Articles from the December 1, 2014 edition


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  • Huge backlog result of broken Social Security bureaucracy

    Alan M. Schlein, Senior Wire|Dec 1, 2014

    Last spring the nation was outraged when the enormous backlog of claims at the Veterans Administration was revealed. The number of claims stuck in processing for more than 125 days at that time was 611,000 veterans who were not getting their claims processed. Seven months later, that number, the VA says now, has dropped to 344,000 claims that are still 125 days behind. While there was bipartisan anger over the VA scandal, a recent Washington Post story reveals a dramatically worse backlog over...

  • Alaska enthusiasts flock to annual Christmas Bird Count

    Dianne Barske, For Senior Voice|Dec 1, 2014

    "There's a lot of senior volunteer power behind the annual Anchorage-area Christmas Bird Count." That testimonial to senior volunteerism comes from Louann Feldmann. She's education chair of the Anchorage Audubon Society and will head this year's local Christmas Bird Count (CBC). "We coordinate our bird count with the National Audubon Society," she says. "It's a nationwide, continent-wide happening and will take place on Sunday, December 14 this year." She adds happily, "It's free! And for the...

  • Chalk it up to experience, opportunity and effort

    Leonard T. Kelley, Older Persons Action Group|Dec 1, 2014

    I have been harvesting moose for over 40 years. When I first began moose hunting my technique was simple-I would sit in a field and wait. In time I learned how to call and when to be in the field. Simply stated, the best time to hunt moose is after Sept. 12, when the bulls are in full rut and looking to mate. I also limit my time in the field to five hours in the morning and at night. Moose are less active during the day. This year we were to hunt Unit 18, which is located in the...

  • Do you have a passion for helping seniors?

    Dec 1, 2014

    If you love visiting with seniors and want to speak up for them, join the dedicated volunteer advocates of the Alaska Long Term Care Ombudsman program. Volunteer Ombudsmen are needed to advocate for seniors living in assisted living homes and long-term care facilities. Volunteers are needed statewide, including Anchorage, Bethel, Delta Junction, Dillingham, Eagle River, Fairbanks, Galena, Homer, Houston, Juneau, Kasilof, Kenai, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Kotzebue, Nome, North Pole, Palmer, Petersburg, Sitka, Soldotna, Tanana, Valdez, Seward, Wasilla,...

  • Anchorage Elder and Senior Listening Forum, Dec. 11

    Marie Lavigne, For Senior Voice|Dec 1, 2014

    What will it take to live well to be age 100 and older in Anchorage? Do we have in place what you need to remain active and independent in your home as you ‘age in place’? Join in this most important conversation at the upcoming Elder and Senior Listening Session. The Municipality of Anchorage Senior Citizens Advisory Commission and Alaska Commission on Aging invite you to attend Thursday, Dec. 11 from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Anchorage Senior Activity Center, 1300 E. 19th Avenue. This facilitated listening session will explore your per...

  • Alaska's new Silver Alert system goes live

    Dec 1, 2014

    The long-awaited Silver Alert rapid response and notification system is now live at silveralert.alaska.gov. The network’s protections are especially important to senior citizens with dementia, adults with developmental disabilities, veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and other disabled adults. “In the same way Amber Alert helps find missing children, Silver Alert will save lives by coordinating the efforts to find seniors, vulnerable adults, and even veterans should they go missing,” said Representative Max Gruenberg (D-An...

  • Business-to-business networking for Anchorage senior service providers

    Senior Voice Staff|Dec 1, 2014

    Interested in learning more about businesses and agencies providing senior services in the Anchorage area? Want to get the word out about your own service? The monthly Interagency Breakfast, sponsored by Older Persons Action Group, is an opportunity for all of the above. Informal, early and free, with breakfast provided for business and agency representatives. The December meeting is Dec. 10 and will be hosted by the Chugiak-Eagle River Senior Center. Begins at 8 a.m. Call Older Persons Action Group to RSVP and get directions to the event, or...

  • Keep your meds away from visiting grandkids

    Teresa Ambord, Senior Wire|Dec 1, 2014

    If you’re like most of us, you detest those darn child-proof caps that come on every medication. In fact, you may have tossed the troublesome lids. And you may be in the habit of keeping your medications on bedside tables or other easily reachable places. You should know, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 80 percent of emergency room visits are from medication overdose among kids 12 and under, usually because they were curious when they found medicines that resembled candy. That’s the equivalent of four busloads of kids, eve...

  • Holidays are a good time to share an ethical will

    Teresa Ambord, Senior Wire|Dec 1, 2014

    An ethical will is a document which expresses your wishes, hopes and maybe blessings. It’s something you share with family members while you are still alive. Sound unimportant? Think about it. You could look at it as a way to impart wisdom to those you will leave behind. It’s easier than a memoir and a good way to convey important ideas. I had a friend – Annette – who suffered a serious brain injury at age 42. Before she went into a surgery, which she knew she might not survive, she wrote short letters to her daughters, husband, parents...

  • Ensure your medicine first does no harm

    Lana Bell, For Senior Voice|Dec 1, 2014

    Medicine helps us tremendously, but occasionally we experience negative side effects, allergic reactions or other problems. Sometimes they’re quite serious. It’s important to be aware of potential problems so you can watch for them and report them right away before they become dangerous. An Anchorage woman recently contacted me and asked me to share her tale, in the hopes that it might spare others some of the trouble she’d had. I agreed, because I’ve heard so many similar stories over the yea...

  • Drugs are expensive and so are the plans

    Rita Hatch, Senior Voice Correspondent|Dec 1, 2014

    My friends, I always regret it when I have to report not so good news to you. The Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans for 2015 are the unpalatable ones that I always knew they would be since the program started – there are no good policies that I can suggest to my clients. The lowest premium (Humana Walmart) is $15.60, but it comes with a whopping $320 deductible. In fact, most of the plans have a deductible of $320. Why do you think that is? Is this collusion? And why is there still a ...

  • Guest columnist raises questions about Alaska Guard

    Major Mike Dryden USAR Ret, Senior Voice Correspondent|Dec 1, 2014

    This month I am foregoing my monthly Veteran Healthcare Report to allow the following story to run. The article is the sole opinion of the author and does not constitute an endorsement by the Senior Voice. Self inspection record raises questions about 176th Medical Group By LINDA DUNEGAN, Lt. Col., AKANG, MSC, PhD, Ret. What is the mission of the Alaska Air National Guard? They are citizen airmen / militia. They defend and protect Alaskans from the enemies both foreign and domestic. Alaska’s 1...

  • New recommendations on nutrition; controlling sugar intake; irritable bowel syndrome

    John Schieszer, Medical Minutes|Dec 1, 2014

    Healthy Christmas party choices This Christmas season the nutritionists say think red wine, dark chocolate and berries for heart health. New studies show you need to watch for the calorie counts and added sugars but these foods in particular may help fight heart disease and protect the brain. Berries, including blueberries, cranberries, raspberries and strawberries are a good source of beta carotene and lutein, polyphenols, vitamin C, folate, potassium and fiber. Red wine contains resveratrol,...

  • Medicare changes could limit ALS patients' coverage

    Alan M. Schlein, Senior Wire|Dec 1, 2014

    Last summer’s viral “ice bucket challenge” focused attention and helped raise money for ALS – amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – a disease that impairs motor function so people often can’t talk or even move. But while public attention focused people on the disease, Medicare changes already in the works could now seriously curtail coverage of communication tools that ALS patients need. Unless it is delayed, beginning Dec. 1, people with ALS could lose access to technological advances that allow them to better communicate, as a result of what Med...

  • Free training, support for family caregivers

    Senior Voice Staff|Dec 1, 2014

    The Kenai Peninsula Family Caregiver Support Program will hold the following peer support meetings in December. This month’s meetings will focus on fall prevention. Dec. 2, Caregiver support meeting at Sterling Senior Center, 1 p.m. Dec. 9, Caregiver support meeting at Soldotna Senior Center, 1 p.m. Dec. 11, Caregiver support meeting at Kenai Peninsula Family Caregiver Support Program in the Blazy Mall, 5 p.m. Dec. 16, Caregiver support meeting at Kenai Senior Center, 1 p.m. Dec. 30, Caregiver support meeting at Soldotna Senior Center, 1 p.m. P...

  • Online classes look at dementia, other aging-related topics

    Senior Voice Staff|Dec 1, 2014

    A series of online trainings will be available beginning in January, sponsored by the Area Health Education Center (AHEC), UAA Office of Health Programs Development, and the Trust Training Cooperative. The series is a partnership with the Northwest Geriatric Education Center, and will offer 10 weeks of trainings from Jan. 6 through March 10, 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 occupational therapists, p...

  • Home modification workshop in Anchorage, Dec. 8

    Senior Voice Staff|Dec 1, 2014

    Energy specialist Art Nash from the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension will lead a workshop on adapting homes for older Alaskans and the disabled at the Anchorage Extension Office on Dec. 8. The presentation will focus on adaptations that allow people to stay in their homes as long as possible. The event begins at 7:15 p.m. The office location is 1675 C Street. For more information or to register, call 786-6300....

  • Senior centers produce calendars with whimsy, fun

    Theda Pittman, For Senior Voice|Dec 1, 2014

    Picking out a new calendar is one of the best treats of the New Year. It doesn't matter whether it's a gift for family or friends or one to use yourself. Some people have calendars in every room. Some have a wall calendar, a pocket calendar and a desk calendar. There may be a picture and a page for every month; every week or every day. And some Alaska seniors are creating their own calendars. Both Mat-Su Senior Services in Palmer and the Ninilchik Senior Services Center are using their own...

  • A centennial celebration at Anchorage Pioneer Home

    Dianne Boyer, For Senior Voice|Dec 1, 2014

    The City of Anchorage was founded in 1915. It was what has become known as a "Tent City." One hundred years later we will celebrate her centennial with an amazing skyline. Alaska Artist Byron Birdsall created a "Centennial Print," depicting the modern skyline in contrast to the original tent city. The print was signed by all of Anchorage's living mayors. Artique, a local gallery, marketed 450 numbered prints. The Anchorage Pioneer Home Resident Council purchased Print No. 205 as a gift to the...

  • Alaska Commission on Aging meets in Anchorage, Dec. 10-11

    Senior Voice Staff|Dec 1, 2014

    The Alaska Commission on Aging will hold its quarterly meeting Dec. 10 and 11 in Anchorage at the Anchorage Senior Activity Center. Public attendance is encouraged. Commissioners will hear presentations from and about senior service programs and agencies, including the Division of Senior and Disabilities Services; Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority; Anchorage Senior Advisory Commission; UAA Geriatrics; Alaska Housing Finance Corp; Long Term Care Ombudsman; AARP; AgeNet and more. A public comment period will be held Dec. 10 from 11 to 11:30...

  • Mollie Walsh, Angel of the Klondike Trail

    Laurel Downing Bill, Senior Voice Correspondent|Dec 1, 2014

    Mollie Walsh made a name for herself among the prospectors who flooded north during the Klondike Gold Rush. Her "grub tent" was a welcome sight to many miners who climbed the White Pass Trail in the late 1890s. One man carried such affection for her that he created a memorial that still stands today in the little town of Skagway. Born Mary Walsh in 1872, the Irish lass had packed her bags and headed north from Montana in 1897. Various sources say she was a dancehall girl in Butte, worked for an...

  • And the Oscar went to ... Maureen O'Hara

    Nick Thomas, Tinseltown Talks|Dec 1, 2014

    Food, family and fun are usually part of Christmas Day celebrations for many families. The festivity may also include watching old Christmas movies, with the 1947 version of "Miracle on 34th Street" being a traditional favorite. In addition to its Christmas message, the film is remembered for its cast including Edmund Gwenn who won the Oscar for his role as Kris Kringle, adorable 9-year-old Natalie Wood as Susan, and feisty Maureen O'Hara, who played her mother. Although she starred in other...

  • Report highlights needs of Juneau seniors

    Senior Voice Staff|Dec 1, 2014

    The Juneau Economic Development Council (JEDC) has released the Juneau Senior Housing and Senior Services Demand Study, completed by AgnewBeck Consulting and Northern Economics. The report estimates current gaps and forecasts the demand for housing and services needed by Juneau’s seniors in the coming decades. The study’s goals were to estimate the number of Juneau residents that need and are likely to move into assisted living if it were available, as well as educate the public about senior housing and services available in Juneau, waiting lis...

  • The crucial basics of getting down to business about your business

    Jonathan J. David, Senior Wire|Dec 1, 2014

    Dear Jonathan: I am a widower and 50 percent owner of a small business which employs two of my children. I am at retirement age now however I am not ready to stop working quite yet. I am thinking that I should probably update my estate planning because the last time I did this was over 30 years ago when my wife was still alive. Another reason that I want to update is that my children who work at the company have expressed an interest in receiving my ownership in the business after I am gone, so I want to make sure I address that in my plan. Doe...

  • Gmail settings, Excel calendar dates, other advice

    Richard Sherman, Senior Wire|Dec 1, 2014

    Q. How can I explore the various settings in Gmail without messing up what I currently have? Is there any place I can see demonstrations of what the various Gmail features and options do? A. Any changes you make to Gmail through its user settings are easily reversible by returning to the setting in question and changing it back to the way it was. As an alternative, since Gmail is free, you can create a test email account for yourself, then experiment until your head explodes. If you test settings in this manner and find something you...

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