Articles from the January 1, 2016 edition


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  • Latest Medicare changes affect senior dollars

    Alan M. Schlein, Senior Wire|Jan 1, 2016

    A new law signed by President Obama will help shield some 17 million Americans from steep premium hikes. But many will continue to see changes in the amounts they pay for Medicare next year. About 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries were facing a 52 percent increase in their Medicare Part B medical insurance premiums and deductible in 2016. But Congress and the Obama Administration worked out an agreement so beneficiaries will pay about $119 per month instead of $159.30 for Part B. The remaining 70 percent of Medicare beneficiaries will contin...

  • Aging at home – with a little help from our friends

    Mary Ann Borchert, For Senior Voice|Jan 1, 2016

    What do you do when you need an extra hand for a household chore and neighbors, friends or kids aren't available to help? In Fairbanks, there's a new organization for older adults that can be the answer. Aging at Home Fairbanks (AAH Fairbanks) has launched this month after a year of preparation, as part of the national Village movement. Susan Poor, co-chair of the board of Village to Village Network, spoke about the national movement at the Fairbanks kickoff event in November. In 2005, the NY...

  • Short term problems need short term fixes

    Leonard T. Kelley, Older Persons Action Group|Jan 1, 2016

    Governor Bill Walker wanted the job as governor, and he got it. As our chief executive officer he is responsible for establishing the state’s budget. The legislature must fund it. The problem is that government expenses exceed available state income by approximately three billion dollars. In an effort to get the budget under control, the governor is looking at increasing all manner of taxes, including a 6 percent personal income tax. He also wants to change the Permanent Fund so that it becomes a perpetual source of state funding, thereby d...

  • Remember OPAG when filing for your PFD

    Senior Voice Staff|Jan 1, 2016

    You may file your 2016 Alaska Permanent Fund Divided beginning Jan. 1, 2016. If you choose, you can designate a portion of your PFD to support non-profit organizations in Alaska who are eligible for the Pick.Click.Give. program. This year, Older Persons Action Group is eligible and will appreciate all Pick.Click.Give. donations, which will help us continue our programs, including publication of Senior Voice and the Directory for Older Alaskans, free Medicare counseling, free educational forums and more. Visit https://pfd.alaska.gov/ to file...

  • Cute puppies – and scams – abound online

    Michelle Tabler, Better Business Bureau|Jan 1, 2016

    A Pennsylvania consumer reported on BBB’s Scam Tracker, “I paid $700 for a kitten that does not exist. My kid is devastated because she was waiting for a kitten to be delivered to our house today.” Another consumer wrote, “All we wanted was a puppy to help us get over the deaths of our beloved pets.” Consumers should be careful when searching for their new furry family member online, which has become the new marketplace for adopting pets. Online ads usually show photos of adorable puppies or kittens to be re-homed, sold at a low price or offere...

  • Don't cut funding for vital assistance

    Mary E. Shields and Denise Daniello, Alaska Commission on Aging|Jan 1, 2016

    Dear Senator Murkowski: The Alaska Commission on Aging (ACoA) is gravely concerned about the proposed 42 percent reduction to the federal State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), from $52 million to $30 million, at a time when Alaska and our nation has witnessed unprecedented growth in our older adult populations. Alaska’s population of people age 65 and older, who number 71,080 and growing at an annual rate of 6 percent, is projected to more than double by 2030 to 152,740. Alaska’s growth rate of the 65+ population is more than 2.5...

  • What to expect in our next legislative session

    Ken Helander, AARP Alaska|Jan 1, 2016

    It is soon time to gavel in the second regular session of the 29th Legislature on January 19. There will be a lot of work to be done in the 90 days allotted, but no one will be too surprised if the legislators once again go into an additional special session. As usual, there are some major themes for consideration, with this year focused on the state’s budget and the proposed natural gas pipeline project. How that consideration will play out in Juneau is anyone’s guess. That’s what makes Alaska politics so interesting and entertaining, to sa...

  • Let's help our home care and hospice nurses

    Mark Begich, For Senior Voice|Jan 1, 2016

    I became President and CEO of the Foundation for Hospice and Homecare earlier this year, because I understood the home care and hospice community is committed to every person’s right to receive care in the setting of their choice. Simply put, people prefer to receive high quality care in the convenience of their own homes near family and friends. This is especially true in Alaska, where the challenges of traveling to receive hospital care can be prohibitive for many. A new study released by the Foundation for Hospice and Homecare sheds light o...

  • This is why I threw out my multivitamin

    Suzy Cohen, Senior Wire|Jan 1, 2016

    I used to think multivitamins filled a nutritional gap, but today I think differently. There’s no way that 1.7 mg of any B vitamin will boost energy, or 20 mg of magnesium could improve mood. I’m beginning to realize that multivitamins are an absolute joke. It’d be funny except the joke’s on us, and you spend good money on them. Here’s my rationale: Negligible amounts There are so many nutrients in a multivitamin that the amounts of each become negligible. For example, 1 mg of pyridoxine (B6) doesn’t impact you, metabolically speaking. I...

  • Donated dental care available to seniors

    Senior Voice Staff|Jan 1, 2016

    Alaska Donated Dental Services (DDS), part of the Dental Lifeline Network, is a group of dentists who have agreed to provide dental care for seniors and people with disabilities on a fixed income who cannot afford needed dental services. This service is available on a one-time basis to qualifying applicants. Applicants fill out an application and return it to the Alaska Coordinator for an eligibility determination. Qualifying individuals generally pay nothing, but occasionally, people in a position to pay for part of their care may be...

  • Defining Medicare primary, secondary payers

    Rita Hatch, Senior Voice Correspondent|Jan 1, 2016

    I have been asked what the difference is between a primary and secondary payer in Medicare. The insurance that pays first (primary payer) pays up to the limits of its coverage. The one that pays second (secondary payer) only pays if there are costs the primary insurer didn’t cover. The secondary payer (which may be Medicare) may not pay all the uncovered costs. Remember, Medicare usually pays only 80 percent of the cost of the medical procedure. If your employer insurance is the secondary payer,...

  • 'Virtual classes' will focus on geriatric health

    Senior Voice Staff|Jan 1, 2016

    A series of online trainings on geriatric health care topics will be available beginning in January, sponsored by the Area Health Education Center (AHEC), the Alaska Training Cooperative and Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority. The series is a partnership with the Northwest Geriatric Education Center, and will offer 10 weeks of trainings from Jan. 5 through March 8, to Alaska via virtual classroom on the Internet. The series is designed to give community-based providers working in the field of aging – physicians, nurses, physical and o...

  • Shocker! Veterans lose ground in budget cutting

    Major Mike Dryden AVN USAR Retired, Senior Voice Correspondent|Jan 1, 2016

    Military members and veterans lost on almost every big benefit fight waged in the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill, according to many veterans organizations. However, there was no shortage of bonus money for the disgraced VA employees that put veterans on the waiting list until they died. Or the one who replaced them and who scammed the taxpayers (or more correctly, your kids and grandchildren) out of bogus moving expense money. The legislation is still awaiting a promised presidential...

  • Latest research news on hearing aids, breast cancer, fatty liver disease

    John Schieszer, Medical Minutes|Jan 1, 2016

    Diabetes drug may help combat fatty liver disease New research published in The Lancet is showing that a drug currently used in the treatment of type-2 diabetes can be effective in clearing fatty liver disease from some patients. The researchers from the University of Birmingham in the UK believe that the findings present the possibility of new therapies for patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Currently, there are no licensed treatments. The trial was the first of its type t...

  • 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....

  • Free training, support for family caregivers

    Senior Voice Staff|Jan 1, 2016

    The Kenai Peninsula Family Caregiver Support Program will hold the following peer support meetings in January. This month’s focus: “What topics would you like discussed in 2016 support meetings?” All caregivers should attend and help direct the support program by sharing your training needs and areas of interest to your situation. If you are unable to attend, please call and give your input. Jan. 5, Caregiver support meeting at Sterling Senior Center, 1 p.m. Jan. 12, Caregiver support meeting at Soldotna Senior Center, 1 p.m.. Jan. 19, Careg...

  • Religious beliefs linked to healthier lives

    Tait Trussell, Senior Wire|Jan 1, 2016

    What are the physical effects of religious faith? A study tracking 20,000 Americans found that white people who attended church regularly lived an average of seven years longer than their counterparts who didn’t go to church. And churchgoing black people lived an average of 14 years longer. The relationship between religious faith and health has been analyzed in thousands of studies in recent years, according to Harold G. Koenig, MD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University. “People who feel their life is part of a l...

  • A success built on creativity and good food

    Dianne Barske, For Senior Voice|Jan 1, 2016

    "What do I like best about my job? That's easy. It's my customers! I love our customers." It's an early Monday morning and Janet Hickok is multi-tasking. She has been an owner of Doriola's on Tudor Road in Anchorage since she drove north from Oregon back in 2005. She opened the small restaurant and customers have been like family. "Here's the deal," she states firmly as she visits with me, plans the day's fresh soups, and handles the ordering of the week's food supplies with another visitor. "I...

  • New wheels in Seward

    Senior Voice Staff|Jan 1, 2016

  • Learn something new this winter

    Senior Voice Staff|Jan 1, 2016

    Why hibernate when you can enroll in a class or activity and make some new friends? Anchorage learning opportunities Anchorage-area seniors can sign up now for winter session classes offered by OLE (Opportunities for Lifelong Education). Although there is no minimum age requirement, classes are geared to adults age 50 and older. Courses begin Jan. 11 and are held in classrooms on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus, along with other locations around town. OLE membership is required to enroll, however members may take as many classes as th...

  • 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....

  • Alaska pioneer brings automobiles north

    Laurel Downing Bill, Senior Voice Correspondent|Jan 1, 2016

    One of Alaska's early pioneers, who died 33 years ago this month at age 99, left his mark on early Alaska transportation. Robert E. "Bobby" Sheldon built the territory's first automobile, drove the first car down the Richardson and opened the first auto stage line. Born in 1883 in Snohomish, Wash., Sheldon and his father arrived in Skagway along with thousands of others in search of golden riches. The pair postponed their plans when they learned the Canadian government required each person...

  • Betty Lynn is keeping Mayberry alive

    Nick Thomas, Tinseltown Talks|Jan 1, 2016

    It's just after noon on the third Friday of the month, and 89-year-old Betty Lynn is preparing to take her seat behind a small brown table in the main room of the Andy Griffith Museum in Mount Airy, NC. Visitors are already beginning to flood into the 2,500-square-feet building to meet the actress best known to 60s TV fans as Barney Fife's girlfriend, Thelma Lou, from "The Andy Griffith Show," set in the fictional town of Mayberry. "Over 500 people come through," says Betty of a typical day...

  • Social Security experts answer your questions

    Senior Voice Staff|Jan 1, 2016

    Staff from Alaska’s Social Security office will be available for questions via videoconferencing at the following locations and times: Kodiak Job Center, on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month (Jan. 12 and 26), 9 a.m. to noon. Kenai Senior Center, on the first and third Wednesday of each month (Jan. 6 and 20), 9 a.m. to noon. Ketchikan Job Center, every Thursday (Jan. 7, 14, 21 and 28), noon to 3 p.m. Social Security provides toll-free telephone service to all of Alaska. Residents in Alaska’s southeast communities can call the Jun...

  • The costs of a trust vs. probate fees

    Jonathan J. David, Senior Wire|Jan 1, 2016

    Dear Jonathan: My financial advisor is pestering me to create a trust for the purpose of holding my assets for probate avoidance. However, I am really not interested in creating a trust and I am not all that concerned with having my estate being probated. The only thing that matters to me is that my children get whatever is left of my estate in equal shares, and if my assets have to be probated first before that happens, so be it. Am I wrong in thinking this way? Jonathan Says: Not necessarily; there is no right or wrong answer here. What’s m...

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