*** October 2009 ***
* E-zine *

This Month's Highlights:
· Get Ready for Flu Season
· Food—Good and Tasty
· Social Security COLA = 0

Fall Bursts Out
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We hear about it in so many different tones: Is it here? Is the vaccination ready? Is there still time? Does it even matter?

Avoiding Sickness Always Matters.
More so to any senior, so the answer to the last question is the obvious: "Of course it does." This kind of common sense can be applied to many of the other questions surrounding the H1N1 virus, or as it is commonly called, "swine flu."

What is it?
Swine flu does indeed come from pigs. Pigs can become infected with both avian and human virus, and when that happens the simple yet effective building blocks of virus can swap around with each other. Scientists call this effect "reorganization," and the result is a new virus type. The H1N1 virus can be especially dangerous for young children, pregnant mothers, and seniors.

How Should we Avoid it?
How should one avoid getting sick with a cold or flu? H1N1 is, after all, a flu virus. The best advice is wash your hands for a full twenty seconds, and do so often throughout your day. Be aware of what you touch in public areas and you'll find yourself being compulsive about it, though you don't need to be. Just wash often, and always before meals, or before handling food, just as your mother told you. As with any other cold or flu, remember: It is very important to cover your mouth with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze, and stay away from risks like overexertion, under-eating, and chills, as you normally would. Carrying small bottles of hand-sanitizers can be of great help-your hands won't get chapped, and some brands smell good, while some have no odor at all.

If you're looking after someone in your life who is living alone, be sure they are running their heater at night when appropriate, as well as the air conditioning in hot weather.
Be sure they are eating regular meals, like you always do, and that they are generally practicing good hygiene and housekeeping. It seems so simple, yet these daily factors of living are important protections against disease.

Who is at Risk?
Well, most of us. However there are certain populations that need to be extra vigilant:

  • Adults over 25, and up to age 64 who have long-standing medical conditions such as asthma, chronic lung disease, diabetes, or heart disease;
  • Pregnant women;
  • Parents and caretakers of babies under six months, or children who have naturally low immune response;
  • Health-care and emergency workers.

How is it Administered?
The vaccination can be made by injection or by nasal spray. You will need two doses of the vaccine. The reason for two shots has to do with how the human body responds to vaccinations. The first shot makes the body aware of the virus. The second injection really starts the body's natural building of antibodies to fight the invader. If you had been exposed to the virus previously your body would be better prepared. But since you probably haven't, it takes two doses that build upon each other to produce the desired antiviral response in the body. It takes time for the body to build up resistance, so the sooner you get vaccinated the better.

What is the Season?
The season is underway now, and may continue through March or April. The new school year will likely cause a spread of the disease through classrooms, but the vaccine will not be available until mid- or late October because of the time it takes to make the millions of doses required.

Is it Safe?
This vaccine is made the same way that modern, successful seasonal influenza vaccines have been made for decades. The CDC is actively screening for post-vaccination side effects, as well.

What About Thimerosal?
Thimerosal is a preservative used in multi-dose vials of vaccine. It is made from mercury, and although claimed by the manufacturers of vaccine to be safe, many people wish to avoid it, nonetheless. You may wish to as well, and you may be able to. There are nasal-spray and single-dose, pre-measured syringes available for children and pregnant women. However, people who suffer asthma may not be able to use the nasal spray.

Are You Allergic to Eggs?
If you are allergic to eggs you should not take the current vaccine. It is egg-based, and any person who is allergic to eggs may have a negative reaction. Your physician can provide you with antiviral alternatives should you become sick with the H1N1 virus, so contact him or her immediately should you become ill.

The federal government has a lunched a site to help us all out here:

You'll find more here as well:

Additional health information may be found at:

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We're eating more chicken, less beef. What else can we do to keep-or make ourselves-healthier, and still enjoy our food, and, incidentally, eating more on the cheap?



Here are some suggestions, adapted from

  1. Eat more fruits: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, nectarines. That's not too difficult at this time of the year. We should also eat more of other colorful fruits, such as grapes, pomegranates, plums, tomatoes, oranges, blueberries, raspberries, and even avocadoes (yes, they're fruits, too). Try stuffing them with shrimp, tuna, or crab salad. I like to scrape them right out of their skins, spritz them with a little lemon or lime juice, and eat them with a spoon. The Haas avocadoes are the pebbly ones, and they have the most flavor. Aim for two cups of fruits or more a day, along with the same amount of vegetables. They help prevent heart inflammation.
  2. More whole grains and mixed grains: Who doesn't love rye bread, either with caraway seeds, or, for those of us who can't digest them, seedless (and they now make seedless rye with caraway flavoring)? Try whole wheat bagels, whole-grain cereals, brown rice, tofu (yes, take the plunge! Stir-fry it in olive oil instead of heavier shortening. Your heart will thank you). And, though it doesn't quite fit in here, eat more peanut butter. Personally, I hate peanut-butter sandwiches (can't stand that stick-to-your-teeth feeling), but I love peanut butter smeared on lettuce leaves, and then rolled up. If you like the taste of onion try putting a little bit of peanut butter or cashew butter on scallions. Better still, put the scallions in your sandwich. It cuts the sticky, and, combined with whole-grain bread, gives you lots more nutrition-bang-for-your-buck. And instead of breading your chicken or fish with ordinary breadcrumbs, try using crushed dry whole-grain cereal.
  3. Which brings us back to nuts. In addition to peanut butter, peanuts are a terrific TV-watching snack, if you don't drop the shells all over the couch. Walnuts, peanuts and pistachios take some time to shell and eat, so you're not consuming as many calories as you would if you were eating peanut-butter cookies or walnut brownies, and they're a lot better for you. They come in both salted and unsalted, roasted and natural varieties. Peanut butter is also pretty good in stir-fry type recipes, such as the one below. Try the natural brands. They don't have added corn syrup and artificial flavorings. Don't forget cashews and cashew butter. If you like them you'll probably like the tuna-cashew salad recipe below. Soybeans, salted or dried, are good for your heart and are very tasty. Keep your consumption to about a handful a day. Fresh soybeans can be consumed as vegetables. Think of them as furry string beans.
  4. Dark chocolate and alcohol: Who would have thought? Again, a little bit every day, not a lot, is good for your heart. We're told that a glass, not a bottle, of red wine every day does your heart good. Women should consume less. Ask your doctor about alcohol consumption in your particular case. Less than an ounce of dark chocolate daily helps keep a healthy heart. And it tastes so good!
  5. Fish: Salmon, tuna (canned, and not in oil) and other lean fish are good for your heart, being rich in omega-3 fatty acids. While it's recommended that you eat three portions a week, this can seem a lot until you realize you've been eating tuna fish sandwiches a couple of times a week all along, so knock yourself out ? have a piece of flounder or halibut for dinner once a week, as well. Shrimp and lobster may not be as healthy for you, as they contain fats that are not unsaturated, so take it easy on them.

Try to avoid the foods that age your heart, such as salt, sugar, and saturated fats such as butter. If you're used to having cream in your coffee, switch to half-and-half for a week, then work your way down to whole milk and then to two-percent milk. The taste and mouth feel is pretty much the same, and you may not be aware of the difference. Too much salt isn't good for you, either. Watch out for hidden sodium in soy sauce, oriental foods, canned vegetables and soups ? read the labels and choose low-sodium versions and overdoing snack foods such as pretzels and potato chips can be dangerous.

Tuna Salad and Cashew Sandwiches (2 to 4 servings)

1 6 oz. can water-packed tuna
1/2 cup diced celery or cucumber, or combination
1/2 cup roasted cashews (unsalted), coarsely chopped
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
lettuce leaves (green ones ? iceberg lettuce is mostly water)
Optional: capers, minced onion, chopped parsley, pickle relish

Mix everything together and make sandwiches on good bread, or serve on lettuce leaves.

Broccoli With Garlic Butter and Cashews (serves 2)

1/2 lb. fresh or ¾ lb. frozen broccoli (defrost first), cut into bite-size pieces
1-1/2 teaspoons butter
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
3/4 teaspoon white vinegar
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2/3 clove garlic, minced; or ½ teaspoon powdered garlic
1 tablespoon whole or halved AND 1 tablespoon chopped salted cashews (use a rolling pin)

  1. Cook frozen broccoli a little less than package instructions (to keep it crisp), or, if fresh, 7 minutes, with one inch of water in pan. Drain, arrange on serving plate.
  2. While broccoli cooks, melt butter in a small fry pan, add all ingredients except cashews. Bring to boil, add cashews, pour over broccoli, serve at once.

Hot Peanut Sauce (about 4 servings)

4 tablespoons natural peanut butter
4 tablespoons hot water
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1-1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

Combine peanut butter and water to make a smooth paste, stir in soy sauce, then brown sugar, mix together until smooth. Add the cayenne and lemon juice.
Serve over cooked noodles and broccoli or green beans and chicken chunks.

The latter two recipes are from

While we're cooking, let us not forget that we still need lots of protein, even if we are cutting back on the beef and other red meats. An adult over the age of 60 needs even more (though just a little more) protein than a younger adult of the same height and activity level. Canned anchovies and sardines are so good for us, as are good-quality salmon and tuna. And though it can still be pretty darn warm out there, your homemade chicken soup will still hit the spot on a cool-ish summer evening.

Eat well, be healthy!

Find related books of interest at

Additional health information may be found at:

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1. No Social Security COLA Raise for 2010
The Social Security trustees are projecting that there will not be a cost of living adjustment (COLA) for 2010 or 2011. This will be the first time since 1975 that there has been no raise. The table lists the recent COLA percentages. COLA is tied to inflation, which this year has been negative. This is mostly because of significantly lower energy costs. The law does not allow Social Security benefits to go down. However, Medicare prescription drug program premiums are slated to move up a bit. These premiums are deducted from Social Security payments, thus lowering the amount of your monthly check.

Additional insurance information may be found at



2. Help for Vets at State Nursing Homes
The Department of Veterans Affairs has begun to implement a two-year-old law requiring it to reimburse severely disabled veterans for the cost of care at state-run nursing homes. President George W. Bush signed into law a bill in 2006 that required the VA to reimburse the full cost for veterans with a 70 percent or greater service-connected disability who require nursing-home care. Congress intended the law to be implemented by March, 2007; however the VA did not comply with this requirement.
The implementation delay has forced some elderly veterans to spend their life savings before they could qualify for Medicaid payments to cover the cost of care at a nursing home.

Additional insurance information may be found at

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

Buster Keaton - "Tragedy is a close-up; comedy, a long shot."

Alicia Silverstone - "I don't feel like a dream girl; in my real life, I'm this weird, dorky girl who just hangs out with her dog."

Grant Hill - "Parents, they're strict on you when you're little, and you don't understand why. But as you get older, you understand and you appreciate it."

Karen Allen - "Eventually you love people-friends or lovers-because of their flaws."

Kate Winslet - "Life is short, and it is here to be lived."

More "Thoughts" at:

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1. Appliance Repair - You Can do it!
For saving money, little is better than fixing your broken electronics and small appliances on your own. You can post your problem on The site will help you conduct repairs via tips from online technical experts. The site has a searchable database to locate your item by manufacturer or type of appliance. Your item may have come with a users' guide for troubleshooting. It should be the first thing you consult before beginning repairs. If you can't find it, look for the manufacturer's website and the online user's guide for the item of interest.

2. Those Pesky Navigation Device Errors
If you have used a navigation device with any regularity, you probably have encountered the pleasure of mistakenly being sent down a dead-end street-or worse. To help yourself and others in the future, report such errors to the mapmakers. The maps in most devices are made by either Navteq or TeleAtlas. Visit their website ( or and report the error you have experienced.

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1. Things to Ask Your Smart Friends

- How come hard work pays off in the future and laziness pays off now?

- How much deeper would the ocean be without sponges?

- Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.

- What happens if you get scared half to death twice?

- Why do psychics have to ask you your name?

2. For Those Who Love the Philosophy of Ambiguity

- Can vegetarians eat animal crackers?

- If the police arrest a mime, do they tell him he has the right to remain silent?

- Why do they put Braille on the drive-through bank machines?

- How do they get deer to cross the road only at those yellow road signs?

- What was the best thing before sliced bread?

For more fun and jokes visit "Oh My Aging Funny Bone" at:

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

Copyright 2009, 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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