2 Fairfax County Times SENIORS | August 2015
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August 2015 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS
TRASHING THE ROCKING CHAIR FOR
PHOTO CREDIT: STEVEN LORING
Many seniors are out there, speed dating.
BY EILEEN M. CARLTON
ore and more people “of a certain age” are flying in the face of the expected and stepping into a world of new beginnings and excitement. These people are definitely mature and they bring that maturity to the tables and chairs of speed dating. To explain the phenomenon, the Northern Virginia Jewish Community Center is showing the film, “The Age of Love,” the brainchild of director, producer and cinematographer Steven Loring, followed by a short discussion and light dinner. According to Shelley Rosenstein, adult group director of the NVJCC, Loring made the documentary with the intention of finding out if feelings of love and intimacy change over time. The stars of the film are 30 men and women between the ages of 70 and 90 in
Rochester, N.Y., who signed up for a first-ofits-kind speed dating event for seniors. Each has his or her own story, and every one of their stories is poignant and enlightening. Loring explains that this film was a personal journey of his own. “I was looking for a topic,” he said. “My dad had passed away. My mom was 70 and, for the first time, without her soul mate. That same year my uncle was in his late 70s and started dating a woman who was 80. They basically just locked the bedroom door – it was a true romance, as if they were teenagers again. So it was an eye-opening experience.” Loring said that he saw how the media perpetuated the stereotypes of older adults, suggesting that seniors were “beyond that,” and treating their needs and desires as a punch line. Loring felt quite differently. “We are living in an era where men and women 75 to 100 are living active, healthy
4 Fairfax County Times SENIORS | August 2015
lives and feeling like they always have. I wanted to find a way into that topic,” he said. What materialized was his first directed feature-length film. “It’s about love,” he added. “Everybody understands love whether you are 16 or 100. This is a story about the search for love that can be understood by all generations.” Loring said he was concerned that there could be a problem asking this demographic to expose itself and participate. “I thought older people would be embarrassed, reticent to be filmed, when they had signed on simply to go speed dating,” Loring said. “I found exactly the opposite. One after another they would tell me, ‘I’m invisible. Why wouldn’t I want to talk about it? We need to be heard.’ Emotional growth is not something we associate with aging, and this made me feel like it was a worthwhile project.” “I just felt if I could give them a voice.”
Loring was able to give them that voice, and it seems that a lot of people are listening. The documentary premiered on Valentine’s Day and to date has been viewed by audiences all over the world. Seven screenings in Russia are scheduled for the fall, and others in Brazil are in the offing. Many groups also have signed up for the special kits Loring offers that provide the tools for setting up a speed dating event. From a segment on the “Today” show to NPR’s “All Things Considered” to The Huffington Post, news of the documentary has sparked conversations among professionals, educational groups and the public. And it has resonated with its intended audience. Loring has been receiving letters from couples brought together by his creative effort. “For a documentary filmmaker to get pictures in the mail …” Loring said, obviously moved. “The film affects people emotionally.”
50 IS THE NEW 50
Enjoy your age
BY MARGO B. YONGE
aying that “50 is the new 30” is a form of denial. Why deny what you’ve worked your whole life to achieve? You’ve crossed so many finish lines, reaching goal after goal. Besides, were you really happier at 30? Our society places an enormous amount of emphasis on looks, but the secret to real beauty is happiness within. Being happy does not come from good looks, money or youth. Take a step back and see what you’ve achieved so far.
But back to the question of good looks, happiness and aging. It’s wonderful and necessary to take care of yourself—mind, body, spirit. But often, people have turned so far inward that it becomes selfish rather than self-reflecting. Narcissus might have been OK if he hadn’t kept staring. Perhaps we can take care of ourselves and others, as well. By helping others, we truly help ourselves on a lot of levels. Many self-help guides contend that looking good on the outside will make you feel good on the inside. Perhaps that’s true to
Our society places an enormous amount of emphasis on looks, but the secret to real beauty is happiness within. Being happy does not come from good looks, money or youth. Take a step back and see what you’ve achieved so far. By 50, you’ve likely finished your formal education. And you did it the hard way— trudging to the library, using books, manually looking up info, etc. You’ve decided whom to marry. Or not. You’ve made decisions one way or another about relationships. If you have children, you’ve made key decisions about them, such as how and when to say yes and no. You’ve likely learned that it’s a lot easier to say yes but that saying no can have long benefits for both you and your child. As child psychologist Ray Guarendi points out, if you don’t say no now, a teacher, boss, police officer or judge may later. By 50, you’ve decided where and how to live. You’ve settled in with friends. You probably have some exercise in your life, but if not, it’s easy for most to pick up a pedometer and start walking each day. Maybe you’ve overcome cancer or another major illness. Fifty is a blessing! You’ve made career and financial decisions by 50. You’ve endured the ups and downs of recessions and economic booms. So take comfort in the knowledge that you’ve weathered a lot of storms and made it through. FairfaxTimes.com
some degree. But it’s much stronger the other way around. A truly happy person always looks great, no matter what his or her physical attributes. Put another way, people become betteror worse-looking as you get to know them. Years ago, a friend of mine was dating a model. Not knowing that and only knowing he had a date that night, I asked whether his new girlfriend was pretty. He replied that he believes someone becomes prettier or uglier as her personality comes through. So enjoy your age. Keep striving to improve, but be secure in your accomplishments and your well-being. By helping others, we also help ourselves on multiple levels. Years ago, I heard a story about the difference between heaven and hell. In hell, the story goes, people have these huge eating utensils. They cannot feed themselves because they cannot turn the forks to reach their mouths, so they live in eternal frustration and hunger. In heaven, they have the same utensils and the same food. They happily feed one another across the table with their utensils, never even trying to turn them in toward themselves. -Creators.com
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FOREVER YOUNG GRANDMOTHER HITS THE ROAD BY DAMIAN CRISTODERO/ GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY
ancy Guth’s most vivid memory of her 3,000-mile cycling odyssey called the Race Across America was being “in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night” somewhere in Kansas. With the road lit by the support van behind her and Fleetwood Mac’s lead singer Stevie Nicks blasting from the van’s speakers, Guth was in her own bit of heaven decorated by an “amazing” canopy of stars. In that moment, Guth was no longer a 64-year-old grandmother of seven. “Being out there, riding as hard as you can, you lose your age,” she said. “You don’t think of yourself as a senior, you think of yourself as a strong person, and that’s very empowering.” Guth was never one for the slow lane. While supervisor of literacy and humanities for Stafford County (Va.) public schools and raising four kids with husband John, Guth got her PhD in education in 2001 from George Mason University. She also is an adjunct faculty member for the literacy pro-
PHOTO COURTESY OF NANCY GUTH
Nancu Guth, 64, recently cycled 3,000 miles across America
gram in George Mason’s College of Education and Human Development. “Just a very tough and determined person,” said Mason professor Elizabeth Sturtevant, who directs the Division of Elementary, Literacy, and Secondary Education. Guth began cycling because her PhD studies limited her time at the gym. Riding on Saturdays with John, who was already an
avid cyclist, Guth got so good with speed and distance, she skipped her PhD graduation to compete in a local time trial. Four times she has ridden in the nonstop Race Across America, which begins in Oceanside, Calif., and ends in Annapolis, Md. In 2011, her two-woman team set the 60-69 age group record of 9 days, 13 hours, 37 minutes. In 2012, she and John set the two-person, mixed-team record for that division of 8 days, 3 hours, 47 minutes. In June’s race, John and Nancy’s fourperson mixed team won the 60-69 age group in 7 days, 3 hours, 41 minutes, besting nine younger four-person teams. Along for the ride, so to speak, was Daniel Snow, 25, a fellow cyclist and Mason junior majoring in business management. As crew chief, he directed a 10-person support group that staffed three vans. Two followed riders to protect them against traffic and illuminate roads at night. The backup made food runs. Snow also was in charge of music, which race rules allowed to be blared in sparsely populated areas. There was Bruce Springsteen, Janis Joplin, but “a lot of Fleetwood Mac,” Snow
said. “I’ll be okay if I don’t hear another Fleetwood Mac song for the next month.” The Race Across America runs 24 hours a day, with riders in Guth’s team “going as hard as you can” in spurts of 15 to 20 minutes, she said. Sleep happens in the back of the wellequipped vans. To help keep legs from swelling, all idle riders must recline. To help keep potential stomach problems in check, Guth ate mostly bland oatmeal. There was 100-degree heat in California, Guth said, and pounding rain the last 18 hours. In Maryland, the team was rerouted after a small bridge washed out, and Snow said the crew cleared a rockslide, which included some 20-pound boulders, so cyclists could get by. Funding the whole shebang cost $20,000. Small sponsorships helped, but basically, John said, “We’re spending our retirement.” No remorse, Guth said. “It’s our health. … It’s our vacation. It’s a passion.” Besides, she added, “There’s nothing like being out under those stars and hearing Stevie Nicks on the loudspeaker. You can’t get that from driving a car.”
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6 Fairfax County Times SENIORS | August 2015
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE AT PAUL SPRING RETIREMENT COMMUNITY BY ELLEN R. COHEN
here are many reasons why seniors decide to downsize, relocate to smaller quarters and rid themselves of home maintenance headaches. For the Niemiecs, Mother Nature made the decision for them. Emma Niemiec, 78, and her husband, Richard Niemiec, 84, had lived near Paul Spring Retirement Community in Alexandria, but a tree fell on the Niemiecs’ home, forcing them to live at a Holiday Inn and later at a furnished studio apartment at Paul Spring—what was supposed to be a temporary stay. But they decided to stay put when then they heard about another tree falling on another house. Paul Spring has been their home for the past three years. “I feel we made the right decision,” said Emma Niemiec, who worked as a secretary and was a Realtor. “We see our friends, go to the same church, and see our kids and grandkids. We have so much to be thankful for.” Located near Mount Vernon, Paul Spring Retirement Community offers independent and assisted living to seniors and younger people with disabilities. “We are located on 12 acres, which is kind of unusual these days. We have our own little oasis here,” said Theresa Dixon, an administrator at Paul Spring. This Alexandria community has been in existence since 1988 and is one of several retirement communities owned by Retirement Unlimited, Inc. Paul Spring is housed in a single building with three-floors with an elevator. The community has 145 rentals configured as studios; one-bedroom apartments with one bathroom; and two-bedroom apartments with two bathrooms. Lease options include one-, two-, and three-month options.
Residents have the opportunity to participate in sittercise, yoga or other classes on a daily basis. They can also take a stroll on our paved walking path to get daily exercise.
There is no entrance fee. Pets are allowed at Paul Spring, though large pets need to have “a pet interview,” Dixon said. Dixon said half the residents came from within 10 miles of the surrounding area. “Most residents are singles, but there are a few couples,” said Dixon. “The oldest resident is a woman, 104.” Residents may choose from several different floor plans. Amenities include housekeeping (linen services available); scheduled van transportation for shopping and medical appointments; free laundry facilities on each floor; a beauty and barber shop; a gym and workout area; a library with a computer and Internet access; an activities center; and a pool table, putting green and a living room with piano. Physical, occupational and speech therapy services are available on-site through Rehab Management. Social work, counseling and recreational therapy services are offered, as well.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF PAUL SPRING.
Paul Spring is located on 12 wooded acres. It was formerly the site of Hollin Hills Elementary School. Paul Spring opened in 1988.
See PAUL SPRING, page18
While the weekly calendar features entertainment, activities, outings and shopping, there is still time for games with neighbors in the lounge. PHOTO COURTESY OF STEVE HUNT.
August 2015 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS
BABY BOOMERS AND BOOMERANGS EVERYONE NEEDS TO BEGIN PLANNING FOR RETIREMENT—NOW
BY JEANELLE HORCASITAS
hen I turned 19, I started my first real-world job with the state of California. Even though I only held a student position, every paycheck I received took out a little bit extra that went to my retirement. I often complained that I was too young to even begin thinking about my retirement. However, my older (and wiser) co-workers urged me to continue saving for my retirement and recommended that I open up an individual retirement account or 401(k) plan. Although I left this job years ago, the advice I received about securing my future by saving up now resonates with me, especially as I get older. My grandparents have been an unfortunate example of what many baby boomers are faced with today: working well past the “normal” retirement age. Furthermore, I know that my Generation Xer parents will
ANOTHER DISADVANTAGE FACING BABY BOOMERS HOPING TO RETIRE EARLY IS THAT MORE AND MORE YOUNG ADULTS ARE CHOOSING TO MOVE BACK HOME BECAUSE OF THEIR OWN DIFFICULTIES FINDING A JOB, DESPITE SPENDING YEARS AT A UNIVERSITY TO RECEIVE A DEGREE. suffer the same fate and will need to work beyond what many consider to be the normal retirement age. According to the Social Security Administration, those born between the 1940s and 1960s usually do not retire until they are about 66 years old. Moreover, those older adults who continue to work past the retirement age are normally not working for a company that offers a pension or payout. In addition, many have been laid off from companies that went under during the Great Recession. As a result, baby boomers have been forced to start over, competing for min-
imum-wage jobs alongside young adults and earning well below what they need to pay off a mortgage, a car or even student loan payments. Another disadvantage facing baby boomers hoping to retire early is that more and more young adults are choosing to move back home because of their own difficulties finding a job, despite spending years at a university to receive a degree. In 2012, Richard Fry from the Pew Research Center reported that 36 percent of the nation’s young adults ages 18 to 31—the so-called millennial gen-
eration—were living in their parents’ homes. These young adults have been referred to as the “boomerang kids” for leaving home and then eventually returning back to Mom and Dad’s (normally baby boomers or Gen Xers). Therefore, the issue of retirement is prevalent not only for baby boomers but also for millennials. In addition, the millennial generation is considered to be in even worse shape than their parents because it is more difficult for them to secure a well-paying job, purchase a car or begin saving up for a home in the future. So, what can baby boomers do right now if they do not have the luxuries of a pension or payout? Jonathan Clements of MarketWatch illustrates the hypothetical but very realistic predicament that most baby boomers find themselves in: “Let’s say your full Social Security retirement age is 66, at which point you could get $1,400 a month, equal to $16,800 a year. This is roughly the average
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8 Fairfax County Times SENIORS | August 2015
PHOTO CREDIT: CREATORS.COM
Saving a little bit each paycheck is crucial to securing a stable future.
amount that Social Security recipients are entitled to.” Additionally, those retiring earlier than the average age of 66 will receive a smaller amount monthly. On the other hand, delaying retirement can help increase the amount. Clements claims that delaying benefits between the ages of 66 and 70 could increase the amount to about $22,176 a year. However, this amount still proves to be a bleak and unlivable income, especially for older adults who are still paying off their debt, their children’s debt and possibly even high medical bills, the result of getting older in age. Therefore, the best advice for baby boomers and millennials is simply to save what you can while you can. Particularly for those a part of the baby boomer generation, it is crucial that whatever job you may have, at least some of your paycheck is going to your savings account. Unfortunately, the data demonstrate that once older adults reach their 60s, there is usually only about a decade for them to save up enough money to secure their future because the retirement benefits simply won’t cut it. Millennials should follow the same advice. Although they are young and still starting out, the time to act is now. Saving a little bit each paycheck is crucial to securing a stable future. Although the baby boomer and milliennial generations are on opposite sides of the age spectrum, they share common struggles in these difficult economic times. Retirement is no longer what is advertised on television and magazines. It’s not about taking tropical vacations, spending time with loved ones and enjoying yourself after many years of hard work. Retirement has become a daunting topic for both young and old. Therefore, it is never too early to think about your retirement or change the circumstances (if you are getting close to retirement) so that you may feel peaceful and happy when you finally make the decision to retire. -Creators.com FairfaxTimes.com
August 2015 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS
Budapest, Hungary and the Danube River are highlights of any Eastern Europe tour.
BOB AND CASS TAYLOR’S PILGRIMAGE TO EASTERN EUROPE PHOTOS COURTESY OF BOB AND CASS TAYLOR.
Bob and Cass Taylor at the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria.
A watchtower and fence at Auschwitz, the Nazi-era concentration camp outside of Krakow, Poland.
10 Fairfax County Times SENIORS | August 2015
BY JIM MAHAFFIE
astern Europe is filled with extraordinary sights, sounds and centuries of history, but traveling in places like Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary can be daunting with language barriers and difficulties in finding your way around. For Bob and Cass Taylor of Vienna, the solution was a tour organized by a Catholic church in Chantilly. Bob Taylor, 75, is a retired electrical engineer. Cass Taylor, 72, is a retired AT&T group manager. They have always wanted to see the cathedrals and monasteries of Europe and, when they saw a notice in their own church bulletin in McLean about a 12-day pilgrimage in September 2014, “the light bulb went off,” Bob Taylor said. “It was the combination of the five great cities that cemented it for us.” Led by two priests, the Rev. Edward C. Hathaway pastor of St. Veronica in Chantilly, and the Rev. Jerome Fasano of St. John the Baptist in Front Royal, the group visited sites in Warsaw and Krakow in Poland, Budapest, Hungary, Vienna, Austria and Prague in the Czech Republic. Travelling between cities by bus, the tour group spent a few days in each city and kept very busy from 8 a.m. on into the evenings, said the Taylors. Mass was held every day. Besides renowned religious sites, the group toured royal
palaces, medieval towns, Renaissance and Baroque architectural buildings and monuments. One memorable experience was a day at two World War II-era concentration camps outside Krakow in Poland. “Auschwitz was life-changing for me,” said Bob Taylor. “It’s shocking how they conned the Jews into thinking they would go to a better life while they were marching them into gas chambers. They even had a room for luggage and had them put their names on it, like they would be coming back to get it.” While his wife went to a second concentration camp site with the group that day, Bob Taylor said all he could do was sit on the bus and reflect on it all. At the same time, a favorite experience was visiting the center of the ancient city of Krakow. “All the medieval cities have public squares,” Cass Taylor said. “Krakow’s is huge and cobblestoned, with an interesting cathedral and watch towers.” She loved the buglers who play the Hejnał Mariacki, also called the “Kraków Anthem,” every hour from the highest tower of the city’s Saint Mary’s Church. Krakow was one of the only major cities of Poland to escape almost complete destruction in World War II. “I love the antiquity,” Cass Taylor said. “The trip showed me how Poles and Russians and other people went through World War II, and through it all, they FairfaxTimes.com
kept their faith,” Bob Taylor said. “It made me think about what I would do when faced with those conditions.” People always make a trip exceptional, and this pilgrimage was no different for the Taylors. Musical prodigy Carlos “Chucky” Ibay was also on their trip with his parents, Carmencita and Roman. Blind from birth, Chucky is the organist and cantor at St. Michael Church in Annandale. He’s also sung and played all over the world. “He can sing anything,” Bob Taylor said. “And we all loved that. At one of our hotels he commandeered a piano and gave an hour and a half-long concert. He played anything we asked and we all swooned. It was so unexpected, and it really helped make the trip.” They Taylors are pilgrimage veterans. They’ve traveled to Rome as well as the Holy Land with priest-led tours in the last five years. Bob and Cass Taylor now want to visit churches and cathedrals in France and Germany, too. Other travels are often geared around family and softball. They have three children, and recently gathered in Seattle to visit their son, then toured Victoria and Vancouver Island in British Columbia, and sailed up to Alaska for seven days, taking the train back to Seattle. Bob Cass is a serious and avid Advertisement
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A statue of Saint Pope John Paul II in Wadowice, Poland.
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PHOTOS BY HARVEY M. COHEN
Ellen Cohen poses outside trulli homes in Alberobello, Italy.
Castel del Monte in Andria, Italy, is one of the noteworthy castles in Puglia.
AN ITALIAN GEM BY ELLEN R. COHEN
ver since the 1960s, when my husband and I lived in Vicenza, Italy for 16 months, we have loved Italy and have returned several times. When a tour company with whom we have traveled happily in the past organized a new trip called “A Week in Puglia,” it didn’t take us long to sign up. Puglia, a region in Italy like Tuscany or Umbria, is relatively undiscovered— at least by Americans. Italians and other Europeans come to Puglia from northern areas to enjoy Mediterranean weather and delicious food, but Americans are just recently going there. In fact, many friends asked, “Where’s that?” when they heard about our trip. Puglia is the Italian word for the region known by non-Italians as Apulia. Located in southeast Italy, close to the high heel of the Italian “boot,” it is bordered by the Adriatic Sea, the Ionian Sea, and the Strait of Òtranto, and the Gulf of Taranto. Greeks came to Puglia in the 7th century B.C., followed by
waves of Romans, Arabs and Spaniards, until the region became part of Italy in 1861. Largely agricultural, Puglia is a bit more rustic than other parts of Italy. Its major cities—Bari, Lecce and Brindisi—have fewer tourists than Venice or Rome, where crowds wait to ride in a gondola, walk on the Rialto or visit the Vatican. Until somewhat recently, most tour companies did not offer tours to this region. Because of this, there are fewer tourists here, and many travelers are unfamiliar with the area. Those who come enjoy vineyards that produce excellent inexpensive wines, gorgeous olive trees that produce vast amounts of virgin olive oil, medieval castles, caves with ancient drawings, and the coneroofed trulli houses of Alberobello, which dates from the mid-14th century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Durum wheat semolina, grown here, is used to make hand-made pasta and bread. In fact, pasta from Puglia is made without eggs, once considered a luxury. The most famous pasta is orecchiette (little ears—and shaped
Old, gnarled olive tree stands in the fields near Savelletri, Italy.
exactly like them), still made by women in the small villages. Sea bass, fried octopus and calamari are favorite lunch and dinner choices, as well as the ubiquitous and delicious gelato, found in every Italian town. Our week in Puglia was a wonderful opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of this region, its unique architecture, cuisine and archaeological examples, as well as the people of this region. My husband and I enjoy being part of a tour because we get to see many things we would never discover
on our own. We sampled local cheeses at the Deliziosa cheese factory, and learned how mozzarella and Burrata formaggi (cheeses) are made. We had a hands-on cooking lesson, taught by chefs at a local hotel in Savelletri. Here we learned how to make orecchiette pasta, the “little ears” seen in all the pasta shops and featured in restaurants; eggplant parmigiana, which I was delighted to find out
See TRAVEL, page 14
August 2015 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS
Renzo Buttazzo, a limestone artist, creates contemporary pieces in his outdoor studio in Cavallino, outside Lecce, Italy.
TRAVEL, continued from page 13 was not that different from the recipe I use; and ricotta cheese pie, a delicious concoction of ricotta cheese and eggs, much lighter and less sweet than American cheesecake recipes. We had several interactions with local artisans who showed us how they create the beautiful works in their studios. Renzo Buttazzo, a local scultore (sculptor) and limestone artist, creates contemporary pieces in his outdoor studio in Cavallino, outside Lecce. We marveled at the collection of lamps, household sinks, lounge chairs, statues and more, all fashioned from the limestone which is found everywhere in this area. In a different category but also in Lecce, we were taken to the workshop/studio of
Claudio Riso, who creates detailed cartapesta (papier-mâché) sculptures depicting ordinary people involved in 18th century life. Riso and his brothers, who work in the business with him, showed our group how the sculptures are created, painted and packed for international buyers who purchase these unique works of art. Our visit to the city of Alberobello, outside the province of Bari, was unusual because of the remarkable trulli that date back to the 14th century and are still in use today. Trulli are limestone buildings, created from boulders collected from neighboring limestone fields. Assembled without mortar, their stones are placed on top of each other and
the buildings are periodically whitewashed. Shaped somewhat like rounded pyramids or mushrooms with domed or conical roofs, they are clustered together, still in use today. We visited a family living in a trullo and were impressed with the comfort of this home as well as its high purchase price. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, these 1,500 trulli, now used for stores, restaurants, hotels and homes, are unique. Another unusual place to live and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the curious sassi (stone) cave dwellings of the city of Matera are quite different. First inhabited during paleolithic times, these caves were dug in ravines and used by peasants until the 1950s, when the area declined due to poverty and unhealthy living conditions. Its inhabitants were relocated. Now, years later, these abandoned buildings are being refurbished to become small hotels, wine bars, restaurants and even a museum where tourists can learn how peasants lived in these caves. Depicted in Mel Gibson’s film, “The Passion of the Christ,” these dwellings are thought to be among the earliest human settlements in Italy. Every tour of Italian cities includes churches and castles, and this tour was no ex-
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will be boring bunch of older people Myth 2: Living with a and depressing. sit in rocking chairs If you think CCRC residents like again! Communities playing Bingo all day—think long list in LOCATOR have a COMMUNITY NAME clubs, from, including resident-run activities to choose of volunteer classes, and dozens continuing education COMMUoff campus. Visit the opportunities on and see seniors likely you’ll and NITY NAME clubhouse swimout in the fitness center, taking yoga, working or or heading to the pub ming, playing Wii bowling,
fiction, here is the truth To help sort facts from care myths about continuing behind some common retirement communities: fancy nursing homes. Myth 1: CCRCs are just in of senior living options CCRCs offer a full range live independently in one location. Most residents homes and enjoy the maintenance-free apartment and a wide range of services convenience of having resources right on campus. living apartments, In addition to independent in a living and nursing care CCRCs also offer assisted located on care neighborhood dedicated continuing This arrangement is the grounds of the community. indewant to live an active, ideal from seniors who mind that with added peace of pendent lifestyle today, should they are readily available, higher levels of care ever be needed.
café for a meal with
free to be as campus, residents are Much like a college There are lots of opportunities active as they choose. solitary as well as places to enjoy for social interaction be able to you like Bingo, you’ll pursuits. And yes, if find a game!
rich to move to a CCRC. Myth 3: You have to be often living at a CCRC will If you’re a homeowner, Regular as staying in your house. cost about the same select meals property taxes, and expenses like utilities, the same monthly fee that stays are covered by a single be burdened with surprise all year long. You won’t inside and either. Maintenance repairs or upkeep costs in the home is also included outside your apartment monthly fee.
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ception. The most noteworthy castle we visited was Castel del Monte in the town of Andria. Frederick II, one of the Hohenstaufen Holy Roman Emperors and King of Sicily, built this unusual octagonal building during the 1240s. Called “stupor mundi” (Wonder of the World), Frederick II spoke several languages and was a patron of science and the arts. The building now appears on the Italian one-cent euro coin. Gourmets of all nationalities praise Italian foods and wines. Puglia’s excellent wines, seafood and delicious pastas are especially noteworthy. Olive oil is especially important in this region. When the old, gnarled olive trees of Puglia are 100 years old, they are registered, labeled with a medallion and noted as being special. Tours of wineries and olive oil tastings that include lunch are offered for tourists to sample the different varieties of wine and olive oils. We certainly sampled our share! While we may not have understood the subtle differences, we recognized the excellent qualities of the different varieties of virgin olive oils and various types of local vino (wine). A week was really not enough. However, “arrivederci” is not goodbye. We know we will return one day.
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IN-HOME COLONOSCOPY NOW A REALITY
BY SAMANTHA TKAC
ear should not be the reason colorectal cancer goes undetected. But according to one expert, it is fear that causes many men and women over 50 to get cold feet on the date of their first scheduled colonoscopy. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. according to the American Cancer Society, and the Gastroenterology Associates of Northern Virginia intend to fight do something about that. The doctors there now offering Cologuard, the first FDA approved noninvasive stool DNA screening test for colorectal cancer to be taken in the comfort of one’s own home. A simple procedure, the company simply sends the patient a package into which they deposit a stool sample and send it back to the company to be screened. No dietary restrictions, medication, or bowel preparation needed before taking the test, according to the Cologuard patient guide. Once the Cologaurd team has received the sample, they work diligently to detect “colorectal neoplasia associated DNA markers and for the presence of occult hemoglobin” in the stool sample, according to the guide. Basically, it will test for cancer or pre-cancer warning signs. If you test positive, then the company recommends that you go in for a colonoscopy exam. Dr. Kenneth Mirkin says that Cologuard is “idiot-proof.” Mirkin is a gastroenterologist working in the Gastroenterology Associates of Northern Virginia, and has been working with Cologuard for about a year, noticing a significant
swell in popularity among Cologard’s use in the primary care field. “There’s a whole layer of people who never get screened—and that is where this might have an impact,” Mirkin says. While Mirkin stresses that Cologaurd will never replace the comprehensiveness offered by a colonoscopy, he thinks that it serves as a beneficial adjunct. “Cologaurd is an effective tool when you’re looking at colon cancer…it will capture, number one, a significant number of the colon cancers… so once a person has a positive test, then it motivates them to move to the next step, which would be the colonoscopy.” When asked how frequently patients should use Cologuard, Mirkin responds, “If you’re not going to get a regular colonoscopy, then it’s something that should be done every three years or so.” How does Cologuard compare to the alternate noninvasive colorectal exam, Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)? FIT only detects blood in the stool although not all polyps or lesions actively bleed. Cologuard detects blood and DNA to reveal any cancer and precancer, according to the Cologuard website. COLOGUARD IS COVERED BY: • CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield • Horizon BlueCross BlueShield of New Jersey • Optima Health • Oxford Health Plans • Medicare
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espite many comedic routines about waking up with Arthur Itis, it’s no laughing matter for those who suffer. Arthritis is an umbrella term for several dozen conditions, which makes the diagnosis, treatment and management difficult. Because of varying symptoms and different underlying causes, the things that may work for one patient may be far from ideal for another. Just a few of the more common forms of arthritis include: osteoarthritis, which is the most common and caused by the breakdown of cartilage in the joints; gout, which is caused from a build-up of uric acid crystals in the joints and other tissue; bursitis, which is caused when a fluid-filled sac at the joint that normally reduces friction becomes swollen and painful from overuse; bunions, which are the enlargement of the joint at the base of the big toe; and hammer toes, which are deformities caused by dislocations and often result in painful sores. Some forms of arthritis can be caused by infections, such as reactive arthritis, which includes inflammation the joints, eyes and parts of the gastrointestinal/genitourinary system after infection, and infectious arthritis, which is caused by blood-borne infections settling in joints. Autoimmune disorders lead the body’s immune system to attack healthy cells. Examples include rheumatoid arthritis, which causes inflammation of smaller joints and can affect the internal organs, and psoriatic arthritis, which affects patients with chronic psoriasis (a skin condition) and causes swollen joints, stiffness, reduced flexibility and fatigue. Older Americans are more prone to suffering from a form—or forms—of arthritis, but it is not, as once believed, an “old person’s disease.” Juvenile arthritis is the name given to any form of arthritis that is diagnosed in children under age 16; the most common form of juvenile arthritis is rheumatoid, which comes in three forms—systemic-onset, polyarticular-onset and pauciarticular-onset— all defined by the amount of joints that are affected. More than two-thirds of arthritis sufferers are under the age of 65; however, it is
very common in adults older than 65. Obese adults also have a greater incidence of arthritic problems than those who are in a normal weight range. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that one in five adults suffer from some form of arthritis and that number is expected to jump to 67 million by 2030. Since arthritis tends to promote inactivity, which can lead to obesity, hypertension, diabetes and disability, arthritis is considered to be a public health problem, according to the CDC. Occasional sudden flares in which the pain and swelling seem worse than usual may be discouraging. Although it may seem easier to avoid moving if you wake up feeling stiff from arthritis, movement is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Regular activity helps strengthen your muscles, lubricate your joints and keep your metabolism up. These things will help fight obesity, diabetes and cardiac conditions. Walking is good for the hips and thigh muscles and a great opportunity for fresh air and quiet meditation. A stationary bike is good for low-impact, cardiovascular exercise. Do arm curls or reach for the ceiling with small weights to strengthen arm and shoulder muscles. Let your own weight be the resistance by standing more than an arm’s length from a wall and pushing off. It isn’t necessary to pound your joints by running or to strain to lift heavy weights, moderate activity will go a long way without chancing injury. The National Institute on Aging recommends that arthritis sufferers do range-of-motion exercises, such as dancing, for flexibility; strengthening exercises with weights to add to muscle strength; and aerobic or endurance exercises such as bicycle riding for heart health, to prevent weight gain, and to reduce swelling in some joints. Through grants and support from the CDC, the Arthritis Foundation and the National Council on Aging are offering free interactive workshop online. Signing up is easy. You can get on the waiting list by registering at arthritistoday.org; you will be notified when the next workshop is available. -- Creators.com FairfaxTimes.com
DIVORCED WOMEN AND SOCIAL SECURITY A Social Security expert answers questions
BY TOM MARGENAU
I was married to my husband for 35 years before he divorced me and married a much newer and better-equipped model (if you get my drift). They have even had a child together! I’m 62, and my ex is 65. If all his extra physical activity (if you get my drift again) causes the bum to drop dead, are the trophy wife and little love child going to get all his Social Security—leaving me with nothing? A: Don’t worry. You’ll get a full share of Mr. Wonderful’s Social Security. Whenever two women are due benefits on the same man’s Social Security account, they don’t offset each other. Each gets whatever Social Security spousal benefits she is due. And you may not even have to wait until he dies from exhaustion. You are possibly due divorced wife’s (not widow’s) benefits already. At your age, you would be due about onethird of his basic Social Security benefit— but only to the extent that it exceeds whatever you might be due on your own Social Security account. In other words, if a third of his Social Security is more than your own retirement benefit, then you will get that benefit plus whatever extra you are due on his record to take you up to that one-third level. But if you’ve worked any decent amount of time, then it is very likely that your own benefit exceeds one-third of his. Then you would have to wait until he keels over, and you could be due much higher divorced widow’s benefits. And in case you are wondering, here is what Ms. Trophy may be due. While he’s alive, she and little Junior can’t get Social Security until he files for benefits himself. At that point, Junior will get an amount equal to half of Daddy’s benefit rate. Ms. Trophy is potentially due benefits as a young wife caring for a child. But because of rules that limit how much a family can get, she probably won’t qualify for anything. When he dies, then both Junior and Trophy could get survivor benefits. However, if Trophy is working, her earnings would prevent her from getting any Social Security. Q: I was married from March 2001 until April 2009. Then we divorced. I then married the same man in November 2010 and divorced him a second time in January 2014. FairfaxTimes.com
So we were married for more than 10 years, although it was in two separate stretches of time. Will I be able to get Social Security on his record? A: You lucked out. The rule does say your marriage must have reached its 10th anniversary before you can be considered potentially eligible for divorced wife’s benefits. But two periods of marriage to the same man that, combined, add up to at least 10 years will count if the second marriage occurs before the end of the year following the year in which you got the first divorce. In other words, because you got divorced in April 2009, you had until the end of 2010 to remarry the guy and stay within the Social Security duration of marriage rules. And you just squeaked in by marrying him in November. So now I’ve got a question for you: Why the heck did you marry the guy the second time? I know, love can be strange! Q: I have been a stay-at-home mom all my life. I am 63, and my husband is 62. We have been married for 20 years. He doesn’t plan to take his Social Security until he is 66. But I’d like to get my share of my husband’s benefits now. I contacted Social Security and learned that I can’t get any of his Social Security until he files for benefits. I’m sort of OK with that. But here is the catch. He was married before for more than 10 years to another woman. She never remarried. She is 63. And I just learned that she has filed for and is receiving my husband’s Social Security. How in the world can that be fair? A: This is one of those government rules
that sound ill-thought-out and wacky until you learn the reasoning behind them. And that law does say a currently married woman can’t get any of her husband’s Social Security until he is getting benefits himself. But a divorced woman can get benefits from her ex, as long as he is old enough for Social Security, even if he is not yet a beneficiary himself. The reasoning behind the law has to do with the issue of dependency. A woman qualifies for a portion of her husband’s Social Security benefits because she is considered to be financially dependent on him. In other words, the law assumes that a woman who doesn’t have her own job and her own Social Security was being supported by her husband while he was working and therefore should be supported by a portion of his Social Security once he retires. So as long as your husband is still working
and not getting Social Security, the law just assumes that he is supporting you with his wages or other income. Or to put that another way, if he doesn’t need his Social Security, then you don’t need his Social Security, either. But the law can’t make those assumptions for a divorced woman. Your husband is very likely not supporting this woman, whom he divorced more than 20 years ago. So under the dependency guidelines, the rules say she has a right to claim some of his Social Security. And as I pointed out in a prior answer, anything paid to this ex-wife will not reduce what you are due when your husband finally does retire. Tom Margenau’s weekly column, “Social Security and You,” can be found at creators.com. -Creators.com
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August 2015 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS
SPRINGFIELD MAN, 96, BRINGS HOME GOLD FROM NATIONAL SENIOR GAMES BY GREGG MACDONALD
ess than one percent of the nearly 10,000 senior athletes who competed in the 2015 National Senior Games held in Minnesota were over the age of 90. That statistic makes the gold medal that Springfield resident Charlie Edwards brought home from the games even more impressive. Edwards was awarded the gold medal in the men’s compound release archery competition in his age group (95-99) and was the most senior archer at this year’s competition. “I think I created a new age bracket,” he said of his participation in the Senior Games. At age 96, Edwards traveled to Minnesota for the competition in July, marking his second national competition; in 2013, he brought home a bronze medal in his age group at the National Senior Games in Cleveland. Edwards qualified for the 2015 National Senior Games at the Virginia Senior Games held last year. “Much like golf, you are completely responsible for how well you do,” said Edwards. “You can compete against yourself.” Edwards first picked up a bow and arrow in 2011 after a friend encouraged him to join the Archers club at Greenspring retirement community in Springfield, where they both lived. Just six months later, Edwards earned
PAUL SPRING continued from page 7
Several levels of care are tailored to individual requirements, according to the community website: “Senior Advantage is a program for those who want a safe, social community and need no nursing services.” The Residential Living Program includes three meals per day and weekly housekeeping, as well as a little help, as necessary. Assisted Living is the program for residents who need help with daily needs such as bathing, dressing and medication management. The website goes on to list amenities associated with this program, which include: “escort to and from meals and in-house activities; personal laundry weekly, and incontinence management.” Dixon said the community did not have a provision for dementia care. Vincent McManus, 96, has lived at Paul Spring almost two years. His wife, Maryelaine McManus, passed away about two years ago, but he lives with his boxer,
his first gold medal at the 2012 Virginia Senior Games. In order to train for competition, the 96-year-old can be found at least once per week at Ft. Belvoir Archery Center, located just a few miles from Greenspring. There, he practices on targets indoors at 20 yards and outdoors at 40, 50, and 60 yards. While Edwards had never tried his hand at archery before moving to Greenspring, he is no stranger to sporting competition. He was on the 1939-1940 Lehigh University wrestling team that earned collegiate championship honors, and in his later years, Edwards grew fond of golfing and fishing. He was a Navy fighter pilot during World War II and then went to work for the Atomic Energy Commission until retirement. Prior to moving to Greenspring, Edwards was a longtime resident of Falls Church. He spent many years living on Cloverdale Farm, owned by his grandparents, a site which he now says is home to the West Falls Church Metro station. When he is not honing his archery skills or leisure fishing, Edwards spends much of his time writing his autobiography, which he hopes to complete by the end of the year. He also has every intention of competing in the 2017 National Senior Games in Alabama at age 98, and bringing home another gold medal. 14-month-old “Knute Rockne” (named after the famous coach at Notre Dame), who answers to “Rockne.” McManus said he likes “the attitude of the people who run the place and the dining room.” He enjoys socializing at dinner, meeting his neighbors and being near his children. Calling the recreation program “outstanding,” this retired Army officer enjoys trips to Kennedy Center music programs and to Fort Myer band performances. Retired physician Ed Rea, 94, came from McLean and has lived at Paul Spring almost one year. Despite the fact that his wife, Betty Rea, passed away “some months after we got here,” he has enjoyed social events, activities and excursions. “That’s fun,” he said, adding, “The most important thing about Paul Spring is the nature of the staff. Their cooperation, compatibility, good humor and attention to their job make the difference.” Kathleen Thomas, 82, has lived at Paul Spring about four years. She came from Pennsylvania to be closer to family in the area. Widowed before she arrived, Thom-
18 Fairfax County Times SENIORS | August 2015
PHOTO BY JESSICA MCKAY
Springfield resident Charlie Edwards brought home Senior Olympics gold.
Men who live at Paul Spring enjoy sharing stories and activities geared to their interests. Photo courtesy of Steve Hunt.
as had worked as a registered nurse. She praised her new community for “respecting people’s privacy” and said that she believed that residents enjoyed the time they spent together and also enjoyed the time they spent by themselves. Thomas said she enjoyed the many recreational programs available, as well as the lunch outings. “I find the people who manage the
community and the residents who live here are kindly souls who respect one another,” Thomas said. “This seems to be a prevailing attitude.” Paul Spring Retirement Community 7116 Fort Hunt Road, Alexandria 703-768-0234 rui.net/paul-spring FairfaxTimes.com
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20 Fairfax County Times SENIORS | April 2015