*** December 2010 ***
* E-zine *

This Month's Highlights:
· Holiday Spirit Poem
· Volunteering – Giving Back
· Ten Tips for Tenants

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A1. Holiday Greetings and Thoughts

We at hope you and yours have a

wonderful set of holidays. As we share the season of giving (and receiving), we include a poem for enriching your special moments.

The poet grew up in the southern portion of New Jersey, the Garden State. Tomatoes, corn, peaches and other fruits and veggies had a special flavor there. She maintains friendships with many South Jersey high school friends, where diversity was savored. The Atlantic Ocean was only 40 minutes to the east. The sound of waves dashing on the shore continues to captive her, although the ocean she now views from her Southern California patio is the Pacific. Happy holidays to all!

The Essence of My Science © M G Kardell

I am not a scientist, never was, never will be.
It is too late for that study.
If I visit the moon, it will not be in a rocket I build, but
Under the steam of my dreams.

I dreamt of a family
I would joyfully lullaby. Celebrate high times. Celebrate milestones.
Celebrate under the sun and the moon.
And when the tides of life sweep sadness onto our shifting shores, comfort each
other. Be comfortable with each other. Even when uncomfortable,
try to be a comfort.

I am not a scientist, never was, never will be.
But I understand some things about the science of our human hearts.
I understand we share dna;
science shows we all descend from four
ancient Mothers

I understand the rhythms of motherhood, because I have danced it,
thru the croup, the pox, the runny noses, watery eyes, earaches, sore throats
and thru homework, dating, hurt feelings and sometimes heart-tears
a Mother can not mend.
Sis boom bah…I dance to its drums,
and am humbled by sirens of bringing life
into our circular cac-op-hony,

I am not a scientist, never was, never will be.
Our heart strings are strummed in a similar way.
The cycle of human life plays its melodies
through our deep breathing
And our heart beats. Listen, listen, listen.

Feel the rhythm of our human condition.
We hold hands, we chant, we circle and circle and circle.
Nature unites us. Human nature binds us. Human touch defines us.
No matter what your mother tongue, I am part of you. You are part of me.

It isn’t rocket science.
The silvery moon changes its shape as our
Earth circles round our sun.
Its warmth radiates and brings a kiss to our lips.

Ideas for giving at this festive time are here:

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As the holidays approach, many of us our counting are blessings this year and wondering how can we give back to the community. The perfect answer is volunteering. Volunteering is a great way to keep busy, meet new people, give you a great sense of accomplishment, and it may improve your long-term health. Finding the right outlet for community outreach is easier than ever. The Internet provides a host of websites that will lead you in the direction that is right for you. 'Tis the season to give back and see what unexpected treasures you will receive in return.

These days, more and more older Americans are realizing that volunteering is a perfect way for them to remain active, creative, and productive in their later years. An estimated half-million Americans age 55 and over now regularly lend a hand to local nonprofits, public agencies, and faith-based organizations. Thanks to the Internet and a nonprofit Web site called VolunteerMatch, finding an organization in need of volunteer help has never been easier. The site has already helped more than 29,000 nonprofits post over 30,000 volunteer opportunities online. Visitors to the site simply enter their ZIP code at to find local opportunities. Volunteers can also search by interest, date and keyword to generate a personally customized list. Once an opportunity is found, all it takes is a click to contact the organization and get involved. Any nonprofit or tax-exempt organization can list volunteer opportunities on VolunteerMatch. Many of the organizations listed, including Elder Wisdom Circle and RSVP (the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program), provide great opportunities for seniors looking to "get out and do good."

Another great reason to get out and volunteer is that it could actually improve your health. Using magnetic resonance imaging, researchers at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University found that older adults who participated in a youth-mentoring program made gains in key brain regions that support cognitive abilities important to planning and organizing one's daily life. "We found that participating in a volunteer program resulted in improvements in cognitive functioning and this was associated with significant changes in brain activation patterns," says lead investigator Michelle Carlson, associate professor in the Bloomberg School's Department of Mental Health and Center on Aging and Health. "Essentially, the intervention improved brain and cognitive function in these older adults." Carlson says the study is the first of its kind to examine the effect of Experience Corps, a national volunteer service program that trains seniors to help children in urban public schools with reading and academic success in other areas. The program is designed to benefit both children and older adults' health and can have the added benefits of improving the cognitive abilities of seniors, enhancing their quality of life.

The study followed 17 women who were 65 and older. Half participated in existing Experience Corps programs in Baltimore, Md., schools, while the other half were wait-listed to enroll in Experience Corps the following year. Participants were evaluated at enrollment and again six months later. The evaluation included brain scans and cognitive function testing. "While the results of this study are preliminary, they hold promise for enhancing and maintaining brain reserve in later life, particularly among sedentary individuals who may benefit most urgently from behavioral interventions like Experience Corps," says Carlson, who is now leading a functional MRI study as part of a large-scale randomized trial of the Baltimore Experience Corps Program. "As life expectancies increase, it's important, from a public health standpoint, to delay the onset of diseases associated with aging," explains senior author Linda Fried, dean of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. "This study suggests that new kinds of roles for older adults in our aging society can be designed as a win-win, for addressing important societal needs, such as our children's success, and simultaneously the health and well-being of the older volunteers themselves."

About 78 million Americans were born from 1946 to 1964. The researchers say that because individuals of retirement age are the fastest-growing sector of the U.S. population, there is understandably great interest in preserving their cognitive and physical abilities, especially given the societal cost of the alternative. There is another study that finds, like many before it, that keeping the mind and body active appears to slow many of the signs and consequences of aging for senior citizens. And, like other studies, this one finds that volunteer work seems to produce the best results. Frailty is a geriatric condition marked by weight loss, low energy and strength, and low physical activity. UCLA researchers followed 1,072 healthy adults aged 70 to 79 between 1988 and 1991 to determine if productive activities -- specifically volunteering, paid work and child care -- prevent the onset of frailty. At the beginning of the study, 28 percent of participants volunteered, 25 percent performed childcare duties and 19 percent worked for pay. After three years, participants in all three activities were found to be less likely to become frail. After accounting for levels of physical and cognitive function, however, only volunteering was associated with lower rates of frailty. The study suggests that participating in volunteer activities may prevent frailty in older adults. A randomized trial is needed to determine whether volunteering itself prevents the onset of frailty, or if there is something about the types of people who volunteer regularly that keeps them from becoming frail.

Aside from the benefits to your health, one may consider how volunteering is a great way to get out and travel. The practice of combining volunteer service with travel dramatically expanded in popularity and accessibility during the last decades of the 20th century, along with the expansion of travel horizons in general. While longer term service abroad—six months, a year or more—has appealed mainly to the young, who often perceive it as a period of "finding or proving oneself" or building credentials and experience to strengthen a career direction, older people have quite a different agenda. Identifying and serving this agenda has revolutionized academic research timetables around the world, allowed charitable organizations and non-profits to move projects and services from dream to reality, and created an army of able-bodied individuals who are eager to share their experience of a lifetime as well as their considerable physical energy, enthusiasm, and--very importantly--their financial support for a good cause. Older people generally sign up for volunteer service for any of three good reasons, sometimes for all combined:

  1. A strong interest in a particular cause, project, or subject area, often related to a long-time hobby or an earlier career;
  2. A desire to visit a region in a "grassroots" way not easily accomplished by just passing through as a stranger, either on an organized tour or as an independent traveler; and
  3. A wish to give back something significant to a world that has been, by and large, economically kind and physically comfortable to them in their earlier years.

Unlike their younger counterparts, these volunteer recruits rarely want to be away from home for long blocks of time, preferring one week to a month at a time, though they may take two or three different volunteer "vacations" spread over the course of a year. Most are well educated, combining a high degree of task-oriented motivation with a lot of patience and attention to detail. Though some people will plan and carry out their volunteer travel independently, they more often like the camaraderie, security, and orderliness of a small-group experience. About 65 percent to 70 percent of older volunteer vacationers are women.

Many older people underscore the value of working side by side with people of different ages to achieve a common goal. However, they do like to know that the project is proven senior-friendly, with some others in their age bracket as a normal part of the mix. For many, intergenerational conversations and shared adventures are a refreshing change in societies where communications between young and old are often artificial and uncomfortable. Carefully selected volunteer vacations can establish common ground and a lifelong bond between family members of different ages, especially grandparents and grandchildren.

Expanding and creatively diversifying over the past 20 years, short-term volunteer vacations embrace the interests and harness the abilities of adults at different stages of their lives, even into their 80s. Participants not only donate their time and energy, but financially support their own presence on the project, and top it up with an added contribution to the program.

"Voluntourism" annually attracts hundreds of thousands of older adults to become part of an expanded short-term labor force within their own countries and abroad while paying to work hard on their vacations. Whether teaching English to eager classes of Chinese or Guatemalan students, tracking orangutans in Borneo's rainforests, unearthing dinosaur bones or archaeological ruins, building concrete block houses in impoverished regions, sailing out to sea to conduct marine mammal research, or caring for children at an orphanage in the Dominican Republic, an increasing number of retired and retiring people have caught the "voluntourism" bug. Volunteer vacations offer good value to those on a tight budget because they are priced to reflect living conditions and meal delivery at a lower expectation level than traditional vacations. Dormitory-style or shared accommodation with shared bathrooms, billeting in local homes, different levels of camping, as well as cafeteria or family-style food preparation and delivery may all be part of a particular project. Some may offer a surprising level of privacy and physical comfort—with air conditioning, private rooms, and gourmet chefs in the kitchen. Some provide educational lectures and entertainment in the evening, or organized group excursions to explore surrounding areas on days off.

Whether you are interested in just giving back or finding something new and interesting to contribute to, volunteering may be a great idea for you. As many seniors know, one of the biggest challenges of retirement is not just staying active, but getting satisfaction from their activities. Whether it's improving a golf swing or learning about interesting places through travel, keeping the body, mind, and spirit going is stimulating, fun, and healthy. Many seniors have discovered the joy of contributing their time, as well as their experience, to others through volunteering. Churches, schools and non-profit organizations—even police departments--are reaping the benefits of retired volunteers. But volunteers reap benefits as well. What better way to forget about your aches and pain than to get off the couch and help someone else? It’s the best medicine in the world! Don’t let your skills and experience retire when you leave your corporate job; share them with others in need--you will help them and you may find great joy in the process.


For more information on Understanding Aging, see

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1. No Social Security COLA for 2011
Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for more than 58 million Americans will not automatically increase in 2011.

The Social Security Act provides for an automatic increase in Social Security and SSI benefits if there is an increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) from the third quarter of the last year a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) was determined to the third quarter of the current year. As determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is no increase in the CPI-W from the third quarter of 2008, the last year a COLA was determined, to the third quarter of 2010, therefore, under existing law, there can be no COLA in 2011.

Other changes that would normally take effect based on changes in the national average wage index also will not take effect in January 2011. Since there is no COLA, the statute also prohibits a change in the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax as well as the retirement earnings test exempt amounts. These amounts will remain unchanged in 2011.

Information about Medicare changes for 2011 is found at The Department of Health and Human Services has announced that there will be no Medicare A premium changes for 2011. There will be no increase in the Medicare Part B premiums for more than 70 percent of beneficiaries. The law contains a "hold harmless" provision that protects that more-than-70-percent of beneficiaries from paying a higher Part B premium, in order to avoid reducing their net Social Security benefit. Those not protected include higher income beneficiaries subject to an income-adjusted Part B premium and beneficiaries newly entitled to Part B in 2011. In addition, almost 20 percent of beneficiaries have their Medicare Part B premiums paid by state medical assistance programs and thus will see no change in their Social Security benefit. The state will be required to pay any Medicare Part B premium increase.

2. Affordable Care Act's New Preventive Care Rules
There are new rules on preventive care as part of the Affordable Care Act. The regulations require private health plans to cover evidence-based preventive services and eliminate cost sharing for preventive care. The new rules move away from a sick care system that only treats people after they are already ill to a system that will also help keep Americans healthier in the first place. The change means that private plans are required to cover proven, effective preventive services without copayments.

3. Errors and Clarification
In our November Ezine article on "Steps to Preventing Dementia" item 3 should indicate that increases in folic acid, B-6 and B-12 may help lower homocysteine levels. Thanks to a reader who brought this to our attention.

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

Chet Huntley - "Maybe where there's clarity of air, there's clarity of thought."

Donny Osmond - "My father instilled in me the attitude of prevailing. If there's a challenge, go for it. If there's a wall to break down, break it down."

Fiorello La Guardia - "Politics is very much like taxes--everybody is against them, or everybody is for them as long as they don't apply to him."

Frank Sinatra - "The best revenge is massive success." xxx

Patty Duke - "It's toughest to forgive ourselves. So it's probably best to start with other people"

More "Thoughts" at:

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1. Ten Tips for Tenants
Know your rights when you rent a house or apartment.

  1. Bring your paperwork.

  2. Review the lease.
  3. Get everything in writing
  4. Protect your privacy rights.
  5. Demand repairs.
  6. Keep communication open with your landlord.
  7. Purchase renter's insurance.
  8. Protect your security deposit.
  9. Protect your safety.
  10. Deal with an eviction properly.

Learn more at

2. Perfect Gift for Talking Friend
Hooking a retro handset up to your cellphone or computer can recapture the good old days of honest-to-goodness conversations and makes a perfect gift for that special senior in your life. Before cellphones, the telephone handset was what truly connected you to your friends. Since 1920 the basic form of the handset has not changed, proof of its near perfect design. You can return to these conversation days of yore with a retro handset for your cellphone. Get one for your senior or yourself here.

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1. How to Call the Police
Roger Gresse, an elderly man, from Zanesville, OH, was going up to bed, when his wife told him that he'd left the light on in the garden shed. Roger opened the back door to go turn off the light, but saw that there were people in the shed stealing things.

He phoned the police, who asked, "Is someone in your house?"

He said "No," but some people are breaking into my garden shed and stealing from me."

Then the police dispatcher said. "All patrols are busy. You should lock your doors and an officer will be along when one is available."

Roger said, "Okay."

He hung up the phone and counted to 30.

Then he phoned the police again.

"Hello, I just called you a few seconds ago because there were people stealing things from my shed. Well, you don't have to worry about them now because I just shot them," and he hung up.

Within five minutes, six police cars, a SWAT team, a helicopter, two fire trucks, a paramedic, and an ambulance showed up at the Gresse residence, and caught the burglars red-handed.

One of the policemen said to Roger, "I thought you said that you'd shot them!"

Roger said, "I thought you said there was nobody available!"

2. Let's Be Friends
Annabelle was supposed to go out with this guy on Friday night. On Friday afternoon he called and said that he didn't think it was a good idea because he just wanted to be friends. So she hung up and called him back.

He answered, "Hello?"

She said, "Hey, friend, it's me. Want to hear what this jerk just did?"

The moral: Don't mess with Friday-night dates.

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

Copyright 2010, 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.

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