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Fairfax County Times SENIORS | April 2015


Fairfax County Times


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Fairfax County Times Seniors is produced by Post Community Media’s Special Sections, Advertising and Creative Services departments. It does not involve the company’s newsrooms. ON THE COVER: WOMAN: PHOTODISC/THINKSTOCK; CHESS: BANANASTOCK/THINKSTOCK

Do you know someone in Fairfax County who is 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.




April 2015 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS





hey are shareholders. But their return on investment is far more nourishing and flavorful than what one might expect from Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange. “With community supported agriculture (CSA), you pay money up front so that the farmer has the resources to buy seed, prepare the land and hire staff. In exchange, you get a share of whatever comes up during the growing season. But, you also accept some risk,” said Jean Hochran, a Rockville resident who serves on the board of Red Wiggler Community Farm, a CSA in Germantown, Maryland. “If it's a bad year for cucumbers, you don't get many. If it's a good year for tomatoes, you share in the bounty and good fortune.” Hana Newcomb likens CSA membership to being a magazine subscriber. “You purchase a subscription not knowing what someone is going to write about but feeling confident that what you end up reading will satisfy you,” said Newcomb. She and her 80-year-old mother Hiu Newcomb run Potomac Vegetable Farms inTysons Corner. Each Tuesday afternoon, June through October, Margie Orrick stops by a neighbor's house in the Carderock Springs section of Bethesda, Maryland to retrieve her weekly share of produce from Fresh and Local CSA. “The food is harvested Tuesday mornings in Shepherdstown, West Virginia and delivered that afternoon, so Tuesday dinner is incredibly fresh,” she said. “The quality is amazing.Who knew that carrots can literally burst with flavor in your mouth?” While freshness and flavor are top reasons people join CSAs, nutrition is another, according to Eris Norman, co-owner of Norman's Farm Market. “We're so used to grocery store produce that has been picked two weeks before and refrigerated,” she said.With vegetables like eggplant, that can kill the flavor … .When you are getting produce from local farmers, they


Fairfax County Times SENIORS | April 2015


David Ruch, a grower at Red Wiggler Community Farm in Germantown, Maryland, shows off carrots he harvested.

are able to allow the fruit to ripen on the vine. The longer it's on the vine, the more nutrients and flavor it has.” Sarah Cahill's Cabin John home is a host location for Spiritual Food for the New Millennium CSA. “Belonging to a CSA changes your relationship with food,” Cahill said.“You learn to eat seasonally. In other words, you are eating the food you're supposed to be eating at the time of year you should be eating it.” That means eating produce such as greens, garlic scapes, spring onions, strawberries and asparagus in the spring, according to Norman, whose Howard County, Maryland farm has several CSA pickup locations in Montgomery County, Maryland. Because spring's harvest may not be as plentiful as summer's, Norman supplements with items such as granola or jam, even plants. Summer features blueberries, blackberries, corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, beans and peas, among others. Come fall, squash, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, pears and sweet potatoes are being harvested. While the variety of produce, farming methods and pricing may differ from one CSA to another, they all share a commitment to building a more local and equitable agricultural system, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture website.The first CSAs in the U.S. began operating nearly three decades ago. By 2012, 12,617 farms reported marketing products through a CSA, according to the USDA. Because some CSAs tap multiple farms for their produce, the actual number of CSAs is lower, though no official numbers exist. The website LocalHarvest reports having more than 4,000 CSAs in its grassroots database at localharvest.org/csa. Farming methods locally include organic, certified organic and biodynamic. Fresh and Local CSA is biodynamic, as is Spiritual Food CSA, which has an office in Bethesda and farms in Pennsylvania. “Biodynamic takes organic and adds soul to it,” said Cahill. “The premise is that the farm is a living being, so FairfaxTimes.com

farmers do things like nourish the soil and attract bees.They treat the farm as an organism with pieces and parts that must all work together.” Working together is at the heart of Red Wiggler Community Farm's mission, which includes providing meaningful employment for adults with developmental disabilities.“It is the inclusion—the opportunity for me to be friends with and learn from those with disabilities, who really are the experts on the farm—that makes Red Wiggler special,” said Hochran.The CSA, which began operations in 1996, claims to be the longest continually running CSA in Montgomery County. It has grown from 12 shareholders to 120. And, even though its summer session is sold out, spring and fall remain available. While some CSAs have a limited number of shares, others enroll new members throughout the season, prorating the price. “Anyone can jump into our season in the middle of it,” said Norman. “Because we operate both stands and a CSA and work with other farmers, we can be flexible that way.”


Collaborating with other farmers has an added benefit, according to Newcomb. It diminishes the risk due to poor weather, disease or insects. “Just because my tomato season may be a flop doesn't mean theirs will be,” she said. “We have two farms with some duplication and that provides a good safety net.” Local CSAs tend to offer shares in several sizes, which generally equate to small, medium and large. “A lot depends on how much you like to cook and how much produce you like to eat. For a couple, a small share is a great place to start,” said Norman. “You can always upgrade during the season but not downgrade.” With Spiritual Food CSA, families may sign up for biweekly pickups while others may choose to share, according to Cahill. “They'll take a box home and split it.” Sharing helps eliminate waste. “I may not like turnips, but perhaps you do,” she said.

And, if one family is on vacation, the other family can take the entire share for the week. “A full share is $40 a week. I split my share and find it's a very economical way to get healthy food.” The distribution of produce differs from one CSA to another. While Orrick walks down the block to pick up her box, Hochran drives to Red Wiggler farm each week to retrieve her produce. “Some years we have shared with another family and would take turns visiting the farm.The truth is we treasure being there and treasure the food,” said Hochran, who always brings along a basket and clippers. “There are large pick-yourown flower and pick-your-own herb gardens. If you need cilantro this week, you can help yourself.” At Norman's Farm Market, shareholders select their own produce at the pickup site. “We are not just giving them a box. They are choosing things they know they'll

use,” said Norman. “We break it into steps. They go from table to table, and we let them know that a small share means two and a large is three.” For some, such as Cahill, it's fun to try something new. “I eat stuff I've never had before, such as rutabaga and winter radishes. I've learned to cook a wide variety of vegetables and become a real soup maker." “When you are in a CSA, you eat what's in season.Some who are new may not know what to do with things like a Jerusalem artichoke. So we try to ease them into it,” said Newcomb. “We send out recipes and links to websites.There's usually a weekly theme, such as cold soups or roasting.” A CSA membership can be an adjustment, according to Hochran. “I didn't eat greens before joining Red Wiggler. They weren't in my family's diet growing up. Now I'm more inclined to explore new vegetables, like kohlrabi,” she said. And, she's learned to preserve.“I make pasta sauce with the tomatoes and herbs that I get over the summer and put it in the freezer. Come January, I have this wonderful taste of summer.” A reminder of what was and what is yet to come.



April 2015 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS




Channeling the spirit of friendship through chess




ore than an hour passes before the word “check,” spoken in a hushed tone, breaks the silence. Only two of the 10 men gathered in Clubhouse II at Leisure World seem to hear it.The rest focus intently on the pawns, rooks, knights, bishops, queens and kings in front of them, contemplating their next move. With skill levels ranging from novice to advanced, the members of this Silver Spring, Maryland, chess club come together Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons for camaraderie, conversation and a friendly game of chess. “We all have something in common—an interest in chess—and become friends automatically,” said Bernie Ascher, the club's president.“As a result, I've been invited to 50th wedding anniversaries and 90th birthday parties. And, just chatting before and after games, I've gotten to know people's interests and problems, who has relatives in the area, where the best places are to eat or find the cheapestTVs, and how to solve issues with cell phones.” While Leisure World's chess club is open to all residents, there currently are no women members. Over the past 27 years, since resident Hal Kern helped reinvigorate the defunct club, a woman would make an occasional appearance.“The few ladies that stopped by didn't play with us very long,” he said, “though I'm not sure why.” The group gathered for Macon Shibut's Monday morning chess presentation at the Madison Community Center in Arlington is all male, although there are women members. “Women are still a distinct minority, not only at this club but throughout chess,” he said. Shibut is a three-time Virginia state chess champion and author of two chessrelated books. He revisits a game between two world-champion players, Garry Kasp6

Bob Bragdon of Arlington enjoys a game of chess at the Madison Community Center in Arlington, where the games are timed.

arov and Veselin Topalov. As Shibut moves chess pieces on a large display board, he speaks to the players' intent and explores options that were passed up. “Every move opens certain doors and closes certain others,” he said. His audience of eight follows closely, asking occasional questions and responding to his prompts. It is Shibut's presentation that brings David Novak back week after week. The Vienna resident, who learned to play 55 years ago, has belonged to other chess clubs but, he noted, none had this type of educational component. “It is a wonderful feature,” said Novak, who said he ap-

Fairfax County Times SENIORS | April 2015

Chess club members say they play for the camaraderie and for the fun of the game.


Not only is chess a good mental exercise, but the game can also be a relaxing way to forget about your worries.

preciates Shibut's skills. “Not all lecturers are excellent players, but Macon is. And, not all players are excellent lecturers, but Macon is.” Following the presentation, Novak and ThomasYerg, an Annandale resident, set up a chess board. “Chess is very absorbing,” said Novak. “While you're playing, it's as if nothing else is going on. The chess board becomes your entire focus.” Yerg, who has played with other groups, enjoys the informality of the seniors club.He began playing the game in 1967 as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bolivia. “It was a small town of less than 1,000 people and the lights went out at 9 p.m.,” said Yerg. “We would play by candlelight and the game was over when the candle burned out.” At a table across the room, Marcel Monfort of Fairfax and Bob Bragdon of Arlington make their opening moves. Montfort is one of the club's longest tenured members, having joined in 1999 at age 48. “When I was working on Capitol Hill, my boss would let me play hooky one Monday out of four and this is where I'd come,” he said. While both the Arlington and Silver Spring chess clubs provide boards and pieces, some members choose to bring their own.The biggest difference in the two clubs is timers. Players at the Madison Community Center use clocks while those at Leisure World generally do not. A chess clock measures and allocates the time available to each player. So, for example, if players agree to a one-hour game, each must complete all of his moves in 30 minutes or less. Should a

player use more than 30 minutes before the game is decided, he loses on time. While most of the members in the two chess clubs have previous experience, they welcome those new to the game.“Anyone of us will sit with someone new,” said Ascher. Kern, who likes to play three times a week, supplements his play with reading. “It takes work to play decently.You have to study, at least you should if want to play well,” he said. “We have a large collection of a magazine called Chess Life, which I like to look at.” One of several chess club members in their 90s, Kern credits the game with keeping him mentally sharp. Ascher agrees. “I think of chess as mental exercise. It's good for people who are worried about their memory,” he said. “It's relaxing, too. Once you start playing, you forget all your worries. And, there's the social element. It gets you out of the house and allows you to meet new people. One of the gentlemen I played, a newcomer to the group, has a different style, which forced me to really focus and think about the game.” As president of the chess club, Ascher works to attract new players. His regular columns in the community's bimonthly LeisureWorld News take topics seemingly unrelated to chess, such as patriotism or what it means to be a NewYorker, and creatively connects them to the game. Each column includes a chess puzzle that invites readers to consider the best next move. In Ascher's opinion, the best next move is a visit to Meeting Room 2 in Clubhouse II at 1 p.m. any Monday, Wednesday or Friday of the week for a friendly game of chess. 1909664


April 2015 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS



Advice for Seniors:

Ensuring your home is safe, plus gifts kids can give grandparents BY DOUG MAYBERRY CREATORS.COM


I am an elderly widow and live alone in a large house. I'm fearful that my surroundings are not as secure as they should be. I often wake up when I hear a strange noise. What might help calm me down?


I understand, and here are some suggestions that might prove helpful. Install a security system, and make certain you stake a highly visible security company's warning sign. Secure sliding glass doors and windows with wooden dowels in the moving slots that will only allow a couple of inches to open. Make sure all entrances are well lit.



Fairfax County Times SENIORS | April 2015


Motion-sensing lights are important additions. Keep bushes, shrubs and trees trimmed to make your home more visible. When you use valet parking or have your car repaired, separate the one key needed by the service person from your ring and keep the other keys. Make sure your house number is prominently displayed, in case you need to call 911. Know and stay in contact with your neighbors, tell them about your activities and vacation plans, and ask them to pick up unwanted fliers and trash thrown on your driveway if you're out of town. Offer to do the same for them. Share your family's phone numbers in case there's a fire, a natural disaster, a stranger scouting the neighborhood or a parked car sitting at your curb that does not seem to be appropriate. There is no way to ensure that thieves will not try to gain access to your home. Being aware of that, be especially watchful and alert during the holiday months, when they are in greater need. Recently, l forgot to lock my car while grocery shopping, and a thief got my cellphone. Activating security precautions is worth your time and effort.



We are the parents of two daughters, whose ages are 3 and 6. All four grandparents are alive. We struggle to find appropriate holiday gifts for our parents.They all have their “stuff” and do not really need more things. What can we do?


Homemade and creative gifts are what all grandparents love and are most wanted. One idea is to purchase an empty pillbox and fill it with jelly beans. White ceramic coffee cups are available at the dollar stores; assist the kids in drawing pictures or writing love notes for the grandparents using ceramic paint. You can also create a gift by using white paper plates and crayons. How about gifting a greeting card that includes a come-along meal at a restaurant or an invitation to visit a zoo or park. In today's world, most photos are shot with digital cameras, but very few are actually printed out. This means grandparents' “bragging” photo albums have become big-time winning gifts. I hope those thoughts prove to serve your purposes.





April 2015 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS



GUITAR CHRONICLES Vintage collector and dealer Gil Southworth opens up about his love for the electric guitar



hat he lacks in furniture, Gil Southworth makes up for in guitars.While most of his collection—about 100 in his Bethesda, Maryland, condo and 300 in his Vienna home—are carefully labeled and neatly stowed, several dozen are casually displayed, a testament to this man's nearly life-long passion. From his sparsely furnished corner condo, Southworth can see the building—right next to the Dryclean Club in downtown Bethesda—in which he operated a vintage guitar store for 15 years. “When I closed the shop in 2007, it was just dumb luck. I didn't see it coming,” said the 59-yearold guitar aficionado about the financial crisis that would impact dealers nationwide. “Many were forced to close up their brick and mortar shops.” By moving his guitar shop to the Internet, Southworth was uniquely poised to weather the economic storm. “My expenses were just over $20,000 per month in that store and yet almost all my business was mail order,” he said. So, he got himself a website (southworthguitars.com) and saved close to a quarter-million dollars a year. A good thing, as he ended up selling upwards of 100 guitars at a loss— anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars—when the economy went south. school when The Beatles ignited his passion for electric guitars. “I can remember lying


Vintage guitar collector Gil Southworth, 59, says his love for the electric guitar began when he was in elementary school.


Fairfax County Times SENIORS | April 2015


on the floor watching Ed Sullivan in 1964 and seeing people in the audience going nuts over them,” he said. “That's when I first became aware of electric guitars.” By his 13th birthday, he was desperate for a guitar of his own. His parents pushed acoustic but Southworth wanted electric. With $30 in his pocket, most of it birthday cash, Southworth convinced his father to drive him to a store in District Heights, where he bought a two pickup, solid body Kimberly electric guitar for $29.95. The date of purchase is ingrained in his memory—March 8, 1969. While he took a few lessons, Southworth quickly determined that they weren't essential. “For the kind of stuff we were playing, you didn't need to read music. I, like plenty of others, am self taught,” he said. Southworth hasn't been in a band since the year after he graduated from high school but he does still play from time to time. He frequents Union Jack's—a British-inspired alehouse across the street from his condo—mostly to listen. “One of the bands was terrifyingly great.You wonder, what are these guys doing in (a) joint in Bethesda?” A BETHESDA NATIVE, Southworth started dealing guitars as a student at Walt Whitman High School. “I'd read the Washington Star's teen-to-teen swap and sell,” he said. “It came out on Saturday only. The truck would drop off the newspaper around 1:15 or 1:30 in the afternoon at the People's Drug Store on Sangamore (Road) and I would be waiting for it.” The first guitar he flipped—a 1963 Gibson ES 330— was listed in the swap column for $100. “But, I knew it traded for $150 or $175,” he said. “It took me a while to get $100 together in 1971. I had some of my own money, and the rest I borrowed from friends. Once I bought it, I put an ad back in the Star and sold the guitar for $135.” That's when Southworth put away his lawn mower and snow shovel, up until then his tools of choice for earning money, and began buying and selling guitars. Not inclined to pursue an undergraduate degree— “I spent one year flunking out of Montgomery College, all the time thinking why bother?” he said—Southworth took up guitar trading full time. For the first year or so, his inventory generally consisted of a single guitar. By the mid 1970s, he could afford to carry several vintage guitars at a time. Business began picking up in 1976 when Southworth borrowed $1,600 from his mother—“She got a loan from the credit union to help me out,” he said—and headed to Boston to buy a 1958 Gibson Les Paul Sunburst guitar. On


the return trip, Southworth stopped in New York City. “I had heard that West 48th Street was a mecca for rare guitar dealing.” And it was true. Southworth discovered that his guitars would command a higher asking price in Manhattan than they would locally. Gradually, Southworth grew his inventory. “When I built up to 70 guitars, which I kept in a hippie house on Nebraska Avenue—what a great set up that was—I opened my first store on MacArthur Boulevard by the MacArthur Theater in D.C.,” he said.That was 1983. himself not just a dealer but a collector.That collection, however, ebbs and flows. “I've sold countless guitars over the years that I swore I'd never (sell). Some I'd held for over a quarter of a century,” he said. “But, when the money gets too tight, I set 'em free. It does half kill me sometimes. …When I birth a truly cherished one, I just take the money and, you know, take the money.” The most highly valued guitar, at least in terms of price, in Southworth's personal collection is a 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard in original cherry sunburst with a repaired and refinished neck. He appraised it at $100,000. TODAY, SOUTHWORTH CONSIDERS

“I have about 20 guitars in the $2,500 to $25,000 range that I like better and prefer to play,” he said. It is another guitar—a 1959 Sunburst Les Paul Standard, which appeared on the cover of “American Guitars: An Illustrated History” by TomWheeler—that qualifies as the most highly valued guitar Southworth ever has traded. He put that instrument's value at $850,000. When it comes to pure profit, Southworth once made $150,000 flipping a 1958 Gibson FlyingV that he bought from a member of AprilWine, a Canadian band. After paying $52,500 for the guitar and $22,500 for a period-original case, Southworth sold them three years later for $225,000. While income is a necessity, Southworth finds it increasingly difficult to part with his guitars, though he's not certain why. His website currently lists only about 20 percent of what he has to sell. “I'm my own worst employee,” he said, noting that his best clients understand that, “Gil does things on Gil time.” For those looking to buy or sell a vintage guitar, Southworth Guitars is still considered by many to be one of the premiere dealers, he said. Just be patient. April 2015 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS




Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads resident Jane McKeel participates in one of the exercise classes offered at the health club.



Community in Bailey’s Crossroads has broad appeal BY ELLEN R. COHEN


Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads, residents have the security of knowing that no matter how their health may change, they will receive appropriate care without having to relocate. “The care and ease of living is important for people our age” said Hank Lewis, 80, who came to Goodwin House in 2010 with his wife Joan Lewis, 75, because they wanted to continue living near their children. Goodwin House, a senior community located in Bailey’s Crossroads, encompasses “residential living, assisted living, memory support and nursing care,” according to Colleen Ryan Mallon, vice president of marketing. The Fairfax County community offers a wide range of units and amenities. “We have a total of 328 residential living apartments,” said Mallon. Apartment 12

configurations range from studio to one or two bedrooms, with or without a den. While all residences include a full-size refrigerator and oven, stove and microwave oven, residents said they liked the flexible dining program that enables them to enjoy meals in formal, casual or outdoor settings, including takeout, if they wish. “Generally, it works out to one dining dinner per night,” Mallon said. Other amenities include a new Health and Wellness Center with a swimming pool and an expanded health care center, which offers private rooms. Having researched many continuing care retirement communities, Frank Hart, 82, said he gets a great deal of comfort knowing that his wife, Betty Hart, 74, is being taken care of as well as she could be. Betty Hart has lived in the memory support unit for a few months. A West Point graduate, Frank Hart served in the Army for 27 years and had a second

Fairfax County Times SENIORS | April 2015

Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads offers a wide range of residential living apartments. TOP: Residents and guests enjoy the art gallery. Exhibits change every six to eight weeks and feature the work of various artists, some of whom are local to the greater Washington, D.C. area.

career in sales and information services with General Electric Co. He praised “the terrific job the staff does in running the memory support unit.” At Goodwin House, the minimum age for residents is 65, although spouses may be younger if their partners meet the age requirement. “We have a couple of people over 100,” said Mallon, “with one currently 102.” Mallon said more than half of the residents were single.The vast majority, about 90 percent according to Mallon, come from a 5-mile radius. Goodwin House is pet friendly. Dogs cannot weigh

over 50 pounds. Residents may have two cats, or one cat and one dog. RESIDENTS DON’T OWN their apartments,

Mallon said. “But it is not a rental situation. It’s a sort of hybrid,” she said. They are charged an entrance fee that goes toward future health care services, and they also pay a monthly fee. “As their needs change, their monthly fee does not go up,” Mallon said.Tax benefits can be applied toward the fees. Residents’ monthly fees cover the use of the swimming pool and 24-hour health FairfaxTimes.com

Beverly Palmer reads a magazine in the comfort of her apartment home.

club, an art center with professional art instruction, a certified fitness instructor, a wellness center with licensed and registered nurses 24/7, a rehabilitation center, and a variety of support groups, workshops and counseling. Barbara Morris, 83, began studying watercolors when she moved to Goodwin House with her husband Ward Morris, 77, about five years ago. She has sold a few paintings and has pieces hanging in the arts center. “I love the arts center,” said Barbara Morris, a writer who has written several books and articles. Ward Morris retired from the Navy. In 2003, Jane McKeel, 77, moved to Goodwin House with her husband, Wayne McKeel. They liked the idea of a community with spiritual characteristics. Episcopal, Roman Catholic, Unitarian, Jewish and several interdenominational services are held on-site. “There is a spiritual flavor here despite being non-sectarian,” Jane McKeel said. Wayne McKeel had Alzheimer’s disease and passed away in 2007. Jane McKeel was his caregiver. A former writer and teacher, McKeel is a founder and chairwoman of the Green Team, a group that addresses recycling and environmental issues. “While I am still able-bodied, I want to give back,” McKeel said. McKeel has produced the annual Spring Fling talent show for several years. “There’s always so much going on,” she said. “You can’t do it all.” Fitness enthusiasts enjoy the wellequipped health club and heated indoor swimming pool. A fitness instructor makes sure residents exercise safely while enjoying fitness classes, water aerobics and tai FairfaxTimes.com

chi.The professionally landscaped walking paths are popular. Others enjoy the woodworking shop, game room, library, business center and living room, with its grand piano and fireplace. RETIRED AFTER 20 YEARS in the Army and after a second 28-year career in management consulting, Hank Lewis said he liked the “wonderful staff people who work hard to fulfill requests.” He plays the guitar, and serves on the marketing committee and the GreenTeam. Residents take advantage of cultural venues nearby. They go to performances at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center at Northern Virginia Community College, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and other concert and theater stages.There are seminars at Smithsonian Institution museums, book discussion groups and lectures. Many residents enjoy the performing arts and participate in theater or chorus workshops. An educator and professor, Nancy Randolph, 81, who has a doctoral degree, has taught at Harvard, Smith College and Howard. Randolph has lived at Goodwin House for five and a half years. She serves on the board of trustees and is chairwoman of the marketing committee. She said Goodwin House was “a comforting, affirming place to live.”

Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads 3440 S. Jefferson St. Falls Church (Bailey’s Crossroads) 22041 703-824-1000 goodwinhouse.org/goodwin-housebaileys-crossroads



April 2015 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS



Mercedes-Benz GLA: Hot Trend of SUVs


The 2015 GLA-Class is the first Mercedes-Benz SUV with the all-wheel-drive system 4MATIC, which features a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque.



mall crossover utility vehicles, or CUVs, are the hottest vehicles on the market. At the introduction of the 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250, a Mercedes official noted that sales of compact CUVs had passed those of midsize sedans for the first time. Increasing numbers of consumers appear to be willing to pay higher prices for luxury models. The Acura RDX, MINI Countryman, Buick Encore and Lincoln MKC are examples of newer luxury CUVs. Crossovers are car-based, with unit-body construction, usually with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.


Fairfax County Times SENIORS | April 2015

Essentially, they are tall hatchbacks or station wagons. That describes the new Mercedes GLA250, a luxury CUV that is reasonably priced given its level of content and performance. As usual, Mercedes likes to add a halo to most of its cars by turning them over to its hot rod division, AMG. Sure enough, there's also the GLA45 AMG, with a 355-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive. More of the attention will be focused on the GLA250, which starts out with the Mercedes 4Matic AWD system. A lower priced four-wheel drive arrives

soon. The 4Matic version tested for this review had a base price of $34,225 and, with options that included a navigation system, rear-view camera, power liftgate, AMG 19-inch wheels and body cladding, blind spot assist, dual-zone climate control and SiriusXM satellite radio, checked in at $44,220. FairfaxTimes.com

It's turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine delivers 208 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque to all four wheels through a seven-speed dual clutch automated manual transmission. The combination is enough, Mercedes specifications assert, to accelerate to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds, with a top speed of 130 mph and city/highway/combined fuel economy of 24/32/27 mpg. The engine and transmission combinations in both the GLA250 and GLA45 AMG are identical to the new entry-level Mercedes CLA sedan. Though the CLA has its own charm, the GLA would be a better choice for almost anyone. It seats four comfortably, with plenty of head and knee room in the back seat.The fifth passenger in the center rear suffers with a hard cushion, restricted head room and large floor hump. The interior is practical and functional, with wood grain trim, easy-to-read FairfaxTimes.com

instruments and, on the test car, a 7-inch color screen to display navigation and other functions. Like other German cars of late, the upholstery is an artificial material called MB-Tex, which is high quality but not breathable. Real leather costs an additional $1,500. There's 22 cubic feet of space behind the rear seat for cargo and the seatbacks fold flat to increase the volume to 42 cubic feet.The tailgate is conveniently motorized. On the road, the GLA250 feels tight and composed, and it exhibits flat cornering around curves as well as a supple suspension system that absorbs road irregularities. The ride is comfortable despite the run-flat tires that eliminate the spare wheel. Electric power steering has good feedback and tracks true in a straight line. On price, practicality, performance, convenience and comfort, the new GLA250 gets multiple thumbs up.


April 2015 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS




BONE SPURS This natural response comes with some unintended consequences





Fairfax County Times SENIORS | April 2015

hey are known to be painful and to interfere with the movement of a joint. But bone spurs—common in older adults—often are benign. If you are over 60, chances are good that you have a bone spur, though you may not yet realize it, according to local orthopedic surgeons. A bone spur—the creation of extra bone—is the result of inflammation, stress, pressure or damage. “It's caused by traction of ligament—imagine a piece of taffy pulling—on bone,” said Dr. Mark P. Madden, an orthopedic surgeon at OrthoVirginia in Reston with privileges at Reston Hospital Center.When the ligaments pull, they become inflamed and the body reacts by putting down more bone in that area, he said. “It's the body's response to wear and tear on the joints,” said Dr. Loiy Mustafa, an orthopedic surgeon at Capital Orthopaedic Specialists, P.A. with privileges at Doctors Community Hospital in Lanham, Maryland. Bone spurs are found in joints as well as in places where tendons and ligaments attach to bone. In seniors, a bone spur most often occurs when there is degeneration of a joint due to osteoarthritis, Mustafa said. “What happens is that over time the cartilage breaks down in a joint, and the body deals with that by growing bone in order to provide more stability and surface area,” said Dr. Sridhar M. Durbhakula, an orthopedic surgeon at OrthoBethesda and comedical director of the Joint Center at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center. Osteoarthritis may account for the greatest number of bone spurs, but there are other factors that contribute to their creFairfaxTimes.com

In seniors, a bone spur most often occurs when there is

DEGENERATION OF A JOINT due to osteoarthritis.

ation. A build up of bone on the underside of the heel—the most common place in the body for a bone spur, according to Madden—often is associated with plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia, the fibrous band of tissue that connects the heel with the ball of the foot, is designed to absorb stress and strain. But, on occasion, that pressure damages or tears the tissue. Inflammation of the plantar fascia may lead the body to create more bone.While heel spurs affect about 10 percent of the population, only about 5 percent of those with a heel spur experience foot pain, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Bone spurs are found elsewhere in the body—in the knees, hips, spine, neck, shoulder and hands, said Durbhakula. The extra bone can be painful and interfere with the movement of the joint. “The knee is where bone spurs commonly break off and become loose bodies,” he said. As loose bodies float in the knee, they can cause intermittent locking or a sensation that something is preventing the joint from moving properly. The growth of extra bone is an uncontrollable natural response that can have unintended consequences. In the shoulder, for example, bone spurs can pinch rotator cuff tendons. Pain, stiffness and reduced range of motion can occur. The persistent impingement of rotator cuff tendons can lead to tears, exacerbating the condition, said Mustafa. The lower back is the second most common place for bone spurs to occur, according to Madden, followed by the neck. When bone spurs pinch the spinal cord or its nerve roots, pain can travel to the extremities and weakness or numbness in the arms and legs can result. An X-ray is most commonly used to diagnose a bone spur, according to Madden. Treatment may vary by the location of the bone spur, although there are some approaches that are generally applicable. Staying hydrated, taking over-thecounter anti-inflammatory medication, FairfaxTimes.com

and doing stretching exercises are effective in treating 95 percent of bone spur cases, according to Madden, who put an emphasis on stretching. “Our tissues become less compliant as we gain life experience. We become less flexible. It happens naturally. Unfortunately, people are disinclined to participate in a stretching program. If they would spend just 10 minutes a day stretching, they'd see a real benefit,” he said, noting that the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons' website, orthoinfo.aaos.org, offers a variety of stretching exercises for specific parts of the body. If pain or diminished range of motion persists, a visit to an orthopedic surgeon is in order, said Madden. Stronger anti-inflammatory medication, a cortisone shot or physical therapy could be prescribed. According to Durbhakula, other nonsurgical treatments include a supplement known as TripleFlex, which contributes to joint comfort, mobility and flexibility, and Synvisc injections, which supplement fluid in the knee and help lubricate and cushion the joint. “Synvisc gives the knee more 'hydraulic suspension' so that bones are not rubbing against each other as much,” he said. Lifestyle changes, including weight loss and stress reduction, also can be beneficial, relieving pressure and tension on joints and muscles. “When conservative measures are not successful and a patient's quality of life is adversely affected, then surgical intervention may be indicated,” said Mustafa. “In the hip and knee, we can do joint replacement surgery. In the spine, we can decompress the pinched nerve. It all depends on the location of the bone spur.” Early diagnosis of a bone spur is critical to prevent additional damage to a joint and maintaining or regaining one's quality of life, the orthopedic surgeons said.“The best treatment takes into account many factors and is the one that the physician and patient come up with together,” said Mustafa.


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hen you face surgery, you might have many concerns. One common worry is about going under anesthesia. Will you lose consciousness? How will you feel afterward? Is it safe? Every day about 60,000 people nationwide have surgery under general anesthesia. It's a combination of drugs that's made surgery more bearable for patients and doctors alike. General anesthesia dampens pain, knocks you unconscious and keeps you from moving during the operation. “Prior to general anesthesia, the best ideas for killing pain during surgery were biting on a stick or taking a swig of whiskey,” said Dr. Emery Brown, an anesthesiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Things improved more than 150 years ago, when a dentist in Massachusetts publicly demonstrated that the anesthetic drug ether could block pain during surgery. Within just a few months, anesthesia was being used in Australia, in Europe and then around the world. “General anesthesia changed medicine practically overnight,” said Brown. Life-saving procedures such as open-heart surgery, brain surgery or organ transplantation would be impossible without general anesthesia. General anesthesia affects your entire body. Other types of anesthesia affect specific regions. Local anesthesia—such as a shot of novocaine from the dentist— numbs only a small part of your body for a short period of time. Regional anesthesia numbs a larger area—such as everything below the waist—for a few hours. Most people are awake during operations with local or regional anesthesia. But general anesthesia is used for major surgery and when it's important that you be unconscious during a procedure. General anesthesia has three main stages: going under (induction), staying under (maintenance) and recovery (emergence). The drugs that help you go under are either breathed in as a gas or delivered directly into your bloodstream. Most of these drugs act quickly and disappear rapidly from your system, so they need to be given throughout 18

Fairfax County Times SENIORS | April 2015

Next, patients lose the ability to respond. “They won't squeeze your fingers or give their name when asked,” Nash said. “Finally, they go into deep sedation.” Although doctors often say that you'll be asleep during surgery, research has shown that going under anesthesia is nothing like sleep. “Even in the deepest stages of sleep, with prodding and poking we can wake you up,” said Brown. “But that's not the case with general anesthesia. General anesthesia looks more like a coma—a reversible coma.” You lose awareness and the ability to feel pain, form memories and move. Once you've become unconscious, the anesthesiologist uses monitors and medications to keep you that way. In rare cases, though, something can go wrong. About once in every 1,000 to 2,000 surgeries, patients may gain some awareness when they should be unconscious. They may hear the doctors talking and remember it afterward. Worse yet, they may feel pain but be unable to move or tell the doctors. “It's a real problem, although it's quite rare,” said Dr. Alex Evers, an anesthesiologist at Washington University in St. Louis. After surgery, when anesthesia wears off, you may feel some pain and discomfort. How quickly you recover will depend on the medications you received and other factors like your age. About 40 percent of elderly patients have lingering confusion and thinking problems for several days after surgery and anesthesia. Right now, the best cure for these side effects is time. Brown and his colleagues are working to develop drugs to help patients more PHOTODISC/THINKSTOCK quickly emerge and recover from general anesthesia. Anesthesia is generally considered quite safe for most the surgery. A specially trained anesthesiologist or nurse patients. “Anesthetics have gotten much safer over the anesthetist gives you the proper doses and continuously years in terms of the things we're most worried about, monitors your vital signs—such as heart rate, body temlike the patient dying or having dangerously low blood perature, blood pressure and breathing. pressure,” Evers said. By some estimates, the death rate “When patients are going under, they experience a from general anesthesia is about 1 in 250,000 patients. series of deficits,” said Dr. Howard Nash, a scientist at Side effects have become less common and are usually the National Institute of Mental Health. “The first is an not as serious as they once were. inability to remember things. A patient may be able to re–NIH News in Health peat words you say, but can't recall them after waking up.” FairfaxTimes.com



April 2015 | Fairfax County Times SENIORS


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