Friday, July 29, 2016

Yo Se Quien Soy / I Know Who I Am

By Jose Frescas, resident at Wesley Palms Retirement Community

I was the middle child in a family of six brothers and five sisters, born and raised in Woodland, California about fifteen miles from Sacramento.

From the day of my birth until I entered high school I was Jose. The policy of the school was that all Latino students should be called by Anglicized names. I suddenly became Joe. My parents were greatly upset by this. They had christened me Jose and preferred that to be how I was known. But they were also greatly concerned that I not be disobedient to a teacher, or "make waves" with the school authorities. So, Joe it was.

Just how traumatic that change may have been, and how much it influenced my sense of self-awareness is difficult to estimate, but the fact that I still feel constrained to talk about it all these years later must mean that its effect was significant. I do know that I felt then, and still feel today, that my identity had been stolen.

Subconsciously at least, I am sure it was involved in my decision nearly three decades later to study to become a Counselor. I was acutely aware that I had purposely chosen that path so that I would have the opportunity to work with other minority youth in helping them recognize their true potential and dare to pursue their dreams.

A rather indirect path had brought me to that time and place. Immediately after graduating from high school I enlisted in the Marine Corps and spent eight years in that service. Looking back I feel these were largely wasted years.

On becoming a civilian again I began to look around for a college to attend. No member of my family had ever pursued education after high school, and I remain the only one who has chosen that path. Since that opportunity for me was made possible by a service related disability pen­sion, I have to reconsider my earlier remark that my years as a Marine were wasted years. My Bachelor’s degree was earned at the University of San Diego and followed by a Masters in Counseling at the University of New Mexico.

I then went back home determined to become a counselor, friend and role model for other minority young people in the school where I felt my identity had been denied. The obstacles put in my way were too great to overcome. I persevered for only five months before deciding that the achievement of my goals could only be realized working outside the system. My parents had earlier shied away from "creating waves", but they had produced a son who did little other than that. I was not a trouble maker, but I was determined to give minority kids the helping hand that was never outstretched to me. Working in volunteer activities seemed the best approach to accomplish that goal.

Whether or not I succeeded is up to others to judge. I do cherish a resolution passed by Yolo County officials when I retired after 16 years of service to the Yolo Social Services Advisory community." They said my "lifetime commitment to those less fortunate will be forever remembered as an inspiration to others who believe in the future of Yolo County."

I have been told that I am the only person to be singled out for home by this civic body. Regardless, I am grateful that I had the chance to spend my life this way.


Yo Se Quien Soy / I Know Who I Am is an excerpt from Aging As An Art Form: Through the Eyes Of Residents of Wesley Palms by Wesley Palms resident Don McEvoy. The book contains 50 stories, experiences and life lessons either self-written or told to Don through interviews.

Don McEvoy is storyteller, former pastor and civil rights activist. Aging as an Art Form is available from Outskirts Press and Amazon.com. Proceeds from the book benefit the residents of Wesley Palms.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

"Aging as an Art Form" at Wesley Palms

Residents tell inspiring stories of life-changing events 

Don McEvoy is a storyteller. As a former civil rights activist in the 1960s, minister, church pastor, author and personal friend of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Don has numerous stories to share about himself and his work.


But one of his passions is telling the stories of others –particularly stories of his fellow Wesley Palms residents. 

“During my eight years living here I’ve met scores of fascinating people,” Don said. “I’ve concluded that everyone, yes, everyone, has a fascinating story that needs to be preserved. You can’t go to dinner here without meeting someone with an interesting tale. That’s why I collected the ‘wisdom tales’ from my friends, each of whom has mastered the art of aging with grace and style.”

These stories are collected in Don’s latest book, Aging as an Art Form: Through the Eyes of Residents of Wesley Palms. The book contains 50 stories, experiences and life lessons either self-written or told to Don through interviews.

Among Don’s favorite stories are: a career minor league baseball player who barely missed being a New York Yankee; an aeronautical engineer who was the one of the first women to be accepted in an aeronautical engineering study project at New York University; musings of a concert violinist who after retirement needed to decide what to do with her vintage Italian violin made in 1695. Other stories include a resident who until the age of 14 lived in a traveling sawmill/lumber camp with her parents and drew inspiration from their hard work to become a doctor, a celebrated surgeon who after losing his vision, rededicated his life to working with the blind. Don’s book relates numerous stories of love, tragedy, celebration and hope from artists, athletes, musicians, professionals and home makers.

“All of these stories give the reader insight about who these people really are and how their experiences, passions, triumphs and disappointments shaped their lives,” Don said. “If there is an overall theme it would be perseverance and courage. Every one of these stories points to how the story teller’s life experiences has contributed to him or her aging gracefully.”

Read selected stories from Aging as an Art Form here. 

Editor’s note: Aging as an Art Form is available from Outskirts Press and Amazon.com. Proceeds from the book benefit the residents of Wesley Palms.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

You've Got the Time Now, But Do You Have the Money? Three Ways to Slash Vacation Costs

Credit: Thinkstock
By land or by sea, these ideas make long trips more affordable
 
By
Irene S. Levine for Next Avenue
 
  
Vacations of any length can be expensive, especially the long trips we want to take as our work and caregiving responsibilities taper off. Yet, retirees and those approaching retirement can’t risk exhausting their savings to indulge their wanderlust.

To be sure, the cost of travel is rising. In 2013, overall annual leisure travel costs averaged $3,311 per household, a $400 increase from the preceding year. Three in 10 households spent $4,000 or more, according to a recent report by Phocuswright, a travel industry research firm. Lodging and transportation account for a sizeable proportion of the typical traveler’s budget, each making up about 25 percent of total travel costs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

So how can you afford a longer trip that lets you travel slowly and savor and connect with people and places? I interviewed several boomers — all intrepid travelers — and found these three creative ways to substantially slash travel costs:

Repositioning Cruises

During certain seasons, usually spring and fall, cruise lines typically reposition their ships to different regions for the upcoming season. For example, a line may need to move ships that cruise in the Caribbean to ports in the Mediterranean. Sailing on these repositioning cruises can help strategic travelers save considerable sums.

Anita Oliver and Richard Nash (who blog at No Particular Place to Go) have been full-time travelers since 2012, calling themselves retired nomads. The couple was visiting the Dominican Republic last March and wanted to travel to Barcelona, Spain. Although they had never cruised before, they learned that Norwegian Epic was making an 11-night trans-Atlantic repositioning voyage from Miami, Fla. to Barcelona.

“At the time we looked at air tickets, we were thinking roughly $2,000 or more to get the two of us to Europe,” says Oliver. “But the cruise was about $1,800 for both of us after we upgraded to a balcony room. Since we have to eat and sleep somewhere, we ended up with 11 days and nights free! At least $1,500 worth of savings. We viewed it as an easy way to get from point A to B and it was also a great way to relax and meet new people.”

More pros:
 
  • Repositioning cruises offer value; per diem rates are far lower than on ordinary cruises
  • They are relaxing because they are lengthier; to combat boredom, many are themed
  • Lengthier voyages tend to foster camaraderie among fellow passengers
  • They entail a greater number of sea days, compared to more hectic and active port days
  • Traveling slowly through time zones (e.g. on a transatlantic cruise) helps minimize jet lag
  • Depending on the line you cruise, pricing can range from a mostly inclusive package (meals, accommodations, room service, entertainment, enrichment programs) to a very inclusive one (e.g. wines, alcohol, specialty coffees, Internet use, etc.)
  • Itineraries often offer visits to off-the-beaten-path ports along the way
Downsides:
  • Compared to air travel, cruising is a slower means of transport for getting from Point A to B
  • Some people tire of too many sea days without a chance to explore ports
  • If you need to return, one-way airfares are generally more expensive than round-trip tickets (although, these are sometimes included in the price of the cruise)
  • You can incur substantial additional expenses if you visit the casino, indulge in spa treatments, or purchase costly Internet packages
  • You may need to add on ground transportation costs to reach or leave ports
 
Home Exchanges
 
The concept of a home exchange is pretty straightforward: Two people simultaneously swap homes for an agreed-upon time period with no payment changing hands, virtually eliminating the expense of lodging.
 
When Canadians Brenda Janke and her sister, Donna (who blogs on
Destinations Detours and Dreams) were planning a European vacation a couple of years ago, Brenda used a home exchange company called Intervac to swap her home on Vancouver Island for a 10-day stay in a two-bedroom apartment in a desirable residential area of Barcelona. Their convenient home base was a short walk to the beach and 10-minute subway ride to the city center.
 
“One of the greatest strengths of a home exchange is the money saved,” says Donna. The sisters estimate they spent about half of what they would have ordinarily paid for a vacation had they stayed in hotels. “Staying in someone’s home also gives you more comfort and space, making it a great alternative for families with children and teens. It gives you a glimpse into how other people live and takes you a bit beyond the pure tourist experience,” she adds.
 
More pros:
  • Swapping homes has become easier, because technology has spawned a number of companies facilitating home exchanges, such as HomeLink USA and HomeExchange.com
  • You can interview prospective home exchange owners using Skype, Google Hangouts and other free or inexpensive video conferencing technology
  • You can cook your own meals, which lets you eat healthier and save the costs of dining out
  • You’re more likely to mix with neighbors and other locals
Downsides:
  • Finding an exchange requires time and energy
  • Flexibility may be required to find a mutually agreeable time for the swap
  • You may encounter language or cultural barriers
  • Home exchange programs have modest annual membership fees
  • Your “home” is likely to be located in a residential area
  • You may encounter (and have to resolve) “homeowner” problems such as those involving plumbing, heating or cooling
  • You need to ready your own home for guests
 
Pet Sitting
 
Pet owners taking vacations often face the tough dilemma of either boarding their furry family members in a kennel or taking them along on their trip. However, as another outgrowth of the sharing economy (like home exchanges), it’s becoming increasingly popular for owners to connect with live-in pet sitters, willing to feed and care for house pets in exchange for lodging.
 
Betsy and Pete Wuebker (who blog at PassingThru.com) call themselves location independent entrepreneurs. By coupling online businesses with housesitting, they have been able to travel to 12 European countries as well as to Russia, Hawaii, the South Pacific and Australia. All but one of their housesitting jobs has entailed pet sitting. “When you scroll through listings on various housesitting sites, pets are generally part of the package,” explains Betsy.
 
The couple says they’re “crazy about dogs.” They’ve cared for a German shepherd on Kauai (Hawaii), a Westie in Darwin (Australia), and an elderly Pug and French Bulldog puppy in Brussels (Belgium). They have gigs lined up to watch Labradors in Sussex (England) and a Springer Spaniel pup in Brussels.
 
Living in Fiji wasn’t on the couple’s radar until an intriguing opportunity arose. In exchange for pet sitting for two Dobermans, the Wuebkers got to live in a hilltop compound on the Coral Coast for ten weeks. They were able to immerse themselves in the food and culture of Fiji and forge friendships with locals as long as they returned home each day by 5 p.m. to feed the “girls” a hand-cooked, frozen dinner pre-prepared by the owners.
 
Prior to their stay in Fiji, the Wuebkers had lived in Hawaii. “Eliminating most of our expenses reduced our monthly outlay by at least $3,000,” says Betsy. “So in total, we saved about $6,000, because everything costs less in Fiji. Not everything is available, but then again you don’t need a lot.”
 
More pros:
  • It enables longer, in-depth stays in remote locations
  • It’s gratifying to get to know homeowners and their animals
  • Itinerant travelers who love animals and don’t have pets of their own enjoy watching someone else’s pets
 Downsides:
 
  • You need to be comfortable with the animals you’re caring for and spend time finding a good match for where you want to go
  • Responsibility for the pets has to be your first priority (e.g. many require medications, exercise, special meals, etc.)
  • Homeowners often want to communicate on a regular basis so they feel secure about their pet’s well-being
  • Adapting to someone else’s home and way of life requires flexibility
  • Things can go awry either with the house or with animals, usurping your time and energy

 
 
 
 
 
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Monday, July 11, 2016

4 Myths About Brain Health and How to Stay Sharp


What your doctor may not know, but you should

By Leslie Kernisan, MD for Next Avenue


Credit: Thinkstock
Want to stay mentally sharp for as long as possible?

I certainly do, and I’m guessing you do, too: an AARP survey found that 87 percent of respondents reported being very concerned about this issue.

And in April, a highly influential nonprofit released a new report whose recommendations represent the best available medical knowledge on how our brains change as we age and what we can do about this.

The report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, is called “Cognitive Aging: Progress in Understanding and Opportunities for Action.” The full report is a pretty lengthy and comprehensive review. But in a series of shorter related materials, the IOM highlights some practical approaches we can all take to maintain better brain health — whether for ourselves or for an older loved one. It also provides tips on compensating for some common problems related to cognitive aging.

Here are the highlights I consider most important:

Cognitive Aging Happens to Everyone


The IOM defines cognitive aging as “a process of gradual, ongoing, yet highly variable changes in cognitive functions that occur as people get older.”

This process is not considered a disease. Rather, it’s a natural process of age-related changes in the brain. Like other aspects of aging in the body, it tends to happen a little differently for every person, in part due to things like genetics, lifestyle and environmental factors.

In Alzheimer’s, there is extensive neuron loss, and the disease is chronic and progressive. The IOM’s related “Cognitive Aging Action Guide for Individuals and Families” provides a distilled summation.

The action guide also lists four common myths about brain health and aging, and provides the corresponding facts you should know. I’ve paraphrased them below.

Myths and Facts About Cognitive Aging


Myth: Maintaining cognitive health means preserving your memory.
Fact: Cognitive health is far more than having a good memory. It also involves decision-making, attention and problem-solving.

Myth: Cognitive function always declines with age.
Fact: Aging can have positive and negative effects on cognition.

Myth: Brain neurons die as you age, so there is no way to prevent cognitive decline.
Fact: In the absence of disease, neuron death is minimal.

Myth: There is nothing you can do to improve your cognitive health.
Fact: There are actions individuals and families can take to help support their cognitive health and adapt to age-related cognitive changes.

6 Ways to Protect Your Brain as You Age


In its full report, the IOM devotes 120 pages to reviewing the factors that affect cognitive aging, along with interventions that might improve brain health. It summarizes the most important suggestions for the public in its handy action guide, and I’ve paraphrased them below (the first three are the most important):

1. Be physically active.
2. Reduce your cardiovascular risk factors (including hypertension, diabetes and smoking).
3. Manage your medications by reviewing them with a clinician and learning about their effects on cognitive health.
4. Be socially and intellectually active.
5. Get adequate sleep.
6. Learn to prevent delirium, a decrease in cognitive function that can be triggered by hospitalization, medications or certain illnesses.

Risky Medications and Delirium Prevention


All six of these recommendations are important and useful. But two particularly caught my eye, because they are actions that we especially focus on in geriatrics: medication management and delirium prevention.

Now I hate to say this, but I think you should know the truth: We geriatricians focus on them in part because they are often overlooked by our doctor colleagues. Most clinicians are very busy and usually have not had special training in modifying healthcare to be a better fit for older adults.

The IOM’s “Action Guide for Health Care Providers” spells out what doctors should be doing in those areas. For instance, it mentions that the use of over-the-counter anticholinergics should be assessed. (This is a topic I covered recently in a Next Avenue blog post.)

We hope that many health providers read this IOM action guide and modify their work accordingly.

But here’s an insider tip from me to you: When you find out that expert organizations feel the need to remind doctors to do something, that’s a sign that doctors aren’t doing it reliably. Which means it is smart to be proactive and remind your doctors to help you.

For more information about avoiding risky medications, see this list of online resources.

Why Seniors Get Delirium

Delirium is an incredibly common and important health complication that affects seniors.

It’s basically a state of worse-than-usual mental function that can be brought on by some illness or stress on the body or mind. It is the reason older adults are often confused after surgery, but can also be the only outward sign of a potentially serious infection in someone living at home.

Delirium is associated with all kinds of bad health outcomes, including longer hospital stays, health complications and even acceleration of cognitive decline. But you can help prevent it, or at least make sure it gets noticed and managed promptly. Here’s where to learn more:
HospitalElderLifeProgram.org: A great program and website founded by Dr. Sharon Inouye, a geriatrician who is the leading researcher on delirium in older adults. (She was also part of the committee that worked on this cognitive aging IOM report.) Information tailored for families is here.
HealthinAging.org: This is the health information site affiliated with the American Geriatrics Society, and it includes a comprehensive section on delirium.

Driving and Finances in Seniors

The IOM reports that cognitive aging can affect an older adult’s ability to manage complex tasks such as driving and finances. It notes that victims of financial elder abuse lose billions every year. (My guess is that many of those victims are suffering from more than cognitive aging, but yes, this is a serious problem.)

Hence, the IOM has created related resource lists to help people be proactive about preventing, detecting, and addressing problems with finances and driving. See “Online Resources Related to Elder Financial Abuse” and “Online Resources Related to Older Adult Driving.”

Nutrition and Other Approaches for Brain Health


In preparing this report, the IOM conducted a comprehensive review of different approaches that have been studied in relation to cognitive health. So if you are wondering about a particular approach that’s not mentioned above, chances are it is covered in the full report.

The summary on the effect of various diets, including the Mediterranean diet, is here and the summary regarding vitamins, including antioxidants, starts here.

Basically, for now the IOM has concluded that some of the dietary approaches have promise but we need more research to confirm their effectiveness. The report also concludes that the medical literature doesn’t convincingly support vitamin supplementation to prevent cognitive decline.

If You or a Relative Has Alzheimer’s

Part of the purpose of the IOM report is to draw attention to cognitive aging as a health issue that is distinct from dementia and deserves its own attention from the public, practicing clinicians and researchers.

This is a reasonable position. That said, if you’re concerned about brain health for someone with a dementia diagnosis, you should know this: The cognitive aging recommendations listed above do improve the brain health of people with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

Why? Because the recommendations are basically about how you can optimize brain health and brain function; they apply whether a person has experienced brain aging or extra damage from a disease.

If we can all do better in helping people optimize their brain health and in compensating for any cognitive aging, our society will be a better place for aging Americans.

© Twin Cities Public Television - 2016. All rights reserved.



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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

5 Foods That Are Healthier Than You Think

You may have been told they are bad, but new information says otherwise

By Maureen Callahan for Next Avenue


Credit: Thinkstock

Sometimes foods we love land in the nutritional “dog house” because of a negative news story. And then it doesn’t matter what health experts say, or what new research comes to light. In our minds we come to think of these foods as unhealthy choices.

Take these five much-maligned foods. Experts now agree: eating these former food vices might actually make you a healthier, happier fiftysomething.


Eggs

Perceived as a vice because:
Eggs, or specifically the yolks, are rich sources of cholesterol. And since the plaque that clogs arteries and damages hearts is made up mostly of cholesterol, “people sort of connected those dots,” explains Walter Willett, Fredrick John Stare Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at Harvard. But “there was never any data that showed that people who ate more eggs had higher risk of heart attacks.”

Good for you because:

An extensive body of research confirms that cholesterol in the diet has very little impact on blood cholesterol levels. (Foods high in saturated and trans fats are what raise blood cholesterol.) So the 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines now recommend that it’s OK for healthy people to eat up to seven eggs per week. Rich in protein and a good source of everything from Vitamin D to phosphorous, eggs illustrate the “good things come in small packages” rule of thumb.



Coffee

Perceived as a vice because:

Plenty of people still see coffee drinking “as an unhealthy habit, along the lines of smoking and excessive drinking, and they may make a lot of effort to reduce their coffee consumption or quit drinking it altogether, even if they really enjoy it,” says Harvard scientist and professor Rob van Dam.

Good for you because:


When Harvard researchers looked at the coffee drinking habits of 130,000 volunteers (healthy men and women in their 40s and 50s) and then followed these volunteers for 18-24 years, they saw no evidence that drinking up to six cups of coffee a day increased risk of death from any cause.

“Our findings suggest that if you want to improve your health, it’s better to focus on other lifestyle factors, such as increasing your physical activity, quitting smoking, or eating more whole grains,” says van Dam.

Of course, he’s talking about black coffee here. All bets are off when you start adding copious amounts of sugar and cream and whip them up into a slushy frozen confection.

One exception to the rule: People who have a hard time controlling their blood pressure or blood sugar might want to avoid coffee or switch to decaf. Caffeine is a stimulant and going overboard might increase heart rate and raise blood pressure.

Wine

Perceived as a vice because:


Drinking too much red wine can raise blood pressure and it may increase risk for several types of cancer. And when a 2014 Italian study found that the antioxidant resveratrol, often credited for conferring some of the health benefits in red wine, didn’t reduce cardiovascular disease, cancer, or deaths, it again raised the question: Is red wine good for health?

Good for you because:

While they didn’t find benefits to resveratrol in the Italian study, lead researcher Dr. Richard D. Semba of Johns Hopkins University says other studies have shown that red wine, dark chocolate and berries can reduce inflammation and still appear to protect the heart. “It’s just that the benefits, if they are there, must come from other polyphenols or substances found in those foodstuffs,” he says.

Avocados

Perceived as a vice because:

Pinned by dieters with a scarlet “F” for fattening, the 21 grams of fat in a small avocado do sound a bit rich. If you focus on total fat it’s easy to lump the fruit with other guilty indulgences like quarter pound burgers (20 grams of fat), scoops of rich, premium ice creams (17 grams of fat) and buttery croissants (18 grams.) Yet, unlike these favorite fatty splurges, the bulk of fat in avocados is the “healthy-for-the-heart” monounsaturated variety.

Good for you because:

A 2015 study from the American Heart Association finds that eating one avocado per day as part of a moderate fat diet can drop LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, nearly 14 points.

“We need to focus on getting people to eat a heart-healthy diet that includes avocados and other nutrient-rich food sources of better fats,” says Penny M. Kris-Etherton, senior study author and chair of the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee.

And if you eat that avocado at lunch all the better. Loma Linda University researchers find that eating half an avocado at lunch helps squash food cravings for three to four hours after the meal, which could prevent a diet-busting case of the afternoon munchies.


Peanut Butter (Peanuts)

Perceived as a vice because:

It’s fine for the grandkids, but this quintessential sandwich spread has “too much fat” for many fiftysomethings. So they skip it all together. Same goes for peanuts. Many people believe pretzels are a better snack than peanuts or peanut butter.

But a 2010 study shows that refined carbs (like pretzels) might be worse for the heart than saturated fats. “The obesity epidemic and growing intake of refined carbohydrates have created a ‘perfect storm’ for the development of cardiometabolic disorders,” says Harvard researcher Frank Hu.

One good strategy, he suggests, is “replacing carbohydrates (especially refined grains and sugar) with unsaturated fats and/or healthy sources of protein.” Peanuts (and peanut butter) are rich in heart-healthy unsaturated fats and contain generous amounts of protein.

Good for you because:
Researchers at Penn State, who had volunteers eat peanuts as part of a high-fat meal, might have figured out why peanuts are good for the heart.

“Previous studies have shown that individuals who consume peanuts more than two times a week have a lower risk of coronary heart disease,” lead researcher on the new study, Xiaoran Liu, said. “Our new study indicates that the protective effect of peanut consumption could be due, in part, to its beneficial effect on artery health.”



© Twin Cities Public Television - 2016. All rights reserved.



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Growing Older Has Its Benefits

6 good reasons to celebrate your age

By Bart Astor for Next Avenue


Credit: Thinkstock


“Don’t trust anyone over 30,” Bob Dylan warned us. Then he turned 31 and changed his tune. When Gloria Steinem was asked her age some 41 years ago, the audience gasped at her response. Steinem chided them: “Folks, this is what 40 looks like.”

As children we measured our years in fractions: “I’m three and a half!” rounding it off to four as soon as we could. My father did the same much later on, only in reverse, insisting that he was not almost 96, but 95 and three-quarters. In middle age, we don’t use fractions; we use euphemisms such as “50-plus” or “third age.” And you’re not “old” now until you hit 85.

More Upsides Than Downsides

What’s with this desire to deny our actual age — especially as we grow older? Certainly there are some downsides to aging, but I argue that there are considerably more upsides. And not just that hackneyed joke about it being better than the alternative.

For starters, you can finally collect that Social Security check you contributed to all those years.

Then there’s Medicare — a terrific, wonderfully affordable health insurance program. For most low- and middle-income people, the cost is just about a hundred bucks per month, not counting prescription drug coverage. It’s not perfect (I’d love to see more doctors accept new Medicare patients, which won’t happen until the reimbursement rates are more in alignment with costs, and I’d love to see vision and dental care included), but for the most part, I’m thrilled with my coverage.

Then there are the discounts. You can go skiing for half the cost. Free, if you’re 85 or older. You can ride the Metro in Washington, D.C., and the New York City subway for about half the regular price, even in rush hour. Movie theaters offer senior rates. And there are thousands of discounts available to those who are over 65. AARP membership brings with it even more benefits.

A Positive Outlook

Those are just the financial benefits. Study after study has shown that older folks — those of us in our 60s and 70s — report higher self-esteem, greater emotional stability and a more positive outlook on life than those who are younger.

Another privilege of age: accepting help. Recently a gaggle of us oldsters attempted to put up a beach tent. Our fingers weren’t as strong as they used to be, so we were struggling with some rusty hardware when a group of younger people came over and gave us the oomph we needed. It’s amazing to see the number of people who will come forward to lend a hand.

Sure, ageism is alive and well, in particular holding back people in the hiring arena. But, as best-selling author and Next Avenue contributor Kerry Hannon points out: “Companies are realizing that it’s strategically smart to pay to more attention to recruiting and retaining workers age 50 and older.” Hannon adds that employers are well aware that workers 50 and older are more loyal and not as likely as younger workers to job jump.

And if you’re not getting enough respect at home, maybe it’s time to travel overseas? In many parts of the world, age is revered. It’s time we start doing the same and embracing our age. It’s time we stand up and declare our pride in being older.

© Twin Cities Public Television - 2016. All rights reserved.



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Friday, July 1, 2016

Wesley Palms Offers Fine Dining

Resident favorites and culinary creations highlight menu

Wesley Palms residents are looking for a taste of the good life, in more ways than one. Whether based on traditions from their kitchens or dishes from favorite residents, Wesley Palms residents share their passion for good food.

“Residents tell us that dining well is very important to them,” said Muhannad Sofi, Wesley Palms dining room manager. “At Wesley Palms we take that to heart by creating a unique dining experience. In some ways we are reinventing retirement living cuisine.”

Executive Chef Sean O’Leary, his food and beverage professionals, and Muhannad, create high-quality dishes from scratch paying attention to culinary trends and resident requests.

“We’ve introduced a new bistro menu that features 16 items mostly made from scratch,” said Sean, a graduate from the Western Culinary Institute. “Among them are salmon, beef tenderloin, chicken, shrimp, barbeque, seasonal items, a variety of salads, homemade soups and breakfast anytime.”

Just like fine dining restaurants, Wesley Palms features a seasonally inspired menu of creative dishes and old favorites. And with an ever-changing array of fresh daily specials, boredom doesn’t stand a chance. In celebration of the community’s revitalization project, each Tuesday night the dining rooms serves a “Redevelopment Special” entrée that rotates among lamb shank, beef tenderloin, lobster, jumbo shrimp, large sea scallops, prime rib, Alaskan Halibut as well as other resident favorites. Lunch time on Thursdays features a barbeque menu and residents enjoy happy hour Mondays through Fridays with a pianist.

Sean and Muhannad take pride in using superior, locally sourced ingredients, including fruits, vegetables and herbs. Gluten-free, sugar-free and low-sodium items are offered for all types of dietary needs and tastes.

“Our residents are always number one,” Muhannad said. “Communication is key among dining room staff, kitchen staff and the residents. We have consistently received above average scores on resident satisfaction surveys when it comes to dining. We want to make sure we maintain those high scores.”

Regular discussions with the dining room manager and executive chef ensure that residents have the opportunity to provide feedback. “The residents get involved in the dining experience,” Sean said. “We rely on their feedback and suggestions to always improve. We even have a menu suggestion box.”

Residents can choose to sit indoors or on the adjacent patio overlooking Mission Bay and enjoy a colorful garden salad or a delectable entrée and mouthwatering dessert. The dining room and patio are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Residents can always expect the dining experience at Wesley Palms to be a special treat.