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VOL.26, NO.2

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By Michael Toscano “I’m drowning in musical notes right now.” That’s how Joan Cushing described her status one recent afternoon. It’s a vibrant and evocative turn of phrase. And it comes as no surprise, once one gets to know her a bit. You may know already know her as arch political satirist Mrs. Foggybottom, a name that calls to memory swanky evenings at the old Omni-Shoreham Hotel. Your over-21 kids may know her as the part-time, creative bartender at Kitty O’Shea’s Irish Pub on Wisconsin Avenue. Your grandkids may know her as the lady who creates the musicals they see at Imagination Stage or Adventure Theatre. Cushing is all that, and more. She’s been a teacher, bar piano player, wife, mother and, more recently, a widow. At an age when many are slowing down, her career as a creator of musicals is in full bloom as she writes stories and lyrics and composes the music. Admitting only that she has passed the age of 60, she may be finding that in this period of her life she is most fully coming into her own. So, what’s with the drowning? She means, she explained, that she is feverishly approaching a deadline for her newest show, 101 Dalmatians, which will premiere next season at Bethesda’s Imagination Stage. After a struggle to get a song featuring the slinky villain Cruella de Ville just right, she found time to talk about her work and what it means to her.

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Hiking along an ancient pilgrim route in France; plus, avid older skiers stick with their passion, and paying a premium to skip airport lines page 41

Joan Cushing, center, is a woman of many talents. As a political satirist, she performed as Mrs. Foggybottom for a decade at the former Omni Shoreham Hotel's Marquee Lounge (above). She has transformed children’s books into musicals, including the upcoming 101 Dalmatians commissioned by Imagination Stage. Her adult musical about breast cancer, Breast in Show, is performed around the country. And for years she's been a bar piano player and, more recently, bartender.


The sounds of silence ring loudly in Studio Theatre’s Tribes; plus, Maryland Youth Ballet keeps older dancers young page 46

Conjuring Mrs. Foggybottom A young Joan Cushing spent her days as a schoolteacher and her nights playing piano. There was a nine-and-a-half year gig at a bar upstairs (up the fire escape, actually, she says) from the old Café Lafayette in Old Town Alexandria. Sometimes boisterous patrons didn’t pay her much attention, and the place could get noisy. The owner instructed her to tell the unmindful clientele to shut up when she sang. But she came up with a better idea, developing the Mrs. Foggybottom character to get their attention. Before long, Mrs. Foggybottom, with her hat and gloves and ever-present martini glass, evolved into an

outlet for “snotty little monologues that I wrote on politics,” she recalled. Later, Cushing moved on to musical theater classes in New York and then a 10year run at the Omni-Shoreham as Mrs. Foggybottom. It was there where she was able to toss her barbs at an audience that might include a few of the famous folks who were her targets. Those colorful, energy-filled evenings came to an end, however, with the sale of the venue in 1996. And Cushing’s life mostly moved away from appearing onstage. “I never really ‘gave up’ performing,” she explained. “I stopped after the Shoreham [was sold], but I expected to start up again and just didn’t.

“I was busy writing, and this way, I got to be home more at night. I was raising a kid, and I could do the creative work and then get royalty checks, and not have to go out to be in every production.” Well, she could not physically be in every show anyway, as she’s now counting 487 productions of her 13 shows around the country, many of them based on popular children’s books. Two hits — her first work Miss Nelson is Missing and the later Junie B. Jones, both commissioned by Imagination Stage — account for over 300 productions between them. See CUSHING, page 51

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The power in numbers Among the truest truisms are the state- ostracize them from society. At the time, these were the opinions of ments: “there is power in numbers,” and the majority, and the majority “the pen is mightier than the believed in the rightness of sword.” their beliefs. History offers ample exBut when we look back on amples. The problem is that these times, we rightly feel those examples may illusashamed that our country trate successes by what we could have been so backward, (or others) might consider good or moral causes, as well so prejudiced, so caught up in as successes by what we (or mass hysteria. others) might consider bad We might say to ourselves or immoral causes. that we would never have sucNot so long ago in this FROM THE cumbed, even under the most country, there were substan- PUBLISHER intense peer pressure, to join tial numbers of Americans By Stuart P. Rosenthal the lynch mobs, reject friends who shared racist attitudes, for their political beliefs, or propagated ugly beliefs and acted on them. remain in the country clubs and schools For years, black, Asian, Catholic and that kept others out due to their ethnicity Jewish Americans were kept out of many or their religion. desirable neighborhoods, private schools Some of us would go further and say, and clubs, and workplaces. were something like this to happen again, Those who were gay were terrified to be we would stand up and fight — with words known as such, and remained in the closet and possibly even our fists — to defend their whole lives out of fear of losing their those who were being so unfairly attacked jobs and even their friends and family. for their ancestry, their religion or their Americans have also been persecuted beliefs. for their political beliefs. Even the barest After all, we might add, America was suggestion that someone was a card-carry- founded on the principles of tolerance, ing member of the Communist Party was freedom of speech and religion, and belief enough to cost them their livelihood and in the inherent dignity of all humankind.

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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 Assistants..................Rebekah Sewell, ..................................................................Kate Petersen

Are you with me? If so, you might not realize you’re being set up. For my intent in this column is not simply to point out how much more enlightened we Americans are today than our ancestors, but also to suggest that perhaps, as the tables have turned, we may actually be reenacting some of the biases, injustices and hypocrisy of our forebears in the name of enlightenment. While our culture has come a long way since the prejudices I mentioned above were commonly expressed and accepted, let’s take as a given that not everyone has internalized contemporary mores. Some were raised with prejudicial attitudes and haven’t moved beyond them. Some realize times and attitudes have changed, but aren’t so happy about it. Others have really come to accept current views, but when asked about the past, will admit to having had prejudices in the past. And some are fundamentalist believers who take the Bible at face value, even when that conflicts with modern notions of rights. When some of these attitudes come to light nowadays, especially when the people are famous or rich or both, the public reaction can be furious, and the result can almost instantly cost people their reputations and their livelihoods. While I understand the logic of denying prejudiced national figures a bully pulpit, I worry that we are becoming less and less

tolerant even of each other within our communities. It seems to me that a significant number of Americans are developing a reflexive rush to judge, dehumanize and penalize those whose beliefs they consider offensive, and to refuse to accept even penitent apologies. Are these not the very behaviors of those in the past whom we claim to so despise? Yet, we now see online lynching of reputations, and mass hysteria against, and stereotyping of, groups and political parties based on the behavior of individuals. We may think we have come a long way from the backwardness of the past, but in some ways, we have just become those we used to hate. If we truly believe in freedom of thought and freedom of religion, we should be able to live with differences of opinion and belief, as long as everyone’s rights are respected. And when we think someone’s beliefs are backward, we have the right to try to educate them and change their attitudes. It may take time and effort, and it may, in some cases, not succeed. But if we believe in human dignity — that of others as well as our own —- we must agree to treat each other with basic respect.

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 Please include your name, address and telephone number for verification. Dear Editor: I am over 80 and have been purchasing items from dollar stores for years. Regarding last month’s article, “Items you shouldn’t buy at dollar stores,” many articles are the very same brand as at other stores and in same packaging, so I know they are not fakes. This includes paper towels, foil and plastic wrap, paper goods and small tools. Flashlight batteries are the same brand and same type of battery as at expensive

stores. Their birthday cards and other cards at two-for-a-dollar are just as nice as anywhere. Cheap small kids’ toys do not last long, even if from top toy stores. I hope you will print this rebuttal to the article. These dollar stores are a bargain for all of us. Like all stores, they do have their junk also. Robert Campbell Springfield, Va.


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EXPORTING DEMENTIA PATIENTS More families seek Alzheimer's care from cheaper facilities abroad LIBIDO DRUG IN LIMBO The female Viagra still eludes researches, but the FDA is also a barrier INNOVATIONS FOR DIABETICS Miniaturized glucose monitors are in development, including a contact lens NEED MORE ENERGY? Many so-called energy boosters don’t really perk you up; make your own

Vitamin E may slow Alzheimer’s decline By Marilynn Marchione Researchers say vitamin E might slow the progression of mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease — the first time any treatment has been shown to alter the course of dementia at that stage. In a study of more than 600 older veterans, high doses of the vitamin delayed the decline in daily living skills — such as making meals, getting dressed and holding a conversation — by about six months over a two-year period. The benefit was equivalent to keeping one major skill that otherwise would have been lost, such as being able to bathe without help. For some people, that could mean living independently rather than needing a nursing home. Vitamin E did not preserve thinking abilities though, and oddly, it did no good for patients who took it together with another Alzheimer’s medication. But those taking vitamin E alone required less help from caregivers — about two fewer hours each day than others in the study. “It’s not a miracle or, obviously, a cure,” said study leader Dr. Maurice Dysken of the Minneapolis VA Health Care System. “The best we can do at this point is slow down the rate of progression.”

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs sponsored the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Not recommended yet No one should rush out and buy vitamin E, several doctors warned. It failed to prevent healthy people from developing dementia, or to help those with mild impairment (“pre-Alzheimer’s”) in other studies. And one analysis suggested high doses might even increase the risk of premature death. Still, many experts cheered the new results after so many recent flops of oncepromising drugs. “This is truly a breakthrough paper, and constitutes what we have been working toward for nearly three decades: the first truly disease-modifying intervention for Alzheimer’s,” said Dr. Sam Gandy of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. “I am very enthusiastic about the results.” The cost of Vitamin E is also much less than other treatments. About 35 million people worldwide have dementia, and Alzheimer’s is the most common type. In the U.S., about 5 million have Alzheimer’s. There is no cure, and current medicines just temporarily ease symptoms.

An antioxidant effect? Researchers don’t know how vitamin E might help, but it is an antioxidant, like those found in red wine, grapes and some teas. Antioxidants help protect cells from damage that can contribute to other diseases, says the federal Office on Dietary Supplements. Many foods contain vitamin E, such as nuts, seeds, grains, leafy greens and vegetable oils. There are many forms, and the study tested a synthetic version of one — alpha-tocopherol — at a pharmaceutical grade and strength, 2,000 international units a day. Years ago, another study found that the same form and dose helped people with more advanced Alzheimer’s, and many were prescribed it. But vitamin E fell out of favor after a 2005 analysis of many studies found that those taking more than 400 units a day were more likely to die of any cause. The new study involved 613 veterans at 14 VA centers. Nearly all were male, 79 years old on average, with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. All were already taking Aricept, Razadyne or Exelon, a class of drugs widely used to delay mild to moderate Alzheimer’s.

Participants were placed in four groups and given either vitamin E, a dementia medicine called memantine (its brand name is Namenda), both Vitamin E and memantine, or dummy pills (placebo). After a little more than two years of follow-up, those on vitamin E alone had a 19 percent lower annual rate of decline in daily living skills compared to the other three groups. “It’s a subtle effect, but it’s probably real,” Dr. Ron Petersen, the Mayo Clinic’s Alzheimer’s research chief, said of the benefit on daily living from vitamin E. “That has to be weighed against the potential risks” seen in earlier studies, he said. Heather Snyder, director of medical and scientific operations for the Alzheimer’s Association, said the group’s position is that “no one should take vitamin E for Alzheimer’s disease or other memory issues except under the supervision of a physician,” because it can interfere with blood thinners, cholesterol drugs and other medicines. The new results also need to be verified in a fresh study that includes more women and minorities, she said. — AP

Healthy diet may alter our genetic destiny By Sharon Palmer, R.D At one time, if your mother had cancer, your genetic destiny for this disease seemed to be etched in stone. At least that was the old way of thinking about genetic predisposition for diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. But there’s been a paradigm shift in the way experts understand our inherited genetic profile, according to Roderick H. Dashwood, Ph.D., who spoke on genetics and nutrition at the 10th Annual Nutrition and Health Conference in Seattle last year. Just as we pass down genes for eye color and body frame from generation to generation, so also we pass down genes for disease susceptibility. But Dashwood reports that scientists now know that genes can be switched on and off. DNA and other proteins in the gene contain molecular “tags” that instruct a gene to be active or inactive. Environ-

ment and lifestyle can trigger these tags to be added or removed — essentially turning the gene on or off. Basically, you can alter your gene expression — the process by which inheritable information from a gene is translated and made into a functional gene product in the cell — and thus suppress the path of disease. For example, in the case of a genetic risk for cancer, Dashwood noted, “This has led to the idea that we might be able to drive cancer cells the other direction. You can turn on tumor suppressor genes to silence cancer cells.”

A new field: nutrigenomics Our understanding of genetics took a giant leap forward because of the Human Genome Project, a landmark endeavor that called upon a team of international researchers to map all of the genes — together known as the genome — of our

species. Completed in 2003, it gave scientists the ability to read our genetic blueprint, and also opened up our knowledge of how we can modify the negative effects of our genetic profiles. Since then, the field of nutrigenomics — the study of how foods affect our genes, and how individual genetic makeup can make people respond to foods and nutrients in different ways — has grown. One of the most exciting aspects of nutrigenomics is its potential for opening up new avenues for preventing diseases that people are genetically predisposed to — such as diabetes, obesity, inflammatory disorders, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. What you put on your plate may make a big impact on your genetic profile — and even on that of your children. Animal studies have shown that a mother’s diet can impose long-term alterations in the genetic expression of her offspring.

For example, a high-fat maternal diet can change the offspring’s gene expression and behavior toward a desire for more palatable foods, according to a 2010 article in the journal Endocrinology. Your overall diet pattern, calorie intake, consumption of particular compounds and nutrients in foods, exposure to food chemicals, as well as lifestyle may affect how your genes function. While many foods and nutrients are being studied, here are some of the most exciting areas of interest in the field of nutrigenomics: 1. Diet pattern A healthy diet pattern may shift your genetic expression towards cancer protection, according to a 2013 study published in Nutrition Journal. Canadian researchers compared the effects on genetic profile of a See NUTRIGENOMICS, page 5


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Cheaper, better Alzheimer’s care abroad? personal. In Switzerland, when “you have a cold, an old lady gives you pills and tells you to go to bed,” he said. Kuratli and his family have given themselves six months to make a decision while the retired software developer lives alongside his 65-year-old wife in Baan Kamlangchay — “Home for Care from the Heart.” Patients live in individual houses within a Thai community, are taken to local markets, temples and restaurants, and receive personal around-the-clock care. The monthly $3,800 cost is a third of what basic institutional care would cost in Switzerland. Kuratli is not yet sure how he’ll care for Susanna, who used to produce a popular annual calendar of her paintings. But he’s leaning toward keeping her in Thailand.

Make every day an

“Sometimes I am jealous. My wife won’t take my hand, but when her Thai caregiver takes it, she is calm. She seems to be happy,” he said. “When she sees me she starts to cry. Maybe she remembers how we were and understands, but can no longer find the words.”

Exporting our patients Relatives in Western nations are increasingly confronting Kuratli’s dilemma as the number of Alzheimer’s patients and

costs rise, and the supply of qualified nurses and facilities struggles to keep up. Faraway countries are offering cheaper, and to some minds better, care for those suffering from the irreversible loss of memory. For example, the Philippines is offering Americans care for $1,500 to $3,500 a month, well below U.S. rates. About 100 Americans are currently seeking care in the Philippines, said J.J. Reyes, who is planning See ALZHEIMER’S CARE, page 7


By Denis D. Gray CHIANG MAI, Thailand — In a swimming pool ringed by palm trees and wind chimes, residents of this facility for people with Alzheimer’s disease toss around a yellow ball and laugh under a water cascade with their caregivers. Susanna Kuratli, once a painter of delicate oils, swims a lap and smiles. Watching is her husband, Ulrich, who has a heartrending decision to make: whether to leave his wife of 41 years in this facility 5,600 miles from home, or to bring her back to Switzerland. Their homeland treats the elderly as well as any nation on earth, but Ulrich Kuratli said the care here in northern Thailand is not only less expensive but more

EXTRAORDINARY experience. Chances are you’ve never seen a cosmopolitan senior community quite like this, where you can have the amenities of a world-class hotel with the investment advantages of condominium ownership.

Alzheimer’s patients from Switzerland are assisted by Thai caregivers during afternoon activities at the Baan Kamlangchay care center in northern Thailand. More families in Europe and the U.S. are seeking Alzheimer’s care in Thailand and the Phillipines, where the cost is substantially less and the care appears to be more personal.

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healthy diet — which included high intakes of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and low intakes of refined products — with a Western diet, which included high consumption of refined grains, sweets and processed meats. Gene expression profiles pointed towards a potential increase for cancer risk with the Western diet and decreased risk of cancer in the healthy diet group. 2. Lifestyle An overall healthy lifestyle may have an even more significant impact on your genome. Research shows that physical activity alone has a pronounced impact on genes, lowering risk for type 2 diabetes and obesity. And in a 2008 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a lifestyle plan that included a healthy plant-based diet, moderate exercise, and stress management techniques altered the expression of over 500 genes in men with early-stage prostate cancer, indicating that these changes could help slow the progression of cancer. 3. Fruits and vegetables We know that eating lots of fruits and vegetables is good for a number of health benefits, and now you can add genes to the list. A 2010 Norwegian study showed that antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables induced changes in gene expression that optimized the body’s defense processes. And research has zeroed in on the impact of specific plant foods on the genome. Scientific findings presented at the Annual Nutrition and Health Conference indicate that sulforaphane, a compound in broccoli, appears to turn on tumor inhibitor genes to suppress cancer. Other dietary components appear to have similar action, including iosthiocyanates, which are found in sulfur and cruciferous


From page 3

vegetables, such as cabbage, kale, broccoli and watercress; organoselenium compounds found in garlic; biotin-rich foods such as chard and egg yolk, and alpha lipoic-acid-rich foods, such as green leafy vegetables. Other possible cancer suppressants include resveratrol in grape skins and red wine, isoflavones in soy, and bioactive compounds in walnuts, which might promote alterations in gene expression. 4. Micronutrients Many essential vitamins, such as B-vitamins, folic acid and choline, provide important compounds called methyl groups that help create genetic tags that turn genes on or off. If your diet is lacking in these nutrients, you may not be able to express the genes needed for good health, according to Lynn Adams, Ph.D., a Science and Technology Fellow with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 5. Food chemicals Adams reports that some chemicals in the food system, such as bisphenol-A (BPA), found in food packaging and containers, can interfere with genetic expression in regions of the brain and reproductive organs, according to preliminary research. It’s worth noting that the research in nutrigenomics is still in its infancy, and it’s too soon to know for sure how effective dietary changes are in altering gene expression on an individual basis. The good news is, the research coming in supports what we already know: An optimal diet for disease prevention is a Mediterranean eating pattern, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and low in highly refined grains, sweets and processed meats. Reprinted with permission from Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of Belvoir Media Group, LLC. 800-829-5384. © Belvoir Media Group. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.




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A female libido drug remains in limbo By Matthew Perrone The 15-year search for a pill that boosts sexual desire in women has hit another roadblock, raising questions about the future of efforts to develop a female equivalent to Viagra. Sprout Pharmaceuticals said it has reached an impasse with the Food and Drug Administration over its drug, flibanserin. The daily pill is designed to increase libido in women by acting on brain chemicals linked to mood and appetite. The FDA questions whether the drug’s benefits outweigh its risks, considering its “modest” effectiveness and side effects, including fatigue, dizziness and nausea. Sprout said it is appealing an October letter from the FDA that denied approval and

asked for more information. But chances for approval appear slim: Of the 17 appeals FDA considered in 2012, 14 were denied, according to government figures.

An elusive goal The agency’s letter is the latest challenge for companies working to develop therapies for women who report stress due to lack of libido. It’s a market drugmakers have been trying to tap since the success of Viagra, an erectile-dysfunction drug that was developed in the late 1990s to increase blood flow to the genitals. But unlike sexual problems in men, most of women’s sexual issues are psychological, not physical. As a result, there are a number of alternate causes doctors must

consider before diagnosing female sexual desire disorders — including relationship problems, hormone disorders, depression, and mood issues caused by other medications. Likewise, these other factors must be considered when treating it. Experts say that developing drugs for female sexual dysfunction is so difficult because of how little we understand the underlying causes. “Erectile dysfunction is a really easy thing to measure,” said Emory University researcher Kim Wallen. “Motivation is a hard thing to measure and, quite honestly, we don’t know enough about what creates sexual motivation to manipulate it.” Dr. Virginia Sadock, a psychiatrist, said the idea that a single pill can restore female libido oversimplifies the problem. Even if the FDA eventually approves a drug for female sexual dysfunction, she said it will likely be used with non-drug techniques to reduce stress and improve self-image. “A pill just doesn’t take care of it,” said Sadock, who teaches human sexuality at New York University’s School of Medicine. The same is true of other conditions, she avers. “You may take a statin drug to control your cholesterol, great. But you should also exercise, and you should also watch your diet.”

Different approaches tried Drugmakers have made several unsuccessful attempts at tweaking their approach to boosting female libido over the years. Initially, Pfizer tested Viagra on women, hoping that the drug’s ability to increase blood flow to genitals would increase sex drive in women. When that didn’t work, drugmakers turned to hormones, including the male

hormone testosterone. In 2004, an FDA panel rejected Procter & Gamble’s testosterone patch, Intrinsa, due to questions about its long-term safety — despite evidence of effectiveness. Sprout’s flibanserin is the first drug to approach the problem through brain chemistry. Sprout acquired flibanserin from Boehringer Ingelheim in 2011, after the German drugmaker abandoned development of the pill following an FDA rejection letter. Researchers believe the drug works by boosting dopamine — a brain transmitter associated with appetite — while lowering serotonin — another transmitter linked with feelings of satiation. Studies of the drug show that it boosts sexual desire, reduces stress, and increases “sexually satisfying events” reported by women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder, or a lack of sexual appetite that causes stress. The FDA has twice rejected flibanserin since 2010. A key issue for the agency is that women taking the drug reported only 1.7 more satisfying sexual experiences per month than women taking placebo. Sprout executives argue that number is statistically significant and warrants approval for their product, considering there are no other drugs approved for the condition. “We’ve now got 24 drugs for men for either testosterone replacement or erectile dysfunction,” said Cindy Whitehead, Sprout’s chief operating officer. “Yet there are zero drugs for the most common form of sexual dysfunction in women.” The FDA, which does not comment on drugs under appeal, is expected to make a decision on Sprout’s appeal by April. — AP

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Alzheimer’s care From page 4 a retirement community near Manila. The nascent trend is unnerving to some experts who say uprooting people with Alzheimer’s will add to their sense of displacement and anxiety. Others say quality of care is more important than location. There’s also some general uneasiness over the idea of sending ailing elderly people abroad: The German press has branded it “gerontological colonialism.” Germany is currently sending several thousand Alzheimer’s sufferers, as well as the aged and otherwise ill, to Eastern Europe, Spain, Greece and Ukraine. Patients are even moving from Switzerland, which was ranked No. 1 in healthcare for the elderly last year in an index compiled by the elderly advocacy group HelpAge International and the U.N. Population Fund.

More Thai facilities planned

time, even those with advanced stages of the disease can adjust well to change. “I think a positive transition has less to do with the move itself, and more with the way in which the staff and new environment accommodates the person living with dementia,” she said. Woodtli said people who have traveled widely and are accustomed to change can probably adapt. “One of our guests sometimes wakes up in the morning and says, ‘Where am I?’ But she would do the same if she was in a care center in Switzerland,” he said. “One guest thinks she is in a schoolhouse at Lake Lucerne.” At the swimming pool, Madeleine Buchmeier snaps photos and laughs as she watches a caregiver take her smiling husband’s hands to twirl around together in a child-like dance. “It’s a miracle,” she said. Her husband Geri used to bang his head against the walls of a care facility in Switzerland. And

The U.K.-based Alzheimer’s Disease International says there are more than 44 million Alzheimer’s patients globally, and the figure is projected to triple to 135 million by 2050. Facilities in Thailand are being developed to attract more of them. In Chiang Mai, a pleasant city ringed by mountains, Baan Kamlangchay will be followed by a $10 million, holiday-like home scheduled to open in a few months. Also on the way is a small Alzheimer’s unit within a retirement community set on the grounds of a former four-star resort. Baan Kamlangchay was established by Martin Woodtli, a Swiss who spent four years in Thailand with the aid group Doctors Without Borders before returning home to care for his Alzheimer’s-diagnosed mother. He brought his mother to Chiang Mai, where she became the home’s first “guest.” Woodtli never uses the word “patient.” Over the next 10 years, the 52-year-old psychologist and social worker purchased or rented eight two-story houses where 13 Swiss and German patients now reside. On most afternoons, the group gathers at a private, walled park to swim, snack and relax on deck chairs. Regular outside activities are organized because Woodtli believes these stimuli may help delay degeneration. He said his guests “cannot explain it, but I think they feel part of a family, a community, and that is very important.”



his legs and tickling his chin. She has been with him for six years. “If you think of it as a job it’s very difficult,” she said, “but if it comes from the heart, it is easy.” Like a number of Alzheimer’s victims, Schlaupitz responds well to music. Sometimes they sing one of his favorite songs: “Yesterday.” — AP





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Are familiar surroundings better? Sabine Jansen, head of Germany’s Alzheimer Society, said that while some with Alzheimer’s may adjust to an alien place, most find it difficult because they live in a world of earlier memories. “They are better oriented in their own living places and communities,” she said. “Friends, family members, neighbors can visit them. Also because of language and cultural reasons, it is best for most to stay in their home country.” Angela Lunde of the U.S.-based Mayo Clinic said that generally the afflicted do better in a familiar environment, but over

he would sink when entering water. In the three weeks since they arrived, he has calmed down and can swim again, all while his medicine is being sharply reduced. Nearby, Manfred Schlaupitz, a former Daimler-Benz engineer in his 70s, lies back in a deck chair, cradling a stuffed toy lamb. His caregiver, Kanokkan Tasa, sits on the grass beside him, gently massaging

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F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

Medical test surprises: Too much info? By Lauran Neergaard It’s a growing side effect of modern medicine: A test for one condition turns up something completely unrelated. It might be a real danger, or an anxiety-provoking false alarm. Doctors dub this the dreaded “incidentaloma” — so-called incidental findings that tell people more than they bargained for, things they might not need, or want, to know. A U.S. presidential advisory council said

it’s time to be more up-front about that risk with patients, before their next X-ray or gene test turns up a disturbing surprise. “Incidental findings can be life-saving, but they also can lead to uncertainty and distress,” cautioned Amy Gutmann of the University of Pennsylvania, who chairs the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. It is an issue that “will likely touch all of us who seek medical care, participate in research, or send a cheek swab to a com-

pany for a peek at our own genetic makeup,” Gutmann said.

What should patients be told? It may seem obvious that if the family doctor orders X-rays for a broken rib that also spot signs of cancer, the patient will be told. But the report notes that not every medical condition that can be found should be — and there’s conflicting advice about how to disclose and manage incidental findings. Consider: Ten percent of brain scans spot something unrelated that may require more testing, said bioethics panel member Dr. Stephen Hauser, neurology chairman at the University of California, San Francisco. Anywhere from 30 to 43 percent of abdominal CT scans turn up incidental findings, according to studies cited by the commission. In fact, the bioethics report said that, at trauma centers, high-powered scans that aim to find subtle injuries are more likely to make an incidental finding instead. And say a doctor maps a child’s genes to help diagnose some puzzling muscle symptoms — but also discovers genes that may trigger breast cancer after she has grown. That incidental finding has implications for the child and for other relatives, too. Sometimes, surprise findings can be lifesaving — for example, in the case of an

athlete whose brain is scanned after a concussion and radiologists spot a tumor, Hauser said. Other times, nothing can be done. That same brain scan might show early signs of an incurable condition, Hauser said, and “this young person now needs to live with the knowledge that she may someday develop this neurologic disease.” Another problem: Follow-up testing of an incidental finding may do harm. In the panel’s worst-case example, doctors see a suspicious spot on a lung while testing an elderly patient’s risk of a stroke. A biopsy determines the spot is nothing, a benign scar — but that biopsy makes the lung collapse, triggering cardiac arrest. Nor do patients necessarily want to know everything the doctor learns. A cancer survivor may agree to be X-rayed for broken bones after a fall. But if she doesn’t want to know about any signs of returning tumors, it’s ethical for the doctor to respect that decision, Gutmann said.

Report recommendations The bioethics panel is urging better anticipation of and communication about how professionals and patients should handle these surprises. Among the recomSee MEDICAL TESTS, page 9

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Say you saw it in the Beacon | Fitness & Health


New guidelines for high blood pressure By Dr. Howard LeWine When it comes to your “health numbers,” your two blood pressure values are important to know — and keep under control. New guidelines for managing high blood pressure in adults, released in December in a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), aim to help doctors know when to start treating high blood pressure and how best to do it. Millions of Americans have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. It is

the most common risk factor for heart attack and stroke. High blood pressure can also lead to kidney failure, aneurysm (weakening or bulging of blood vessel walls), damaged blood vessels in the eyes, and vascular dementia (the second leading cause of memory loss and thinking problems). Unfortunately, barely half of Americans with high blood pressure have it under control. First, some background information. Blood pressure is the force exerted on the arteries by a wave of blood propelled from

Medical tests

lege of Medical Genetics. That group says laboratories should automatically notify doctors if genetic tests turn up any of about 50 genes linked to two dozen diseases that might be treatable or preventable if discovered early. “When people go into these kinds of tests, you never think...that you’re the one that’s going to have something found,” explained ACMG Executive Director Michael Watson. “We didn’t think they should opt out of hearing about those results prior to the test.” People should be educated about incidental findings in time to consider how they’d want to handle one, said Dr. Sarah Hilgenberg of Stanford University, who told the bioethics panel about her own experience. As a medical student, Hilgenberg enrolled in a study of memory that scanned her brain. Researchers weren’t obligated to reveal the suspicious spot they found, but did — letting her get treatment for an abnormality that otherwise might have triggered dangerous bleeding. “I would imagine it doesn’t ordinarily cross people’s minds,” said Hilgenberg, who praised the recommendations. — AP

From page 8 mendations: • Doctors, researchers and direct-toconsumer companies alike should inform potential patients about the possibility of incidental findings before they undergo a medical test. They should clearly explain what will and won’t be disclosed, so patients can make an informed decision about whether and how to proceed. • Professional groups should develop guidelines about incidental findings common to different tests, and how to handle them. • The government should fund more research into the costs, benefits and harms of identifying, disclosing and managing different incidental findings. • Health workers should explore the pros and cons of test results with patients ahead of time, in what’s called shared decision-making, to learn what they don’t want to be told. The ability to preemptively opt out of hearing results differs from guidelines issued earlier this year by the American Col-

the heart. It is given as two numbers, each measurement recorded in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), like 122/78 (spoken as 122 over 78). Systolic pressure (the top number of a blood pressure reading) gauges the pressure in the arteries at systole (SIS-tuh-lee), the instant when the heart contracts and pushes a wave of blood along the arterial tree (think “s” for squeeze). Diastolic pressure (the bottom number of a blood pressure reading) is the pressure during diastole (die-AS-tuh-lee),

the brief period of relaxation between beats. What the new guidelines fail to specify is what is “normal” blood pressure and what is high blood pressure. I’m going to stick with the current standard definitions: Normal (meaning healthy) blood pressure: a systolic pressure under 120 and a diastolic pressure under 80. Hypertension, or high blood pressure: a systolic pressure of 140 or higher and/or a See BLOOD PRESSURE, page 10


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Blood pressure From page 9 diastolic pressure of 90 or higher. In a nutshell, here’s what the new guidelines recommend: 1. Among adults age 60 and older with

high blood pressure, aim for a target blood pressure under 150/90. 2. Among adults age 30 to 59 with high blood pressure, aim for a target blood pressure under 140/90 3. Among adults with diabetes or chronic kidney disease, aim for a target blood

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F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

pressure under 140/90. The expert panel that put together the guidelines also weighed in on how best to reach these targets. It recommended that everyone with high blood pressure, as well as those in the gray zone between normal and high blood pressure, adopt healthy lifestyle changes known to control blood pressure. These include losing weight if necessary, limiting salt intake, eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and staying physically active. When drug therapy is needed, the guidelines recommend starting with slightly different medications depending on race. For non-blacks, including those with diabetes, it’s OK to start with an ACE inhibitor, angiotensin-receptor blocker, calcium-channel blocker, or thiazide-type diuretic. Among blacks, including those with diabetes, a calcium-channel blocker or thiazidetype diuretic is the best initial medication. Among individuals with declining kidney function, it’s best to start with a low dose of an ACE inhibitor or angiotensin-receptor blocker, since these types of medications help protect the kidneys from further damage. The previous set of blood pressure guidelines, published 10 years ago, were put together by a panel assembled by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and carried the gravitas of a federal recommendation. The current panel was assembled by the NHLBI in 2008, but then was essentially cut loose when the institute announced it was getting out of the business of developing clinical practice guidelines. The panel set out to base its guidelines only on data from randomized controlled trials, the gold standard of medical research. They openly acknowledged that this wasn’t possible, and instead had to base some of the recommendations on expert opinion. The recommendations are sure to draw criticism and create some controversy. To

Although the new guidelines address an area of controversy — how low should blood pressure go — they don’t change the basics: 1. Know your blood pressure. Take advantage of any chance you have to get your blood pressure checked. For example, many pharmacies have blood pressure devices that you can use for free. Or consider using a home blood pressure monitor. 2. Consider high blood pressure to be a reading of 140/90 or greater. If you have high blood pressure, you need to act. This might mean just getting another couple readings in the next few weeks. If it’s much above 140/90, call your doctor’s office to arrange an appointment soon. 3. Lifestyle changes are important. Since our lifestyles are often what lead to high blood pressure, changes can help control blood pressure. Key places to focus are getting more exercise, improving diet, losing weight if needed, not smoking and reducing stress. 4. Tailor treatment to your needs. No matter what the guidelines say, your blood pressure treatment and goals should be tailored to you personally. For example, a very old and frail person is more likely to feel better and have less fall risk with fewer medications and a blood pressure higher than 150 or even 160. Howard LeWine, M.D., is chief medical editor, Internet publishing, Harvard Health Publications. © 2014 President And Fellows of Harvard College. All Rights Reserved Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Say you saw it in the Beacon | Fitness & Health


2014 Community Seminar Series Offers Insight on Living Well Brooke Grove Retirement Village (BGRV) is pleased to launch its sixth year of Living Well Community Seminars beginning in February. Designed to help participants navigate a variety of healthcare and personal challenges, this year’s series offers an impressive array of experts ready to offer insight on topics that range from healthy cooking to the power of music. Each free, monthly presentation will be held from 7 to 8:15 p.m. in the terrace level conference room of Brooke Grove Rehabilitation and Nursing Center and will be preceded by a complimentary light supper beginning at 6:30 p.m. They are open to the public as well as to members of the BGRV family. The seminar series will kick off on Wednesday, February 19, with “Cooking for Your Heart.” Join Warman Home Care and Personal Chef Nikki Haddad for some fabulous tips on heart-healthy cooking, instructions on how to prepare tasty and nutrient-rich recipes bursting with flavor, and a cooking demonstration with samples of “good for you” foods. Learn how to change the way you think about food

and shift your eating habits into a healthier mode. “With the right tools, you’ll be able to make good decisions about healthy eating quickly and effortlessly,” explains Ms. Haddad, who owns her own business and has over 20 years of experience in the food industry. If you are a veteran or a surviving spouse, discover “How to Apply for the Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension” on Wednesday, March 12. Presented by Jonathan Layne of Mission Veteran Assistance, this seminar will provide guidance on how veterans can apply for assistance with the cost of home care, assisted living and nursing home care from this often overlooked program. He will discuss eligibility, approval times and benefit amounts, which can range from $1,113-$2,053 per month, tax-free. Certified Wellness and Motivational Coach Nira Berry, who is also a certified Laughter Yoga teacher, will lead an interactive program entitled “LaughingRx” on Thursday, April 17. Nira benefited from the power of laughter during an illness 10 years ago and now shares

what she has learned to help others live more positively. Presented in partnership with Home Instead Senior Care, this seminar will include laughter exercises, deep breathing and, well, FUN! Laughter exercises have been scientifically shown to reduce stress, high blood pressure and pain sensation; increase endorphins; help people to cope better; and boost the immune system, energy levels, memory and focus. Whether you are a music lover, a senior, or someone who just loves to live well, “The Power of Music” on Wednesday, May 21, will inform and inspire you. According to Therapeutic Music Consultant Jeannie Finnegan of Melodies and

Memories, who will present the seminar, there is much to learn about the power of music to transform our lives: the “brain-music” connection and the neuroscience behind it, what the research says about therapeutic music, and the important role that meaningful music plays in the quality of our lives. “Music has the power to affect so many aspects of who we are — memory, emotion, communication, movement, cognition, relationships,” she says. “It’s the thread woven through the tapestry of life.” To attend any of these seminars, please RSVP to Director of Marketing Toni Davis at 301-388-7209 or by the Monday prior to each seminar.


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A glucose monitor inside a contact lens By Martha Mendoza Brian Otis gingerly holds what looks like a typical contact lens on his index finger. Look closer. Sandwiched in this lens are two twinkling glitter-specks loaded with tens of thousands of miniaturized transistors. Plus, it’s ringed with a hair-thin antenna. Together these remarkable miniature electronics can monitor glucose levels in tears of diabetics, and then wirelessly transmit them to a handheld device. “It doesn’t look like much, but it was a crazy amount of work to get everything so very small,” Otis said. During years of soldering hair-thin wires to miniaturize electronics, Otis

burned his fingertips so often that he can no longer feel the tiny chips he made from scratch in Google’s Silicon Valley headquarters. It’s a small price to pay for what he says is the smallest wireless glucose sensor ever made. In the beach town of Santa Cruz, Calif., high school soccer coach and university senior Michael Vahradian, 21, has his own set of fingertip callouses. His come from pricking himself up to 10 times a day for the past 17 years to draw blood for his glucose meter. A cellphone-sized pump on his hip attaches to a flexible tube, implanted in his stomach, which shoots rapid-acting insulin into his body around the clock. “I remember at first it was really hard to

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make the needle sticks a habit because it hurt so much,” he said. “And there are still times I don’t want to do it — it hurts and it’s inconvenient. “When I’m hanging out with friends, heading down to the beach to body-surf or going to lunch, I have to hold everyone up to take my blood sugar.” The idea that all of that monitoring could be going on passively, through a contact lens, is especially promising for the world’s 382 million diabetics who need insulin and keep a close watch on their blood sugar.

Years from the market The prototype, which Google says will take at least five years to reach consumers, is one of several medical devices being designed by companies to make glucose monitoring for diabetic patients more convenient and less invasive than traditional finger pricks. The contact lenses were developed during the past 18 months in the clandestine Google X lab that also came up with a driverless car, Google’s Web-surfing eyeglasses, and Project Loon, a network of large balloons designed to beam the Internet to unwired places. But research on the contact lenses began several years earlier at the University of Washington, where scientists with National Science Foundation funding worked. Until January, when Google shared information about the project with the Associated Press, the work had been kept under wraps. “You can take it to a certain level in an academic setting, but at Google we were given the latitude to invest in this project,” Otis said. “The beautiful thing is we’re leveraging all of the innovation in the semi-

conductor industry that was aimed at making cellphones smaller and more powerful.” American Diabetes Association board chair Dwight Holing said he’s gratified that creative scientists are searching for solutions for people with diabetes but warned that the device must provide accurate and timely information. “People with diabetes base very important healthcare decisions on the data we get from our monitors,” he said.

Other innovative monitors Other non-needle glucose monitoring systems are also in the works, including a similar contact lens by Netherlands-based NovioSense; a minuscule, flexible spring that is tucked under an eyelid; Israel-based OrSense has already tested a thumb cuff, and there have been early designs for tattoo and saliva sensors. A wristwatch monitor was approved by the FDA in 2001, but patients said the low level electric currents pulling fluid from their skin was painful, and it was buggy. “There are a lot of people who have big promises,” said Dr. Christopher Wilson, CEO of NovioSense. “It’s just a question of who gets to market with something that really works first.” Palo Alto Medical Foundation endocrinologist Dr. Larry Levin said it was remarkable and important that a tech firm like Google is getting into the medical field. He’d like to be able to offer his patients a pain-free alternative from either pricking their fingers or living with a thick needle embedded in their stomach for constant monitoring. “Google, they’re innovative, they are up on new technologies, and also we have to See HI-TECH MONITORS, page 13

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Hi-tech monitors From page 12 be honest here, the driving force is money,” he said. Worldwide, the glucose-monitoring devices market is expected to be more than $16 billion by the end of this year, according to analysts at Renub Research. The Google team built the wireless chips in clean rooms and used advanced engineering to get integrated circuits and a glucose sensor into such a small space. Researchers also had to build in a system to pull energy from incoming radio frequency waves to power the device enough to collect and transmit one glucose reading per second. The embedded electronics in the lens don’t obscure vision because they lie outside the eye’s pupil and iris. Google is now looking for partners with experience bringing similar products to

market. Google officials declined to say how many people worked on the project or how much the firm has invested in it. Dr. David Klonoff, medical director of the diabetes research institute at MillsPeninsula Health Services in San Mateo, worked with Google to see whether glucose is present in tears and whether the amount of glucose is proportional to the amount of glucose in blood. He’s still analyzing, but optimistic about his findings, while he warns there are many potential pitfalls. “Already this has some breakthrough technologies, but this is a moonshot, there are so many challenges,” he said. One is figuring out how to correlate glucose levels in tears as compared with blood. And what happens on windy days, while chopping onions or during very sad movies? As with any medical device, to win FDA


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Say you saw it in the Beacon | Fitness & Health

approval it would need to be tested and proved accurate, safe and at least as good as other types of glucose sensors available now. Karen Rose Tank, who left her career as an economist to be a health and wellness coach after her Type 1 diabetes diagnosis 18 years ago, also is encouraged that new


glucose monitoring methods may be on the horizon. “It’s really exciting that some of the big tech companies are getting into this market,” she said. “They bring so much ingenuity; they’re able to look outside the box.” — AP


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Health Shorts Stay cool to lose weight Regular exposure to mild cold temperatures may be a healthy and sustainable way to help people lose weight, according to a new article in the journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism. On the flip side, that means our warm and cozy homes and offices might be partly responsible for our expanding waistlines. “What would it mean if we let our bodies work again to control body temperature?” asked lead author Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt of Maastricht University Med-

ical Center in the Netherlands. “We hypothesize that the thermal environment affects human health, and more specifically, that frequent mild cold exposure can significantly affect our energy expenditure over sustained time periods,” he said. In short, when we’re cold, our bodies burn off excess body fat. Heat-generating, calorie-burning “brown fat” isn’t just for babies. Adults have it too, and some more than others. A research group from Japan found a decrease in body fat after people spent two hours per day at 62.6 degrees Fahrenheit for six weeks. The Netherlands team also found that people get used to the cold over time. After six hours a day in the cold for a period of 10 days, people in their study increased

F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

brown fat, felt more comfortable and shivered less at 59 degrees. In young and middle-aged people at least, non-shivering heat production can account for a few percent up to 30 percent of the body’s energy budget, they say. That means lower temperatures can significantly affect the amount of energy a person expends overall. But lowering the thermostat might take some convincing. “Indoor temperature in most buildings is regulated to minimize the percentage of people dissatisfied,” the researchers write. “This results in relatively high indoor temperatures in wintertime. “This is evident in offices, in dwellings and is most pronounced in care centers and hospitals. By lack of exposure to a varied ambient temperature, whole populations may be prone to develop diseases like obesity. In addition, people become vulnerable to sudden changes in ambient temperature.” — Cell Press

Anti-bacterial soaps don’t work After more than 40 years of study, the U.S. government says it has found no evidence that common anti-bacterial soaps prevent the spread of germs, and suggests

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they may in fact pose health risks to consumers. Scientists at the Food and Drug Administration announced in December that they are revisiting the safety of triclosan and other sanitizing agents found in soap in countless kitchens and bathrooms. Recent studies suggest triclosan and similar substances can interfere with hormone levels in lab animals and spur the growth of drugresistant bacteria. “I suspect there are a lot of consumers who assume that by using an anti-bacterial soap product, they are protecting themselves from illness, protecting their families,” said Sandra Kweder, deputy director in the FDA’s drug center. “But we don’t have any evidence that that is really the case over simple soap and water.” Under a proposed rule, the agency will require manufacturers to prove that antibacterial soaps are safe and more effective than plain soap and water. Products that are not shown to be safe and effective by late 2016 would have to be reformulated, relabeled or removed from the market. The government’s preliminary ruling lends new support to outside researchers who have long argued that the chemicals are, at best, ineffective and at worst, a threat to public health. While the rule applies only to personal hygiene products, it has implications for a See HEALTH SHORTS, page 15

WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 4

Health shorts From page 14 broader $1 billion industry that includes thousands of anti-bacterial products, including kitchen knives, toys, pacifiers and toothpaste. The FDA rule affects virtually all soap products labeled anti-bacterial, including popular brands from CVS, Bath and Body Works, Ajax and many other companies. The rule does not apply to hand sanitizers, most of which use alcohol rather than antibacterial chemicals. Most of the research surrounding triclosan’s safety involves laboratory animals, including studies in rats that showed changes in testosterone, estrogen and thyroid hormones. Some scientists worry that such changes in humans could raise the risk of infertility, early puberty and even cancer. FDA scientists stressed that such studies are not necessarily applicable to humans, but the agency is reviewing their implications. — AP

Boost omega-3s in your diet The latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend increasing “the amount and variety of seafood consumed by choosing seafood in place of some meat and poultry.” The main reason is that fish and other seafood contain two omega-3 fats associated with a reduced risk for heart problems: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Science suggests that eating about 8 ounces of a variety of seafood each week may convey these heart-healthy benefits. Problem is, most of us aren’t getting the


Mar. 2+


The Jewish Social Service Agency (JSSA) will be conducting a four-session, interactive “Connecting In Friendship” course on Tuesdays, March 4, 11, 18 and 25 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Classes will be held at Kol Shalom, 9110 Darnestown Rd., Rockville, Md. Led by Stanley Fagen, Ph.D. and Leslie Kessler, LCSW-C, this course builds social skills. The program is non-sectarian, and preregistration is required. The cost is $80 for all four classes; make-ups are not offered. For more information and to register, call (301) 816-2665 or email

recommended amounts of these omega3s. Try the following ideas to help you get more: 1. Go for omega-3-rich fish. While all seafood contains some omega-3 fats, fatty cold-water fish have higher concentrations. Popular omega-3-rich picks include salmon and sardines (both provide more than 1,000 mg. per 4-oz.serving) and light tuna (about 250 mg. per 4 oz.). 2. Try some seaweed. Need a reason to eat sushi? Seaweed (nori) and kelp (wakame, kombu or dulse) are both algae, which provide some DHA/EPA. 3. Consider fortified foods. More and more food products fortified with DHA/EPA are finding their way to supermarket shelves. The following are foods that you might find fortified with DHA/EPA: a) Eggs: Eggs are fortified by adding flaxseed and/or algae supplements to hens’ feed. One large egg may contain up

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to 500 mg. omega-3s (some of which is DHA/EPA). b) Milk: Some brands of milk add fish oil or algal oil to give a DHA/EPA boost (don’t worry, you can’t taste it!). 1 cup of this fortified milk delivers up to 50 mg. of DHA/EPA. c) Peanut butter: As with milk, some brands are adding fish oil. A 2-tablespoon


serving provides about 30 mg. DHA/EPA. 4. Talk with your doctor about supplements. If you don’t eat a lot of fish, taking an omega-3 supplement might be a smart choice. Talk with your doctor about whether supplementation might be right for you and, if so, what to look for on labels. — Eating Well


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Do ‘energy boosters’ really perk you up? By Dr. Anthony Komaroff Stroll the aisles of any pharmacy or health food store, and you’ll see a multitude of herbs and other supplements that claim to boost energy, as well as soft drinks and so-called energy drinks that include them. Yet there’s little or no scientific evidence to support the claims made by most of these substances. The fact is, the only thing that will reliably boost your energy is caffeine or another stimulant —and their effects wear off within hours. Here’s a look at some of the substances commonly touted as energy boosters: 1. Chromium picolinate. This trace mineral is widely marketed to build muscle, burn fat, and increase energy and ath-

letic performance, but research has not supported these claims. 2. Coenzyme Q10. This enzyme is found in mitochondria, the energy factories of our cells. Coenzyme Q10 supplements have been shown to improve exercise capacity in people with heart disease, and may do the same in people with rare diseases that affect the mitochondria. In other cases, the effects are not clear. One small European study suggested that people with chronic fatigue syndrome might benefit from supplementation with coenzyme Q10, but more research is needed. 3. Creatine. The body makes its own creatine; it is largely found in muscle. But

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it’s also widely sold as a supplement. There is some evidence that taking creatine can build muscle mass and improve athletic performance requiring short bursts of muscle activity (like sprinting). But there is little evidence it can do the same in older adults, or that it can reduce a feeling of fatigue in anyone.

4. DHEA. Sometimes marketed as a “fountain of youth,” dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is touted to boost energy as well as prevent cancer, heart disease, and infectious disease, among other things. The truth is that this naturally ocSee ENERGY BOOSTERS, page 17

Make your own natural energy drink By Karen Ansel When you’re feeling sluggish and need a pick-me-up, maybe you reach for an energy drink or a can of soda. But would you be better served with something else? This refreshing lemony drink will give you a caffeine energy boost when you don’t want coffee. It’s a doublestrength brew of green tea plus yerba mate, and delivers about 135 mg. caffeine plus antioxidants. Compared with store-bought energy drinks, this homemade energy drink recipe saves about 150 calories and has less than half the sugar. Add an extra-fresh taste by garnishing the rim with chopped mint. Yerba mate is a tea made from the leaves of a South American tree. Look for it with other tea in the natural-foods section of large supermarkets or natural-foods stores.

Energy drink recipe Serves 1 (1 1/2 cup serving) Ingredients:

1 cup boiling water 2 green tea bags 1 yerba mate tea bag 1 1/2 tablespoons agave, honey or sugar 2 tablespoons lemon juice Ice cubes Chopped fresh mint (optional) Preparation: Put boiling water in a heatproof measuring cup. Add green tea and yerba mate and steep for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags, squeezing the excess liquid into the cup before discarding. Stir in sweetener and lemon juice. Add 6 ice cubes and stir until they’re melted and the drink is cold. If desired, wet the rim of your serving glass and coat with chopped mint. Add more ice to the glass and pour in the energy drink. Nutrition: 97 calories, 0 g. fat, 0 mg. cholesterol, 26 g. carbohydrates, 24 g. added sugars, 0 g. protein, 0 g. fiber, 11 mg. sodium, 95 mg. potassium. © 2014 Eating Well, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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Energy boosters From page 16 curring hormone has no proven benefits and some potentially serious health risks. Some research shows that DHEA can damage the liver. It can also lower levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol. And because this hormone is related to estrogen and testosterone, there is concern that it may increase the risk for breast and prostate cancers. By increasing levels of testosterone, it can also encourage acne and facial hair growth in women. Until further research clarifies the side effects, it’s wise to avoid taking DHEA. 5. Ephedra. Although ephedra was banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2004 because of major safety concerns — including increased risk of heart attack and stroke — it remains available for sale on the Internet. Any effectiveness that ephedra may have in terms of boosting energy probably results from two substances it contains — ephedrine and pseudoephedrine — that may increase alertness. There’s no safe amount of ephedra you can consume. If you want to boost your en-

ergy by stimulating your central nervous system, a cup of coffee or another caffeinated beverage will work just as well. 6. Ginkgo biloba. Derived from the maidenhair tree, ginkgo biloba has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine and is now a common dietary supplement in Western countries. Its effects on cognition (thinking), mood, alertness and memory have been the subject of many studies, but many of those studies have not been of high quality. A Cochrane Collaboration review found the evidence was too weak to conclude that ginkgo biloba improved cognition in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Regarding memory in people without dementia, the evidence is contradictory. Some studies suggest that ginkgo biloba may improve some aspects of mood, including alertness and calmness, in healthy subjects. By making you more alert and calm, it may increase your sense of energy. 7. Ginseng. This relatively safe and popular herb is said to reduce fatigue and enhance stamina and endurance. It is sometimes called an “adaptogen,” meaning it helps the body cope with mental and physical stress, and can boost energy without causing a


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WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 4

crash the way sugar does. Data from human studies are sparse and conflicting. Some studies report that ginseng improves mood, energy and physical and intellectual performance. Other research concludes it doesn’t improve oxygen use or aerobic performance, or influence how quickly you bounce back after exercising. 8. Guarana. This herb induces a feeling of energy because it’s a natural source of caffeine. But consuming a lot of guarana, especially if you also drink coffee and other caffeinated beverages, could ultimately lower your energy by interfering with sleep. 9. Vitamin B12. Some doctors give in-

jections of vitamin B12 as “energy boosters.” But unless they’re given to correct anemia that results from a true deficiency of the vitamin, there is little evidence that vitamin B12 treatments boost energy. Instead of relying on a supplement for energy, I recommend switching to a healthful diet — more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, lean protein and unsaturated fats — and exercising more. That’s truly a better way to beat an energy shortage, and it’s one your whole body will appreciate. © 2014 President and Fellows of Harvard College. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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NIH seeks volunteers for vision loss study By Barbara Ruben Sudden blurred vision or vision loss in all or part of the eye can be caused by a condition called retinal vein occlusion. The condition occurs when the veins that carry blood away from the retina become blocked. Risk factors for retinal vein occlusion include diabetes, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and other eye conditions, including macular edema, glaucoma or vitreous hemorrhage. Untreated blockage of retinal veins can cause these eye problems as well. The risk

increases with age, and the condition primarily affects those over 55. There are two types of retinal vein occlusion: branch (BRVO), which involves small veins, and central (CRVO), which occurs when the main vein in the retina is blocked. Many people can regain vision without treatment, but it rarely returns to normal. While current treatments cannot open the blockage, treatment can prevent additional blockage and block growth of new blood vessels in the eye that may lead to more complications, such as glaucoma. The most common cause of vision loss

with the condition is macular edema, and recent studies found that monthly treatment with anti-vascular endothelin growth factor (VEGF) helps, but the results are short lived.

Antibiotic to be tested Doctors at the National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, are now looking at a new treatment targeted at inflammation, which can also cause retinal vein occlusion. They think that the antibiotic minocycline might help prevent the cells involved in inflammation from being activated. Minocycline is currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, as well as acne and skin, genital and urological infections. Researchers are seeking volunteers who have been diagnosed in the last 18 months either with central or branch retinal eye occlusion for a two-year study of minocycline. Those who have a history of chronic hepatitis or liver failure, thyroid cancer, or have kidney failure are not eligible for the study. Blood pressure cannot be above 180/110.

Because minocycline can increase sensitivity to the sun, those in the study must agree to minimize sun exposure and wear sunscreen and sunglasses when in the sun. During the study, participants will have a physical exam, blood tests and eye exams at least monthly. Other exams may include thyroid tests and eye imaging studies. Those in the study may also receive injections of a drug to prevent the growth of new blood vessels in the eye. Study participants will be randomly divided into two groups. One will be assigned to take minocycline twice a day, while the others (the control group) will take a pill with no active ingredients (a placebo). Participants will not know which pill they are given. The study will be conducted at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md., located near the Metro Red Line Medical Center stop. Participants receive study-related tests, medication and parking at no cost. For more information, or to see if you qualify, call 1-800-411-1222. Refer to study #11-EI-1263 for those with branch retinal vein occlusion and #11-EI-1264 for central vein occlusion.


Feb. 20


Homecrest House presents its annual health fair on Thursdays, Feb. 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Moskowitz Social Hall at 14510 Homecrest Rd., Silver Spring, Md. More than 20 senior service agencies will be present to answer questions, including Kensington Pharmacy, Jewish Social Service, Lighthouse for the Blind and more. Activities will include chair yoga, a bone density analysis, a balance screening and more. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, call (301) 598-0820.

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Rethinking some breast cancer treatments By Marilynn Marchione Tens of thousands of women each year might be able to skip at least some of the grueling treatments for breast cancer — which can include surgery, heavy chemotherapy and radiation — without greatly harming their odds of survival, new research suggests. The research is aimed at curbing overtreatment, a big problem in cancer care. Treatments help many women beat the disease, but giving too many, or ones that aren’t really needed, causes unnecessary expense, trauma and lifelong side effects, such as arm swelling and heart troubles. Radiation can even raise the risk of new cancers. Several studies presented in December at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, an international conference on the disease, identify groups of patients who might be able to safely forgo certain treatments. One found that many older women can skip radiation after surgery for early-stage tumors. Two others suggest that surgery may not help patients whose cancer has already spread widely. A fourth study tested a “light chemo” combination that could become a new standard of care. The trend is “less and less therapy” for certain cancer types, said one conference leader, Dr. C. Kent Osborne of Baylor College of Medicine. Here are some of the conference highlights:

Surgery Breast cancer is already widely spread in 5 to 20 percent of newly diagnosed patients, and at that point is usually incurable. The main treatment is chemotherapy, or hormone treatments that attack cancer

throughout the body. Sometimes doctors also remove the breast tumor in hope of prolonging survival, but this has not been put to a hard test until now. Dr. Rajendra Badwe, director of the Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, India, led a study of 350 women with widely spread cancers that had shrunk after initial chemotherapy. Half were given surgery to remove the breast or the lump plus any cancerous lymph nodes. The rest did not have surgery. After about two years, 40 percent of both groups were alive, suggesting that medicines are enough, and that these women can be spared the ordeal of having all or part of a breast removed. A second study by Dr. Atilla Soran of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center of nearly 300 women in Turkey suggests surgery is a mixed bag. Surgery seemed to help if cancer had spread just to bone, but it appeared to do harm if it had spread to the liver or lungs. “These are incredibly important, bigdeal studies,” said Dr. Claudine Isaacs, a breast specialist at Georgetown University’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. Many doctors jumped on earlier, less rigorous studies and advised women to have surgery, and this should be a warning against that, she said. The results also may spur interest in a U.S. study on the topic. Dr. Seema Khan, of Northwestern University in Chicago, has had so much trouble recruiting patients willing to forgo surgery that she lowered her goal and may not be able to answer the question. “There’s a huge amount of bias” among doctors and patients about what is best, she said.

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Radiation Most breast cancers are found at an early stage, and many women are treated with surgery followed by hormones or chemotherapy, plus radiation. But cancer medicines have gotten so good at lowering the risk of a recurrence that doctors wonder whether the radiation is still needed. It can cause heart and other problems, especially in older women. And three or four weeks of daily treatments can be a burden.

Dr. Ian Kunkler of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland led a study of 1,326 patients 65 or older with early-stage cancers whose growth was driven by hormones. This is the most common form of the disease, and the age group that accounts for most cases. Half were given radiation and half skipped it. After five years, roughly 96 percent of both groups were alive, and most deaths See CANCER TREATMENTS, page 20


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Do we expect too much of our doctors? It’s bad enough being a journalist. Peo- have done about that? ple are always dropping the next surefire — Said, gee, no, sorry, he didn’t know a Watergate in your lap. But at woman’s second cousin who least you can go to a social practices urology on Long Isevent and not be besieged. land. Does every doc really If you’re a doctor, your know every other doc? white coat is never off. — Declined to give advice One recent evening, I hung on which hospital someone’s out with a doc for about four granddaughter should book hours. In that time, he... for childbirth. Obviously, the — Gave advice about back pregnant woman should ask pain to some cheapskate who her OB/GYN. was clearly looking for free “Is it always like this?,” I medical advice. And who got HOW I SEE IT asked him, late in the evening. By Bob Levey it. “Always,” he said, with a — Clucked sympathetically about a case of shingles that someone was suffering 3,000 miles away. What could he

sigh. But once in a while, something pops up that a veteran doc hasn’t heard a million

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times. On this night, it came from a woman of about 80. She smilingly announced that she takes 24 different medications every day. I said something brilliant, like, “Great Googamooga!” The doc agreed that 24 sounded like an awfully high number. He immediately clicked into Careful Mode. Was this woman’s primary care physician keeping tabs on all those meds so the woman didn’t end up with more consequences, not fewer? She assured him that the primary care doc had an exhaustive list — and she had a copy. “I take 12 pills every morning and 12 others every evening,” she said. Yes, she has a month-long chart on her bathroom wall, so she can check off each day’s gulps. Yes, she feels OK. No, she hasn’t been asked to star in any TV commercials. Yes, she spends an ungodly amount on co-pays for all those

drugs — more than $500 a month, despite insurance. Yes, her son-in-law constantly urges her to invest in pharmaceutical stocks. No, she hasn’t done so because any excess money goes to the drugs. “Being alive to take 24 pills a day is a lot better than the alternative,” she announced. Hard to argue. But also hard to argue with this: This woman might be feeling just as good if she ditched most of the drugs in her daily batting order. I can’t prove that chemically, and I haven’t suddenly become a doctor myself. Nor do I know exactly what conditions this woman has. It’s just a hunch born of my own experience with meds. Some are obviously essential. Some don’t seem to accomplish a blessed thing.

Cancer treatments

with small tumors involving the gene targeted by the drug Herceptin. Those tumors are low risk because they’re still confined to the breast, but high risk because the gene is thought to make them more aggressive. Some women get heavy-duty chemo, including drugs that can damage the heart. Dr. Eric Winer of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston led a study of 406 women given “light chemo” — paclitaxel plus Herceptin for 12 weeks, followed by nine months of Herceptin alone. More than three years later, only four had cancer recur in the same breast, and two had recurrences in other places. “This is likely to become a new standard,” Winer said. — AP

From page 19 were not from breast cancer. About 1 percent of those given radiation had cancer recur in the treated breast versus 4 percent of those who skipped radiation. For every 100 women given radiation, “one will have a recurrence anyway, four will have a recurrence prevented, but 95 will have had unnecessary treatment,” Kunkler said. Since radiation did not affect survival or the risk of cancer spreading, skipping it “is a reasonable option,” he said.

“Light” chemo Doctors are unsure how to treat women

See BOB LEVEY, page 21

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From page 20 Yet doctors keep reaching for that handy-dandy prescription pad because they know patients expect it. “Give me something” is the watchword of the examination room. “I must hear that 10 times a day,” my doctor pal told me. “If they want a mild pain reliever, why would I say no?” No reason. But the real issue is whether there might be other ways to treat all those ailments. Often, I believe there are. Let’s take the man with back pain. A drug will mask his symptoms. But why is this guy moaning and creaking in the first place? Could it be that he’s 50 pounds overweight and rarely ventures out of his Barcalounger? Regular exercise will do him far more good, over far more years,

than Tylenol with codeine. Or take a patient with adult onset diabetes. He wants — and routinely gets — the best that Big Pharm has to offer. And those drugs work well. But if he ate less, and ate better, he’d find his blood levels returning to the safety of yesteryear. Again, rather than managing the symptoms, the patient needs to manage his behavior. Third example: mood drugs. If a patient expects and takes a Valium every time he has a bad day, he isn’t facing what caused the badness of that day in the first place. Better to have it out with boss, spouse or wayward kid. Dr. Levey is not recommending a return to caveman days. Modern medicine is exceptionally good, for the most part. Without hundreds of terrific medications, many of us wouldn’t be here to read this — and I wouldn’t be here to type this.


Mar. 1


The Parkinson’s Foundations of the National Capital Area will hold its annual symposium, on Saturday, March 1 to provide information for facilities impacted by Parkinson’s disease, including an overview of the disease, recent research, nutrition, sleep abnormalities and more. This event will take place at the Fairview Park Marriott, 3111 Fairview Park Dr., Falls Church, Va. from 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. The registration fee is $40 per person until Feb. 15. (after that date, the fee is $60 per person), which includes all sessions, breakfast, lunch and snacks. For more information or to register, visit or call (703) 734-1017.

Yet even doctors know where the limits are. Last year, I sought treatment for a strained Achilles tendon. The doc probed and prodded and agreed that I’d need some physical therapy. But no drugs. “No drugs?” I said, a little surprised.

“Well, OK, I’ll prescribe one for you. Take some FT.” “FT?” “Father Time,” said this doc. “He still heals more problems than any doctor or any drug.” Bob Levey is a national award-winning columnist.

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Does late-night snacking lead to more fat? Q: How late at night is it safe to eat or other foods low in calories and high in without having all the food turn to fat? nutrients. A: The problem with gainBut these situations pose ing fat is not the time at which trouble at any time of day — eating occurs. It’s how the the problem is inappropriate total amount of calories you eating behavior, not the time eat all day compares to the at which it occurs. Bottom total amount of calories you line: Eat the amount of caloburn up. ries you need for a healthy Studies have shown that weight at times that are best people who eat in the evening for you. do not gain weight if their Q: Recipes and nutrition total calories balance out. articles ever ywhere are Even though you may be less NUTRITION promoting kale, a vegetable active at night, you are still WISE I never even heard of until By Karen Collins, burning calories. recently. Is it really that However, when evening MS, RD, CDM great? eating is not related to hunger A: Kale is a member of the but is used to relieve boredom or stress, cruciferous vegetable family, along with that often means eating more than is need- broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and ed, and that will cause weight gain. For more. It has become more popular as peomany people, evening eating also means ple try it in restaurants and hear about its high-calorie “junk food” rather than fruit nutritional qualities from the media.



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Just like other healthful vegetables, it’s simply a great way to add variety to a healthy eating pattern. Like spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens and broccoli, kale’s dark green color signals that it’s very high in betacarotene (which forms vitamin A and seems to offer cancer protective benefits of its own) as well as lutein and zeaxanthin (two other carotenoids, linked with eye health). It’s loaded with vitamin C, and the calcium it contains is well absorbed. Compared to other dark green vegetables, kale does not contain as much folate, magnesium and iron. But like other cruciferous vegetables, kale contains compounds that break down into isothiocyanates — phytochemicals that show cancer-fighting properties in lab studies. What’s more, isothiocyanates seem to turn on tumor suppressor genes. These genes slow cell growth so that cell damage can be repaired, and they also stimulate self-destruction of damaged cells. Q: It seems like more and more people are trying tai chi. Does this kind of slow exercise really have any health benefits? A: Tai chi (pronounced tie-chee), which originated in China as a martial art, is today practiced mostly as an exercise to promote balance and healing. Both Tai Chi and a similar activity called qigong (pronounced chee-gung) include slow, flowing, dance-like motions, and may also include sitting or standing meditation postures. These practices are often referred to as “moving meditation,” because as participants slowly move through the poses, they

also focus on deep breathing and mental awareness. A review of 67 randomized controlled trials of tai chi or qigong concluded that, after eight to 12 weeks, these activities showed benefits for heart health (especially blood pressure), bone health, and balance (especially among those who were sedentary or at risk of falls). This analysis found the evidence for help with weight control inconclusive. The greatest overall benefit is seen when comparing those who practice tai chi or qigong to people who are sedentary or do stretching exercise only. Research is currently looking at how these gentle types of activity may benefit those who have obstacles to more demanding exercise, including people with osteoarthritis of the knee and some cancer survivors. An analysis of studies on knee osteoarthritis shows short-term benefits reducing pain and stiffness and improving physical functioning. Studies of tai chi for cancer survivors so far have been small, but suggest improvements in anxiety, depression and fatigue. Physical benefit may vary with length of program, initial level of fitness and other factors. The American Institute for Cancer Research offers a free Nutrition Hotline, 1800-843-8114, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. 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.

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A hearty, healthy bowl of fish chowder Nothing warms you on a chilly day like a hearty bowl of chowder, especially one that is delicious and adds extra healthfulness with fish and vegetables like carrots, celery, bell peppers, potatoes and corn. Many believe the term chowder has its roots in the Latin word calderia, which meant a place for warming things; and that later it came to mean cooking pot or cauldron. Others believe the term may have come from the old English word jowter, which is a fish peddler. The extra flavor in this chowder recipe comes from the vegetables and seasonings. The Old Bay seasoning amplifies the great marine taste. This blend is mildly spicy and contains everything from bay leaves, black pepper, paprika, celery salt, nutmeg and cayenne pepper to dry mustard, cloves, ginger and cardamom. The flour-thickened almond or soy milk provides a creamy base without the extra fat typical in chowders. You can get a head start cooking the chowder. Simply make the base of the chowder, let it cool and refrigerate. Then when you want to serve chowder, all you have to do is warm up the liquid and add the corn and fish. This enables you to complete the chowder in about five minutes. Many chowder recipes call for crumbled bacon for flavor and garnish. This

recipe, though, uses toasted whole-grain breadcrumbs. They give a pleasant crunchy sensation without bacon’s saturated fat and sodium. This substantial chowder can be a standalone dish or rounded out with a vegetable such as glazed winter squash or roasted acorn squash halves. You might even consider making some baked apples with a dash of maple syrup for dessert. Easy to make, this chowder will warm up your day while providing a great way to add more fish and vegetables to your winter diet.

fish. Continue to simmer until fish is opaque and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes. Ladle chowder into serving bowls and sprinkle bread crumbs on top. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 240 calories, 8 g. total fat (1 g. saturated fat), 26 g. carbohydrate, 17 g. protein, 4 g. dietary fiber, 321 mg. sodium. — The American Institute for Cancer Research

Fish Chowder with Veggies 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (grape seed oil may be substituted) 2 medium carrots, thinly sliced 2 medium stalks celery, ¼-inch pieces 1 medium onion, chopped medium 1 medium red bell pepper, diced Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 2 Tbsp. whole-wheat flour 4 cups unsweetened almond or soy milk 1 cup water (1 cup clam juice may be substituted) 2 large unpeeled red potatoes, diced into ½-inch pieces 2 tsp. Old Bay 30% Less Sodium Seasoning 1 cup frozen yellow corn



1 lb. cod or tilapia fillets, skinless, cut into 1-inch pieces ¼ cup toasted whole-grain breadcrumbs In large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sauté carrots, celery, onion and red pepper for 5 to 6 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle flour over mixture and sauté for additional minute. Stir in milk and water and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and Old Bay. Reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Gently stir in corn and



The Golden Girls of Northern Virginia, a senior women’s softball league, is looking for players. Any woman over the age of 40 is encouraged to join. All skill levels are welcome. The team plays on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings in Vienna, Va. For more information, visit

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So many benefits come from probiotics Dear Pharmacist: What is your go-to supplement for immunity? I want to get through the season without getting sick this year. — L.S. Dear L.S.: My answer is probiotics, because your immune system is in your GI tract. Probiotics also improve energy and metabolism by activating thyroid hormone. This makes you feel energetic and helps you lose weight. Your microbiome includes beneficial bacteria that extract vitamins and minerals from your food, thus ‘feeding’ your cells. A person can eat and eat, and it won’t support you nutritionally at a cellular level unless the nutrients are extracted from your meals. This is why overweight people are

Dr. Jeff Zolt

actually malnourished at the cellular level. Probiotics improve allergic conditions by retraining your immune cells to tell the difference between harmful and nonharmful things you are exposed to. This is particularly helpful to asthmatics. Probiotics improve autoimmune conditions by helping your system differentiate between “self” and “non-self” particles, so that your immune cells (born in your intestines) don’t over-react to your thyroid gland or your myelin (which sheathes your nerves), for example. Probiotics relieve constipation, and that reduces headaches, because if you eliminate waste properly, then toxins don’t build up in your body. My rule is, if toxins build up in your Dr. Kathy Grace Dr. Katie Demirel

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blood, they back up in your head. These potent against some deadly organisms, toxins are “migrenades,” they go off in this strain also removes toxins in the colon, digests proteins (proteyour body like a grenade, olytic) and helps allergies. causing migraines. Probiotics Lactobacillus acidophilus — get rid of some migrenades. Neutralizes yeast, campylobacProbiotics help rid you of ter and some flu strains, while excess neurotransmitters. If helping to lower cholesterol levyou are stressed, nervous, sad, els. You often see this in yogurt, overwhelmed, or you cry easithough I am not convinced it’s ly, I suggest taking probiotics. alive for long in yogurt. They influence hundreds of Lactobacillus bulgaricus — genes in your body, including May help digestive problems the genes that help you fight and acid reflux. infection, which is a terrific DEAR PHARMACIST Lactobacillus plantarum — perk this time of year. By Suzy Cohen Protects against some gramI suggest taking them while negative bacteria and proyou’re on an antibiotic. Many people wait until they are done with their duces natural antibodies. Often found in entire antibiotic course before starting pro- sauerkraut and pickles. Streptococcus thermophilus — Possessbiotics, but this causes a lot of damage to es strong antioxidant activity due to “suthe gut in terms of lost beneficial bacteria. Here’s how to take them at the same peroxide dismutase,” an enzyme known to time. After you swallow prescribed antibi- have anti-tumor activity. These long words may sound intimidatotics, they eventually exit your gut and enter your bloodstream. That’s the time to ing, but all you have to do is read the label take your probiotic supplement. So wait and see if these strains are listed on your about two hours after taking your medi- product. Most are common. Among the brands that have some of cine, then take your probiotic. High-quality probiotic products are these strains are Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotic by sometimes fermented to combine differ- Essential Formulas (contains TH-10 ent strains. Here are some of the most pop- strain), ProBio by Enzymedica, and KyoDophilus by Kyolic. You should be able to ular strains found in supplements: Bifidobacterium breve — Prevents diar- find these brands in health food stores and rhea and supports natural antibody pro- pharmacies across the country. In addition to taking these when you are duction. Bifidobacterium infantis — Fights E. on antibiotics, you can use these every day coli and protects against inflammation of for immune health and digestive support. This information is opinion only. It is not the colon and stomach. Bifidobacterium longum — Protects intended to treat, cure or diagnose your conyou from the negative effects of nitrates in dition. Consult with your doctor before using food, eases lactose intolerance, diarrhea any new drug or supplement. Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. and food allergies. Enterococcus faecalis or TH-10 — Very Contact her at

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When a ring has a string attached to it Dear Solutions: could, very nicely, contact her, mention I’m a widow, and when my grandson that the ring was an heirloom, and ask if became engaged, I gave him she would consider returnmy engagement ring, which ing it. was in a very special setSteel yourself to just acting. It was my gift to him to cept a rejection, and start to give to his fiancé. focus on helping your grandHe did, telling her that he son to move on and look for would really like it if she better fortune in the future. kept it with the original setDear Solutions: ting, as it had been an heirI have different kinds loom, but, of course, it of friends, and one of would be her choice. She them who I love dearly is SOLUTIONS did keep it that way. loud and not too cultured Then, after being married By Helen Oxenberg, or refined, but good heartjust a year and a half, she MSW, ACSW ed and loads of fun. left the marriage and they’re divorced. I would like her to return the ring to me. After all, it was really a gift from me to my grandson. He is very upset about the breakup of the marriage. I understand she now wears it on her right hand as just another piece of jewelry. Should I ask for it back? — Aggravated Dear Aggravated: Evidently, you wanted a string on the ring, and that the string should be attached right back to you. Let’s face the facts. When you gave it to your grandson, it became his, and he could do with it as he pleased. When he gave it to his fiancé, it became hers, representing her promise to marry him. And she did marry him, and so she and the ring kept their promises. I know you’re upset, and it’s very sad that the marriage didn’t work. But the engagement did — they did get married after being engaged. You could, of course, ask your grandson how he would feel about this. Or you

One of my old friends from school days told me recently that I should be aware that people will judge me as being the same as her if I keep being friends with her. “You know,” she said with a ver y smug look, “birds of a feather...” I’m having a party, and I was planning to invite both of these friends. Should I tell them they’re both invited? — Renee Dear Renee: You’re your own bird. Don’t worry about being judged the same as your “loud” friend. When birds of a feather “flock together” they can be pretty boring because they’re all the same. A different feather enlivens the scene. Invite them both without any apologies or request for permission. If your smug friend doesn’t like it, open the window so she can fly away. Dear Solutions: We’re both widowed, and we’ve been going out with each other for a while now. I think we would be great

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together, and I think he really does, too. How do I get him to talk marriage? He says he loves me and wouldn’t want to lose me, but every time the subject comes up, he says, “I don’t know. I don’t think I’m ready.” I love him, but I don’t know whether to walk away or to hang around waiting. — Grace Dear Grace: Unless you want to end up as a “lady in

waiting,” you’d better set a limit on your “hang around” time. Be clear and say what you want. Then give “I don’t know” six months to change to “I know” — one way or another. Ambivalence doesn’t buy time, it just kills time. Good luck. © 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 To inquire about reprint rights, call (609) 655-3684.

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Spotlight On Aging VOLUME XXV, ISSUE 2

A newsletter for D.C. Seniors


February 2014

In the Community

By John M. Thompson, Ph.D., FAAMA In this issue of “Spotlight on Aging,” we will focus on civic engagement. Civic engagement refers to “individual and collective actions designed to identify and address issues of public concern.” In our community, some of the concerns germane to our seniors include social isolation, poor quality health, uninhabitable homes needing repairs, and stresses related to caring for a loved one or raising a grandchild. Through civic engagement, caring seniors can play a significant role in helping fellow seniors in meeting their many different needs. According to research, seniors can improve their overall emotional wellbeing by being engaged in volunteer opportunities to positively contribute in their communities. Other research studies have established that creating and bolstering opportunities for continued civic engagement exhibits a strong positive association with seniors’ physical health and functioning, life satisfaction, subjective wellbeing and mortality. Another benefit of seniors being engaged in their communities is that they do not become susceptible to social isolation, as they are physically connected with their communities. Thus, it only makes sense for DCOA to continue promoting civic engagement. One ideal approach for getting our seniors and other citizens involved is through DCOA’s Ambassador Program. As you may recall, DCOA launched the Ambassador Program exactly two years ago this month. This was an awesome opportunity to move the agency forward as it sought new ways to link volunteers to seniors who had not received services from the agency. The agency’s Ambassador Program creates a safety net in the District to respond to the unmet needs of seniors, persons with disabilities, and family caregivers in the community. Since February 2012, the agency has trained hundreds of volunteers and looks forward to training more individuals who are passionate about helping the District’s citizens access long-term services and supports and respite through DCOA. Civic engagement is a positive movement across the country. We have an opportunity to capitalize on the momentum in the District of Columbia. However, it takes sacrifice, passion and a commitment to want to serve others, especially those who simply need a helping hand. I view civic engagement as a win-win situation for the giver and the receiver. For the receiver, there is an unmet need that is being addressed. For the giver, it is a sense of accomplishment and a chance to simply do something good for someone. If you, or someone you know, are interested in becoming a DCOA Ambassador, please contact Darrell Jackson, Jr. at 202-7245622. I look forward to meeting you at an upcoming Ambassador Program training.

DCOA Executive Director John M. Thompson, center, spoke to members of the Anacostia/ Bellevue/Congress Heights chapter of AARP. Thompson also participated in the installment of the slate of officers.

DCOA Program Works with Hospitals to Discharge Patients Successfully In FY 2013, approximately 86 persons received assistance through the DCOA Hospital Discharge Planning Program. An initiative to assist hospitals in DC with their discharge planning process, the program offers support to seniors age 60 and older, and persons with disabilities age 18 and older, as they transition from the hospital into the community. Providing assistance is vital so that residents can live independently in the community for as long as possible. Effective discharge planning: • Decreases the chances that a patient is re-admitted to the hospital, helps in recovery, ensures medications are prescribed and administered correctly, and ensures adequate prepara-

tion of the patient or caregiver to be able to attend to the patient’s needs. • Elicits patients’ input and encourages them to request discharge planning if a referral has not already been made • Develops a comprehensive assessment, information and education program to support patients and caregivers • Creates a strong, collaborative discharge team to support the patient’s and caregiver’s goals and needs during the discharge planning process, and ensures that resources are available to meet the patient’s discharge goals. For more information, or to get assistance with a hospital discharge plan, call 202-724-5626.


F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N




Election Year 2014: April 1 Primary Election What’s on the ballot? The Democratic, Republican, D.C. Statehood Green and Libertarian parties have qualified to hold primaries to select their party’s nominee in the general election for the following partisan offices: • Delegate to the US House of Representatives • Mayor of the District of Columbia • Chairman of the Council of the

District of Columbia • At-Large Member of the Council of the District of Columbia • Ward 1, 3, 5 and 6 Members of the Council of the District of Columbia • Attorney General for the District of Columbia (tentatively included pending outcome of Bill 20-134) • United States (“Shadow”) Representative • United States (“Shadow”) Senator

• District of Columbia Democratic State Committee Offices

Am I eligible to vote? In the District of Columbia, primaries are closed, party elections. This means that only voters registered with the Democratic, Republican, D.C. Statehood Green or Libertarian parties may vote in their party’s election. If you are a voter who is already reg-

District of Columbia Department of Health What You Need to Know About Sodium/Salt Reduction What is Sodium/Salt? Why is Sodium Reduction Important? • Sodium in moderation helps your body balance the level of fluid inside and outside your cells. • An increased amount of sodium in your body will cause your body to hold excess fluid. Your heart has to overwork to pump this added fluid. • Another name for sodium is Salt, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Benzoate, or MSG. • Sodium can be found in most processed foods and accounts for most of the salt consumed. • Blood Pressure can be lowered by reducing the intake of sodium/salt.

What Can I do to Reduce Sodium Intake? • Always check food labels to see how much sodium you are having in a meal. It is recommended to consume less than 2,400 milligrams of sodium a day. • Avoid canned items or processed meat such as tuna, canned beans or canned chicken. If you do have them, rinse canned food to remove some of the sodium. Instead, use fresh poultry, fish and lean meat. • Choose canned items that are plain or “ with no salt added.” • Avoid instant or flavored rice, pasta and cereals. Use minimal amount of salt when cooking these items.

Facts on Sodium/Salt • It is recommended to have less than 2,400 milligrams of sodium a day. 2,400 milligrams equals 6 grams or 1 teaspoon. • 75% of sodium in the diet comes from sodium added to processed foods and beverages. • Sodium may be in some of the foods you least expect it to be in, such as candy, frozen pizza, soups, frozen dinners, and beverages. Be mindful and CHECK LABELS FIRST!

istered, you must complete any changes to your party affiliation on or before March 3, 2014 in order to participate in the primary election. • To avoid delays at the polling place, advance registration is encouraged. • To confirm your registration, including party affiliation, visit the website at • To access a registration application online, visit Registration applications sent by mail must be postmarked by March 3, 2014.

Where and when can I vote? You have the choice to vote early, by mail, or at your polling place on Election Day.

Early voting Early voting will be offered during the April 1, 2014 Primary Election. Information about dates, times and locations will be available soon.

Vote by mail

• There are many different kinds of salt, such as Kosher Salt, Sea Salt, Grey Salt- watch the intake of these as well.

Request your absentee ballot online. All requests must be received by March 25, 2014. Your voted absentee ballot must be postmarked on or before April 1, 2014 and received by April 11, 2014.

• Sodium reduction in your diet can lower your blood pressure.

At the Polls on Election Day

• Try to limit your intake of fast foods as these foods contain high levels of sodium.

What Are Some Important Questions to Ask My Doctor? • What is my blood pressure reading? • What blood pressure range should I be aiming for and when do I need to contact a health care professional? • How can I improve my diet? • What is a recommended healthy eating plan I can use to reduce my sodium intake? • What types of foods should I avoid when watching my sodium intake?

• Cut back on frozen dinners , pizza, and packaged foods. These items tend to have more sodium. • Stock up on low, reduced-sodium, or no-salt-added versions of food. • Use salt-free seasoning blends and herbs in place of regular salt to reduce e sodium.

For more information, contact the DC Department of Health at: 202-442-5925

On Election Day, vote at the polling place assigned to serve your residence. Look up your polling place online. Polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. For more information contact: DC Board of Elections 441 4th St. NW, Suite 250 North Washington, DC 20001 Tel: 202-727-2525 | TTY: 202-639-8916 | Toll free: 1-866-DC-VOTES


WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 4



Pepco Warns Customers of Fake Invoices Pepco is warning its customers that scammers posing as thirdparty energy suppliers are sending fake utility bills via email to some utility customers around the country. The email asks that customers click on a link contained within the email. It is suspected that, by clicking the link, the customer’s computer could become infected with a virus or malware. Pepco asks customers to only pay their utility bill by visiting or by sending the hard copy of the remittance portion of the invoice through the mail. Customers should not open any email asking that payment be made on their utility bill unless sent by Pepco or by the customers’ respective third party energy supplier. Many companies, including Pepco, contact customers in person or via phone for various reasons. If someone claims to represent a company, whether the company is Pepco or another entity, it is important that customers take precautions to verify that the person is affiliated with the company, especially if that person is requesting an immediate monetary

payment. When addressing past due accounts, Pepco never endorses a specific form of payment. Instead, multiple payment options are always given to the customer. Pepco advises customers to ask for official photo identification from any person who shows up at their door. Employees from reputable companies, such as Pepco, will carry official company identification cards. If proper identification cannot be produced, customers should notify police and the company with whom the individual claims to be associated. Similarly, if someone calls saying they represent a certain company, customers should ask them to verify their identity and affiliation. If customers have any doubt about the validity of a person’s claim to represent Pepco, they should call the company immediately at 202-833-7500. For more information and updates, visit, follow Pepco on Facebook and Twitter at PepcoConnect, and download the mobile app at mobileapp.

‘It Takes a Village’ Raises Awareness About Emergency Planning Ser ve DC coordinated the Mayor’s signature Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service project, “It Takes a Village,” which deployed volunteer teams to 13 senior residence complexes across the District to raise awareness about emergency planning and assist those residents in completing emergency-preparedness plans. “This year, we were particularly pleased to emphasize how volunteerism can help create safer communities through the ‘It Takes a Village’ project,” said Jeffrey Richardson, MSW, chief service officer for the District of Columbia and executive director of Serve DC. “It is important to do

emergency-preparedness education and outreach for our aging population. No matter your age or where you live in the city, we all want to be safe.” Presented in collaboration with the D.C. Department of Health’s Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Administration (HEPRA), the D.C. Office on Aging and the D.C. Housing Authority, “It Takes a Village” was a complement to Serve DC’s ongoing emergency-preparedness-volunteer programs and the recent launch of the Mayor’s “AgeFriendly DC” Initiative, which aims to help influence the health and quality of life of older people in Washington.


Fort Lincoln Gets New Meal Center Mayor Gray, DCOA Executive Director John M. Thompson and other community leaders attended the grand opening for a new nutrition site at the Vicksburg Building hosted by Seabury Resources for Aging, the agency leading services for DCOA in Ward 5. The new meal program is located at 3005 Bladensburg Rd. NE in the Fort Lincoln community. Opening additional sites like this one helps meet the agency’s goal to provide all seniors in the District with nutritious meals, physical and recreational activities, and to help them be prepared financially for retirement and their long-term care needs. During the Mayor Gray poses with Bernard Gibson (center), who conducts a fitness class with seniors at the Vicksburg Building several days a week, and a class participant. “Seniors Exercise” is a great way for these Fort Lincoln residents to keep moving!

week, the site will provide nutritious mid-day meals, supportive social services, and recreational programs for persons age 60 and older. Residents interested in registering for the program should contact 202529-8701 or visit for more information.


F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N



Community Calendar February events 4th • 7 to 8:45 p.m. Office on Aging Executive Director John M. Thompson, Ph.D., will be the speaker at the Glover Park Citizens Association meeting. The meeting will be held at Stoddert Elementary School, 4001 Calvert St. NW in the student cafeteria. For more information, call Alice Thompson at 202-535-1321.

meets on Wednesdays, Feb. 12 and 26 and continues on March 12 and 26 at Iona Senior Services, 4125 Albemarle St. NW. The group is designed for participants interested in learning ways to cope with challenging behaviors, situations and emotions presented by a parent with declining memory. The series is free, but space is limited. To register, call 202-895-9448.


DCOA to Celebrate Centenarians DCOA is seeking persons age 100 or older to honor at an upcoming event to celebrate the District’s oldest residents. If you know of someone who should be honored, please make sure

they are registered with the D.C. Office on Aging. To register a D.C. resident, call 202-724-5622 or send an email to

13th • 10 a.m. 6th • noon to 2 p.m. A community health and information fair will be held at the Holy Temple Church of Christ, 429 12th St. NE. For more information, call Alice Thompson at 202-535-1321.

A black history program will be presented at the Center for the Blind & Visually Impaired, 2900 Newton St. NE. For more information, call Vivian Grayton at 202-529-8701.

13th 10th • 11 a.m. Seabury Resources for Aging presents Ward 5’s Healthy Heart Day at nutrition sites. For locations and more information, call Vivian Grayton at 202-529-8701.

11th • 11:30 a.m. Enjoy a black history program sponsored by the Choraleers of the Washington Seniors Wellness Center. The program features lecturer Ben Wright on remembering Emmett Till, along with songs, drama and dance. The Washington Seniors Wellness Center is located at 3001 Alabama Ave. SE. For more information, call 202-581-9355.

12th and 26th • 6:30 to 8 p.m. A new discussion group for adult children of parents with memory loss

The East River Family Strengthening Collaborative KEEN Seniors Program will host its annual Valentine’s Day/black history luncheon. The event is free. For the time and location, contact Robin Gantt, recreational activities outreach coordinator at 202-534-4880.

21st • 11 a.m. Learn all about the D.C. libraries at Seabury Resources for Aging’s Ward 5 Library Day. For locations and more information, call Vivian Grayton at 202-529-8701.

26th A community health and information fair will be held in the lobby of the Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center, 2000 14th St. NW. Call Alice Thompson at 202-535-1321 for the time and more information.

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 • John M. Thompson, Ph.D., FAAMA Executive Director Darlene Nowlin Editor Selma Dillard, Vadym Guliuk, Darrell Jackson, Jr. Photographers 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.

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

Mayor Vincent C. Gray, DCOA Executive Director John M. Thompson and Ms. Senior D.C. Nancy A. Berry pose with centenarian Laura Griffin at the Vicksburg Building nutrition program opening.

Upcoming DCOA Performance Oversight Hearing Chairperson Yvette Alexander will convene the Committee on Health FY ’14 Performance Oversight Hearing for the D.C. Office on Aging on Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 10 a.m., 1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Council Chambers, Room 500. Persons wishing to testify may contact Ravna Smith,, or call 202-741-2111.

WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 4

Say you saw it in the Beacon

Money Law &


STOCKS TO LOVE Consider Signet Jewelers, Tiffany and Southwest Airlines for Valentine’s Day COMPUTER-DRIVEN CARS Safer self-driving cars are on the horizon; some features are already available TURN DOWN HEATING COSTS Consider an energy audit and a high-efficiency furnace to save money SHORT AND SWEET Short-term bond funds offer higher rates, but buy those with high ratings

The tide is turning from bonds to stocks By Stan Choe After years of sticking with plain-vanilla bond funds, investors are starting to turn their backs on them and opt for stocks instead. The move isn’t big enough to be the “great rotation” from bonds to stocks that many experts predicted. But fund managers say more is on the way. Investors plugged $198 billion into stock mutual funds through the first 11 months of 2013. That’s the most since the dot-com stock bubble in 2000, according to Morningstar. Bond mutual funds are also taking in money, but the dollars are increasingly going only to niche corners of the market. Investors pulled $73 billion out of the largest category of bond mutual funds, intermediate-term bond funds, over that time. It marks a stark shift in behavior. Since the 2008 financial crisis, investors have largely sought the safety of bonds and shunned stocks.

Change began last year Heading into 2013, many strategists expected investors to dump their bonds and move into stocks en masse. Bonds had served investors well for three decades, but interest rates had fallen sharply. Stocks, meanwhile, have the potential to offer bigger returns. Early last year, there was no rotation, as

investors were comfortable adding money to both stock and bond mutual funds. “Then a switch went off in May,” said Michael Rawson, a fund analyst at Morningstar. That’s when worries about rising interest rates began to spike, which hurt bond prices. Investors have since increasingly shown their preference for stocks over traditional types of bond funds. Consider: • In June 2013 alone, investors pulled $16 billion out of municipal bond mutual funds, according to Morningstar. Investors yanked more than $50 billion altogether last year. • Net investment in stock mutual funds and exchange-traded funds last year topped that of the four prior years combined, according to Strategic Insight, which tracks the mutual fund industry. • In a sign of how the tide has turned, in December, Vanguard closed one of its stock mutual funds to most new accounts and reopened two of its bond funds. Funds typically close to new investors when they’re attracting lots of money and want to keep from getting too big and unwieldy. They reopen when they want to attract more dollars. A major driver for the shift is fear that rising interest rates will hurt bond funds. When interest rates rise, prices for existing bonds fall because their yields suddenly look less attractive.

During the summer, such worries flared as the yield on the 10-year Treasury note nearly doubled from 1.6 percent at the start of May to roughly 3 percent in September. Stocks, meanwhile, have climbed around the world amid rising corporate earnings, stimulus from the Federal Reserve, and hope that economies from Europe to Japan are improving. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index set a record on Dec. 31, though stock prices were down somewhat in January.

Some interest in bonds remains To be sure, most investors will always have some interest in bonds. They tend to be less volatile than stocks, and the need for income investments will rise as more Baby Boomers retire. Pension funds and other institutional investors also need the steadiness that bonds provide. “You need to have that anchor to lower volatility,” said Avi Nachmany, director of research at Strategic Insight. Investors used to flip between investments quickly and opportunistically, Nachmany said. But now, they increasingly stick to a plan and keep a certain percentage of their portfolios in stocks and a certain percentage in bonds. Target-date retirement mutual funds [which target a particular year of retirement

for their holders, and reallocate investments accordingly over time] have grown in popularity, for example, and they always keep a portion of their investments in bonds. This means money will continue to flow into bond funds, particularly those that can better weather rising interest rates. These include floating-rate funds, whose yields ratchet higher with broad market rates, and possibly high-yield bond funds. [For more on this, see “Got bonds? Consider floatingrate funds,” in the November 2013 Beacon.] Investors are also turning to mutual funds that use hedge-fund techniques to try to provide steadier returns, Nachmany said. Investors who have made the move from bonds to stocks have set themselves up well, if Wall Street strategists are to be believed. Most investment banks are forecasting continued gains for stocks in 2014, though more modest than last year’s 24.5 percent surge. Last year was the best for the S&P 500 in at least a decade. Investment banks also are calling for continued struggles for bonds. “Investors have begun to see the potential for stocks after 10 to 12 years of getting not much return, versus high-quality bonds,” said John Manley, chief equity strategist at Wells Fargo Funds Management. “I think it’s just the beginning” of the rotation into stocks from bonds. — AP

Tax season approaches: how to get help By Jim Miller Q. What are the IRS income tax filing requirements for seniors this tax season? My income dropped way down when I retired last year, so I’m wondering if I need to even file a tax return this year. Recently Retired Dear Recently: Whether or not you are required to file a federal income tax return this year depends on your gross income, as well as your filing status and age. Your gross income includes all the income you receive that is not exempt from tax, not including Social Security benefits, unless you are married and filing separately. To get a detailed breakdown on federal filing requirements, along with information on

taxable and nontaxable income, call the IRS at 1-800-829-3676 and ask them to mail you a free copy of the “Tax Guide for Seniors” (publication 554). You can also download a copy to your computer through the IRS website at In the meantime, here’s a rundown of the IRS filing requirements for this tax season. If your gross income from 2013 was lower than the amount listed in your filing status, you probably won’t have to file. But if it’s over, you will. • Single: $10,000 ($11,500 if you’re 65 or older by Jan. 1, 2014). • Married filing jointly: $20,000 ($21,200 if you or your spouse is 65 or older; or $22,400 if you’re both over 65). • Married filing separately: $3,900 at any age.

• Head of household: $12,850 ($14,350 if age 65 or older). • Qualifying widow(er) with dependent child: $16,100 ($17,300 if age 65 or older). Be aware that there are some special financial situations that require you to file a tax return, even if your gross income falls below the IRS filing requirement. For example, if you had net earnings from self-employment in 2013 of $400 or more, or if you owe any special taxes to the IRS, such as alternative minimum tax or IRA tax penalties, you’ll probably need to file. To figure this out, the IRS offers a resource on its website called “Do I Need to File a Tax Return?” It asks a series of questions whose answers will help you determine if you’re required to file, or if you

should file because you’re due a refund. You can access this page at /uac/Do-I-Need-to-File-a-Tax-Return%3F, or you can get assistance over the phone by calling the IRS helpline at 1-800-829-1040.

Tax prep assistance If you find that you do need to file a tax return this year, and are having difficulty completing the forms, you can get free face-to-face help through the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program. Sponsored by the IRS, TCE provides free tax preparation and counseling to middle and low-income taxpayers age 60 and older. Call 1-800-906-9887 for eligibility details and to locate a service near you. See TAX HELP, page 32


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Four companies worth falling in love with By Carolyn Bigda One of the cardinal rules of investing is never fall in love with a stock. But for all you incurable romantics, we’ve found four companies that may be candidates for a long-term relationship.

L Brands (symbol LB; recent price, $53) You may not be familiar with the company, but you’ve probably heard of two of its sensual subsidiaries: Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works. Both retailers garner

more than one-fourth of all sales in their markets, and both have room to grow. Analysts see L Brands, which does about $11 billion in sales annually, boosting earnings by 12 percent in the fiscal year that ends January 2015. At 17 times estimated earnings for that year, the shares are a bit more expensive than the overall market, but the price is fair given L Brands’ growth potential. Signet Jewelers (SIG; $74) This Akron company owns the Jared and Kay Jewelers chains. Signet now has more than 1,400 stores in the U.S., and should be able to generate annual sales growth of at least 6 percent for the next few years, said Gregory Herr, co-manager of FPA Perennial Fund. The firm’s aggressive advertising — you’ve no doubt heard that “Every kiss begins with Kay” — will also help. The stock

trades at nearly 15 times projected earnings for the year that ends January 2015. Tiffany (TIF; $83) U.S. sales have lagged, so the 176-yearold company has been expanding its lower-priced sterling-silver collection to appeal to a broad customer base. In addition, the New York City company continues to expand overseas. Sales in Asia, excluding Japan, grew by a whopping 22 percent during the quarter that ended October 31. The stock jumped 9 percent on the day the earnings report was released, and now sells for 22 times projected earnings for the year that ends January 2015. That’s not a bargain price, but it’s reasonable given the strength of Tiffany’s iconic blue-box brand. Southwest Airlines (LUV, $21) It’s hard not to fall for the company with the market’s most heartwarming stock symbol. Like other airlines, Southwest shares have been on a tear; they’ve nearly doubled over the past year. A rebound in business travel has helped. But perhaps the best thing the industry has going for it is the recent spate of airline mergers, which helps to reduce competition. Moreover, Southwest’s CEO recently suggested that the airline may start charging for checked baggage. Imposition of baggage fees wouldn’t be good news for budget-minded fliers, but it would likely endear the company to investors. Carolyn Bigda is a contributing editor to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. Send your questions and comments to And for more on this and similar money topics, visit © 2014 Kiplinger’s Personal Finance; Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Tax help From page 31 Also check with AARP, a participant in the TCE program, which provides free tax preparation at dozens of sites in the Washington area. To locate an AARP Tax-Aide site, call 1888-227-7669 or visit You don’t have to be an AARP member to use this service. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program serves people of all ages with incomes of $52,000 or less. For locations and times of operation in Northern Virginia, call (703) 324-7731 or see In Maryland, call (240) 777-0311 or see To get a list of both VITA and TCE locations near you, use the search form at the IRS website at Send your questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit

WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 4

Say you saw it in the Beacon | Law & Money


How to find and use the best credit cards By Elliot Raphaelson For most financial institutions, extending credit (and collecting interest from the credit card holders) represents a significant portion of their income. Their objective is to develop products that will maximize their profit. Your objective, on the other hand, should be to use the credit they offer to maximize benefits for you. Here are some suggestions. First, make every effort to pay down your outstanding credit card balances to reduce interest charges — and eventually carry no balance and avoid all interest charges. Use money from savings accounts earning low interest to reduce your outstanding credit card balances, which probably charge you considerably higher interest. Keep in mind that if you do not pay your credit card balance in full each month, it is likely that you are incurring interest charges as soon as you purchase something. If you are unable to pay your balance on any card in full at the end of the month, use a different credit card (with no annual fee) for new purchases, and pay the bill in full at the end of the month. This way you will not incur additional interest costs.

Take advantage of rewards Rewards cards can be another way to take maximum advantage of credit. What’s best for you will depend on your spending habits. There are several no-fee credit cards (some of which I list below) that provide significant cash or statement credits, and no interest charges as long as you pay your balance in full. Target’s REDcard offers a 5 percent immediate credit on all purchases, and offers very good prices, especially on staple grocery items. [Editor’s note: Target’s recent problems with hackers’ theft of shoppers’ private information might be a concern. But presumably they’re on their guard now.] Chase Freedom Visa changes its promotions every three months, selecting a few categories to pay back 5 percent cash or credit, and offering 1 percent back for all other purchases. For example, during the first three months of 2014, there is a 5

percent credit for gas stations, movies and Starbucks. New cardholders will receive a $200 bonus for spending $500 in the first three months. If you have an account with Fidelity, the Fidelity Rewards American Express Card offers a 2 percent credit for all purchases. The Capital One QuicksilverCash Rewards (Visa) card offers 1.5 percent cash or credit for all purchases, with a $100 bonus for spending $500 in the first three months. The Blue Cash American Express Card offers a 3 percent credit for supermarket purchases (up to $6,000 per year), 2 percent for gas, and 1 percent for all others, with a $50 credit if you spend $1,000 in the first three months. The bottom line is that you can use multiple cards and receive at least a 1.5 percent discount for all purchases if you are selective. There is no downside in using multiple cards if you pay your balance each month.

Cards for medical bills Another way to use credit cards to your advantage is paying for medical expenses. Some credit cards available for medical expenses have received poor press lately. My experience with CareCredit has been very good. I use it whenever I have major expenses, because as long as I pay the bill within the designated period (sometimes 12 months, sometimes 18 months), it is interest-free. It is crucial to pay your balances in full by the deadline; otherwise, interest will be charged for the whole period at high interest rates. It is also very useful to have a line of credit available. One option, if you own your home, is a home equity line of credit. I rarely use mine, but there was no fee for opening it, and the interest rate is quite low. I incur no interest expenses or any other costs unless I use it. It has helped me avoid paying the much higher interest on my CareCredit card: I have used my line of credit periodically to pay off my CareCredit medical bills by the deadline. Lenders, especially credit card issuers, earn significant income when consumers

do not pay their full balance. If you pay in full each month, credit cards can be very useful. Unfortunately, about 50 percent of consumers always carry a balance. This is good for the issuers, but not for you. As a court mediator, every week I see the unfortunate result of lawsuits initiated because consumers are unable to make

even minimum payments. Use credit wisely. It’s too easy to pay only the minimum each month, and find your balances out of control. Elliot Raphaelson welcomes your questions and comments at ©2014 Elliot Raphaelson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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Computer-driven cars have big benefits By Joan Lowy In some ways, computers make ideal drivers: They don’t drink and then climb behind the wheel. They don’t do drugs, get distracted, fall asleep, run red lights or tailgate. And their reaction times are quicker. They do such a good job, in fact, that a new study says self-driving cars and trucks hold the potential to transform driving by eliminating the majority of traffic deaths, significantly reducing congestion, and providing tens of billions of dollars in economic benefits. But significant hurdles to widespread use of self-driving cars remain, the most important of which is likely to be cost.

Added sensors, software and engineering, as well as power and computing requirements, currently tally over $100,000 per vehicle, clearly unaffordable for most people, the study said. But large-scale production “promises greater affordability over time,” it concluded. Questions also remain about public acceptance, liability in event of an accident, and the ability of automakers to prevent car computers from being hacked.

A safer future Nevertheless, the advantages of selfdriving cars are such that if only 10 percent of cars and trucks on the road were self-driving, they could reduce traffic

deaths by 1,000 per year and produce nearly $38 billion in economic and other savings, said the study by the Eno Center for Transportation, a foundation dedicated to improving transportation. If 90 percent of vehicles were self-driving, as many as 21,700 lives per year could be saved, and economic and other benefits could reach a staggering $447 billion, said the study, a copy of which was provided to the Associated Press. “There will be many steps before we get to that, but it does feel like there is a whole new world that completely changes everything in terms of our perspective on driving that could emerge eventually,” said Joshua Schank, Eno’s president and CEO. For example, the passenger compartment may be transformed as former drivers safely work on laptops, eat meals, read books, watch movies and call friends. And cars that can be programmed to pick up people, drive them to their destination, and then park by themselves may change the lives of older adults and those with disabilities by providing much-needed mobility. Once a critical mass of self-driving cars is on the road, they can start “platooning” — driving closely together, but keeping a steady distance between each other, without the fuel-burning, time-wasting, stopand-go typical of traffic congestion. That could smooth traffic flows, reduce commute times, and increase highway capacity.

Eliminating human error Government research indicates driver error is likely the main reason behind over 90 percent of all crashes. Over 40 percent of fatal traffic crashes involve alcohol, distraction, drugs or fatigue. Because selfdriven vehicles wouldn’t fall prey to such human failings, they offer the potential for at least a 40 percent reduction in fatal crashes, the study said. Crashes can also be due to speeding, aggressive driving, over-compensation, inexperience, slow reaction times, inattention, and various other human driver shortcomings, the report noted, suggesting that computers could also eliminate the prob-

lems that result from them. But Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the consumer advocacy group Center for Auto Safety, cautioned that while selfdriving cars hold great promise for reducing accidents caused by driver error, much will depend upon the safety standards the government sets for the vehicles and how well manufacturers make them. Otherwise, he said, “you could be substituting computer errors for human errors.” Spurred by what some see as the future direction of the auto industry, carmakers are stepping up their research. General Motors and Nissan are furthest along, but Audi, BMW, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo have also begun testing driverless systems. Google’s self-driving cars have clocked over 400,000 miles on California public roads.

Some features now available Many of the features that go into creating a self-driving car are already available, especially in high-end cars: Adaptive cruise control adjusts speed faster or slower in response to traffic. Lane departure systems warn drivers when they’re drifting out of their lane, and some can even automatically steer the car back. Collision avoidance systems automatically brake to prevent front-to-rear crashes. Parking assist systems range from rearview cameras that show drivers what is behind them to vehicles that can actually park themselves. The hardest part will likely be making self-driving cars “cost effective to the point where this is not just a gadget that some people enjoy, but becomes mainstream,” Schank said. For example, hybrid and electric vehicles still haven’t overcome their price gap with conventional vehicles, and so remain at a smaller share of the auto market than people had anticipated they would be at this point, he said. States are already seeking to prepare See SELF-DRIVING CARS, page 35


Say you saw it in the Beacon | Law & Money

WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 4

Quick fixes to lower home heating costs By Patricia Mertz Esswein Your home may be your castle, but you don’t have to pay a king’s ransom to keep it warm. Here are some solutions to common problems. 1. It’s cold inside If you haven’t already sealed out wintry drafts, apply weather-stripping and clear plastic film over windows, and add door sweeps. To find out where else your home is losing energy, hire an energy auditor ($250 to $600) who is certified by Home Performance With Energy Star ( or the Building Performance Institute (www.bpi. org). Pepco offers an energy audit called the Quick Home Energy Check-up Program. For more information, see or call 1-866-3535798. Dominion Power offers energy audits through contractors. For more information, see or call 1-888-366-8280. 2. Your furnace could be kaput If your furnace is more than 15 years old, you could be sending one-third to half of the fuel it uses up the flue. Replace it

with a new, Energy Star-qualified gas- or oil-burning furnace that runs with at least 90 to 95 percent efficiency. The cost of swapping an older gas furnace for a high-efficiency one starts in the range of $2,000 to $6,000, but it can cost from $7,000 to $12,000 or more, depending on model and capacity, according to If your old furnace was originally rated for 78 percent efficiency and the new unit is 90 percent efficient, you’ll save about $14 for every $100 you currently spend on fuel, according to the Department of Energy. 3. Take a holistic approach If your air conditioning is more than 10 years old and uses the furnace’s blower to move cooled air through your home, replace both your AC and furnace simultaneously. That will decrease your total cost by about one-third compared with staggered installation. For even greater savings, you could install a “dual fuel” system, with a heat pump and gas furnace. The heat pump will heat and cool your home, say, from spring through fall. In the winter, a “smart thermostat” will fire up the furnace when outdoor temperatures drop below 40 degrees. 4. Who you gonna call? For installation, maintenance or repair,

Self-driving cars

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has urged states to establish procedures for testing self-driving cars on public roads, but has also cautioned states against licensing sales of the vehicles to the general public. The agency is also conducting its own research on the vehicles. — AP

From page 34 the way for self-driving cars to join other vehicles on the road. California, Florida and Nevada have passed laws to regulate the licensing and operation of self-driving cars. California has directed that licensing requirements be ready by 2015.

look for a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) contractor who is a member of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America ( and employs technicians certified by North American Technician Excellence. The best contractors subscribe to ACCA’s “Quality Installation Checklist,” posted on its website. 5. Roll in R2D2 For those rooms where you still need to wear furry slippers and a Snuggie, consider either a convection or radiant portable space heater (about $30 to $150). For

greatest efficiency, match the heater’s size to the rooms where you’ll use it, and get one with thermostatic control. For safety, choose an electric model with the Underwriter’s Laboratory label and a tip-over safety switch that will shut off the unit if it falls over. Patricia Mertz Esswein is an associate editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. ©2014 Kiplinger’s Personal Finance; Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Networking Extravaganza • March 6, 8-11 a.m. Margaret Schweinhaut Senior Center, 1000 Forest Glen, Silver Spring Early registration (by 2/28) $40 members/$55 non-members.

Registration required. Call (301) 765-3325.


Feb. 11


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Short-term bond funds offer higher rates By Carolyn Bigda Low yields, combined with talk of the Federal Reserve scaling back its easymoney policies, have left bond investors with a big headache. So it’s no surprise that investment firms are rolling out short-term high-yield bond funds to try to ease the pain. At least four companies, including Fidelity, did so in 2013. Like other junk bond funds, the new products invest in debt issued by companies with a lower-than-investment-quality

credit rating. The relatively high interest payments from the bonds provide a cushion against rising interest rates. (Bond prices and rates generally move in opposite directions.) In addition, the new funds’ short maturities (about 3.5 years, on average) should further insulate their share prices from rising rates. “When you shorten the investing time frame, you can have much more confidence in a company’s credit story,” said Matt Conti, lead manager of Fidelity Short

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Duration High Income (symbol FSAHX), which launched in November. The big catch is that most short-term junk funds don’t have much of a record. Moreover, the flurry of new funds is coming at a time when junk’s yield advantage has shrunk. At the end of 2013, the gap between short-term junk bonds and comparable Treasuries was a bit more than 4 percentage points. A year earlier, the spread was 6.6 points. If the economy stumbles and investors get nervous about the ability of companies to repay their debts, junk bond prices could fall, said Chris Cordaro, chief investment officer at RegentAtlantic Capital.

How to choose the funds So stick with funds that favor bonds rated BB (the highest quality of junk) and B. Wells Fargo Advantage Short-Term High Yield Bond (STHBX), which has a record of more than 16 years, is a good bet. The fund yields 2.1 percent, and over


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the past year it produced a total return of 3.7 percent. That’s nothing to brag about. But when the junk bond market swoons, the fund tends to beat its peers. In 2008, for example, Advantage lost 5.8 percent, compared with a plunge of 26.4 percent for the average junk bond fund. Fidelity does a good job with bonds, so its new fund bears watching. The fund aims to keep about 10 percent of its assets in high-grade bonds, providing a bit more protection against market shocks. Prefer a longer track record? Consider Fidelity Floating Rate High Income (FFRHX), which buys bank loans made to low-quality firms. Interest rates on those loans reset every 30 to 90 days, so the fund is well protected from rising interest rates. The fund yields 2.5 percent. Carolyn Bigda is a contributing editor to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. ©2014 Kiplinger’s Personal Finance; Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association will host Congressman John Delaney at their monthly meeting on Friday, Feb. 7. He currently represents Maryland’s sixth district, including Montgomery County. His discussion “What’s Happening in the Government” will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Alfio’s Restaurant, 4515 Willard Ave., Chevy Chase, Md. Tickets cost $18, which includes lunch. No reservations required. Free valet parking available. For more information, call (301) 469-8615 or visit

Feb. 20


Nyambo Anuluoha, business manager at the Arlington Community Federal Credit Union, will discuss how to set goals and identify budget busters on Thursday, Feb. 20 from 11 a.m. to noon at the Langston-Brown Community Center & Multipurpose Senior Center, 4854 Lee Highway, Arlington, Va. For more information, call (703) 228-6300.

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Did you (or someone you know) change careers, start a business or go back to school after retirement?

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Please share your story. Email or call Barbara at (301) 949-9766.

Older workers find home healthcare jobs By Matt Sedensky Paul Gregoline lies in bed, awaiting the helper who will get him up, bathed and groomed. He is 92 years old, has Alzheimer’s disease, and needs a hand with nearly every task the day brings. When the aide arrives, though, he doesn’t look so different from the client himself — bald and bespectacled. “Just a couple of old geezers,” jokes Warren Manchess, Gregoline’s 74-year-old caregiver. As demand for senior services provided by nurses’ aides, home health aides and other such workers grows with the aging of baby boomers, so are those professions’ employment of other seniors. The new face of America’s network of caregivers is increasingly wrinkled.

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spired his new career. Three days a week, he arrives at Gregoline’s house, giving the retired electrician’s wife a needed break. He carefully shaves and dresses his client, prepares breakfast and lunch, cleans the house, and quickly remedies any accidents. He does the laundry and swaddles Gregoline in a warm towel from the dryer, reads him the sports page to keep him updated on his beloved Bears, and sometimes pulls out dominoes or puzzles to pass the time. Gregoline is rather sedate this afternoon, relaxing in his favorite chair while occasionally offering glimpses of his trademark wit. Asked if he remembered anything about the Army, he says: “It was a bitch!” Offered

the chance to go outdoors, he responds: “No! I’ll freeze my ass off out there!” Describing an abrasive personality of long ago, he offers: “He followed me around like a bad conscience.” Manchess has worked for Gregoline for about a year, and the men are at ease around each other. Past aides to Gregoline have been in their 20s, but Manchess says he thinks his age is an asset. “Age can be an advantage,” he said, pointing to the common conversation points and life experience, including his own health troubles, and aches and pains that can come with age. “We hit it off pretty well. Maybe I didn’t seem to be too much out of the ordinary.” See HEALTHCARE JOBS, page 40


Among the overall population of directcare workers, 29 percent are projected to

be 55 or older by 2018, up from 22 percent a decade earlier, according to an analysis by the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), a New York-based nonprofit. PHI advocates for workers caring for the country’s elderly and disabled. In some segments of the workforce, including personal and home care aides, those 55 and older are the largest single age demographic. “I think people are surprised that this workforce is as old as it is,” said Abby Marquand, a researcher at PHI. “There’s often people who have chronic disease themselves who have to muster up the energy to perform these really physically taxing caregiving needs.” Manchess came out of retirement to work for Home Instead Senior Care after caring for his mother-in-law, who also had Alzheimer’s and whom he regarded as his hero. The experience, though taxing, in-

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Nominations open for volunteer awards By Barbara Ruben Do you know someone in Montgomery County who has gone above and beyond in volunteering their time and skills in the community? Someone who serves as a role model for county residents of all ages? If so, consider nominating them for this year’s Neal Potter Path of Achievement award. The award, sponsored by Montgomery County Government in partnership with the Commission on Aging and the Beacon newspapers, honors residents 60 or over for volunteer service over their lifetime. The award, which has been given since 1988, was renamed four years ago in memory of Potter, a former county executive,

councilmember and longtime civic activist. Nominees must have lived, worked or served in Montgomery County during their time of service. Past winners and current members of the county’s commission on aging are ineligible.

Past winners Last year, two Path of Achievement Awards were presented. Winner Marcine Goodloe had been a leader in fire and rescue service for over 40 years. After retiring, she returned to volunteer with the Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad and the Kensington Volunteer Fire Department. The other winner, Joyce Segal, was hon-






ored for working to help improve the historically poor Scotland community where, in the early 1960s, homes lacked running water, sewers and trash collection. Segal also helped organize a citizen’s human relations commission to work on equal access issues for minorities. It was the catalyst for the county to establish its own human relations commission.

Additional awards In addition to the Path of Achievement awards, the county confers honors on three other groups of volunteers. Its Youth Achievement Award is for extraordinary volunteerism by a resident under 18, its Corporate Award is for outstanding volunteerism by a corporation, and the Commu-

nity Service Award is for extraordinary volunteerism by a resident or group. Winners of all four awards are honored at the annual Montgomery Serves Awards event, taking place this year on Monday, April 28 at Imagination Stage in Bethesda. The event is organized by the Montgomery County Volunteer Center, Fund for Montgomery, and the county’s Corporate Volunteer Council. Nominations for all the awards are now open, and nomination forms and instructions are available online at For more information, email or call (240) 777-2600. The nomination deadline is Friday, Feb. 28 at 5 p.m.

Montgomery County needs volunteers to work as long-term care advocates. Advocates make regular visits to nursing homes and assisted living communities to promote the highest quality of life for residents. Daytime flexibility and intensive training is required. Pre-register now for training Monday, March 17 to Friday, March 21, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily at the Holiday Park Senior Center, 3950 Ferrara Dr., Wheaton, Md. Class size is limited, and preregistration is required. For more information, call (240) 777-3369 or email

Shepherd’s Center in Northern Virginia needs volunteers to drive seniors to appointments. The center’s client base is rapidly growing. If interested in volunteering, call (703) 506-2199.

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F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

Nominate employers who value seniors To encourage more employers to recognize and appreciate the value of older workers, Montgomery County (Md.) has established a new program to honor businesses that hire and utilize the talents of workers 55 and older. Called Experience Counts, the program invites nominations of businesses that follow a variety of best practices and strategies to engage and retain older workers. The practices include such things as innovative recruitment techniques, flexible work options, workplace accommodations, and the opportunity for phased retirement. Nominations are now being accepted

for the 2014 Best Practices Recognition Awards for Employers of Older Workers. Nominees can be private sector, nonprofit, or a state or federal employer that has had a significant presence in Montgomery County for at least three years. Employers may nominate themselves. Nomination forms are available online. The deadline is Feb. 21 at 5 p.m. Winners will be announced at the Jewish Council for the Aging’s Annual 50+ Employment Expo on May 12. For more information on guidelines, or to nominate an employer, visit

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Around the country, senior service agencies are seeing a burgeoning share of older workers. About one-third of Home Instead’s 65,000 caregivers are over 60. Visiting Angels, another in-home care provider, says about 30 percent of its workers are over 50. And at least one network, Seniors Helping Seniors, is built entirely on the model of hiring older caregivers. Like most occupations, some of the growth in older caregivers is driven by the overall aging of the population and the trend of people working later in life. But with incredibly high rates of turnover and a constant need for more workers, home care agencies have also shown a willingness to hire older people new to the field who have found a tough job market as they try to supplement their retirement income.

The jobs are among the fastest-growing positions in the U.S., but are also notoriously physically demanding, with low pay and high rates of injury. Manchess has had spinal surgery, and says he’s especially careful when vacuuming. He’s not sure how many years he’ll be able to continue this work, and he acknowledges it can be tough. “Halfway through my shift, I’m a little weary myself,” he said. “It takes its toll.” Manchess had worked as an Air Force pilot, then in real estate, then as a school bus driver before becoming a professional caregiver. As Gregoline contentedly nibbles on his ham sandwich, Manchess wraps up his shift, turning reflective when considering his life’s careers. “I think this [job] is about as rewarding, if not more rewarding, than any of them,” he said. — AP




Interested golfers are invited to join the Burke Lake Seniors Golf Club. You must be 55 and older and enjoy playing golf and meeting new people. Membership includes reserved tee times on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at the Par, located at 7315 Ox Rd., Fairfax Station, Va. Annual dues for the season — Apr. 1 through Oct. 31 — are $20, plus green fees at a reduced rate. For more information, call Charlie Ryan at (703) 690-4227.

Feb. 21


The Jefferson Cafe is a grassroots discussion circle, focusing on topics of American life and the United States within the global community. The event begins with a reading. On Friday, Feb. 21, the group will meet and discuss “The Masculine Mystique” by Stephen Marche and “The Year Men Became Obsolete” by Camille Paglia at the Chevy Chase Library, 8005 Connecticut Ave., Chevy Chase, Md. from 10:30 to noon. To register, call (301) 654-5330 or email

Feb. 21+


The Laurel-Beltsville Senior Center is hosting speakers from the Laurel Historical Society for three seminars focused on African American history and their changing roles in the Laurel community. Each free talk begins at 10 a.m. and lasts for one hour. The talks will take place on Fridays, Feb. 21, March 21 and May 16. The senior center is located at 7120 Contee Rd., Laurel, Md. For more information, visit or call (301) 725-7975.

WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 4

Say you saw it in the Beacon



Leisure &

Older skiers spend more time on the slopes. See story on page 43.

Tracing an ancient pilgrim route in France

Why walk “The Way”? I first learned about “The Way” in 2010 when I saw the movie of that name starring

Martin Sheen. Sheen played an American doctor who learns much about the meaning of life through the people he meets walking the pilgrimage. While that was my introduction, the pilgrimage itself has been known since at least the 9th century C.E., and has been followed in whole or in part by many thousands of people who have walked the network of ancient pilgrim routes that stretch across Western Europe. The routes eventually converge and end at the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela at the western-most tip of Spain. There, according to tradition, the remains of the apostle St. James were buried after being transported by boat from Jerusalem. Historically, most people made the pilgrimage for religious reasons. Others had a more worldly agenda. Some people in the Middle Ages set off on foot after being promised that their debts would be forgiven if they completed the journey. For others, it provided a temporary escape from the rigors of village life. Then there were those who saw the pious pilgrims trudging along as easy targets to rob. A diversity of reasons continues to this day. A young French couple named Lucie and Sebastian explained that they recently made the trek because “it has always been our dream to walk hundreds of miles through breath-taking scenery.” A school teacher from New Hampshire, who has walked on stretches of the trail a


By Victor Block Until recently, I would have said that St. Francis of Assisi, Shirley MacLaine and I had little in common. That was before my wife Fyllis and I took a memorable walking trip through southern France, following stretches of one of the most popular and historically important pilgrimage routes in the world. St. Francis, the Italian friar who is one of the most venerated religious figures of all time, made the pilgrimage in the 13th century. For Shirley MacLaine, the long trek was part of the spiritual self-exploration for which she is known. Fyllis and I followed short sections of “The Way,” as the trail is known, for a more mundane reason. We were on a “walking through history” tour that provided an introduction to the fascinating story of that wellknown religious route, and much more. The pre-trip information that we received from the New England Hiking Holidays tour company also promised visits to remote medieval villages and walled cities, fortresses and castles, and an immersion in the history and culture of a region unfamiliar even to many French people. Added to that were memorable accommodations, some in centuries-old castles, and food and wine that my taste buds still recall with delight. No surprise there; after all, we were in France!


Participants in the eight-day "walking through history" tour led by New England Hiking Holidays walk several hours each morning and afternoon at a slow but steady pace along paved roadways through scenic, rural France.

The medieval town of Conques, at the foot of the Pyrenees Mountains in southern France, is a stopping point for those walking The Way of St. James, a network of religious pilgrimage routes across Western Europe.

number of times, keeps a list of reasons people tell him they made the journey. It includes among the stated goals hoping to give up smoking and to lose weight. While much of the network of trails is flat and on good paths, there are places that are steeper. After huffing and puffing up a few of them, I figured that weight loss is a fact for virtually everyone who makes the trek. There were times when I gratefully accepted the suggestion of our guide Richard Posner that trip participants could walk at their own pace. During the eight-day trip, we usually walked about two to three hours in the morning, had a picnic lunch and then walked about two more hours. We kept a slow but steady pace, pretty much geared to the slowest walkers. If someone wanted to skip a morning, afternoon or both hikes one day, they could. After climbs up gentle rises in country roads, and somewhat steeper hills traversed by walking trails, we were rewarded with views rivaling those in any travel brochure. Distant mountains served as backdrops for fields of multi-hued wildflowers. Fields planted in beans and barley surrounded vineyards whose grapes are destined to provide outstanding wines. Here and there, the silhouette of small towns dotted the landscape.

Through the Middle Ages At stops to admire the scenery, and even as we walked, Richard kept up a running commentary that provided an introduction to the passing parade of people in the Middle Ages who came to this corner of France, each leaving their imprint. First to arrive were the Visigoths, Germanic groups that flourished during the period of the late Roman Empire. They settled in what today is southern France, and ruled over a kingdom that lasted from the 5th to the 8th centuries C.E. They were followed by the Knights Templar, a religious military order that fought in the Crusades and remained powerful during the 12th to 14th centuries. Their stay overlapped with the Cathars, a movement of Roman Catholics who differed in several core beliefs from their church, which eventually renounced them. Among their convictions were that Jesus was a spiritual leader but not divine, and that people were saved because they lead a holy life rather than their belief in Jesus dying on the cross. Despite their varying beliefs, cultures and customs, these groups left one common legacy in the area. They each built imposing castles and fortresses that continue to serve as reminders of their stay. For example, the Queribus Castle was See PILGRIMAGE, page 42


Leisure & Travel | More at

Pilgrimage From page 41 originally constructed by the Romans, then repaired and refurbished by the Cathars in the 13th century. Perched along the top of a soaring vertical cliff for added protection from attack, as were many fortresses, it rises up over the countryside from the highest peak for miles around. Another Cathar stronghold, Peyrepertuse (which means “pierced rock”), consists of two castles that are linked by a staircase. The main part of the structure, which is set on a 2,600-foot-high cliff, resembles the prow of a ship. Like many of the fortresses, the building seems to grow out of the rock on which it stands, making it difficult to tell from a distance where one starts and the other stops.

Medieval towns and villages Most impressive is Carcassone, a fortress town built by the Visigoths on a hilltop that earlier had been fortified by the Romans. The entire medieval city was (and still is) encircled and protected by nearly two miles of double walls topped by 52 watch towers. Inside is a maze of meandering cobblestone walkways, tunnels and stone buildings that comprised the largest fortified city in Europe. A permanent population estimated at about 2,000 people lived within the walls, and historians tell us that during times of attack, perhaps as many as 12,000 residents from the surrounding countryside crowded inside for protection. Many of the structures within the town today house souvenir shops and cafes which, along with throngs of tourists, detract

F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

from the setting. However, a visit in the early morning or evening, before most sightseers arrive or after they’ve left, allows the mind to conjure up images of medieval times. Visits to massive fortresses like these bring to life pictures of violence, combat and destruction. Some castle staircases, which are narrow, steep and winding, gave an advantage to men with swords and spears seeking to defend rather than to attackers trying to battle their way single file to the next level. Drawbridges and heavy iron grates add to visions of battles that were fought centuries ago. In contrast to the imposing forts are the charming medieval villages that are sprinkled throughout the region. The houses often are clustered around a small castle that once was occupied by a nobleman who served as both the local government and protector of the settlement. The little homes of today’s residents still line the narrow, twisting, cobblestone streets. Many of them are festooned by flowers, which add an explosion of color to the scene.

Picturesque Conques A major stopping point for pilgrims over the centuries, and for other visitors to the region (including today’s tourist), is the delightful town of Conques. Nestled in a densely wooded valley near the foot of the Pyrenees Mountains, Conques is a true jewel of medieval France. Sections of the original walls, punctuat-

ed by fortified gateways, are still visible. The muted colors of traditional timberframed houses are accentuated by the red sandstone and bronze limestone of other structures, set off by blue slate roofs. Lush plantings of roses and wisteria add to the painter’s palette of colors. The center of attention in town is the imposing Abbey Church of Sainte Foy (Faith). It was built during the 11th and 12th centuries to commemorate the memory of a young girl who, according to legend, was martyred at the time of the Roman Empire. Because she refused to renounce Christianity, she was tortured to death, and is now listed in church catalogues of martyrs and saints. An image of the girl, bowing before the hand of God, holds a central place on a tympanum — a semi-circular arch over the main entrance into the church — which depicts the Last Judgment. The remarkable carved stone decoration, measuring 22 feet wide and 12 feet high, includes 124 characters and is one of the major surviving art works of the 12th century. As Jesus welcomes the Virgin Mary accompanied by saints into heaven, Satan presides over the grotesque figures of people being punished in hell for their pride, vanity, greed and other earthly sins. The other treasure of Conques is, in fact, a treasure. Housed in a small room that resembles a crypt, it consists of See PILGRIMAGE, page 43

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Avid older skiers stick with their passion Sure, younger people still make up the majority on the slopes — the average skier is 38.5 years old — but, “The person who skis the most in a given year is 65 and older,” said Michael Berry, president of the NSAA, based in suburban Denver. Bragging rights go to those age 68 and older, who averaged 9.5 days skiing last season. Boomers — those age 50 to 68 this year — also skied more than the national average of five times per year, according to an NSAA survey released in August. “You don’t want to sit in your rocking chair and look at the view,” said 70-yearold Billy Kidd, who won a silver in the slalom at the 1964 Olympics. “You want to remember your days of youth, and you love that feeling of adrenaline and dealing with the variables of skiing.” Clearly, others old enough to remember


United States and to several countries in Europe. Its 2014 Walking Through History – Medieval Southern France tour will take place May 23-31. The $4,095 price includes almost all meals, accommodations and extras like a wine tasting. The unique accommodations are an important part of the experience. For example, they include the Castle des Ducs de Joyeuse, which was built during the 16th century for the governor of the area, and Chateau de Mercues, a magnificent castle that was the summer residence of counts and bishops for several centuries. For more information about this and other trips offered by New England Hiking Holidays, call 1-800-869-0949 or log onto As for flights, the best start and end point for the hiking trip is Toulouse. The least expensive round-trip flights in mid-February start at $804 on Turkish Airlines and $976 on Brussels Airlines from Dulles International Airport. For more general information, see the websites for the French tourism office at, and for The Way at

From page 42 portable altars, chests, cameos and other religious artifacts, many gold plated and covered with precious stones. The collection is considered to be one of the most important displays of works by medieval goldsmiths, and is the only one in France. For people on a journey along The Way, the story of a peasant girl who died for her religious beliefs can be as powerful as the site where one of the apostles is said to be buried. The remains of soaring castles contrast sharply with tiny nearby houses of peasants who lived in them centuries ago, and which continue to be occupied today. This represents the diversity that awaits those following in the footsteps of countless pilgrims who have walked on The Way for more than 1,000 years. It’s possible to experience part of their quest, and much more, during a Walking Through History trip in Southern France.

Travel information Despite its name, New England Hiking Holidays organizes trips throughout the

See SKIERS, page 45


By Karen Schwartz If you’ve walked into a ski lodge the past few years, likely as not you’ve seen tables filled with gray-haired skiers wearing sweaters so old they’re back in style. That’s because the number of skiers on the far side of 50 — some on the very far side — has been creeping up each year, according to the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA). Credit advances in artificial hips and knees that make it possible for skiers to continue enjoying the sport; shaped skis, along with better snowmaking and grooming that make skiing easier; and highspeed lifts and luxury touches like ski valets that make it more pleasant. “There are no excuses,” said 93-year-old Klaus Obermeyer, the Aspen-based skiwear designer. Despite breaking his leg in a wipeout two years ago, Obermeyer still skis each day.

Dee Wang, 89, a member of the 70+ Ski Club, skis with her great-grandchildren in Park City, Utah. The National Ski Areas Association says the number of older skiers on the slopes has been rising each year, and those skiing the most days a year are 65 and older.

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Why pay to become a Trusted Traveler? Want an easier time in airport security quirements) for the full list of requirelines? The TSA has opened up enrollment ments.) in its “Precheck” DHS Trusted Traveler If you qualify and are interested: program to anyone who wants • Arrange an appointment to join — and who’ll pay the and visit an application center, $85 fee for five years’ particiwhere you provide the usual pation. biographic information, docuAs a Trusted Traveler, you ment your citizenship (passare eligible to use presumports are best), provide finably-shorter airport security gerprints, and pay a nonrelines, and you are exempt fundable $85 application fee. from removing your shoes, You can complete part of the belt, light jacket, your quartprocess online. size bag for small containers • If accepted, TSA issues TRAVEL TIPS of liquids, and taking your lapyou a “Known Traveler NumBy Ed Perkins top out of your carry-on bagber,” or KTN, which you give gage. to your airline when you buy a ticket. As a To enroll, you have to be a U.S. citizen practical matter, the best way to do this is or lawful permanent resident who has not to enter your KTN in your airline’s frebeen convicted of serious felonies. (Check quent flyer profile.• When you fly, your boarding pass

shows your Trusted Traveler status.

Covers most airlines The program works through airlines, not airports, but most airlines that serve big airports belong to the system, including Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, United, US Airways and Virgin America. Currently, more than 100 U.S. airports have Precheck security lines — mostly the larger, busier ones. But not all boarding areas have Precheck lines, even though a participating airline may fly there: for example, Precheck is not available for Hawaiian Airlines at Los Angeles, even though Hawaiian participates at other locations. For now, enrollment is something of a challenge. The first active enrollment center opened at the Indianapolis airport last year, and on Jan. 15 TSA opened one at

Dulles International Airport in Virginia. TSA plans to open more this year and ultimately have up to 300. So, for now, your best bet is to get into Precheck by enrolling in some other Trusted Traveler program that provides a KTN (and thus includes Precheck benefits). These include Global Entry (international travel, generally), Nexus (travel to Canada) and Sentri (travel to Mexico). Meanwhile, you may also get Trusted Traveler treatment for no cost by being called out of the general line at the screening point on a random basis. But you can’t ever predict when that might happen. In operation, Precheck is supposed to get you into a faster screening line than the one used by others. But quite a few travel writers have reported slower lines at Precheck than the regular lines.

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International travelers returning to the United States can take advantage of two automated kiosk systems to speed the often-tedious re-entry process: • Global Entry is the more comprehensive. Its enrollment process is similar to Precheck, except that the fee is $100 (for 5 years), enrollment centers are available at 29 large U.S. and eight Canadian airports, and kiosks are available at these and a few other airports. Once enrolled, you place your passport and fingers on the kiosk’s reader, enter a few details, and the kiosk issues a document that lets you bypass the immigration and customs desks completely. I’ve used it, and it cuts a lot of time out of the procedure. • Several important international gateways have installed kiosks that read your passport, but you still have to go through the immigration and customs line. Trade reports indicate that these kiosks can cut processing time substantially, but not as much as Global Entry.

Should you enroll? Unless you fly several times a year, paying $85 for Precheck or $100 for Global Entry is probably not a good value, especially given that you might be able to get through at least occasionally without enrolling. But if you’re a frequent flyer, Precheck may work often enough to justify the cost. And if you’re a frequent international traveler, Global Entry looks like a very good deal, both because of the domestic and international benefits as well as the nationwide availability of enrollment centers. [Editor’s Note: Nexus, intended for Canadian travel, costs only $50 for five years. While it doesn’t include benefits for other international travel, it does confer eligibility for domestic Precheck benefits, and costs $35 less than TSA’s Trusted Traveler program.] Send e-mail to Ed Perkins at © Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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Skiers From page 43 Kidd in his heyday feel the same way. Those ages 45-54 made up 20 percent of skiers last winter, up from 14 percent in the 1997-98 season; the 55-64 age group made up 12 percent, up from nearly 5 percent, and those 65 and older rose to 5.5 percent from 2.5 percent, according to the NSAA study.

Innovative gear Kidd, who skis almost daily in his role as an ambassador for the Steamboat Ski Resort, said one thing that has changed as he’s gotten older is his gear. Indeed, Kidd is a walking billboard for the latest innovations. His skis and poles are lightweight carbon fiber. His Osbe helmet does away with goggles and replaces them with a built-in visor that provides better peripheral vision. He traded in traditional ski boots for soft Apex boots, which provide support through an external frame. (For putting on traditional ski boots, many older skiers swear by the Ski and Snowboard Boot Horn.) “At 20 years old, I didn’t care about comfort,” Kidd said. “I still have to have control...but the top priority for me is comfort.” Certainly, there are challenges as skiers age, not the least of which is finding friends who are also still skiing. Clubs like the 70+ Ski Club, based in North Kingstown, R.I., with more than

4,000 members, and the Over the Hill Gang International, based in Colorado Springs with 3,000 members, offer camaraderie, discounted tickets and ski trips near and far. Even those who retire to Florida still pursue their passion. The Florida Ski Council has 17 clubs in the state and at least one trip going every week of the ski season. The largest club, the Tampa Bay Snow Skiers and Boarders, takes about 1,000 people a year skiing, said Clair Quenzler, the council president. These dedicated watchers of the discounts for skiers agree that the perks seniors used to get from ski resorts have been reduced as their numbers increase. Several resorts have raised the eligibility age for discounted lift tickets, or they’ve limited deals to weekdays. “To be fair to the ski areas, it’s a business for them as well,” said Doug Lofland, 56, one of the owners of the Over The Hill Gang International.

Ski tips So what suggestions do experts have to help us keep on skiing for decades? • Stay in shape. • Try to choose slopes with less traffic, so you can safely ski a little slower. • Think about afternoon sun and shadows. A west-facing slope will have better definition. • Be cognizant of higher altitude and hydration. • Walking in ski boots can be more chal-

lenging than skiing, so companies have developed lightweight shoes, like Pakems, that you can carry with you during the day for a quick change. • Consider taking a gondola or chair lift down the mountain if weather sets in or you’re tired. • Consciously chose your danger level.


“The repercussions of making a mistake are too great,” Kidd said. And finally, enjoy — like the 89-year-old who sent the 70+ Ski Club a photo of herself skiing with her great grandchildren. “There are not many sports four generations can do together like that,” said club president, 42-year-old Richard Lambert. — AP




Montgomery County is partnering with the Jewish Council for the Aging (JCA) to provide recreational transportation for seniors in a new initiative that will restore the popular mini-trips hosted by senior centers. JCA ElderBus fleet drivers have 40 years of experience transporting seniors, and can provide extra assistance, such as getting on and off the bus. The buses provide curb-to-curb service, Monday through Friday to county residents living within a defined radius of the five senior centers. The new program offers transportation to neighborhoods that have not previously been accessible to Ride On buses. County residents 55 and over are eligible. For more information, call (240) 777-4980.

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F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

Style Arts &

Dancers stay on their toes in a Maryland Youth Ballet mixed-age class. See story on page 49.

Sounds of silence are deafening in Tribes

Multimedia communication Raines, the child of a poet and a literary scholar in England, has woven together a play utilizing spoken dialogue, sign language and music. Silences are not really empty spaces here; there’s usually enough

subtext to fill a few paragraphs in each one. Sometimes there are several people speaking at once, with overlapping dialogue. Sometimes music becomes part of the conversation. With Raines, not only is less often more, but more is also more. Raines’ razor-sharp dialogue is complemented and amplified, so to speak, in the set (as well as sound) design, with the power of words manifested in the book-cluttered nest of a home where almost all the action occurs. (The set is by Wilson Chin.) Then there are the words projected on the set: Sometimes they reflect unspoken dialogue between people, other times they’re unexpressed inner thoughts, and sometimes they are the shared understanding the characters have of a particular situation. The projections themselves (designed by Erik Trester) use a mélange of imagery, as well as words, to remind us of the power of unspoken communication. In the play, the differences between these layers of communication become blurred. Are there even any differences among these things? These are the types of thoughts generated in the playgoer’s mind as the story un-

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By Michael Toscano Tribes, currently on stage at Studio Theatre, may be one of the most the most engaging productions you’ll see on area stages this season. It is a comic drama that uses a tightly woven plot to stimulate action and conversation among the characters, and action and conversation within the viewer’s mind, as well. Ostensibly a story about deafness, Tribes explores the relationship of sound to the human thought process, to interpersonal communication, to power dynamics and to identity. That last item leads to an incisive examination of tribalization in modern society. The power of words and the confines of language are delved into, as playwright Nina Raines takes us down a cerebral corridor, throwing open plenty of unexpected doors along the way.

Tribes, a powerful play about families, deafness and personal identity, features an overbearing family patriarch, Christopher (left; played by Michael Tolaydo), shown here arguing with his daughter Ruth (Annie Funke), an aspiring singer. Brother Billy (James Caverly, seated), born deaf, begins to challenge the family in new ways. The play is at D.C.'s Studio Theatre through March 2.

folds. But rather than distract, which is so often the case with multimedia excursions in live theatre, the effort builds a stable foundation for the absorbing and very human story.

Family dysfunction The playwright eases us into all this, opening Tribes rather prosaically in the See TRIBES, page 48


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WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 4



MOBY-DICK THE ELIXIR OF LOVE In English with projected English titles

One man’s obsession leaves a lethal wake of destruction in Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s triumphant new opera of Herman Melville’s 19th-century literary masterwork. With its massive nautical sets, dazzling visual effects, and achingly beautiful score, Moby-Dick sweeps audiences straight out to the high seas—in what is perhaps the most technically challenging opera WNO has ever mounted.

Feb. 22–Mar. 8, 2014 Kennedy Center Opera House

In Italian with projected English titles One of the world’s most frequently performed operas, The Elixir of Love is cherished for its whimsical wit and endearing characters, not to mention the many intoxicating duets and “Una furtiva lagrima,” one of the most hauntingly beautiful of all tenor arias.

Mar. 20–29, 2014 Kennedy Center Opera House

WNO’s production of Moby-Dick is made possible through the generous support of Jacqueline Badger Mars.

Generous support for WNO Italian opera is provided by Daniel and Gayle D’Aniello. Additional support for The Elixir of Love is provided by the Dallas Morse Coors Foundation for the Performing Arts.




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Tribes From page 46 disorderly, slightly seedy home of an English family. It starts off as a kitchen sink drama, and, indeed, most of the conversation takes place near a working sink. We meet a family of neurotic narcissists who use words, witty but still glib and often harsh, to communicate, dominate and escape each other. As an example, the father, Christopher (Michael Tolaydo) has an acid tongue and little charm with which to cloak his brittle psyche. But when he wants to withdraw, he pops on a headset and listens to Chinese language study, using foreign words to block out his family. That this family is quite unlikable is a challenge for director David Muse and his superb cast of six.

Christopher is an academic critic with a mind tightly closed shut and a mouth that’s always open. For him, words are little knives used to keep the world at bay. The mother, Beth (Nancy Robinette), is also a writer, though one much less focused and accomplished than her husband. Their three adult children, in their 20s, are all living at home, their adulthood apparently on hold. Son Daniel (Richard Gallagher) is a mess, another would-be writer whose success is stunted by mental instability. Daughter Ruth (Annie Funk) is an aspiring singer with low self-esteem. And then there is Billy (James Caverly). What’s most noticeable about Billy in the early scenes is how placid he is as arguments and insults swirl about him at the dinner table. He does not engage. He seems gentle, modest. Then, just about the time you begin hop-

F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

ing a big tree will fall on this miserable house and crush its annoying occupants, you understand that Billy is deaf. He’s a lip-reader, and all he has to do to avoid the tumult is look away. Billy has not been allowed by his parents to learn sign language. That would be giving in to what they view as a handicap. Here, Raine begins to explore whether deafness is a disability or just another way to be. The parents don’t want Billy to drop out of general society and immerse himself in what they see as the hermetically sealed world of deaf people. Or so they say. There are enough dark undertones to make their motives about anything suspect. Is this just another power play — a way to keep him under control, as an eternal child?

Signs of survival Billy meets Sylvia (Helen Cespedes), who is in the process of losing her hearing, and she teaches him to sign. This opens up several sets of issues related to how people who cannot hear function in society. We learn how poetic and how delicately beautiful signing can be. With his new ability to communicate, and by discovering a world of people like him, in their various strata and hierarchies, Billy starts to come into his own. Frankly, there is just too much going on in this play to go into all of it in this space. Let’s just say there’s a lot that was new to me, and I enjoyed being introduced. The play was a hit in London and New York and seems to be a hot property in top theaters around the country right now. Its themes obviously resonate. Or is that a hearing-only word? Caverly has played the role of Billy before. He is a graduate of Gallaudet University, the country’s premier college for the deaf and hard of hearing, based here in Washington, D.C., so he brings real-life experience to his work here. His Billy may be gentle and sweet-natured, but Caverly shows us the bitterness and isolation that he struggles to keep in check. He is matched by Cespedes’ nuanced work as Sylvia. She is the most fully dimensional character here, dealing with her own grief about her weakening connection to the hearing world, even as she tries to help Billy find his way, and as she has to cope with his unhelpful family. As time passes, and her hearing re-

cedes, her speech begins to deteriorate. In lesser hands this would all be melodrama, but Cespedes and Caverly never let that happen. Their work is pungent, rather than poignant, and it’s a joy to watch. The rest of the cast never falters, even if you want to smack each of them. They swim in an ocean of self-absorption, delighting in coarse imagery and language to a degree perhaps more irritating than the playwright intends. It gets tiresome. Director Muse never lets the actors take an easy way out, although he does let us laugh at them. Never with them. The acting is grounded in natural rhythms and an easy naturalness. The pacing is dynamic.

Somewhat overwrought Gallagher meets the challenge of Daniel’s descent into his psychosis rather well. It’s an unwieldy role, and the playwright has overwritten the part. She has Daniel blasting a radio to block out the voices in his head, a moment in which she pole vaults over the shark! (Confused? Google the term “jumping the shark.”) The play could use a good editor to rein in a few layers of this kind of overkill. She already gives us the father using headphones to block out the voices outside his head. And several other unnecessary plot twists in Act Two do nothing to deepen our understanding of the points Raine brilliantly makes. But even with those flaws, this is a bracing, refreshing and stimulating play, skillfully performed. You heard it here. Tribes continues through March 2 at Studio Theatre, 1501 14th St. NW, Washington, D.C. Evening performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m. Sign-interpreted performances: Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. Captioned performances: Wednesday, Feb. 12 at 8 p.m. Audio described performance: Sunday, Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. Ticket prices: $39 to $75, with a $5 discount for patrons 62+ and a 20 percent discount for military personnel and families. All performances are fully accessible for patrons with special needs, including an FM listening system. For tickets, call (202) 332-3300; V/TTY (202) 667-8436. For more information, visit


Feb. 15


The McLean Community Players is currently showing Tony-award winning musical La Cage aux Folles at the McLean Community Center’s Alden Theatre, located at 1234 Ingleside Ave., McLean, Va. On Saturday, Feb. 15, they will include special audio description services for the visually impaired. Tickets are $18 and $20. For more information, call (866) 811-4111.

Feb. 23


The Washington Piano Society presents a free classical piano concert at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 23 at Calgary Lutheran Church, 9545 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, Md. Pianists will play Haydn, Schubert, Chopin and Andreissen, and a reception will follow. Donations are accepted. For more information, visit or call (301) 793-1863.

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Youth Ballet keeps older dancers young By Rebekah Sewell and Courtney Shirley After a 90-minute classical ballet class, the adult students of Maryland Youth Ballet seemed happy, rejuvenated and relaxed. Their teacher Michelle Lees cracked jokes throughout the lesson, and her humor clearly rubbed off on the students. On the way out, several students personally thanked her for the lesson. All the

students left the class smiling. Don’t be fooled by the word “youth” in Maryland Youth Ballet’s (MYB) title. Almost half of the 1,600 students at MYB are adults. Many have been dancing their whole lives, and are now in their 60s, 70s, 80s and even 90s. About one-third of the weekend “advanced beginner” class is made up of dancers over PHOTO BY DAVID ALCALDE

50. The dancers began their class with exercises at the barre. The second half of the class was spent practicing “center work,” rehearsing a series of steps in small groups. “These older dancers are an inspiration to the teachers and their fellow students,” Lees said. “Nothing keeps them from their enjoyment of the movement and the camaraderie of their classmates. The physical exercise keeps them limber and helps with their mental agility. They are truly a remarkable group.” Lees is a former principal dancer with the National Ballet, and has been a teacher at Maryland Youth Ballet for more than 30 years. Now president and principal, she oversees and teaches at least eight classes. As principal, Lees is responsible for sched-

uling, hiring and auditioning prospective students for the pre-professional program. She often wears many hats, including assisting with the choreography, props, music and lighting of their many productions.

Founder on her toes at 91 The founder of the school, Hortensia Fonseca, is now 91 and continues to be active with the program. Fonseca came to the United States from Costa Rica to pursue her dreams of dancing professionally. She originally moved to New York City to train, but settled a few years later in Washington, D.C. Fonseca’s life changed when she became a mother. She had been invited to dance with See YOUTH BALLET, page 50

More than one-third of the Maryland Youth Ballet’s advanced beginner class is comprised of adults over age 50. Jon Jackson, the only male in the class, is in the back row.

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Youth Ballet From page 49 American Ballet Theatre, but decided it would be too difficult for her new family. In 1971, she founded Maryland Youth Ballet

and began teaching out of the basement of her home in Kensington, Md. Fonseca’s original intention was to create a comprehensive, pre-professional program. Soon, the program began offering adult classes as well, Lees said.

F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 4 — WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N

Fonseca continues to take classes and teach pointe — an advanced classical technique where dancers support their full weight on the tips of their toes. She also attends many of the school’s performances and events.

Programs for all

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The school prepares young students for a professional career in dance, as well as offering classes to dancers of all ages and levels in the metropolitan region. The school also has special programs for disadvantaged young children and those with disabilities. Its program Music in Motion allows children afflicted by cerebral palsy the chance to dance, using an elaborate harness system. In addition to its youth classes, the school provides 37 adult classes per week, ranging from beginner to professional level. The program currently has more than 700 adult dancers enrolled, including some who have been dancing longer than the school’s existence. The only male in the advanced beginner class is 59-year-old Jon Jackson, a tall and powerfully built dancer who joked that ballet helped him “offset a mid-life crisis.” As an avid stage actor, Jackson learned to dance to get him more roles. He rediscovered his love of ballet in 2005 when he was in his 50s. “I needed something to cling onto from my past,” he said. Jackson originally began taking classes at the Washington Ballet school, but heard of MYB’s program and decided to try it as well. “It’s like a social event. There is camaraderie here. Everybody’s upbeat and positive,” he said. More than that, Jackson added, “There is just something spiritual about it.” One of MYB’s most loyal and active students is Sandra Kagen. At 72, she takes at least five classes per week and actively volunteers for the youth productions. From her more than 50 years with the school, she described it as her “second home.” Kagen also credited ballet with keeping her active in other ways. “I have more energy than my friends who don’t dance. It always picks me up,” she said. At one point, Kagen’s whole family was represented at MYB. She and her adult

daughter Marlene took advanced beginner classes, and her young granddaughter also took some classes. Kagen has also been involved with MYB on a personal and professional level. She was introduced to the program through her close friendship with Fonseca. She also served as the school’s treasurer for over 30 years. With her background as a certified CPA, she enabled the school to become profitable. Though now retired from that position, she continues to serve as a parttime bookkeeper and a member of the board of directors.

Variety of classes offered Aside from classical ballet, the MYB also offers classes in stretch, conditioning, Pilates, and a newly introduced jazz class. Kagen recently added jazz to her schedule of classes and loves it. Maryland Youth Ballet has a class specifically for beginners who have no dance experience. “Intro to Ballet” is a fiveweek course taught once a week on Saturdays. It focuses on learning the positions and basics. Each session of five classes costs $55. “It’s really popular,” Lees said. Other options for new students include “Beginner Ballet,” a slow and thorough basics course; “Floor Barre,” a class utilizing gravity to enhance body alignment; and “Stretch,” a slow-paced lesson emphasizing deep breathing and muscle function. Advanced beginner students may also be eligible for the “Low-Impact Broadway Jazz” class. One of the school’s unique features is a live pianist accompanying every class. The talented musicians take cues from the structure of the class and the instructor, matching the music to the type of exercise they are practicing or rehearsing. Many older students, like Kagen, say they find the classes exhilarating rather than exhausting. Kagen also cited founder Hortensia Fonseca as a “major inspiration” for her own longevity with dance. “We always say, ‘If she can do it, so can we.’” Maryland Youth Ballet is located at 926 Ellsworth Dr., Silver Spring. For more information, see or call (301) 608-2232.

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WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 4

Confronting cancer in song Cushing says she does not really write shows for children, but instead explores themes all ages can enjoy. But a few of her shows are aimed at adult audiences, including Breast in Show, a musical about breast cancer. Cushing wrote the songs, working with script writer Eileen Hayes. They are based on interviews with 200 breast cancer survivors conducted by Hayes and Cushing, together with producer Eileen Mitchard. But Cushing had to take a break from work on the show when her husband, Paul Buchbinder, was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer in the fall of 2010. The ordeal was a creative crucible for Cushing. “They held the show for me. He died in four months. And after he died, I had something to say, and I said it. “Every note of music and every lyric has my husband in it. I experienced so many things with him that other people’s stories totally resonated with me,” she said, the memories spilling out in staccato bursts. There’s a surprising amount of humor in the 90-minute show, and reviews have been favorable. Productions continue around the country, including a recent performance in Annapolis. “When somebody dies, you know that their life mattered. But I wanted his death to matter. I felt I made him matter — and people who are sick matter — by writing something with humor. “You go into these places where people are going through absolute hell, and they laugh and they make jokes and they’re brave and courageous. It’s amazing,” she said. “And then when someone dies, you’ve been a part of this environment and part of the teams and all these people, and then the day your husband dies, it’s over. You’re not really connected to anyone anymore. “If you’re an artist, and something happens to you like this, you keep thinking, how can I turn this into something positive? And I feel like I did that,” Cushing concluded.

Cushing told a story revealing her innate sense of optimism, buoyed by heartache which turned to joy. “Years ago, when I was in college, I gave a child up for adoption,” she said. “It was a hugely traumatic experience. And for years, it was hard to think that I had done such a thing. “I didn’t get married until I was older, and I then had all these miscarriages, so I kind of thought I was being punished for giving up my first child. “But then I went and found him. He was


Feb. 8

When interviewed for this story, Cushing had been working on five different songs for the Cruella de Ville character in 101 Dalmatians before proclaiming that she finally “nailed it.” Cushing was both relieved and excited, brimming with happy memories of a recent beach vacation with her sons, and looking forward to getting behind the bar to serve drinks for a few hours that evening. So how did this woman, who started out in bars decades ago, find herself back there? The question provokes hearty laughter before she settles into a reflective explanation about coping with life’s curves. “After Paul died,” she said, still quietly chuckling, “I was, like, I need some more


The Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington presents a free mini-concert by pianist Brian Ganz on Saturday, Feb. 8 from 8 to 9:30 p.m. at JCCGW, 6125 Montrose Rd., Rockville, Md. Ganz is continuing his “Extreme Chopin” quest to perform all of Chopin’s work. For more information or to register, visit or email

Bring Your Group to the Kennedy Center for Entertainment on a Grand Scale!

GROU SAVEPS ! The Kennedy Center welcomes patrons with disabilities.

The Magic Flute

New York City Ballet


A love-struck prince sets out on a fantastic adventure to rescue the Queen of the Night’s daughter in Mozart’s final opera. American director Harry Silverstein, whose The Marriage of Figaro wowed WNO audiences in 2010, directs a dynamic young cast, many in their WNO debuts. Conducted by WNO Music Director Philippe Auguin, this “zesty and imaginative new production” (San Francisco Chronicle) is certain to captivate audiences of all ages. Visit for casting.

Boasting “an impressive new generation of dancers” (The New York Times), the renowned New York City Ballet performs Balanchine’s dazzling full-length Jewels (April 1 & 4–6). The company also dances a mixed repertory program (April 2 & 3)—Wheeldon’s Soirée Musicale, Peck’s Year of the Rabbit, tt, and Ratmansky’s Namouna, A Grand Divertissement— t with the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra.

May 3–18 Opera House

Apr. 1–6 Opera House

The Magic Flute


The Kennedy Center Ballet Season is presented with the support of Elizabeth and Michael Kojaian. New York City Ballet’s engagement is presented with the support of the State Plaza Hotel.

David and Alice Rubenstein are the Presenting Underwriters of WNO. General Dynamics is the proud sponsor of WNO’s 2013-2014 Season.

Becoming a bartender

21 and a musician. And when I found him, I was pregnant again, and I had that child. And now that child just graduated from college in New Orleans where my first son lives, and they’re good friends. So everything, all that bad stuff, turned out in the end into something beautiful.” For information about Breast in Show, visit For more information about Joan Cushing, visit Michael Toscano is the Beacon’s theater reviewer.


From page 1

money. So I went to bartender’s school, and I got a license, and I make about 200 drinks, and I like it. “It’s good for me. It’s good to be around people; it’s actually very creative. I’ve started making all these craft drinks, so I’m really into it. “When you’re in a crisis or in a tough time, sometimes you can use it to turn your life around and do something really positive. Sometimes it gives you the kick in the butt to do something new. You can create your own happiness, I think,” Cushing said. “Making my own way, because I’m a writer and not so much of an entertainer anymore, I needed a way to be around people, and for me, that was bartending. And anytime I feel down, if I write something or do something creative, it pulls me out of it. It makes me feel like I have some control.” (Note: she will occasionally perform a “roast” as Mrs. Foggybottom on request.) As the conversation drew to a close,





The Magic Flute is a production of the Clarice Smith Opera Series.

Side Show SAVE TO 25 UP %

Conlon Conducts Brahms & Shaham

A “brilliant violinist [with] flawless precision and gleeful command” (The New York Times), Gil Shaham plays Korngold’s Violin Concerto on a program led by renowned conductor James Conlon that also includes masterpieces by Brahms and Zemlinsky.


April 10–12 Concert Hall David and Alice Rubenstein are the Presenting Underwriters of the NSO. The Blue Series is sponsored by United Technologies Corporation.


Step right up to this thrilling revival of the acclaimed 1997 Broadway musical. Chronicling their rise from freak circus attractions to famous vaudeville entertainers, Side Show w follows the Hilton sisters’ heartwarming search for fortune and love. Featuring Tony®-nominated music by Henry Krieger and book and lyrics by Bill Russell and directed by Oscar® winner Bill Condon, it is “a fitting showcase for one of the 1990’s greatly underappreciated scores…unquestionably it dazzles” (Variety). y y).

June 14–July 13 Eisenhower Theater Musical Theater at the Kennedy Center is made possible through the generosity of the Adrienne Arsht Musical Theater Fund. The Kennedy Center Theater Season is sponsored by Altria. Additional support is provided by The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation.

Tickets on sale now!

Groups (202) 416-8400 Visit our Web site at

Tickets also available at the Box Office.

(202) 467-4600


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Say you saw it in the Beacon | Arts & Style

ONE BIG HAPPY By Rick Detorie


















JCA’s program SeniorTech is looking for senior volunteers to teach and assist computer classes. JCA’s new partnership with Microsoft is expanding the service. For more information, visit or call Robin Blackman at (240) 396-0916.


Feb. 20+

OPERETTA IN ROCKVILLE The Victorian Lyric Opera Company presents Gilbert and Sullivan’s

most successful Operetta, The Yeomen of the Guard, beginning with a special $12 performance on Thursday, Feb. 20. The show will continue until Sunday, March 2. Evening performances begin at 8 p.m. On Sunday, Feb. 23, the company will host community outreach, which begins at 12:45 p.m., with tours and crafts for children, and a show at 2 p.m. The final show will also have a 2 p.m. curtain. Tickets cost $24 for adults and $20 for seniors. For more information, visit or call (240) 314-8690.

Feb. 28

BYZANTIUM ART The National Gallery of Art presents the lecture “Ways of Seeing Byzantium,” which brings together noted scholars to explore

themes of the exhibit “Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections” on Friday, Feb. 28 from 2 to 5 p.m. (The exhibit continues through Sunday, March 2.) This free lecture will take place in the lecture hall of the West Building, on the ground floor of the National Gallery of Art, located at 6th and Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. For more information, visit or call (202) 737-4215. WB 2/14



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F E B R U A R Y 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: Click on Puzzles Plus Mouse Moves by Stephen Sherr 1









14 17












53 55







Across 1. Car salesman’s offers 6. Toward her back side 9. Chime, less melodically 14. Esteem 15. ___-Magnon man 16. Wildcatter 17. Mascara purchaser, perhaps 19. Bluish gray shade 20. Author of QB VII 21. ___ of Honey (singers of Boogie Oogie Oogie) 22. Small potatoes 27. Becomes sweeter 28. North Korean leader 29. Infomercials, and shorter versions 30. Put the pedal to the metal 31. One of her three Golden Raspberry awards was for Bolero 33. Computer editing technique 38. It often requires a prima donna 39. The first stage of Life (Cereal) 42. A son of Poseidon (or acronym for the band Art of Noise) 45. Bake sale org. 46. Start of a boat in Boston harbor 48. Emulate Steve Jobs or Bill Gates 52. “I am nothing special;___ I am sure” (Nicholas Sparks) 53. California-based gas retailer 54. Fiber created from wood pulp 55. International Hot Rod Association contests 60. Happening 61. Eligible to withdrawal from a 401K 62. Jubilate 63. History class facts 64. Units in an NFL game 65. Appears 1. Netflix mailer






37 39


Scrabble answers on p. 53.



38 44




















20 22




2. Dumbo’s wing 3. One below Tenn. 4. Carry clumsily 5. Shiner, on Project Runway designs 6. Do well on a test 7. Just out of the oven 8. Weight of a large horse or a small car 9. Theatrical fashion designer 10. Purple flower 11. It cost about $7 million in 1867 12. Cleared after taxes 13. Holds out one’s hand 18. Coffee servers 21. It is more highly valued in a hand 22. Salk and Pepper, abbr. 23. Grave letters 24. Newspaper page 25. 3-time Cy Young winner Martinez 26. Squeaked by 31. It proves paternity with 99.99% accuracy 32. Small colorful ball 34. Names 35. “___ out!” (John Birch Society slogan) 36. “I smell ___” 37. Spanish nickname for Francisco 40. Excessively 41. TV show that starts in one week and ends in another 42. Thought the world of 43. Recipe: “Add edamame, lima, ___ beans” 44. Soon, maybe 46. Org. that posts shore signs 47. Time units, per Abe Lincoln 49. Princess, crowned by Bell in 1959 50. Paddled 51. Grps. with secret handshakes 55. Free of alcohol 56. Weapon in the The Shining 57. Starting signal 58. Nightmarish street 59. N. and S. Carolina

Answers on page 53.

Answer: A good electrician knows this -- WHAT'S WATT Jumbles: WEARY TWEET ASTHMA EXTENT

WA S H I N G T O N B E A C O N — F E B R U A R Y 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 AVON INDEPENDENT SALES REPRESENTATIVE - home deliveries for Gaithersburg and surrounding towns. Home parties and fundraising events available. To order, call Naan, 860-989-9355 or write

Caregivers “A” HOME HEALTH CARE – Experienced nurses, CNA, GNA are available 24/7. Companionship, personal care, housekeeping, shopping, driving. Full/Part-time or live-in. Flat rate for live-in. 15 years experience. 240-533-6599. ABSOLUTE HOMECARE SERVICES, INC. – Licensed, Bonded and Insured. Reliable and qualified health aides and nursing staff available. Trusted personal assistance for your loved ones. Serving all Washington Metro Area. 4-24 hour services. Our rates are 10% lower than the average in the DC Metro Area! Tel: 703-3476755. Email: Visit us: COMPASSIONATE CAREGIVER – LADY COMPANION available for elderly or adult with disabilities. Very reliable, experienced, own car with excellent references. CPR/First Aid/Hospice/Mental Health Aide Certified. I can provide respite care, concierge, plus more services for your loved one. Please call 240-426-3548 and kindly leave me a message. ALLOW YOUR LOVED ONES to live where they are most comfortable... in their own home! Quality and reliability at an affordable price. Errands, shopping, meal preparation, hygiene assistance, light housekeeping. Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Temporary or long-term, up to 24-hour care. Bonded and insured. 301-4909050, CAREGIVER AVAILABLE FOR THE ELDERLY – Reliable, experience. Own car with excellent references. Sterling, Va., Reston, Va., or Herndon, Va. Call 703-505-2763. SEEKING LIVE-IN CAREGIVER for elderly couple near Rockville. Must speak English, own car and be reliable. Salary negotiable. References required. Call 703-798-8132.

Computer Services WE ARE NO NONSENSE HELP. Friendly support for non-technical people. Computers (PC, Mac), phones, tablets. Troubleshooting, tutoring or advice. Phone support or house call. 443-821-0600. Email: PROBLEM WITH YOUR PC/MAC OR NETWORK? Computer Systems Engineer will come to you with help. Call: D. Guisset at 301-6424526.

Say you saw it in the Beacon

Computer Services 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 offers dynamic social programs and classes geared to people 50+. Many have a Jewish theme; most are free of charge and take place in the Friendship Heights neighborhood of Chevy Chase. For information on upcoming programs, visit or call 240-200-4515. Join us for Shabbat dinner, with songs and camaraderie, on Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. To RSVP (required), call number above or visit

Financial Services


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.

Home/Handyman Services


AFFORDABLE ACCTG/TAX SOLUTIONS @ BAI-TECH. Automation, Bookeeping, Payroll Tax Planning, Preparation & Representation. CPA on Demand 24/7. 26+ years experience. Email or call 301-608-2248.

EXPERT ROOF REPAIRS and new installations. 40 years experience. 5 year warranties. Rated A on Angie’s List. See our photo gallery at MHIC# 8342. Call, 301-220-4222.

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.

For Sale/Rent: Real Estate


LEISURE WORLD® - $238,500. 3BR 2FB 1HB “M” in Greens. Table space kitchen, separate dining room. Large enclosed balcony. New paint and carpet. 1530 sq ft. Stan Moffson, Weichert Realtors, 301-928-3463.

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, or see

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® - $275,000. 2BR 2FB “E” in “Villa Cortese.” Table space kitchen, large enclosed balcony, and Garage parking. 1340 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. 2 BR 2 FB “F” in the “Greens.” Updated kitchen, enclosed balcony, treetop view. 1115 sq ft. Stan Moffson, Weichert Realtors, 301-928-3463. 55+ Senior Living Community. 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 15. Contact me: 301-580-5556,,, Weichert Realtors. WE’LL BUY YOUR HOME Without the Hassles. Local Company in business since 2003. BBB Accredited. Call 877-948-3232 today for details. No Obligation or Fees. BEAUTIFUL HOME ON RIVER in quiet neighborhood. 1 bedroom, office, bath. Finished attic. Washer/Dryer. Screen porch. New kitchen. Garage. Large yard. $1265. Call 703-430-7988. GORGEOUS, FULLY FURNISHED ROOM. Includes: bed/dresser/chest/nightstand, television, easy chair, microwave, refrigerator, parking and more. $225 per week. Call Dr. Walton – 301-825-3566. I BUY HOUSES ANY CONDITION – Fairfax County, VA. Save time, money and worry. Not an agent, no commissions. Female owned. 703-9695847,

For Sale 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.

Personals YOUNG 69-YEAR-OLD INTELLECTUAL, fit, non-smoking lady, conversant in several European languages, world-travelled, well-read, good sense of humor seeking well-groomed, divorced/widowed gentleman for tea-time conversation/companionship. Photo not important. Integrity is. Please leave message: 301-587-2760.

Personal Services READY TO DE-CLUTTER? I can help. Sort, donate, discard. Reasonable rates. Call Jan, 301933-7570. WILL DO PERSONAL CARE, meals and laundry, for elderly person. $10.50 per hour, Part-time, M-F, 4 or 5 hours a day. Good references furnished. 301-758-5159 (PG and DC area only). I HAVE MANY YEARS EXPERIENCE as a housekeeper. I will clean house on Saturday. Will do laundry and will do housekeeping evenings. I will also help with meals. 240-893-0119. VAN MAN – For your driving needs. Shopping, appointments, pick-up and deliver – airport van. Call Mike, 301-565-4051. WILL TYPE YOUR MEMOIRS, manuscripts, etc. For info and rates, call 703-671-1854. 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. 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. 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. WANTED – CAR – USED: Prefer domestic automobile. Private party. No dealer calls please. Call 301-787-7554. 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. HIGHEST CASH PAID FOR ANTIQUES, JEWELRY, ESTATES. I have been advertising in the Senior 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 240-476-3441. 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. 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 202726-4427, MD 301-332-4697. 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, 301-2798834. Thank you. STAMP COLLECTIONS, AUTOGRAPHS purchased/appraised – U.S., worldwide, covers, paper memorabilia. Stamps are my specialty – highest price paid! Appraisals. Phone Alex, 301309-6637. CASH FOR ESTATE BUYOUTS, estate clean-outs, jewelry to furniture, one item or whole state. Free Estimate, Will Travel. 301520-0755. 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 301-6540838.


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February 2014 | DC Beacon Edition  

February 2014 | DC Beacon Edition

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