*** December 2007 ***
* E-zine *

This Month Highlights:
· In the Spirit of the Season
· It Does a Body Good
· Social Security for 2008


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It is's wish that you have a joyful holiday and a bountiful new year! As we
welcome in this season of the year, our minds and hearts turn to giving (and getting). Here is a personal story on how volunteerism helps both the giver and receiver.

Volunteering and Freecycle™ by Monique Theriault

In early 2004, my life took an interesting turn. I had just retired from my university job so I had a little more time on my hands. Volunteerism had always been part of my vocabulary but not until then did it become part of my daily life. But let me jump back a few months. At that time, a new online group had joined the Internet. Created by Deron Beale in Phoenix, AZ, in 2003, Freecycle hit the airwaves at flying speed. Deron's many friends caught the fever and soon there were Freecycle groups in several cities all over the country, courtesy of Yahoo Groups.

My daughter, who lived in Ithica, NY, at the time, loved the concept of Freecycle. It was designed to keep good stuff out of landfills and put it into the hands of those who could use it-- and, best of all, everything was totally free, including membership. Being the environment-conscious person that my daughter is, she started her own Freecycle group in her town of Ithica. But she didn't stop there. She thought that Orange County in California (her old stomping grounds) should benefit from the same. So she created FreecycleOC and invited all her friends and relatives in the OC to join this new group. Following her call, I joined the group when it consisted of only 39 members.

But the group grew exponentially and, soon, handling two groups became a bit much for this young mother/writer. So she posted a message asking for local volunteer moderators. That's when I volunteered to moderate this group, along with another OC member. To our delight, in two years time, our OC group grew to 5,000 members! There was a lot of giving and getting going on every day. Along with all this transfer of free merchandise (members can both give things away and/or ask for things they need) a new community was being formed.

In 2005, because of our size, the Freecycle network stepped in and asked us to break our large OC group into 9 local city groups. I then became a moderator on the Freecycle Huntington Beach group, one of the splinter groups. By this time, Freecycle had become part of my daily routine-my "at home" work. Every day, I would sit at my desk and approve messages and new members: I still do. It has been very fulfilling for me to do this work. It's fun to see what kinds of things members give away. A couple of times we have had offers for a boat, once for a trailer, baby items are a big thing-many a new mother who can't afford baby clothes has received those clothes from another mother whose baby has outgrown them. Many seniors who are downsizing to a smaller home have found that Freecycle is just the place to give their furniture to someone else who needs it. And, when we remodeled our home, it was surprising for us to find someone who wanted our old gutters, the pylons under our deck-even dirt that we had dug up for the remodel!

Our FreecycleHB group has grown to over 2,000+ members. We now have 2 co-owners and 4 other moderators who volunteer their time to this cause. And since our members are so enthusiastic and friendly, we even created an additional Yahoo group where we can help each other out in many other ways. Members of FreecycleHB make up this new "café" group where messages are exchanged on topics of recycling, helping our environment, gardening, finding skilled labor in our local cities, and so on. It's a great little community.

Many friendships have developed over the years in both FreecycleHB and on the café. It's been as much of a joy for me to volunteer my time to these groups as it has for the rest of our moderator crew, who really enjoy working together.

There are now 4,152 groups with 4,026,000 members across the globe.
If you would like more info on Freecycle, please go to:

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Are you an active person? Or are you a bit more sedentary? Were you active as a younger person and then just stopped? Was it an injury? Were you blessed with kids taking up all of your parent time? And now you wrangle with the grandkids?

The point is-you've stopped. Ever think about getting active in some way again? You should consider it for your health. As they say in the milk commercials: "It does a body good." Higher energy levels, better sleeping patterns, increased blood flow, strength, and stamina all result from moderate exercise.

The Chinese have known for centuries that they must move their bodies on a regular basis for health. Thousands of Chinese people young and old take to their parks each morning to exercise. Some just move their arms and legs about in various positions dating back thousands of years. Others do calisthenics. The daily ritual cranks up the metabolism, gets one out into the air, and in the case of the Chinese, promotes a sense of community among friends and neighbors.

Now in the U.S. the trend is picking up. In America it takes place largely at the gym. Many communities in colder climates see their shopping malls fill in the morning with walking seniors. This trend really picked up in the 90's; however today senior citizens are joining the gym. You ask: "What are they doing THERE?"

Mention the gym and some people immediately conjure up an image of sweaty men in a locker room. Perhaps for boxing, but that's not the type of "health club" we're talking about here. Senior citizens are doing lightweight exercise, balance, and motor skill improvement, weight loss programs to light cardiovascular exercise. Many people find working with the health professionals hired by the gym for personal training, and even diet advice from nutritionists helpful. Additional benefits for you? The community you'll meet: you'll be out and about. Seeing different people and making friends who are there for the same purpose-their health and mobility can be the result.

Even sports medicine is getting into the act. Yes, the bastion of pro sporting athletes is graying just like the rest of America. The University of Pittsburgh opened a center recently called the "Performance and Research Initiative for Masters Athletes." It offers sports competitors over 40 years of age a package of medical care, nutrition counseling, mental training and physical therapy. Sound like something only for young athletes? Well it used to be! Today, Americans over age 55 make up the fastest growing segment of health-club members.

The American heart Association has guidelines for senior citizen exercise. The goal for many seniors is 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days each week. For older people this may mean a moderate walk. It definitely means stretching exercises for many. Being limber can help prevent pulled muscles, for instance. Seniors commonly use Balance boards, exercises such as tai chi, balance balls, and coordination building. Balance becomes an important focus as the body ages. When older people take a fall it can be much tougher on the body for a host of reasons, from body and muscle mass levels, to bone loss. Recovery takes longer, too. You'll find classes at the gym that are low impact, moderate exercise for improving your balance and coordination.

Click here to visit the American College of Sports Medicine's guidelines on physical activity for seniors, and for those healthy adults under age 65 as well. Why not get your adult kids into the act too?

It is important to speak to your physician before you begin an exercise regimen to be sure you are not doing exercise appropriate for your neighbor or spouse, but for you! Aggravating an old injury won't do, either, so even if you're an old track and field coach, get some assistance before you plunge in headlong if it's been a few years since you were active. As always, do your homework-then get to the park or the gym!

Additional health information for seniors can be found at:

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Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits for more than 54 million Americans will increase 2.3 percent in 2008, the Social Security Administration announced last month. (It should be noted that this is the smallest increase in the history of Social Security increases.)

Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits increase automatically each year based on the rise in the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), from the third quarter of the prior year to the corresponding period of the current year. The 2.3 percent Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits that nearly 50 million Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2008. Increased payments to more than 7 million Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries will begin on December 31, 2007.

Some other changes that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $102,000 from $97,500. Of the estimated 164 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2008, nearly 12 million will pay higher taxes as a result of the increase in the taxable maximum.

Information about Medicare changes for 2008 can be found at

Other important 2008 Social Security information is as follows:

NOTE: The 7.65% tax rate is the combined rate for Social Security and Medicare. The Social Security portion (OASDI) is 6.20% on earnings up to the applicable taxable maximum amount (see below). The Medicare portion (HI) is 1.45% on all earnings.

Maximum Taxable Earnings:
Social Security (OASDI only)
Medicare (HI only)
No Limit

Additional insurance information for seniors can be found at:

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Holiday Radio Special
LeAnn Rimes is the featured artist in the annual "Red, White and Air Force Blue Christmas" radio special. The show is produced and marketed by the Air Force Recruiting Service. It is distributed to thousands of country radio stations around the country and will be broadcast on Christmas Day over the Armed Forces network worldwide. The show features some seasonal classics and tracks from her newest release, and also includes a candid conversation about Ms. Rimes' efforts to champion support for service members serving away from home.

For LeAnn Rimes and other recordings visit:

Energy Savings Techniques This Winter II
Think a bit about the small appliances in the house-DVD, stereo, coffee maker, computer. Many of them use electricity even when turned off. These appliances can use several percent of your energy. The only way to stop this power waste is to pull the plug on these items when you're on vacation.

For more energy tips see "Energy Saving Home Improvements From A to Z" at

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

Gianni Versace - "In the past, people were born royal. Nowadays, royalty comes from what you do."

Tyra Banks - "Take responsibility for yourself because no one's going to take responsibility for you."

Dennis Wilson - "The Beach Boys are not a superstar group. The music is the superstar of the group."

George Armstrong Custer - "There are not enough Indians in the world to defeat the Seventh Cavalry."

Joyce Kilmer - "The air is like a butterfly/ With frail blue wings/ The happy earth looks at the sky/ And sings."

More "Thoughts" at:

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Yes, this is the place we usually discuss free things and discounts for seniors. However at this time of year it is more appropriate to consider some opportunities to give versus to receive. Here are two organizations worthy of your support.

American Diabetes Association

The American Diabetes Association is the nation's leading 501(c)3 nonprofit health organization providing diabetes research, information and advocacy. Founded in 1940, the American Diabetes Association conducts programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, reaching hundreds of communities.

Give an honor donation to someone you love for any special occasion. Honor donations to the American Diabetes Association are the perfect gifts this holiday season.

Your tax-deductible donation shows your thoughtfulness while helping the American Diabetes Association fund research to find a cure for diabetes. They will send a personalized email or mail a card personalized with your message to announce your caring support. You can make a donation by phone (1-800-342-2383)
or visit

American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is "Building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke."Make a donation, memorial or tribute online today. Honor the memory of a loved one or celebrate an accomplishment by helping others. Your contribution funds new research and education programs. Donate by phone (800-AHA-USA1)
or visit:

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Disability-Related Information and Resources
Your online connection to the federal government's disability-related information and resources is, the federal government's one-stop Web site for persons with disabilities, their families, employers, veterans and service members, workforce professionals and many others. A collaborative effort among 22 federal agencies, the site connects those with disabilities to the information and resources they need to actively participate in the workforce and in their communities. Visit any of the nine subject areas at the top of this Web page to find disability-related resources, and then click on the State and Local Resources map to locate programs and information in your state.

Red Hat Items
For the ladies, the Red Hat Society™ offers an excellent venue to stay socially active. Red Hatters are focused on women over 50. This sisterhood is worldwide, with numerous chapters across the U.S. and in foreign countries. Their full regalia for outings include red hats and purple clothing. Their primary Web page is is pleased to offer Red Hat items along with other gifts in our
Senior Bazaar™

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Looking for Help
Three elderly sisters Sue, Darleen, and Sandra live in a house together. One night Sue draws a bath. She puts her foot in and pauses. She yells to the other sisters, "Was I getting in or out of the bath?" Darleen yells back, "I don't know. I'll come up and see." She starts up the stairs and pauses "Was I going up the stairs or down?" Sandra is sitting at the kitchen table having tea and listening to her sisters. She shakes her head and says, "I sure hope I never get that forgetful, knock on wood." She then yells, "I'll come up and help both of you as soon as I see who's at the door."

Wisdom of Larry, the Cable Guy
1. A day without sunshine is like night.
2. On the other hand, you have different fingers.
3. 42.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot.
4. 99 percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.
5. Remember, half the people you know are below average.

Visit 1000's of jokes of interest to people who have lived a long and rich life.
"Oh My Aging Funny Bone" is at:

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SPONSOR'S INFORMATION: We welcome appropriate entities to provide sponsorship support. If you are interested please contact us at: [email protected]

Do you have an article to share with others? We will consider any appropriate material for this publication.
Please send such to [email protected]

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

Copyright 2007, 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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