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Gazette SENIORS | January 2012


CORRECTION In the October 2011 issue of Gazette Seniors, in “Adventure Knows No Age,” the number of miles Jack Meiners has hiked over the last 30 years should have been reported as 17,000.


January 2012 | Gazette SENIORS


IN ONE ROOM, brushes and paints

cover the canvas with abstract or realistic strokes. In another room, pottery wheels and kilns stand at the ready to give shape to the ideas of the artists. Seniors who are interested in pursuing artistic bents have many opportunities to do so. The Renaissance Art Center in Gaithersburg offers two daytime classes, Pottery and Drawing and Painting, to older adults during three 10-week sessions. Each course is offered on two days every week. “It’s a laid-back atmosphere, with no pressure, no competition and no worrying about whether they did it right,” owner Sam Esposito says. “We teach seniors, each at their own pace. They have a good time and there’s lots of camaraderie in the classes.” On a recent morning, four seniors were completing colorful paintings based on Fauvism, a 4

Gazette SENIORS | January 2012

movement that flourished in the early 1900s in France and featured bold colors. Each senior’s painting was unique, with a compelling assortment of faces, trees or cats. Christen Shank, who teaches all four classes for older adults, is enthusiastic about her students. In addition to specific art techniques, she also educates students about the history of various art forms, such as Expressionism and Cubism, and the kinds of glazes used in pottery. She cites the health benefits of art: brain stimulation, hand strengthening, sharpening focus and relieving stress. “When they finish a project, their eyes light up,” she says. “I’m so proud of them.” Most students come from the Montgomery County area, but some travel from afar. Jill Brooks comes from Chantilly, Va., each week and plans to continue doing so. Brooks sees painting as an


Barbara Kaplan of Gaithersburg takes both painting and pottery classes.

-Sam Esposito, owner, Renaissance Art Center

extension of her photography career that spanned more than 30 years. “When I retired, I needed a creative outlet,” she said. “I had something in me that had to come out.This gives me great joy.” Barbara Kaplan of Gaithersburg takes both painting and pottery classes.This retired college administrator wants a second career as a ceramist and sees this as a first step. “Christen has helped free me up to explore,” Kaplan said. “You forget that the painting does not have to look exactly like the photo or object,” she says, examining her painting of a blue cat. Kaplan is planning a move to Florida and admits she’d like to take Shank with her to continue the learning. Shank sees herself as a “tourist guide”—steering her students to express themselves at their individual level. SEE ART, PAGE 30

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these bowlers are


Bob Brigham, a member of the virtual bowling team the UnbeWiiVables

BOB BRIGHAM IS STRUGGLING to get his groove back. In his second practice game on this cold January morning, the 75-year-old Silver Spring resident is contemplating a finish about 50 points below his 298 average—an average that led to Brigham being named Wii Bowler of the Year in 2011 by the National Senior League (NSL). “If I don’t get a 268, I feel like I haven’t really bowled,” he said. Primarily associated with kids and teens, video games— such as Wii Sports and Wii Fit—also are popular with older adults. The NSL, a virtual bowling league established in 2009, now boasts more than 100 teams from 21 states, including the UnbeWiiVables from the Margaret Schweinhaut Senior Center in Silver Spring. In October, the team became the 2011 national champion, defeating a group of Wii bowlers from Georgia at the LeadingAge convention in Washington, D.C.



Gazette SENIORS | January 2012

“Wii bowling is a great sport. Anyone can do it,” said Karen Maxin, the team’s coach and an employee of the Montgomery County Department of Recreation. “The fact that you’re not holding a 10- or 15pound ball—just a light remote instead—makes the game accessible.You can sit down and bowl or stand on your head and bowl. It doesn’t matter. All you need is a Wii and a TV.” At the Schweinhaut Senior Center, the UnbeWiiVables practice in front of a 52-inch-screen television. “It’s amazing how real it feels when you are bowling,” said Maxin. The team practices for two hours each Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. “Sometimes you don’t get as much practice time as you’d like because only four people can play at a time,” said Bing Cheung, 75, of Silver Spring. In an attempt to grow the league, the UnbeWiiVables welcome anyone interested in the sport to join them.

Brigham is always willing to share his knowledge and expertise. “Bob has this ability to watch someone and then help them adjust,” said Maxin. “Once they know where they have to bowl from and what grip to use, they improve.” “I enjoy teaching,” said Brigham. “I was a carpenter and taught many others over the years. Now I teach Wii bowling.” Brigham got hooked on virtual bowling after he scored 236 the first time he played. Over the past

A Wii bowling screen on a television

three years he has refined his technique and increased his average. It was a routine eye exam, however, that really helped bolster his scores. “I’ve bowled 64 perfect games—including four in a row—in the nine months since I got new glasses,” he said. While the game itself is fun, it is the camaraderie

and friendly competition that keep the five team members—all of whom grace the NSL Top 40 Bowlers list— playing. “I like the company,” said Anh Nguyen, 63, of Silver Spring. “We’ve become like a family.” SEE WII BOWLING, PAGE 29


January 2012 | Gazette SENIORS


“I’M ALWAYS stretching myself—reach-

stepping onto the


ing for something, emotionally or physically. I leave feeling exhilarated,” said Kathie Mack. While it was the social service component of The Heyday Players that initially attracted her to the seniors-only theater group, it is the opportunity to grow and to expand her horizons that keeps her coming back. “We’re encouraged to experiment and try things,” says the retired Takoma Park resident. The Heyday Players, established by Round House Theatre in the mid 1990s, “provides seniors the opportunity to perform for seniors in plays that deal with issues of importance to seniors,” said Jillian Levine-Sisson, Round House’s education manager. Round House has locations in Silver Spring and Bethesda. The program is designed to channel the “tremendous spirit, talent and life experience” of older adults into theatrical performance and classes, according to the theater’s website.

in • teg • ri • ty integrity - noun 1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty. 2. the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the company. 3. a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition.

When The Heyday Players began, it was one of just a handful of senior theater companies in the country. Today, there are more than 800 nationwide, according to ArtAge’s Senior Theatre Resource Center. Still, the Round House program remains innovative in its approach, according to Levine-Sisson, by combining education and performance. The Heyday Players begins each fall with a series of 10 master classes. “Each takes an indepth look at a particular theater specialty,” said Brianna Letourneau, the lead teaching artist for the players. “This year we had a wide variety, ranging from creative movement to commedia (dell’arte), which is a specific way of telling stories in the Italian and French tradition, to the business of acting,” Letourneau said. “The series culminated with playwriting. We wrote original monologues and scenes based on fables and folktales.”

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“These artists spend time teaching us things like stage combat—it’s amazing to see all these elderly people

HAULING EACH OTHER AROUND BY THE HAIR...” -Kathie Mack of The Heyday Players

“I’ve taken some wonderful master classes with top people in the field,” said Mack. “These artists spend time teaching us things like stage combat—it’s amazing to see all these elderly people hauling each other around by the hair—dialects and character development.” The master classes are open to all seniors. “No one needs prior knowledge or has to do any preparation. Each class is complete unto itself,” said Letourneau. For $50, participants can take as many or as few classes as they like. The classes are accessible to all. “We are always sensitive to any kind of physical challenge and anything we do can be modified,” she said. “Some come to Heyday with a lot of theater experience in their past, some have minimal experience, and others have simply

enjoyed being audience members for a long time but don’t have any actual stage experience,” said Mack. “We draw heavily from Silver Spring and the surrounding area, but there are people from Bethesda and Olney— even one from Virginia.” The two-hour classes are held each Tuesday morning at Round House’s Silver Spring theater. Come winter, the classes give way to performing ensembles. “There typically are two casts of Heyday Players,” said Letourneau, “and instead of attending class, they attend rehearsals.” Each season, Round House commissions several area playwrights to write 10-minute plays for the ensembles. Each cast, which consists of roughly a dozen actors, is assigned SEE HEYDAY PLAYERS, PAGE 28

Kathie Mack in a production by senior’sonly theater group The Heyday Players ABOVE: COURTESY OF ROUND HOUSE THEATRE. OPPOSITE PAGE: ISTOCKPHOTO/MSCHENK


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Universal design solution converts retirees’ center-hall colonial into wheelchair-friendly environment BY JOHN BYRD HOME FRONTS NEWS


with limited mobility live comfortably in a three-level center-hall colonial? That’s the question that confronted Mike Tevnan, 63, and his wife, Kathleen, 56, when, nearing retirement, the Silver Spring couple learned that Kathleen would be confined to a wheelchair. “Once my situation was diagnosed, we installed a platform lift in front of the house, and stair lift from the first floor to the second,” said Kathleen. “Still, getting around the house— which was built in the 1940s—was really time consuming and awkward.” Fortunately, through trial and error, patience, and the eventual emergence of a universal design team of remodelers who could help them, the days of unnecessary obstacles are in the past—replaced by a new freedom to circulate, manage everyday chores and live life fully.

Kathleen Tevnan sought better wheelchair access in her home and a better-integrated access solution. To accomplish this, Russ Glickman redesigned the sidewalk from the driveway, introduced a wider portico with a barrel vault ceiling and repositioned the lift for easier entry.

Looking back, Kathleen is a little astonished at the challenges she once confronted daily. For starters, just getting from the driveway to the ground-level lift an earlier contractor had installed near the front portico was a challenge. There wasn’t enough space where the driveway intersects with the front walk for her van to drop the wheelchair lift; and the sidewalk itself was too narrow. Moreover, to exit the platform lift at the front door, Kathleen had to turn 90 degrees in a severely restricted radius and push forward onto a concrete mat not much wider than the wheelchair itself. Once inside the house, a stair lift provided the only access to the full bath on the second floor. And other logistical nightmares were everywhere. The bathroom was too narrow. The laundry was in the basement. For a while, she was sleeping in the living room. “It was awful,” she said. “Obviously the earlier access solutions hadn’t worked well. Mike and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the best path through the house, but it was hard to know what was best for my situation.” Then, she found Russ Glickman, an aging-in- place/special needs expert and president of Glickman Design Build in North Potomac, which specializes in designing and building residential renovations that meet the needs of homeowners. His name SEE DESIGN, PAGE 26



Gazette SENIORS | January 2012



Rockville community offers independent and assisted lifestyles for renters BY ELLEN R. COHEN

Mary Kurin and Liliane Marchetto discuss...well, we’re not sure, but it must have been a hoot.

Florence and Jules Greenberg enjoy their Gazette in the sunny garden pavilion.

WHEN JULIEN SACKS and his wife traveled from Roanoke, Va., to see family in 2006, they visited Ring House, a Rockville senior retirement community. Sacks had sold the children’s shoe store he owned, and his children suggested it was time to stop shoveling snow, raking leaves and cutting grass. Despite mixed feelings, the Sackses moved to Ring House. Although his wife passed away about four years ago, Julien enjoys his home and serves on the community’s Residents’ Council. Since 1989, Ring House has attracted independent seniors with supportive services, such as help with transportation, cooking, cleaning and other chores that become more difficult, especially in winter weather, with age. “Located in the heart of Rockville, Ring House is near stores, banks, places of worship and cultural activities. Residents enjoy being near family and friends while maintaining their independence, privacy and interests,” said Jill Berkman, community outreach marketing director. “Our community is set up like a Con-

tinuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in that we have everything on campus: independent living, assisted living, a nursing home and a health center. Unlike a CCRC, there is no large down payment. You rent your unit. Also unlike a CCRC, we cannot initiate your movement from one place to another. If you need more help here, you can go to assisted living or get help in your home. Getting in is easy and you need give only a 30-day notice to withdraw from your lease.”

While you must be 62 or disabled to move in, some residents are 99 and 100, with the average age in the late 80s, according to Berkman. Residents may choose from a variety of one- and two-bedroom apartment configurations, many of which are currently being renovated. Each floor has laundry facilities and the renovated apartments have a combination washer/dryer. Another benefit is the opportunity to qualify for reduced rent. “Ring House has HOC subsidies,” said Berkman. “If you qualify with your SEE RING HOUSE, PAGE 27 January 2012 | Gazette SENIORS



June, my husband Harvey and I considered how to celebrate with the family. A trip? A party? Everyone had suggestions. BY ELLEN R. COHEN

Finally, the idea of an African safari captured our imagination. We read travel guides, spoke to friends and researched tour companies, finally choosing Thomson Family Adventures, which specializes in small, multi-age groups, taking travelers to worldwide destinations. After many phone calls, e-mails and discussion, we had a plan.We would all go —all 10 of us: Harvey and I; our son Jeff, daughter-in-law Shari and their 15-yearold twins Samantha and Zachary; our daughter Marcia, son-in-law Mark, 8year-old Emma and 6-year-old Jonah. Would a trip that accommodated our ages, temperaments, interests, food preferences and schedules become a logistical nightmare? Our Thomson travel representative recommended Tanzania, a peaceful area with “world-class wildlife viewing.” Our itinerary included visits to the Ngorongoro Crater, the Serengeti and several national parks. We would stay in lodges and in tented camps, traveling in Land Rovers with pop-up tops that could be lifted for wildlife viewing and photo taking, while keeping us safely in the vehicles. Our three guides, assigned to us for the entire nine days of the safari, would be our tour directors and problem solvers. “We’re going to Africa!” we said. Harvey and I departed from Dulles International Airport Aug. 13, while our children and grandchildren left from New York City. The next morning, we joined up in Amsterdam and boarded our approxiA giraffe and elephants on the Serengeti in eastern Africa, and a lion from the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania PHOTOS BY HARVEY M. COHEN


Gazette SENIORS | January 2012

mately eight-hour flight to Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Our senior guide, Ojukwo, met us at the airport and drove us to the Mount Meru Game Lodge & Sanctuary. Once a refuge for rescued animals, the lodge is home to zebras, storks and peacocks. Monkeys also roamed freely. Our two other guides, Adam and Peter, joined us and we departed in our Land Rovers for the Arusha National Park, our first experience with giraffes, zebras, monkeys, warthogs, buffalo and baboons. Later, back at the lodge, it was feeding time for the African porcupines, which our grandkids loved watching.

Throughout the trip, we stayed either in a lodge or in a tented camp called a nyumba, moving every two days within Tanzania. The lodges were comfortable, the people were friendly, and the simple food was nicely prepared and healthy. The large tents included a floor, LED lights and comfortable beds. A large pitcher of water for the basin sink was delivered to our tent twice a day. “Jambo”—or “good morning” in Swahili—was the signal that a pitcher of hot water had been placed outside the tent and breakfast would soon be ready. Showers at the end of the day involved hot water hoisted in buckets outside by the men who worked at the tent camp. The daily routine was similar: Early wake-up, followed by breakfast. After deciding who would ride in which of our two vehicles, we settled down to see animals all morning until it was time to have a picnic box lunch at a safe location. It felt good to get out of the vehicles and walk around a bit. More wildlife viewing followed until late afternoon, when we returned to our lodge or tents, showered, changed to clean clothes for

dinner, and returned to the sleeping area to relax before bedtime. We visited several areas known for different animal species and spent many hours peering out of our Land Rovers with binoculars, looking for elephants, giraffes and lions. We took many photos at Tarangire National Park, famous for its large elephant population. Our group especially loved the babies. The Ngorongoro Crater, formed 2.5 million years ago after a volcano exploded, has a huge caldera that is home to giraffes, wildebeests, zebras, baboons, hippos, lions, cheetahs and many varieties of antelopes. Serengeti National Park was another highlight. An area of 6,000 square miles, it is famous for big herds of annually migrating wildebeests, as well as zebras, antelopes, lions, cheetahs and hyenas. We went from “Look! There’s a zebra!” to “Look! There’s another zebra!” and, finally, “Look! There are lots of zebras!” We also saw a full pride of lions taking their afternoon nap under a large tree.

Robanda in Serengeti National Park. Women were making beautiful straw baskets, which we purchased to take home. And, a pickup soccer game with our grandchildren and the local children was fun.We took pictures to the delight of the village children who had never seen themselves in digital photos. The nine days on safari were just enough to make us want to return to Africa someday. When we drove to the Serengeti airstrip en route to Arusha, the closest city with an airport, the Land Rovers had to first herd several zebras off the runway. It was wonderful to celebrate a family milestone together, and we were very thankful to be able to give our children and grandchildren this incredible experience. Eight-year-old Emma couldn’t wait to go back to school and tell her class about her trip. “But,” she said, “I think maybe they won’t believe me.” We assured her she could certainly support her story with the roughly 2,000 photos with which each family had returned home.

A visit to Ayalabe Primary School was an eyeopener for our grandchildren. We interacted with the students and teachers, and distributed small gifts of school supplies and toys that our children had brought. Students wear uniforms, sometimes torn or ragged, and classrooms have a blackboard with no electricity. Primary school is taught in Swahili; the children learn English in high school. Around this time, Samantha and Zachary, our older grandkids, were realizing how fortunate they are to attend high school in New York City. Another highlight was a visit to the small village of

The author, third from left, and her family (from left): Shari Brasner, Samantha Cohen, Zachary Cohen, Jeffrey Cohen, Marcia Cohen, Mark Hotchkiss, Harvey Cohen. Children in front row, from left: Emma Hotchkiss, Jonah Hotchkiss. Above: A typical interior of the tents in which they stayed January 2012 | Gazette SENIORS




TOP: Stanley Helsel investigates moai, which are large stone statues, on Easter Island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean. ABOVE: With wife Harryette at a stupa (temple) in Myanmar (Burma) in southeast Asia 14

Gazette SENIORS | January 2012

MOST PEOPLE MAY dream of taking trips to London, Paris and Rome. Stanley and Harryette Helsel dream about Ashgabat, Ulan Bator and Windhoek, among many other far-flung destinations. The Helsels, who live in Bethesda, spend lots of time reading up on exotic places to visit next. Their travels have touched all continents, although Stanley passed up a trip to Antarctica because he’s not an avid sailor like his wife. After that trip, Stanley joined Harryette for the Tapati Festival of Easter Island in the southern Pacific Ocean, where the couple enjoyed a celebration of Rapa Nui culture. They’ve visited every state in the U.S. except Alaska, plus they’ve been to Mongolia, Myanmar, South Africa, India, Portugal,Tahiti,Tunisia, Russia, Siberia, Vietnam, China, Iran, Iceland…It would probably easier to name places they haven’t been (yet). And they’ve returned to many countries since they enjoyed them so much. When a country suddenly opens up to travelers, the Helsels are often among the first to visit. Main-

land China began granting visas in 1980, and the Helsels jumped at the opportunity. They remember all the people in Mao suits, the women cleaning the streets and reading newspapers encased in glass on walls. They’ve returned to China over the past 30 years to see the changes.

The Helsels first visited the USSR in the 1970s, and remember old women with brooms everywhere. On a trip from Moscow to Leningrad, people were taken off the train because they had forbidden reading material. “We’ve been to Russia every decade since and you don’t see that anymore.The changes have been amazing,” said Harryette. “I keep wanting to go back; there’s just something about it.” She said that the old Russia still exists in Belarus, which became a republic in 1990, during the dissolution of the Soviet Union. With their own travel style, the Helsels have had many adventures. In Mongolia, they lived in a herder’s SEE HELSELS, PAGE 25


January 2012 | Gazette SENIORS




INTERNATIONALLY RENOWNED expert on ozone tech-

nology. Musical virtuoso and band leader. Sharp-eyed historian. For the neighborhood of Sandy Spring, the 100-square-mile community situated between Olney and Ashton, the “leader of the band” is Dr. Rip Rice. A musician and chemist, Rice and his wife of nearly 65 years, Billie, have been independent-living residents of Brooke Grove Retirement Village in Sandy Spring since 2004.

Where did the name “Rip” come from? According to a biographical profile written by Rice for the Brooke Grove Independent Living Residents Association (ILRA), Rice’s paternal grandfather owned and operated a Mississippi River showboat named the Old Rip around the turn of the 20th century. Rice’s father, who spent his early-childhood years on the showboat before the family sold it, wanted to name his first-born son Rip after the boat. But Rice’s maternal grandfather didn’t like the name, so the boy’s mother named him Ripdon. Growing up, “this name was the butt of so much ridicule by my playmates that I just started calling myself ‘Rip,’ and that was that,” Rice said.

Rice, who will turn 88 in April, is known in the Washington, D.C.-area jazz community as the leader of The Olney Big Band. Entertaining audiences since 2002, “the band’s 18 musicians and two vocalists perform American swing, dance and jazz music of the big band era (1930s-40s) and beyond,” according to the band’s website. A native of NewYork City, Rice began playing the saxophone during his early college years in Fort Worth, Texas, before World War II. After military service following D-Day in France, Belgium and Germany with the 104th Infantry Division “Timberwolves,” Rice returned to the U.S. and finished his undergraduate work in chemistry at George Washington University, since his family moved to Washington during the war. He played the saxophone in the HarryVincent Orchestra, later known as The Music Makers; before long, he was leading the orchestra. In June 1948, Rice married Billie Gean Womack; their only child, son David, was born within the year. Rice, working as a PHOTOS COURTESY OF RIP RICE


Gazette SENIORS | January 2012

chemist with the National Bureau of Standards— now named the National Institute of Standards and Technology, continued to play with The Music Makers and other area combos.

When Rice and his wife were approaching 80 in 2003, they “needed someplace to go,” he said. “We had a two-acre lot (in Ashton) that my wife and I couldn’t handle any more. We made the move to Brooke Grove Independent Village, and we love it here.” Now Brooke Grove residents, Rice founded the Independent Living Residents Association and later became the campus historian. “When I came here to Brooke Grove, I was an ozone consultant and a musician,” said Rice. “I was not a history writer or, for that matter, a writer of anything other than technical papers dealing with ozone. “About a year into life at Brooke Grove, I had met dozens of wonderful and, in some cases, unusual people and I had a desire to write each person’s story,” he said. Rice wrote an orientationtype booklet for new residents, with some history of the retirement village and in-depth profiles of residents—his profile included.

In 1955, “Rip decided to put music on the back burner while he concentrated on developing a professional career and helping to raise his family,” according to the website of Dixie Rascals—a sevenpiece combo formed by “Head Rascal” Rice in the mid-1990s and now a band within The Olney Big Band. Armed with a doctorate in organic chemistry from the University of Maryland, Rice spent the next 15 years working at General Dynamics and W. R. Grace & Co. With Grace as his first client, Rice “hung out his shingle” in 1972 as an independent consultant in ozone technology, according to his ILRA profile. Ozone, a gas that occurs both in the earth’s upper atmosphere and at ground level, is used industrially as a bleaching and deodorizing agent. A powerful germicide, ozone is also used “IT’S A HELL OF A LOT OF to sterilize air and drinking water. Rice said it Fast forward to 2009. According to Rice’s took him 10 years to gain the knowledge needed WORK. NOT ONLY DO YOU ILRA profile, he became friends with Sandy to market himself as expert on the commercial Spring-native and history-buff Delmas Wood, HAVE TO KNOW MUSIC, and industrial uses of ozone. founder of the Sandy Spring Museum. Later, The profession, Rice said in his ILRA profile, wrote Rice, Wood approached him with a pro“allows me to travel the world, attending meetposal to “feed me historical information about ings of the International Ozone Association the Sandy Spring Neighborhood (the area with(which he co-founded in 1974), consulting for in a six-mile radius of the Sandy Spring Friends firms in many countries new to ozone, and assistMeeting House). All villages and crossroads of ing firms already in the ozone business to better understand and enter new ap- the past and present are within this imaginary circle. Wood convinced me that such a history book is needed and that I am the man to write it.” plication areas.” And the rest is history, or will be sometime this year. Rice is “close” to comRice co-authored “The Ozone Laundry Handbook” last year, and is one of four editors of “Ozone in Food Processing,” a textbook on the subject sched- pleting the first volume of “A History of the Sandy Spring Neighborhood” covering the period from roughly 1650 through the end of the Civil War in 1865. The uled for publication in February, according to his ILRA profile. Rice has authored more than 100 papers dealing with ozone applications, second volume will pick up with events following the Civil War to the present day. Entering 2012, what else is in store for Sandy Spring’s irrepressible leader and has edited or co-edited 21 books, proceedings and monographs in the of the band? As Rice puts it in his ILRA profile, “As long as the Good Lord ozone technology field. keeps me in good health and of sound mind, and as long as my wife Billie can Rice came out of his lengthy “musical hibernation,” as the Dixie Ras- tolerate me, I plan to continue doing what I have been doing. Retirement is for cals’ website notes, in 1994. Over the next nine years, Rice would play tenor those who don’t like what they’re doing. I love what I am doing!” sax in the Rascals, the Rockville Concert Band, the Rock-’n-ville Swing Band, “Rip has a real zest for life. His passion for big band music is contagious, the Columbia Jazz Ensemble and the Starvation Army Band. According to his ILRA profile, he joined The Olney Big Band in 2003 “to and his love for his family and friends, as well as the Olney, Sandy Spring and teach its members how to swing.” Under Rice’s direction as music director Brooke Grove communities, is truly inspiring,” said Toni Davis, regional direcand master of ceremonies, the band progressed “from a shaky dance band to a tor of marketing at Brooke Grove Retirement Village. “While continuing to explore a variety of lifelong interests, he also continues to contribute to his really good swing band that is in high demand.” “It’s a hell of a lot of work,” said Rice about his leadership role with the OBB, profession. He is an amazing man; he makes us all smile!” as it is known to its fans. “Not only do you have to know music, but you’ve got to understand people.” Early last year, Rice relinquished the role of musical director to Dr. Robert Know a senior in Montgomery County with an interesting story to tell? Tennyson, but he remains band leader, chairman of the band’s board of directors and member of the editorial board of “In the Mood,” the OBB quarterly Email us at e-newsletter.


January 2012 | Gazette SENIORS



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Gazette SENIORS | January 2012



“We don’t have any choice as to the circumstances of our birth, but we should have a choice as to how we leave this life,” said Rosalind Kipping, vice president of the National Capital Area Chapter of Compassion & Choices.The key to ensuring that “end-of-life care reflects your beliefs and values is to complete an advanced directive.” The advance directive form made available by the state of Maryland consists of two parts. The first allows you to “choose a health care agent—someone to speak for you and make medical decisions for you if you are unable to speak for yourself,” said Kipping. The second part is known as a living will. “It is a written advisory to the health care agent and can indicate anything from ‘I want every single treatment possible through medical technology up to my very last breath’ to ‘Nothing artificial, just let me go.’” Roughly a third of Maryland adults have an advance directive, according to Dan Morhaim, M.D., deputy majority leader of the Maryland House of Delegates and author of “The Better End: Surviving (and Dying) on Your Own

Why you should consider having an advance directive

Terms in Today’s Modern Medical World.” Among those who are “older, whiter and richer, the number only goes up to 45 percent. Amazing when you think about it because 100 percent of us are going to die,” he said. While a lack of information and a mistrust of the health care system may prevent some people from completing advance directives, it is “our general cultural aversion to talking about death and dying that is the biggest barrier,” said Morhaim. For those unsure of how to begin or uneasy with such discussions, an advance directive can serve as a springboard. “It can be a catalyst to meaningful conversations, especially between people of different generations,” said Suzanne Adelman, clinical supervisor of the Jewish Social Service Agency (JSSA) Hospice in Rockville. “The document itself is important, but so are the conversations you have with your health care agent so that person really understands what your health care wishes are.”

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families from emotional turmoil, especially when there may be confusion or disagreement about what’s really wanted at life’s end. An advance directive “takes the burden off of family members,” said Morhaim. “Emotions, such as guilt, stress and competition, are relieved. Everyone becomes more accepting. If you love your family and friends, do them a favor by completing an advance directive.” Filling out an advance directive is not complicated and does not require an attorney. Two adults, neither of whom may be your health care agent and at least one of whom may not financially benefit from your death or handle your estate, are required to witness your signature.“It takes about 15 minutes to complete the form,” said Morhaim, “though it may take longer than 15 minutes to think through your choices.” A lot of thought should go into identifying a health care agent, says Shawn Brennan, program manager for senior health promotion with Montgomery County Aging and Disability Services and co-chair of the Montgomery County Coalition for Care at the End of Life. The coalition suggests looking for a health care agent whom you trust and

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY COALITION FOR CARE AT THE END OF LIFE shawn.brennan@montgomery 240-777-1350 “THE BETTER END: SURVIVING (AND DYING) ON YOUR OWN TERMS IN TODAY'S MODERN MEDICAL WORLD” By Dan Morhaim, M.D. 410-841-3054 Published by The Johns Hopkins University Press, November 2011

knows you well; is in close enough proximity to offer help when you need it; is comfortable talking with and questioning health care providers; and will not be too emotionally upset by your illness or injury to carry out your wishes. “For some, a spouse may be the best person to make health care decisions,” said Brennan, “but if you’re estranged or your spouse isn’t assertive or doesn’t work well under pressure, then you might consider someone else.” Brennan also suggests naming two alternates in case your first choice is unable or unavailable to serve as your advocate. “None of these choices are chiseled in stone,” said Kipping. “You can change your mind anytime you want to by completing a new advance directive. That’s not at all unusual. Over the years as we mature, our values change and we tend to look at life differently.”

While the state of Maryland has its own form, available through the state Attorney General’s Office, it is not the only document honored in Maryland. A popular alternative is the Five Wishes form, created by the national nonprofit Aging SEE DIRECTIVE, PAGE 24


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“ABUSE OF the elderly and vulnerable adults is a widespread problem in Montgomery County. With a growing population of seniors and vulnerable adults, we can expect cases of elder abuse to increase sharply.” That bleak assessment comes from the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office.“It runs the gamut,” said Assistant State’s Attorney Karla Smith about the mistreatment of older and vulnerable adults who are victims of physical, financial and other forms of abuse and neglect. Smith heads the Family Violence Division, responsible for the prosecution of vulnerable adult and elder abuse cases in the county. According to studies cited by the National Center on Elder Abuse, every year “between 1 and 2 million Americans age 65 or older have been injured, exploited, or otherwise mistreated by someone on whom they depended for care or protection.” Those numbers may not tell the whole story. For every one case of elder abuse reported to authorities, the center estimates about five more cases go unreported. In Montgomery County, at least 530 reports of elder abuse were investigated last year by Adult Protective Services (APS), a section of the county’s Department of Health and Human Services’ Aging and Disability division. Bonnie

Klem, APS supervisor, said she has only 10 investigators, “when we get maybe 50 to 70 calls a month.” Both Klem and Smith worry that with older residents living longer and their numbers growing, so will the hidden problem of elder abuse. Currently, 119,500 people 65 and older live in the county, according to a press release from the Montgomery County Commission on Aging, but an increase of nearly 40 percent—190,000 residents—is expected by 2030. Similar growth is projected across the state, with the number of residents over 60 expected to increase to 25 percent by 2030, according to the Maryland Department of Planning, Population Projections.

Elder abuse is considered a complex problem with widespread misconceptions and varying definitions. Montgomery County and the State’s Attorney’s Office FamilyViolence Division define abuse of the elderly as any physical injury “as a result of cruel or inhumane treatment or as a result of a malicious act by another person.” It can range from hitting to kicking to severe beatings, according to the American Psychological Association. Of APS’s 530 investigations last year, 48, or about 9 percent, of the reported cases were for physical abuse. Financial exploitation, “the misuse of money, property or resources for another’s benefit,” is another form of abuse.

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Fraud, embezzlement, forgery and a variety of scams against the elderly are common. About 16 percent, or 86, of the reported cases investigated by APS were for financial exploitation. Most of the investigations however— 355, or about 70 percent of reported cases—were for self-neglect. Neglect by others, such as a professional caregiver or a family member, accounted for 118, or about 22 percent, of reported cases investigated by APS. Neglect is defined as “the willful deprivation of adequate food, clothing … medical treatment or rehabilitative therapy, shelter or supervision.” Some of the signs of elder self-neglect, according to Klem, include hoarding, leaving old food around, and generally being unclean and unsanitary. “They don’t have a solution,” said Klem, who has served on an HHS-convened HoardingTask Force working with county agencies to help those who hoard.

Whether it is self-neglect, neglect by a caregiver, or physical or financial abuse, most incidents of elder abuse don’t happen in a nursing home, as widely believed. The National Center on Elder Abuse estimates that about “two-thirds of all elder abuse perpetrators are family members, most often the victim’s adult child or spouse,” or an intimate partner. “They have this love-fear relationship with their caregiver,” said Klem. “Sometimes people feel embarrassed and horrified that their loved one or caregiver would treat them badly. It’s a conundrum because if they say something or police get called, we’re going to want to

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When and how should you do it?


OUTLIVING ONE’S savings is the greatest fear among older Americans. No matter which poll you look at— the one by Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America or Financial Engines—people are worried that their assets will expire before they do. “Think about this: A couple that is 65 years of age today stands a 50 percent chance that one of them will live to be 90,” said Clark Kendall, a certified financial planner and founder of Kendall Capital in Rockville. “And that figure is for everyone, not just those who have health insurance, are well educated, don’t smoke and stay physically fit.” “Retirement could end up being a third of your life, or half as long as you’ve already lived,” said Larry Paul, a certified financial planner with Raymond James Financial Services Inc. in Rockville who teaches retirement planning and wealth management courses through Montgomery College’s Lifelong Learning Institute. “You’re likely looking at having to support yourself financially for a 20- to 30-year period.” “Retirement is all about adequate sustainable lifetime income.You’ve got to have it and you’ve got to have it forever,” said Jim Ruth, a certified financial planner and founder of Potomac

Financial Group in Gaithersburg. When it comes to insuring a steady stream of income through one’s golden years, people often err in deciding when to tap into retirement funds and too many put off financial decisions until the passage of time ultimately makes the decisions for them, he says.

“The biggest mistake people make in retirement is not doing Social Security right,” said Ruth. “The wrong decision can cost you tens of thousands of dollars and, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars. “With a Gallup poll reporting that more than half of today’s retirees consider Social Security their primary source of income, that decision takes on added importance. For most people it pays to delay filing for Social Security benefits until 70, according to Ruth. “But, according to the Social Security Administration, 76 percent of women and 71 percent of men take benefits early,” he said. Those who file early—at 62—for Social Security will receive a monthly benefit check that is about 30 percent less than what they’d get if they waited until 67, according to Ruth. Age 81 is the actuarial break-even point, meaning the total payout would be the same regardless of when an individual began receiving benefits. So, those who delay filing for benefits and live beyond 81 receive larger benefit checks for the rest of their

lives than early filers. The size of the check increases further for individuals who wait until 70 to file. Gender, health and marital status play a role in deciding when to begin receiving Social Security. “The general advice for single women is to take it as late as possible, unless they are in poor health or have a family history of people dying young,” said Ruth. Since males don’t live as long as females, single men sometimes are better off taking benefits earlier, but, generally, not before full retirement age, somewhere between 66 and 67 depending on one’s year of birth.

“A couple needs to strategize,” said Ruth. He points to two underused techniques that couples should consider in order to maximize income and survivor benefits. While a number of factors—such as the age and earnings difference between spouses and need for additional income—can reduce or eliminate the utility of these strategies, they should still be evaluated, according to Ruth. Under File and Suspend, the higher-earning spouse, upon reaching full retirement age, files for Social Security benefits and then immediately suspends them.The act of filing opens the door for the lower-earning spouse to begin receiving spousal benefits at retirement age, which comes to 50 percent of his or her spouse’s benefit. The higher-earning spouse can then continue to work or draw on income from an IRA, allowing Social Security benefits to accrue.Then, at age 70, each spouse can begin collecting maximum retirement benefits. The delay in tapping into the higher-earning spouse’s benefits also could result in a larger survivor benefit for the lower-earning spouse. With the Double Dip, the lower-earning spouse begins receiving Social Security as early as 62.When the higher-earning spouse reaches full retirement age, he or she files for spousal benefits, 50 percent of what the lower-earning spouse is receiving, while continuing to work until 70. At that point, the higher-earning spouse then files to receive benefits under his or her own Social Security account. Like File and Suspend, this strategy allows couples to take full advantage of income and survivor benefits, Ruth said. With Social Security figured out, it’s time to create a reasonable budget and take an inventory of assets. “If your

outgo exceeds your income, your upkeep will be your downfall,” said Paul. “The rule of thumb is that most people will need 60 to 80 percent of their gross income to maintain their lifestyle,” said Kendall. “If you’re making $100,000, you’ll probably need somewhere between $60,000 and $80,000 per year.” If you take the amount you think you’ll need for expenses and deduct the amount you’ll receive from Social Security and a pension if you have one, the number that remains is what you’ll need to come up with from other sources.The trick, according to Kendall, is to make sure that amount doesn’t exceed 4 percent of your savings and investments. He offers this example:“Say you make $100,000 from ABC Corp. and you want to live off of $75,000 a year. …Your combined benefits–for husband and wife–are $35,000 annually.That means you’ll need to draw $40,000 from your investment portfolio. If you follow the 4-percent rule, you’ll need 1 million in today’s dollars.” “If you take 4 percent and adjust annually for inflation, the probability of your money lasting 25 or more years is almost 90 percent,” said Ruth. “If you take 5 percent, the probability drops significantly, to around 70 percent.”

Many financial planners suggest looking at retirement in three stages— short (one to two years), intermediate (three to five years) and long term (more than five years)—and then adopting investment and distribution strategies to help make it through the long haul. “These time frames allow you to back into what kind of investments to choose. You generally wouldn’t want stocks in the short term,” said Paul. Paul suggests people kick off retirement with at least one and preferably two years of living expenses available in a “liquid, accessible, nonvolatile form. Most people think of bank accounts, CDs and short-term bond maturities.” While retirement accounts may be used as a source of income as early as 59and-a-half, financial planners suggest holding off as long as possible before tapping into one. By 70-and-a-half, those with IRAs and 401(k)s must begin taking minimum annual distributions. “The amount is based on account value and life expectancy,” said Kendall. “The tables [in Appendix C of Internal Revenue SEE FUNDS, PAGE 24



January 2012 | Gazette SENIORS



with Dignity. “It’s a softer kind of form,” said Adelman. “In addition to the nuts and bolts, it has more specific considerations about the kind of care one might want to receive as one dies. For example, under ‘MyWish For How Comfortable I Want To Be,’ there is a wish list with a focus on pain relief and warm baths.… You simply cross out statements you don’t agree with.” “The American Bar Association recently came out with its power of attorney for health care,” said Brennan. “It’s well done–laid out nicely with photos.We (the Montgomery County Coalition for Care at the End of Life) may ultimately adopt it.” Currently the coalition’s website offers its own Health Care Agent forms in three languages. It has translated the Maryland Advance Directive form into six foreign languages: Spanish, French, Russian, Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese. There are many senior citizens who “came here as adults from another country—who still read the newspaper and go to church in their native language,” said Kipping. “An advance directive written in their native tongue may enhance their understanding and increase their comfort level.” Advance directives also are available through a variety of spiritual organiza-


tions “and are targeted to specific religious beliefs—Catholic, Jewish, Muslim,” said Morhaim. “They are consistent with faith-based approaches.”

Once an advance directive has been completed and witnessed, it should be distributed widely. Among those who should have copies are your health care agent and physician. Those in assistedliving facilities or nursing homes should share it with administrators. “If you travel, put it on a chip or print it out and carry it with you,” said Morhaim, though it may not be valid in all states. In addition to giving your health care agent a copy of the advance directive, Kipping suggests listing that individual with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration’s Emergency Contact Information Registry, available online. “If you’re in an accident and the police run your driver’s license number, the names and phone numbers you’ve entered will come up,” she said. While advance directives are usually associated with elderly adults, everyone 18 and older can and should have one, says Kipping. “After you’ve completed your own form, give forms to your children.…Let them know you’re not doing this because you’re old, you’re doing this because life is fragile, so very fragile.”


Service Publication 590] lay it all out for you.” Just because you must take the distributions, however, doesn't mean you’ve got to spend them. Reinvesting the funds can help cushion your retirement years down the road or provide an inheritance for loved ones after your death. Kendall suggests retirees consider a Roth IRA for reinvesting.While there are certain criteria and limits associated with Roth IRAs, their distributions will never be taxed. Another option, which can help at all stages of retirement, is an immediate annuity. “An annuity, in its purest form, is the exchange of a lump sum of cash for lifetime income,” said Ruth. Annuities, offered by insurance companies and backed by the firms’ claims-paying ability, provide annual monthly income. Because “the standard annuity is not costof-living adjusted, we tell clients to put off annuities as long as possible.” For homeowners, determining how a house fits into the income equation is important. Some may choose to downsize



Gazette SENIORS | January 2012

and invest proceeds from the sale. Others may see their home as part of a contingency plan should retirement funds begin to run short. Home equity lines of credit and reverse mortgages allow retirees to mine the equity in their homes. To protect your portfolio so that assets will be available well into the future, financial planners suggest securing longterm care insurance in advance of or at the start of retirement. “At least 70 percent of people over age 65 will require some long-term care services at some point in their lives,” said Ruth, quoting statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “There’s not a possibility but a high probability that I will tap into that bucket of money.” “Retirement is different than it used to be and we need to plan for it,” said Ruth. “Our parents got a gold watch and a pension, and these days pensions are few and far between. Now we get a handshake and what’s in our 401(k)...”

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There have also been close calls. In New Guinea, a woman tried to leave the tribe they were staying with, and the Helsels thought they were going to be in the middle of a war. “They finally traded an animal to solve the problem,” said Stanley. When a hydrofoil was grounded on a Siberian trip, the Helsels crossed the Yenisei River on a rubber tire at 2 a.m. in the rain, the only visibility provided by truck headlights. On a train ride into Copper Canyon in Mexico, they were caught in a blizzard. Returning to Zimbabwe in Africa after photographingVictoria Falls in Zambia, they came within a minute of being locked on a bridge where they would have had to spend a freezing night clad only in shorts and Tshirts. As they were trying to escape an angry hippo in Botswana, the outboard motor on their small boat died, so the guide handed Stanley an oar and they frantically paddled to safety.

Why are they so passionate about visiting so many unique places? “It’s just interesting,” said Stanley. “So very different from anything we have here in the U.S.” “We’re not anthropologists, just curious,” said Harryette. As a little girl, she collected stamps from around the world. She had a triangular stamp from the Tuvan People’s Republic—popularly called Tannu Tuva then—a tiny republic in southern Siberia. “Curiosity took me there when I grew up, and it’s very hard to get to,” she said. Harryette brings back stamps from different places, while Stanley collects bells made in the countries and is a member of the American Bell Association International. “They have always been interested in places where most tourists don’t like to go, to see truly how people live in other cultures,” said daughter Margi Helsel-Arnold. Helsel-Arnold said her son Ian became a geography wiz early on in school because he would track his grandparent’s whereabouts on maps and globes when he was young. “He knew every country’s flag, too,” she said. In 2011, the Helsels visited Turkey and Tahiti. So where to next? Maybe the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, Harryette thinks. Stanley reminds her of the rugby player they met while riding the luxurious Blue Train in South Africa who invited them to his house in New Zealand. “See,” said Harryette. “It’s not just the people in the countries, it’s also people you meet along the way.”

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yurt, and in Siberia, they lived in a ger, where they bathed out of a communal tub and dried themselves with tree branches. They have memories of the power shutting off at all hours in Isla Margarita, an island off of Venezuela, and in the Azores, where they were the only guests in the hotel. In Iran, Harryette had to dress in a burqa, while in Istanbul, a man pinched her rear—hard. “I ran after him, but couldn’t catch him,” said Stanley. And after landing in Dakar, Senegal, they were mobbed by people looking for work.


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surfaced from a list of recommended universal design specialists, and from her first interview with him, Kathleen recognized the potentials. “Early on I learned that Russ’s son has a mobility challenge…so he’s addressed all the real-world issues in his own home life for many years,” said Kathleen. “And more importantly, I liked his process and his creativity. He was there to listen, study the situation and assemble the right team.” Collaborative thinking was crucial to the project’s success. Glickman selected architects, engineers, interior designers and carpenters, and assembled and directed a team that had to rethink the entire plan—inside and out, top to bottom. “Russ inspired others to think creatively,” said Kathleen. “The ideas would be flowing, and I began to realize that getting around my house was going to be a lot easier.” To facilitate access from outside, Glickman redesigned the front walk, introduced a substantially wider front portico with a barrel-vault ceiling, and repositioned the platform lift for improved function and a more discrete relationship to the house. The primary “built” component in





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Gazette SENIORS | January 2012

Before this Silver Spring home was redesigned, Kathleen Tevnan, who uses a wheelchair, had to turn 90 degrees in a severely restricted radius and push forward onto a concrete mat not much wider than the wheelchair itself.

the new plan, though, is a two-level, 30by-15-foot addition Glickman designed and constructed on the home’s rear elevation. A custom 3-by-4-foot elevator links the first floor to the spacious new master bedroom suite above. The elevator opens directly into the master bedroom—tucked in next to his-and-her walk-in closets. To create the bathroom, Glickman converted a former second-level bedroom, opening a structurally reinforced threshold through the former bearing wall. The door—set off by pocket doors—provides dedicated access from the bedroom. The warmly textured master bathroom suite includes a roll-in shower designed for a waterproof wheelchair. Stone and granite flooring allow surfaces to get wet without the need for cleanup. There’s a vanity and toilet suited to Kathleen’s chair specifications. The project’s aesthetics lend considerable satisfaction to the Tevnans. “The new portico sets off the facade beautifully,” said Kathleen. “This is a neighborhood where people greet each other from the front porch, so I really like sitting out front and talking to the local kids. It just feels like home.”

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Kitty Goldman, Helen Rathner and Marty Golinsky take one of the frequent Ring House bus trips to a local shopping area. PHOTO BY HILLARY SCHWAB, COURTESY OF RING HOUSE


income, you pay a reduced rate for your rent.While 40 percent of the apartments are subsidized, no one knows who is in which category.” Breakfast and dinner are provided. And with a large percentage of Jewish residents, many appreciate the kosher kitchen. A buffet breakfast and dinner with two seating times are served in the spacious, decorated dining room, where many menu choices conform to hearthealthy, low-sodium and diabetic diets.

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ties, including card games, movies, classes, music programs, arts and crafts, needlework, bingo and exercise. Buses frequent local stores, restaurants, the library and the Jewish Community Center swimming pool. And there are trips periodically to Washington, D.C., museums and concerts.

Five-year resident Eleanor Grunberg came from Florida after her son recommended this senior community. “I still have my mentality and enough physical energy to continue the active life I had led,” she said. “This place has a huge variety of in-house and outside activities for me.” Previously a nurse at a junior high school, Grunberg now plays mahjong four times a week, assists the Ring House administrator organizing outdoor activities, is involved with Hadassah and also leads the Ring House Book Club. Other amenities include the on-site beauty shop and access to the Hirsh Health Center, its physicians and physical therapy. “Everything I need is here,” said Grunberg. “Many people have gone to the Hebrew Home for rehab and have continued therapy downstairs here. In bad weather, that’s wonderful. I also like the cleaning service every other week and the 24-hour maintenance help.”

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Sylvia Cherrick, who has lived at Ring House since May 2010, came from St. Louis to be closer to her son’s family in Rockville. “I liked Ring House from the day I arrived,” she said. After breaking a hip several years ago, she realized she “should be living in a place like Ring House because St. Louis has nothing like it.” Cherrick enjoys the holiday observances, the kosher meals and the feeling that she is part of a community. A singer “all of my life,” she often sings for programs and birthday parties, and even donated her grand piano, now the focal point of many lobby events. Cherrick exercises almost daily, and participates in a choral group and a writing class. “I like the activities, the staff and the people who teach my classes,” she said. Joan Solomon, originally from Bethesda, has lived at Ring House for six months. She likes interacting with other residents and especially enjoys the concerts and other activities that require an audience. These activities and more can be found on the monthly calendar of events, which lists all the daily activi-

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three plays to work on over three months with their director. “They learn what’s involved in a professional rehearsal process, how to bring characters to life and how to collaborate,” said Letourneau. Auditions are not currently required and casting is done based on the knowledge staff has gleaned from observing the master classes. Memorization is not required as performances are done script-in-hand. “It’s a mercy that they don’t expect us to memorize lines,” said Mack, noting that some ensemble members find it daunting. The rehearsal process “culminates in public performances in the Round House Theatre black box space and various locations—such as libraries and senior facilities—throughout the community,” said Letourneau.While the two casts tour separately, they come together at Round House in the spring “for a wonderful evening of theater, a nice variety of comedy and drama.”

Each season’s plays have a theme. This year it’s folktales and fables. “Not all the characters are geriatric citizens,” said Letourneau, “as we want to challenge our cast members to imagine characters outside themselves.” Most plays, however, focus on senior issues. One of Mack’s favorites was “a little play based on the writings of Raymond Chandler,” she said. “It featured a tough guy detective, who’d set up shop after retiring, and his no-nonsense wife, who’d come in every now and again to talk about her shopping list. One day some dame hires the detective because she can’t find her husband and is afraid he’s run off with someone. Turns out, the husband has retired or been let go but keeps going to the commuter train station every day. “The play speaks to issues older people face, such as how do you transition gracefully from one stage of life to another?” Humor is, for many seniors, a tool for coping with life’s rough spots, says Stephanie Offutt, a teaching artist who offers an acting class through Montgomery College’s Lifelong Learning Institute. And that makes comedy a good starting place for those interested in acting. “Comedy is often rooted in sad truths...Finding humor in terrible things is what helps a lot of people survive,” she said.



Gazette SENIORS | January 2012

THE HEYDAY PLAYERS Round House Theatre 301-585-1225 COMEDY ON STAGE Montgomery College Lifelong Learning Institute 240-567-5188 The reasons people give for attending Offutt’s class vary. “People tell me, ‘My wife just died and I want to laugh,’ or ‘Now that I’m retired I have the time to do things I didn’t before’ or ‘I’ve always wanted to be on stage and this is my chance.’” Comedy on Stage, which runs for six weeks beginning March 20, will give seniors the opportunity to study, prepare and perform comic, contemporary scenes for the stage. In previous classes, Offutt has started with Neil Simon. His work is “very approachable,” she said. “A lot of older adults are familiar with it and can relate to it.” While some people are born with a sense of comedic timing, “comedy is made up of both talent and skill,” said Offutt. “We rely on the script to help us become the character and use the lines and pacing to make it funny. … We explore the use of props, staging and movement to enhance the comic effect.”

Offutt’s class offers multiple benefits. “It’s good for people who want to become more conversational or a more courageous public speaker,” she said. “It also allows them to watch movies and theatrical productions with a new eye and enhanced level of enjoyment.” Because the class emphasizes collaboration, a sense of camaraderie develops among participants, according to Offutt. She recalls “one group of women who were reticent when they first were asked to work together who eventually became friends and performed in a talent show.” “Nourishing” is how Mack describes her weekly interactions with other seniors, many of them older than she. Senior theater programs, she said, “answer a great call from a demographic group that (in terms of performance opportunities) has been underserved.”

From left to right: Bing Cheung, Dennis Berkholtz (founder/commissioner, National Senior League), Susan Cheung, Karen Maxin, Stephen Hatos, Bob Brigham PHOTO COURTESY OF NATIONAL SENIOR LEAGUE

Unless your team makes it to the national finals,



All bowling is done virtually. WII BOWLING Margaret Schweinhaut Senior Center 240-777-8082 WII BOWLING, CONTINUED FROM PAGE 7

And, now that they are national champions, the team members have a title to defend. “That’s a big encouragement for us,” said Nguyen. With a new season set to begin in mid-February, the UnbeWiiVables are optimistic that additional teams from Maryland will join the league. “If we get 16 teams, we’ll be able to have a state champion,” said Brigham. The Schweinhaut Senior Center now has two teams, as does the Emmitsburg Senior Center in Emmitsburg. One of the Emmitsburg teams—In Our Prime—is ranked sixth in the NSL.

Each week, as the UnbeWiiVables prepare for another round of conference play, Brigham researches the competition online and reports back to his teammates. “The NSL website

shows who the high scorers are,” he said. “So, when you’re playing another team, you can go in knowing everything about them.” But, unless your team makes it to the national finals, you never actually meet your opponents, says Brigham. All bowling is done virtually. The spring season determines state and regional champions; the national championship series takes place in the fall.While they don’t want to get ahead of themselves, it’s hard for the UnbeWiiVables not to look forward to Oct. 22. “That’s when they’ll hold the tournament in Denver, Colo.,” said Maxin. “We are so psyched and really hope we get to go. It would be such a great reward for an amazing group of people who have devoted so much energy and time.”


January 2012 | Gazette SENIORS


Seniors for Seniors USA

Matches Senior Cats with Senior Citizens!

Taking care of a pet is beneficial for seniors, in so many ways! Living with a cat helps you live healthier, live happier and live longer lives!

Seniors Adopting Senior Cats, can help save hundreds of mature cats. It’s a win-win for Cats and Seniors. Being a Pet Owner: “It’s nice to have someone to come home to.”

• Lowers Blood Pressure • Lessens Depression • Creates New Friendships

• Increases Activity • Eases Loss • Fights Loneliness


Call us to become a volunteer, foster family or to set up a Seniors for Seniors presentation for your group. Office 301-468-1766 For Adoption information call 301-838-1990


Jill Brooks travels from Chantilly, Va., to Gaithersburg for art classes she sees as an extension of her photography career.

National Alliance on Mental Illness of Montgomery County


Open Tuesday – Saturday from 11 AM-6 PM.

BIG SALE Feb. 20th!

We sell furniture, clothes, books, household goods, china, art, glassware, jewelry, children’s items, antiques and more! All proceeds benefit charity, NAMI Montgomery County. Learn more about our great organization at 50% off for seniors every Tuesday 4th Friday Bag Sale. Buy a bag for $10.00 and fill it to the brim with clothing!

11720 Parklawn Drive, Rockville, MD 20852 Behind Mega Market @ Parklawn Dr. & Boiling Brook Pkwy 301-949-5731 United Way #8687 / CFC #27615



Gazette SENIORS | January 2012

Shamim Shaikh of North Potomac says art class helps her imagination run wild. ART, CONTINUED FROM PAGE 5

She gives whole-group instruction as well as one-on-one, offering suggestions— “make your strokes a little more fluid”—and answering questions. Sometimes she even works along with her students on her own projects. “I try to push them to realize their potential and express themselves. Everyone should do art,” Shank said. This is the first time Shamim Shaikh of North Potomac has signed up for the painting class, which she welcomes as “a break from my routine.” A former government worker, she painted a lot growing up in her native India and “a little here and there” since she moved to the U.S. “This class lets my imagination run wild.” Shaikh admits she’s not good at drawing faces and prefers portraying nature, like flowers and trees, in acrylics and watercolors. The center is located at 12116 Darnestown Road, Gaithersburg. Call 301987-0377 for more information, or visit


January 2012 | Gazette SENIORS




Gazette SENIORS | January 2012

Gazseniors mc010912  

Gazette Seniors January 2012, Gazette Montgomery County, Maryland

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