Nov - Dec 2013 E-zine

This Issue's Highlights:
· Cruising Through the Winter
· Diabetes Help for Seniors
· Robots and Sensors for Seniors

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"All seasons have something to offer"
- Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle
All seasons have something to offer - Jeannette Walls

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by Betsy Day

As the cold weather settles in over most of the country, a young--well, not so young, person's fancy turns towards a nice, warm vacation. And what sweeter memories or dreams have we for vacations than cruises--those pampered, slow days in the sun, those lavish room-service breakfasts in bed, those mink coats spreading grandly over the shoulders of coiffed women--oh, wait! That was long ago, and, my, how things have changed.

CruisiingToday's cruises are still ideal vacations for older persons; indeed, there are cruises specifically FOR seniors, and nowadays they tend to be much more informal both in attire and in attitude. Although chandeliers and sweeping staircases still flourish on the larger ships, smaller vessels are apt to be friendlier, featuring open dinnertimes and more senior-appropriate activities.

A situation that often comes up for seniors is The Single Question. You'll be glad to know that cruise lines recently have gotten around to increasing the number of single cabins available. Smaller lines, in addition to being less formal, are likely to provide more of these accommodations. Because they are logically noted for smaller public spaces, smaller cruise ships are easier venues in which to meet fellow-passengers. You're more likely to meet new companions playing Trivial Pursuit and backgammon in the lounge or eating dinner in a single sitting than you are on a huge ship with more structured programs. Also, many ships will offer to place singles with other singles at dinner.

There are many advantages to vacationing on a ship. For one thing, cruising has become much more affordable. Though your dinner companions probably won't be glamorous movie stars, you can find warm-water cruises for as little as $100 a day per person, meals included, and you won't be stinted on comfort. (If you're considering inter-generational sailing, kids stay free in cabins with two or more occupants on many lines.) Where else can you find a vacation so reasonable in cost?

As opposed to a shore vacation, cruising means you only have to unpack once. Because you know where you'll be stopping, you'll know beforehand just what sorts of clothing to bring, and generally what to expect from the weather; your hotel-in-the-water goes where you go, not the other way around. You'll also have a daily ship's paper to guide you through the day's special activities and brief you on the ports-of-call, so that all your surprises will be pleasant ones.

What to pack? This will vary from line to line, because some are more casual than others, but generally it is no longer required that "gentlemen's attire" include a tuxedo, though jackets, and sometimes even a dark suit, are encouraged for formal dinners. Women should expect to dress for dinner except on some of the determinedly informal lines such as Swedish-American. However, on a small ship, jeans may be appropriate dinner-wear for both women and men.

While the larger ships are more luxurious, smaller ships have the advantage of being more senior-friendly because of their size. No acre-long dance floors here, but you're more likely to meet new companions by playing board games or bridge in the lounge or reading in the library. One-sitting dining also makes it easier to meet fellow passengers. The food probably won't be the gourmet presentation you'd expect on a large ship, but it'll be tasty and plentiful. (As on the large ships, smaller lines can accommodate special diets.) My experience has been that the presence of native guides and even Forest Service members on a small-ship cruise emphasizes nature to make for an extraordinary learning experience, as well as a vacation.

Many lines consider themselves to be minor learning centers. Some of the larger ones, such as Princess Cruises, Celebrity, and the queen of luxury, Crystal, feature enrichment programs with classes ranging from culinary arts to glass-blowing, Rosetta Stone® and Berlitz to HTML, photography to wine-tasting. Of course, there are still all-day and part-day excursions to be made. For a more relaxing time, you may choose to spend some of them on the beach under a palm tree rather than scooting through pre-chosen stores and markets looking for souvenirs for the grandkids. Another benefit of cruising, whether on large ships or small, luxury liners or Merchant Marine vessels, is that you get to meet people from all over the country and the world, thus broadening your horizons. This is another type of education entirely.

Kids have their own spaces on larger lines. Younger children will have separate activity facilities from teens, and generally, families meet for mealtimes. This leaves bars, pools, casinos, spas, and some computer facilities free for the grownups. On the smaller ships it's a family affair. (However, I've never seen pre-teens on a smaller cruise ship.)

Many lines have no-smoking policies, or partial ones. Disney prohibits smoking entirely; other lines permit it only in designated areas. You are generally permitted to drink alcohol in your cabin and in licensed public spaces. If these regulations are important to you, check with your line before you book. And to save a large chunk of change, find out what your crusie line’s policy is as to BYOB(s).

Here are a few sites on cruising that will tell you what you can expect from specific cruise lines and specific ships. and especially have lots of general and specific information on individual ships, in addition to the answers to questions such as "Where do I leave my car before I board?" and "Do I need passports for the grandkids?" (The answer to the latter question, by the way, is yes.)

By the way, this article, as I began to write it, sorted itself into the categories of big ship, little ship. I hope that my personal experience and preference for the latter will not influence yours.

Learn more about Senior aging choices at

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Diabetes is a group of metabolic diseases in which a person has high blood sugar, either because the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced. This high blood sugar produces the classical symptoms of frequent urination, increased thirst and increased hunger.

Untreated, diabetes can cause many complications. Serious long-term complications include cardiovascular disease, chronic renal failure, and retinal damage. Adequate treatment of diabetes is thus important, as well as blood pressure control and lifestyle factors such as stopping smoking and maintaining a healthy body weight.

All forms of diabetes have been treatable since insulin became available in 1921, and type 2 diabetes may be controlled with medications.

For seniors, Medicare provides a wide range of coverage for diabetes and its related symptoms.

Original Medicare is fee-for-service coverage under which the government pays your health care providers directly for your Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and/or Part B (Medical Insurance) benefits.

If you have other insurance that supplements Original Medicare, like a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy, it may pay some of the costs for the services for diabetes. Contact your plan's benefits administrator for more information.

If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO) or other Medicare health plan, your plan must give you at least the same coverage as Original Medicare, but it may have different rules. Your costs, rights, protections, and choices for where you get your care might be different if you’re in one of these plans. You might also get extra benefits. Read your plan materials, or call your benefits administrator, for more information about your benefits.

The chart locate at provides a quick overview of some of the services and diabetes supplies covered by Medicare (Part B and Part D). Generally, Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers the services that may affect people who have diabetes. In addition, Medicare Part B covers some preventive services for people who are at risk for diabetes. Medicare Part D (Medicare prescription drug coverage) also covers diabetes supplies used for injecting or inhaling insulin. You must have Part B to get services and supplies covered under Part B. You must be enrolled in a Medicare drug plan to get supplies covered under Part D.

Here are some good tips to help control diabetes

Eating right

Talk with your doctor about what you eat, how much you eat, and when, plus how much you should weigh.

Taking medicine

Take your medicines as directed.


Be active for a total of 30 minutes most days.

Things to check

Check your blood sugar (glucose) as often as your doctor tells you.

Check your feet for cuts, blisters, sores, swelling, redness, or sore toenails.

Check your blood pressure often.

Have your doctor check your cholesterol.

If you smoke, you should talk with your doctor about how you can quit.

More information is available to help you make health care choices and decisions that meet your needs. You can order free booklets, and look at information on the Internet. For example, visit

For more information about diabetes, visit, or contact the organizations listed below:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
(Inquiries and Publications)
CDC Division of Diabetes Translation
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, Georgia 30333

Food and Drug Administration (FDA), DHHS

American Diabetes Association.

Learn more about Medicare help for seniors at:


1. The Robots and Sensors are Coming
The aging of the boomer generation has focused market forces on the need for aids and tools to ease the resultant physical and mental challenges.

Here are a few of the current crop of devices and solutions to make life better.

  • Convenient apps on PCs and tablets, like Keep-in-Touch
  • Home robots like iRobot's vacuums and bathroom and kitchen floor cleaners
  • Multi-sensor kiosks or stations for health monitoring. Such a kiosk is designed to monitor a patient's total well-being, including blood pressure, blood oxygen levels, handgrip, weight, hearing, visual acuity and stress levels. Tests are scheduled by and results reported to a clinician without a traditional office visit. As a communal tool, the kiosk gives senior citizens access to easy, convenient and affordable evaluations of their health on a regular or recurring basis
  • High-bandwidth houses where ease of Internet access is fully exploited to monitor and control home activities.
  • Multiple and single-tasked mobile robots to detect people lying on the floor, remind them about taking their medications, provide remote video and audio for caregivers and medical personnel, act as a security robot in the night to detect intrusions, fire and smoke, and to call for help, etc.
  • Remote listening stations and dispatch centers to monitor elder activity for health and safety.

Find out more about the robot projects at

Learn more about the aging process at

2. Getting a Handyman
Hiring a small-jobs handyman can be a stressful experience. To avoid the stress, it is best to assure good communication on the specifics of the job, as well as the expected cost and schedule. Once a good handyman is found, he or she will become a valuable part of your network.

Getting the project scope, cost and schedule in writing is always a good start. It will provide an excellent departure point if there are any issues as the project progresses.

Having some references from your handyman helps assure a reliable and professional project completion. Using the Internet to get reviews and opinions on your handyman is big plus. Angie's List and Yelp are a couple of good stops. Since you are letting the person into your home, make sure you know his or her background. Several sites on the Internet provide background checks, if needed.

To help meet your budget, you might want to consider the timing of your project. The March through October time period finds handymen most busy. Avoiding this period may provide the cheapest approach. To further reduce costs, lump several small projects together so the number of visits to your house is minimized. While the national average cost of a handyman project is $495, prices can vary widely depending on the project and where the job is located. Here are some national averages.

Average National Cost
Repair a Bath Fan $255
Install Weather-Stripping $363
Install a Bath Fan $396
Repair Tile & Grout $433
Repair Cabinets $456
Install Childproofing Devices $506
Install Holiday Lighting $507
Repair an Awning $677
Install Awning $2,552
Refinish Cabinets $2,671
Reface Cabinets $7,350

Find Aging in Place information at:


We present here some words from those with a birthday this period.

Danny DeVito - "There are two dilemmas that rattle the human skull: How do you hang on to someone who won't stay? And how do you get rid of someone who won't go?"

Jodie Foster - "Love and respect are the most important aspects of parenting, and of all relationships."

Meg Ryan - "Oh, I'm so inadequate–and I love myself!"

Shigeru Miyamoto - "Video games are bad for you? That's what they said about rock-n-roll."

Tom Seaver - "There are only two places in the league–first place and no place."

More "Thoughts" at:

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1. Website Focus on Honor, Remembrance
The American Legion has a webpage focused on honor and remembrance. They collect and publish stories of interest about those who have dedicated their lives to keeping our nation safe. The scope of stories include:

  • Legacy stories. Examples of your stories could include: Generations of family members who have served the United States, siblings who enlisted, or a family member's commitment to the armed forces.

  • Post activities. Such as a dedicated museum; or recent awards.

  • Legion Riders. How individuals are helping to honor veterans, provide escorts to funerals or other services, or assist in another way.

To enjoy the stories or to submit a story and photo, visit Submissions also may be mailed to Honor and Remembrance, c/o The American Legion Magazine, 700 N. Pennsylvania St., Indianapolis, IN 46204.

2. Top Secret Reconnaissance Satellites Revealed
Three formerly classified reconnaissance satellites are on public display in the Cold War Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, and at their website

During the Cold War, the U.S. relied on photo reconnaissance satellites to track adversaries' weapons development, especially in the Soviet Union and China. From the early 1960s to mid-1980s, photography from space was often the only way to get critical data about nuclear threats.

The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), Department of Defense (DoD), U.S. Air Force, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and industry worked together to create amazingly complex and capable satellites. Intelligence gained from these systems proved critical in winning the Cold War.

These satellites' powerful cameras used long rolls of thin plastic light-sensitive film to make photonegatives--the cameras were not digital like many of today's cameras. Negatives exposed in space came back to earth in film- return capsules to be developed and studied.

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1. Quips to Ease Your Frustration With People:

  • A few beers short of a six-pack
  • A few fries short of a Happy Meal
  • Body by Fisher, brains by Mattel
  • Her sewing machine's out of thread
  • Dumber than a box of hair
  • He fell out of the Stupid tree and hit every branch on the way down
2. Easy Thinking
An elephant and turtle
An elephant was drinking out of a river one day, when he spotted a turtle asleep on a log. So, he ambled on over and kicked it clear across the river.
"What did you do that for?" asked a passing giraffe.
"Because I recognized him as the same turtle who took a nip out of my trunk 53 years ago."
"Wow, what a memory," commented the giraffe.
"Yes," said the elephant, "turtle recall."

"Oh My Aging Funny Bone" is at:


This issue has been edited by Betsy Day ([email protected]).

Copyright 2013, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Information in this document is subject to change without notice. Other products, service and companies named herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or mark holders and are solely responsible for the content of their articles. Articles are included for informational purposes and are not an endorsement.

This Copyright E-zine may be forwarded to others only if sent in its entirety. Other uses are subject to written permission of the publisher.

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