Articles written by David Washburn


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  • Safety is about awareness and follow-through

    David Washburn, Senior Voice Editor|Jul 1, 2023

    In this edition, we present the second in our new series on safety, written by City of Houston Fire Chief Christian M. Hartley. He brings wisdom from years of experience working in safety and emergency management and this month he writes about being safe while enjoying the summer outdoors. Let’s face it, regardless of age, there are always new surprises and lessons to be learned. Earlier this month, I was heading out for a bicycle ride and realized at the last moment I’d forgotten my water bottle. Too rushed (or lazy), I told myself I’d be fi...

  • 'If I'd known then what I know now…'

    David Washburn, Senior Voice|Mar 1, 2021

    If I could go back in time, what advice would I offer my 21-year-old self? There are obvious things: Save more. Don’t buy that impractical convertible. Wear better shoes (your future feet will thank you). Other coulda-shoulda-wouldas: Write down the dates on the back of your photo prints as soon as you get them developed. Learn a second language. Sing more. And there are deeper lessons, learned the hard way: Don’t let friends slip out of touch. Be easier on yourself. Observe and celebrate the milestones, even when it’s a hassle. Especially when...

  • Center serves Houston seniors under new ownership

    David Washburn, Senior Voice|Apr 1, 2020

    After four years of closure, Mid-Valley Senior Center in Houston is under new ownership and providing meals on a regular schedule, although services are severely curtailed for now due to the coronavirus. In January, Wasilla Area Seniors, Inc. (WASI) finalized a deal to take ownership of the center, along with one of its senior apartment buildings. WASI, which owns and operates the Wasilla Senior Center and several Wasilla senior housing complexes, had already been catering meals on a contractor...

  • State suspends payments to some Senior Benefits recipients

    David Washburn, Senior Voice|May 1, 2019

    Update, May 3, 2019: Our print edition version of this story went to press as the legislature debated reversing the Senior Benefits cuts discussed in this story. After the paper was printed, the House and Senate both agreed to restore the funding, however the final budget has not been approved. When that happens, it will go to the governor for his approval. Stay tuned for updates. Senior Benefits payments to some Alaska seniors will be suspended in May and June, according to the Dept. of Health and Social Services, which oversees the program....

  • Governor moves to end Senior Benefits program

    David Washburn, Senior Voice|Mar 1, 2019

    Gov. Mike Dunleavy has introduced legislation to end the Senior Benefits program, the income-based program that provides monthly cash assistance to low-income Alaska seniors. Identical bills, House Bill 60 and companion Senate Bill 58, were introduced at the governor's request in February. If passed, the legislation would end the benefits program, effective June 30, 2019. The Senior Benefits program provides monthly payments to seniors age 65 and older at three different levels, depending on applicants' income level: $250 for the lowest-income...

  • This common fitness tip is a bad idea

    David Washburn, Senior Voice|Jan 1, 2019

    I used to have a fitness class instructor who liked to say about workouts, “Once you turn 40, it’s all rehab.” It brought chuckles, but it’s true that over the years we will inevitably subject our bodies to wear and tear. Various mishaps lead to injuries, some minor, some worse, some that will scar and haunt us forever. Our stories of how we’ve acquired these hurts may be humorous or downright horrific. I have my share of colorful tales – a spinal injury on the beach in Hawaii; a leg-crushing snowmachine wreck on the Yentna River. But I’m afr...

  • Remodeling, decluttering leads to de-medicating

    David Washburn, Senior Voice|Jun 1, 2018

    Our household recently replaced a bathroom vanity cabinet, something long overdue. The process revealed something else long overdue – bottle after bottle of expired, unused, leftover prescription medications. They were in drawers, travel kits, on shelves. Inventorying them was like looking through years of health records, remembering this or that injury, infection, condition, you name it. Besides pills, there were prescription-strength inhalers, skin creams, syrups. Not something that should be lying around and yet there it all was, much m...

  • Are family blogs over? Long live the hard copy

    David Washburn, Senior Voice|May 1, 2018

    For years, I kept a blog with updates about my family. School events, vacations, celebrations were written up and posted to the blog, along with lots of photos. The blog was a more convenient way to share with family and friends in the Lower 48 than putting together letters home. And the service was free. Over time, I bonded with the blog; it became a family diary. I enjoyed browsing back through the entries, seeing pictures of children as they grew up, remembering funny adventures, seeing the home renovations and transformations. Then along...

  • Out-smarting the porch pirates

    David Washburn, Senior Voice|Jan 1, 2018

    My Anchorage neighborhood had been chattering about packages disappearing from doorsteps. Security camera footage was posted to Facebook of people stealing boxes. So I was not stunned when one of ours went missing late November. The delivery service tracking information showed it being left by our front door, but it vanished. "We call them porch pirates, stealing packages from front porches," says Michelle Tabler, Better Business Bureau Alaska Regional Manager. "We've heard reports that these thieves actually follow the UPS and FedEx trucks...

  • Bill requires doctors to post prices

    David Washburn, Senior Voice|Apr 1, 2017

    A bill introduced this session in the Alaska state legislature would require health care providers to post medical care price information. The bill, HB 123, was sponsored by Rep. Ivy Spohnholz and co-sponsored by representatives Chris Tuck, Harriet Drummond, Justin Parish, Les Gara and Geran Tarr. The goal, according to a sponsor statement from Spohnholz, is to empower consumers to make better decisions about their health care options by ensuring accessible information on medical pricing. “Alaska has the second most expensive health care c...

  • Alaskans targeted by phone callers posing as IRS agents

    David Washburn, Senior Voice|Jun 1, 2016

    April 15 is long gone, but that doesn’t mean tax worries are over, thanks to fraudulent phone callers posing as IRS agents. Better Business Bureau, the Alaska Medicare Information Office and others are reporting a surge in the calls, in which the caller claims to be from the Internal Revenue Service. “Reportedly, the tax scammers are pretending to be case workers from the IRS telling people there is a warrant out for their arrest,” Alaska Commission on Aging Executive Director Denise Daniello warns in a May 16 alert. “The scammers are targeti...

  • Senior property tax exemption survives session

    David Washburn, Senior Voice|May 1, 2016

    The Alaska legislature is no longer pushing to remove the mandate for the Senior and Disabled Property Tax Exemption, which exempts Alaskan seniors and disabled veterans from having to pay property taxes on the first $150,000 of the assessed value of their home. Although many municipalities protest the program as an expensive, unfunded mandate and have lobbied for its removal, the proposal floated during this session to make it optional, rather than mandatory as it is now, received too much pushback and has been abandoned for now, according to...

  • Senior programs feel the budget pressure

    David Washburn, Senior Voice|Apr 1, 2016

    The budget axe continues to fall on programs affecting low income seniors as lawmakers deliberate where to cut state spending to help offset a huge budget deficit. Although the numbers can be a moving target as legislators debate and negotiate, at Senior Voice press time March 29, a few proposals seemed to be moving forward. Senior Benefits program The legislature looks set to eliminate the monthly cash assistance benefit to the top income tier of seniors in the program, those who earn up to $25,760 annually. Up until now, the program has paid...

  • Food box home deliveries available in Anchorage and Mat-Su areas

    David Washburn, Senior Voice|Jan 1, 2016

    Food Bank of Alaska is looking for volunteers in the Anchorage and Mat-Su areas to deliver food boxes once a month to homebound seniors. The food boxes are distributed through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, CSFP, and contain about 30 pounds of food: cereal, grain, peanut butter, juice. Some items such as cheese are not shelf-stable so it is important the boxes be distributed promptly, on schedule, said Sandra Mitchell, CSFP program manager at Food Bank of Alaska. Mitchell said she currently has 12 volunteers delivering to 52 clients....

  • Alaska Picnic returns to Yuma for 30th year

    David Washburn, Senior Voice|Jan 1, 2016

    Started 30 years ago in Yuma, Ariz., as an informal get together for Alaska snowbirds, the annual Alaska Picnic has grown into an enormous annual party. “We have people fly in from Alaska for the two days just for the picnic,” says Ruth Giles, who lives in Yuma and organizes the event with her husband, Rich. “People also come from Tucson, Oregon, Washington – from all over.” The event is held each year on Feb. 14. The location is Yuma’s Henry Park Pavilion, which can accommodate the large group and provide room for the food and live band....

  • Juneau's senior sales tax exemption

    David Washburn, Senior Voice|Nov 1, 2015

    Our lead story in last month’s edition on the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly’s decision to end the senior sales tax exemption left out a lot of information. This was largely due to the last-minute deadline we were dealing with: we wanted to be sure to highlight this action, since it could have ramifications for other areas of the state. But we need now to flesh out particulars we’ve learned about that may or may not mitigate the impact of this action to seniors. Here are a few of them, as gleaned from stories in the Juneau Empire and c...

  • It's official: Older Persons Action Group has moved

    David Washburn, Senior Voice|Jun 1, 2015

    The Municipality of Anchorage has followed through on its plan to vacate occupants from the John Thomas Bldg., Older Persons Action Group's home for more than 40 years. The building, located on the outskirts of downtown Anchorage on the corner of Third Avenue and Cordova Street, was put up for sale in 2012, over the objections of the non-profit organizations residing in the building, and their supporters, including several members of the Anchorage Assembly. Organizations, including the Mabel T....

  • Votes tallied on senior tax exemptions

    David Washburn, Senior Voice|Nov 1, 2014

    Voters in the Mat-Su Borough expanded property tax exemptions for seniors in the October election, while voters in Petersburg tightened up the senior sales tax exemption there. The Mat-Su change will increase the Senior Citizens and Disabled Veterans Property Tax Exemption to $218,000 of the assessed value of the applicant’s home. In other words, if a senior’s home is assessed at $300,000 in value, $218,000 of that amount would be exempt and property taxes would be paid only on the remaining $82,000. Currently, the exemption is $170,000, whi...

  • Outstanding people performing outstanding work

    David Washburn, Senior Voice|Jun 1, 2013

    Congratulations to Rita Hatch, who was announced in May as the winner of this year’s Ron Hammett Award for outstanding service to seniors in the Anchorage community. Rita was presented the award at the Older Americans Month kick-off event May 2 at the Anchorage Senior Activity Center. Ron Hammett was a well-known advocate in Anchorage, having served on the Senior Citizens Advisory Commission, was board chair for the Anchorage Senior Center, and volunteered for AARP. It is fitting Rita be honored...

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