retailer ProtoParadigm. tering ($24). Sweden’s Kredema Design has one of Here are just some of the decor items you the more “off the wall” home-decor prodcan buy or build with 3-D printing: ucts: a three-dimensional wallpaper that rolls out away from the wall to form Lighting shelves, magazine holders and Among the most even lampshades. Made popular and dramatic from sheets of acrylic 3-D products for the and wallpaper, the home are lights — “Off the Wall” whether ceiling collection is pendants, table available by spelamps or floor cial order only. lamps. Belgium’s MGX Accessories by Materialise, a pioneer in From picture frames to vases and 3-D printing, is known for mueven planters, you can design or seum-quality, futuristic designs. find just about anything home-reAmong the most popular is the lated using 3-D printing technolBloom table lamp (about ogy. $2,600) — a flower-bud-inShapeways recently added spired design with joints that Nuke lamp glazed ceramic to its list of materiyou can expand or collapse to als, making it possible to craft perrelease or contain light, according to marketing manager Katrien sonalized plates, mugs, salt and pepper shakers, and other items for the table. Vandenplas. Shapeways offers dozens of lamps creSee 3-D PRINTERS, page B-15 ated by some of the site’s more than 11,000


Say you saw it in the Beacon | Housing Options

WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — M AY 2 0 1 4

Reverse mortgages From page B-13 $200,000 qualifies for a $100,000 loan. The first-year draw is $60,000. If the borrower has mandatory obligations of $20,000, the proceeds will cover those costs, and he can take the $40,000 balance in cash in the first year. He will pay an upfront premium of $1,000, or 0.5 percent of the home value. If his mandatory obligations are instead $70,000, the borrower can draw up to $80,000 — the $70,000 to cover the mandatory obligations plus 10 percent of the total loan, which is $10,000. This borrower will pay an upfront premium of 2.5 percent, or $5,000. Generally borrowers who go this route are paying off a forward mortgage, Smith said. Borrowers can take proceeds as a line of credit or monthly payments, and they will pay an adjustable interest rate. After the first year, the borrower can take the balance of available proceeds.

3-D printers From page B-14 Blogger and tech consultant Michael Sitver designed some personalized coasters in about 90 minutes using a 3-D CAD software called Autodesk Inventor. He printed them up at Shapeways’ website. “This is a great project for beginners,” said Sitver, of Weston, Conn. “because designing it doesn’t take too much work, but it helps beginners get acquainted with the tools involved and the process.” He calls his new coasters a “wonderful conversation piece.”

Furniture It might sound like a tall order, but it’s possible to craft tables, chairs and other furnishings with 3-D printers as well. They’re not cheap though, at least not yet. A day bed crafted from white nylon plastic will run you nearly $20,000 on Shapeways, while .MGX by Materialise offers several chairs, stools and tables that look more like works of art than something to sit on. They also run into the thousands. But there’s a lot that’s still possible with this burgeoning technology, especially as it gets cheaper and more accessible. “When kids are exposed to this technology, they don’t even blink an eye when something is printed,” Vandenplas said. “When they are older, 3-D printing will fit into their lives much like the Internet and smartphones fit into our lives today.” For more information online, see: Shapeways: www.shapeways.com MGX by Materialise: www.mgxbymate rialise.com ProtoParadigm: www.protoparadigm.com Proton 3D Studio: www.etsy.com/ca/ shop/Proton3D Kredema Off the Wall line: http://www. kredema.se/offthewall — AP

Those who want a fixed interest rate can take a lump sum payment at closing. But the one-time lump sum is subject to the 60 percent and mandatory obligations limitations. “You can’t come back for more,” Bell said. If you qualify to take up to 60 percent in proceeds the first year, that’s all you’ll get.

New hurdles to qualify For the first time, potential borrowers need to undergo a financial assessment to determine whether they can to afford to pay property taxes and homeowners insurance over the life of the loan. The assessments began in January. About 57,600 borrowers, or 9.8 percent, defaulted because of taxes and insurance in mid-2012, up from 8.1 percent in mid2011, according to HUD. A borrower goes into default when he does not pay property taxes and insurance — a requirement of the loan. AARP’s Trawinski said such costs can

be a hardship for homeowners, particularly in states, such as New York, that have hefty property taxes, or in coastal states, such as Florida, with expensive insurance costs because of hurricane and flooding risks. A borrower in default is given 24 months to get current on unpaid charges, and if he can’t, he could lose his home if the lender forecloses.

B-15

Bell said lenders will scrutinize sources of income and assets as well as credit history. Some borrowers will be required to set aside part of the loan into an escrow account to pay future bills. Borrowers who clearly are able to cover those costs won’t have to put cash aside. Because the set-aside may need to last for 20 years or more, the amount could be


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Housing Options

M AY 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

SPECIAL PULL-OUT SECTION

INDEPENDENT LIVING

SIMPLY

DIFFERENT

This community hums with warmhearted camaraderie and a zest for living shared by residents and staff alike—in independent living, assisted living, memory support, rehabilitative care and nursing care. “The grounds are beautiful [and] the meadows and trees please us through the seasons. We make our own nature walks. Brooke Grove is a photographer’s delight, and the birds are happy to pose.” –Arnold, independent living resident

because what surrounds you really matters.

18100 Slade School Road Sandy Spring, MD 20860 301-260-2320 or 301-924-2811

www.bgf.org Residential Cottages Assisted Living Skilled Nursing Care Memory Care Rehabilitation


WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — M AY 2 0 1 4

Say you saw it in the Beacon

D.C. OFFICE

ON

29

AGING NEWSLETTER

Tools for Retirement: Is an Annuity Right for You? Annuities can provide a steady income after retirement and can be beneficial, but they can also be confusing. If you are thinking about buying an annuity, the D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking offers this comprehensive guide to help determine if an annuity is right for you.

Annuity Basics An annuity is a contract in which an insurance company agrees to make a series of payments in return for a premium (or premiums) that you have paid. Many consumers buy annuities so that they will have a regular income after they retire. An annuity is an investment and shouldn’t be used to reach a shortterm financial goal. Buying an annuity may or may not be right for you. Contact a licensed agent or broker to be sure an annuity is the right choice for your financial future. If you have questions regarding retirement planning, you should consult a reputable financial planner to make sure you are on target to meet your goals. There are several types of annuities, each of which carries varying levels of risk and guarantees. To find the annuity that will best suit your needs, it is important to know the difference between each and the benefits offered.

• Single Premium Annuity: You pay the insurance company only once. • Multiple Premium Annuity: You pay the insurance company multiple payments. • Immediate Annuity: You will begin to receive income payments no later than one year after you pay the premium. • Deferred Annuity: After the initial savings phase, you receive income payments once you choose to receive them. • Fixed Annuity: Your money, minus any applicable charges, earns interest at rates specified in your contract. • Variable Annuity: The insurance company invests your money, minus any applicable charges, into a separate account based upon the amount of risk you want to take. The money can be invested in stocks, bonds or other investments. • Equity-Indexed Annuity: A variation of a fixed annuity in which the interest rate is based on an outside index, such as a stock market index. The annuity pays a base return, but it may be higher if the index increases.

Buying an Annuity Many state laws require a suitability analysis before the sale or replacement of any annuity product. This analysis includes an evaluation of your financial

Long-Term Care Ombudsman Wins Award Sally Sullivan was presented with the Tom Nelson Award from the D.C. Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, where she has served as a volunteer ombudsman for six years. As a retired nurse, Sullivan wanted to make a difference in her community. She wanted to offer her skills and enthusiasm to positively impact the lives of others, as well as her own. Sullivan enjoys advocating and protecting the rights of vulnerable seniors, and being a part of something that supports her values, beliefs and life goals. As a volunteer ombudsman, Sullivan investigates and resolves complaints for or on behalf of long-term care residents, and ensures that their rights are protected. She also educates the community about long-term care issues. Sullivan has improved the quality of life and care for District residents in long-term care facilities and their families. Because of Sullivan’s continued volunteerism with the ombudsman program, it can successfully accomplish its goals impacting long-term care residents. This includes increasing awareness of the Legal Counsel for the Elderly and the D.C. Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs, and educating and empowering residents to be self-advocates.

position, income needs and the cost of liquidating any assets. This can help you determine which annuity is right for you. You can also contact the D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking at 202-727-8000 or at disb.dc.gov to get a list of the information your agent or broker should provide before you make a decision. As with other major purchases, it’s a good idea to shop around and compare information for similar products from several companies. While you do your research, keep detailed records and get all quotes and key information in writing. When you are ready to purchase an annuity, carefully review the contract with your agent or broker. Ask for an explanation of anything that you don’t understand. Be sure you are aware of all of the terms and conditions, such as surrender charges and/or cancellation penalties. For individual annuities, you have at least 10 days to review the annuity contact after purchase. (Normally, on a group annuity, there is not a “free look” period.) If you decide during that time that you no longer want the annuity, you can cancel for a full refund. The free look period will be prominently stated on the front cover of your contract.

Don’t Be Pressured Unfor tunately, some insurance providers use inappropriate sales practices in an attempt to take advantage of uninformed consumers. Some common red flags include relentless sales pitches that pressure you into buying a product quickly, or a deal that seems too good to be true. The best way to protect yourself is to research the agent and company you’re considering: STOP before writing a check, signing a contract or giving out personal information. CALL the D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking; and CONFIRM that the agent and company are licensed to write insurance in the District of Columbia.

More Information The D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking has two missions: to fairly and efficiently regulate financial services in order to protect the people of the District of Columbia, and to attract and retain financial-services businesses in the District. Visit us on the web at disb.dc.gov. This information was made possible by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, known as the NAIC.

Postal Inspectors Warn of Tax Refund Scams Now that the April 15 tax deadline has passed, many Americans eagerly awaiting tax refunds are receiving a shocking surprise: scammers may have already beaten them to their refund. It’s a problem postal inspectors have been investigating at an alarming rate. Identity thieves are stealing people’s names and Social Security numbers, creating bogus W-2 forms and other tax documents, and then filing a phony tax return — all to collect a fraudulent refund before you do. Victims don’t realize they’ve been scammed until they file taxes online and it won’t go through, or an expected refund never arrives, or when the Internal Revenue Service notifies the taxpayer that another return was already submitted in his name. The Postal Inspection Service is charged with protecting America’s mail system from illegal use. Many of these fraudulent tax refunds are sent by mail and deposited in bogus bank accounts created with the stolen personal identification information. Postal inspectors are working closely with the IRS to stop these criminals. Tax refund scams are growing. They victimize both the taxpayer and the federal government. Recently, the federal government reported it lost $4 billion in fraudulent tax refunds last year. For an indi-

vidual, it can take months to receive the tax refund the scammer stole from him. Anyone can become a victim of a tax refund scam. Postal inspectors recommend taxpayers do the following to protect themselves: • File your taxes early. • Always safeguard your personal identifiable information. Never provide your Social Security number unless absolutely necessary and only with a trusted entity. • Check your credit score often. The same identity thieves who are filling fraudulent tax refunds in your name may also use your information to conduct other financial crimes. • The IRS does not send unsolicited emails. If you receive a phone call or email from someone claiming to be with the IRS, verify it by calling 1-800-829-1040. If your tax refund doesn’t arrive in a reasonable time, you can check its status online at www.irs.gov. If you suspect tax-related identity theft, call the IRS at 1-800-908-4490. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, our nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency, is committed to protecting consumers from mail fraud. To learn more about common scams and fraud prevention tips, visit www.postalinspectors.uspis.gov.


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M AY 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

D.C. OFFICE

ON

Community Calendar May events

Emma Jean Coates at 202-483-6060 for more information.

6th • 1 to 2 p.m. Hayes Senior Wellness Center will hold a program on wise food choices. The center is located at 500 K St. NE. For more information, call Pauline Kabore at 202-727-0357.

10th • 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. A senior health fair will be held in the large meeting room of the Watha T. Daniel Library, 1630 7th St. NW. For more information, call 202-727-0907.

12th+ Take a yoga, tai chi, strength or other fitness class at Iona Senior Services. New classes start the week of May 12 and run for six weeks. The drop-in rate is $13 per class meeting, but if the entire session is paid for when signing up, the rate drops to $10 per class. Sign up at the front desk at 4125 Albemarle St. NW. For more information, call Darryl Simpson at 202-895-0238.

15th • 11:30 a.m. Attend a seminar called “Older Adults & Healthy Relationships” hosted by Seabury Ward 5 Aging Services. The program will be held at 1400 Florida Ave. NE. For more information, call Vivian Grayton at 202-529-8701.

16th • 1 to 2 p.m. Learn about reverse mortgages at the Hayes Senior Wellness Center, 500 K St. NE. For more information, call Pauline Kabore at 202-727-0357.

21st • 1 to 2 p.m. Hayes Senior Wellness Center, 500 K St. NE, presents a program on seniors and money. For more information, call Pauline Kabore at 202-727-0357.

27th • 12 to 12:45 p.m.

North Capitol at Plymouth will hold a town hall meeting at 5233 N. Capitol St. NE. For more information, call Vivian Grayton at 202-529-8701.

D.C. Office on Aging Executive Director John M. Thompson, Ph.D., FAAMA and his staff will make a community presentation to the Penn Branch Chapter # 3473. The event will be held at the Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church, 3000 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. For more information, call Gloria Clanton at 202-582-1985.

14th • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

29th • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

D.C. Office on Aging Executive Director John M. Thompson, Ph.D., FAAMA will be the guest speaker at the Washington retired teachers chapter meeting. The meeting will be held at the Howard University School of Divinity, 1400 Shepherd St. NE. Contact

The 6th Annual Olmstead Community Integration Conference will be held at the Kellogg Conference Hotel at Gallaudet University, 800 Florida Ave. NE. For more information, call Melinda Hasbrouck at 202671-2894.

12th • 11 a.m.

Citywide Older Americans Month Activities 2014

AGING NEWSLETTER

The month of May is observed annually as Older Americans Month to celebrate the many contributions of Older Americans to their communities. Older Americans Month this year is celebrated under the theme “Safe Today. Healthy Tomorrow.” The D.C. Office on Aging understands the importance of injury prevention and safety awareness in helping older adults remain active, healthy, safe and prepared for emergencies. Those who are able are busy living life and participating in activities and giving back to the community.

31st Annual D.C. Senior Olympics Department of Parks and Recreation May 5 to 16 Medal competition in more than 15 sporting events, including, swimming, tennis, track and field, basketball, table tennis. Various locations across the city visit dpr.dc.gov or call 202-664-7153, for more information.

Mayor’s Third Annual Senior Symposium Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill 400 New Jersey Ave. NW Wednesday, May 7 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Registered participants will attend workshops, connect to technology, and get information on government resources in an information exhibit area.

Mother’s Day Celebration

SPOTLIGHT ON AGING Spotlight On Aging is published by the Information Office of the D.C. Office on Aging for D.C. senior residents. Advertising contained in the Beacon is not endorsed by the D.C. Office on Aging or by the publisher. 500 K St., N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002 202-724-5622 • www.dcoa.dc.gov John M. Thompson, Ph.D., FAAMA Executive Director Darlene Nowlin, Editor Selma Dillard Photographer The D.C. Office on Aging does not discriminate against anyone based on actual

or perceived: race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, familial status, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, disability, source of income, and place of residence or business. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination which is prohibited by the Act. In addition, harassment based on any of the above protected categories is prohibited by the Act. Discrimination in violation of the Act will not be tolerated. Violators will be subjected to disciplinary action.

VIDA Senior Center 1842 Calvert St. NW Friday, May 9 Noon For more information, contact Miguel Guerrero, 202-483-5800

Enhancing the Health & Safety of Older Americans Washington Seniors Wellness Center 3001 Alabama Ave. SE Friday, May 9 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. For more information, contact 202534-4880

Seabury Resources for Aging Ward 6 Lead Agency Open House 901 A St. NE Wednesday, May 14 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. For more information, contact 202387-1725

The Office on Aging is in partnership with the District of Columbia Recycling Program.

The East River Swing: A Special Evening of Elegance East River Family Strengthening Collaborative KEEN Seniors Program

Thursday, May 15 5 – 9 p.m. For more information, contact Robin Gantt (202) 534-4880, ext. 110 or Chicquita Bryant 202-534-4880, ext. 125

TERRIFIC, Inc. “Safe Today! Healthy Tomorrow” Health Fair 19th Street Baptist Church 4606 16th St. NW Friday, May 16 10 a.m. -2 p.m. For more information, contact 202-882-1824

Senior Awareness Day Event East River Family Strengthening Collaborative Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church 4611 Sheriff Rd. NE Friday, May 16 10:30 a.m. - 2 p.m. For more information, contact Ms. Hazel Jackson, (202) 398-1843 or 2968283, ext. 19

Seabury Ward 5 Senior Community Day Edgewood Terrace 635 Edgewood St. NE Tuesday, May 20 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. For more information, contact 202529-8701

Senior Appreciation Day First Baptist Senior Center 715 Randolph St. NW Friday, May 23 1 - 3 p.m. For more information, contact 202723-4313

Senior Health & Fitness Day Info Fair 2014 Bernice Fonteneau Senior Wellness Center 3531 Georgia Ave. NW Wednesday, May 28 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. For more information, contact 202727-0338


WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — M AY 2 0 1 4

Say you saw it in the Beacon

Money Law &

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TAKE AN INTEREST IN RATES How investors and borrowers will be affected by higher interest rates GOING FOR THE GOLD While gold prices tumbled in 2013, they are rising again. Is it time to buy? MEDIATING A SOLUTION Experienced mediators can help resolve thorny issues between family members TAMING THE PAPER TIGER Some financial records can be thrown away or stored electronically

Municipal bonds on the rise. Will it last? By Stan Choe Municipal bonds are getting another chance. Money is flowing once again into munibond mutual funds, a turnaround from last year’s exodus. So far, investors have been rewarded for renewing their interest, but managers caution that several challenges remain. It’s just the latest turning point for an industry that has experienced many of them in recent years. In late 2010, investors stampeded out of muni-bond funds following a prediction that a wave of defaults would hit the market. The wave didn’t materialize, and buyers returned. Last year, investors ran once again. The worries started in the spring when interest rates began rising, and intensified after Detroit filed for bankruptcy. The turn of the calendar brought a trick-

le of money back into muni-bond funds. Investors deposited a net $342 million in January, according to the Investment Company Institute. That’s a drip compared with the nearly $10 billion that flowed out of muni-bond funds in December, though the pace has since picked up. About $1.2 billion came in the five weeks through April 9. Those investors who jumped in early profited: Municipal bonds have returned 4.5 percent this year, according to the Barclays Municipal Bond index. It’s a sharp turnaround from the index’s drop of 2.6 percent in 2013, its worst loss since 1994. “It’s unrealistic to think we can continue this pace,” said Rick Taormina, head of taxaware strategies at J.P. Morgan Funds. “Really, it’s almost mathematically impossible.” But before getting into why, here’s a reminder of what municipal bonds are and what kinds of investors they tend to attract.

All about munis Municipal bonds are issued by water and sewer authorities, cities and other local governments. The income that they produce is generally free from federal income taxes and sometimes from state and local income taxes. The tax exemption means municipal bonds tend to attract investors in high tax brackets. Top federal tax rates have also risen in recent years — as much as 39.6 percent last year from 35 percent in 2012 — which makes the exemption even more valuable. Tax-exempt muni bonds are also most suited for an investor’s taxable account. Putting them in a 401(k), individual retirement account or other tax-deferred retirement account would negate their big advantage. This year’s gains have come for a couple reasons. Chief among them is that interest rates have dropped, and falling rates push

up bond prices. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note has sunk to about 2.73 percent from 3 percent in early January. When interest rates fall, all types of municipal bonds benefit, particularly longterm bonds. That’s because investors are locked into their yields for a longer period, yields that suddenly look better than they did at the start of the year. The average long-term national municipal bond fund has returned 5 percent this year, compared with 0.9 percent for shortterm national municipal bond funds, according to Morningstar. But many strategists don’t expect interest rates to continue to decline. The economy is improving slowly, recent hiccups related to bad weather notwithstanding, and that should put upward pressure on interest rates. See MUNI BONDS, page 32

Follow Keynes to make money in market John Maynard Keynes is recognized as wealth, referenced in the book, that are one of the great historical economists. still valid today. • Over time, stocks beat Aside from his theoretical bonds: From 1926 to 2012, work, though, he accomlarge company stocks replished something few other turned an average of 9.8 peracademic economists have: cent, and small-company He was a successful investor. stocks 12 percent. Naturally, Keynes used his expertise there will be periods in which to build a multimillion dollar stocks fall in value, but longfortune in the stock market term investors, even those in while providing counsel to the retirement, should maintain a likes of Winston Churchill significant percentage of their and Franklin Roosevelt. THE SAVINGS portfolios in stocks in one John Wasik, an award-winGAME form or other. ning columnist who has covBy Elliot Raphaelson • Probability is not the ered investor issues for many same thing as certainty: Just years, has written an excellent book, Keynes’s Way to Wealth (McGraw because a stock went up in value last year Hill), which contains excellent advice for doesn’t mean it will go up this year. Don’t incurrent investors. The book has received vest on the assumption that past returns are a praise from writers and investors I respect, good predictor of future prices. • Opposed risks will help balance including John Bogle, William Bernstein your portfolio: You need a mix of assets and Larry Swedroe. David Swensen, who has managed Yale that are truly uncorrelated during market University’s endowment very successfully downturns to give you real diversification. since 1985, has used many of Keynes’ in- This means balancing stocks with bonds, vestment practices at Yale and has refer- real estate, Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) in periods of high inflaenced them in the books he has written. tion, and some alternatives. Swensen bePrimary principles lieves that this key is one of the significant Here are some of Keynes’ keys to reasons for his success.

• Take advantage of the value quotient: Keynes concentrated on a companies’ intrinsic value in the 1930s when markets were falling. He concentrated on factors such as worth if a company was broken up, earnings potential, rising dividends and low price/earnings ratio. A well-diversified portfolio should have a significant percentage of value stocks/funds/ETFs. • Dividends don’t lie. Keynes purchase a great deal of utility companies in the 1930s because of consistent dividends, and they performed well. Utilities continue to pay consistent dividends, and the stock prices are still reasonably priced. For several years, I have maintained a significant holding in utility funds, and the performance has been very good. • Don’t move with the crowd: Being a contrarian pays off. A significant percent of investors increase their purchase of stocks at market peaks, and sell at market bottoms. Many investors bailed out of stocks in 2008 at market bottoms and either never returned or returned at much higher stock values. Investors who utilize dollar-cost averaging consistently will do better than investors who try to time the market. • Invest for the long term: It is essential to have a long-term investment policy. Don’t invest based on what you perceive as

the current environment. Rebalance once a year. This will ensure you do not have too much invested in one asset class. In this way you will be taking some profits and investing in an asset class that may be currently undervalued. Use leverage sparingly if at all. If you have a good long-term investment policy, you don’t need leverage. Markets are too volatile. • Invest passively: Put most of your money in inexpensive index funds. You don’t need many of them to have a diversified portfolio. Remember, the index fund is the market. Purchasing index funds or index ETFs are the most cost-effective way to build a diversified portfolio. • Drink more champagne: Apparently this is said to be Keynes’s one regret — that he had not enjoyed life more. His point is that the objective of investing is to ensure prosperity, not become obsessed with making money. My investment philosophy is consistent with these keys. I believe that if you follow them, you will do better than the vast majority of investors. Elliot Raphaelson welcomes your questions and comments at elliotraph@gmail.com © 2014 Elliot Raphaelson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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M AY 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

How higher interest rates will affect you By Nellie S. Huang Rising rates have been the talk of Wall Street — and Main Street — for months. The yield on 10-year Treasuries has climbed more than one-half percentage point over the past 12 months, to 2.7 percent. But not all rates are rising. What you earn on your savings accounts and money market funds hasn’t budged, and don’t hold your breath expecting that to change.

Short- and long-term views Short-term rates are “anchored” by the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy, said Warren Pierson, a fixed-income strategist at Robert W. Baird, an asset-management firm in Milwaukee. The Fed controls the federal funds rate — the rate that certain banks charge each other for overnight loans — which in turn guides other short-term rates.

That rate has been set at nearly zero since late 2008, and the Fed has said it will stick with its strategy “for a considerable time,” perhaps even beyond the point that unemployment falls below 6.5 percent, a trigger point it has previously suggested. Unemployment isn’t expected to reach that level until some time next year. Longer-term rates, however, are driven by the market. Until recently, the Fed’s purchases of Treasuries and mortgage bonds have successfully held down longterm rates. As the economy improves and those purchases continue to shrink, longterm rates will rise.

Investing and borrowing advice Here’s how the changing landscape will affect savers and borrowers. Investors. Rising rates can do damage to your bond assets because when rates

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rise, bond prices fall. So with short-term rates stuck and long-term rates on the rise, the best place to invest is intermediateterm corporate and government bond funds with maturities of six to seven years, said Jeff Moore, a fixed-income fund manager at Fidelity. If the threat of rising rates still keeps you up at night, stick with short-term investment-grade bond funds, such as Vanguard Short-Term Investment-Grade (symbol VFSTX). Savers. Interest rates on money market accounts, savings accounts and shorterterm certificates of deposit will not climb much this year, if at all, said Greg McBride, of Bankrate.com. Boost yields without locking in low rates by laddering CDs with maturities of one to five years, with average yields ranging from 0.22 percent to 0.79 percent. Credit unions often

do better: The rate on a five-year CD from PenFed with a $1,000 minimum deposit is 2.0 percent. Borrowers. Mortgage rates will grind higher in 2014, said McBride. Kiplinger expects the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, recently averaging just over 4.4 percent, to rise to 5 or 5.5 percent by year-end. Consider locking in your rate once you have set your closing date. For credit cards and home-equity loans, 2014 could be the last hurrah for low rates, said McBride. Pay down your variable-rate debt before rates rise. Nellie S. Huang is a senior associate editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. Send your questions and comments to moneypower@kiplinger.com. And for more on this and similar money topics, visit Kiplinger.com. © 2014 Kiplinger’s Personal Finance; Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Muni bonds

more questions now from investors about Puerto Rico. The territory has a smaller population than Oklahoma, but it has an outsized role in the muni-bond market. Income from its bonds is tax-free for residents in other states, which made them particularly attractive to investors in New York and other high-tax states. Such demand allowed Puerto Rico to issue a lot of debt: It has almost $50 billion in municipal debt outstanding, according to T. Rowe Price. Fiscal problems in Puerto Rico, though, pushed credit-rating agencies to cut its rating to junk status this year. But muni-bond fund managers say the larger market is nevertheless improving. The default rate for municipal bonds remains below 1 percent. Local governments have gotten a better handle on their pension prob-

From page 31 Given that, and other factors, J.P. Morgan’s Taormina said investors shouldn’t be surprised to see the recent jump in gains for muni-bond funds plateau, possibly with a break-even return for the rest of the year. Muni bonds are compelling relative to other investments, he said. “But I think there will be plenty of dips through the year” during which losses for muni bonds will offer buying opportunities for investors.

Concerns about returns Besides rising interest rates, here are some of the other concerns that could limit muni-bond returns: Credit concerns. Detroit’s bankruptcy last year got a lot of attention, but managers of muni-bond funds say they’re hearing

See MUNI BONDS, page 33

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Say you saw it in the Beacon | Law & Money

WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — M AY 2 0 1 4

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Don’t let company stock buybacks fool you By Bernard Condon If you’re puzzled why the U.S. stock market has risen so fast in a slow-growing economy, consider one of its star performers: DirecTV. The satellite TV provider has done a great job slashing expenses and expanding abroad, and that has helped lift its earnings per share (EPS) dramatically in five years. But don’t be fooled. The main reason for the EPS gain has nothing to do with how well it runs its business. It’s because it has engaged in a massive stock buyback program — halving the number of its shares in circulation by purchasing them from investors. Spreading earnings over fewer shares translates into higher EPS — a lot higher in DirecTV’s case. Instead of an 88 percent rise to $2.58, EPS nearly quadrupled to $5.22.

Distorted financial pictures Companies have been spending big on buybacks since the 1990s. What’s new is the way buybacks have exaggerated the health of many companies, suggesting

Muni bonds From page 32 lems, and tax revenues have strengthened. What about the tax exemption? Congress is debating whether to strip away, or at least reduce, one of the big advantages of muni bonds: their tax-exempt income. If the proposals turn into law, it could drive down demand for municipal bonds. Local government officials are lobbying against the proposals, saying they would make borrowing more expensive to pay for roads and other infrastructure projects.

through EPS that they are much better at generating profits than they actually are. The distortion is ironic. Critics say the obsessive focus on buybacks has led companies to put off replacing plant and equipment, funding research and development, and generally doing the kind of spending needed to produce rising EPS for the long run. “It’s boosted the stock market and flattered earnings, but it’s very short term,” said David Rosenberg, former chief economist at Merrill Lynch, now at money manager Gluskin Sheff. He calls buybacks a “sugar high.” Over the past five years, 216 companies in the S&P 500 are just like DirecTV: They are getting more of a boost in EPS from slashing share count than from running their underlying business, according to a study by consultancy Fortuna Advisors at the request of the Associated Press. The list of companies cuts across industries, and includes retailer Gap, supermarket chain Kohl’s, railroad operator Norfolk Southern, and drug distributor AmerisourceBergen. The stocks of those four have more than tripled, on average, in the past five years.

Companies insist that their buybacks must be judged case by case. “The vast majority of our shareholders are sophisticated investors who not only use EPS growth but other important measures to determine the success of our company,” said Darris Gringeri, a spokesman for DirecTV. But Fortuna CEO Gregory Milano said buybacks are a waste of money for most companies. “It’s game playing — a legitimate, legal form of manufacturing earnings growth,” said Milano, author of several studies on the impact of buybacks. “A lot of people (focus on) earnings per share growth, but they don’t adequately distinguish the qual-

But fund managers say they’ve seen similar threats many times before, which ended up fizzling, and they don’t see this attempt as any more dire. “The income tax is 100 years old, it goes back to 1913, and ever since then there have been people in Washington looking to take it away,” said Gene Gard, a co-portfolio manager of Dupree Mutual Funds, which invests about $1.3 billion in municipal bonds. “It could happen someday, but we’re not going to take steps to worry about it until something concrete happens.” — AP

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ity of the earnings.” So powerful is the impact, it has turned what would have been basically flat or falling EPS into a gain at some companies over five years. That list includes Lockheed Martin, the military contractor, Cintas, the country’s largest supplier of work uniforms, WellPoint, an insurer, and Dun and Bradstreet, a credit-rating firm. It’s not clear investors are worried, or even aware, how much buybacks are exaggerating the underlying strength of companies. This spring they pushed the Standard and Poor’s 500 stock index to a record close, up 178 percent from a 12See BUYBACKS, page 34


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Buybacks From page 33 year low in 2009. “How much credit should a company get earning from share buybacks rather than organic growth?” asks Brian Rauscher, chief portfolio strategist at Robert W. Baird & Co, an investment company. “I think the quality of earnings has been much lower than what the headlines suggest.”

More buybacks on the way And it could get worse. Companies in the S&P 500 have earmarked $1 trillion for buybacks over the

next several years. That’s on top of $1.7 trillion they spent on them in the previous five years. The figure is staggering. It is enough money to cut a check worth $5,345 for every man, woman and child in the country. There is nothing necessarily nefarious or wrong about buybacks per se. It doesn’t seem that managements are trying to cover up a poor job of running their businesses. Even without factoring in a drop in share counts, earnings in the S&P 500 would have risen 80 percent since 2009. The problem is that many investors are pouring money willy-nilly into companies doing buybacks as if they are always a good thing, and at every company.

M AY 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

A fund that tracks companies cutting shares the most, the PowerShares Buyback Achievers Portfolio, attracted $2.2 billion in new investments in the last 12 months. That is nine times what had been invested at the start of that period, according to Lipper, which provides data on funds. For their part, the companies note there are all sorts of reasons to like them besides EPS. WellPoint points out that it has increased its cash dividend three times since 2011, a big draw for people looking for income. Cintas said that it’s timed its buybacks well, buying at a deep discount to stock price today. And DirecTV said investors judge it also by revenue and cash flow, both of which are up strongly. What’s more, companies seem to genuinely believe their shares are a bargain and that they’d be remiss for not buying, though their record of choosing the right time is poor. The last time buybacks were running so high was 2007, right before stocks fell by more than half. There are signs the next $1 trillion in buybacks for S&P 500 companies could also prove ill-timed. Stocks aren’t looking so cheap anymore. After a surge of nearly 30 percent last year, the S&P 500 is trading at 25 times its 10-year average earnings, as calculated by Nobel Prize winning economist Robert Shiller of Yale. That is much more expensive than the long-term average of 16.5.

Smoke and mirrors? Many investors assume shrinking shares automatically make remaining shares more valuable. The math is seductive. A company that has $100 in earnings and 100 shares

will report $1 in earnings per share. But eliminate half the shares and the same $100 is spread over 50 shares, and EPS doubles to $2. But that doesn’t make the shares more valuable. Shares aren’t just a claim on short-term earnings. They are an ownership stake in an entire company, including R&D programs and its capital stock — the plants, equipment and other assets needed to boost productivity long into the future. Critics say the lavish spending on buybacks has “crowded out” spending on such things, which is at its weakest in decades. “It’s just like your car depreciating or your home depreciating — you have to invest,” said Gluskin Sheff’s Rosenberg. “The corporate sector has been barely preventing the capital stock from becoming obsolete.” One result: U.S. productivity, or output per hour, increased just 0.5 percent last year, a pitiful performance. It has grown by an average 2 percent a year since 1947. If not reversed, history suggests stocks will suffer. In a 2010 study, Fortuna’s Milano found that stocks of companies that spent the most on buybacks vastly underperformed stocks of those that spent the least on them — at least over five years. It’s unclear whether the kind of investor who dominates stock trading now cares about the long-term, though. Buybacks are one of the few sure-fire ways to push a stock higher in the short term, and investors these days are very short term. They “don’t care what happens in three or five years,” lamented Rauscher, the Baird strategist. “The market has become less of an investor culture, more of a trading one.” — AP

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May 8+

AGING-IN-PLACE WORKSHOPS AARP presents free workshop on aging in place for residents of

Alexandria, Va. on Thursday, May 8 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and for residents of McLean. Va. on Monday, May 19 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. There will also be a panel of experts to share practical tips to minimize the financial costs of home modifications and to avoid frauds and scams. The Alexandria workshop takes place at the Hollin Hall Senior Center, 1500 Shenandoah Rd., Alexandria, Va. To register, visit http://states.aarp.org/may-8. The McLean event takes place at the McLean Community Center, 1234 Ingleside Ave., McLean, Va. To register, visit http://bit.ly/AginginPlaceMcLean. Registration is also available for both locations by calling 1-877-926-8300.

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Say you saw it in the Beacon | Law & Money

WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — M AY 2 0 1 4

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Why you might give gold funds another go By Stan Choe Gold is back on the rise after dropping like lead last year. Although it has recovered just a portion of its steep loss from 2013, the shift in momentum has been enough to halt the stampede of investors from gold-related funds. The price of gold has jumped 14 percent this year, towering over the nearly flat performance of the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. The stocks of gold-mining companies have been even better. The FTSE Gold Mines index of miners around the world has jumped 25 percent. It’s a welcome change for anyone who stuck with the precious metal throughout 2013, when its price sank 28 percent. It was the first down year for gold in more than a decade and its biggest loss since Muhammad Ali last boxed in 1981. To be sure, many analysts don’t expect gold’s mini-rebound to last. Barclays Capital, for example, projects gold will average $1,260 an ounce in the last three months of this year. At the end of April, an ounce was valued at $1,284. Many of the conditions that led to last year’s decline are still in place: Inflation remains low, the Federal Reserve is slowing its bond-buying stimulus program, and the economy is making some progress, even if it’s less than hoped. Investors are nevertheless giving goldrelated funds another chance, albeit tentatively. The SPDR Gold Shares exchangetraded fund (GLD), one of the most popular ways to buy gold, now holds 26.1 million ounces for investors. That’s up from 25.7 million ounces at the end of 2013. Although that may not sound like a big change, it’s a sharp turnaround from last

year. Over the course of 2013, the fund’s gold assets fell by 41 percent from 43.4 million ounces.

Choose mines, not metal Some managers of gold-related funds say shares of miners look to be a better choice than the metal itself. Mining stocks often swing more sharply than the price of gold — climbing faster in a rising market and falling more sharply during downturns — and miners were hit particularly hard last year. That leaves them more attractive than gold, managers say. The First Eagle Gold fund (SGGDX), rated five-stars by Morningstar, can buy either gold or the companies that pull it from the ground. The fund makes its choice based on whichever looks cheaper, and it has a big preference for miners: It has nearly 80 percent of its assets invested in gold mining stocks versus 18 percent in gold bullion. “If you’re willing to buy gold in a vault, you should be willing to own it in the dirt,” said Matt McLennan, portfolio manager of the fund. “It’s been ugly, but there has been an opportunity to invest in the miners.” Another benefit is that gold-mining stocks often pay dividends, said Michael Bradshaw, senior portfolio manager at the Wells Fargo Advantage Precious Metals fund (EKWAK). Each of the fund’s five biggest stock investments pays a dividend. The FTSE Gold Mines index had a 1.7 percent dividend yield at the end of February, while gold yields nothing. Investors are buying in, and mutual funds that own gold-mining stocks have attracted $358 million in net investment through February of this year, according to Morn-

ingstar. It’s a sharp turnaround from 2013, when investors pulled an average of $355 million from the group every two months. Many of the companies in gold-related stock funds are based outside the U.S., in countries such as Australia and South Africa. That raises concerns because changes in currency values can wipe out gains made by their stocks. But currencies from gold-producing countries often move in concert with gold’s price, limiting the risk, managers say. A bigger concern is the politics of mining abroad. Companies can run into troubles with labor groups or local governments.

Price fluctuations Another risk could be gold’s price falling like it did in 2013. Gold’s descent accelerated last spring amid speculation that the Federal Reserve would pare back its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases. A wind down of the stimulus program

means less demand from investors who had been worried that the Fed’s efforts would lead to higher inflation. Gold has traditionally been seen as an investment whose price will rise with inflation. The Fed has since begun to trim its monthly bond purchases, and inflation was relatively low at 1.6 percent in January. This year’s climb for gold has been due to the return of a familiar reason: fear. Investors often buy gold when they’re worried, and several weaker-than-expected reports on the economy heightened concerns. Tensions in Ukraine also drove increased interest in gold. First Eagle’s McLennan said that’s why investors should keep a portion of their portfolios in gold — say 5 to 10 percent. It provides insurance because it has tended to perform well when fear is high. “Ultimately,” he said, “gold’s value is the inverse of confidence.” — AP

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M AY 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

Mediators facilitate tough conversations By Sig Cohen In his 2008 film Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood portrays a Korean War vet who goes ballistic when his son suggests that he move into a continuing care community. When his son vows never to help him again, the distance between them increases by light years. How many tough conversations end up

this way? A disgruntled adult child or angry sibling or fiercely independent older adult cuts off communication because of disputes about money, care, driving or life planning. Ruptures like these can last years. The good news is that they are avoidable. Here are some common situations and ways to handle them:

Harping on an inheritance

Losing trust

When Carol and Steve’s uncle bequeathed them a rare and valuable harp, their thoughts careened in opposite directions. Steve pondered its re-sale value. Carol pictured how it would grace her home. Old rivalries re-surfaced, and a tug of war ensued. They hired lawyers and filed court papers. Sadly, they spent the financial equivalent of the harp litigating. Discussing their uncle’s legacy before his death might have avoided the financial and emotional expense of a lawsuit. In mediation, they may have agreed that Carol allow conservatory students to use the instrument in her home, splitting their fee with Steve. After a set time, they’d donate the harp to the conservatory, with both sharing the tax deduction.

Mark’s commitment to his 91-year old mother sometimes got the best of him. When she became chummy with Desmond, her new “sports trainer,” Mark’s dedication morphed into alarm. Fearful she might replace him with Desmond as her heir, Mark invoked his authority as her trustee to prohibit her from naming Desmond as beneficiary. Mom threatened to sue, cut off Mark, and revoke his trusteeship. In mediation, Mark might have agreed to get to know Desmond better. Mom might have kept Mark as trustee and agreed to delay bequeathing a gift to Desmond unless their relationship endured beyond five years. Or she could See MEDIATORS, page 38

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, together with the Fairfax Area Commission on Aging, has been working with the community to create the 2014 Fairfax 50+ Plan since early last year. During the summer of 2013, more than 750 residents participated in community forums, and many more emailed comments. Comments on such issues as transportation, housing and community engagement can be emailed until May 15 to DFSCommunity@fairfaxcounty.gov. For more information, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dfs/olderadultservices/fairfax50plus.htm.

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Say you saw it in the Beacon | Law & Money

WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — M AY 2 0 1 4

37

Ways to tackle clutter of financial records By Alex Veiga Tax season offered an opportunity to finally dig through that shoe box or file cabinet where you’ve amassed a trove of old receipts, bank statements, pay stubs and other personal financial information. Before it’s out of sight and out of mind again, here are some tips on how to thin out that clutter of financial records you may have accumulated over the years: 1. The 3-year rule A key reason to hold on to your past tax returns and supporting documentation is so you can address any issues should the Internal Revenue Service question any entries on a previous tax return. In most cases, the IRS only has three years after the return was filed to conduct an audit. That means one generally needs to keep past tax returns for at least three years, said Jackie Perlman, principle tax research analyst at the H&R Block Tax Institute. “That does not mean when three years are up you should take your return and throw it in the trash,” she said. “If you have some concern about being vulnerable to an audit, or you think the IRS might look at your return later, you might want to keep that longer.” In the event the IRS suspects you’ve under-reported your income by 25 percent or more, the agency can audit your returns going back six years. And if the agency believes you committed fraud, it can go audit your returns as far back as it wants. If you’ve filed your tax return electronically, you can retrieve a copy on the IRS website. But it’s best to consider that only a backup copy. 2. Consider future tax implications Some records, like weekly pay stubs, can be discarded after you’ve received

your year-end pay statement. Even if you need to go back to a specific pay period, that stub can likely be recovered from your employer. Still, you should hold on to records that may be a factor in future tax returns. “Very often your tax return is your very best record of a lot of things you’ve done or haven’t done,” Perlman said. “You could want that information months or years later.” One example pertains to individual retirement accounts, or IRAs. If you make a non-deductible contribution to an IRA this year, for example, you might want to keep a record of that for years to come, when you begin to take distributions from the retirement account. At that point, such documentation could be necessary to establish that part of that future payout should be tax-free, Perlman

noted. 3. Keep property records Financial records that apply to assets that could grow in value, such as a home, should be retained until you sell the asset. In addition, keep any records of major

upgrades or additions, which can help establish the value of the property. 4. Know rules for employers Own your own business or have employSee CLUTTER, page 38

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Mediators

Swooping in from afar

From page 36 have limited the size of her bequest to Desmond.

Driven by concern Eighty-seven year old Ben considered himself an expert driver. But pride turned to doubt after getting lost just blocks from his home. Ben wanted to continue driving, if only on errands in his neighborhood. After a neighbor complained about his erratic driving, Ben’s children conspired to stop him. Should they confiscate his keys? Disable his car? Persuade Ben’s doctor to declare him unsafe? Whatever they decided, it would cost Ben his self-respect and dignity. With mediation (instead of humiliation), they might agree that Ben select an independent agency to test his driving. Or, together they might choose a neutral third party to decide what, if any, conditions should be set.

Mom lives near Daughter but hundreds of miles from Son. Daughter has hired aides for daily care, identified a nursing home should Mom need more intensive care, and enlisted a geriatric physician. Son “swoops in” to visit, and criticisms sprout like weeds. “Won’t her medications have serious side effects?” “It’s not safe for Mom to walk without a walker!” Son means well, but shows little appreciation for his sister’s commitment. His doubts escalate to accusations. Daughter gets defensive, and shouting matches ensue. A mediated agreement might call for Daughter to periodically report on Mom’s condition, or to Skype once a week so Son feels confident Mom is receiving the best possible care.

Some sound lessons From the harp story, we learn that older

M AY 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

adults and their children should discuss a potential legacy before death, instead of allowing a conflict to emerge after. The trustee story teaches that adult children should recognize an elder’s need for companionship — even a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend.” The relationship may be genuine or exploitative. Time is needed to make that judgment. Ben’s children would learn their dad fears losing his autonomy, be it driving, living independently or deciding whom to visit — especially after his spouse died. Ending Ben’s driving without planning for transportation alternatives would further isolate him. More families are using elder mediation to solve problems and restore unity. Often several parties and numerous issues are involved. Instead of a plaintiff and defendant, parents and their adult children (or siblings if a parent has died or lacks capacity) voluntarily participate in a collaborative, confi-

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dential process. The mediator encourages the parties to listen, to understand, and to speak without blaming. This can take time, because of possible role-reversal issues or bad history among siblings. Once parties have heard and been heard, they identify the issues at stake. After reaching a solution, they create a process to carry out their agreement. Agreements should be specific to avoid future misunderstanding or misinterpretation. The benefits of successful elder mediation are immense. The parties not only settle their disagreement, they acquire the skills to address future differences. And they’ve moved from a win-lose mentality to one that embraces listening, candor, patience and cooperation. Sig Cohen is a Washington, D.C., family and elder mediator. Contact him at www.toughconversations.net or (202) 5445675.

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ees? The IRS requires that you keep employment tax records at least four years after any taxes for a given year become due or are paid, whichever is later. For more details, see IRS Publication 15: www.irs.gov/publications/p15/index.html. 5. Consider going digital These days, banks, credit card issuers and most other businesses issue electronic statements, which you can retrieve at will online or retain as copies on your computer. For paper records, make digital copies and store them on your computer. “The original is the best evidence, but scanned copies will suffice for most purposes,” said Ted England, a tax attorney in Ventura, Calif. It’s critical that copies be legible. Should a dispute arise with the IRS over a deduction on a certain expense, the agency will be looking to determine that the receipt — whether digital or not — is credible and not tampered with or incomplete. Another consideration is where to store digitized documents. Computer hard drives can get damaged by viruses. Flash drives can become corrupted. CDs can malfunction. One option is to back up data online. Cloud-storage services such as Dropbox and those offered by Google and Microsoft, among others, provide online storage for free, as well as gigabytes of extra space for paid subscribers. But data stored in cloud services like these can potentially be susceptible to identity theft. Some cloud-storage services offer encryption features to ease such concerns. Among them: Spideroak, Tresorit and Wuala. For more guidance on how long to keep financial records, check out IRS Publication 17: http://bit.ly/irsrecords. — AP


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Travel Leisure &

A riverboat trip through the heart of the Amazon. See story on page 43.

From a bomb site to a beach destination

Uncrowded world-class beaches For many people, the greatest appeal is

what Vieques does not have. That includes streets lined by souvenir shops, a movie theater or even a traffic light. Instead of the likes of McDonald’s and Burger King, fast food means tortillas, empanadas, and grilled chicken and shrimp on skewers available from vendors like Sol Food. That rather ramshackle truck is permanently parked at the front gate of Camp Garcia, a former Navy compound. What the beaches lack are the crowds encountered on many better known Caribbean islands. That prompts the local tourist board to boast that “crowded” on Vieques can mean more than one group of people every 50 yards. It’s often possible to find a sandy seaside refuge to call your own for the day. (Another lack, which may partly explain the first, is that only one beach has restroom facilities.) The beaches range from broad, gently curving seashores overlooking sweeping bays, to tiny slivers of sand hidden at the end of narrow dirt roads punctuated by some of the most forbidding potholes I’ve encountered anywhere. The island has been ranked by TripAdvisor among the top 25 destinations in the world for outstanding beaches, and it doesn’t take long to understand why. Each beach has unique attractions, and together they offer something-for-everyone variety. Silver Beach (Playa Plata) is tucked away at the end of a motion-sickness-inducing road, which discourages many peo-

PHOTO COURTESY OF VICTOR BLOCK

By Victor Block A jet plane bearing the identifying emblem of the U.S. Navy streaked low over a broad stretch of beach, dropped a bomb onto the island below and banked sharply to return to its base. The U.S. Navy was attacking a tiny corner of its own country — sort of. Today, a smattering of beach towels and colorful umbrellas dot the sand not far from where that bomb fell, and the only sounds are the surf and chatter of people enjoying a relaxing day in the sun. Welcome to Vieques island, just off the coast of Puerto Rico. If the name sounds familiar, that’s probably because you have read or heard about use of the destination by our country’s Navy as a place to conduct training exercises, including ship-toshore artillery fire and bombing runs. Beginning in 1941, large tracts of land at both ends of the 21-mile-long island were acquired for use by the U.S. military. One area was set aside as a storage depot, while the other was the site of a live impact zone. Since the Navy departed in 2003, after a series of protests over its use of the island, a trickle of vacationers has been making its way to Vieques to discover and enjoy its attractions. The beaches, some still called by the color-based code names given by the military, are a major draw.

Boats line a harbor on Vieques Island in Puerto Rico. The U.S. Navy used the island’s beaches for artillery fire and bombing exercises from 1941 until 2003. Today, wild horses and calm tourists roam the beaches.

PHOTO COURTESY OF VICTOR BLOCK

A food truck provides Vieques’ version of fast food: tortillas, empanadas, and grilled chicken and shrimp on skewers.

ple from seeking it out. Those who do, however, find inviting shade in which to spread out a towel, and good offshore snorkeling. Navio Beach (Playa Navio) is framed by palm and sea grape trees, and nestled among rock cliffs interspersed by waves perfect for diving into or riding. The beach at Sun Bay is the only one on the island with restrooms and a small restaurant. It is also the only one that charges a fee to enter — but just $2 a car. It’s more than a mile wide, and, because it is the favorite among the Viequenses (as the locals are called), it can be somewhat crowded on weekends by local standards. Sun Bay has won the coveted Blue Flag designation, which is awarded to beaches around the world that meet strict criteria for water quality, environmental management and other standards.

Aquatic light show While the inviting, uncrowded beaches tempt sun-worshippers, swimmers and snorkelers, a more unusual and intriguing attraction appeals to those in search of a more dramatic experience. Picture this: You’re gliding over a shallow bay at night, with the sky lighted by a blanket of stars. Each time a canoe or kayak paddle dips into the water, an explosion of blue-green sparkles dances across the surface as if vying for attention with

the light show overhead. This is the extravaganza of nature found at the unfortunately, but accurately, named Mosquito Bay. The show is put on by microscopic single-celled organisms (dinoflagellates), for which the bay environment provides a perfect home. When agitated, they emit a bright burst of light as a defense mechanism that makes them seem larger to would-be predators. When conditions are at their best, the result resembles a mini-fireworks display in the sea. Even on nights that are less than perfect, you’re likely to have at least a hint of why this body of water has been declared by Guinness World Records to be the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. Back on land, other forms of life show up, at times in unexpected places. That can present a challenge to anyone driving on the narrow streets, when a chicken or rooster suddenly decides to seek an answer to the eternal proverbial question by darting to the other side of the road, or an iguana finds a perfect spot to enjoy the sun at the edge of the pavement.

Wild horses, Spanish history Much more frequent are encounters with horses that roam free on the island, grazing wherever they please, and pleasSee VIEQUES, page 41


Say you saw it in the Beacon | Leisure & Travel

WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — M AY 2 0 1 4

Vieques From page 40 ing visitors with frequent sightings. They are genuine celebrities of Vieques island, and their ancestry is said to be traceable back to 16th century Spanish Conquistadores. Few places are off limits to them. I spotted a pony eyeing the swimming pool at the posh W Retreat & Spa, as if it were considering taking a cooling dip. Small groups of the animals often graze on the W’s perfectly manicured lawns, at times giving proof to signs posted for guests that warn, “Caution – Wild Horses Poop.” When the Conquistadors claimed Vieques after Columbus landed in Puerto Rico in 1493, they found it inhabited by the Taino people, one of the Arawak Indian tribes. A subsequent rebellion by the Taino resulted in most of them being killed, imprisoned or enslaved. Traces of the Taino culture remain in some place names, food and the use of medicinal plants. While not a treasure trove of historic sites, visitors to Vieques may discover several places that depict chapters of its past. Among artifacts recovered at the Puerto Ferro (iron fort) archeological site is a human skeleton buried with shells dated back to about 1900 B.C. A good place for a short course in island history is the El Fortin Conde de Mirasol (Count of Mirasol Fort), built 1845-1855 on a steep hill overlooking the town of Isabel II. It houses the Vieques Museum of Anthropology, History and Art. Exhibits

range from archeological items to crossbows, swords and other early instruments of warfare. Isabel II (Isabel Segunda) is the larger of the two main towns on Vieques and is its administrative center, with a cluster of government offices. It was named for Queen Isabel II, who ruled Spain from 1843 to 1868. Esperanza, the only other town of any note, is little more than a gathering of casual restaurants, bars and modest guest houses that line the Malecon — a paved esplanade squeezed between the main (and virtually only) street and the harbor. The town has a distinct dual personality. During the day, there’s so little activity a person could almost take a nap on the street through town. But that changes dramatically in the evening, especially on weekends. That’s when strings of colored lights brighten the setting, music blares from several establishments, and people crowd the streets and sidewalks chatting, laughing and sipping from paper cups. The relative hustle and bustle in Isabel II and Esperanza contrasts sharply with the tranquil, laid-back atmosphere that pervades most of Vieques. Men who gather to sip rum and exchange banter each day at the tiny bar in the El Encanto convenience store ignore the horses that sometimes graze near their cars parked outside. For the visitor to Vieques, these are among attractions that give the island diversity and appeal well beyond its small size.

See puzzles on p. 54. More at our website.

If you go The least expensive flight to San Juan, P.R. is $328 roundtrip on American Airlines from all three area airports. After flying to San Juan, the quickest way to reach Vieques is the 25-minute flight on Cape Air ($218 round-trip) or Vieques Air Line ($242 round-trip). The passenger ferry is much less expensive (round trip $4, patrons 60 to 74 $2, 75 and older free). But it can take close to two hours from San Juan to reach the departure dock in traffic, the crossing itself takes 60 to 90 minutes, depending on the weather, and it can be rough. In keeping with the island’s noncommercial persona, most accommodations on Vieques are in tiny inns, guest houses and rental properties. The major exception is the super-luxurious W Retreat & Spa, part

41

of an upscale chain that boasts it caters to “jetsetters and local tastemakers.” The property’s 156 spacious rooms are scatted throughout a sprawling compound that offers the amenities one would expect in such an elegant setting. The resort’s two cozy beaches are as pleasant as most others on the island. Not surprisingly, all of this panache does not come inexpensively. Rates for a double room begin at $379. For more information, call (877) 946-8357 or log onto www.whotels.com. Typical of less grand, less costly housing that abounds on the island is the Ababor Suites, a four-unit guest house perched on a small beach just outside Isabel II. Its rooms are modestly furnished but clean, and inSee VIEQUES, page 42

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Vieques From page 41 clude a fully equipped kitchen. Rates are $130 (up to four guests) and $150 (up to six people), and genial hostess Wanda Bermudez is a font of knowledge about the island. For more information, call (787) 435-2841 or log onto www.ababorsuites.com. While the Sorcé restaurant at the W is outstanding, with food and service in keeping with the luxurious setting, my wife Fyllis and I preferred to rub shoulders with locals at dinner time. Bili is typical of restaurants in Esperanza, a casual open-air spot that serves good food in ample portions. Popular dishes with regulars include turnovers filled with pork and cheese ($8) and chicken breast

over a cassava pancake ($8). For more information, call (787) 741-1382 or log onto bilirestaurant.com. Overlooking the water in Isabel II, Al’s Mar Azul achieves its goal of capturing the fun and funky atmosphere of the island. Those who aren’t put off by the ambience, or rather lack of it, will feel welcomed by the friendly staff and other diners. The light fare includes a grilled chicken wrap ($6.50) and individual pizza ($5). For those who like their food spicy, the menu lists a dozen hot sauces rated by intensity, with names like the Ultimate Dragon and Passionate Frog. For more information, call (787) 741-3400. For information about visiting Vieques, call 1-800-866-7827 or log onto www.seepuertorico.com/en/destinations/culebraand-vieques.

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M AY 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

New novel set in Vieques The Navy’s decades-long bombing and ship-to-shore shelling of the offshore Puerto Rico island of Vieques has given impetus to The Surrounding Sea, a recently published novel by Robert Friedman, who writes for the Beacon’s Howard County edition. The novel explores, among other things, the sensitive relationship between the U.S. and Puerto Rico that allowed the Navy to carry out its live-ammunition exercises for several decades on the small island, home to some 9,000 U.S. citizens. The maneuvers, long opposed by local residents, took a tragic turn in 1999 when a security guard was killed by an errant bomb from a Navy jet. The death of the Vieques resident triggered wide-ranging protests that led to the Navy ending its war games on the small Caribbean island in 2001. The Surrounding Sea, set in the year 2000, when the protests were in full swing, involves a young New York-raised Puerto Rican who returns to the island of his birth as a student at the University of Puerto Rico. Stevie Perez and his girlfriend, Laura Rosario, are taking part in a student demonstration against the Navy maneuvers when police are called onto

the campus. A riot ensues, and Laura is killed by a stray bullet. A grieving Stevie vows to keep Laura’s memory alive by creating a scholarship in her name. Unable to raise the money in the community, he becomes a “mule” for a local gang, transporting illegal drugs between the island and the states. He is soon set up in a drug theft and is forced to flee as he is pursued from New York to the mountain towns of Puerto Rico to San Juan. Along the way, Stevie learns hard truths about life, love and loss. Friedman lived in Puerto Rico for more than 20 years, working for the San Juan Star, an English-language newspaper. With his novel, he said, he has tried to explore how the political and the personal interconnect, how one injustice triggers others, how wrong turns could be taken for seemingly right reasons. His goal, he said, was to create a gripping, suspenseful novel on a human scale, “the only measure that really matters in a work of fiction.” The Surrounding Sea, published by Floricanto Press of California, is available in paperback and e-book editions at Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com.

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Exploring the Amazon’s many wonders By Fyllis Hockman I am a hiker. But at home in Maryland, no one uses a machete to blaze the trail prior to walking on it as did Souza, our Amazon guide. He created a path for us in the overgrown rainforest step by step. Slicing, swatting, swooping and chopping, no branch, bush, vine or twig was safe. The hike was one of four daily activities during our eight-day adventure exploring the Amazon rainforest. We traveled more than 200 miles along the River Negro in Brazil, calling the 16-passenger riverboat Tucano our home. For our daily excursions, we clambered aboard a small power launch that took us hiking, bird-watching and village hopping, as well as on night-time outings that dramatized the allure of the river not experienced in any other way. Souza demanded quiet during our launch rides, using all of his senses to read the forest. He would listen for the breaking of a branch or a flutter through the trees, sniff for animal odors, scan leaves above and below for motion, or the water for ripples, and then alert us at every junction of what he had discovered. On our

own, we would have heard, felt and discerned nothing.

A birder’s paradise Souza’s most amazing talent was his ability to identify (and communicate with!) the multitudes of birds traversing the river and forest. He could replicate many of their calls precisely, imitating more birds than the most gifted comedian can impersonate celebrities. Like a modern-day Doolittle, he carried on such a long, intimate “conversation” with a blackish gray antshrike that I think they became engaged by the time he was through. Then Souza, fickle male that he is, romanced a colorful blue-beaked trogon perched on a dead branch high in a tree. As one of my travel companions observed, “If you don’t like birds, you might as well take the next flight home.” Our forest walks with Machete Man also were a time for observation, not conversation. On a stop to view teca ants swarming over the bark, Souza wiped his hand across it, proceeding to rub the ants over his forearms. Instant mosquito repellant –- a handy tool in the Amazon.

At one point, I looked down and saw a long brown twig draped across a log. Souza saw a snake. I looked again and still saw a twig, albeit one that now had an eye. I stepped more gingerly. And then there were the leaf cutter ants! A long assembly line of tiny leaves paraded up a hill, as synchronized as a marching band. A closer look revealed leaf cutter ants to be the burly carriers. Hard to believe something so fragile can carry so large and unwieldy a load as much as half a mile to its colony.

Surprised at how much he learned about himself on the trip, a fellow traveler, Ritesh Beriwal, (a 23-year-old burned-out Wall Street trainee) said, “I didn’t realize how interested I’d be in the little things, like how insects such as the leaf-carrying ants build homes. Before it was just an ant; now it’s an ant with an entire life and work history.” Each day brought new revelations and See AMAZON, page 45

The 16-passenger riverboat Tucano travels on the River Negro in Brazil’s Amazon. Visitors disembark with experienced local guides to explore the profusion of animal and plant life in the jungle along the banks.

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M AY 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

Air travel is still safe and getting safer “How safe is air travel?” The relentless media obsession with the mystery of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 again focuses attention on the broad question of airline

safety. And despite the apparent tragic fate of the flight 370 passengers, safety data by the International Air Transport Associa-

tion (IATA) shows that air travel, overall, is line accident is a one-off event. incredibly safe. Typically, the investigating authorities Among the highlights for positively identify the cause of 2013: an accident and notify the in• The number of “hull loss” dustry — airframe manufacaccidents — that is, accidents turer, airlines, air traffic conin which an airliner was heavitrollers and other stakeholders ly damaged — was below 1 per — to change products/procemillion flights in most regions dures/systems in such a way of the world. In North Amerias to avoid any subsequent occa, the hull loss rate was 0.32 currence. per million flights; it was 0.15 Only occasionally, alin Europe, and 0 in North Asia. though possibly in the case of • The only two regions where TRAVEL TIPS flight 370, do investigations the hull loss rates were substan- By Ed Perkins fail to arrive at a definitive tially higher, both at about 2.0, conclusion as to cause. were Africa and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which includes Russia, Follow safety instructions Ukraine and other countries that were once This is not to say that you can blithely part of the Soviet Union. ignore safety announcements and require• Total worldwide fatalities from accidents ments. Although loss-of-control accidents on commercial airlines were 210, down from are rarely survivable, some CFIT and 414 in 2013, amounting to less than six per many runway excursion accidents are. And the best way to increase your odds of million flights. survival is to get out of the airplane as Runway accidents most common quickly as you can. • The most common accidents were That means being aware of the exit locadue to “runway excursions,” where an air- tions, as the announcement says. And it plane encountered a problem during take- also means leaving your carry-on under off or landing. Fewer than 10 percent of your seat and in the overhead bins. those accidents resulted in fatalities. Lots of industry observers were appalled • Eight accidents resulted from loss of so see videos of travelers on that ANA 777, control during flight — presumably that’s which had the very hard landing at San also what happened to Malaysia Airlines Francisco airport, schlepping their carry-on flight 370 — and they accounted for more baggage when they exited the plane. than half the total fatalities. The only time you might legitimately • Most of the other fatalities resulted worry about safety is if you’re considering from “controlled flight into terrain,” or an air trip within the CIS or in sub-Sahara CFIT, usually occurring during approach Africa. Even though accident rates in and landing. These happened mostly on those areas are coming down, they’re still non-precision approaches. considerably higher than in the rest of the In the United States, the figures are world. But then, road travel in those areas even better. Accident data for 2012, not isn’t exactly a walk in the park, either. available yet for 2013, show a risk of about The final conclusion is that moving two fatalities per million flights. And no around is inherently a bit less safe than commercial airline fatalities were reported staying in one place. But the safety case is at all for U.S. airlines in 2013. similar to “saving” money. Just as the best By comparison, the U.S. suffers almost way to save money on travel is to stay 3,000 motor vehicle fatalities per year. home, so the best way to avoid airline or Even train travel is less safe than airline highway accidents is also to stay home. But flying is a close second. travel. Send e-mail to Ed Perkins at An outstanding safety record isn’t a matter of luck. The aviation industry — air- eperkins@mind.net. Perkins’ new book for lines, airplane and equipment manufactur- small business and independent professionals, ers, and the governments that regulate “Business Travel When It’s Your Money,” is safety matters — work very hard to make now available through www.mybusinesstravflying safe. Due to the extreme diligence of el.com or www.amazon.com. © 2014 Tribune Content Agency, LLC. the investigations, almost every fatal air-

BEACON BITS

June 5

WHITE WATER RAFTING TRIP The Montgomery County Senior Outdoor Adventures in Recreation

(SOAR) presents a white water rafting daytrip down the Shenandoah. This twohour trip will be led by an expert guide in each raft. Level of difficulty is ranked easy to moderate. No experience required. A fried chicken lunch is included. The cost is $80; $95 for nonresidents of the county. The buses will depart from Olney Manor Park, 16601 Georgia Ave., Olney, Md. at 8 a.m. and return at 4:15 p.m. For more information, call (240) 777-4926.


Say you saw it in the Beacon | Leisure & Travel

WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N â&#x20AC;&#x201D; M AY 2 0 1 4

Amazon From page 43 insight into our surroundings, whether on land or water. Our visits to several villages, isolated from civilization with little if any modern conveniences, only reinforced that impression.

The Amazon after dark Although every day was an adventure, nothing compared with our nighttime jaunts. Our post-dinner sojourns pitched Souza and his searchlight against the dark horizon, scanning shoreline and trees, desperately searching for something to entertain his eager customers. An all-pervasive quiet loomed, magnifying whatever sounds were audible: dolphins snorting, fish jumping, caimans slithering, monkeys howling -â&#x20AC;&#x201C; all vying for attention in the pitch blackness. Eventually, the flashlight, seemingly darting randomly above, below and beyond the trees, alighted (so to speak) on a caiman lizard in the brush, his whole snout protruding for a moment before slinking away. Or perhaps instead the light reflected off a kingfisherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s eyes, temporarily blinding him so that we could drift in almost close enough to touch. Then for an encore, we watched a spider grab a dragonfly from a crack in a tree directly in front of us -â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and diligently devour it. Whereas during the day, the trills, tweets and twerps of the birds dominate the landscape, at night itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the croaks, caws and throaty outpourings of the frogs and caimans. From our first launch at 6 a.m. to our final return sometime after 9 p.m., we pretty much spend our non-exploring time eating. The native foods, beautifully prepared and presented, are a pleasant surprise this far from civilization.

I sat with my Tom Sawyer fishing pole, thinking the Amazonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a long way from the Mississippi. I attached the chunks of beef to the end of the line thinking this was strange bait, until I remembered our intended prey. Watching Souza rattle the water with his pole, I remembered that being quiet was the order of the day on most fishing expeditions. Still, I followed his lead â&#x20AC;&#x201D; make the quarry think thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a wounded fish thrashing about. Within a minute, I knew I had snagged the big prize: at the end of my line was the famed carnivorous (actually omnivorous) fish â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a 6-inch piranha. Souza held it up to a tree and used its mouth like a scissors to cut a branch in two. Just looking at the piranhaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s imposing teeth, we knew it came by its reputation honestly. Still, the predator gets a bad rap. The truth is, unless theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re starving, or youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re bleeding, humans arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t really in their

food chain. But they are in ours. The fried piranhas we had that night as appetizers were scrumptious, their tiny bones crunchy and the meat flaky, proving the wise adage that more people eat piranhas than piranhas eat people â&#x20AC;&#x201D; at least in Amazonia. My trip was arranged through the travel company Latin American Escapes. The

cost for the eight-day Tucano trip (one of many offered in the Amazon), starts at $3,450, plus airfare to Brazil. For more information on this and other trips, call 1800-510-5999 or visit www.latinamericanescapes.com. Fyllis Hockman is a travel writer living in Montgomery Village, Md. She happens to be married to travel writer Victor Block.

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5 Days / 4 Nights UĂ&#x160;{Ă&#x160; Â&#x2C6;}Â&#x2026;Ă&#x152;Ă&#x192;Ă&#x160;VVÂ&#x153;Â&#x201C;Â&#x201C;Â&#x153;`>Ă&#x152;Â&#x2C6;Â&#x153;Â&#x2DC;Ă&#x192; UĂ&#x160;nĂ&#x160;i>Â?Ă&#x192;Ă&#x160;Â&#x2C6;Â&#x2DC;VÂ?Ă&#x2022;`Â&#x2C6;Â&#x2DC;}Ă&#x160;>Ă&#x160;-Ă&#x152;Ă&#x2022;vvi`Ă&#x160;Â&#x153;LĂ&#x192;Ă&#x152;iĂ&#x20AC;Ă&#x160;`Â&#x2C6;Â&#x2DC;Â&#x2DC;iĂ&#x20AC;Ă&#x160; EĂ&#x160;Ă&#x160; >Ă&#x192;Â&#x2C6;Â&#x2DC;Â&#x153;Ă&#x160; Ă&#x2022;vviĂ&#x152; UĂ&#x160;Ă&#x152;Â?>Â&#x2DC;Ă&#x152;Â&#x2C6;VĂ&#x160; Â&#x2C6;Ă&#x152;Ă&#x17E;Ă&#x160; >Ă&#x192;Â&#x2C6;Â&#x2DC;Â&#x153;Ă&#x160;Ă&#x203A;Â&#x2C6;Ă&#x192;Â&#x2C6;Ă&#x152;Ă&#x160;UĂ&#x160;Ă&#x201C;Ă&#x160; Â&#x2C6;}Â&#x2026;Ă&#x152;Ă&#x192;Ă&#x160;Â&#x153;vĂ&#x160; Â&#x2DC;Ă&#x152;iĂ&#x20AC;Ă&#x152;>Â&#x2C6;Â&#x2DC;Â&#x201C;iÂ&#x2DC;Ă&#x152; UĂ&#x160;-Â&#x2C6;}Â&#x2026;Ă&#x152;Ă&#x192;iiÂ&#x2C6;Â&#x2DC;}Ă&#x160; Â&#x153;>Ă&#x152;Ă&#x160;,Â&#x2C6;`iĂ&#x160;UĂ&#x160; >ÂŤiĂ&#x160;>Ă&#x17E;Ă&#x160;EĂ&#x160;Â&#x153;Ă&#x20AC;it

4 Days / 3 Nights UĂ&#x160;Ă&#x17D;Ă&#x160; Â&#x2C6;}Â&#x2026;Ă&#x152;Ă&#x192;Ă&#x160;VVÂ&#x153;Â&#x201C;Â&#x201C;Â&#x153;`>Ă&#x152;Â&#x2C6;Â&#x153;Â&#x2DC;Ă&#x192;Ă&#x160;>Ă&#x152;Ă&#x160;>Â&#x2DC;Ă&#x160; Ă&#x160;Ă&#x160;Ă&#x160;"Vi>Â&#x2DC;vĂ&#x20AC;Â&#x153;Â&#x2DC;Ă&#x152;Ă&#x160;Â&#x153;Ă&#x152;iÂ? UĂ&#x160;Ă&#x2C6;Ă&#x160;i>Â?Ă&#x192;Ă&#x160;Â&#x2C6;Â&#x2DC;VÂ?Ă&#x2022;`Â&#x2C6;Â&#x2DC;}Ă&#x160;>Ă&#x160;`Â&#x2C6;Â&#x2DC;Â&#x2DC;iĂ&#x20AC;Ă&#x160;>Ă&#x152;Ă&#x160;*Â&#x2026;Â&#x2C6;Â?Â?Â&#x2C6;ÂŤĂ&#x192; Ă&#x160;Ă&#x160;Ă&#x160; Ă&#x20AC;>LĂ&#x160;Â&#x153;Ă&#x2022;Ă&#x192;i UĂ&#x160; Â&#x2DC;Ă&#x152;iĂ&#x20AC;Ă&#x152;>Â&#x2C6;Â&#x2DC;Â&#x201C;iÂ&#x2DC;Ă&#x152;Ă&#x160;>Ă&#x152;Ă&#x160;Ă&#x152;Â&#x2026;iĂ&#x160;"Vi>Â&#x2DC;Ă&#x160; Â&#x2C6;Ă&#x152;Ă&#x17E;Ă&#x160;>Â&#x201C;LÂ&#x153;Ă&#x20AC;ii UĂ&#x160; Â&#x2DC;Â?Â&#x153;Ă&#x17E;Ă&#x160;Ă&#x152;Â&#x2026;iĂ&#x160; i>VÂ&#x2026;Ă&#x160;EĂ&#x160; Â&#x153;>Ă&#x20AC;`Ă&#x153;>Â?Â&#x17D; 6kV^aVWaZBVn!?jcZHZei#

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Arlington County presents a daytrip to visit the Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa. Stroll along the many paths featuring 11,000 different types of plants. There will also be a brief lunch at Longwood. The trip costs $75; $78 for nonresidents of the county. Buses will depart from Lubber Run Park and Community Center, 300 N Park Dr., Arlington, Va. at 8:45 a.m. and return at 7:45 p.m. For more information or to register, visit http://bit.ly/ArlingtonOnline or call (703) 228-4748.

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M AY 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

Style Arts &

A fun musical about everyone’s favorite green ogre, Shrek. See review on page 48.

A modern take on an ancient Greek tale

Trauma and redemption Lovers of Greek drama and mythology

know that Philomele was transformed into a nightingale after a series of traumatic events. As staged here, the female perspective is highlighted. We share Philomele’s evolution from a brave but naïve seeker of adventure to scarred veteran of the world. And we see Procne grow from a sheltered, conventional girl of royalty into a thoughtful leader. Along the way, we are given much to consider regarding redemption, mercy and tension in the role of warriors on the battlefield and at home. Constellation has transformed Source Theatre’s black box into a surreal world. The floor is raked, its surface a glistening black with crimson highlights. Goldenhued passageways occupy one corner, with another raked platform providing a space for characters to look down and observe the action. The action, from fights with thick swords slicing through the air, to a dance of bacchanalia, and on to moments of tenderness and terror, is all played out within a few feet of the audience. Director Stockman carefully detaches the story from a specific time or place. At-

titudes are contemporary, often heavy on modern irony. Certain lines are delivered for a bit of comic relief in occasionally grim scenes. The ensemble acts as a sardonic, sometimes silly, Greek chorus, mocking and illuminating as they sometimes break the fourth wall and address the audience. On opening night, early scenes seemed tentative and somewhat enervated. While this is a play in which tension builds inexorably, achingly, toward a brutal, wrenching apex, sharpening and energiz-

PHOTO BY STAN BAROUH

By Michael Toscano Brutal, unsparing, yet eloquent, evocative and haunting. That’s Constellation Theatre Company’s production of The Love of the Nightingale, an adaptation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses from star English playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker. It’s based on rich source material, actually going as far back as a story from Sophocles. And “adaptation” doesn’t really express what Wertenbaker and Constellation’s director Allison Arkell Stockman have done with it. Rather than merely adapt the story, they have melted it down into its components and re-cast them as a modern fable. The places and people may remain ancient, but the themes are unflinchingly modern. The book comes from the version commissioned by England’s Royal Shakespeare Company in 1988. It is an epic tale of two sisters, Philomele and Procne. They are separated by a marriage that takes Procne away, across an ocean. Philomele’s desire to reunite with her powers the story of desire and violence that follows.

See NIGHTINGALE, page 47 An ancient Greek tale, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, morphs into a drama of contemporary power, The Love of the Nightingale, in a production by the Constellation Theatre Company at D.C.’s Source Theatre. Here, Matthew Schleigh plays the tortured King Tereus, husband of Procne, played by Dorea Schmidt.

Two Hilarious Shows Coming to Toby’s!

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TOBY’S DINNER THEATRE OF COLUMBIA • CALL 410-730-8311 Based on availability. Due to the nature of theatre bookings, all shows, dates and times are subject to change.

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Say you saw it in the Beacon | Arts & Style

WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — M AY 2 0 1 4

Nightingale From page 46 ing of opening scenes is required, as they begin the play on too low a note.

Memorable performances The entire cast turns in impressive performances. Constellation regular Megan Dominy somehow combines naiveté with a lustful nature, and carries us closely with her on her harrowing journey. Matthew Schleigh and Dorea Schmidt are in from their usual home at Baltimore’s Everyman Theatre. Schmidt has a challenge with Procne, as the character is not as clearly defined in the dialogue as is Philomele. But she makes the most of it with a conversational delivery that draws us close to her. As Tereus — the conflicted and tortured king, husband of Procne, who can’t fully understand or control his darker impulses — Schleigh is mostly effective. His thin voice may undermine the depiction of a warrior king for some, or it might underscore his less than god-like foibles for others. All but stealing the show is Rena Cherry Brown, in her Constellation debut. As Philomele’s servant Niobe, Brown doesn’t get our attention until the second half of the play, when Philomele’s long sea journey under the care and unwanted attention of Tereus takes place. World weary and resigned to the role of women as an extension of the needs of the men around them, she provides the grit that irritates the themes into stark dimension. Playwright Wertenbaker draws on various disciplines of the performing arts in his story-telling. Puppets are used in a scene that transforms from whimsy to a grotesquely haunting encounter. Segments from the ancient play Phaedra are played out in the court of the king, allowing our characters to comment on the play-within-the-play, guiding us through the themes in Nightingale.

Eclectic, evocative music Music is an important element in the ex-

BEACON BITS

May 30

BRAZILIAN JAZZ CONCERT

perience, provided by Helen Hayes Awards-winner Tom Teasley. He performs a mélange of recorded and live sounds underscoring or punctuating the action. Despite what must have been a strong temptation, Teasley has the music support, but never comment on, what we see. The soundscape helps us live in the world created in the intimate space, rather than inform us how to feel. Teasley has drawn inspiration from Greek, Balkan and Thracian music, the latter from the area centered on the modern borders of Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. (Ancient Thrace is one of the settings for the story.) Located in one corner of the performance space, Teasley looks rather like a modern DJ, as he alternately teases sounds from a keyboards, computer and instrumental, or plays a variety of exotic instruments. Well over a dozen in number, some appear as if they may be of his own making. I must confess that my eyes occasionally

E R THP E D N M U ETLA E R T S S MANL’E E L T RU GEN

30 MAY

wandered away from the actors to see what Teasley was doing. The soundtrack is ambitious enough that a CD has been released, with a portion of profits going to the theater company. Teasley has woven in unusual (to Western ears, perhaps) time signatures, and choreographer Kelly King has created dance pieces taking advantage of the undulations and tempo. The result is a hypnotic, sensory experience that reaches fullest expression as the story reaches its thematic climax. Combining raw energy, brutal violence and haunting imagery and music, ancient themes are made modern and modern issues are made timeless in this production. The Love of the Nightingale continues through May 25, performed by Constellation Theatre Company. Performances take place at Source Theatre, located at 1835 14th St. NW in Washington, D.C. Shows are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. There are Sunday matinee

6–8

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JEAN-YVES THIBAUDET, PIANO

WITH GARRISON KEILLOR

NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

MAY 23 MAY 24 Live Radio Broadcast!

IL VOLO

performances at 2 p.m. Additional performances: Saturdays, May 10, 17 and 24 at 2 p.m.; Monday, May 12 at 8 p.m.; and Sundays, May 18 and 25 at 7:30 p.m. Postshow “talk-backs” take place Sunday, May 4 and Saturday, May 17, after the 2 p.m. performances. Ticket prices are $35 or $45, depending on seating. There are no senior discounts. Performances of The Love of a Nightingale run just under two hours. There is no intermission. There will be no late seating and no refunds for latecomers. The theater is located two blocks from the U Street-Cardozo Metro stop. There is on-street parking, and valet service is available at the Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening performances. The space is wheelchair-accessible, and assisted listening devices are available for all performances. For tickets and more information, see www.constellationtheatre.org or call (202) 204-7741.

D TY AAN U T A S E ’S B HE BE Y E N T S DI JUNE

Andrew Litton, conductor JULY 18

JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER ORCHESTRA

JUNE 13

WITH WYNTON MARSALIS JULY 30

Strathmore and Asbury Methodist Village present Music in the Mansion, featuring the Ron Kearns quartet and special guest Michael Thomas on Friday, May 30 at 7:30

THE PHILADELPHIA ORCHESTRA BEETHOVEN’S 9

47

JIM GAFFIGAN

JULY

25

EN CARM PERA

PO F TRA HONY WOL SYMP STRA L A ON ORCHE NATI

SENIORS SAVE! 50% off in-house tickets for individuals age 65+. Available at the Box Office a half hour before showtime.

AUGUST 9

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Bramwell Tovey, conductor JUNE 28

p.m. Jazz saxophonist Kearns and his quartet will celebrate a half-century of Brazilian jazz at the Strathmore Mansion, located at 5301

DISNEY FANTASIA

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LIVE IN CONCERT NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

AUGUST 15

Emil de Cou, conductor Full Film with Live Score! JULY 11 & 12

Tuckerman Ln., North Bethesda, Md. Tickets cost $28. For more information, visit www.strathmore.org or call (301) 581-5100.

...PLUS MANY MORE!

SUM MMER 2014


48

Arts & Style | More at TheBeaconNewspapers.com

M AY 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

Shrek: A jolly green giant of musical fun By Michael Toscano Grandparents alert! Shrek the Musical, currently in a long run at Toby’s Dinner Theatre, provides a way to spend some quality time with the grandkids, with a guarantee both the oldsters and the youngsters will have some fun. There are few things as heartwarming as seeing a kid, in my case, our 8-year-old son, convulsed with genuine belly-laughs. The sheer joy generated in the heart of an

8-year-old boy by jokes involving noisy bodily functions or an exploding bird is great fun to experience. The show is OK, too. But best enjoyed in the company of kids. Yes, this is the Shrek made famous in the fabulously successful movies, the green-faced ogre with the heart of gold. The musical is based on the first film. Shrek is a lonely ogre (is there any other kind?) who tries to save the swamp he calls home by rescuing a princess and de-

livering her to a lord who needs her to become a king. Never mind the details of that; it’s the journey, not the destination or plot, that matters. Along the way, ogre and princess discover they have a few things in common and they save each other from isolation.

Broad comedy, upbeat music The music is upbeat, if not particularly memorable, and the jokes come tumbling out one after the other. Characters and comedy are broadly drawn, as physical antics predominate. Discerning adults among us can savor some clever double entendres and sly satirical jabs at show-biz figures and conventions, however. The show has a strong pedigree. It was nominated for eight Tony Awards in 2009, including Best Musical. Book and lyrics are from brilliant playwright David Lindsay-Abaire, a Pulitzer Prize winner for his incisive, penetrating drama Rabbit Hole. The music is by Jeanine Tesori, who has created music for such sublime plays as Caroline, or Change, and such disappointing productions as Violet the Musical, which recently played at Ford’s Theatre. Her music for this show is more Violet and less Caroline, but the excitement generated by a stage full of flamboyantly costumed fairy tale characters dancing and singing is generally enough to keep things rolling along.

Fairytale favorites And there really is quite a roster of familiar figures coming to life from the world of fairy tales and nursery rhymes.

There’s Peter Pan, Pinocchio, the Three Blind Mice, the White Rabbit, the Ugly Ducking, the Big Bad Wolf, the Pied Piper, and even Humpty Dumpty. Add in the Shrek gang, including his pal, the Donkey, the silly prince, the lovelywith-a-secret princess, a smoke-generating dragon and a talking gingerbread cookie, and it is an expansive ensemble. Directors Lawrence B. Munsey and Kevin McAllister, with substantial assistance from choreographer Shalyce Hemby, keep the cast of 22 moving, always moving, in a swirl of high energy that drags even the most listless of the two dozen songs into something resembling forward momentum. This is a hard-working group of performers, and you won’t notice any of them letting up on all-out effort for even a second. Toby’s regulars fill the top roles, with Russell Sunday unrecognizable under his Shrek gear, Coby Kay Callahan as the earthy, grown-up Princess Fiona, and Jeffrey Shankle playing the diminutive Lord Farquaad. Calvin McCullough, seen in Toby’s In The Heights, is Donkey.

Soaring Shrek, sassy Donkey Sunday’s prosthetic encumbrances render him unable to use his face, and Shrek’s songs don’t allow much character expression, but he manages to generate good-natured irascibility and warmth. It’s not until the Act One closer, “Who I’d Be,” that Sunday gets to unleash his soaring voice. The song is an anthem, but the small band and thin musical arrangeSee SHREK, page 51

PHOTO BY KIRSTEN CHRISTIANSEN

Russell Sunday (left) plays the title ogre in Shrek the Musical at Toby’s Dinner Theater. Shown with him are Calvin McCullough as Donkey and Coby Kay Callahan as Fiona.

BEACON BITS

Ongoing

SPOTLIGHT ON THE ARTS

The City of Fairfax’s 29th annual Spotlight on the Arts runs through Saturday, May 17. The festival’s theme is “A Voyage of Discovery,” and includes band and orchestral concerts, an antique car show and more. Most events are free, but some charge for admission. For more information, visit www.visitfairfax.com/2013/the-city-of-fairfax-spotlight-on-the-arts.


Say you saw it in the Beacon | Arts & Style

WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — M AY 2 0 1 4

NEW MOVES: symphony + dance Across two spectacular weeks in May, the NSO brings together music by beloved American composers and choreographers with three world premiere dance commissions in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.

From Schuman to Bernstein Thomas Wilkins, conductor Sue Heineman, NSO Principal Bassoon KEIGWIN + COMPANY, Larry Keigwin, artistic director and choreographer SCHUMAN: New England Triptych NEIKRUG: Bassoon Concerto (NSO co-commission) BERNSTEIN: On the Town—Three Dance Episodes (with KEIGWIN + COMPANY) BERNSTEIN: On the Waterfront—Suite t (with KEIGWIN + COMPANY)

Wed., May 7 at 7 | Thu., May 8 at 7 AfterWords: Thu., May 8 performance followed by a free discussion.

From Gershwin to Ellington Thomas Wilkins, conductor Jauvon Gilliam, NSO Principal Timpani New Ballet Ensemble, Katie Smythe, artistic director GERSHWIN: Music from Porgy and Bess (arr. Bennett) BARBER: Souvenirs OLIVERIO: Timpani Concerto No. 1 ELLINGTON: Giggling Rapids ELLINGTON: Three Faces of Duke Ellington: The King of the Magi, Martin Luther King, Harlem* (*with New Ballet Ensemble)

MAY & JUNE CONCERTS

Sat., May 10 at 8 | Tue., May 13 at 7 AfterWords: Tue., May 13 performance followed by a free discussion. Jessica Lang Dance

From Adams to Copland

Photo by Takao Komara

Thomas Wilkins, conductor Leila Josefowicz, violin Jessica Lang Dance, Jessica Lang, artistic director and choreographer DAUGHERTY: Red Cape Tango WALKER: Sinfonia No. 4 (NSO co-commission) COPLAND: Appalachian Spring ADAMS: Violin Concerto (with Jessica Lang Dance)

Fri., May 16 at 7 | Sat., May 17 at 8 Part of the Green Series AfterWords: Fri., May 16 performance followed by a free discussion.

Brahms’s Double Concerto & Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique” Christoph Eschenbach, conductor Nicola Benedetti, violin Leonard Elschenbroich, cello

(202) 467-4600 nationalsymphony.org Tickets also available at the Box Office Groups (202) 416-8400 David and Alice Rubenstein are the Presenting Underwriters of the NSO. The NSO Music Director Chair is generously endowed by Roger and Vicki Sant. The Blue Series is sponsored by United Technologies Corporation.

BRAHMS: Double Concerto TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 6 “Pathétique” Note: There is no late seating until intermission.

Thu., June 5 at 7 | Fri., June 6 at 8 | Sat., June 7 at 8 Organ Postlude: Thu., June 5 performance followed by a mini-recital on the Rubenstein Family Organ, free with purchase of concert ticket. Part of the Blue Series

Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 Christoph Eschenbach, conductor The University of Maryland Chamber Singers, Edward Maclary, music director BRUCKNER: Four Motets BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 8

Thu., June 12 at 7 | Fri., June 13 at 8 | Sat., June 14 at 8 The Green Series is sponsored by The Kennedy Center welcomes patrons with disabilities.

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M AY 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

WASHINGTON, DC (202) 289-2236 • 400 Massachusetts Avenue NW WASHINGTON, DC (202) 396-2331 • 320 40th Street NE WASHINGTON, DC (202) 337-4848 • 1403 Wisconsin Avenue NW WASHINGTON, DC (202) 628-0720 • 1199 Vermont Avenue NW WASHINGTON, DC (202) 785-1466 • 6 Dupont Circle NW WASHINGTON, DC (202) 338-6337 • 2125 E Street NW WASHINGTON, DC (202) 829-5234 • 6514 Georgia Avenue NW WASHINGTON, DC (202) 537-1587 • 4555 Wisconsin Avenue NW WASHINGTON, DC (202) 944-8671 • 2226 Wisconsin Avenue NW WASHINGTON, DC (202) 939-5735 • 1418 P Street NW WASHINGTON, DC (202) 296-9876 • 2240 M St NW


Shrek From page 48 ment are not able to provide the lift needed to make this the transcendent moment it might otherwise be. McCullough gives us a sassy Donkey, shining with infectious charm in the early number “Don’t Let Me Go.” He and Sunday effectively create buddy chemistry, accepting each other and their differences. That underscores the show’s theme of tolerance, which comes to full display in the ensemble number “Freak Flag.” A high-energy salute to the celebration of individuality, it sounds as if Tesori wrote it after listening to the score from Godspell. Despite its earnestness, it’s fun as performed here. Shankle makes the most of the sight gag that gives his Farquaad tiny legs, especially as he struts what stuff he has in Act One’s music-hall tune, “What’s Up, Duloc?” His needy lord is self-absorbed, but not especially selfish, and his grasping nature is rendered inoffensive by Shankle’s playfulness. As Act One comes to a close, the kids in the audience have more or less forgotten the movie and are acclimated to live performance. They’re laughing and enjoying themselves. Even the usual dragged-out, interminably long Toby’s intermission doesn’t dampen their enthusiasm, and they get right back into the spirit of the show as Act Two opens with a one-two punch. First, there is the eye-filling dance num-

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Say you saw it in the Beacon | Arts & Style

WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — M AY 2 0 1 4

ber “Morning Person.” It’s heavy on tap dancing, and choreographer Hemby has assembled a collection of standard moves that flow nicely with the up-tempo, sunny song. That’s followed by the riotously funny “I Think I Got You Beat,” in which Fiona and Shrek find romance in gastric eruptions. Callahan shows deft comedy chops here, propelling both of these songs with a sense of fun and enthusiasm. By this point, the 8year-old sitting next to me was practically hoarse from laughter, even as I was enjoying the subtler pleasures of Callahan’s voice. The only other tune of some note is “Make A Move,” which might be thought of as a slightly bluesy version of “Three Blind Mice.” But, again, you don’t go to this show for the music. In fact, the best song of the night is one not written for the show. It’s borrowed from 1960s Top-40 radio and used for a roof-blowing finale. The Monkees hit “I’m A Believer” (“I thought love was only true in fairy tales, meant for someone else, but not for me”) never sounded so good, and it really rocks the joint and sends us out into the night happy. There is a message here, to be sure, about forbearance and inclusiveness. But why worry about that, when the song “I Think I Got You Beat” rhymes “whiny” with “flaming heiny”? Trust me; the kids won’t.

evening and matinee performances. The doors open at 6 p.m. for evening shows Monday through Saturday and at 5 p.m. for the Sunday evening performance. Doors open for matinee performances at 10:30 a.m. Wednesdays and Sundays. Following the buffet, the evening performances begin at 8 p.m., except Sundays, when show time is 7 p.m. Matinee performances begin at 12:30 p.m. Reservations are required. Ticket prices

range from $37.50 (for children under 12 for all performances) to $56 for adults (depending on which performance is selected). Ticket prices include an all-you-caneat buffet. There is ample, free parking on the premises. For reservations and information, call (410) 730-8311 or 1-800-88TOBYS (8886297). You may also visit www.tobysdinnertheatre.com.

C o m fo r t F o o d o r J u s t D e lic io u s ? Introducing our ‘Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwich’ Readers’ Pick “Best Breakfast”

www.ophrestaurants.com ROCKVILLE • 301-468-0886 BETHESDA • 301-986-0285 • FALLS CHURCH • 703-698-6292

“I CAN’T STOP LAUGHING!”

NAT

ION

AL

TOU R

!

Going to the show Shrek the Musical continues through June 22 at Toby’s Dinner Theatre, 5900 Symphony Woods Road, Columbia. The show runs seven days a week, with

BEACON BITS

May 18

JUNE 13-15 ONLY!

MONTGOMERY’S GOT TALENT! Montgomery’s Got Talent! will present singers, comedians,

dancers and musicians, all 55 or over, in a showcase on Sunday, May 18 at 1 p.m. Doors open at noon for exhibits and food service at the Bethesda Blues and

WARNER THEATRE Call: (800) 551-7328 or visit www.warnertheatredc.com Discounts for groups of 10 or more, call (888) 686-8587 x2

Jazz Supper Club, 7719 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, Md. Admission is $5. For more

By special license from the Owner, Jeanie Linders’ company

information and to buy tickets, visit www.montgomerysgottalent.com.

May 15

FREE CAR SEAT CHECK Check to be sure your grandchild’s car safety seat is properly installed and not subject to recall. Bring your car and car seat to

this free car seat check on Thursday, May 15 between 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at Fitzgerald Auto Mall in White Flint, 5501 Nicholson Ln., Rockville, Md. Children can have their photo taken with Dora the Explorer. For more information, call (301) 548-4847.

Going Home Cremation Service Beverly L. Heckrotte, P.A. Personalized

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Workshops • Exhibit Hall • Health Screenings

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 3:00pm to 8:00pm Continental Event Center 9705 Liberia Ave., Manassas Free to Attend & Open to the Public Presented by the Prince William Chamber in cooperation with the Prince William Area Agency on Aging

Community Partner:

703.368.6600


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M AY 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

An airplane conversation to remember Some pregnant women look as if they’ve could wrap all the way around her middle. swallowed a bowling ball. Others look as if The poor thing was obviously nearing they’ve been blown up with air Month Nine, and obviously in from head to toe, hugely and misery. It was a wonder they proportionally, like one of those had allowed her aboard. toys you punch and it pops back She tossed. She turned. up. She shifted. She shifted And then there was the again. Having been male for woman beside me on a recent quite some time, I couldn’t plane trip. offer much in the way of diShe gave hu-normous new rect experience. But I did meaning. offer sympathy. She looked as if a bowling “Thanks,” she said, as we HOW I SEE IT ball and a punch-it doll had trundled out to the runway. By Bob Levey held a board of directors meet“I’ll take sympathy any day.” ing and decided to merge. I was all set to bury myself in my book We’re talking almost too big for the seat. and leave her alone when she said: “I just She needed an extension so that her seat belt wish my Dad were here to see this.”

WB514

Thus began a two-hour discussion about grandfathers. Her about-to-be born child would never meet one of his. The pregnant woman’s father had died suddenly the week before, at age 70. “I know this will be my baby — mine and my husband’s,” the woman said, as we sliced through the clouds. “But I wanted so badly to see my Dad see my baby. And now I won’t.” She tossed. She turned. She started to cry. “Look,” I said, “it’s absolutely none of my business, but you’re not in the trophy-making business. You‘re in the person-making business. Years from now, your baby will ask about his grandfather….” “Her grandfather.” “Ok, sorry, her grandfather, and that’s when you can make him come alive again.” I told her how it had gone with our own two children. “They were mildly curious over the years about the photos that show them as newborns, being held by various grandparents, all now dead. But what they really wanted to know is who those people were. So it’s about keeping family history alive, and that’s your job.” The woman wasn’t sold. “We always had family albums when I was growing up, and we always liked to look back at all the phases. I had just gone and bought a new camera, too, for the recovery room. This is so hard. ” Again, I dug back into the vault for my own experience. I told the woman about my two grandfathers. Neither would have won a congeniality contest. “Some of this might have been generational,” I said. “After all, my grandfathers were both born in the 19th century, when men didn’t get too outwardly emotional about anything, and babies were raised by women. Still, beyond those pictures of them holding the newest newborn cutiepie, my grandfathers didn’t have a close relationship with me at all.” The woman mulled this. She said it was true that her father hadn’t been a very expressive person. It was also true that he tended to view baby-raising as “women’s work.” She asked about my own grandchildren. “None yet. But I’ve seen lots of men of my generation become grandparents, and it has been an uncomfortable role for them, even though it’s the modern era.

“They don’t quite know how to approach it. Should they be alternate grandmas, helping with diapers and meals? Should they be cheerleaders? Should they be car pool drivers? Should they be none of the above? I don’t know a single grandpa who finds any of this easy.” The woman said that her situation was especially poignant, because she’s an only child and her about-to-be-born would be the first grandchild in the family. “My little girl would have been the center of his world,” she said. “She still will be,” I said. “She will not only carry his DNA, but over the years, you will notice little stuff that will make the link obvious. Not just the color of her eyes and that sort of thing. Maybe facial tics. Maybe the way she frowns. “I’m not trying to deny that you’re in a tough place,” I continued. “But ten years from now, when your daughter holds her fork the same way your father held his, it’ll make you smile.” The woman had one more concern: How to keep Grandpa’s spirit alive. Any advice from the guy with the white hair in seat 18C? “You can always put lots of pictures around your home,” I said. “As your girl gets older, you can visit where he used to live, and maybe where he used to work. Maybe he has left you some personal items that you can pass on to your daughter — maybe a wallet or a watch, something like that.” She shook her head from side to side. “Well, then, you’ll be the chief storyteller. It’ll all be up to you. Be truthful, but be funny. Maybe he had a silly habit, or there’s a famous family story of how he melted down at Disney World, something like that?” She nodded her head up and down. Her eyes told me that she was taking mental notes. The flight attendant asked us to put up our drop-down trays. We were almost in Texas. It was time for last thoughts. Mine: “You will never forget him, and through you, your daughter never will, either.” Hers: “Thank you. It might not turn out to be as easy as you say. But it won’t be as hard as it would have been.” Bob Levey is a national award-winning columnist.

BEACON BITS

May 5+

DC SENIOR GAMES

The DC Senior Games is a yearly competition that brings together seniors from across the District to participate in athletic activities, while promoting healthy living for a longer, more robust life. More than 80 athletes competed in the 2013 DC Senior Games. Each year, the DC Senior Games feature activities like swimming, basketball, bowling, tennis, track and field, horseshoe toss, archery and softball. The DC Senior Games opening ceremony will take place on Monday, May 5 at 10 a.m. at the Howard Theatre, located at 620 T St. NW, Washington, D.C. The closing ceremony will take place at the Howard Theatre on Monday, May 19. For additional information or how to volunteer, call (202) 664-7153.


Say you saw it in the Beacon | Arts & Style

WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — M AY 2 0 1 4

FROM PAGE 54

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ONE BIG HAPPY By Rick Detorie

ANSWERS TO SCRABBLE

ANSWERS TO CROSSWORD A R E A B E I G C O N N S A R A T T I C E O H I O T E N N I S P O O P E N N A T E R I M E T A D E N

S E A T E D C O R P S M A N

A C T E D T H E S E R T I S T S I N L E I M A S S D E G A S T S U M S E O M M A N D N A G I P L O D S E A A L S S A I L L I S S B Y A D M E N M E A T S I

D O G L L E I G A M E S N T S E E R M I I N S G

D A N I S H

T R U E S T

N O E L

T W A S

L E E D O D

Classifieds cont. from page 55. Wanted WE PAY CASH for antique furniture, quality used furniture, early American art, pottery, silver, glassware, paintings, etc. Single items to entire estates. Call Reggie or Phyllis at DC 202-726-4427, MD 301-332-4697. STAMP COLLECTIONS, AUTOGRAPHS purchased/appraised – U.S., worldwide, covers, paper memorabilia. Stamps are my specialty – highest price paid! Appraisals. Phone Alex, 301-309-6637. Stampex1@gmail.com. CASH FOR ESTATE BUYOUTS, estate cleanouts, jewelry to furniture, one item or whole state. Free Estimate, will travel. 301-520-0755. 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. CASH FOR JEWELRY: Buying jewelry, diamonds, gold, platinum, silver, watches, coins, flatware, etc. We make house calls. Ask for Tom. Call anytime 301-654-8678 or 301-654-0838. WANTED: ANTIQUE ELECTRONICS, engineer’s estates, Hi-Fi Stereo, huge old loudspeakers, ham radios, records, professional quality musical instruments, antique computers, scientific curiosities. 202-527-9501, vcvdc@msn.com.

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

BEACON BITS

Ongoing

LONG-TERM CARE ADVOCATES Enhance the quality of care and quality of life in Arlington’s

long-term care residences by joining the Arlington Commission on Long-Term

Letters to editor From page 2 about your precious father, who recently went to his heavenly home. As a daughter of Italian immigrants, I saw first-hand how they and others suffered with work conditions and language. Mine are safely in heaven also. We must remember that God gave us amazing minds that were meant to learn. In this sense, knowledge is valuable. Yet there is a point at which knowledge can become an idol, when we begin to treasure

what we know more than we treasure the God who has helped us learn it. All true knowledge, whether it is practical, theological or philosophical, is meant to help us love God and serve our family and our neighbors. It’s meant to help us share his good news and build his kingdom here on earth. May we always choose the humble path and not allow ourselves to become puffed up with self-love, but remember the gracious, responsible, and loving parents God gave us. Gilda Del Signore Washington, D.C.

BEACON BITS

May 7

GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY MEETING The Prince George’s County Genealogical Society will meet

Wednesday, May 7 at 7 p.m. in the New Carrollton Municipal Building, 6016

Care Residences. Commission members are appointed by the County Board and must live or work in Arlington. For more information or an application, visit http://bit.ly/ArlingtonLongTermCare or contact the Agency on Aging at (703) 228-1700.

Princess Garden Pkwy. After a brief business meeting, Richard Phillips will present “Colonial Child Servants in County Court Records.” For additional information, visit www.pgcgs.org or call (301) 262-2063.


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Puzzle Page

M AY 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

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

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1. Regions 6. Cried crocodile tears 11. Banned pesticide 14. Like mocha ice cream 15. “With friends like ___ ...” 16. Pinta propeller 17. Waterbury watercolorists 19. Serengeti migrator 20. Prom dress fabric 21. Ornamental anagram for 22 Across 22. Dishonest anagram for 21 Across 23. Spilled the beans 25. Without some New Englanders 27. Soda fountain offering 28. Impressive impressionist 30. Like well-laced ice skates 31. State with only four letters 33. Grand total 34. Med. or Red 35. Product of Nashville’s General Assembly 41. The end of TV 42. Last fig. on the front of a 1040 form 43. Miss White’s first name 44. Hound’s trail 47. Walks wearily 49. Alternative to coffee and me 50. Ben Franklin, and buddies 52. Supporters of the arts 54. Gorged on gorgonzola 55. Distributer of 37% of US fed. expenditures 56. Further under the weather 57. Canyon’s edge 58. Just across the Ala. border 62. LAX prediction 63. Not free marketeers 64. Searched for shiny rocks 65. Comfy room 66. Ice-less drinks 67. Clapton ___ (1960’s graffiti slogan)

1. Fundamental 2. Vintage car 3. Genius whose name ends like it starts 4. “You strain out ___ but swallow a camel” (Matthew 23:24) 5. Inside the bumper car 6. Env. notation 7. Greek letter that looks looks like an “X” 8. Electric cars 9. ___ Park, Colo. 10. Abstained from 11. Golf course bend 12. Dessert tray option 13. Most accurate 18. Takes the bus 23. Run amok 24. Heart or tooth malady 25. Dogs and hogs, but not frogs 26. Actors Neeson and Hemsworth 29. Trident, for example 32. Stew ingredient 34. With a sneer 36. Extra on M*A*S*H 37. Sixth word of the Gettysburg Address 38. Walking down the red carpet 39. Christmas carol 40. Start of a Christmas carol 44. Converted the 7-10 split 45. Small and dainty 46. Band with a small payroll 47. Yellow part of blood 48. Cracker stacker 51. “All kidding ___...” 53. Final four games 56. Arab name parts 59. After ready; before go 60. Zodialogical sign of baseball’s Durocher 61. Actor Byrnes

Answers on page 53.

Answer: What the basketball player and his son had in common. -- DRIBBLING Jumbles: FIORD GAILY BABOON INBORN


WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — M AY 2 0 1 4

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

Business and Employment Opportunities “SECURE A SECOND INCOME, not a second job.” Call for a free info-postcard that explains everything. 202-734-2555 or visit www.abminfo.com. Referred by #4538 Michael M.

Caregivers CERTIFIED NURSING AND GERIATRIC ASSISTANT with 13+ years experience is seeking a daytime caregiver position. Provide care for patients with Alzheimer’s, and other health issues. Is able to assist with appointments and communicate effectively with medical professionals. Flexible hours, own car. Excellent references. Please call Cheryl at 954-608-7396. “A” Home Health Care – Experienced nurses, CNA, GNA are available 24/7. Cooking, companionship, personal care, housekeeping, driving. Full/Part-time or live-in. Flat rate for live-in care. 15 years experience. 240-533-6599. NURSING STUDENT AND LICENSED, bonded CNA with over 10 years clinical experience seeks full-time overnight caregiving position. Extensive resume, stellar references & petfriendly. If interested, please call Jacqueline at 301-787-3555. LOOKING FOR A LOVING, CARING, COMPASSIONATE, dependable and reliable caregiver with years of experience and references for your loved ones? Have experience with MS, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and other health problems. Please call @ 301-908-9134. I WILL CARE FOR YOUR LOVED ONES NIGHT/DAY. Own transportation. Good references. Lots of experience. 301-502-2258. CAREGIVER FROM SLOVAKIA is looking for a live-in position to take care of the elderly or sick. Caring, dependable. Has excellent references. Call 301-384-9663. WITH YEARS OF EXPERIENCE, honest, caring, dependable lady is looking for a job to care for the elderly. Excellent references can be furnished. Please call me, 301-237-7441. ANGELS ALL AROUND – DEPENDABLE, caring and bonded nurses, aides and personal assistance companions available throughout Maryland. Shopping, cooking, light housekeeping, grooming, bathing, dressing. Call today, 888747-2640. COMPASSIONATE CAREGIVER, ENGLISH SPEAKING LADY with 20 years of experience. Has own transportation, excellent references. Very reliable and punctual. Available now for day or night. Full-time or part-time. Petfriendly. Call 301-803-9000.

Say you saw it in the Beacon

Computer Services PROBLEM WITH YOUR PC/MAC OR NETWORK? Computer Systems Engineer will come to you with help. Call: D. Guisset at 301-6424526. COMPUTER LESSONS – Personal Computer training at your home. Email, Internet, general computer use. Windows 8, Smartphone/tablet, digital camera. Learn at your own pace with gentle & patient tutor. We also troubleshoot problems & setup new computers. Teaching Seniors since 1996. Senior Discount. Call David, 301-762-2570, COMPUTERTUTOR.

Entertainment THE SHALOM SIGNATURE CLUB: If you like Bagels and Lox, Matzah Balls and Kugel, then you need to try our activities. We’re a dynamic social club geared to folks 50 and up. Many of our activities have a Jewish theme; most are free of charge and take place in the Friendship Heights neighborhood of Chevy Chase. Currently, our regular monthly schedule features two afternoon activities (at 1 p.m. and includes lunch) and two evening activities (usually 7 p.m.), plus a monthly Friday-eve Shabbat Dinner. For further info, visit www.ShalomSC.org or call 240-200-4515.

For Sale/Rent: Real Estate LEISURE WORLD® -– $238,500. 3BR 2FB 1HB “M” in the “Greens.” Table space kitchen, separate dining room. Large enclosed balcony. New paint and carpet. 1530 sq ft. Stan Moffson, Weichert, Realtors, 301-928-3463. LEISURE WORLD® – $259,000. 2 BR 2 FB “FF” in “Overlook” with garage + golf cart space. Table space kitchen open to enclosed balcony with custom shades. Close to elevator. 1320 sq ft. Stan Moffson, Weichert, Realtors, 301-928-3463. LEISURE WORLD® – $145,000. 3 BR 2 FB “Ellicott” model with table space kitchen, separate dining room, separate laundry room, new paint and carpet, enclosed balcony. 1400 sq ft. Stan Moffson, Weichert, Realtors, 301-928-3463. LEISURE WORLD® - $239,000. 3BR 2-1/2B “M” in the “Greens.” Great space with enclosed balcony, new paint and carpet and separate storage room in basement. 1530 sq ft. Stan Moffson, Weichert, Realtors, 301-928-3463. LEISURE WORLD® – RENTAL –$1400 . 1BR 1-1/2 BA “Cordoba” model. 2nd floor in elevator building, balcony, reserved carport space. 1014 sq ft. Stan Moffson, Weichert, Realtors, 301-9283463. COMING SOON: LEISURE WORLD® – 3 BR, 2-1/2 BA “H” with Garage in Villa Cortese, 1495 sq ft. LEISURE WORLD® - 3 BR 2 FB “Capri” 1st floor with updated kitchen and carport space, 1560 sq ft. LEISURE WORLD® - 2BR 2FB “C” with Garage in Turnberry, 1090 sq ft. LEISURE WORLD® - 2BR 2FB “C” in Turnberry Courts, 1090 sq ft. LEISURE WORLD® - 2BR 2BA “B” with Garage in Overlook, 1035 sq ft. Stan Moffson, Weichert, Realtors, 301-928-3463. LEISURE WORLD – $279,900. 2 BR 2FB in Vantage Point East w/garage. Table space kitchen opens to dining room. Large enclosed balcony with golf course view. Many upgrades by original owner. Modified F Model, 1315 sq ft. Becky Plesset, Long & Foster Realtors, 202-438-3755/301468-0606. See, http://bit.ly/BeckyPListing. THE FAIRWAYS SOUTH, LEISURE WORLD – $219,900. 3330 N. Leisure World Blvd., #101. 2 BR 2 FB. Only 1 of 6 “I” models constructed in Leisure World, it features gracious suburban 1stfloor living with step-out to beautiful park area with trees, grass + flowers and a glass-screen enclosed sunroom with ceiling fan. Table space kitchen with new GE Profile refrigerator, new garbage disposal. Living room (20.5 x 13.5), separate dining room, stackable washer/dryer, walk-in pantry, storeroom, marble foyer, new paint + carpets, mirrored closets in bedroom foyer, garage and golf cart space with extra storage cabinet. Extra garage storage. Only unit with no immediate neighbors. For sale by owner (no middle man). Open house on May 4 and 11. Call Carolyn at 301742-8999. LEISURE WORLD RENTAL – TOWNHOUSE with two master bedrooms, 2.5 baths, updated kitchen, new paint + carpeting. Front and back patios. $1550, includes all utilities + cable. 301-598-0996.

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CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING RATES Deadlines and Payments: Ad text and payment is due by the 20th of each month. Note: Only ads received and prepaid by the deadline will be included in the next month’s issue. Please type or print your ad carefully. Include a number where you can be reached in the event of a question. Payment is due with ad. We do not accept ads by phone or fax, nor do we accept credit cards. Private Party Text Ads: For individuals seeking to buy or sell particular items, or place a personal ad. Each ad is $15 for 25 words, 25 cents for each additional word. Business Text Ads: For parties engaged in an ongoing business enterprise. Each ad is $35 for 25 words, 50 cents for each additional word. Note: Each real estate listing counts as one business text ad. Send your classified ad with check or money order, payable to the Beacon, to:

The Beacon, D.C. Classified Dept. P.O. Box 2227, Silver Spring, MD 20915-2227 For information about display advertising, or to request a media kit, call (301) 949-9766.

For Sale/Rent: Real Estate

Personal Services

I BUY HOUSES ANY CONDITION – Fairfax County, VA. Save time, money and worry. Not an agent, no commissions. Female owned. 703-9695847, ibuyfairfaxhouses@gmail.com.

WILL TYPE YOUR MEMOIRS, manuscripts, etc. For info and rates, call 703-671-1854.

LOOKING TO TAKE THE LEAP? I’ll take you on a tour of the community, show you floor plans, discuss campus amenities, & offer how to best coordinate your move. I will preview units & contact you with a match. I also offer exceptional service selling your home. I’m a Seniors Specialist, Buyer Broker, Top 1% of Agents Nationwide, and a Leisure World resident! You can see my current listings on page 42. Contact me: 301-580-5556, SueHeyman@aol.com, www.SueHeyman.com, Weichert Realtors.

For Sale STAIRLIFT WITH REMOTE in excellent condition, purchased new. Left side stair wall, estimated 16 steps. Asking $2,500. Like new equipment. Call 202-548-2419. GORGEOUS NEWLY CONTEMPORARY LIVING/DINING room suites, sofa, love seat, tables, chairs, lamps. Moving to FL! Will move it to your home locally. Call for appointment, 301908-2284. 2 SALVADOR DALI woodblock prints from Dante’s Divine Comedy. Signed and framed. Asking $900 for the pair. Can email pictures if desired. Call Steve, 410-913-1653.

Health PAID RESEARCH STUDY: Participants needed for NIH-funded hearing experiments conducted at the University of Maryland, College Park. Seeking people ages 65-80 with hearing loss. Hearing evaluation included as part of the study. Participation time: ~12 hrs; $12/hr. Contact Hannah or Rebecca. 301-405-7454. Hearingresearch@umd.edu.

Home/Handyman Services EXPERT ROOF REPAIRS and new installations. 40 years experience. 5 year warranties. Rated A on Angie’s List. See our photo gallery at RamboandRamboConstruction.com. MHIC# 8342. Call, 301-220-4222. MICHAELS HAULING Clean-outs, scrap & debris removal yard waste, etc. Mulch, dirt & stone delivery, lite dump truck, 20’ trailer & bobcat. Fully insured. 240-388-1898.

Miscellaneous THE GOLDEN NETWORK offers Jewish seniors and retirees a variety of engaging programs, including lectures, classes, one-on-one learning in person and by phone, concerts, sing-alongs and more! For more information and details about upcoming events, call 301-338-4810, email info@goldennetwork.org, or see goldennetwork.org.

Personal Services READY TO DE-CLUTTER? I can help. Sort, donate, discard. Reasonable rates. Call Jan, 301933-7570.

PIANO LESSONS AT REASONABLE RATES! After 20 years of piano lessons, I would love to offer seniors a chance to learn piano. Only $40 an hour in your home or $30 in my Rockville home. No piano? A great keyboard is under $300. Contact Laurie at 301-767-5223. VAN MAN – For your driving needs. Shopping, appointments, pick-up and deliver – airport van. Call Mike, 301-565-4051. CHERYL’S ORGANIZING CONCEPTS LLC – Professional Organizing Services. Help with all aspects of home organizing. Experienced – References – Member NAPO. All work confidential. Licensed – Bonded. $25 discount on initial appointment. www.CherylsOrganizing.com. 301-916-9022.

Wanted STERLING SILVER – I WILL PAY TOP DOLLAR for your silver marked “sterling,” “925,” “800.” Please, no silver plate. Want flatware, bowls, plates, candlesticks, etc. Call Richard, 301-646-0101. WE BUY OLD AND NEW JEWELRY, Coins, Silver and Gold, Paper Money Too. Watches, Clocks and Parts, Military Badges and Patches Old and New. Call Greg, 717-658-7954. VINYL RECORDS WANTED from 1950 through 1985. Jazz, Rock-n-Roll, Soul, Rhythm & Blues, Reggae and Disco. 33 1/3 LPs, 45s or 78s, Larger collections of at least 100 items wanted. Please call John, 301-596-6201. LOOKING FOR A SENIOR RETIREE HANDYMAN, to do side repair work or improvements. Call 703-869-2290. OLD AND NEW WE BUY Sterling Silver Flatware, Tea Sets, Single Pieces, Fountain Pens, Lighters, Tools, Cameras, Glassware, Art Work. Toys From Trains to Hotwheels to Star Wars. Call Greg, 717-658-7954. HIGHEST CASH PAID FOR ANTIQUES, JEWELRY, ESTATES. I have been advertising in the Beacon for 20 years. Montgomery County resident – will travel to D.C., MD, VA. Buying following items: Furniture, art, jewelry, gold, sterling silver, old coins, vintage pocket and wrist watches, old tools, books, camera, military items – guns, rifles, knives, pocket knives, swords etc. Also buying: old toys, dolls, trains, comic books, photographs, autographs, musical instruments, guitars, violins, etc. Also old sports memorabilia and equipment – baseball, golf, football, fishing etc. Please call Tom at 240-4763441. CASH FOR RECORDS & CDs. BEST PRICE GUARANTEED. Free appraisals. All types of music, 33, 45, 78 & CDs. Call Steve 301646-5403. Will make house calls. BUYING MILITARY MEMORABILIA WW2, WW1, Civil War uniforms, weapons, photos and items associated with US, German, Japanese or items of other Military History. DAVE, 240-4640958.

Classifieds cont. on p. 53


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