Articles from the May 1, 2014 edition


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  • Legislature renews Senior Benefits program

    Rindi White, For Senior Voice|May 1, 2014

    The 2014 Alaska Legislative Session included a handful of bills that were important to seniors, from formalizing a change to the mediset program that allows smaller pharmacies to distribute medicine in hourly or daily dosage packs to Medicaid patients, to extending the Senior Benefits Program that provides a cash benefit to seniors who have a low to moderate income. At press time the Senior Benefits Program was being approved and several other bills debated as the Legislature worked to close out the session. Another important bill, Senate Bill...

  • Administration retreats on Part D changes

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

    The White House, after an aggressive pushback from seniors, patients, pharmaceutical companies and lawmakers from both parties, recently scrapped most of a proposed plan to limit Medicare coverage for certain classes of drugs including those used to treat depression and schizophrenia. In January, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed broad changes to the Medicare Part D prescription-drug program that covers medicines for about 39 million beneficiaries. Medicare officials had said the proposal would save money and reduce the...

  • Changing lives through literacy

    Dianne Barske, For Senior Voice|May 1, 2014

    I sat there, transfixed by the diversity in the room. "Sad, sadder, saddest," Cindy Johnson said to the group. She wrote the three words on the board at the front of the classroom, then drew simple faces wearing these three expressions. She passed out paper. "Draw," she told the class. It seemed as if the world had found its way to one room that morning. Sitting at the long, classroom tables were several people from both Sudan and the Dominican Republic, someone from Somalia and Mexico,...

  • Personal Care Assistants: Alaska needs more

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

    Alaska’s senior population has grown 7 percent since 2000. The publication Alaska Economic Trends states the number of Alaskans over the age of 70 will grow 60 percent in the next several years. More than 130,000 baby boomers will reach retirement age (65) in Alaska over the next 16 years. (Alaska Economic Trends, 2014). In fact, Alaska ranks first in the nation on a per-capita basis of states with a resident population 65 years or older, according to the Alaska Commission on Aging. As seniors age they become increasingly susceptible to c...

  • State places moratorium on new PCA agencies

    Theda Pittman, For Senior Voice|May 1, 2014

    The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Senior and Disabilities Services Division has placed a six month moratorium on certifying new agencies which provide personal care assistant (PCA) services funded by Medicaid. Lynne Keilman-Cruiz, Director of Quality for the Division, emphasizes that the moratorium does not affect individuals seeking to enter the program for the first time as personal care assistants. Nor does it affect recipients – clients who are currently receiving PCA services from or through an established agency. Or w...

  • Remembering all the great new stuff of the '50s

    Tait Trussell, Senior Wire|May 1, 2014

    It was in 1945 that the Raytheon Company’s Percy Spencer stood in front of a magnetron (the power tube of radar). He felt a candy bar melt in his pocket. When he put popcorn kernels in front of the magnetron, the kernels exploded all over the laboratory. Ten years later, Spencer patented a “radar range” that cooked with high-frequency radio waves. That same year, the Tappan Stove Co. introduced the first home microwave model. Now millions of meals come quickly from the nation’s microwaves every day. In 1957, Enovid, a drug the FDA approve...

  • Family visits can and should be positive

    Marilyn McKay, Alzheimers Resource of Alaska|May 1, 2014

    Visiting family members and friends is a time-honored and valued tradition. Being with others in conversation or in companionable silence, in laughter or even in tears reaffirms our need for connection and belonging. We want to be with people we care about. We need to be with people who care about us. Desire and need are at the heart of every visit. A diagnosis of dementia does not diminish the desire or the need for being with others, but it does change the “how” of a visit. With a progressive dementia like Alzheimer’s disease, gradual chang...

  • The risks you take when you take testosterone

    Tait Trussell, Senior Wire|May 1, 2014

    You can’t watch television for more than an hour without being exposed to pleas to use either Viagra or Cialis to deal with erectile dysfunction. Now testosterone is being pushed. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), however, warned of severe dangers in using testosterone supplements. The new research examined more than 8,000 male veterans with low testosterone. Researchers compared the rates of cardiovascular ills among those who had testosterone supplementation and those who had not had supplements. The study found that m...

  • A look back, and some reminders to think ahead

    Rita Hatch, Senior Voice Correspondent|May 1, 2014

    This month I decided to delve into some Older Persons Action Group archive documents, recently discovered in an old file cabinet. At the beginning of year its 10th year, Senior Voice’s circulation was 6,000 and it was the only newspaper in the state dealing exclusively with senior citizen problems, needs and desires. In 1983, in its first try entering its writers’ work in professional competition, Senior Voice staff submitted three entries to the statewide Alaska Press Women communications con...

  • Understanding hospice care and Medicare coverage

    Ron Pollack, Families USA|May 1, 2014

    If someone in your family needs hospice care, this column explains what it is and what Medicare covers. What is hospice care? Hospice care is a program of care and support for patients who are terminally ill. These patients may no longer want to try to cure a terminal illness, or their doctor may have determined that efforts to cure an illness are not working. To qualify for hospice care, the patient’s regular doctor and a hospice medical director must certify that the patient is terminally ill and has six months or less to live. A decision a...

  • The alarming suicide rate of older veterans

    Major Mike Dryden USAR RET, Senior Voice Correspondent|May 1, 2014

    It’s an alarming and disturbing fact but older veterans have a higher suicide rate than the general public, including returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. In fact, veterans over 50 years of age have a 70 percent higher suicide rate than the non-veteran general population. According to Tom Berger, executive director of the Vietnam Veterans of America national health council and a Vietnam Navy veteran, “You know, ‘We’re just old guys, and we’re going to die, so why pay much attention...

  • New research on food storage, mammograms

    John Schieszer, Medical Minutes|May 1, 2014

    Color-coded tags may signal food’s freshness Scientists have now come up with a color-coded smart tag that can tell consumers whether a carton of milk has turned sour. This technology could also tell you if a can of green beans has spoiled, all without opening the containers. “This tag, which has a gel-like consistency, is really inexpensive and safe, and can be widely programmed to mimic almost all ambient-temperature deterioration processes in foods,” said lead researcher Chao Zhang, who i...

  • Governor names members to Medicaid Reform Advisory Group

    Senior Voice Staff|May 1, 2014

    Gov. Sean Parnell has named nine Alaskans to serve on the Medicaid Reform Advisory Group, which was created by the governor to bring in stakeholders and craft a proposal for meaningful reforms to the state’s Medicaid program. Specifically, the group will engage stakeholders such as physicians, specialists, pharmacists, dentists, the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association, community health centers and other non-profit health care providers, behavioral health providers, tribal health leaders, veterans affairs, insurers, and c...

  • Medicare clinic adds doctors

    Senior Voice Staff|May 1, 2014

    In March, the Alaska Medicare Clinic in Anchorage announced the affiliation of Dr. Virginia Haskell and Cynthia McGinty, ANP with the clinic. With this additional staff, the clinic is adding new patients to their service and expanding the ability to see patients with urgent needs on a same day basis. Located in the O’Malley Square building at 11260 Old Seward Highway, the clinic is open Monday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Tuesday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The clinic offers in-house lab and x-ray services. Call the clinic at 433-5100 to s...

  • 'Savvy Caregiver' training for dementia care

    Alzheimers Resource of Alaska|May 1, 2014

    Alzheimer’s Resource of Alaska will offer “Savvy Professional” training workshops this month in Ketchikan, Anchorage, Fairbanks and Palmer. Sponsored in part by the Trust Training Cooperative, the workshops are designed for those who have a working knowledge of dementia and are in roles that support individuals, families and/or direct care workers. Learning objectives include: • Compare the current state of one’s personal and organizational practices with those identified as best practice in person centered care. • Identify quality indicators...

  • Wasilla volunteer honored as Salute to Senior Service winner

    Senior Voice Staff|May 1, 2014

    An 85-year-old Wasilla woman has been honored as the Alaska winner of the Home Instead Senior Care network's "Salute to Senior Service" award. Gene Chapedos is being recognized for her dedicated community service, including her work at the Wasilla Area Seniors, Inc. campus (WASI). Regardless of the weather, Chapedos walks the quarter mile outdoors to get from her apartment to the center. She has been an integral part of WASI life since 2007, starting out at the front counter and then moving to t...

  • Skagway to offer doorstep garbage service for seniors

    Senior Voice Staff|May 1, 2014

    Skagway seniors who struggle dragging the garbage can out to the street for emptying will be treated to some extra help under a pilot program next winter. City workers will go to their doorstep and take the garbage out for them. Skagway Assemblyman Steve Burnham proposed the program after exploring the idea at several committee meetings, which generated interest, according to the Skagway News. In addition to saving seniors and others with physical challenges from having to deal with ice, the program will also encourage them to not put the...

  • Cordova's trial by fire

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

    At 4 a.m. on May 2, 1963, Cordovans awoke to the sounds of fire sirens wailing through their streets. Then came a bombardment of ammunition as shells exploded in the basement of the Cordova Commercial Co., the town's largest store. Six charges of dynamite, set off in an attempt to check the fire, broke windows all over town. But the fire did not stop until 14 buildings had been destroyed and more than 125 men, women and children were left homeless. At the height of the excitement, everyone was t...

  • Jane Powell's career was her parents' idea

    Nick Thomas, Tinseltown Talks|May 1, 2014

    Multitalented actress Jane Powell celebrated her 85th birthday in April. She and husband Dick Moore purchased a home in Wilton, Conn., about 30 years ago, dividing their time between Connecticut and New York. "We found this perfect house which was built in 1875 and didn't have to do much remodeling," said Ms. Powell from Wilton. "I love to cook, so we added a new kitchen, built an office in the back and put a gazebo in the garden." And at 85, she could be considered a role model for seniors heal...

  • Use this checklist for hiring a window installer

    May 1, 2014

    When it comes time to replace the windows in your home, who are you going to call? Hiring a window installer is similar to hiring other professionals in the building industry – you should do a good amount of research on the person(s) you trust to install your windows beforehand to assure a successful outcome. Once you’ve identified several potential window installers, it’s time to dig deeper. The experts at Simonton Windows have created the following checklist to help you hire the best window installer for your project. • Seek out written...

  • Sticky insurance questions need action

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

    Dear Jonathan: My wife and I have a living trust and recently after consulting with our attorney, we transferred our home, as well as our family cottage to our trust for probate avoidance. Last week as I was writing out a check for our homeowners insurance premium, it occurred to me that my wife and I are the insureds on the policy, but our trust isn’t. Is that the way it should be, or now that the trust owns the home and cottage, should the trust now be the insured on the policy? I just want to make sure that we are properly covered. J...

  • Flash drive longevity and other tech questions

    Richard Sherman, Senior Wire|May 1, 2014

    Q. I went to delete a file and it just deleted without asking for confirmation. I intended to delete it, so the lack of a confirmation wasn’t a big deal, but I prefer having a “safety net” requiring me to confirm any deletions. Do you know why it would do this? A. Did you perhaps speak to it harshly? It sounds like your Recycle Bin settings may have changed, but it’s easy to get them back on track: Right-click your Recycle Bin and select Properties. Select the Global tab, which will encompass all hard drives. (In Windows 7, select the General T...

  • Dempster Highway: The ultimate northern road trip

    Dimitra Lavrakas, For Senior Voice|May 1, 2014

    A big state has to have a big road, and the Haul Road from Coldfoot to Prudhoe Bay is certainly that. And yes, Atigun Pass is at times both breathtaking and horrifying depending on the conditions, and entering onto the Arctic Plain with the mighty Brooks Range on your left is memorable. But the Dempster Highway, that's real adventure. Beginning southeast of Dawson City in the Yukon Territory, it winds its way 457 miles, through the Northwest Territories, past the Arctic Circle, up to Inuvik on...

  • Kidney Patient Education Symposium May 31 in Anchorage

    Alaska Kidney Patient Association|May 1, 2014

    The Alaska Kidney Patients Association will present their free 9th Annual Education Symposium on Saturday, May 31, 2013 at Changepoint Church in Anchorage. The Symposium consists of live speaker lectures from local kidney doctors and other professionals for individuals experiencing reduced kidney function, persons at risk for kidney failure or disease, dialysis patients, transplant recipients, and their families and caretakers. The workshops are targeted at improving the quality of life for people with kidney disease and providing information...

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