Vermont Blue Advantage Plans for Vermonters with Medicare Vermont’s Covered Bridges are Where History and Beauty Converge How Vermont’s Unique History Created an Idyllic Place to Live The 3 Top Smartphones for Tech-Shy Seniors
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Vermont’s Covered Bridges are Where History and Beauty Converge by Clover Whitham Needs versus Wants and HyperConsumption: How Did We Get Here? by Kirk Shamberger How Vermont’s Unique History Created an Idyllic Place to Live by Ben Durant Essential Shoe Buying Tips for All Feet by Lisa Schmitz
The Psychology of Healthy Aging by Dr. Richard Houston
The 3 Top Smartphones for TechShy Seniors by Jim Miller
A Tale of Two Maldens - Carla and Karl by Nick Thomas
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4 | September/October2021 | VermontMaturity.com
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Vermont Maturity Cover Story
Vermont Blue Advantage Plans for Vermonters with Medicare
e are getting close to the annual enrollment
Advantage individual plans cover these three to form
period when Vermonters can make changes
Part C which is an alternative way to receive benefits.
to their Medicare plans. Vermont Blue
Pamela Getsie, the Plan President of Vermont
Advantage® is encouraging seniors to consider their
Blue Advantage, believes their plans are perfect for
Vermont-grown Medicare Advantage coverage. The
Vermonters with Medicare. “Vermont Blue Advantage
enrollment period starts on October 15 and is open
is the fastest-growing Medicare Advantage plan in the
through December 7. On October 1, Vermonters will
state,” she said. “It offers three comprehensive plans
be able to take a closer look at the plans which have
with premiums starting at $0 a month. All Vermont
coverage beginning January 1, 2022.
Blue Advantage plans include medical and Part D drug
Medicare is a federal health insurance plan for those
coverage, along with dental, hearing, vision, fitness, and
65 and older. In what is described as Original Medicare,
more.” Getsie added that Vermont Blue Advantage Plans
Part A covers in-patient services at hospitals and other
also feature over-the-counter benefits that give members
facilities, Part B covers out-patient care and medical
a quarterly allowance for common care items like
supplies, and Part D, which is purchased separately from
vitamins, bandages, and cold medicine.
an insurer, covers prescription drugs. Vermont Blue
6 | September/October2021 | VermontMaturity.com
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Getsie said that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont formed Vermont Blue Advantage to deliver
deductible and prescription drug coverage is included with co-pays starting at $0.
affordable Medicare Advantage products and services
Freedom Plus PPO: Getsie said this is the most
to Vermonters and retirees from Vermont businesses.
popular of the three plans and has a $59 premium, no
She said that unlike other Medicare plans, Medicare
medical deductible, and prescription drug coverage.
Advantage plans have an out-of-pocket maximum
It includes the same features as the Freedom plan, as
which limits the amount members pay each year for
well as lower co-pays, the lowest out of pocket costs
covered medical services. “That gives seniors a level of
of all Vermont Blue Advantage plans, and allowances
security not provided under other plan types or original
for extras such as dental, vision, hearing aids, and over
Medicare,” she said.
the counter drugs, plus a personal emergency response
Vermont Blue Advantage offers three plans: Freedom PPO, Freedom Plus PPO, and Unity HMO. As a general
system. Unity HMO: This option is designed for Vermonters
rule, PPOs or Preferred Provider Organizations have
who plan to stay close to home and has no monthly
higher premiums but greater network flexibility.
premium. It includes medical, prescription drug,
Updated benefit information for the 2022 plans will be
telehealth, and other benefits. The Unity plan provides
available on October 1, but below is a brief description of
broad network coverage throughout Vermont plus the
the plans available today:
security of urgent and emergency care during travel.
Freedom PPO: This $0 premium plan provides
Getsie said Vermont Blue Advantage is able to offer
members with a choice of nationwide providers and
these plans with no or low monthly premiums because
worldwide coverage for emergency situations. Extras
they replace the Medicare coverage provided by the
include dental, hearing aid, and vision coverage. Like
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
all Vermont Blue Advantage plans, there is no medical
“Vermont Blue Advantage’s efficiencies and health plan expertise allow them to develop Medicare Advantage plans that provide great value for Medicare beneficiaries,” she said, adding that seniors are required to continue to pay their Part B premium to CMS. “Vermont Blue Advantage Medicare Advantage plans are created for Vermonters, by Vermonters,” Getsie said.
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“The Blue Card nationwide network provides access for the Freedom and Freedom Plus plans to 92% of doctors and hospitals nationwide. All Vermont Blue Advantage PPO and HMO plans provide the security of emergency and urgent care coverage around the world, ensuring that Vermont seniors can travel with confidence.” Since the pandemic, more Vermonters have begun to make use of telehealth, and Vermont Blue Advantage plans have no co-pay charges for these online visits. “Members can get a virtual doctor’s visit using their phone or computer 24 hours a day, seven days week,” Getsie said.
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Getsie said Vermont Blue Advantage individual plans combine all the benefits of Original Medicare
plus Part D drug coverage and dental, vision, and
Those interested in Vermont Blue Advantage must
hearing coverage. One add-one is a fitness benefit
either enroll or already be enrolled in Original Medicare
known as SilverSneakers® which allows seniors to
Part A and Part B and pay their Part B premiums. Those
visit any participating gym free of charge. There are
who are not yet enrolled should call Social Security at
several locations across the state from Burlington to
(800) 772-1213 or use their TTY line at (800) 325-0778.
Bennington, Brattleboro and Newport, as well as a
Seniors can also set up an appointment at their local
variety of on-line classes.
Social Security office where they will need to provide
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proof of age, such as a birth certificate. There are Social Security offices in Burlington, Montpelier and Rutland. Enrollment in a Medicare Advantage plan can take place during the Initial Enrollment Period and each year during the Annual Enrollment Period. The Initial Enrollment Period for those turning 65 is a roughly seven-month window which begins three months before their birth month and ends three months after their birthday. Special Enrollment Periods are available after certain events like relocation or retirement with loss of employer coverage. The Annual Enrollment Period is from October 15 to December 7 and allows members to sign up for coverage that begins January 1. “We designed plans we are proud to sell to our friends, family, and neighbors,” Getsie said. “We are solely focused on meeting the needs of Vermonters and retirees from Vermont employers. Doing right by Vermonters is at the heart of everything
Seniors can learn about Vermont Blue Advantage plans by calling a licensed agent a 800-516-8021 (TTY: 711) or by going online at VermontBlueAdvantage.com.
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Vermont Maturity | September/October2021 | 11
Vermont’s Covered Bridges are Where History and Beauty Converge
by Clover Whitham
ermont boasts some impressive statistics when it
bridges -- and along the way has created a fellowship of
comes to covered bridges: There are more than
fans and an online depository for bridge news and stories.
100 in the state, which ranks it No. 1 in the nation
in covered bridges per square mile. One of these spans is
But why, when it clearly takes more effort and expense, cover a bridge anyway? The very reason for covered bridges is why centenarian river crossings remain standing. The roof and sides, which can more easily be replaced and repaired, protect the main structure that carries the weight. In his book “Spanning Time: Vermont’s Covered Bridges,” Joseph C. Nelson argues that a well-made wooden bridge protected from moisture can be superior to concrete and steel because wood is impervious to salt damage. A side benefit was that the walls protected horses and livestock from being spooked while crossing
the longest wooden bridge in the country. Ninety of the
turbulent waters. (They may also shield the antics of bored
state’s covered bridges have been listed in the National
kids and lovers stealing kisses.)
Register of Historic Places, according to the state. Every
Nelson and other covered bridge enthusiasts urge
Vermont county except one has a covered bridge, and one
visitors to do more than take a quick picture while passing
Vermont town lays claim to more covered bridges than
through. Covered bridges hold within tangible glimpses
any other town in the United States.
into history. The bridge truss types, tool marks left on
With more than 100 bridges -- many more than
beams, bridge location -- even the density of wood grain
a century old -- there are countless stories to tell
-- tell more about the bridge and the context in which it
about them. Many predate motor vehicles, many have
suffered damaging floods, some are said to be haunted. Covered bridge enthusiasts have documented many of these physical and lyrical histories in books dedicated to Vermont and New England’s covered bridges. The Vermont Covered Bridge Society formed in 2000 in an effort to actively preserve the state’s remaining covered
With so many stories to explore, where to start? Let’s start with the biggest bridge. In fact, the Cornish-Windsor Bridge, which spans the Connecticut River between Cornish, N.H. and Windsor, Vt., is the
12 | September/October2021 | VermontMaturity.com
longest wooden covered bridge in the United States. And,
Vermont according to “Covered Bridges of Vermont” by
according to the state of New Hampshire which owns the
Ed Barna. It was built after another historic flood back in
bridge, it is the longest two-span covered bridge in the
1869 changed the course of the Williams River, according
to a website dedicated to the efforts to rebuild the bridge
The Cornish-Windsor Bridge was built in 1866 and is officially listed as 449 feet and five inches long (though
in 2011. The bridge was rebuilt, and the new Bartonsville
some accounts say it is 460 feet). Perhaps even more
Covered Bridge opened in January 2013. Hammond,
impressive is that it is still in regular use today. In January
whose heartbreak can be heard in the viral video, led a
it underwent significant work to replace worn deck planks,
fundraising effort to help rebuild the bridge. Hammond’s
an essential fix for a bridge that still carries about 2,700
father was the first to cross the newly built bridge at the
opening day ceremony, according to a news article from
The structure originally cost $9,000 to build, according to the state of New Hampshire, which purchased the span in 1936 and operated it as a toll bridge until 1943. The bridge suffered damage from flood and ice in 1977 and a decade later it was closed entirely for reconstruction that cost about $4.5 million. It reopened in 1989. The bridge is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and as an American National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the Society of Civil Engineers. Prior to the covered bridge built in 1866 the site was home to three bridges that were all damaged by floods. The first was built in 1796, the next two 1824 and 1850. The last was destroyed by water and ice in March of 1866. Yet, at nearly 150 years old, the Cornish-Windsor Bridge survived Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, which damaged or swept away other covered bridges in Vermont and elsewhere in the Northeast.
A Bridge Reborn One of those that did not survive that historic deluge was the Bartonsville Covered Bridge. Video shot by resident Susan Hammond during the storm aired on the national news and people around the world saw footage of the bridge sinking down into the water and being swept, almost whole, down the Williams River. The original Bartonsville Covered Bridge was built in 1870 and stood at 159 feet long, one of the longest in
See For Yourself There is no better time than autumn to enjoy the beauty and history of Vermont’s covered bridges. Many are clustered close enough together to make it easy to see a handful in one drive. Perhaps the best place to start is the state’s “covered bridge capital,” Montgomery. The small northern
Something To Think About James A Meunier, director
LENGTH OF CONDOLENCE CALL There is no strictly prescribed ritual for making a condolence call. It seems sensible, however, to plan on no longer a call than one plans on for a hospital visit — that is, not more than fifteen minutes. That should be enough time to express condolences, to speak a few words of comfort and commendation of the decedent, to offer help, and to say good-bye. At the same time, you should try and be flexible. One can often tell from the mourner’s behavior whether
or not there is a wish for a longer visit. Though it is sometimes hard to gauge the true feelings of the bereaved, the sensitive individual can usually do this. If the mourner appears to wish a longer visit, and if it is possible for the caller to remain longer, that may be the kind thing to do. If the caller cannot remain longer, but a longer visit seems desired, it would be appropriate to give an assurance of a return call, and that call should be made.
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Vermont town champions its bridges. “Our unique geography required many bridges, and as recently as the 1940s there were 13 covered bridges within the town’s limits. Today there are six covered bridges within town limits, and one which straddles the town line with Enosburg — the most of any town in the country,” the municipal website proudly states. The town of Northfield is not far behind with five public covered bridges. Three are in close proximity on Cox Brook Road. The town is only about 10 miles south of Montpelier, making a visit to the historic state capital an easy addition. Woodstock is as quaint and iconic as a Vermont town could get and is a popular destination in all seasons. Four covered bridges are nearby: the Lincoln Covered Bridge on Route 4 near the Lincoln Inn and Restaurant in West Woodstock; Middle Bridge on Mountain Avenue near the intersection with North Park Street in Woodstock; and the Taftsville bridge near the intersection of Vermont 12 south and U.S. 4.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT VERMONT’S COVERED BRIDGES CHECK OUT THESE RESOURCES: ✔ Vermont Covered Bridge Society: Vermontbridges.
org ✔ Vermont Department of Tourism covered bridge
site ✔ https://www.vermontvacation.com/things-to-do/
arts-and-heritage/covered-bridges ✔ *Note the Vermont Covered Bridge Museum
mentioned in the video on this site is now closed ✔ Town of Montgomery website, including
information about its covered bridges: Montgomeryvt.us
BOOKS: ✔ “Spanning Time: Vermont’s Covered Bridges” by
Joseph C. Nelson ✔ “Covered Bridges of Vermont” by Ed Barna VM Clover Whitham has been a journalist at Vermont newspapers for more than a dozen years and is now a freelance writer and editor near Burlington.
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Needs versus Wants and Hyper-Consumption: How Did We Get Here? by Kirk Shamberger
spoke with a client recently about the concept of “needs”
versus “wants” and that society seems to have lost the distinction between the two. Our over-spending and
consumption reflect a mentality of instant and superficial
gratification, with little concern for the future. My client’s parents, born during the Great Depression and now in their early 80s, are still in “saving mode.” They are not spending their money on the latest flat screen TV, Jacuzzi tub, travel, or new car. Instead, they are saving for the long term—their grandchildren, perhaps—rather than spending money freely or consuming blindly. Why aren’t more Americans living with this mentality? How did our debt grow to at an all-time high, with people buying houses they cannot afford and over-
It all comes down to values: Have we lost them? My client reported that her parents attribute their “saving” mentality primarily to good, old-fashioned values: hard work; resourcefulness; honesty; fairness and accountability. They don’t place much value on “things” and therefore don’t feel the need to buy things to bring them pleasure. Their satisfaction and security are VermontPureCBD.com
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extending their credit cards—consuming for the sake of consuming?
Savings versus Debt: A Startling Statistic Compare our skyrocketing debt with the declining level of savings and the situation looks even bleaker. According to a New York Times study, the “average annual savings per household in 1923 was $5,533 versus $6,219 in debt. By 2008, our savings had slipped to $392 versus $117,951 in total household debt. And by 2018 the average family savings has grown to $2,100 vs $263,000 in total household debt”.
802-897-4477 Vermont Maturity | September/October2021 | 15
founded on prudent management of resources, rather
when facing the
than instant gratification.
overwhelming media campaign to consume
Bigger is Not Better
more and more every
“Downsizing” or “right-sizing”, especially in the housing market, has become a popular emerging paradigm. While a large home may be appropriate for some, many have found the merits of smaller homes are very attractive: reduced time and cost of maintenance; lower utility bills and property taxes; less “junk”; more time with family; less clutter; and, lest we forget, maintaining a smaller home is so much easier.
day. I hope my client wins her battle against the consumption machine. And I also hope that others will take time to reconsider their own choices of saving and consumption and take inspiration from the example of her parents. How do your money habits demonstrate your
How are your values reflected in your spending? My client has great admiration for the way her parents manage their lives and their money, and she intends to pass on these values to her children—
values? Are they aligned? VM Kirk Shamberger is a partner with C.K. Financial Resources and has over 30 years of experience in the financial services industry specializing in retirement strategies. He may be contacted at Kirk Shamberger 802-238-8187 or email@example.com.
although some days she feels this is a losing proposition
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How Vermont’s Unique History Created an Idyllic Place to Live
by Ben Durant
hen stuck in Washington DC traffic, what’s
but think of how humanity has roamed the earth for
a better thing to do than daydream about
100,000 years. And during the vast majority of that that
than a Vermont lake house? According
span, our ancestors spent a significant amount of time
to one of my newer clients, Jane C. of Alexandria VA,
staring at embers in the campfire with family and close
there’s nothing better to get you through the tough times
relations, experiencing the passing of time in terms of
than going to her happy place. As it turns out many
seasons, lunar cycles, harvests, and hunts. Today, we
people dream of moving to Vermont for their next phase
measure time in terms of nanoseconds and are whisked
of their lives.
out of our temperature-controlled houses, into our
As the world gets more crowded and urban planners
climate-controlled cars, over the battle worn 8 lane
figure out how to stuff more of us into cities and
roads to offices where we stare at blue screens all day.
suburbs, many of us yearn to get away from it all. As
Nothing has ever been so easy, safe and yet nothing has
someone who works in Vermont real estate, I spend a
ever been so un-natural. Who wouldn’t want to step
lot of time thinking of how people use our world and
away from it all?
how to connect people with that perfect lake house, ski
The interesting thing about the Covid 19 lock downs
house, or townhouse. In my way-back years at UVM , my
is it hit the pause button on the status quo. People have
studies in historic preservation and archaeology gave
been able to consider what’s truly important in life and
me a unique lens to view our world. Now I can’t help
a lot of people are finding that a life more connected Vermont Maturity | September/October2021 | 17
to the rhythm of our natural world is more fulfilling.
and agriculture were also an important aspect of the
When exploring why Vermont has become a destination
development our state. Eventually, Vermonters stripped
state, it’s important to understand how we came to be,
the mountains of trees and allowed Merino sheep all the
and you’ll find that our history and current state are
way to the mountain tops. We cut down approximately
80% of the trees leaving the state mostly barren by
Much of Vermont’s built environment is archaic
1880. Burlington was the third largest lumber port in
compared to our neighboring states. Maybe, that’s the
the nation and our trees were used as lumber to build
way it should be. Our architecture, size and scale were
our early nation. Our populations growth rose with
developed in the 19th century and hasn’t changed a lot
the development and much of our built environment
since then. The 19th Century was a time that people
was completed during this time. However, the drivers
were still connected with community and nature, or
of our early creation came to a rapid end around the
at least were less insulated from it. In our 230 years
turn of the century. Westward expansion led to more
of statehood, the first half of our saw almost all our
productive agriculture elsewhere, and the electrification
development. Our state played an important role in
of the nation put an end to the advantage of hydropower
the agricultural and industrial revolution. Before the
advent of electricity, our mountains gave us a powerful
Since around 1900, our state has grown slowly
advantage that allowed early pioneers like Ira and
relative to our northeastern neighbors. This meant that
Ethan Allen to harness the potential energy of rivers
our built environment didn’t have to expand allowing
for industry that processed the goods of the day:
our 19th century footprint to remain largely intact. The
including wool, timber, marble, and granite. Forestry
environmental damage from our industrial revolution days has been mostly repaired, the forests returned,
We’re looking for caring volunteers.
rivers flowed freely again, and industrial waterfronts are now teeming with residents loving the views. The balance between our built environment and our natural environment in 2021 is a healthy mix made possible by our smart growth since the turn of the last century. It’s this mix that makes Vermont quaint and idyllic and makes people feel like their traveling back to a different era; an era where people are just a little bit
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more connected with the rhythm of nature, where we can still gather by the campfire and stare at the embers with family and friends. Therefore people are coming to Vermont, and honestly, who can blame them? And if you’re luck enough to live here, count yourself lucky to
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18 | September/October2021 | VermontMaturity.com
have such a wonderful place to call home. VM Ben Durant is a Senior Real Estate Specialist® and Owner of Transitions Real Estate. He is dedicated to helping Vermont Seniors and Boomers find their best housing solutions. Ben lives with his wife and three children in Williston. He can be contacted by visiting Transitionsvt. com or by calling 802-355-6688.
Essential Shoe Buying Tips for All Feet
by Lisa Schmitz
t’s no secret that women love shoes! Many times, we even build our outfits around the shoes we want to
wear. And who hasn’t spent more time trying to find
the perfect shoe to complement an outfit than we did
finding the outfit! While shoes can be our best friends, they can also be our worst enemies. There are some key factors that need to be considered when purchasing shoes – especially if you actually plan to wear them and walk in them for an extended period of time. Here are some tips to consider, regardless of how old you are, what size shoe you wear, or what style of shoe you are considering.
Measure Your Feet If you haven’t had your foot measured since you were a kid, find a full-service shoe store and get it done. By far, the biggest problem with shoes not feeling as good as they can is due to wearing the wrong size. The most accurate form of foot measurement is still
so important to have both feet measured, and when purchasing shoes, to try them on both feet.
Darn That Smaller Foot What happens if your heel is slipping on your smaller
a Brannock® device. You will need to stand up when
foot? We recommend trying a heel insert/grip. Found
having your foot measured and make sure to measure
in shoe stores, online at Amazon, at drug stores such
both feet (preferably with socks off ).
as Walgreens and big-box stores like Target and Wal-
What? They’re Not the Same Size? Your feet are not the same size. If I had a nickel for every time someone thought their feet were weird because they don’t measure the same, I would be retired and living on a tropical island. Therefore, it is
Mart, heel inserts come in several forms: cushion, felt, gel, leather. These have adhesive that applies to the heel cup of your shoe, taking up the little bit of extra space if the shoe on your smaller foot is slipping a bit. If you are needing heel inserts/grips for both shoes, the shoe is either too big or poorly made. A clear gel heel insert adheres easily into the back of most shoes. Vermont Maturity | September/October2021 | 19
Try Them as You’ll Wear Them If you plan to wear socks with the shoes you are trying on – try them on with socks. If you are not planning to wear sock with the shoes – then don’t try them on with socks. This really does make a difference.
Afternoons Are Better to Shoe Shop Speaking of trying on shoes, try to do so later in the day when you have been on your feet. Our feet do swell during the day. Also, it’s always a good idea to select the shoe size based on what feels best on your larger foot.
Width Matters Some shoe brands only come in one width. This isn’t good if you wear a Narrow, Wide or Wide-Wide shoe.
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The most common mistake we have found is women go up a size (i.e., from a 9 to a 10) because they are unaware that they should be going up a width (from Medium to a Wide). Trust me when I say that we have had countless women tell us that finding their correct size and width has been life changing.
You Get What You Pay For Sizes across brands vary greatly. Each brand has a different way of fit testing their shoes – if they fit test them at all. The saying “You get what you pay for,” can be very relevant when it comes to shoes. The amount you pay for your shoe could be an indicator of how many sizes the brand offers and how much testing is done on the shoes to ensure proper fit and comfort. Buying a shoe that starts out ridiculously cheap will probably never be a win-win. Finding a good sale on a quality
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Form & Function “They’ll feel good once I break them in” is not a
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20 | September/October2021 | VermontMaturity.com
statement that should be made with shoes. If they don’t feel good when you first wear them, chances are they will never feel good. If a shoe is uncomfortable and it fits
properly, you should consider the purpose for which you are purchasing them. Admittedly, I do have several pairs of “artwork for the feet” that I only wear when I know I
Take Care of Your Back Same goes for flats. Some people just don’t want to
will be sitting down for most of the time, but this should
wear heels, but did you know that completely flat shoes
be the exception – not the norm.
can wreak havoc on your lower back? Flaunt those sassy, classy ballet flats, but make sure to mix it up with a low
Will These Stretch?
heel now and then to give your lower back a break. The bottom line is that you do not need to sacrifice
This is a complicated question for shoes. The simple
comfort for style or vice versa. If you look great all over,
answer is “maybe.” The more complicated answer is “it
but your feet are killing you – guess what, it shows in
depends.” Leather stretches, but you shouldn’t expect
your face and your stride. My key shoe advice? Find
it to stretch another shoe size to feel ok later (see the
shoes that fit properly and feel good, right out of the box.
previous point). Fabric shoes also tend to give a little
The best shoes are the ones you don’t want to kick off
bit once you wear them. Patent leather and man-made
every chance you get. VM
leathers are not going to stretch. So, going back to the previous point – if they don’t feel pretty darn good when you try them on, you need to put them back and find a pair that does feel good.
Cab to Table Shoes
Lisa Schmitz is the Director of Marketing and Creative Development for The Walking Cradle Company and has over 25 years of experience in the shoe industry. She may be reached at 636-203-4563 or lisaschmitz@walkingcradles. com. Walking Cradles shoes come in Narrow, Medium, Wide and Wide-Wide widths. They also
What about dress shoes? If, like me, you love your fancy, night-out-on-the-town shoes, you know you don’t want to give them up entirely. If you have paid attention to all the points made above and have found a well-fitting dress shoe that you love – by all means, buy them and wear them – in moderation. Our feet need to have some variety happening to keep the range of motion going on. Make sure to mix up wearing higher heels with lower heels. According to the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society, women should wear shoes with a height of no more than two and a quarter inches and shoes at these heights should be worn no more than two or three hours each day. The best time to wear your dressy (i.e., possibly less comfortable shoes) is when you know you’ll be spending more time sitting down than on your feet.
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The Psychology of Healthy Aging
by Dr. Richard Houston
ehavioral science research has conclusively
memory impairment. Every senior citizen dreads the
shown that psychological factors impact quality
appearance of symptoms that could potentially suggest
of life for adults over age 50. Seniors have
a dementia diagnosis.
tangible opportunities to maintain their cognitive acuity
The human brain is a miracle of evolutionary
and physical vitality that will benefit personal health and
development. Major software companies have devoted
wellness outcomes. Yet millions of mature adults leave
billions of dollars to building artificially intelligent
these rewards on the table.
systems that mimic the human brain. Despite well
Nearly everyone who passes the threshold of
publicized successes in the ability to play chess and
their 50th year has reflected on the risk of losing
a few other specific applications, the technology
their cognitive agility – with good reason. NIH
initiatives have disappointed. With a few exceptions ‘AI’
– The National Institute of Health - reports that 40-
remains stuck in its toddler phase.
45% of adults over 65 experiences some kind of
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Y tomorrow OUR
Now accepting new patients
A sixty-year-old adult has no
of conspiracy tainted information
more neurons in his or her brain
regarding the evils of the Covid
than they did when they born – less,
vaccine. Groundless beliefs are
in fact. The brain ‘prunes’ neural
literally creating life and death
circuits that are idle, resulting in
fewer actual neurons in the adult
Tom Frieden, former director of
brain. With one notable exception,
the Centers for Disease Control and
the human brain does not generate
Prevention has stated, “We know
that … being active is the closest
Seniors should know that they
Yet, according to the CDC, over
neurons in the hippocampus, a sea
60% of American adults fall short
horse shaped element of the brain
of recommended activity habits and
tucked deep in the middle of the
25% of the population maintain
skull. The hippocampus plays a
totally sedentary habits. Researchers at the the
storage of memory. Mature adults
University of California San
can actively promote neurogenesis
Francisco concluded that close to
in their hippocampus every day.
half of all Alzheimer’s cases could
Two activities stimulate this process.
be prevented with positive lifestyle
Physical exercise and challenging
habits. Our own research sample
mental activity are the two features
revealed insidious psychological
of a regimen that will generate new
habits that were associated with
‘wiring’ in the hippocampus.
In our own research with 1600
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or undermined by psychological factors. The problem is that these psychological dynamics often operate ‘behind the scenes’ or what we call ‘backstage.’ We live at a time when the psychological impact on healthoriented behavior has rarely, if ever, been more dramatically displayed. In the coming weeks, hundreds of our fellow citizens will potentially die because they believe purveyors
Richard Houston holds a Doctorate in Education and was licensed by the Massachusetts Board of Psychology. He is a graduate of Brown University. He has conducted research on the psychological dimensions of healthy lifestyle behaviors and has had long term consulting relationships with several continuing care retirement communities. You can visit his website at Resilience-Advocate. com.
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The 3 Top Smartphones for Tech-Shy Seniors
by Jim Miller
To set-up an iPhone and make it senior-friendly,
here are several smartphones that provide seniors a simpler, less intimidating smartphone
start by cleaning-up/decluttering the home screen, which
experience. If you are purchasing a smartphone
you can do by deleting the apps the user won’t use and
or looking to help a senior purchase one, here are my top
hiding the apps they will rarely use in labeled folders or
the App Library. The fewer options the better! System The Beautyrest® SmartMotion™ combines an upinnovative bed of contacts base, You’ll also want to set a small number
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Because of the quality and functionality of Apple
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accessibility features you can turn on depending on your
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medical ID set up. But there are dozens of other tweaks you can make to enhance your experience. For a rundown of the different accessibility features and instructions on how to set them up, see Apple.com/ accessibility. If you’re interested in this option, the iPhone 12 (5G, 6.1-inch display screen, $800) or iPhone 12 mini (5G, 5.4-inch screen, $700) are excellent choices. Or, for a more budget-friendly phone consider the iPhone SE (4.7inch screen, $400) that came out in 2020.
Samsung Galaxy vision, hearing impairment, hand dexterity problems or cognitive loss. iPhone users include larger text and icon display, zoom (screen magnification), magnifier (turns iPhone into a control, find my iPhone, and emergency SOS and
a phone that you’re familiar with, you should consider a Samsung.
Some popular accessibility features among older
magnifying glass), increased volume and alerts, voice
If you’re an android phone user and would like to get
All Samsung phones offer an “Easy Mode” feature in their settings that boosts the text and icon size, and simplifies the home-screen layout and contacts, which makes these phones a nice option for seniors or technewbies.
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These phones also have a variety of accessibility
✔ Urgent Response, which is a mobile medical alert
features – see Samsung.com/us/accessibility/galaxy-
service that would connect the user to a Lively
mobile for instructions – that can accommodate your
agent in emergency situations, 24/7, who would
confirm her location and get her the help they
The Samsung Galaxy S21 5G (6.2-inch screen, $800) or more moderately priced Galaxy A71 5G (6.7-inch screen, $600) are good choices to consider here.
need. ✔ Urgent Care, which would let you speak to
a registered nurse or board-certified doctor anytime.
✔ Lively Link, which is an app that sends alerts
Another less expensive option to consider is to purchase a smartphone that’s specifically designed for seniors. The best one available is the new Lively Smart offered by Best Buy. This phone has a 6.2-inch screen, large text and a simple list-based menu that provides one-touch access to frequently used features like video chat, camera, email and more. It also offers a nice variety of optional health and safety features you can add on like:
to family and friends if the user calls urgent response. ✔ Personal Operator Service, who can assist you
with tasks like helping find addresses, setting up appointments booking Lively Rides through a partnership with Lyft and much more. The Lively Smart is available online at Lively.com or at Best Buy stores for $150. VM Jim Miller publishes the Savvy Senior, a nationally syndicated column that offers advice for Boomers and Seniors.
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A Tale of Two Maldens Carla and Karl
by Nick Thomas
arla Malden credits her father, actor Karl Malden, for sowing the seeds of her writing career – first as a screenwriter then an author.
“He used me and my sister to cue him quite often
when he was learning a part,” she recalled from her home in Los Angeles. “I think I learned a lot about writing as a result. If it was a heavily dialogued scene, he’d sometimes tell me to cross a line out of the script because he said, ‘I can act that.’ It taught me the
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importance of seeing the actor’s character on screen as
Malden (1912-2009) is viewed by many as one of the
well as through the dialogue. It was fascinating to watch
great character actors from the 50s, 60s, and beyond,
him break down a part and develop a character.”
with critically acclaimed dramatic roles in films such
Earlier this year, Carla published her fourth book,
as “A Streetcar Named Desire” for which he won a Best
“Shine Until Tomorrow,” branching out into the Young
Supporting Actor Oscar. In the 70s, he co-starred with
Adult (YA) book market. The story features a teenage girl
Michael Douglas in the popular “The Streets of San
who travels back to 1967 and the summer of love in San
Francisco” ABC crime drama series.
“He had been approached to write his autobiography
“It’s not a traditional sci-fi adventure or even a
by a few people and tried to do it on his own over a few
fantasy really, but a girl’s coming-of-age story that
years then asked me to help,” Carla recalled. “Writing it
happens to involve time travel and features a driven
with him was one of the great joys of my life.”
teenager who learns about having to live in the present
Raised in Gary, Indiana, Karl Malden came
by traveling back to the past. It was designed as a YA
from immigrant parents, his Serb father barely
book, but I’ve been gratified to see it’s crossed over to
speaking English. “His father was very involved in the
church which was the social hub of the Gary Serbian
A longtime screenwriter alongside her late
community, and he organized all the plays that were
husband (see Carlamalden.com), Carla published her
integral to the community. So, my grandfather was
first book co-written with her dad in 1997, the well-
always enlisting my dad as a kid to be in the plays and
received Karl Malden autobiography “When Do I Start?”
that’s how he got the acting bug.”
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Away from the screen, Malden says her dad was a fabulous father and husband, married to his wife, Mona, for 70 years. “He was also an amazing grandfather and even had a few years of being a great grandfather.” She says her father was very down to earth, would often work in his garden for hours, and never craved the adulation that often follows entertainers. “After he died, I got reams of letters from people for whom he had done major acts of kindness in all kinds of ways that I never knew about,” says Carla. “I miss him every single day of my life, ferociously.” VM Nick Thomas teaches at Auburn University at Montgomery in Alabama and has written numerous features, columns, and interviews for magazines and newspapers. See Getnickt.org.
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