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8 • DAILY NEWS

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2012

DIETZ: Is a wonderful source of information for area seniors CONTINUED FROM PAGE 2

"In Minnesota, a $200,000 grant has been given to a couple of lawyers who manage this pension counseling project," she said. "A lot of people get laid off or their companies go out of business or somebody buys out their company, and their pension is still there but they don't realize it. There's a lot of pension money sitting out there." The project is funded by the U.S. Administration on Aging to provide free legal counseling services to individuals in the fivestate region of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota, the project's website states. The project can assist clients regardless of age or income. Dietz has changed the Healthcare Directive in her office, that gives more options for a person's proxy. If a person is terminally ill, it is recommended they have

Helpful links Minnesota Board on Aging, www.mnaging.org Minnestota Help Info, www.mnhelp.info American Association of Retired People, www.aarp.org Medicare, www.medicare.gov Social Security Administration, ww.ssa.gov healthcare directive, which is legally binding. "It's a wonderful communication tool for your proxy, they know exactly what you're feeling," she said. "When you have a healthcare directive, it's completely your decisions about what you want or do not want if you are terminally ill. It takes the guilt away from your proxy, you've made the decision." There is also a transportation service available to residents in the county, who need some-

one to take them to medical appointments. A donation is requested from people who are not on medical assistance, she said. "People who are over 60 and have out-of-town medical appointments can call me for rides," she said. "All medical assistance people can call me for rides, and all disabled, but the gap is with people younger than 60, they have to find their own ride." Many volunteers use their own cars to transport the clients. The majority of the trips are to Fargo or Fergus Falls, Minn. The clients love the service, she said, and the program couldn't exist without the volunteers. "If people have any questions on anything to do with aging, that's my expertise," Dietz said. "I have a lot of resources." Dietz can be reached at Wilkin County Public Health, 218-643-7122.

Assessing your driving abilities When a person first earns a driver's license, they've earned more than just the right to legally operate an automobile. To many drivers, a driver's license is symbolic of freedom and self-sufficiency. The significance of a driver's license never truly dissipates, which makes it difficult for aging men and women to address their abilities as a driver and whether or not they can still safely share the road with other motorists. For those who want help gauging their abilities as a driver, some self-examination can help. • Assess your comfort level – Safe drivers are also comfortable drivers. To assess your comfort level as a driver, ask yourself the following questions before getting back behind the wheel. * Is it troublesome to look over your shoulder and change lanes? * Has steering become difficult? * Has your reaction time when switching from the gas pedal to the

brake pedal decreased? If you can answer "yes" to any of the questions above, then it could be that you're beginning to lose strength, coordination and/or flexibility, which can make it more difficult to operate a motor vehicle. When assessing your comfort level, also examine your mental state while driving. If other drivers make you uncomfortable or traffic signs are confusing, this can make it difficult to safely operate an automobile. • Honestly address loved ones' concerns – Aging drivers are often the last to notice if their abilities behind the wheel are starting to diminish. Aging drivers face obstacles they may or may not be prepared for. When such challenges arise, that doesn't necessarily mean it's time to stop driving entirely. Instead, honestly weigh a host of factors before deciding if it's still safe for you to be behind the wheel. Courtesy Metro Creative Services

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Timely Health Topics

Active Senior Lifestyle

• Linda Dietz is the perfect resource person for senior citizens in Wilkin County

• Learning to live on a fixed income

• Southeast Senior Services in Richland County is there to help seniors

• Senior Employment opportunities

• Travel tips


2 • DAILY NEWS

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2012

A wealth of resources for senior citizens puter system that will tell her which plan is most cost efficient for a patient, she said. "People are struggling financially, and there's various things in my office that can help," she said. Low-income seniors may qualify for a $7 reduction on their phone bills through the Link Up program. Dietz has those forms as well as forms for fuel assistance.

BY CARRIE MCDERMOTT • DAILY NEWS carriem@wahpetondailynews.com

County Public Wilkin Health's Senior Coordinator Linda Dietz is information central when it comes to seniors. Whether it's to report telephone scams, low-income residents needing financial assistance or people who need clarity while navigating Medicare, she is there to answer questions and give referrals. The Minnesota Attorney General's office has a handout, "Seniors' Guide to Fighting Fraud," that Dietz will share with local senior centers and apartments. The guide explains what fraud is and how to avoid scams, and gives examples. Unfortunately seniors are a target to con artists who offer bogus prizes or try to sell fake products and services. The handout states that people over the age of 65 make up 14 percent of Minnesota's population, but disproportionately represent the number of scam victims. Most seniors grew up in a time when business was done on a handshake, and crooks are relying on that trust. Dietz said she hears from seniors who are uncomfortable being rude to people who call. She said she tries to teach them to just hang up on someone who is calling to offer them a prize or to try to sell them something. Dietz also runs the Senior Companion program, which pairs volunteers with seniors

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ommends they get up and walk around during every commercial. "It's use it or you lose it," she said. "And that's physical as well as mental. Our bodies are made for standing, not for sitting." A new resource she has information on is the Upper Midwest Pension Rights Project. SEE DIETZ, PAGE 8

A Beautif ul Place To Retire Dietz who may need an extra hand now and then with running errands or just want someone to talk to on a regular basis. The program fills a gap that no other agency provides, she said. Many of the program's clients are in their 90s or older, but not interested in or qualified to move into an assisted living facility. The Senior Companion volunteers visit between 30 and 50 people each week. "The goal at public health is to keep people in their own homes as long as possible," she said. "We have such a wonderful variety of services. We can keep them in their homes a long time." If a senior has a question about their medication costs through Medicare or wants to change which Medicare plan they're on, Dietz can assist them. She can input their medication information into a com-

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There is also a nutritional assistance program that low-income seniors can sign up for, to receive a free box of food every month, she said. There are income guidelines, and disability status is not an eligibility factor for the program. The food is distributed through the senior centers, she said. For seniors who aren't very active, and may sit in front of a TV most of the day, Dietz rec-

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DAILY NEWS • 7

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2012

Senior employment opportunities At one point in the 2008 Oscarnominated film "Frost/Nixon," former President Richard Nixon, played by Frank Langella, says, "Retired people are the most bored people in the world." While some retirees might scoff at that remark, others no doubt agree there's an element of truth to it. Perhaps boredom is one reason many seniors continue to work past retirement age. According to the Congressional Research Service, 47 percent of male seniors and 34 percent of female seniors were employed in 2007. That those figures were from 2007 is significant, as it indicates this was before the economic downturn of 2008-09, a consequence of which was more seniors returning to the workforce. For many seniors, though, working isn't simply a means to earn money. In fact, seniors who continued working past the age of 70 earned an average of just $20,000 in 2007. Seniors also tend to work to have something to do. For seniors looking to do just that, there are a host of employment or even volunteer opportunities that can help seniors stay busy and possibly put a little extra money in their pockets. • Local park service. Many local park services hire seniors to help keep the parks clean. These are often seasonal opportunities, making them ideal for seniors who live in different cities depending on the seasons. • Golf course. Golf courses are other seasonal businesses, at least in much of the country, that also boast lots of part-time opportunities for seniors. For example, golf courses need rangers, who ensure all golfers play by the rules and respect the course, and even maintenance staff, who do everything from cut the grass to maintaining gardens. These can also pull double duty, providing seniors with daily exercise to help them stay healthy. • Volunteer. Many programs that help indigent citizens get by every day welcome seniors as

• Consultant work. Seniors who miss the thrill of business don't have to give it up completely simply because they're retired. Many seniors earn a handsome amount of money by working as consultants, using their vast experience to help the next generation. What's more, consultants often work on their own schedule, an ideal situation for seniors with a passion for business but an equal passion for the

positives of retirement. • Library. Libraries might not be as popular as they once were, but many are still going strong, and some even use volunteers and part-time employees to keep their operations running smoothly. Many libraries prefer hiring seniors thanks to their reliability and good attitude. Courtesy Metro Creative Services.

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6 • DAILY NEWS

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2012

SENIOR SERVICE: In 2011, close to 15,000 meals were served at sites throughout Richland County to senior citizens CONTINUED FROM PAGE 4

each month. Those living in surrounding towns also can schedule rides to Wahpeton. Another service provided to seniors are congregate and home-delivered meals. Senior services utilizes volunteers to help deliver meals, and congregate meals are offered at the five other meal sites in the county – Fairmount, Hankinson, Lidgerwood, Wyndmere and Abercrombie. "We have probably 100-plus volunteers throughout Richland County that help us with our meal program," Tollefson said. In 2011, close to 15,000 meals were served at the six sites throughout the county, Tollefson said. Home-delivered meals for the region totaled about 12,000 meals last year, she said. A suggested $3.50 donation is offered for each meal. The services provided to area

seniors are funded by the federal government under the Older Americans Act, the state of North Dakota, Richland County, area organizations, donations and private individual gifts. Each of the clubs have members that also pay a small membership fee. Senior services also works with an outreach worker who provides resources to seniors. For example, anyone requesting to receive home-delivered meals would have to be seen by the outreach worker, Renee Taylor, Tollefson said. Taylor serves all of Richland County and usually visits seniors in their homes each day. She helps link them up with services they may need. "We want to provide enough resources so they can stay in their home instead of having to move to an assisted living (facility) or a nursing home," she said. "That is our biggest goal." The Wahpeton Senior Center offers what Tollefson calls a

"lending closet," a garage full of equipment that the senior center loans out to the public on a 90day basis. The equipment in the garage includes wheelchairs, walkers, hospital beds, canes, crutches and much more. A deposit fee is required for most of the equipment, she said. "We have tons of equipment in the garage that we have purchased over the years with donations that have been given to us, or equipment that has been donated to us," she said. Tollefson said many people and agencies, such as St. Francis Healthcare Campus, St. Catherine's Living Center and Richland County Public Health, take advantage of the lending closet. Some people donate their deposit, which the senior center puts back into purchasing new equipment. Clubs in the county also hosts activities, such as bingo, pinochle and other activities, at the meal sites in the county.

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DAILY NEWS • 3

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A group of men play bingo at the Wahpeton Senior Center. "Every site is a bit different as far as their activities goes," Tollefson said. The Wahpeton building that houses senior services and the senior center also is the host site for the local Senior Companion and Foster Grandparent programs, Tollefson said. Senior services also puts out a

newsletter, called "Silver Quill," filled with services, bus schedules, menus and other information for seniors. Tollefson said Southeast Senior Services and Wahpeton Senior Center is always looking for volunteers. To volunteer, or to find out more about services and prices, call 701-642-5746.

Difficult financial times have forced many people young and old to alter their lifestyles in order to stay afloat financially. Though unemployment has garnered most of the headlines as the economy has struggled the last several years, it's not just men and women of working age who have felt the pinch. In a 2010 study from the University of Michigan Law School, researchers found that people age 65 and older are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population seeking bankruptcy protection. While there's no single culprit for the rise in bankruptcy filings among seniors, the state of Florida could offer valuable insight as to why the nation's older citizens are increasingly filing for bankruptcy. Many retirees call Florida home, and in the past such retirees could tap into their home equity whenever they began to struggle financially. However, like most of the country, Florida's housing market is depressed, making it less viable for seniors to tap into their home equity to solve their financial problems. In fact, according to a study by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, bankruptcy filings increased by 118 percent in states where the home price index decreased. For many seniors fearful of financial struggles, living on a fixed income can be a helpful way of ensuring their future does not involve filing for bankruptcy. Though living on a fixed income is a definite challenge and certainly offers no guarantee that bankruptcy can be avoided, it does provide a framework seniors can rely on to keep their heads above water during difficult economic times. * Make an honest assessment. Living on a fixed income involves being honest with yourself and admitting what your resources truly are.

Write down any sources of income, including Social Security payments, pension payouts, investments, etc. Then write down how much money you have in savings or print out a statement of all savings accounts. Once you have an accurate figure of both income and savings, write down all your monthly expenses, including all expenses, no matter how minute they may seem. From here you can determine just how much you can spend each month. • Prioritize spending habits. Some expenses, including medications and monthly utility bills, will always remain a top priority. However, men and women who must begin living on a fixed income need to prioritize how they spend their discretionary funds. For instance, a membership at the local country club can cost several thousands of dollars per year, whereas the local public golf course only charges players each time they play. While the country club might have a better course, it could be more prudent to choose the public course and save the cost of a private membership instead. • Find it for free. Men and women pay for many services each month that they could very well find for free. For example, in addition to books, many local libraries now allow members to check out CDs and DVDs at no cost. The same also goes for magazines. Instead of paying a monthly subscription cost, visit the local library and read the magazines there for free. If the local library does not have your favorite periodical, the content could very well be available for free online. • Expect the unexpected. One of the worst things that can happen to a person on a fixed income is to encounter an unexpected cost. This can include an unforeseen hospital visit, a costly auto repair or

even inflation that wasn't factored into your initial fixed income budget. Men and women on fixed incomes should expect such emergencies and save accordingly each month. Saving money should never go out of style, and those on fixed incomes should still attempt to save money each month. Coming in under budget and making the most of it can make the difference between capably handling an emergency or being forced to consider unattractive alternatives such as filing for bankruptcy. For more information on living on a fixed income, visit the AARP at www.aarp.org. TF114674. Courtesy Metro Creative Graphics

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4 • DAILY NEWS

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2012

Southeast Senior Services aids seniors BY MILES TRUMP • DAILY NEWS milest@wahpetondailynews.com

Southeast Senior Services in Wahpeton provides a number of resources to help seniors throughout the county stay in their homes longer. Southeast Senior Services offers transportation at a reduced rate, meals that cost a suggested donation of $3.50 and public outreach that provides resources and information. Clubs throughout the county also offer activities at the six meal sites in the county. "The biggest thing is that it keeps people in their home as long as possible, as long as it's safe for them to stay there," said Shelley Tollefson, director of Southeast Senior Services and Wahpeton Senior Center. For those who are unable or don't want to drive, Southeast Senior Services provides a number of different transportation opportunities, including the Richland County Transportation Bus, a public transportation system. "Basically our bus is available to anybody," Tollefson said. "It probably appears to people at times that it's strictly for the seniors, but it's not. It's public transportation."

The bus runs around the area from 8:30 a.m. to about 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and costs anywhere from $1-$3, depending on the trip. Keith Peschel is one of the drivers, and he’s been doing it for about 15 years, he said. "The satisfaction of seeing the older people satisfied makes my job what it is," Peschel said. "Otherwise I wouldn't have been here this long." For times when the bus isn't running, senior services contracts with a local taxi service to provide transportation at reduced rates to seniors. Senior services provides a taxi card to those 60 and older to get a ride at a discount between the hours of 2-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Wahpeton Senior Center, a meal site where club members hold activities, also has volunteers who drive seniors who need radiation treatments to their appointments in Fargo. Senior services also offers reduced-priced trips to Fargo on the first and second Thursdays of each month and to Fergus Falls on the third Thursday of SEE SENIOR SERVICE, PAGE 6

DAILY NEWS •5

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2012

Medical travel tips for seniors Ask anyone what they envision doing most in their retirement, and chances are travel will be at the top of their list. For those who have already retired, traveling is a luxury many no doubt look forward to. Seniors about to take to the road, however, should consider the following tips before heading off to parts unknown. • Pack medications in your carry-on. Prescription medications should be packed in your carry-on whenever traveling to prevent losing vital medications should your checked bags be lost during your travels. • Consult with your physician

MILES TRUMP • DAILY NEWS

Congregate meals are served five days a week at the Wahpeton Senior Center, located at 520 Third Ave. South in Wahpeton.

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travels, a list of all current and past conditions and medications can help the physician who will be treating you better understand you and your medical history. Be sure to inform any traveling companions about this list, and keep it on you at all times when traveling. • Figure out time zones and a medication schedule ahead of time. When traveling to different time zones, it can be difficult to adhere to a medication schedule. Before leaving, work out a new schedule that takes into account the different time zones you will be visiting during your travels.

• Be sure your vaccinations are up to date. Certain countries mandate your vaccinations are up to date before you can enter the country, and some require vaccinations be administered as early as 6 weeks before your visit. Be sure all vaccinations are updated in adherence to the guidelines of any country you will be visiting. • Remain hydrated. Planes often have dry air, which can cause dehydration and muscle aches. So be sure to drink plenty of water to guard against dehydration. Courtesy Metro Creative Services

Seniors readying themselves for vacation should take steps to ensure their prescriptions and additional medical services are available wherever it is they are going.


Senior Living 2012