*** August 2008 ***
* E-zine *

This Month's Highlights:
· Art for Seniors
· Avoid a Disaster Tomorrow
· Working Longer?


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Know a senior citizen who wants better health, fewer doctor visits, and less medication? Maybe you're acquainted with somebody who would enjoy being out in society more often, instead of shut in with the TV. What about your concerns for their mental health and sharp mind?

If you found yourself thinking YES! to any of these questions the answer is clear - Get your senior citizen friends into an art class! Yes, an art class. I know what you're thinking: Your friend or relative "doesn't draw." They "have poor vision." Or maybe: "He's a cantankerous sort."

Guess what? None of that matters. It turns out that going to art classes has been scientifically proven to enhance health, reduce doctor visits and medications required. Participating in weekly creative activities enhances senior citizens' social life. Their mental health is better. And the longer they participate in weekly creative activities such as creating art, the more these beneficial factors become apparent. Creative activities should be part of every senior's life.

The study was conducted through an agreement with George Washington University and the National Endowment for the Arts. Gene D. Cohen, M.D., Ph.D., was the primary investigator. Here's a paragraph from his final report issued in 2006:

"Results reveal strikingly positive differences in the intervention group (those involved in intensive participatory art programs) as compared to a control group not involved in intensive cultural programs. Compared to the Control Group, those involved in the weekly participatory art programs, at the one and two year follow-up assessments, reported: (A) better health, fewer doctor visits, and less medication usage; (B) more positive responses on the mental health measures; (C) more involvement in overall activities."

Here is a link to download the study:

Here is a link to the NEA's discussion of art as a benefit to older persons:

Ages of the participants in Dr. Cohen's study ranged from 60 to 102. There were participants in the Washington, D.C. area, Brooklyn, and San Francisco. The results were proof positive. These people didn't just watch others make art, or look at artworks of others - they made their own art. It has been shown in previous studies that when seniors experience a sense of control through a feeling of mastery of what they are doing, there are positive health outcomes. It even helps people who suffer from Alzheimer's or other dementias.

Here's an organization that provides participatory art services to retirement communities:

Remember, you can do this on your own, too. "Art kits" are everywhere. Paints, instructional tools, brushes - they are widely available and relatively inexpensive. Got a card table to set up outside in the shade? Why not enjoy some fresh summer air, too, while you're at it? Or perhaps the kitchen table is better for you. Regardless, don't be afraid. You don't need to be an expert or to even have painted before. It is the learning process and sense of creative accomplishment, the feeling of mastering even simple skills over time that brings the benefits to mind and body. You don't need to worry that Mom is never going to be the next Renoir. She doesn't need to worry about that, either.

Perhaps you just don't think you can pull off the art experience at home. Are you wondering how one goes about finding participatory art classes that will enroll an older person? Why, the Internet of course! Many cities across the nation have public programs for participatory art training. Probably your city does, too.

We've done a little homework for you below to illustrate just how widespread these types of programs are. Look to your local senior center, place of worship, your city's arts and recreation department, or local university. Check with your local museums and art galleries. These organizations often are tied into the very programs you seek to provide art training and expertise. Your local or regional hospital may be able to help you locate a program close to you, but remember, if you're in a rural area you can just get started yourself with some butcher paper, maybe an instructional DVD, and a box of paints, crayons, or colored pencils!




New York:


Washington State:

Additional health-related information for seniors can also be found at:

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Imagine finding yourself the responsible party in the following situation, trying to ensure care from 2,000 miles away for a father suffering dementia:

"Reverse mortgage, and questionable equity in the family home. No authority (other than a will) to act for father who is in care for dementia. Half-sister convinced mother (as she was dying of cancer) to put her name on bank accounts...half sister now lives in house and has no motivation to take care of stepfather.

"VA suspended his benefits because there is no competent person with authority who can accept them into an account (deceased mother was managing the money). No money to give retainer for lawyer to help in CA. One month's funds left to keep father in care, and they don't know who to turn to".

Obviously in the horrible situation above a lawyer should be called, and should have been contacted long ago, before the mother passed away. Calling in legal advice then would have been an exercise in planning, re-titling accounts into a living or family trust, perhaps. A review of the terms of the reverse mortgage would have been conducted at that time. And an "operating plan" should have been drawn up for family member action in light of the various possible family-needs scenarios. A named caretaker responsible for the father's decision-making would have kept the VA benefits flowing.

As matters appear now, a possible case of elder abuse is in the making should the half-sister allow the father to be evicted from the nursing home due to her indifference. Whoever is charged with assuring the father's well being, or whomever that task has fallen to from circumstance, is obviously morally, if not perhaps legally, remiss in letting the VA benefits lapse.

This type of combined financial, housing, and legal disaster is not so uncommon, and is completely avoidable with planning. Often the first obstacle is the initial family conversation.

Yes. A simple conversation and follow-through afterwards could have prevented all of it. It isn't easy for people to have a conversation about death that implies other family members can't be trusted, so don't go there. Instead, approach the very real fact that the end of life doesn't unfold at all in a convenient or easily timed fashion. Mother Nature has her own approach that rules out human, societal convenience. That notion rings true for everyone. Rely on experts to prepare your documents and guide you through the process. Don't go it alone with a .99 cent power of attorney form from the stationary department at Staples. Chances are it won't be appropriate to solve the needs you're aiming for, anyway. Or you could easily fill it out incorrectly. Or it could be challenged, or possibly not accepted by a government agency.

Plan ahead if you'll be initiating your family's conversation on the matter. Be organized. Write down the names of each person to be cared for and their current needs. Identify and write down the income needing protection, and expenditures that must be covered. Write down the likely scenarios. In the situation outlined at the beginning of this article you would ask, "What happens when Mom dies? Who will take care of Dad? Where will the money come from? Who will be responsible?" Had such a conversation been held with the entire family, Mom would have realized that simply transferring ownership of checking accounts would be entirely insufficient to handle all of these situations without ever getting into hypothetical or accusatory discussions of how the half-sister might handle Dad's needs.

Living trust documents are common in California and other states. However, they are not uniform from state to state. This is why you need a lawyer from the state in question. He or she will be aware of the local court's preferred and customary methods of handling estate questions, probate matters, and so forth.

The living trust is powerful and very useful while the elderly relative is living, because it includes a "durable power of attorney," allowing an individual the trustor chooses to step in sign for medical affairs if the trustor is incapable of doing so herself. A simple "Last Will and Testament" is not at all helpful in this situation. The living trust also provides a clear line of succession for decision-making. A primary trustee and contingent trustees are clearly named. When implementing a living trust, the family bank accounts are re-named to change from individual control (Mom or Dad) to reflect the name of the living trust and trustee control (which is often still Mom and Dad to begin with). A copy of the living trust and a death certificate are all the successor trustee needs to present to the bank or nursing home, along with the trustee's personal identification showing that he or she is the individual named, and all business can be transacted as if the trustor was doing the transactions himself.

In addition to simplifying the initiation of conversation to define family needs in a non-threatening manner, and also to attaining all of the streamlined control of important family matters that the living trust provides, your family can avoid dealing with the probate court.

In the state of California probate court system there is a prescribed formula defined by law for those individuals who die without a trust and leave only a will. The fees paid to the court are pre-determined based on assets, and are unavoidable. The information becomes part of the public domain, accessible to marketers and anyone else who goes to the Hall of Records. If there is no will, the state also has a prescribed formula for distribution of assets, ordered by law, to the family - regardless of family wishes.

So, a sensitive conversation with the entire family and creation of a living trust? Or wind up stuck with no control and few options. Doesn't sound so good to be without the trust, the planning, and the controls that go into it, does it? Be sure and contact your financial professionals and your lawyer now, before you make any decisions on financial plans and family needs while you still have time. The links below are a starting point for your own family's estate planning needs:

Additional financial information for seniors can also be found at:

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Summer Diversion
Looking to do something different this summer? Why not catch an air show of the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels? The Blue Angels currently operate six F/A-18 Hornet aircraft per show. Most of their displays alternate between maneuvers performed by four aircraft (the Diamond) and those performed by two aircraft (the Solos). The Diamond, performed in tight formation and usually at lower speeds, performs maneuvers such as formation loops, barrel rolls, or transitions from one formation to another. The Solos usually perform maneuvers at less than the speed of sound, executing high-speed passes, slow passes, fast rolls, slow rolls, and very tight turns. All very thrilling to see.

The mission of the Blue Angels is to enhance Navy recruiting, and credibly represent Navy and Marine Corps aviation to the United States and its Armed Forces to America and other countries as international ambassadors of good will. The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, ordered the establishment of the team on April 24, 1946. Since 1946, the Blue Angels have performed for more than 427 million fans. The 2007 show season brought out more than 15 million spectators. This year, the Blue Angels are scheduled to perform 68 shows at 35 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. Here is the schedule for the next few months.

08 - 10
16 - 17
30 - 31
Fairchild AFB, Spokane, Washington
Chicago, Illinois
Cleveland, Ohio
06 - 07
13 - 14
20 - 21
27 - 28
NAS Brunswick, Maine
Eau Claire, Wisconsin
NAS Oceana, Virginia
Grand Junction, Colorado
04 - 05
11 - 12
18 - 19
25 - 26
MCAS Miramar, San Diego, California
San Francisco, California
Little Rock, AFB, Arkansas
NAS Jacksonville, Florida


Do You Plan on Working Longer?
A recent report from the Urban Institute, titled "Should People Work Longer, and Will They?" provides some insight in to the subject. Authored by Richard W. Johnson, the report shows the relationship of working an additional year beyond a planned retirement date and the increase in annual retirement income.

Older adults' employment is attracting attention as many baby boomers approach traditional retirement ages. The fact sheet below, which draws on the report, examines the benefits of working longer, the characteristics of today's older workers, and recent changes in older Americans' labor supply.

Choosing when to retire is a crucial decision for workers. Working longer increases lifetime earnings, Social Security and employer-sponsored pension credits, and other savings, and shortens the period over which retirement savings must be spread.

  1. On average, working an additional year increases annual retirement income about 9 percent.
  2. Working an additional five years boosts annual retirement income about 56 percent.
  3. The impact is even larger for people at the lower end of the income distribution.

Boosting labor supply at older ages also increases government tax revenue.

  1. The government would raise about $180 billion in additional tax revenue in 2045 (measured in 2006 dollars) if all workers delayed retirement by one year, reducing the unified federal deficit by an amount equal to 28 percent of the Social Security deficit (Butrica, Smith, and Steuerle 2006).
  2. Additional tax revenue in 2045 raised by delaying retirement five years would exceed $1 trillion,
    more than 150 percent of the Social Security deficit.

Working longer may also improve emotional well-being and physical health.

  1. Because work is crucial to many workers' personal identities, retirement can lead to a partial loss
    of identity, especially for those who retire abruptly.
  2. Work promotes social integration and social support.
  3. Staying active may promote physical health.

Full report at Urban Institute

Learn more about "Aging Issues" at:

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

Garrison Keillor -- "I think the most un-American thing you can say is, 'You can't say that."

Robin Quivers -- "An apology might help, but you can change your life without one."

Charlize Theron -- "There are these moments when you can't back down."

Billy Bob Thornton -- "If you love somebody let them know every day."

Andy Warhol -- "They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself"

More "Thoughts" at:

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1. August is Cataract Awareness Month
This month the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Eye M.D.s want to remind people they don't have to live with cataracts.

  • Cataracts are very common. Approximately 20.5 million Americans age 40 and older have cataracts.
  • A cataract is a clouding of the eye's clear lens. This prevents the passage of light needed for vision.
  • Cataracts are a significant cause of blindness in some parts of the world; however, technological advances and the availability of new procedures in the United States mean that for most Americans, cataracts don't lead to vision loss.
  • More than half of all Americans develop cataracts by age 80.

Learn more at:


2. Happiness Happens Month
Since 1999 folks have been celebrating this fun month. There are two purposes of the month:

  • Recognize and express happiness.
  • Don't rain on other people's parades.

It serves to remind people that despite global and personal chaos that happiness still happens. So let's get with it.

  • Spend time with your friends/ loved ones/ family and chill out.
  • Admit that you are happy in their company by sending them greetings.
  • Take some time off from your busy schedule and enjoy!

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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A Penny Saved...
We all have seen the price of groceries climb. And with the increase in gas prices it costs more to get to the store. Why not let the Internet help you find the best deals and the most favorable stores to get your groceries and other needs.

You can find many store coupons on the Web. Printable coupon sites include and Combining these with findings from comparison-shopping on the Web (see our June 2008 issue) can significantly reduce your costs. One site,, tracks store sales and pairs them with available coupons. You can do even better by aligning online coupons with deals found in the stores' ad in your local newspapers.

Some of the best deals can be found on the front of a store's weekly flyer. is a site that helps customers compare sales between stores in their area. If you have enough room to store an item, you can achieve significant savings by stocking up when the deal is at hand.


Learn About Aging

The National Institute on Aging (NIA), one of the 27 institutes and centers of National Institutes of Health, leads a broad scientific effort to understand the nature of aging and to extend the healthy, active years of life. In 1974, Congress granted authority to form NIA to provide leadership in aging research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs relevant to aging and older people. Subsequent amendments to this legislation designated the NIA as the primary federal agency on Alzheimer's disease research.

The Institute's website has a tremendous amount of material on aging, covering a wide variety of topics: These include: caregiving, wellness, medications, safety, Alzheimer's disease, and gender-specific aging issues. There are many publications, most of them free, available at their site.

Visit the site at

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Value realized
-thanks to BK, San Diego

  1. To realize: The value of a sister, ask someone who doesn't have one.
  2. To realize: The value of ten years, ask a newly divorced couple.
  3. To realize: The value of four years, ask a graduate.
  4. To realize: The value of one year, ask a student who has failed a final exam.
  5. To realize: The value of nine months, ask a mother who gave birth to a stillborn.
  6. To realize: The value of one minute, ask a person who has missed the train, bus or plane


Intuitive Aborigine

An Australian tour guide was showing a group of American tourists the Top End. On their way to Kakadu, he was describing the abilities of the Australian Aborigine to track man or beast over land, through the air and under the sea.

As the tour rounded a bend on the highway, it came upon an Aborigine lying in the middle of the road. He had one ear pressed to the white line and one leg pointing up toward the sky.

The tour stopped and everyone got out and gathered around him.

"Jacky," said the tour guide, "What are you tracking and what are you listening for?"

The Aborigine replied, "Down the road about 25 miles is a 1971 Valiant Ute. It's red. The left front tire is bald. The front end is out of whack and it has dents in every panel. There are six locals in the back, all drinking sherry. There are three kangaroos on the roof rack and four dogs in the front seat. The driver is reckless and is driving way too fast."

The American tourists were astounded by this precise and detailed knowledge. "Amazing! How do you know all that about a vehicle that is so far away?" asked one.

The Aborigine replied, "I fell out of it about half an hour ago!"

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

Copyright 2008, 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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