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Fairfax County Times SENIORS | October 2014


Fairfax County Times


Graphic Designer Contributing Writers

Tiffany Arnold Anna Joyce

Karen Finucan Clarkson Ellen R. Cohen Scott Harris Jim Mahaffie Kate McDermott

Corporate Advertising Director

Dennis Wilston

Advertising Director

Marta Wallace


Fairfax County Times Seniors is produced by Post Community Media’s Special Sections and Advertising departments. It does not involve the company’s newsrooms. ON THE COVER: COUPLE: ISTOCK.COM/MONKEYBUSINESS IMAGES; MAHJONG: ISTOCK.COM/EDHOR

Do you know someone in Fairfax County 50 or older with an interesting story to tell? Do you know of an organization that provides entertainment, travel or arts opportunities for older adults? We want to know about it! Email us at seniors@gazette.net.




October 2014 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS



MAHJONG merriment

u Chinese game of

card that updates the rules and changes the hands in order to keep the game fresh. “It’s important to get familiar with the card,” said Jerrold Budiansky of Fairfax. “Once you get your tiles, you need to quickly evaluate the possible hands. It is a challenge, but that’s part of what makes the game so interesting.”

tiles builds bonds, friendships STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN FINUCAN CLARKSON


fter several years of lugging around mahjong sets so his wife and others could play, Duane Perry finally learned the game in 2012.“I didn’t know what I was missing,” said the Fairfax resident. “I really enjoy the game now. It helps keep me mentally sharp. It’s a little bit of strategy, a little bit of luck and a lot of fun.” While mahjong is played by people of all ages, many come to the game later in life. Such is the case for a group of Bethesda, Md., women that meets most Tuesdays for a light lunch and several games. Five years ago, not one of them knew how to play the tile game. “We were determined to learn,” said Lynda Slayen, “but didn’t know anyone who could teach us.We finally found a class at the JCC [Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington] in Rockville, Md. After six weeks, we were playing on our own.”

Seated around a card table,

with a tile stand and mahjong card in front of each player, four members of the Bethesda group chat amicably as they turn tiles face down in the center. They begin by building a wall—19 sets of two tiles—in front of each stand. No one seems to count. After five years of play, it has become second nature. A roll of the dice determines where the first, or east, wall will be split so that players can begin selecting tiles. An intricate passing routine— named after a dance called the Charleston—ensues. Finally, with 13 tiles in front of each player and 14 in front of one other, the game begins. “I look for patterns,” said Trish Jarrell of Bethesda. “I group by suit first and then look to see if I have a run, either four of a kind or a 1, 2, 3, 4—like a straight in cards.” Then she turns to the mahjong card to determine the best possible hands. One after another, each player chooses a tile, either immediately discarding it or keeping it, and discarding another tile in her hand.The slap of discarded tiles reverberates through the room, which helps keep players focused. Each discarded tile is immediately up for grabs. But if a player wants it, she must expose a part of her hand. And there’s the rub.“Once an opponent puts tiles up,you can figure out what hand she is playing,” said Perry of Fairfax.“So, the idea is that you don’t give her what she needs.”

Mahjong, which originated in China, is a rummy-

like game played with tiles rather than cards.The 152 tiles include three suits—bamboos, characters and dots—with numbers running from one to nine.There also are winds, dragons, flowers and jokers.The idea is to fashion the tiles into one of about 50 possible combinations or hands in order to win.The game calls for four players, though there is a three-player version. Introduced in this country in the 1920s, the game was altered by players in an attempt to simplify the rules. Before long, every group had its own tile combinations.That led to confusion, according to the National Mah Jongg League, which was founded in 1937 to standardize the American version of the game. Each year, the league issues a new 4

Fairfax County Times SENIORS | October 2014

Lynda Slayen of Bethesda, Md., is among a group of local women that meets most weeks to play mahjong over a light lunch. At top right is a dish she made that represents the game.

Mahjong typically takes 20–30 minutes. Novice

players often need an hour to complete a game, while those who compete in tournaments routinely finish in 15 minFairfaxTimes.com

Mahjong, which originated in China, is a rummy-like game played with tiles rather than cards. RIGHT: (CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT) Lynda Slayen,


Trish Jarrell and Nina Fenton of Bethesda, Md., and Judy Brookes of Cabin John, Md., gather for a game.

utes, said Marion Jacknow, who teaches mahjong atTemple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church. Most mahjong groups meet for two or three hours, which allows for several games.“If the players are experienced and there’s not a lot of kibitzing going on, you can be done in 15 minutes,” said Budiansky, who plays at both the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia and Temple Rodef Shalom. But, because socializing is integral to the experience, three games an hour is more typical, he said. “We all decided early on that we were going to talk,” said Beth Rosenheim, who hosted the Bethesda women’s group in early September, “and if it messed up play, we’d be forgiving. What we wanted was a social group.”

While some mahjong groups play

for money, many collect a token fee—just a few dollars—that is either donated to charity or used to benefit the group as a whole. “Last year,Temple Rodef Shalom FairfaxTimes.com

“Last year, Temple Rodef Shalom raised $4,200 from mahjong for charity.

IT'S A WIN-WIN.” – Marion Jacknow

raised $4,200 from mahjong for charity,” said Jacknow. “It’s a win-win.” The Bethesda group collects $2 from each member in attendance each time it plays. Once there’s enough money in the pot, the women treat themselves to dinner, enhancing the social experience. “Mahjong is such a great game on so many different levels,” said Jacknow. “Not only is it great fun, but it constantly challenges you. And, it gives you a mental break. For a couple of hours, you can take your mind off of everything else that is going on your life and just have some fun.”


October 2014 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS



3 Ensuring the Integrity of



efore the first vote is cast in his Silver Spring, Md., precinct on Nov. 4, Bill Waller will have put in a full day’s work. Between training, setting up the night before and a 5 a.m.-morning-of run to Dunkin’ Donuts to buy breakfast for his poll workers, Waller will be ready for the 16-hour day ahead. “Voting is our civic duty, but it doesn’t work without volunteers,” said Waller, the chief election judge at Kemp Mill Elementary School. Because the polls open earlier in Virginia than Maryland, Chen D.Yang will wake at 4 a.m. “At 5 o’clock, I’ll swear everyone in, and an hour later we’ll welcome the first voters,” saidYang, chief election officer at Herndon Middle School. “There’s so much riding on you as an election officer.You need to be able to answer voters’ questions, respond to issues with equipment, and ensure observers follow the rules in order to uphold the integrity of the election process.” It was the contested presidential election of 2000—“the one with the hanging chads,” said Reginia G. Benjamin—that piqued her interest in becoming an election officer. “It made me realize that I’d taken for granted that the process here in Virginia is functional and made me wonder what happens behind the scenes. So, I signed up for the next election,” said Benjamin, a Fairfax resident. “I see it as a way to contribute to the community.” Marilyn Emery, chief election judge at Temple Emanuel in Kensington, Md., views it similarly. “It’s a great way to give back and be part of a process that too many take for granted,” she said. “And, it



gives me a chance to catch up with neighbors, some of whom I only see every year or two.” Tom Rupp has worked the polls at Rolling Valley Elementary School in Springfield for the past six years. “It’s like a family reunion,” Rupp said. “I’ve met some wonderful people and I enjoy hearing what they and their families have been up to.” Rupp, a West Springfield resident,

Fairfax County Times SENIORS | October 2014

said he strives to make the voting experience as pleasurable as possible, especially when lines are long.“My day can start and end in darkness, but I try to ensure there’s some sunshine in between,” he said. Once the polls close—at 7 p.m. in Virginia and 8 p.m. in Maryland—there are still several hours of work ahead. “You have to disassemble everything and restore the building to its pre-election condi-

tion,” saidWaller. “There’s a whole closing routine and, once that’s done, you need to transmit results.That can take time because so many polling places are trying to report at once.The night isn’t over until all the ballots have been taken to the board of elections.” Depending on the position, elections officials are paid between $75 and $200 in Montgomery County, Md., and $175 FairfaxTimes.com

“My day can start and end in darkness, but I try to ensure THERE’S SOME SUNSHINE in between.” – Tom Rupp STOCKBYTE/THINKSTOCK

in Fairfax County. “We are warned not to divide our pay by the number of hours worked,” said Benjamin, noting that it could come to less than minimum wage. “No one does this job for the money.” “My recompense may be small and subject to tax, but my rewards are many and tax-free,” said Rupp. Those rewards come in the form of a thank you, spoken by a voter leaving the polls, and a smile when Rupp hands out an “I voted” sticker.

What poll workers find disappointing is low voter turnout. “It’s depressing to sit there all day in a precinct of 2,500 voters and have just 400 come through,” said Waller. “I do get discouraged that not more people vote,” said Emery. “We are unbelievably lucky and privileged to live in a society with this kind of process. Giving two days of my time every two years is the least I can do to make it work.” 1883354



October 2014 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS




BOUTIQUE RETIREMENT The Woodlands Fosters a Small, Cozy, Community Atmosphere BY ELLEN R. COHEN


early seven years ago, Fairfax Nursing Center founder Robert Bainum established The Woodlands Retirement Community on the same site asThe Gardens at Fair Oaks.Today, all properties are part of a network of retirement communities for people who live in and around Fairfax. Residents at The Woodlands have priority access toThe Gardens for assisted living. If they need nursing care, they have priority at Fairfax Nursing Home, 2 miles away. “I like the fact thatTheWoodlands is family owned and I don’t have to deal with a corporate entity,” said Rita Naughton, who has lived in the community for two years. “Maintenance is


incredible, the location is ideal, and I like knowing that the assisted and nursing facilities are nearby. I have sons in Oakton and Fairfax, so this is convenient.” Originally from Chicago, Naughton was a real estate broker for 31 years before retiring. “Not that many people last so long in that profession,” Naughton said. Now a widow, Naughton had been married to a naval officer and lived 5 miles from The Woodlands. She said she’s a contented resident who likes crossword puzzles, movies, games and crafts. “I didn’t consider living anywhere else except atTheWoodlands.” The Woodlands was established for people 62 and older who live independently and enjoy a full range of activities. All residents live in

Fairfax County Times SENIORS | October 2014

one, four-story building with three elevators. “We have approximately 140 people here,” said Marketing Director Ellen Limburg, who described The Woodlands as “a small, cozy, boutique retirement community.” Couples make up 33 percent of the population; the remaining residents are singles, according to Limburg. The oldest resident was a 97-yearold woman.

“EVERYONE HERE CARES ABOUT EVERYONE ELSE. You don’t feel like you’re living with a bunch of strangers.” – Bobbie Dizenfeld

While there are 102 apartments in the

building, the 15 different apartment styles range from 830 square feet to almost 1,900 square feet. Residents can make selections that best suit their needs. All but nine of the apartments have a balcony or patio. FairfaxTimes.com

Residents have a full-size washer and dryer and fully equipped kitchens in their apartments. “Everyone is entitled to one meal per calendar day,” said Limburg, adding that the meal could be lunch or dinner. Every Sunday, residents can enjoy the very popular brunch. Residents have a “life lease” on their apartments, she said, which involves an up-front, 90-percent-refundable entrance fee prior to occupancy—returned when the apartment is vacated, refurbished and remarketed—in addition to a monthly service fee. “We also have a limited number of apartments with a one-year lease that can be renewed from year to year, but those have a somewhat higher monthly fee than the entrance fee,” said Limburg.

Most residents come from Fairfax,

Annandale, Vienna and other nearby locations, according to Limburg. The full-time social director and full-time fitness director on staff organize a range of well-attended activities. Residents enjoy the Sunday brunches and evening movies. Card and board games, See WOODLANDS, 22

The Woodlands offers 15 apartment styles ranging from 830 square feet to almost 1,900 square feet.



October 2014 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS



Joan Davanzo, 60, of Vienna, said she had her heart set on a year-round sunroom with a panoramic view of the home’s lovely wooded setting. Lorton-based remodeler David Foster developed a plan that gave Davanzo and her husband, Al Dobson, 70, the hisand-her additions they were looking for. PHOTOS COURTESY OF HOME FRONTS NEWS

FULLTHROTTLE REMODEL Couple Makes the Most of Long-Term Residence with His-and-Her Additions 10

Fairfax County Times SENIORS | October 2014



an age when many seniors are downshifting, Al Dobson and his wife, Joan Davanzo, are enjoying life at full throttle—running a thriving business, entertaining regularly, even adding customdesigned play spaces to an already sizable house on a 2acre lot in Vienna. “Finding reliable people to work with has always been the key to getting the most out of life” said Dobson, 70, who started a health care consulting firm seven years ago and still finds time for exten-

sive travel, as well his favorite sport: auto racing. “If you’re going to manage a lot of challenges simultaneously, you’ve got to have relationships you can count on,” he said. “This has been true in business, but also applies to my home life.” Case in point, last year the always-active couple decided they each had a pet home improvement project in mind: a spacious, first-level garage to house Dobson’s Ducati motorcycle and his Corvette, which he only uses for racing; and for Davanzo, a lovely sunroom with floor-to-ceiling window walls.

“As we talked it out, we both realized that we were extending our commitment to the house at an age when many of our peers are simply downsizing,” Dobson said. “This was a clarifying self-discovery.” David Foster—the contractor Davanzo and Dobson hired for their expansion— said it isn’t surprising for older couples to seek extensive renovation projects. In fact, 75 percent of Foster’s current clients are older than 55. “We’re seeing more seniors converting their longterm residence into their personal dream house,” said Foster, who has operated Foster FairfaxTimes.com

Remodeling Solutions Inc. in Lorton for more than 35 years. “There’s a segment of older [homeowners] who’ve decided that they’re going to stick with their home into retirement, and they want to make changes that will allow them enjoy it more fully.” Of course, what they also want is a positive remodeling experience. “The first group of contractors we spoke to told us that that we couldn’t get the amount of glass in the sunroom we had been looking for,” said Davanzo, 60. “The [Fairfax County] code calling for wind-resistant glass would really reduce our view to the yard, but the view was the main feature I wanted.” Dobson said Foster’s experience was palpable during their first conversation. “He started sketching out a site plan immediately,” Dobson said. “He also had a grasp of technical considerations the others apparently didn’t.” The garage, which would house Dobson’s collectible vehicles, needed a footprint of some 400 square feet; the sunroom, one level up, would be plenty spaSee FULL-THROTTLE, 19

Motor sports enthusiast Al Dobson, 70, of Vienna, said his home was missing a dedicated space to store his motor sports vehicles. Now he has one with designer touches.



October 2014 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS




On the USS Missouri. LEFT TO RIGHT: Jonah Hotchkiss, Emma Hotchkiss, Ellen Cohen, Marcia Cohen, Shari Brasner, Samantha Cohen, Jeff Cohen, Zachary Cohen, Mark Hotchkiss

Three Generations Find Family Fun in Hawaii STORY BY ELLEN R. COHEN PHOTOS BY HARVEY M. COHEN


hen we received an invitation to a cousin’s bat mitzvah in California, our whole family agreed we should go.This was a long trip for a weekend, so we considered extending our itinerary. “We should travel while we can because as we get older, we may not be able to go,” said my husband, Harvey Cohen, whose “bucket list” keeps growing. “If we go to California, we’re halfway to Hawaii. 12

We’ve never been to Hawaii.” It was not long before we were making airline reservations. After volunteering to be in charge of research and schedules, our adult children spent many hours finding activities we would all enjoy. Leaving San Francisco on Aug. 10, we would return home on Aug. 21. Our entire group would spend four nights in the Waikiki region of Honolulu, which is on the island of Oahu, and two nights in the northern area of Oahu before our son’s family left to get their twins off to college.We would then continue to Maui

Fairfax County Times SENIORS | October 2014

with our daughter’s family, spending four nights there before traveling home.

The wide age gaps in our group of

10 presented challenges, but we found many activities for people in their 70s and late 40s, and for teens and kids. Not everyone did everything, but we all loved Hawaii’s spectacular scenery, gorgeous weather and island ambience.This group from Maryland, NewYork and Connecticut shared many new experiences and agreed that after two weeks together, not every family could still get along so well.

When we landed in Honolulu, we were met by a woman who said, “Aloha,” and placed leis around our necks. A lei is a Hawaiian necklace of flowers that signifies welcome. Our daughter-in-law Shari had arranged this treat, and we all felt likeVIPs. After checking into our hotel, we all headed out for a hike to Diamond Head State Monument, which encompasses a 760-foot-high volcanic crater. Apparently, 19th century sailors confused the volcanic crystals they saw here with diamonds, hence the name. The weather was hot, and the walk included a 99-step FairfaxTimes.com

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FRONT TO BACK: Jeff Cohen, Ellen Cohen, Samantha Cohen hike to Diamond Head State Monument. Apparently, 19th century sailors confused the volcanic crystals they saw here with diamonds, hence the name.

stairway that led to a steep trail to the crater’s rim, where visitors could enjoy a panoramic view of Waikiki. Harvey and I were probably the oldest hikers that day, but we made it to the top of the crater in two-and-a-half hours, hot and tired, but feeling like we had accomplished something. We learned a great deal about the events of Dec. 7, 1941 when we visited Pearl Harbor. Our grandkids were especially impressed by the solemnity of the site and the number of tourists visiting from far away. We watched a documentary about the USS Arizona and saw the fragment of the ship where 1,177 people killed on it during the attack were entombed. We later visited the USS MisFairfaxTimes.com

souri, the battleship where General Douglas MacArthur and Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu, with other high-ranking U.S. and Japanese officials, signed armistice documents during the surrender ceremony ending WWII on Sept. 2, 1945. Later that afternoon, we all hiked to Manoa Falls, making our way along the 1.6-mile trail, which runs along a stream through gorgeous rain forest foliage to a spectacular, very high waterfall. Everyone enjoyed the beauties of nature, but I must confess that without my son Jeff’s strong arm for me to hold on to, I could not have continued on the scenic, but See HAWAII, 17



October 2014 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS



“Dental care in the elderly has pretty




he concept of mobile dentistry is not new. Dentalequipped vans have been serving patients at senior living facilities, schools and day care centers for decades. But those who work with the geriatric population say that vans, while providing a valuable service, are not ideal for patients who often suffer from significant mobility and cognitive issues. Kelly G. Harms is the executive director of Brightview Fallsgrove, an assisted living and dementia care facility in Rockville, Md. She recognizes the importance of oral care for her residents, but said she has never considered the use of a mobile dental van at her facility. “It is not always the best experience for our residents,” she said. “The vans can be loud because of the generators and that can be hard for patients with dementia and cognitive impairments.” So Harms has teamed up with Gerry M. Dubin, D.M.D., to bring dental care 14

Carolyn Falk jumped at the chance to take advantage of it. “I was impressed by the way the equipment was set up,” she said. “All of a sudden there was a dental chair in his room.” That meant James Falk’s “trip” to the dentist required no travel at all. “My husband was very tired after (the treatment) and said he wanted to take a nap,” Carolyn Falk recalled. “So I said, ‘OK. Walk over to your bed and take a nap.’” Hester Bausback, director of nursing at Arbor Place, – Carolyn Falk an assisted living residence in Rockville for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other And for those with cognitive issues, memory impairments, understands the even the slightest change in their surchallenges caregivers like Carolyn Falk roundings can be upsetting. Carolyn face. “For families, especially those of Falk’s husband, James Falk, is a resident patients with dementia, it is so hard for of the Hermitage in Alexandria, and sufthem to take their loved ones anywhere fers from dementia. “I knew his teeth had because (the patients) get agitated and been neglected, but I really dreaded takconfused,” she said. “Dr. Dubin comes ing him out,” she said. So when she saw in with everything possible, and residents a flyer announcing that District Mobile can stay in their wheelchairs if necessary. Dental was coming to the Hermitage, Families just love it.”

to her residents’ bedsides. Dubin’s company, District Mobile Dental, provides fullservice, on-site dental care for older patients in their homes or in the senior living communities in which they reside. The service eliminates many of the obstacles associated with a trip to the dentist’s office—or the dental van. Those obstacles are often as basic as navigating steps, especially for those who rely on canes, walkers or wheelchairs. “Even for those who are in independent living, getting around becomes hard,” Dubin said.

Fairfax County Times SENIORS | October 2014

“I was impressed by the way the equipment was set up. ALL OF A SUDDEN THERE WAS A DENTAL CHAIR IN HIS ROOM.”

much been ignored,” Dubin said, noting that most seniors don’t have dental insurance and cannot afford regular dental visits. But the overall health consequences of dental neglect can be deadly, he stressed. Studies have linked poor oral hygiene to a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease. And Dubin pointed to an American Geriatrics Society report that found that roughly one in 10 deaths from pneumonia in nursing homes could be prevented by improving oral care. “We are really trying to emphasize comprehensive dental care for the geriatric population,” he said, noting that even in healthy seniors, chronic conditions such as arthritis can make it more difficult to maintain healthy dental habits, such as regular brushing and flossing. That can exacerbate decay or lead to abscesses or other infections that could travel to other parts of the body.The result, Dubin said, is that patients often suffer needlessly. “Right now a lot of what we do is emergency care,” he said. Seniors’ dental issues are also the product of “several iterations of dental care,” said Michael C. Griffiths, D.D.S. Griffiths has been practicing dentistry in the Washington, D.C., area for more than 35 years and is the first to admit that technology and treatments have improved dramatically over the years, but many seniors’ mouths reflect rudimentary care—or no care at all. “We tend to see a lot of missing teeth in seniors because during their lifetimes, extractions were the best kind of dental care they could get,” he said.

And it doesn’t help that many of

these patients are now dealing with a whole host of medical conditions that can actually cause dental problems. “Many of these patients have multiple, chronic, complex conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, and are taking multiple medications ... ” Griffiths said. “Some of those medications, such as those used to treat high blood pressure, can make patients more susceptible to gum disease.” Like Dubin, Griffiths can care for geriatric patients in the facilities in which they live or in their own homes. Using special dental tools, these “traveling” dentists can perform everything from routine cleanings to more advanced treatments such as denture fittings, crowns and fillings.The equipment Dubin uses is so mobile that he can establish an on-site dental office in just minFairfaxTimes.com

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Gerry M. Dubin, D.M.D., provides dental services for Lila Skaer at her residence at the Hermitage in Alexandria.

utes.The equipment can be assembled to stand alone or can be affixed to patients’ chairs or beds if need be. Hand tools, such as the drill, feature lights that eliminate the need for a large overhead lamp. Even Dubin’s eyeglasses have a built-in light. But those who work with the senior population say having the right equipment is only part of the solution. “Dr. Dubin is a very dynamic person, but he is very gentle with our residents,” Bausback said. “Some people are good at dealing with children. What I find is that Dr. Dubin and his staff are not afraid to deal with people with dementia.” Griffiths said geriatric patients deserve an extra dose of dignity with their care. He wants to make sure that their dental problems won’t stop them from attending the next family wedding or military reunion. “The last thing you want to do is decrease their socialization capabilities,” he said. Providing comprehensive care to senior patients is critical to ensuring they remain healthy and active and are thriving, he added.

Dubin agrees. He has been passionate

about the importance of geriatric dental care since he first began practicing dentistry 30 years ago. He volunteered his services to the older residents of the HeFairfaxTimes.com

brew Home of Greater Washington and eventually became the facility’s director of dental services. Although he decided to step down from that role after several years so he could focus on his private practice, he continues to advocate for better oral care for seniors, something he stresses to students at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, where he is a member of the dean’s faculty. Given the onslaught of aging baby boomers,futuredentistswillassuredlyhave an abundant client base. And today’s dental students who are, or have watched their parents serve as, caregivers to older family members will certainly have a greater appreciation for the needs of senior patients. For Samantha Star Straf,who oversees the care of her 96-year-old grandmother, Lila Skaer, having an on-site dental visit in her grandmother’s home makes life easier for both of them. “I knew that my grandmother hadn’t been to the dentist for many years and that she had on-andoff tooth pain,” Straf said. “But for me to take her to the dentist, I have to take an entire half day off. Now I just have to take off two hours. I can go to the Hermitage (to be with her) and I don’t have to transport her in my car. And it is much less stressful for her.”

Serving Northern Virginia for 10 years 1930086


October 2014 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS



PREVENTING FALLS “I remind folks to


and stand a few seconds before walking to allow their blood pressure to adjust ...” – Crissy Nunley



y father recently had a series of falls, resulting in doctor visits and, finally, hip surgery. He’s working closely with a physical therapist, not only to help him with his new hip, but also to help him prevent other falls. As it turns out, this is a very familiar story. One in three people older than 65 have a fall each year, with different degrees of severity. Of those, about one-third suffer a serious injury, said Miriam Kelty, who runs a Neighbors Neighb Assisting Neighbors program in Bethesda, Md. A former associate director of the National Institute Agin at the National Institutes of Health, Kelty said on Aging staying physically active, maintaining good eyesight and hearing hearing, and checking medications and home modifications al all play a role in fall risks and prevention. “Physicians ooften do not advise their older patients about falls prevent prevention,” she said. “Another thing you can do to prevent fal falls is to raise the topic with your primary care doctor and with other health care providers and encourage them to keep up to date on falls prevention strategies and program programs.” “Al “All falls are scary,” said Crissy Nunley, a nurse with the Sen Senior+ Program at Herndon Senior Center in Fairfax Co County. “I hear stories all the time, and as soon as I got her here I could see falls were a big problem.” Senior+ is spon sponsored by Easter Seals in conjunction with Fairfax County County. It works with seniors to do mobility assessments and off offers classes such as tai chi, chair aerobics and fall prevent prevention education. “Pe “People have to know that part of this is in their own hands and under their own control,” said Ruth Junkin, direct director of the Herndon Senior Center. “Whatever you can do, you need to keep moving and you will help prev prevent a fall. Use it or lose it.”

M MOVING TOWARD PREVENTION: E EXERCISE HELPS Nunley said that staying active and doing exercise were critical.“Even if you have balance issues you can do chair exercise classes,” she said. Chair exercise classes are conducted almost every day at the Herndon Senior Center Yoga, Pilates and other centers around the area. “Yoga, and tai chi Pilates, tai chi, Fit 4 Life, aerobics, weightare among lifting … just because they’re not called ‘fall the exercises prevention’ doesn’t mean they don’t help,” said Nunley. that can help The Herndon Senior Center has expereduce risk rienced nurses and physical therapists who of falls. can assess your gait and balance and make JUPITERIMAGES/STOCKBYTE/THINKSTOCK recommendations and adjustments to help 16

Fairfax County Times SENIORS | October 2014

mobility. Doctors and pharmacists can look at medications for side effects and interactions that may cause vertigo, said Nunley. “We do regular blood pressure checks and vision checks because irregularities cause dizziness that can lead to falls.” “I also remind folks to get up slowly and stand a few seconds before walking to allow their blood pressure to adjust, and to make sure their walkers are locked first when they go to stand or sit,” said Nunley.“And having a sturdy, supportive shoe with rubber soles to prevent slipping is key, especially in the summer when it’s easy to put on sandals and flip flops.” Pat Karlsson Backe, a balance and mobility master instructor for FallProof, teaches fall prevention and performs fall-risk assessments in homes around the Washington, D.C., region. She said older adults tend to shuffle their feet more than younger people, which can lead to falls. In her classes, attendees are up on their toes and heels to walk, trying to eliminate the shuffle issue. Backe works on core strength, extending the spine and turning and twisting side to side—but doing it safely.

DESIGN FOR BETTER MOBILITY For a lot less money than remodeling a home, you can incorporate elements of universal design. Measures designed to lessen fall risks include installation of grab bars in showers, nonslip floors, a shower seat and elevated toilet seat, railings on staircases and along halls, and improved lighting. Backe said people fall the most in places where there are throw rugs. “Catching feet on carpet is a big problem,” Backe said. She also suggested eliminating tripping hazards. “Get rid of junk on the floor, children’s toys and pet toys,” she said. Other hazards include pets, cords, plants and loose shoes. Furniture can be placed where you can hold onto it as you pass, Backe said. She also suggested taking a close look at the height of your bed and making sure it’s not too high or too low. Do you improve the person or the home? “The obvious answer is both,” said Beth Baker,Takoma Park, Md., resident and author of “With a Little Help from Our Friends—Creating Community as We Grow Older.” Her mother had issues with falling. “She fell repeatedly while living in a split-level house in Bethesda after 45 years.Then she moved to Asbury [Methodist Village in Gaithersburg, Md.] and lived independently.” But the falls continued. “She ended up in a wheelchair because she was so afraid of falling,” Baker said. “It had a profound effect on her life.” Baker and her husband are in their 60s and live in a bungalow, where they’re making the master bedroom and bath completely accessible on the main floor. FairfaxTimes.com

Playing in a stream off the road to Hana, Maui LEFT TO RIGHT (FRONT): Harvey Cohen, Marcia Cohen, Emma Hotchkiss (BACK): Jonah Hotchkiss

HAWAII, continued from 13 steep and rocky, terrain. I kept thinking that I would really not like to fall and break a hip at this point in the trip.

Surfing lessons for everyone but

Grandma and Pop Pop were on the agenda for our next day at Waikiki Beach. The excellent instructors got everyone up on their boards several times. Harvey and I took photos and enjoyed looking through our telephoto lenses. The group thought surfing was great until my grandson Zachary, 18, hit a rock and cut his foot, and my daughter Marcia fell off her board and sprained a finger. Surfing can be hazardous, as we found out when we went in search of a bandage for Zach’s foot and spoke with the instructor. He said when people rent a board and go out without instruction, they risk getting hurt. He then pointed to a young man lying on the beach prior to being taken to the hospital. Harvey and I especially enjoyed the U.S. Army Museum at Fort DeRussy Military Reservation in Oahu, where we watched an excellent documentary about Nisei Americans, children of Japanese immigrants born in the U.S. who fought for the U.S. in WWII and helped liberate Nazi death camps. We enjoyed hearing comments from people who lived through that era and watching subsequent ceremonies of thanks.

A luau is a must for those who visit

Hawaii. This family-style buffet dinner served under the stars blends traditional foods like roast pig and poi (a taro root dish) with Polynesian entertainment:hula dancing, Hawaiian singing and Samoan FairfaxTimes.com

fire-knife dances. Our daughter found a website with Hawaiian shirts and dresses at sale prices, and our children ordered them for us all, so we could wear authentic Hawaiian clothing when we went to the Paradise Cove Luau in Kapolei. Our children had researched the Polynesian Cultural Center, a Polynesianthemed park in Laie, on the northern shore of Oahu. It features eight simulated tropical villages with performers who demonstrate various arts and crafts from the island cultures of Hawaii, Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti,Tonga and other Polynesian areas.

When our son’s family went home

from Oahu, the rest of us flew to Maui, a more restful island where visitors can enjoy the beauties of sun, surf, beach and nature. After checking into our hotel, the afternoon activity was a visit to Haleakal National Park, site of a dormant 10,000foot volcano.Hairpin curves on the road— which went from near sea level to 10,023 feet in 38 miles—presented a driving challenge for visitors as the road ascended through several climate and vegetation zones. There was interesting foliage along the way, particularly the silver swords, rare Hawaiian plants that grow only at high elevations. It was cold, windy and rocky, and we were glad we brought fleece jackets. The day before leaving Hawaii, we drove on the Hana Highway, a winding, twisting coast road from Paia to Hana. This 42-mile road has more than 617 hairpin curves and more than 56 one-lane bridges. It’s slow going.Visitors stop periodically to see ocean-front views, magnificent foliage and spectacular waterfalls, and to hike and swim along the way.We elected to go just halfway, but we understood why so many travelers wish to take this drive.


October 2014 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS




“There’s as much of a rapid increase in use of these technologies in older people as there is among the young.”

“We are also getting more people who are ready to do more with an iPad.” “There’s a greater capacity now to monitor things like blood pressure. And it can allow clinicians to monitor different behaviors.” “They don’t want to be taken advantage of, and they want to find a good deal.”



technology migrates from the top of the desk to the palm of the hand, all sorts of tasks and tools are becoming easier to find and to carry out. Seniors who are going mobile are finding they have a world of new options for how they go about their daily lives, from the way they talk to family members to the way they find a good hotel. Data released in April by the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan Washington think tank, found that 59 percent of seniors go online at some point in the course of a year. What’s more, 27 percent of older adults own a tablet, an e-book reader or both. Only 18 percent of seniors use smartphones (compared with the national rate of 55 percent), but that rate is up from 11 percent in 2011. “There’s as much of a rapid increase in use of these technologies in older people as there is among the young,” said Robert Gold, chairman of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at University of Maryland’s School of Public Health in College Park, Md. Smartphone and tablet users can customize their phones by downloading dif18

ferent applications—“apps” for short—that perform specific functions, from finding a restaurant to managing medications. Most apps are available free or for a small fee. With well over 1 million apps in Apple’s App Store alone, the possibilities are limited only by the imagination—and by a user’s willingness and ability to capitalize.Though some segments of the older population have been slow to adopt new technologies, tablets and smartphones are proving to be more approachable than computers. “We get a lot of people who just received a laptop and are not sure how to turn it on, but we are also getting more people who are ready to do more with an iPad,” said Robin Blackman, a senior technology program specialist with the Jewish Council for the Aging, a Rockville, Md.based organization that offers education and various other services to older adults across the national capital region. Here are 10 apps that experts said just about any senior could benefit from: According to Julia 10 Pandora. Loughran, a JCA volunteer who

teaches a course in Fairfax County on smartphones and tablets, this free music app helps connect seniors to the music they grew up with, tunes that might not be on the radio anymore.That can mean a lot to people.

Fairfax County Times SENIORS | October 2014

This free app gives the power Seniors with reduced mo9 Yelp. 4 Amazon. to the customer. Users can find out bility can find it harder to get out and what real people are saying about restaurants, shops and other businesses, and contribute their own opinions if they wish.

TripAdvisor. “Seniors travel a lot,” 8 Loughran said. “They don’t want to be taken advantage of, and they want to find a good deal.” LikeYelp, TripAdvisor offers ratings of hotels, airlines and other travel-related business and services based on the feedback of fellow travelers.

The free app allows people 7inSkype. different locations not only to talk,

but also to see each other via video chat. Those calls to the grandkids just got a lot more exciting.

6 it offer brain games that do more than

Luminosity. This and other apps like

entertain. Some early research shows these games can improve memory and other cognitive functions.

Kindle. This reading app brings mil5 lions of books to a smartphone or tablet screen.The tablet, with its larger screen and larger type, may be particularly valuable to seniors.

buy the things they need or want. Amazon brings it all to you. Shop for pretty much anything—from glasses to potato chips— from the comfort of your favorite chair and with the simple touch of a screen.

Maps. Never get lost again. 3 Google Most phones these days have GPS, which means their location can be tracked by satellite (though this capability can be turned off when not in use to help protect privacy). Google Maps and similar apps formulate driving or walking directions in real time and adjust them in the event of a detour—intentional or otherwise.

Facebook. With more than 1 billion 2 active users, chances are good that just

about anyone will be able to find familiar faces and keep in closer touch with loved ones.

This app and others like 1 MedCoach. it help seniors keep track of their medi-

cations, including reminders about when to take specific meds. According to Gold, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. “There’s a greater capacity now to monitor things like blood pressure,” Gold said. “And it can allow clinicians to monitor different behaviors.” FairfaxTimes.com

FULL-THROTTLE, continued from 11 cious at slightly over 200 square feet. Foster’s “stacked” pyramidal design not only satisfied the couple’s use requirements, but it also left growing room for a grove of mature trees bordering the property’s perimeter. The plan was partly predicated on lowering the lot’s existing grade by 5 feet, enough to carve out a foundation for the garage and create driveway access. The foundation itself was integral to an engineering solution that could meet Fairfax County building requirements and accommodate the volume of glass the couple sought for the sunroom. Though not visible to the naked eye, the infrastructure allowed designers to extend windows to within a few feet of the floor and mere inches from the corner of the room. “The design gives us a really stunning view in all directions,” Davanzo said. The new space can also be comfortably occupied throughout the year. “All the windows are low-e, argon-filled, double pane—state of the

art thermal resistance,” Foster said. To reinforce the comforting insulation, the contractor applied thermally resistant spray foam behind the wall surfaces and even drilled holes in the steel columns too for an added infusion. “It’s all about creating a tight structure,” Foster said. “That’s what keeps outside temperatures out.” The sunroom feature Davanzo said she appreciates most this time of year is how fluidly it opens to early autumn’s breezes. All the windows are casement-style and can be independently adjusted to let in cross breezes. Overhead, two ventilating skylights open electronically and independently. The skylights are equipped with electric blinds and rain sensors. The room’s interior design scheme, which Davanzo developed with Foster, reflected some of the couple’s favorite memories. The golden duotone teakwood floor—comprised of a framed rectangular perimeter with diagonal slats—was a pattern the couple came upon during their travels in Italy. The tongue-and-groove ceiling and

warm, sea-foam green wall color harkened back to childhood adventures in the country. “This is where I spend most of my time when I’m at home,” Davanzo said. Dobson’s favorite hangout is his new “man cave” garage, which houses the Corvette, the Italian motorcycle and a sound system that plays choice sounds of the 1950s and ’60s. A racing enthusiast who participates in time trials at Summit Point, W. Va., Dobson said he wanted a room that spoke to his passion for motor sports. Underfoot, PVC tiles in an iconic checkerboard pattern set the tone for a private retreat decorated with ’60s movie posters and other period memorabilia. “It’s a really peaceful spot to just relax,” Dobson said. “That’s what this process was always for, so I’m glad we pursued it.” Foster Remodeling Solutions periodically offers workshops on home remodeling topics. For information, call 703-550-1371 or visit fosterremodeling.com.

If you’ree going to manage age a lot of challenges enges simultaneously, neously

YOU’VE GOT TO HAVE RELATIONSHIPS YOU CAN COUNT ON. This has been true in business, but also applies to my home life.” – Al Dobson



October 2014 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS



BEQUEATH NOW Should You Give Kids and Grandkids Inheritance Items Before You Die? BY SHARON NAYLOR


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Fairfax County Times SENIORS | October 2014


our mother’s engagement ring. Your extra car. Your workshop full of pricey woodworking tools that you don’t use anymore.You may have a list, or just an idea, of which of your kids and grandkids you’d like to leave these valuable items to after you pass away. And you probably want to avoid the common problem of family members fighting over inheritances. Even the most mild-mannered people, perhaps fueled by their grief, can behave irrationally or get greedy when it comes to inheritances.You don’t want your family to end up fighting in court, battling over that ring, car and drill, fracturing the family and wasting money on legal fees. And you certainly don’t want them angry with you after you’re gone, feeling that you’ve favored one child over another. Some seniors are anxious enough about the inheritance of their belongings to create a plan in advance, gifting their kids and grandkids with a number of items so that their offspring can enjoy them now, and so the seniors can see their kids and grandkids enjoying those beloved items. “I’d love to see my granddaughter wear my mother’s engagement ring,” said Anne Daniels, a retiree. “What good is it doing in my safe?” The joy of seeing kids and grandkids wearing and enjoying jewelry can make it totally worth the decision to give them the items they otherwise would have received via a letter, after you’re gone, when they

are sad. “I wouldn’t want that ring to be a symbol of sadness for my granddaughter,” Daniels said. Many grandparents enjoy the moment of giving a grandchild the keys to their extra car or giving their kids their RV for a cross-country trip. And then, of course, there are financial considerations. The car or RV could be sold by your kids to help finance the start of a business, to put a down payment on a home in a safer community or to help pay for your grandchild’s college tuition. Before you start making calls to your kids and grandkids to offer them your possessions, talk to your accountant and tax advisers.While you may resent Uncle Sam’s place in line for the value of your belongings, there are strict tax rules about gifts given to relatives. Ask your tax adviser for the current value limit on tax-free gifts so that you stay within the letter of the law. Tax values of pre-inheritance gifts are different from inheritance taxes and estate taxes, which are configured after your death.These are tax values applied to personal gifts, and you will need professional tax advice to assess and document each of these gifts before you bestow them. Tax issues aside, think about your kids’ and grandkids’ connections to the items you’d like to leave them to help you decide who gets what. If your daughter was especially close to your mother, she may be the most logical choice to inherit your mother’s engagement ring. Have it professionally assessed for its value, and record that value in your daughter’s “column” on your gift records.Your son, then, may get a FairfaxTimes.com


gift or gifts of equal financial value, if that is how you’d like to divide your presents. Once you’ve decided who gets which pre-inheritance gift, and once the values are recorded and assessed by your tax professionals for your safety, you may enjoy planning the presentation of these gifts to your loved ones. Will you put a big red bow on the car? Give your daughter the ring in your mother’s jewelry box? Before you decide on the presentation, consider that your kids and grandkids may be taken aback by the delivery. It is, after all, difficult for them to even think about the day when you’re no longer alive, and they might see your gift presentations as a sign that you’re gravely ill—or perhaps depressed. To avoid shocking them, discuss with them ahead of time that you’ve been thinking about giving them some of your precious possessions so that you can enjoy witnessing them enjoying these items. Expect some questions and concern, but once you assure them you’re feeling just fine, you all can look forward to your gestures of generosity. Maybe you’ll give out these items as holiday presents. Once your gifts are given, it’s a good time to talk with your children about your wishes for after your death, how you’d like them to handle your estate and how you’d like them to let you know if there are other FairfaxTimes.com

Put it in writing so that your loved ones don’t wind up wasting their post-tax inheritance money hiring lawyers to get that $50 painting or those fishing poles. items they feel strongly about. “Once they got comfortable with this macabre conversation,” said retiree George McArdle, “we actually had fun talking about and recording who would like to inherit what, and my sons surprised me by the things they considered most valuable to them. Like my fishing poles and crabbing gear, not my wristwatches.” If two of your kids express interest in, say, a painting, talk together to decide now who will inherit it, and put it in writing so that your loved ones don’t wind up wasting their post-tax inheritance money hiring lawyers to get that $50 painting or those fishing poles. Invite your kids to create their own personal estate plans, as well, so that their kids are protected in case of the worst. It’s not fun talking about death, but clear communication now can help avoid clashes later. – Creators.com


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October 2014 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS


WOODLANDS, continued from 9 musical presentations and classes on a variety of subjects are always very popular. Favorite fitness activities include open swim, stretching, aerobics other exercises. Transportation is available “on request” for residents who wish to be taken to appointments of various kinds. There is no charge for destinations within a 10mile radius, said Limburg. Art Meiners, 79, moved from Burke after his wife passed away in 2011. He has lived at The Woodlands for two-and-a-half years. Originally from Kansas City, Mo., he retired from the Navy after 21 years. Until last year, Meiners taught management at Marymount University’s business school in Arlington, which he had done for 27 years. Meiners said he likes the exercise program at The Woodlands and enjoys working out at the gym, swimming and walking around the lake. He also enjoys the Monday Night Men’s Poker Group, the Wednesday and Saturday Bridge Club, and the nightly movies with popcorn. “You stay busy,” said Meiners, who has two daughters and a son in the area. “Everyone is retired and around the same age. There are many activities.”

Linda McAllan, 76, retired from the Internal Revenue Service in the early 1990s. She and her husband said they enjoy The Woodlands’ musical presentations and the “friendly, interesting people” in this community.

Bobbie Dizenfeld, 87, has lived at

Nearly seven years ago, Fairfax Nursing Center founder Robert Bainum established The Woodlands Retirement Community.

Pets that weigh 40 pounds or less are permitted at The Woodlands. Linda

and James McAllan, originally from the Falls Church area, have lived in the community since March. Relative newcomers, they researched a number of area retirement communities before deciding onThe Woodlands, which they called “perfect.”

Their daughter lives minutes away, and they like the fact that this is a small community, locally owned and managed. “Our dog, 5-year-old Riley, a Shih Tzu, is a happy member of the family who has given pleasure to many residents here,” said James McAllan, 87, who retired from the Army Reserves in 1980.

The Woodlands since it opened in 2008. Originally from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Dizenfeld came to Fairfax with her husband in 1963. They worked for the federal government before retiring. “We were impressed by the wonderful care we got and the fact that the Bainum family cares about people,” she said. Dizenfeld’s husband passed away four years ago, but she said she doesn’t feel like she’s alone. “The Woodlands is like a big family,” said Dizenfeld. “Everyone here cares about everyone else.You don’t feel like you’re living with a bunch of strangers.” The Woodlands Retirement Community 4320 Forest Hill Drive Fairfax, VA 22030 703-667-9800 thewoodlandsccrc.com



Fairfax County Times SENIORS | October 2014





October 2014 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS




Fairfax County Times SENIORS | October 2014


Profile for The Gazette

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Fairfax seniors 102414