Articles from the March 1, 2016 edition

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  • State explores privatizing Pioneer Homes

    Mackenzie Stewart, Senior Voice|Mar 1, 2016

    With the state anxiously seeking ways to cut costs, one idea being discussed is privatizing its Pioneer Home assisted living facilities. The state recently took another step in exploring this possibility, and issued a request for letters of interest for potential privatization of the six Pioneer Homes. “We’re in a horrible financial situation,” said Vickie Wilson, director of the Alaska Pioneer Homes, Division of Health and Social Services. “The legislature is asking us to consider what’s out there for privatization. All 24-hour facilities owne...

  • Apply now for Senior Property Tax Exemption

    Senior Voice Staff|Mar 1, 2016

    Alaska seniors age 65 and older can receive a tax exemption on the first $150,000 of the value of their home, thanks to the state-mandated Senior and Disabled Veterans Property Tax Exemption. Different municipalities around the state have different deadlines to apply. Some communities offer more generous exemptions. To qualify, all applicants must have turned 65 on or before Dec. 31, 2015, and must own and occupy the exempted property as their primary residence. The Anchorage Municipality application deadline is March 15. Applications are...

  • Transition for Cyrano's founder

    Dianne Barske, For Senior Voice|Mar 1, 2016

    If retirement means "to call it quits" or "pack it in," as my dictionary suggests, that is not at all what Sandy Harper has in mind. It is a time of transition for her, of new perspectives, as she hands over the lead position of producing artistic director of Cyrano's Theatre Company to Teresa Pond, representing a younger generation. Sandy calls this transition a passing of the torch and the beginning of a new era for Cyrano's, but since the theater has become very much a part of who she is,...

  • Network with Anchorage senior service providers

    Senior Voice Staff|Mar 1, 2016

    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. The March meeting is March 9, hosted by McKinley Services. Begins at 8 a.m. RSVP by calling Older Persons Action Group for the location and more information on these events or to be added to our e-mail reminder list,...

  • Hard facts of Alaska's economic situation

    Diane Kaplan, Rasmuson Foundation|Mar 1, 2016

    Not a day goes by without Alaska’s fiscal problems making the news. Whether cuts to public services, talk of new revenues, or a downgrade of the state’s creditworthiness, it’s hard to escape the numbers. So it’s good that Alaskans and our elected leaders are talking about the state’s fiscal problems. It would also be good if everyone could separate the myths from the facts. Myth. Higher oil prices and/or more production will arrive in time to save us. Fact. Oil prices would have to almost quadruple to fill the budget gap, or productio...

  • Tax scams spike during filing season

    Michelle Tabler, Better Business Bureau|Mar 1, 2016

    With tax season in full swing, the Better Business Bureau Northwest warns of new twists on tax scams hammering local consumers. According to the BBB Scam Tracker, tax scams ranked at the top nationally in 2015 with more than 2,000 reports out of 10,000 reported. The Internal Revenue Service says consumers lost more than $23 million over the past three years to impostors posing as federal agents tricking victims into making false tax payments. The Better Business Bureau reminds consumers to be wary of unsolicited phone calls, emails or letters...

  • What is an ACO and what does it mean to me?

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

    Editor’s note: The ACOs discussed in this national story have not reached Alaska, but the emphasis on outcomes for patients and reimbursing for coordinated care will become increasingly relevant to the health care system as a whole. Big changes are coming for most seniors as the Obama administration aggressively pushes to change the way doctors are paid – moving from tying their fees for every service provided to payments based on the quality of the care patients receive. This means a big expansion in an effort by Medicare to keep seniors hea...

  • Put together a system to get to sleep

    Marilyn Pribus, Senior Wire|Mar 1, 2016

    “I just can’t sleep,” grumbles 77-year-old Charlie. “No matter when I go to bed, I’m awake at 3 a. m.” Charlie isn’t alone. Our National Institutes of Health estimate 50 to 70 million Americans chronically suffer from one of some 90 different sorts of sleep disorder. Their symptoms include inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, resulting in daytime sleepiness. Poor sleep has a greater cost than many people realize. For instance, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates at least 100,000 annual police-reported crashes are t...

  • 'Am I too old?' and other fitness questions

    Bonnie Murphy, For Senior Voice|Mar 1, 2016

    I wanted to share some of my Frequently Asked Questions from people that come in to see me for the first time. Am I too old to start an exercise program? Absolutely not! No one is too old to start a regular, consistent, and progressive exercise program. Everyone begins where they are and builds from there. The older you get the faster you lose your fitness. It takes only two weeks of not doing anything to lose all that you’ve built up, especially if you are over 60. You cannot store fitness: you need to lead an active lifestyle to prevent d...

  • Learning more about Medicare, Medicaid

    Rita Hatch, Senior Voice Correspondent|Mar 1, 2016

    We are not afraid of the ides of March anymore, since the IRS beckons us now to the ides of April. For the many questions I have been asked about the differences between Medicare and Medicaid, I will explain. Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that helps with medical costs like nursing home care and personal care services, for some people with limited income and resources. You may be eligible for extra help paying for Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D), even if your income...

  • Taxing, spending won't bring back oil wealth

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

    The tagline of our local pretentious Keynesian crowd is, “We can’t cut our way out of this.” Well my friends, “You can’t tax your way back to the good ole days of $100 oil,” either. No informed Alaskan can help but conclude that the state has some hard times ahead. But to think you can move the deckchairs around on the Titanic to solve the problem is crazy. The dilemma for the state is that our future economy will be a zero net sum game. There is just so much money on the table to spend and w...

  • New research on combating cancer, fighting migraines and how walnuts can improve health

    John Schieszer, Medical Minutes|Mar 1, 2016

    Calcium carbonate nanoparticles may help combat cancer Researchers have now found a way to keep a cancerous tumor from growing by using nanoparticles of the main ingredient in common antacid tablets (calcium carbonate). Investigators at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, have created nanoparticles from calcium carbonate and injected them intravenously into an animal model to treat solid tumors. The compound changed the pH of the tumor environment from acidic to more alkaline. It also...

  • Health fairs coming to locations near you

    Senior Voice Staff|Mar 1, 2016

    Alaska Health Fairs’ spring series of health fairs are underway, featuring free health screenings and education, low cost blood tests and more. The tests can help you learn about your health and detect potential problems early, when treatment or changes in personal habits can be most effective. The test results give you and your health care provider important information about your physical condition and vital organ functions. A complete and comprehensive chemistry/hematology test is available for only $45 and panels 27 different tests for c...

  • Free training, support for family caregivers

    Senior Voice Staff|Mar 1, 2016

    The Kenai Peninsula Family Caregiver Support Program will hold the following peer support meetings in March. This month’s focus: National Nutrition Month. March 1, Caregiver support meeting at Sterling Senior Center, 1 p.m. March 8, Caregiver support meeting at Soldotna Senior Center, 1 p.m. March 15, Caregiver support meeting at Kenai Senior Center, 1 p.m. March 15, Caregiver support meeting at Anchor Point Senior Center, 3 p.m. March 29, Caregiver support meeting at Soldotna Senior Center, 1 p.m. Support meetings allow you to share your e...

  • Indoor fun with your canine companion

    Laura Atwood, For Senior Voice|Mar 1, 2016

    Living in Alaska can present many challenges to getting outside safely with our canine companions: winter darkness, icy sidewalks, chilling rain, and pesky moose. But as a loving dog owner, you know that your dog needs physical and mental exercise, so what are your options? Indoor training, games and puzzle toys are your answer. New tricks Training your dog doesn't have to end with the basics of sit, stay, down, and come when called. You and your friend can have fun with reward-based trick...

  • Denakkanaaga debuts new Gwich'in and Koyukon-Athabascan language tool

    Senior Voice Staff|Mar 1, 2016

    Denakkanaaga in February announced a new Native language tool for people interested in learning Gwich’in or Koyukon-Athabascan. Denakkanaaga is the Fairbanks-based regional non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of and for Alaska Native elders of Interior Alaska. In a Feb. 2 press statement, the organization explained that through a language revitalization grant from Doyon, Limited, Denakkanaaga has produced an everyday language video series in which elders teach commonly used words in the two Interior Alaskan dialects. The video c...

  • Full Lives Conference, March 30-31 in Anchorage

    Senior Voice Staff|Mar 1, 2016

    The 15th Annual Full Lives Conference takes place March 30-31 at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage. The conference features national and Alaskan experts on key issues that affect direct service professionals and the people they support, including but not limited to: developmental disabilities; behavioral health/mental illness; chronic alcoholism and other substance abuse; traumatic brain injuries; FASD; and Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related dementia. Attendees choose sessions based on their personal and professional interests. E...

  • AARP recognizes Laraine Derr for service

    AARP Alaska|Mar 1, 2016

  • Events offer business and pleasure in Bethel

    Senior Voice Staff|Mar 1, 2016

    The annual Cama-i Dance Festival, bringing together Native dance groups from all around the state, takes place April 1-3 in Bethel at the high school. The festival also showcases performances from guest dancers from outside Alaska, dance clinics, a Native foods dinner and more. For information and the impressive schedule, visit Also in Bethel, this year’s annual Tribal Unity Gathering takes place April 6 and 7 at the Piciryarait Cultural Center. This is the 23rd Tribal Unity Gathering, sponsored by the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health C...

  • (Miniature) trains keep a rollin'

    Senior Voice Staff|Mar 1, 2016

    The Northern Lights Model Railroad Club will hold a model railroad open house March 26-27 at Russian Jack Springs Park in Anchorage, noon to 4 p.m. Club members will be on hand to talk about the railroad and answer questions, and most importantly, there will be trains running on the layout. Parking and admission free. This is a great family event, and is always popular with the kids. For information, call 301-9272. Read about the club’s history and projects on their website:

  • Alaskans live through 'hell on earth'

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

    The second-largest earthquake in recorded history struck at 5:36 p.m. Anchorage time. Measuring 8.4 on the Richter scale, experts later upgraded it to 9.2 on the Mw (moment magnitude) scale as the Richter scale was determined to be inaccurate at measuring earthquakes above 8.0. Many Alaskans later said they lived through hell on earth during those 4 minutes and 38 seconds of violent shaking and the tsunamis that followed. The temblor's epicenter was located about 75 miles southeast of...

  • Audrey Dalton talks about surviving Hollywood

    Nick Thomas, Tinseltown Talks|Mar 1, 2016

    Four decades before James Cameron's 1997 blockbuster "Titanic" made waves at the Academy Awards with 11 wins, Audrey Dalton signed on for Hollywood's 1953 recreation of the famous 1912 maritime disaster. "Our version only received one Oscar for writing," said Ms. Dalton, who turned 82 in January, from her home in Saddleback Valley, Calif. "But the special effects were pretty good for 60 years ago." The cast included Barbara Stanwyck and Clifton Webb, who delighted '40s and '50s movie audiences...

  • Teleconferences keep you up-to-date on the legislature

    Senior Voice Staff|Mar 1, 2016

    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. Teleconferences are scheduled 9:30 to 11 a.m. every other Thursday and weekly during the last month of session. The remaining 2016 meeting dates are March 10 and 24; April 7, 14 and...

  • With estate planning, it ain't just about taxes

    Kenneth Kirk, For Senior Voice|Mar 1, 2016

    It was the mid-1980s. Ronald Reagan was in his second term, Tears for Fears was on the radio, and I was in law school in upstate New York, taking my first estate planning class. And what I learned was this: when it comes to estate planning, the inheritance taxes are absolutely everything. Nothing else matters. But that was then, and this is now. Estate taxes were indeed a big deal back then. The exempt amount – the number below which your heirs didn’t have to pay estate taxes – was only $600,...

  • Armchair aviators, Facebook and #hashtags

    Bob DeLaurentis, Senior Wire|Mar 1, 2016

    Q. I want to fly radio-controlled airplanes but do not have the space. Might drones be a good option? A. I loved flying model planes when I was a kid. Unable to afford radio-controlled models, I made do with the small gas-powered models that flew on the end of a string. Of course, those were the days when kids played with lawn darts and home glassblowing kits. Today’s drones exchange explosive liquid fuel for the comparative safety of battery power. And since drones hover like a helicopter, they can be used when space is limited. So the short a...

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