2 Gazette SENIORS | May 2012
May 2012 | Gazette SENIORS 3
Karen Finucan Clarkson Ellen Cohen Barbara Darko Bill Holleran Jim Mahaffie Archana Pyati Wendi Winters
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Published by The Gazette/Post-Newsweek Media, Inc. Gazette Seniors is produced by The Gazette’s Special Sections, Advertising and Creative Services departments. It does not involve The Gazette’s newsrooms nor editorial departments. Send comments to email@example.com. Cover photo: David Belkin of Bethesda by Greg Dohler/The Gazette
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www.yourdcb.com May 2012 | Gazette SENIORS 5
LOCAL MUSICIANS KEEP DIXIELAND GENRE ALIVE BY KAREN FINUCAN CLARKSON An unabashed Dixieland groupie for the last four decades, Maggie Smith grew up “with the music in my bones and in my soul. I can feel so depressed, but when I hear that music, I forget all about it,” says the 88-year-old Silver Spring resident. Known as traditional or Dixieland jazz, the music originated among black musicians in New Orleans around the turn of the last century and migrated up the Mississippi River, according to The Potomac River Jazz Club’s website. Smith was among the first to joinThe Potomac River Jazz Club when it formed in 1971 to preserve and promote the playing and appreciation of this specialized style of jazz. “While there’s a significant musician element to the jazz club’s membership, most of the members, from my observation, are fans,” says Joel Albert, a 75-year-old drummer from Potomac, who plays with the Dixieland Express and two other groups. “They are the folks who grew up listening to Louis Armstrong …and still love it today.” That’s not to say that only seniors enjoy Dixieland. Many traditional jazz musicians are relatively young. “One hour they’ll be playing heavy rock and the next they’ll swing over to jazz,” says Albert. Those playing in bands with Albert tend to range from their 40s to 80s. Ten years ago, at 51, Bob Vernier of Ijamsville joined what now is known as the Dixieland Express. Initially a clarinet player, Vernier switched to the trumpet in his early 20s “after hearing Doc Severinsen play on the radio,” he says. 6 Gazette SENIORS | May 2012
PHOTOS COURTESY OF JOEL ALBERT/THE POTOMAC RIVER JAZZ CLUB
Joel Albert sits in at a jam session at St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub in Alexandria, Va., last fall. The 75-year-old drummer from Potomac plays with Dixieland Express and two other groups.
Traditional jazz may be known for improvisational solos, but it is the ensemble aspect that Vernier most enjoys. “When all the instruments play together, you can single out and enjoy listening to each one play something different.That, to me, is what makes Dixieland unique.” A variety of instruments are found in traditional jazz bands. “The frontline melody players are the clarinet, trumpet, cornet, trombone and saxophone,” says Albert. “The rhythm section might include a tuba or sousaphone, string bass, banjo, piano or, sometimes, guitar.” “One of the nice things about traditional jazz is its spontaneous nature,” says Albert. “In a symphony,
you’d be fired if you didn’t play the notes in front of you, but in a jazz band, you’d be fired if you did play the notes in front of you. The sheet music is a launching point for the music.” The musicians of Dixieland Express “tend to play songs that we’re fairly sure the audience will know,” says Vernier. “The most requested tune ever is ‘When the Saints Go Marching In.’ We play that at the end. Even the most sophisticated audiences will get up and march around.” That’s precisely what Smith does once a month at a jam session sponsored by The Potomac River Jazz Club
at Normandie Farm Restaurant in Potomac.“Sometimes we’ll form a line….About 10 of us will circle around the room, marching and waving napkins.The musicians like it. It makes them feel appreciated,” she says. Smith’s displays of appreciation have taken place across the country. For decades, she has planned vacations in places hosting traditional jazz festivals. “I remember flying to Seattle and joining a group out there headed to a festival in Vancouver. After that, we took a train through parts of Canada, including Kamloops, before stopping at Glacier National Park in Montana where Buck Creek, a favorite, was doing its last stand.” While Smith has never felt compelled to join a band, she comes from a family where ensemble play was routine. “Dixieland was a family thing,” she says. “My grandmother played the mouth organ and granddaddy played the bones and tuba. My father would pull out his banjo and we’d all dance and sing ‘The Sidewalks of NewYork’: ‘East side, west side, all around the town.’ It was the 30s and that’s what sustained us, what got us through.” What sustains Vernier and Albert these days are the rehearsals and performance opportunities. While the members of Dixieland Express practice twice a month, both men belong to other bands, so they often find themselves playing one or more times a week. Dixieland Express performs at senior centers and community functions. “We have a standing gig at Bethany Beach at the SEE JAZZ, PAGE 37
Potomac River Jazz Club member Nora Bell prances with her parasol, “second lining.” Second lining is a long tradition in Louisiana parades. The first line includes the brass band members and others officially in the parade, and the second line features crowd members walking behind them waving a parasol or handkerchief.
May 2012 | Gazette SENIORS 7
THE ARTS KNOW NO AGE u
Local program is on the forefront of the ‘creative aging’ movement BY ARCHANA PYATI
In a former school building tucked in a residential subdivision off Veirs Mill Road in Rockville, Peter Burroughs’ voice soars through the room, expertly ascending and descending the notes of a Mozart aria. As young prince Tamino from “The Magic Flute,” Burroughs enlists the help of his audience, a bicultural group of seniors at The Support Center, an adult day care for those struggling with isolation, memory loss or dementia. An evil serpent is after Tamino, and he is beseeching the crowd for a speedy rescue. Three women are spontaneously cast in the role of the Magic Ladies; only they have the power to kill the snake with an imaginary ball of fire, Burroughs tells them. “Ayúdame!” he sings to the Spanish speakers in the room, crying out, “O Help Me!” in his next breath to everyone else.The participants play essential roles in the drama unfolding before them as the rich sound of Burroughs’ tenor fills the space above.
Switching seamlessly between Spanish and English, Burroughs explains that operas are simply “stories told with music,” ones that, fortunately, can easily be told in many different languages. While it’s hard to tell how many in this group were operagoers in their youth, it’s clear how captivated they are by Burroughs’ voice and the classical music playing in the background. “You know that down feeling you get sometimes? I don’t have that feeling” today, says Janice Battle, 71, as she settles into a post-performance lunch.
Burroughs, a professional opera singer
and performer, is a teaching artist for Arts for the Aging, a unique program where local performers and artists creatively engage with the elderly to stimulate their minds and bodies, boost their self-esteem and encourage them to make connections with one another. Bethesda philanthropist and sculptor Lolo Sarnoff began the organization in 1988, after she was approached by the National Institutes of Health to give arts
ABOVE: Teaching artist Peter Burroughs performs using castanets alongside a program participant who trained as a professional dancer in her youth. LEFT: Burroughs engages participants (from left) Alice Kelley, Maria Barrero and Ruth Franke in a dramatic scene from “The Magic Flute.”
PHOTOS COURTESY OF BRANDI ROSE, ARTS FOR THE AGING
8 Gazette SENIORS | May 2012
workshops to people with Alzheimer’s. Arts for the Aging—or AFTA—is on the forefront of a movement called “creative aging,” in which the aging brain—if stimulated by artistic and cultural expression—is seen more as an asset than a liability. “It’s flipping the age-old paradigm, saying that there’s potential and that [the elderly] have so much to give,” says Janine Tursini, AFTA’s director and CEO. The Support Center is one of 15 senior care facilities in the county and around theWashington region with which AFTA partners. AFTA selects partners located in residential neighborhoods to provide the greatest access to low-income and cognitively impaired adults who are living with family members. One of the potential benefits of AFTA’s workshops is a more harmonious relationship between seniors and their caregivers. “The day-to-day work of a caregiver can be challenging,” says Tursini. AFTA workshops can allow them to see those in their care in a different light. “When they see the joy and vitality, the staff treats
them differently. They see them as more human and whole.” Donna Cross, activity director at The Support Center, values AFTA’s workshops and plans her schedule of client activities around them. “No matter what their level, everyone can relate to music,” she says. “It calms them, it helps them establish other relationships...They’re very happy, very upbeat after the program.”
AFTA estimates 61 percent of its program participants have either Alzheimer’s or another cause of dementia, with another 23 percent suffering from other forms of memory loss. In its annual report, based on observations by its teaching artists, AFTA estimates that 38 percent of workshop participants showed an increase in smiling, 11 percent improvement in posture and 26 percent more interaction with peers. “Engagement in the arts, when it’s regular, can contribute to mood improvements and health outcomes,” says Tursini. A 2006 study on creative aging programs
“You know that down feeling you get sometimes?
I DON’T HAVE THAT FEELING” TODAY, says Janice Battle, 71.
funded by the National Endowment for the Arts reflected similar outcomes in its comparison of 150 seniors attending cultural programs in three cities, including Washington, with the same number in a control group. The seniors in the experimental group reported fewer visits to the
doctor, less prescription and over-thecounter medication usage, less frequent falls and better overall health compared with those in the control group. While their work is therapeutic,Tursini and Burroughs clarify that they are not therapists. A music therapist might design a specific therapeutic plan for a patient, but the level of artistry to create a joyful, community experience might be missing. By offering the talent and skills of a trained artist like Burroughs, AFTA gives senior care administrators a unique service. “Since we work with professional, working artists, it ups the caliber of the work that we do,” says Brandi Rose, AFTA’s program director.
“I’d like you to be childlike with me,” Burroughs requests of his audience in the opening segment of his workshop, which he calls “CoOPERAtion.” Role-playing, make believe and physical play, with participants assuming the identities of SEE ARTS, PAGE 37
May 2012 | Gazette SENIORS 9
TAKE WRITERS, READERS ON EMOTIONAL JOURNEYS STORY & PHOTOS BY KAREN FINUCAN CLARKSON
10 Gazette SENIORS | May 2012
was a letter from her son in the early 1980s that compelled Shirley M. Sandage to write her life story. “He asked questions I would not have been able to answer—about what I believe, think is important or wish I had done—until I wrote that memoir,” says the 84-year-old Frederick resident. As Sandage shares her motivation with the 13 students gathered for her weekly class—Tales for the Grandchildren, offered through Frederick Community College’s Institute for Learning in Retirement—they speak of the reasons they want to write a memoir. “I view it as a voyage to self-learning…and an opportunity to set the record straight,” says Barbara Kippen. “I told my husband, ‘If we don’t start defining ourselves, our children will do it for us,’” says Barbara Britain. “I spent 55 years in aviation,” says Charlie Abell. “I’ve seen a lot and done a lot and it all wants to come out of me.” “All of us, from my experience, have an incredible story to tell,” says Sara Mansfield Taber of Silver Spring, author of “Born Under an Assumed Name: The Memoir of a Cold War Spy’s Daughter.” “Everyone, if they stick to it and work hard, can produce a wonderful lively account for family at the very
least and at the very most an extraordinary memoir that thousands of people will gobble up.” Many people, however, never get beyond thinking about writing a memoir. “Some are intimated by a feeling that they did not do anything stupendous that the world would recognize,” says Sandage. “But all of our lives combine to form the cultural fabric of this country and all of us have family traditions that need to be preserved.These traditions give us a sense of identity, tell us who we are and spell out the moral code that has bonded families for generations.” “People get bogged down worrying, ‘Am I just being an exhibitionist? Is this simply self-serving? Who will be interested?’ Don’t undermine yourself,” saysTaber. “One of the most generous things you can do in life is to share your story and experiences in an honest way.” Like an autobiography, a memoir requires retrospection. It is the memoir author’s introspection that differentiates his manuscript. “A memoir is more of a slice of life,” says Taber, who holds monthly memoir-writing workshops at her home and teaches at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda. “You take a theme and trace your life experience around that theme, such as friendship. You can track friendships, both wonderful and difficult, throughout
your life. Or, you can write about your relationship with someone.” That gives the writer creative license and frees him from having to start at the beginning. The challenge, however, is unearthing the memories and finding a jumping-off point. That is part of what Sandage and Taber work on with their students. On a Tuesday afternoon in mid-March, Sandage asks her students to describe themselves in one word. Kind, invincible, determined, faithful and inspiring are among the adjectives offered up. “Why do you feel that way?Who or what told you that about yourself?” she says. After pondering her questions, they begin to write. An hour later they gather and a few share their stories. Pam Brunell has followed Sandage’s lead. Her piece begins: “I remember my mother saying, ‘She’s impossible!’ ” The story, which affectionately compares and contrasts Brunell and her “perfect” older sister, features lively writing and outlandish examples, the combination of which brings smiles to her classmates’ faces. “It’s interesting how this week is all humor and last week was all tears,” says Nancy Cherry after the final story of the day is shared. Memoir writing can be bittersweet. “If you’ve had a really hard life or a difficult experience, it can be painful to return to those times,” says Taber. “By revisiting those traumas or difficult times through your writing, you can transform trouble into treasure.” The memoir-writing process is “extraordinary and incredibly healing ….There’s a release and creative joy that comes from it.” Sandage concurs:“There’s much personal growth.When they come through it, they’ve put their demons to rest. I’m not a counselor and am careful not to cross the line, but I do encourage them to tell the truth.”
POPULAR MEMOIRS Memoirs are a diverse genre. Whether humorous or heartbreaking, memoirs generally contain a universal truth or experience that strikes a chord with readers. These 10 books appear regularly on Internet lists of popular memoirs.
Dottie O’Neal, a self-described family historian, works on her memoir during the weekly workshop, Tales for the Grandchildren, held at Frederick Community College’s Institute for Learning in Retirement.
That’s a challenge for Dottie O’Neal. “I have a hard time writing about my mother,” she says, “as there are certain stories I know she wouldn’t want shared.” Taber advises against sanitizing memoirs, at least in the writing stage. “We all have to consult our own conscience…and SEE MEMOIRS, PAGE 36
“Eat, Pray, Love” (2007) by Elizabeth Gilbert “The Year of Magical Thinking” (2007) by Joan Didion “The Glass Castle” (2005) by Jeannette Walls “Tuesdays with Morrie” (2002) by Mitch Albom “Running with Scissors” (2002) by Augusten Burroughs “This Boy’s Life” (2000) by Tobias Wolff “Angela’s Ashes” (1999) by Frank McCourt “Naked” (1997) by David Sedaris “The Road from Coorain” (1989) by Jill Ker Conway “Night” (1960) by Elie Wiesel -KAREN FINUCAN CLARKSON
May 2012 | Gazette SENIORS 11
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12 Gazette SENIORS | May 2012
SEND US PHOTOS OF YOU WITH YOUR PET! Send Gazette Seniors a photo of you with your pet(s) for potential publication in the summer 2012 issue. We’ll print as many as possible, and potentially feature more online. HERE’S WHAT TO DO: 1. Make sure the photo includes you as well as your pet or pets. 2. The photo must be high resolution, meaning as large as possible. 3. Email it to email@example.com. 4. In your email, include your first and last name, the city or town in which you reside and the name(s) of your pet(s) in the photo, all of which we include with your photo if it is published. 5. You must own the rights to the photo and state that in your email, and you must give us permission in your email to publish your photo in print in Gazette Seniors and online at Gazette.Net. 6. You must also state that anyone in the photo in addition to yourself has given you written permission to submit the photo to The Gazette for publication. 7. Include your daytime and evening telephone numbers in your email so that we may contact you if we need to verify information. We cannot accept paper prints of photos, and we cannot guarantee publication of every photo submitted. This is not a contest, nor a sweepstakes.
May 2012 | Gazette SENIORS 13
PHOTOS COURTESY OF MONTGOMERY COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF RECREATION
SOAR participants visit the Calvert Marine Museum on Solomons Island.
‘YOU CAN’T GO WRONG WITH THIS.’ BY BARBARA DARKO
14 Gazette SENIORS | May 2012
ou can’t go wrong with this,” says 72-year-old Joe Maas of Silver Spring about SOAR and other travel programs specifically designed for seniors who want to explore some of the special places around Washington and the mid-Atlantic region. BarbaraWeidenbruch, 78, of Rockville agrees. “It’s so easy…and it gets you out of the house,” she says of SOAR—Senior Outdoor Adventures in Recreation. The Montgomery County mini-travel program offers a variety of activities for adults 55 and older who want to maintain healthy and fulfilling lives. Seniors can share in unique experiences at historic sites, museums and other places in the region that are as diverse as the people they serve. The county’s Department of Recreation has operated SOAR for 17 years. Walking and physical exertion is required to participate in activities such as canoeing and biking. Program participants are encouraged to check with their physicians before registering for SOAR activities. “The travel program is about making memories,” says Paula M. Rodgers, who
supervises the department’s travel programs. “It’s satisfying to provide opportunities for people to participate in travel programs that they would otherwise not be able to participate in.” The trips are organized by Phil Weinstein, who is a part-time SOAR escort and trip coordinator. A retired merchandising executive,Weinstein has been with the program since its inception. “After I retired, I was looking for something to keep productive,” says Weinstein, who coordinates SOAR and other travel programs based on participant interest, feedback and travel trends. “Coordinating the SOAR trips gives me a fulfillment and satisfaction to put together exciting trips for people,” he says. The trips are organized on a seasonal basis—spring, summer and fall; during the winter, travel is largely limited to ski trips. Upcoming summer trips, beginning in June, include a Solomon’s IslandWalkabout and Boat Tour; Sailing on the Kalmar Nyckel—a 17th-century replica of the Swedish Tall Ship that carried settlers to Delaware; a Crab Feast Paddlewheel Riverboat Cruise around the Baltimore Harbor; The Amish Experience; and a Canoe Trip through the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary.
SOAR TRIP CATEGORIES:
Tours of Historic Cities and State Capitals: Annapolis, Dover, Harrisburg, Richmond, Amish Country Civil War Battlegrounds: Manassas, Antietam, Gettysburg White-water rafting on the Shenandoah Military History: Marine Corps River in Harpers Ferry, W. Va. concert, Naval Academy Mansion Tours: Mount Vernon, Monticello, Montpelier Summer Boat Trips: Annapolis, Skipjack Sailing on the Chesapeake, Kalmar Nyckel, Smith Island Adventure Programs: Skiing, canoeing, hiking, white-water rafting Fall Foliage: Fall Vintage Train Ride, Blue Ridge Mountains
Weidenbruch “would never miss” the Crab Feast Paddlewheel Riverboat Cruise. “It’s a fabulous trip,” she says, with terrific food, including chicken, salad and, of course, crabs, plus, “they tell you everything you need to know.” Weidenbruch and her husband Peter, 82, have enjoyed SOAR and other travel programs for 10 years. A chartered bus picks up the couple at the Holiday Park senior center inWheaton.The bus is usually full, with about 40 people on each trip, according to Weidenbruch. She and her husband, a retired Georgetown University law professor, have experienced the full spectrum of opportunities—from boat trips on the Chesapeake Bay to dinner theaters in Columbia. “When you get older, you don’t want to drive as much and we’re not the type to sit at home,” says Weidenbruch. With five children and 13 grandchildren, she is also excited about a new mini-travel program for people of all ages called Family Entertainment & Exciting Trips, or FEET. It incorporates many of the best features of the regional day trips but is less strenuous than the SOAR program, and participants travel farther. Under the program, members of theWeidenbruch family have traveled to Baltimore’s Hippodrome Theatre to see “The Lion King” andThe Kennedy Center for “Les Misérables.” Maas enjoys the Civil War battleground trips, especially at Gettysburg, Pa., where stirring and vivid accounts come to life through the words and “amazing energy level” of an elderly former National Park Service historian, says Maas, who retired after 22 years with the U.S. Small Business Administration. His wife Connie, 69, solemnly remembers the historic Harriet Tubman slavery sites on the Eastern Shore.
Maas and his wife “have done nearly 50 of the tours over an eight- to 10-year period,” he says. And now that she has also retired as the executive director of the Metropolitan Center for Assault Prevention, the couple expects to travel even more—and a lot farther. “It’s expertly run and so convenient,” she says. The Maas’ are on the mailing lists for SOAR and other travel programs, encourage their friends to go along and are up early when it’s time to register for the next trip. “It’s a bargain,” Joe Maas says, that’s “provided richness to our retirement.”
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Recreation Department officials note that SOAR and other travel programs often reach maximum enrollment fairly quickly. They advise participants to sign up during the morning on the first day of registration using one of the following methods: Online:montgomerycountymd.gov/rec (Choose Registration and click Go Directly to RecWeb Online Registration) Fax: 240-777-6818 In person: Register at a recreation, community or senior center, or at the Recreation Department Administrative Offices, 4010 Randolph Road, Silver Spring. Costs generally range from $44 to $99 per person, but may run higher. SOAR and other programs are listed in the Montgomery County Guide to Recreation and Park Programs and are offered at local recreation, community and senior centers. Flyers are also available at county-sponsored senior program locations and libraries, or they can be mailed. Call 240-777-4926.
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WWW. FRIENDSHOUSE.COM May 2012 | Gazette SENIORS 15
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Bethesda Friends Club Supports Men with Dementia and Their Caregivers
STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN FINUCAN CLARKSON “Who said, ‘Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter?’” The $500 Jeopardy question sends two teams of older men into deliberations. After the Chopins miss their guess, the Redskins arrive at the correct answer. “Mark Twain,” calls out volunteer David Belkin, after polling the five men, all of whom suffer from some form of dementia, on his team.There are smiles and high fives all around. Such mental stimulation and camaraderie “helps slow the progression of the disease and enhances quality of life,” says GayLynn Mann, executive director of Friends Club. For 22 years, this nonprofit, nonsectarian club has served active men with early- to mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, providing a caring and secure environment where they can socialize with peers and stretch themselves intellectually and physically. Members’ ages have ranged from their 50s to 90s, according to Mann. “Friends Club is a safe place where you can’t make a mistake or be humiliated or embarrassed,” says Betsy Hague of Chevy Chase, whose 87-year-old husband has been a member for the past five years. “He wasn’t sick enough to go into a unit where 16 Gazette SENIORS | May 2012
no one talks or interacts. He needs to be stimulated—to go somewhere where the focus is on living instead of dying.” As many as a dozen men gather for four hours each Monday through Thursday at Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church in Bethesda. Some come once a week. Others are regulars. The day begins at 9:30 a.m. with a discussion of current events over coffee and pastry. On this particular March morning, topics range from explorer/director James Cameron’s solo dive to the ocean’s deepest point to oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on the nation’s health care law. “We craft the current events discussion to the interests and prior jobs of members,” says Mann. Among those professions are nuclear physicist, psychiatrist, journalist and foreign service officer. “These are brilliant guys,” says Hague, whose husband likens his illness “to termites eating his brain. He’s even done a few paintings on that theme.” Several former news makers have been club members, including U.S. Sen. Charles Percy; Sargent Shriver, founding director of the Peace Corps; and John Jay O’Connor, a prominent lawyer and husband of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. “She came and spent a day with us when her husband was in the group,” Mann reminds the men as they consume sandwiches. “Not only
“He wasn’t sick enough to go into a unit where no one talks or interacts,” says Betsy Hague of her husband. “He needs to be stimulated—to go somewhere where
THE FOCUS IS ON LIVING INSTEAD OF DYING.” was she fascinating, but she pitched right in and helped me with lunch.” Subtle reminders are woven into conversation throughout the meeting. Each Friends Club member is aware of his struggle with memory loss, and that struggle, along with aging, is often the subject of jokes. Humor helps the men cope and laughter is common. After a therapeutic
dance session, the men good-naturedly gripe about performing what they call ancient dance. “Don’t you mean dance of the ancient?” asks one of the men, eliciting chuckles from the others. On occasion there is a waiting list for the club, though that currently is not the case, according to Mann.The cost to attend Friends Club is $65 per meeting.The club relies on donations to meet its budget. “We just received a foundation grant, but they are difficult to come by when you’re a small nonprofit,” says Mann. “As wonderful as Friends Club was for my dad—and it truly was amazing for the four years he was there—it’s been even better for me,” says Bif Williamson of Potomac, who was the primary caregiver for 96-year-old Jerry Fox. Not only did club meetings provide a respite for her, but the caregivers support group also offered insight into the disease and tips for dealing with it. Today, Williamson facilitates the twice-monthly support group meetings. “What happens with most men is they become attached to their wives. They depend on their wives because they are so unsure of everything,” says Williamson. “The wives need time for themselves. My mantra is, ‘You need to take care of yourself to take care of your loved one.’” The support meetings, while invaluable to Hague, were initially intimidating. “You hear all kinds of stuff that just
RIGHT: Members and staff of Friends Club not only enjoy watching the game show “Jeopardy,” but also playing their own version of it at meetings. OPPOSITE PAGE: Friends Club members work with visiting artists a dance group during a movement class.
terrifies you,” she says. “At my first support group meeting, I thought, ‘I don’t want to be here and see what lies further down this road.’ But I’ve learned that whatever I have to deal with, someone in the room has already dealt with.” Roz Kleeman, whose 89-year-old husband recently left Friends Club, still attends the caregiver support group. “At your first meeting you can’t imagine talking so openly about your problems,” she says. “By the second meeting you’re joining in with things you didn’t think you could ever say, ‘My husband does this. Oh, yours does too. How did you solve it?’” The Rockville resident credits the group with helping her accept her husband’s illness.“Initially you’re kind of em-
barrassed about dementia. You may be afraid to go out to dinner with your husband and friends. One of the things the support group helped me with is being able to say, ‘My husband has dementia
and I know you’ll understand if you have to repeat something,’” Kleeman says. Recognizing that Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease and that the men in their lives eventually will leave Friends Club,
the women take monthly field trips, visiting facilities with different levels of care. “It’s important to have a sense of what is out there, whether or not you think you might use it,” says Williamson. Leaving Friends Club is never easy— not for the men, their caregivers or Mann. “I become very attached to these people. But when the men are no longer physically able to take part or their mental faculties have shut down to the point they are no longer able to enjoy things, it’s time for them to go to the next level of care where medical resources are available,” says Mann. “I always have to give myself the talk about how it’s what’s best for them and not what’s best for me.” “GayLynn is such a softie,” says Williamson. “But when that day comes and she says she doesn’t think he should be coming, it breaks your heart because there’s not much after that.” Calling her and her husband’s time in Friends Club “a huge gift,” Hague is convinced she will retain ties with the families she has come to know. “We’re all traveling this road somewhat together. It’s a difficult journey, but one that would’ve been much more painful without Friends Club.”
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May 2012 | Gazette SENIORS 17
Local Man Goes to Philadelphia Phillies’ Phantasy Camp BY JIM MAHAFFIE
“Heading to the airport, I listened to oldies from when I was in my 20s, and that is where I am traveling— to go back in time to my boyhood. It brings to mind what Larry Andersen, a former pitcher for the Phillies and commissioner of our Phantasy camp says, ‘You can only be young once, but you can be immature forever.’” That’s an email that David Belkin sent to friends and family during his recent fantasy baseball camp experience. In January, he left his home in Bethesda and joined 120 others at the Philadelphia Phillies’ spring training complex in Clearwater Beach, Fla. For four days, the group trained with legendary Phillies players and personalities, playing, talking and living baseball. It was a birthday present from his wife Ellen. “She supports my craziness,” says Belkin. It was also the experience of a lifetime. “I got to check that one off my bucket list,” says the lifelong Phillies fan. He grew up in Philadelphia, and his fondest memories are of going to games, talking baseball and fielding balls with his dad. He can recite every detail of many Phillies games from long ago. Belkin took his father to his first and only World Series game in 1980, in which the Phillies played the Kansas City Royals, with the Phillies winning in six games. His team’s coach at fantasy camp was baseball legend Greg Luzinski, who played a prominent role for the Phillies that postseason.The emotions and memories were strong. He kept a journal of the experience.
“It’s Saturday morning and we are pulling into the park now to play another two games today. I am heading straight to the training room now. I just walked into the clubhouse and you should see the line.” “They really treated us well,” he says. “You’re there with 20 former Phillies, and they’re all fun-loving guys. You’re rubbing elbows with guys that might be your idols. Everyone’s in a Phillies uniform.There was lots of joking but also lots of serious baseball.” Phillies legends were on the field and available for Q&As and banter.
PHOTO BY GREG DOHLER/THE GAZETTE
Bethesda’s David Belkin, who grew up in Philadelphia and has been a Phillies fan since he was a boy, got to meet some of the team’s greats when he went to the Phillies’ Phantasy camp in January.
18 Gazette SENIORS | May 2012
PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVID BELKIN
Belkin, center, takes a break at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla., home of the Phillies’ spring training games and of the fantasy camp. Greg Luzinski, right, a Phillies slugger in the late 1970s and early 80s, and Terry Harmon, left, who played with the Phillies in the 1960s and 70s, coached at this year’s camp.
One baseball tradition carried on for the Phantasy leaguers was the kangaroo court. This is a ritual in baseball, where players are put up on “charges” and a “judge” passes sentences. “Usually it’s a $2 fine or they make you do something silly,” says Belkin. Former relief pitcher and Phillies commentator Larry Andersen served as “judge” for the camp. “It’s how every day started and got us all laughing and having a great time.” Longtime fan Bryan Sargent attended the January camp, too, and says in his blog about the experience, …“there was plenty of laughin’, cussin’, roastin’, dippin’ and a healthy serving of general depravity. I wouldn’t have expected anything less from this crew.”
“It was 75 here today with not a cloud in the sky and 0 humidity—a day to savor all around.” Participants were all ages.“I’m in pretty good shape, I play a lot of softball and tennis, and I was able to compete,” says Belkin. He has managed a softball team of older players for the past 20 years and says it’s a very different game. “It’s slowpitch with an arc on the ball.The swings are different, too. I had all this muscle memory built up from softball that was hard to undo for hardball.”
The group was divided into 10 teams, with each managed by two former Phillies.They played games against each other and really bonded as a team over the course of the camp, says Belkin. On the last day, they played against the former Phillies in the stadium.
“Today we played the Legends—the former Phillies here in Bright House Field. My picture went up on the JumboTron in center field before I was announced on the loudspeaker.” At the Phillies Phantasy Camp, you can attend as a player, a general manager or as a “Phan.” Players receive their own personalized Phillies uniform, breakfast and lunch, training and practice sessions, a personalized clubhouse locker, and photos and a DVD of the experience.There are various receptions and parties and a closing awards banquet. Belkin also received complimentary Phillies tickets and an on-field appearance at a game. Most major league teams have a fantasy camp for fans that takes place before preseason spring training in team training facilities in Florida and Arizona. For instance, the Baltimore Orioles have an “Orioles Dream Week” in Sarasota, Fla. For more information, go to philliescamps.com and click on “Phillies Phantasy Camps” for their version of the experience. Do you know a senior living in Montgomery County who has an interesting story to tell? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Today was a ball—we had different clinics working with different Phillies on playing the infield and turning the double play (Kevin Stocker and Mickey Morandini), outfield practice with Jim Eisenreich and Von Hayes, hitting with John Kruk and Milt Thompson and base running with Juan Samuel.”
May 2012 | Gazette SENIORS 19
PHOTOS COURTESY OF LARRY AND KC DILDINE
BY JIM MAHAFFIE
“IT SEEMS THAT THE MORE TIME WE’VE HAD TO TRAVEL THESE DAYS, THE MORE WE WANT TO DO IT,” SAYS LARRY DILDINE. 20 Gazette SENIORS | May 2012
Larry and his wife KC live in The Kentlands in Gaithersburg, but only about eight months a year.The rest of time, at least in the past several years, they’re on an island in the Caribbean, a rural trail in England, exploring the coast of Maine or in South America, as they were in February 2011. “I guess that we’ve always had the travel bug,” says Larry, who was an economist for the U.S. Department of the Treasury and then spent 17 years at Price Waterhouse. “Even when I was working and lots of my travel was for business, I always took a pair of hiking boots along.” KC was a piano teacher for many years. Since retiring, the couple has really ramped up their annual trips. “As a kid, in 1952 we went by train across the country from Ohio to Los Angeles, and I drove out toYellowstone and theTetons a few years later,” she says. “That kind of got me going.”
The Dildines have spent part of 11 of the past 12 winters in St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Nine miles long and three miles wide, two-thirds of the island is made up of the Virgin Islands National Park, with unspoiled beaches, forests and hiking trails.The couple stays in a rental house, usually a different one each time.This February they added a trip to Bequia, the largest island in the Grenadines in the Caribbean. “I’ll bet you never heard of it,” laughs Larry. “It’s pretty hard to get to, but a very nice place.” Travel has become a tradition with the greater Dildine family, as well. Larry and his brother have gone on an annual walking trip in England for the past 12 years. He says the country offers an amazing network of long-distance paths. The men always go in springtime, walking 10 to 12 miles a day and staying in small hotels or bed and breakfasts and visiting pubs along the trail.“It’s beautiful countryside, and the Brits allow you to walk just about anywhere, in pastures and
OPPOSITE PAGE: The Dildines in Lübeck, Germany ABOVE: KC catches a piranha in the Amazon River in South America.
RIGHT: Larry and KC pose by a kapok tree in the Amazon jungle. These trees can grow up to 200 feet tall and 10 feet in diameter.
along the rural trails,” says Larry. Last year the Dildine brothers hiked through the Lake District of northern England, along the ancient Cumbria Way, a route that lies mostly inside the boundaries of the Lake District National Park. The Dildines have three sons and five grandchildren who keep them busy when they’re not on the road.The travel bug has clearly rubbed off on the boys. Larry and one of his sons have traveled through the remote Big Bend National Park in Texas in the winter, and another son accompanied Larry on a different winter trip though the southwest and Bryce Canyon and Zion national parks. Larry and KC really enjoy the coastline of Maine.They almost always rent a house in Mount Desert Island or around Boothbay Harbor for a week or so every summer, and are joined by their other son and his family, who live in Boston. “It’s nice to get a house and stay put somewhere,” says Larry.
“I love scenery more than museums and cathedrals,” says KC. “I prefer the ‘being outside’ part of travel.” She says her favorite place in the world (so far) is the islands of Greece, which the Dildines have visited twice in 12 years. Last year was a busy one. Besides regular visits to Maine, the Caribbean and England, the Dildines took a trip to Norway, boarding a ferry for a breathtaking trip through the fjords. They went on a trip to Italy in the fall, and then drove through Slovenia and Croatia. In the winter, they joined a tour of Peru, which combined hiking in the highlands and a visit to Machu Picchu, the spectacular ancient Inca site, with a week on a riverboat on the Amazon. They left bleak, cold Maryland and had a wonderful time in the lush green Peruvian Andes, says Larry. The ruins at Machu Picchu were a treat. SEE DILDINE, PAGE 38 1848999
May 2012 | Gazette SENIORS 21
BY WENDI WINTERS
Phyllis Hoyer was a public school teacher; after retiring some 15 years ago, she became a globe-trotter instead. “I look and sound younger than I am,” admits the Frederick resident with the most wonderful, girlish laugh, a reflection of her exuberant spirit.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF PHYLLIS HOYER. GLOBE: ISTOCKPHOTO/ALESSANDROIRYNA
22 Gazette SENIORS | May 2012
“I’ve visited New Zealand, Japan, Ecuador, Peru, the South Pacific, French Polynesia and Bora Bora, Fiji, Alaska, Hawaii, Spain, Svalbard—a large island located above the Arctic Circle—Greenland and Canada, plus I’ve traveled throughout the mainland United States, too,” says Hoyer, all in one breath. “I am a poster child for elders who travel. I’ve been places I never imagined.” Her teaching career began in Anne Arundel County as a home economics instructor. She taught the same subject in Washington County high schools and, later, in the county’s primary grades and kindergartens. Hoyer’s late husband Lawrence, a teacher in Howard County, passed away suddenly in 1997. The two had resided along the Monocacy River in Walkersville. After his death, she moved to Frederick. Born and raised on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, this wanderer recalls her father once taking the family to Canada on a trip. In the early years of marriage, her husband was reluctant to venture far from home, but that began to change when, at 50, Hoyer joined the Earthwatch Institute. Over the years, Earthwatch has recruited nearly 4,000 classroom teachers to help conduct scientific field research around the world “in order to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment,” according to its website. All a volunteer needs, says the website, “is a spirit of adventure and a desire to help.” On her first Earthwatch trip, Lawrence stayed behind. Hoyer traveled toWashington state and sailed with a crew on the Pacific to obtain
photographic identification of endangered killer whales. “I was taught what I needed to know,” she says, “and, I got the most shots of anyone on the team of the baby orca whales.That gave me confidence.” When she voyaged to Fiji the next year, her husband went, too. The couple studied a shallow coral reef, documenting the reef’s regeneration after damage from two typhoons. Using a baseline created before the storms, “We learned the different types of coral; we measured and wrote reports,” she says. “Plus, we got to enjoy where we were.”They have also conducted a census of tidal pools in the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa. In 1998, Hoyer was part of an Earthwatch expedition in Baja, Mexico. She was out on a research vessel and on land, measuring spiders, spiderwebs, cacti and lizards. The former teacher also travels frequently within the United States as a member of the EducatorsTravel Network. “You tell ETN where you want to go and they set you up with a homestay with another member in the network,” she says. “You have a host person who provides a room and breakfast. It’s a person to talk to when you get back after a day exploring and they give you tips on where to go and what to see.You make friends that way.” In turn, she opens her home to ETN members and has hosted teachers from Texas, California, Washington state, Ohio, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania. In 2010, Hoyer took a small-ship, luxury Blue Lagoon Cruise to the Fiji Islands and Bora Bora. “I always wanted to see Bora Bora,” she says, “ever since my
Bora Bora, an island that’s about a onehour flight from Tahiti
Machu Picchu, an Inca site in Peru, is nearly 8,000 feet above sea level.
mother and I saw the movie ‘South Pacific.’ ‘My god, that place is so beautiful,’ I said. ‘I’ve got to see that.’ I’m glad I did.” She has also gotten “up close and personal” with an iceberg on an expedition above the Arctic Circle. The captain of the Zodiac landing craft let her take the controls out on the frosty Arctic Ocean, and she also watched the captain navigate around the giant floating ice on the bridge of the expedition ship. Last year, she enjoyed a three-week trip to South America, leaving on Christmas Day. Her voyage took her to the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador and Peru. In Peru’s Cusco region, she climbed 7,970 feet above sea level to view the mythical Machu Picchu, the hidden, sacred Incan site. “There were people a lot younger than me who had trouble getting up the mountain,” she says. “I just scampered over the rocks.” On a cruise to Greenland, she took a side trip to Nuuk, the country’s capital. Feeling the urge to dance at a local bar, she wound up swing dancing with a local Inuit lady. “It was fun,” she says. “Where do you get memories like that?You gotta get out of town!”
Her family has traveled, too. Years ago, Hoyer and her husband treated their two sons to a scuba diving trip off Catalina Island. She is currently trying to instill some of her venturesome spirit in her 4year-old granddaughter. Sometimes the trips occur as a result of serendipity. On a visit with one of her sons to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in 2000, Hoyer spotted a sign on a tall ship. “Voyage Crew,” it read. “Essentially, you are paid to work and man the tall ship, which was going to see the July 4 fireworks in New York City,” says Hoyer. The ship’s purser informed her that the ship would leave the next morning, so she raced home, packed, got some sleep and had her son return her to the ship at daybreak. “It was exciting,” she says. “We were gone for a week. I took the train back to Baltimore afterward. “I just enjoy being free. I’ll do it as long as I get a lift out of it!” Tell us about your travels. Email Gazette Seniors at email@example.com.
May 2012 | Gazette SENIORS 23
‘bright and cheery’ apartment living at
THE GARDENS OF TRAVILLE BY ELLEN R. COHEN
PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE GARDENS OF TRAVILLE
The Gardens of Traville is an independent-living community in Rockville that rents one- and two-bedroom garden apartment homes in elevator buildings to those 62 and older.
When their children have all grown up, seniors sometimes reconsider the merits of living in the proverbial big house in the suburbs. A house’s upkeep, yard work and snow removal can become overwhelming. There may be too many steps and household chores to tackle. “It’s time to downsize,” say seniors, researching communities—such asThe Gardens ofTraville—where they can continue their independent lifestyle without home maintenance hassle. Located in Rockville off Traville Gateway Drive, this independent-living community rents one- and two-
Discover the difference a Community that offers the best Social Activities and Entertainment. The Gardens of Traville, Exclusively Independent Living for Active Seniors 62 years of age or older. Come visit this Elegant and Prestigious Property located in Rockville MD at the intersection of Darnestown and Shady Grove Road, adjacent to the Shady Grove University. Conveniently located close to shopping centers, malls, doctor office, banks and pharmacies. Our beautiful apartment homes feature spacious one and two bedrooms with private balconies and patios. Well equipped with full size W/D, microwave, dishwasher, eat in kitchen, garbage disposal, window treatments individual climate control, 24 hours maintenance, heat and hot water included. The Gardens of Traville’s great attributes are Social Activities • Fitness Center • Shuttle Services • Wellness Center • Billiards • Theatre • Business Center • Hair Salon • Craft Room
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THE GARDENS OF TRAVILLE Professionally Managed by Pinnacle
14431 Traville Gardens Circle, Rockville, Maryland 20850
24 Gazette SENIORS | May 2012
A typical apartment living room; most residences have a balcony or patio in this 230-apartment community.
bedroom garden apartment homes to seniors age 62 and older. Each apartment features fully equipped kitchens with a dishwasher and microwave, a washer and dryer, spacious bathrooms and an emergency response system. Most apartment homes also have a balcony or patio. Built in 2003 and bought by Pinnacle in 2009, the community consists of 230 apartments in four elevator buildings, each with four floors.Those who meet the income requirement are eligible for lower rent under the government tax credit program, while rent for residents in “market rate” apartments is higher. “While residents must be at least 62, the oldest resident, a very active gentleman, will soon be 98. Most residents are single women, but we have a few couples,” says business manager Rose Raines. “Our residents come from all over the country. Most are here to be closer to their children who live in the area. We are a pet-friendly community, so small pets 15 pounds and under are welcome.” Greta Kunkle, originally from Naples, Fla., moved to The Gardens of Traville in 2005 to be close to her sons’ families in Potomac and Bethesda. “It’s bright and cheery here,” she says, “and so clean. I don’t like the snow, but I like the little stores and restaurants around here. I have made so many nice friends and I like being independent but not having to run a home.” Mary Elizabeth Alexander has lived in the community for a year. “I like the location and the area amenities,” says the Utica, N.Y. native. Alexander lived in Annapolis before relocating to Rockville to be near her daughters in Damascus.
“The people here are friendly and it’s a good
MIXTURE OF RELIGIONS AND NATIONALITIES.”
-Kathryn Woods Kathryn Woods grew up on Falls Road and lived on Beall Avenue in Rockville until she sold her house and moved to The Gardens of Traville in 2007. She still works in the area and has a daughter in Gaithersburg. “The people here are very friendly and it’s a good mixture of religions and nationalities. I appreciate the elevator, too,” she says. While there are no specific dining facilities for residents, a Community Room with tables and chairs is ideal for socializing, special activities and parties. “People often have pizza or light meals delivered and eat here, rather than in their apartment,” says Raines, noting that the Traville Village Center’s shops and restaurants are just steps away. The Universities at Shady Grove campus is also nearby and seniors are welcome at its activities. A van is available to take residents to neighborhood stores, medical appointSEE GARDENS, PAGE 34
May 2012 | Gazette SENIORS 25
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT
FINANCIAL POWER OF ATTORNEY BY KAREN FINUCAN CLARKSON
26 Gazette SENIORS | May 2012
he idea behind Maryland’s updated power of attorney law was to make such documents easier for residents to use, more difficult for financial institutions to refuse, and less likely for those named as agents to abuse. Now, more than a year and a half after the law took effect, the jury is still out concerning how certain statutory language will be interpreted and whether financial powers of attorney, other than those relying on the state form, are protected by the law. Despite the questions, executing a power of attorney and naming someone to transact business on your behalf makes
sense, particularly for seniors. It helps ensure that the individual handling your finances is the person you trust to act in your best interest. “Should you become disabled and there isn’t a power of attorney in existence, the court would appoint a guardian to watch out for your financial affairs,” says Richard N. Ruprecht, an attorney with Lerch, Early & Brewer in Bethesda. “Not only is there much time and expense involved—a cost you will incur—but the court may not pick the person you would want to act on your behalf.” A financial power of attorney can take effect immediately or be springing, meaning something—such as certification of SEE POWER, PAGE 28
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POWER, CONTINUED FROM PAGE 26
28 Gazette SENIORS | May 2012
incapacity—allows the powers to take effect. Such powers are said to be durable when they do not terminate upon disability or incapacity but remain in effect until an individual’s death. A financial power of attorney may be general, pertaining to all financial transactions, or limited to specific transactions or accounts. Everyone, even married couples, can benefit from a power of attorney. Some mistakenly think that if they become incapacitated their spouse will be able to access bank accounts or to sell investments, a house or car, according to David Galinis, managing partner in the Estates and Social Security Practice at Berman, Sobin, Gross, Feldman & Darby in Gaithersburg. While a spouse may con-
tinue to pay bills from a joint bank account or sell stock in a joint brokerage account, he may not have access to funds in an individual account.And, he may not be able to sell certain assets to pay for his loved one’s care, because in Maryland, both spouses must consent to the sale of co-owned real estate. That’s where a durable financial power of attorney comes into play. The Maryland statute contains two forms—one granting general and one granting limited powers of attorney—that are free and available online and from the Maryland State Bar Association and the office of the Maryland Attorney General. “If you take the sample and execute it correctly, it is a valid power of attorney,” says Galinis. Valid execution requires the signatures of two witnesses and a notary public.
“IT’S ALL ABOUT TRUST.
YOU CAN’T BE 90 PERCENT SURE SOMEONE WILL DO THE RIGHT THING. YOU MUST BE 100 PERCENT CERTAIN YOUR AGENT WILL DO WHAT’S IN YOUR BEST INTEREST.”
The advantage of Maryland’s Personal Financial Power of Attorney form is that “as the new law makes clear, banks must accept it,” says Galinis. “If banks fail to recognize the power of attorney and you have to go to court to get them to do so, they may have to pay court fees.” “If the new statutory form is used, third parties are required to accept it,” says Ruprecht. “If it is substantially changed, then third parties may not recognize the agent’s authority.” What constitutes substantially changed is open to interpretation. “Because the legislation is still new, there haven’t been any court cases [offering clarification].” Another question is whether financial institutions in other states will accept the Maryland form. “TD Ameritrade, for example, indicates that ‘the laws of the State of NewYork will govern this Agreement,’” says Ruprecht. So it makes sense to check with out-of-state banks or brokerage firms to determine if additional powers of attorney are required. The Maryland forms may not meet everyone’s needs, according to Galinis. An example of a power that appears to be missing is the ability of the agent— the individual named to act on another’s behalf—to make gifts to others. “Many seniors have worked all their lives and accumulated assets that they want to give to their kids,” says Galinis. “But, if an agent doesn’t have the power to give money away, those assets may go to Medicaid instead.” To ensure that you are giving appropriate powers to your agent, Galinis recommends consulting with an attorney. “There’s no requirement. But part of the reason to hire an attorney is to talk about the ramifications of what you are doing.” “You’re effectively giving someone carte blanche to act on your behalf,” said Ruprecht, who suggested that much thought go into the selection of an agent. “A lot of harm can be done by picking the wrong person.”
“It’s all about trust,” says Galinis.“You can’t be 90 percent sure someone will do the right thing.You must be 100 percent certain your agent will do what’s in your best interest.” It was a breach of fiduciary duty that led to enactment of the current statute, known as Loretta’s Law. In 2001, Loretta Soustek of Pasadena gave her niece—who eventually was convicted of stealing $449,000 from Soustek—financial power of attorney.The criminal activity came to light after a court appointed two of Soustek’s great nieces as guardians. “Under the 2010 law, agents are required to keep records of transactions undertaken on an individual’s behalf and must, if asked, produce them in court to show that the money spent or action taken was not designed to benefit the agent,” says Ruprecht. Acting as an agent requires good judgment and “the ability to ask whether you’re doing this for your sake or their sake,” says Ruprecht. “You need to watch out for the appearance of self-dealing.You might think it makes sense for your mom to buy your car. But if you’re her agent, why not sell to a third party instead?” A financial power of attorney may be revoked at any time, says Ruprecht, “as long as you are not incapacitated.” In most cases, ripping up the document will suffice, said Phyllis Dobin, of counsel to Berman, Sobin, Gross, Feldman & Darby, LLP, “as long as the power of attorney hasn’t been given to financial institutions.” If it has, she recommends to clients that they “write a letter to the agent saying it is revoked. And, if filed in land records record something revoking it.” Despite the few uncertainties, “it’s a good idea for everyone to have a power of attorney,” says Ruprecht.“It can be a real tragedy if you don’t name anyone. You might feel fine today, but what will tomorrow bring? The wrong thing is not to do anything.”
-Attorney David Galinis
May 2012 | Gazette SENIORS 29
HEARING LOSS BY BILL HOLLERAN
re you missing telephone calls because you didn’t hear the phone ring? Do people around you complain that your TV volume is too high? Does it seem like other people are mumbling all the time? Are you avoiding going out with family and friends because you have trouble following conversations in restaurants with noisy backgrounds? “These are reasons to look into possible hearing loss,” says Liesl Nottingham, M.D., an otolaryngologist—ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist—at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring and in private practice. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), one
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30 Gazette SENIORS | May 2012
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in three people older than 60, and half of those older than 85, have hearing loss. In addition to taking the enjoyment out of talking with friends and family, hearing problems can make it difficult to understand and follow a doctor’s advice, to respond to warnings and to hear alarms, according to the NIDCD. While hearing loss is common as we age, it is not inevitable, says Cynthia Chrosniak, M.D., an otolaryngologist at MedStar Montgomery Medical Center in Olney. “I saw a 90-year-old patient [recently] with normal hearing, but it is a prevalent condition among older people,” says Chrosniak, who also has a private practice in Olney.
TYPES OF HEARING LOSS
The most common type of hearing loss in older people is sensorineural, or nerve-based, hearing loss, according to Scott Daly, M.D., a Rockville-based ENT physician and chief of the ENT subsection at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville. One of the classic signs of
There is much
associated with wearing a hearing aid today “compared to 20 or even 10 years ago.” -Scott Daly, M.D. nerve-based hearing loss, says Chrosniak, is tinnitus—or ringing in the ears. Slow loss of hearing as people get older, known as presbycusis, is nerve based. According to PubMed Health, a service provided by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Tiny hairs inside your ear help you hear. They pick up sound waves and change them into the nerve signals that the brain interprets as sound. Hearing loss occurs when the tiny
hairs (or cilia) inside the ear are damaged or die.” “If you have fewer cilia, fewer sounds are transmitted to the brain and you don’t hear as well,” says Chrosniak.This type of nerve-based hearing loss is permanent because cilia do not regrow, according to PubMed Health. With no known one cause, age-related hearing loss is generally “caused by changes in the inner ear that occur as you grow older. However, your genes and loud noises (such as from rock concerts or music headphones) may play a large role,” PubMed Health reports. “You can suffer hearing loss from one significant noisy event; it doesn’t have to be cumulative,” says Chrosniak. “If your ears are ringing after you go to a loud concert or listen to loud music while exercising, that indicates damage to your hearing.” But nerve-based hearing loss is not just about getting older; it can be a sign of another condition, says Daly. “Sensorineural hearing loss could be the first thing to present related to stroke, heart
attack or a blood clot,” he says. “That’s why it’s important to get the diagnosis behind any noticeable hearing loss as soon as possible.” Unilateral hearing loss—in one ear only—can be especially problematic. “If you have noticed that one ear does not hear as well as the other, that asymmetry in hearing needs to be evaluated right away,” says Chrosniak. “It could be pathologic hearing loss caused by tumor or infection.” According to Nottingham, “Any acute or sudden hearing loss requires urgent care. It is important to have an immediate medical evaluation to rule out the possibility of a stroke.”
SOCIETAL IMPACT OF HEARING LOSS
As our nation’s population ages, social isolation is an increasing concern related to hearing loss. “People who can’t hear well could become socially isolated and have a shorter life span,” says Daly. “In SEE HEARING, PAGE 32
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May 2012 | Gazette SENIORS 31
Free Hearing Tests set for
Montgomery County Area Age 65+ Free electronic hearing tests will be given from Mon., May 7-Fri., May 11 at select locations in Montgomery County. Tests have been arranged for anyone who suspects they are losing their hearing. Such persons generally say they can hear but cannot understand words. Testing with the latest computerized equipment will indicate if you can be helped. Everyone, especially adults over 65, should have an electronic hearing test at least once a year. If there is a hearing problem, hearing tests may reveal that newly developed methods of correction will help, even for those who have been told in the past that a hearing aid would not help them. If you suspect you have hearing loss, call for a free hearing test appointment. Our licensed specialists are trained in the latest auditory testing methods and will be the first ones to tell you if you don’t need a hearing aid. If you do have a hearing loss, we will explain your results and provide you with a list of options. Free hearing tests available only at a location listed below.
One Week Only: Monday, May 7 - Friday, May 11
Benefits of hearing aids vary by type and degree of hearing loss, noise environment, accuracy of hearing evaluation and proper fit. Beltone Hearing Care Centers are independently owned and operated. Participation may vary be location.
Learn About Hearing Aids • Request a copy of The Consumer’s Guide to Hearing Aids • How do different instruments compare? • How is pricing structured? • What should you expect from new hearing aids? • For your complimentary copy, call: 301-434-4300
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32 Gazette SENIORS | May 2012
HEARING, CONTINUED FROM PAGE 31
the general population, hearing loss needs to be identified as early as possible so older people can stay connected with their family and their community.” “I have an office next to LeisureWorld (in Silver Spring), and I’m struck by how many folks age 55 and older are still active and working,” says Chrosniak. “In this economy, especially, a lot more people are working past retirement age.” But hearing loss can cause dysfunction in the office, Chrosniak says. People who keep working despite experiencing hearing loss are at a disadvantage, she said, because “they may do fine in oneon-one conversations, but are missing out in meetings. To stay active and successful in the workplace, older people need to address their hearing loss.” Even if a person has experienced some hearing loss, says Chrosniak, he or she “can practice hearing conservation to retain as much hearing as possible.” She suggests wearing hearing protection when exposed to loud noise, when mowing the lawn or when listening to an MP3 player.
Sensorineural hearing loss in older adults is generally treated with a hearing aid, according to Daly, noting it is common for ENT doctors to provide them. There is much less stigma associated with wearing a hearing aid today “compared to 20 or even 10 years ago,” he says. Chrosniak admits that “many people are reluctant to try hearing aids.They can remember their parents or grandparents
being frustrated with their hearing aids. But the same technology that went into iPads has also gone into hearing-aid technology, so they are much better.” According to Daly, the newest all-digital models look like a Bluetooth headset with “up to 100 different colors to match hair color.” Hearing aids are generally not covered by health insurance, he says. In addition to hearing aids, says Nottingham, a variety of amplification devices for telephones, TVs and MP3s are also available to help hearing-impaired patients.
NOW HEAR THIS
What should older people do to maintain good hearing? “See your primary care doctor regularly and have routine checkups,” says Nottingham. “Keep your blood pressure in check. Stay as healthy as possible. If you are 55 or older, it’s especially important to have an updated hearing test.” “If you think you have hearing loss or have been told that you might have hearing loss,” says Daly, “go to your family doctor for an initial screening exam. If there are any questions or uncertainties, come see the hearing doctor. The ENT physician can provide complete, indepth testing.” “If you’re having a problem in just one area, you may not need a hearing aid,” says Nottingham. “If it’s a global problem, meaning that you’re having trouble hearing in every situation, then a hearing aid probably makes sense—as long as we’ve established a level of hearing loss and ruled any other reversible causes.”
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GARDENS, CONTINUED FROM PAGE 25
ments, and cultural and recreational outings, such as to The Kennedy Center, and trips around the area to see the cherry blossoms. Lyle Ryter, the van driver, receives a great deal of praise for his outing ideas and enthusiasm. Other community amenities include a movie theater/TV/game room, a billiards room, a hair salon, a fitness center with weights and exercise machines, a business center with computer access, a crafts and library room and a wellness center.There are Catholic services, periodic visits from a rabbi and Bible study groups. “I’m a quilter and a reader,” says Kunkle, who enjoys working on her current project in the crafts room and selecting books from the library shelves. “I like the movies on Saturday night, the exercise classes and the wonderful people here.” “I playTrivial Pursuit,” says Alexander. “I also enjoy the movies once a week and the social hour after the movie. We can walk to shopping or restaurants, and the college has interesting activities, especially during the summer.” Alexander says her neighbors are “friendly and pretty active, as much as people can be, depending on their age and ability.
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Jim Cross and his wife Loc have lived at The Gardens of Traville about twoand-a-half years. Jim Cross, who does volunteer work at Project Reboot off Shady Grove Road, likes being close to both his work and to shopping. Loc Cross, who was born inVietnam, is an artist whose work decorates the couple’s apartment. Hoping to move to California to be near their son’s family, they had researched senior living apartments there and were disappointed.
“The rooms are significantly larger here, security is good. We like the fullsize washer and dryer,” says Jim Cross. “And we appreciate the amount of attention that has been put into this apartment community.”
The Gardens of Traville 14431 Traville Gardens Circle Rockville 20850 301-762-5224 pinnacleams.com/GardensofTraville
May 2012 | Gazette SENIORS 35
JUMP-START YOUR MEMOIR WRITING “The minute you decide to write about your life, the faucet turns on,” says memoir writer and teacher Sara Mansfield Taber of Silver Spring. “You’ll remember more than you think you will.” For those who find themselves struggling to get started or at an impasse, there are ways to prompt one’s memory.
Harness your senses: eat food from your childhood, take a whiff of your mother’s perfume, wear your father’s hat or listen to some music you grew up with
Read old letters, notes or holiday cards
Look through photo albums
Visit someplace special, such as a park, a house of worship, a restaurant, a beach, a school or a former residence
Watch an episode of a nostalgic television show
Read a favorite poem or story from your youth
Memories can be fleeting, so Taber suggests capturing them on index cards. You can organize the cards chronologically or thematically. “Put just one memory on a card and when you have time to write, pluck out a card and expand on it,” she says. Another way to jump-start your writing is to make lists. For example, choose a year in your life and record the basics— how old you were, where you were living and any important thing that happened to you or your family at that time. Alternatively, select someone or something meaningful in your life and jot down the highlights. You can track things over time, such as holiday gettogethers, vacations, hospital visits and weddings. For those who can’t get started on their own, help is available in the form of writing classes. Area community colleges and The Writer’s Center in Bethesda routinely offer workshops designed to assist the aspiring memoir writer. -KAREN FINUCAN CLARKSON
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Students—including Charlie Abell (far left), who has tales to tell about his career in aviation—review a handout during a weekly memoir writing class in Frederick. MEMOIRS, CONTINUED FROM PAGE 11
decide what to put into print or make public.When writing, write the truth. Act as if no one will ever see it. Later, decide what to expose to the open air.” There are ways of protecting loved ones.“You can decide to write fiction and disguise it that way,” says Taber, “or wait to publish until your parents are gone.” Some, despite the potential for discomfort, choose to share their manu-
script. They decide that “the good it will do to others who have experienced similar pain outweighs the problems it will cause the family in the short term,” says Taber. Even if your memoir contains nothing controversial, don’t expect everyone to embrace it. “Some may take issue with your account,” says Sandage. “None of us remembers the same thing in the same way. Remember that this is your story. If someone objects to what’s written, he can tell his story.”
JAZZ, CONTINUED FROM PAGE 7
band shell there and we usually do something in Kensington on Antique Row on Saturdays when they have the farmers market,” says Vernier, who described the members of his group as “serious hobbyists.” “We’re not usually getting paid to play,” says Albert.“The pleasure for many of us is just getting together and making music as best we can.” For those looking to join a band or take in some traditional jazz, The Potomac River Jazz Club website is a great resource. It features a calendar of events, listing where Dixieland bands are playing locally, and updates on the Normandie Farm jam session. It was at such a session that Albert found his way back to Dixieland music. After listening for a bit, he was invited to play “and it was déjà vu all over again. I found I could kind of hold my own with real musicians,” says the retired newsman. “I’m back in the swing, taking lessons, going to jam sessions and playing in bands. It’s like I’m 18 or 19 years old again.”
Learning is Fun At Any Age!
Bob Vernier leads the Dixieland jazz group known as Dixieland Express as it performs at Bethany Beach, Del., last August. He plays cornet and sings.
Classes for Seniors:
Live & Learn Bethesda is an organization whose mission is to enrich the community through interesting, informative and stimulating classes. We give neighbors and families a place to make connections, share interests, and enrich themselves in a variety of low-cost classes.
• Senior Step Strength and Stretch • Cardiac Yoga • Zumba Gold • Arts & Music • Aging in Place and in the Community • Health & Wellness • Computers • Retirement Living (free) Classes are held in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, adjacent to the Bethesda Metro. 4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda, MD 20814
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characters from opera classics like “The Marriage of Figaro” and “Carmen,” are staples to engage the audience. Cooperation, he says, is his favorite word because “opera” is right in the middle and reminds him of the collaborative nature of art. Alice Kelley, 68, sang along with Burroughs each time he came near, singing a few inches from her face and holding her
gaze as he did with each participant in the room. It didn’t matter that she didn’t know the words; she sang along anyway, matching the “ohs” and “ahs” of the song lyrics with her own sounds. “It makes me feel happy,” she says, beaming, after the class. In the program, there are no wrong answers and everyone’s response to art, music and poetry is valid. According to Tursini, “There’s no ‘no’ in art, there’s just yes, and….”
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Burroughs serenades program participant Alice Kelley during his CoOPERAtion program at The Support Center in Rockville. ARTS, CONTINUED FROM PAGE 9
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May 2012 | Gazette SENIORS 37
The couple in Machu Picchu; Larry Dildine says typical photos of the ruins there don’t do them justice. DILDINE, CONTINUED FROM PAGE 21
“You’ve seen pictures of it, but they don’t do it justice,” says Larry. “It really does live up to its reputation.” In recent years, they’ve also been to China, Germany, Spain,Portugal and Morocco. Obviously, judging from these
38 Gazette SENIORS | May 2012
wonderful trips, they travel well together. “I attribute that to how well Larry has the trip planned ahead of time,” says KC. “Though he does always seem to plan more than we can fit in a day…” The couple carries a portable GPS navigation device with them for directions. “We make a few wrong turns, but it’s never anything we can’t handle.”
May 2012 | Gazette SENIORS 39
40 Gazette SENIORS | May 2012