Articles from the January 1, 2020 edition


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  • Weighing the costs against the benefits of opioids

    Karen Telleen-Lawton, Senior Wire|Jan 1, 2020

    Editor's note: This story appears in the Senior Voice Health and Fitness section, Jan. 2020, however the text is incomplete, due to a layout error. We apologize for the error and here it is in its entirety. Tylenol with codeine makes my occasional migraines bearable. I use them sparingly, always cognizant of the dangers of opioids. More than that, I am beyond grateful that I don’t have to endure the chronic pain that can be a real problem for our age group. Which is worse, the pain or the cure? Opioids weren’t always reviled. The powerful cla...

  • Alaska seniors plan for big changes

    Lawrence D. Weiss, For Senior Voice|Jan 1, 2020

    Part one of a three-part series. In my experience you have not been able to find a book or even a website in the state of Alaska that comprehensively lays out the concerns, aspirations and plans for the future of Alaska seniors — but now you can. It is an extraordinary treasure trove of current information about seniors in Alaska. The document has the somewhat bureaucratic title “Alaska State Plan for Senior Services FY2020 –2023,” but don’t let that fool you. Much of it is very personal, at the center of our lives and the wellbeing of our lo...

  • Don't put yourself down with a fall

    Senior Voice Staff|Jan 1, 2020

    “Age Smart – Let’s Talk”, the series of forums sponsored by AARP Alaska, Older Persons Action Group and the Anchorage Senior Activity Center, returns Jan. 14, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Anchorage Senior Activity Center. This month’s topic is “Stand Up to Falls,” presented by Margy Hughes, Injury Prevention Specialist with Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the Alaska Div. of Public Health. Falls are the leading cause of injury and the leading cause of death for Alaskans age 65 and older. Programs are in place to help medical pro...

  • New efforts to improve medical cost transparency

    Alan M. Schlein, Senior Wire|Jan 1, 2020

    While President Trump has not had much success on the drug price reform front, his administration is making modest progress on a different front – announcing two regulatory changes that Trump hopes will provide more easy-to-read price information to patients. The first effort targets hospitals, finalizing a rule that requires them to reveal and display their secret, negotiated rates to patients, beginning in January 2021. This proposal has been resisted for months by a large portion of the health care industry. It would require hospitals for th...

  • Two tales underscore the extent of fraud

    Michelle Tabler, AARP Alaska|Jan 1, 2020

    It seems that whatever you do these days, you need to constantly be wary of scams and fraud—whether writing a check, shopping online, checking emails and social media, even answering your cell phone. If this is unnerving for you, imagine the confusion that a senior friend or relative may be experiencing. Scammers prey on vulnerable adults: they are targeted not only because they may have assets, but they may be lonely and welcome the phone calls and attention. There may also be cognitive problems which can cause confusion – something the sca...

  • Indian Council focuses on challenges, benefits of caregiving

    KAYLA SAWYER and REBECCA OWL MORGAN, National Indian Council on Aging|Jan 1, 2020

    Earlier this year, the National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA) had the opportunity to host several focus groups with American Indian family caregivers. The purpose of the groups was to learn more about these caregivers’ experiences helping an older family member or friend who has health problems and disabilities. During the focus groups, we learned about their caregiving duties, the challenges they face, and their encounters with healthcare professionals. Our focus groups revealed how caregivers’ lives are impacted by their role as caregivers....

  • What is new with Medicare for 2020?

    Nila Morgan, For Senior Voice|Jan 1, 2020

    Each new year is sure to bring changes and Medicare is no different. Here are some changes that you will want to know about. New Medicare cards. Medicare began mailing the new Medicare cards to beneficiaries in April 2018. Up until Dec. 31 of 2019, you could use either your old, Social Security number based card or the new card, which has an 11 character, alpha-numeric identification that is random and yet unique to each beneficiary. As of Jan. 1, 2020, only your new card can be used. So pull...

  • Alaska Health Fair relies on your help

    Sharon Phillips, Alaska Health Fair, Inc.|Jan 1, 2020

    I have worked with Alaska Health Fair’s dedicated team of employees for seven years and instead of the “Seven Year Itch” to move on, I’m even more in love with our agency and more dedicated to providing health services to Alaska residents. We have been a statewide non-profit for 40 years, as of 2020, with offices in both Anchorage and Fairbanks. We started from a small National Institutes of Health grant, that all 50 states received, each state being asked to go forth and develop a health education program. I found out that in the years b...

  • Free training, support for family caregivers

    Senior Voice Staff|Jan 1, 2020

    The Kenai Peninsula Family Caregiver Support Program will hold the following peer support meetings in January. This month’s discussion topic will be “Beginning a New Year: How We Can Be Better at Taking Care to Give Care.” Jan. 7, Caregiver support meeting at Sterling Senior Center, 1 p.m. Jan. 14, Caregiver support meeting at Soldotna Senior Center, 1 p.m. Jan. 21, Caregiver support meeting at Kenai Senior Center, 1 p.m. Jan. 28, Open house at Kenai Peninsula Family Caregiver Support Program in Blazy Mall, Soldotna, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Check...

  • Medical advances from the future, and past

    John Schieszer, Medical Minutes|Jan 1, 2020

    Avoiding sleep medications with simple exercises If you are having trouble sleeping at night, you might want to try a yoga class. Yoga and physical therapy (PT) are effective approaches to treating co-occurring sleep disturbance and back pain while reducing the need for medication, according to a new study by researchers at Boston Medical Center (BMC). Writing in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, they report significant improvements in sleep quality lasting 52 weeks after 12 weeks of yog...

  • Alaska reinstates Medicaid adult preventive dental program

    AK Dept. of Health and Social Services|Jan 1, 2020

    Editor’s note: This press statement was received on Dec. 13, 2019. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) is reinstating Alaska’s adult preventive dental program (also known as the Adult Enhanced Dental Program) for Medicaid recipients effective Dec. 31, 2019. Program services will also be retroactively covered to Oct. 1, 2019, when the program was discontinued as part of an overall effort to address the state’s budget deficit. The decision to reinstate the program was made by DHSS Commissioner Adam Crum in coord...

  • Rides with Patches had their bumps

    Maraley McMichael, Senior Voice Correspondent|Jan 1, 2020

    By MARALEY McMICHAEL Senior Voice Correspondent "This is not working, I can't handle this all the way to Texas! As soon as we get to Kamloops, I'm going to find a veterinarian and see if we can get something to quiet her down," my husband Gary declared one January day in 2000. He had already grumbled so much, I had moved into the middle of the seat of our '97 pickup. That put Patches, our dog, by the passenger window. We didn't know about harnesses attachable to seatbelts, but we did know that...

  • Seward center to close in January for upgrades

    Senior Voice Staff|Jan 1, 2020

    Seward Senior Center will be closed for construction for three weeks, Jan. 17 through Feb. 7, 2020. “For the modernization of senior services, we will improve our security, sign in systems for all visitors and knock out a few cobwebs that seem to grow as we stay super busy serving our greatest generation,” said Seward Seniors Executive Director Dana Paperman. During the closure, transportation, the lunch program, meals on wheels and fitness programs will continue at other locations. Fitness classes will be hosted at the AVTEC gym and nutritiona...

  • Legislative teleconferences: Updates on senior bills

    Senior Voice Staff|Jan 1, 2020

    Keep track of senior-related bills, budget decisions and other issues by attending the Alaska Commission on Aging Legislative Teleconferences. Hosted by local agencies statewide, and available by toll-free call-in, the teleconferences provide a convenient forum for seniors and advocates across Alaska to share information about issues and specific bills of concern, including Medicaid, state budget and funding, senior assistance, retirement, Pioneer Homes and more. Teleconferences are scheduled 9:30 to 11 a.m. every other Thursday and weekly duri...

  • Alaska establishes the "borough" unit

    Laurel Downing Bill, Senior Voice Correspondent|Jan 1, 2020

    More than 60 years ago, the framers of Alaska's Constitution found one of their most difficult problems to be the intermediate government between municipalities and the state. Their solution was the creation of a unit known as the "borough." "It's a county with a New York name," a legislator once said. Most delegates to the Constitutional Convention did not want to slice the territory into a large number of counties as in other states. Valdez delegate William A. "Bill" Egan listed "make-up of...

  • Lil' ole winemaker, actress Donna Mills

    Nick Thomas, Tinseltown Talks|Jan 1, 2020

    Toasting the New Year by raising a glass of wine on December 31 is a tradition with many families and friends. But unlike most year-end revelers, actress Donna Mills can welcome the New Year with a bottle of wine from her own vineyard. Schlepping up a hillside harvesting grapes probably wasn't an activity soap vixen Abby Ewing might have enjoyed on the old CBS TV series "Knots Landing." But Mills, who portrayed the manipulative character on the popular show for a decade, has no such...

  • Networking for Anchorage, Mat-Su area providers

    Senior Voice Staff|Jan 1, 2020

    Interested in learning more about businesses and agencies providing senior services in the Anchorage and Mat-Su area? Want to get the word out about your own service? The monthly Service Providers Breakfast (formerly known as the Interagency Breakfast), sponsored by Older Persons Action Group, Inc., is an opportunity for all the above. Informal, early and free, with breakfast provided. The January meeting is January 8, hosted by Baxter Senior Living. Begins at 8 a.m. RSVP by calling Older Persons Action Group, Inc. for more information on...

  • Social Security expands public hours, workforce

    Social Security Administration|Jan 1, 2020

    Starting on Jan. 8, 2020, Social Security offices nationwide will be open to the public on Wednesday afternoons, Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security, announced in a Dec. 2 press announcement. This change restores Wednesday public service hours that were last in place in late 2012. “I don’t want someone to come to our office at 2:30 on a Wednesday only to find our doors closed,” commissioner Saul said. In another move to improve service to the public, Commissioner Saul announced in his Open Letter to the Public at www.s...

  • Your Social Security questions answered by the experts

    Senior Voice Staff|Jan 1, 2020

    Staff from Alaska’s Social Security office will be available for questions via videoconferencing at the following locations and times in January: Kodiak Job Center, on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month (Jan. 8 and 22), 9 a.m. to noon. Kenai Senior Center, on the first and third Wednesday of each month (Jan. 1 and 15), 9 a.m. to noon. Ketchikan Job Center, every Thursday (Jan. 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30), noon to 3 p.m. Social Security provides toll-free telephone service to all of Alaska. Residents in Alaska’s Southeast communities can cal...

  • With planning you can bypass the guardianship system

    Kenneth Kirk, For Senior Voice|Jan 1, 2020

    I have had a lot to say about the problems with the probate system -- it’s expensive, it takes a long time, it is easy for a disgruntled heir or creditor to hold up the proceedings, it is very public -- and about how to avoid it. But today I want to talk about another imperfect system. If someone claims that you are not competent to handle your own affairs, the courts have an adult guardianship system to determine whether you need to have someone appointed to handle those affairs for you. T...

  • Fire Tablet, Disney+, 3G network shutdown

    Bob DeLaurentis, Senior Wire|Jan 1, 2020

    Q. My daughter gave me an Amazon Fire tablet. What is the best way to learn how to use it? A. The Amazon Fire is a great introduction to the world of tablet computers. Because the Fire can do so many different things, it can seem confusing at first. Here are a few ideas to get started. Tablets are much less complicated than traditional computers, so try a little trial-and-error. Play with it. Push buttons, swipe across the screen. Just play and explore. The Fire has built-in apps that let you read, watch movies, play some games, and browse the...

  • Risk is inherent in travel: What can we learn?

    Erin Kirkland, For Senior Voice|Jan 1, 2020

    The accounts and photographs from New Zealand’s White Island are grim. Tourists on day excursions to the country’s most popular attraction were one minute hiking to the rim of the active volcano, enjoying the landscape’s awe-inspiring sights; the next, they were fleeing for their lives as ash and rock came pouring from the cone. With nowhere to run but toward the shoreline, many were overcome by toxic sulfur dioxide and the intense heat, and were terribly burned. At least 14 died, and probably more who survived the initial explosion but suffere...

  • Trip a bust? Change it up, quickly

    Dimitra Lavrakas, Senior Voice Travel Correspondent|Jan 1, 2020

    I once heard a story about an American couple, who traveled on a long-awaited vacation trip to India - they landed in Kolkata (once called Calcutta), took a taxi to the Hilton and never came out again until it was time for a taxi back to the airport. How do you manage disappointment, or in this case fear of crowds, on arrival at the place of your dreams, only to find it so overwhelming you want to leave? It's a combination of flexibility, turning on a dime and travel insurance. Recently, my...

  • IRS introduces tax form for older taxpayers

    Jim Miller, Savvy Senior|Jan 1, 2020

    Dear Savvy Senior: A couple months back I read that the IRS will be offering a new senior-friendly tax form this tax season that will be easier to use. What can you tell me about this? - Paper Filer Dear Filer: It’s true. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has created a new federal income-tax form specifically designed for senior taxpayers, age 65 and older, that should make filing a little easier this year, particularly those who don’t file electronically. Here’s what you should know. Form 1040-SR Created by the 2018 Bipartisan Budget Act,...

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