Inside the Sandwich: Easter Baskets to Camp Tee Shirts By Amelia Blades Steward

Share

I never have transitioned from one season to the next on time. My friends laugh about the year the Christmas tree stayed up until Valentine’s Day (it was real, not artificial) and they had to practically do an intervention to get me to take it down. This year, I didn’t even get my Easter decorations out. The snowman on the sideboard got taken down in early April and replaced by two Beatrix Potter figurines and a small basket of Easter eggs that I got for my birthday in March.

It is how I have approached the “things” in my life too. Not always being ready to part with the memories attached to the items I have collected over the years. This week, however, that sentimental streak paid off when I found an old camp tee shirt and jacket that I wore at age 14 while attending Wye Institute, a camp held at Aspen institute in Queenstown, MD in the 1970s and 80s. I looked for the camp clothing because Aspen is doing a documentary on Arthur Houghton and Wye Institute and had called me about being interviewed as a camper. Houghton, the president of Steuben Glass in New York, had founded the Wye Institute camp for gifted and talented adolescents from rural areas to expand their intellectual and creative minds. I viewed it as perfect timing, as did Aspen, when I brought the tee shirt and jacket to the documentary taping.

The green and white striped camp-issued cotton tee shirt brought me back to a time and place in my life when the ground shifted and something changed in me, something that changed my view of the world. It was the summer of 1974 when I attended the month-long camp at Wye Institute with other 8th graders from Maryland’s Eastern Shore and New York’s Finger Lakes region. We would be attending high school in the fall. We all wore the same camp uniforms. The only time we didn’t wear our camp clothes were when we went to bed each night and could wear our own pajamas. My bunk-mates and I talked late into the night about world peace, women’s lib and what we were going to do with our lives.

As campers we studied and discussed classic literature, film and theater, learning about how these things have shaped our country’s foundation. We explored art, music, creative writing, and the environment – learning how to sail on the Wye River and attending our first theater production of the play “Godspell” in Washington, DC. We even participated in social experiments. One experiment had half the group paint their faces in wild colors and shop in nearby Centreville, while the other half of the group without the painted faces shopped in the same shops. I was in the group with the painted faces and we were run out of the shops we went in.

At Wye Institute I realized that I wanted to be a writer. For the first time, I participated in a creative writing class and learned the power of the pen. The camp showed me that I could illicit a reaction from the words that I wrote. My peers responded to the words and that was powerful. It was a summer when we all learned we had opinions and that our voices could be heard.

We had debates and studied rhetoric. We even put on the musical, “The Fantasticks,” for our parents when they came to visit us mid-month. It was the first time many of us had been away from home and from our parents for this length of time. After leaving camp that summer, I remember how different I felt when I got home. I had been transformed somehow and knew that I would approach high school in a new anticipatory way.

Now, as I think about summer approaching, I wonder if my own college-aged son will one day remember working as a camp counselor, experiencing wet sleeping bags from summer thunderstorms, chiggers and poison ivy, lost bathing suits, glorious camp productions, and the tears of campers saying good-bye to new friends. While memories like these linger for all of us, we are forced to move ahead to the next chapter of our lives. Ready or not, the season is changing. I just need to find where I put that box of Easter decorations before Memorial Day arrives.

 

Senior Nation: Coping with Stress by Kim Huff

Share

The body deals with stress by using the flight or fight response. When the body senses something stressful, hormones are released that initiate physiological responses known as the stress response. Long term activation of the stress response decreases the efficiency of the immune system and increases the risk of physical and cognitive diseases.

Lifestyle changes associated with age can create stressful challenges such as:

    • Coping with medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and arthritis, chronic pain, cancer or Alzheimer’s disease
    • Physical and cognitive changes associated with aging that limit functional mobility and intellectual processes respectively
    • Retirement is a time of relaxation, however changes in lifestyle and financial status can initiate stress that can carry over into long term stress.
    • Becoming a caretaker for a friend, neighbor, or loved one or losing a friend or loved one

Signs of short term or chronic stress include:

      • Worry, anxiety, or panic attacks
      • Sadness or depression
      • Feeling pressured, hurried, helpless or overwhelmed
      • Irritability and moodiness
      • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
      • Stomach problems, headaches, chest pain, asthma, skin rashes
      • Problems sleeping
      • Drinking too much alcohol, smoking, or misusing drugs
        Changes in eating habits

The following are suggestions for managing stress:

        • Give back to the community by volunteering to enhance self-esteem and reduce stress.
        • Participate in regular exercise, eat right, and maintain a healthy weight.
        • Refer to problems as “challenges” that can be overcome instead of adopting a feeling helplessness
        • Spend time with friends and family. Social relations help with adjusting to changes such as retiring, moving, and losing loved ones.
        • Learn and use relaxation techniques and meditation.
        • Make use of support and education groups, as well as respite care, which provides time off for caregivers.

For more information on the stress response and coping with stress go to the American Psychological Association’s website apa.org or consult a medical professional.

Kimberly Huff is the fitness director at Heron Point of Chestertown

Senior Nation: Why Chestertown with Bill and Beth Mohan

Share

If there is just one question that the Chestertown Spy never stops asking in almost every profile we’ve done over the last eight years, it is, “How did you get here?” While some of our interviewees have the simple response that they were born here, for the vast majority it is an endlessly different tale of circumstances and fate.

But it is hard to think of a more intentional decision than when it comes to selecting Chestertown as a retirement community. For these decisions are not made because of career advancement, or the need for higher education, but for the pure pleasure of wanting to live here.

So there should be no surprise that the Spy focused on the motives of Bill and Beth Mohan, who recently gave up almost four decades living in Bethesda to establish residence at Heron Point. And like so many, there is always a backstory that we felt our readers would enjoy.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about Heron Point please go here

Annapolis: Generic Drug Price Gouging could be Penalized In Bill Sent to Hogan

Share

A prohibition on generic drug price gouging now heads to Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk for signature after the House concurred in Senate amendments Monday morning.

The House voted 137-2 for the bill, HB631, and the Senate approved it on Friday 38-7 with a handful of Republicans joining the Democratic majority. All but a few GOP delegates supported the measure.

The legislation would be the first of its kind in the country to hold drug makers accountable for drastic spikes in prices that can’t be justified. Under the new law, the state Medicaid program will notify the attorney general of a spike in drug prices, who can seek civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation.

“Generic prescription drugs prices have been like the ‘wild’ west for many Americans” said Vincent DeMarco, president of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative, moments before Friday’s vote. “There’s a new sheriff in town and his name is Attorney General Brian Frosh, who will protect Marylanders from price gouging, and this will also allow future AG’s to protect Marylanders.”

“Frosh will be able to take legal action to stop unconscionable price increases that hurt people without justification when there’s no competition in the market,” DeMarco said.

Subjective judgment

In floor debate Friday, Sen. Robert Cassilly, R-Harford, said the proper way to deal with price controls would be to set up a commission rather than allow the attorney general to make a “subjective” determination on what constitutes price gouging.

“If the state of Maryland wants to establish their own version of the FDA and engage in price controls we ought to do in the proper manner,” Cassilly said. “The proper manner would be set up some proper board or commission…or have it come under some aspect of our state bureaucracy.”

Senate Republican Whip Sen. Stephen Hershey. R-Queen Anne’s, said the law could actually harm competition.

“Generic drugs are one of the only indicators in the delivery of health care where prices are actually going down,” Hershey said prior to passage of the bill. “This bill is going to have a negative effect that could potentially eliminate some of the competition that is in Maryland and that is driving these costs down.”

The legislation was rolled out at a Jan. 10 rally in Annapolis three weeks after Maryland joined 19 other states in a lawsuit against six generic drug makers for market manipulation and anti-competitive behavior.

Frosh said a 2014 survey of pharmacists revealed that 25 “off patent” generic drugs saw price increases of 600% to 2000%.

He said normally prices “plummet” when patents expire and competition becomes “robust.” He said generic drugs have consistently run about 20% of the original patented price.

“What we allege is these companies conspired to fix prices.” Frosh said at the rally.

by Dan Menefee

Senior Nation: The Art of the Scam by Memo Diriker

Share

Imagine this scenario: It is early evening; dinner time. The phone rings and a very kind, soothing voice asks for Mrs. Smith, the 78 year old resident. The caller is from Medicare, informing Mrs. Smith of a reimbursement issue but not to worry, it is an easy fix. The caller gathers some basic information from Mrs. Smith and promises that everything will be fine within 24 hours. A financial fraud has just been committed.

Various scams targeting seniors have become shockingly prevalent because, in the words of a convicted scammer, “They (seniors) have a lot of money and a lot of trust.” Unfortunately, a significant number of these crimes are committed by the victim’s own family members.

Whether the culprits are strangers or relatives, these types of fraud frequently go unreported or can be difficult to prosecute. The victims lose a lot and frequently are unable to recoup their losses or recover from the consequences. The variety of scams and fraudulent schemes is surprisingly wide. Some of the more common ones are:

· Medicare/health insurance scams
· Counterfeit prescription drugs
· Funeral & cemetery scams
· Fraudulent anti-aging products
· A wide range of telemarketing/phone scams
· Fake charity scams
· Fake accident ploys
· Internet and email fraud (including phishing)
· Fake or sub-par investment schemes
· Homeowner/reverse mortgage scams
· Sweepstakes & lottery scams

So, how can seniors protect themselves against such crimes? The National Crime Prevention Council has the following tips:

· It’s shrewd, not rude to hang up on a suspicious telemarketer
· Don’t give personal information to people you don’t know unless you initiated the contact
· Don’t let yourself get pressured into a verbal agreement or signing a contract
· Be skeptical of online charitable solicitations and other online offers
· Always ask to receive information in the mail and check to be sure the company is legitimate
· Never agree to pay for products or services in advance
· Get estimates and ask for references on home repair offers and other products or services
· If you suspect fraud, contact your local law enforcement agency immediately

If you have already been victimized, don’t be ashamed. You are not alone, and there are people who can help. Keep handy the phone numbers of your bank, the local police, the nearest office of Adult Protective Services, etc.

Speak out so this kind of crime can be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Dr. Memo Diriker is the Founding Director of the Business, Economic, and Community Outreach Network (BEACON). BEACON is the premier business and economic research and consulting unit of the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business at Salisbury University. BEACON is home to the award winning Community Visioning, ShoreTRENDS, GraySHORE, ShoreENERGY, GNAppWorks, and Bienvenidos a Delmarva initiatives and a proud partner of the GeoDASH initiative.

Some links to some additional resources:

https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-fraud-schemes/seniors
http://www.ncpc.org/topics/crime-against-seniors
http://www.aarp.org/aarp-foundation/our-work/income/elderwatch/report-fraud/
http://www.caregiverstress.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/1_Seniors_Fraud_Protection_Kit_US.pdf
http://www.aplaceformom.com/senior-care-resources/articles/senior-fraud-prevention
https://www.agingcare.com/frauds-scams

Senior Nation: The Science of Forgetfulness with Dr. Constantine Lyketsos

Share

The celebrated poet Billy Collins wrote in one of his poems that his memory had retired “to the southern hemisphere of the brain, to a little fishing village where there are no phones.”  It is perhaps one of the most accurate descriptions of memory loss and the disorientation it causes in almost every human being of a certain age from time to time.

But what if the feeling of “no phones” was a more permanent condition?  That beyond the simple and temporary experience of forgetting where one left the car keys, one also could not remember what those car keys do. In that case, the condition is called dementia. And what has intrigued Johns Hopkins doctor Constantine Lyketsos is why those “phones,” the neurochemistry of the brain, are not working.

On March 8, the Talbot Hospice will be sponsoring a lecture by one of the leading experts in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease at Easton High School. Dr. Lyketsos, from the Hopkins department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, will address these issues and the devastating effects of the illness, but also promising new treatments that give hope to patients and their families.

The Spy traveled to Baltimore to sit down with Lyketsos before the event for a primer on dementia and memory loss.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information about the event please go here

 

Senior Nation: The Art of Falling with Kim Huff

Share

If one had to summarize Heron Point of Chestertown fitness director Kim Hoff’s philosophy regarding those of a certain age falling, it might very well be “Enjoy the ride.” And given Kim’s training and self-confessed addiction to physical fitness research, that should be taken as sound advice.

In turns out that a good bit of Kim’s work with her clients relates focuses on actually preventing falling, including balancing and strength training, but when it does happen – and it does – she wants people to be prepared since the consequences of not falling the right way be catastrophic for older adults.

The Spy spoke to Kim last week about her approach to physical fitness as one move beyond the age of 60.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about Heron Point please go here.

Senior Nation Moments: Broken Bones by Bernie Starken

Share

Today while having lunch with Peara, we were discussing his fractured foot. He says,“You have had firsthand knowledge with broken bones, you should write an article for the Heron’s Beak.” Here goes.

I have broken sixteen bones in my 82 years of living. The first seven breaks happened when I was a senior in high school in 1951. While my boyfriend and I were dating, he would pick me up in his red convertible. On this bright November Sunday afternoon, we were going to go road hunting for pheasants. As we were driving on the country roads, the noise of the car and the gravel would startle the pheasants hiding in the tall grasses. The convertible was traveling about 10 miles an hour as we watched the ditches. Just as we crossed into an intersection, a car came over the rise traveling very fast. As I spoke to tell my friend “to speed up, there is a car coming on our right,” he looked to the left and the incoming car T-boned the convertible, leaving an impression of his headlight on our front fender and the second head-light on the passenger door where I was sitting.

The convertible flew in the air and landed upside down in the ditch across the road. As the car turned over in the air, my friend fell out the driver’s door, landed in the field, and had a minor cut on his head. I was trapped under the dash-board in an upside-down convertible which was dripping battery acid.

In 1951, there were no emergency services or cell phones. A farm house sat on the corner of the intersection, and they alerted the hospital. Help came in the form of a hearse as that was the only type of automobile that could carry a person in a lying position. I was placed on the platform where the caskets were transported. I recall as we traveled to the hospital, the swaying tassels that hung over the windows.

I spent seven weeks in the hospital healing the fractured skull, the imbedded glass in my face, floating bone chips in my neck, broken clavicle and the four fractures in my pelvis. Due to my youth and a good physician, I healed rapidly. In January 1952, I rejoined my senior class and in 1953 married the boyfriend.

Bernie Starken is a resident of Heron Point in Chestertown

Inside the Sandwich: A Glimpse Inside Aging by Amelia Blades Steward

Share

A few weeks ago, I underwent cataract surgery – not something common for 57-year olds. The success of the surgery, however, far outweighed the injury to my pride in having a surgery more common in 80-year olds. I can now see and that’s amazing!

This experience really gave me insight into the aging process and some of the assumptions we all make about people based on their age, their disabilities, their experiences, and even the circumstances in which they find themselves.

Finding myself in the operating room among the 11 other patients having cataract surgery that day, I found some people approached me, as they do most elderly people, with a raised voice. I didn’t realize that cataracts affected my hearing too! Although my vision was less than 20/20, my hearing hadn’t deteriorated. My husband chuckled as people spoke to me with raised voices as they did to most of the other patients in the surgical bay.

As I reflected after the surgery on my experience, I began to think that when we meet people in life, maybe we need to make fewer assumptions about each another overall. We could actually ask questions like “Can you hear me well enough?” “Can you see what I am giving you?” “Do you need help getting up or down?” “Do you understand what I am telling you?” Simple questions such as these could help us all better navigate the unexpected places in which we find ourselves interacting with people who we do not know.

My mother always says to me that mentally she feels 18, even though her body is changing every day. I got a glimpse into this as I faced some of my own limitations this week. I look in the mirror and don’t see the 18-year old any more.

There are more wrinkles, more aging spots, and darker circles than were there when I was 18 years old. I am bewildered – how did I get here? Where did the years go?

I still have the surgery in the other eye to look forward to. The humor of all this was when my twenty-somethings got wind of the cataract surgery, they couldn’t wait for the picture of me with the large dark sunglasses they give cataract patients, so they could get a chuckle. The glasses reminded me of the Atom Ant cartoon I watched in the 1960s. Honestly, couldn’t we get more fashionable glasses so our kids don’t put our photos on Facebook for the whole world to see? I certainly hope by my next surgery they will have figured that one out!