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These are the Best and Worst States for Seniors to Grow Old
By Carlo Calma

Seniors that reside in Utah may relish in the fact that the state is considered the “best” state in which to age, according to’s “2017 Best and Worst States to Grow Old” report.

The third-party senior care referral agent ranked states according to various factors, including senior living community reviews, nursing home costs and elderly well-being assessments. differentiates its list from others by saying that it is based on factors that make a state “a healthy, affordable environment for the elderly.”

Utah not only outranked other states in the overall lineup—it excelled overall in quality of life, health care and cost. Elderly residents in the state have access to “high-quality care” that is far cheaper compared to the price that their peers pay in other states, according to

The top 10 best states in which to age are…

1. Utah  2. Iowa  3. South Carolina  4. Washington  5. Nebraska   6.Arizona  7. California  8. Idaho  9. Colorado  10. Oregon

      On the flip side ....

Older Americans Buck Trend of Decreased Home ownership

U.S. homeownership rates have declined among most major demographic subgroups -- including by household income and region -- except among older Americans, whose home ownership rates have held steady. Overall, home ownership is down eight percentage points, from 71% to 63%.

Younger adults, low- and middle-income Americans, and those living in the West have experienced above-average drops in home ownership. But declines are apparent among groups with traditionally high ownership rates, including upper-income Americans. Among Americans living in households with incomes of $100,000 or more, home ownership has dropped below 90% since 2009.

Senior citizens have been immune from the trend of declining home ownership. Between 2001 and 2009, an average of 81% owned a home. Since then, 82% report owning their home.

One reason for this stability is that many older Americans may own their home outright because they paid off their mortgage in full or they sold their house and paid cash to buy a smaller, less expensive home. In either case, they would no longer pay substantial monthly mortgage payments, and their ability to afford a home would be less tied to receiving a regular and substantial paycheck than younger Americans' ability to afford a home is.

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The search for assisted living
By Micki Bare

For those of you considering helping a parent move to assisted living, or feel like your parent’s assisted living arrangement isn’t working, here are guidelines that will alleviate some of the frustration.

Check out the food

This was a top priority for us, because my mom has food allergies. You might be interested to know that food allergies are not an easy accommodation for assisted living facilities to make. And, after a quick call to the state agency that regulates assisted living facilities, I discovered that they are not required to do so.

If your parent has a food allergy, the first question you need to ask is can the facility accommodate it? Get official approval from the decision-maker before looking at rooms, getting your parent’s hopes up or packing.

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Walkable location a surprising draw for assisted living prospects

Quality and affordability remain the most important attributes of an assisted living community to prospective residents and their families, but a community’s location in a walkable neighborhood holds stronger appeal than one might expect, according to newly released research from A Place for Mom. And that appeal is expected to grow.

When asked about neighborhood attributes, having a low crime rate (74%), being close to family (60%) and being close to hospitals (58%) were rated as “very important” or “must-have” features.

But those desires are to be expected, A Place for Mom data scientist Ben Hanowell told McKnight’s Senior Living. The email survey — which had responses from 1,246 shoppers for private-pay senior apartments and independent living as well as those seeking assisted living communities — in part aimed to learn more about the walkability preferences of older adults, a population often neglected in discussions about walkability, he said.

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Low Medicaid Rates Limit Beneficiaries’ Access to
 Assisted Living Facilities, Quality Care

A new study by RTI International found that low Medicaid payment rates for services in assisted living and similar settings discourage residential care providers from serving Medicaid beneficiaries, which limits their access to community-based residential care.

The study found that some residential care settings limit the number of Medicaid residents they serve or decrease operating expenses in ways that may also reduce quality of care.

“Medicaid payment rates only cover services in residential care settings; they do not cover room and board,” said Michael Lepore, Ph.D., senior health policy and health services researcher at RTI and lead author of the study. “One of the access barriers is the difficulty that Medicaid beneficiaries have paying for room and board in residential care settings because of their low incomes. This situation dissuades residential care providers from serving Medicaid beneficiaries.”

Opioid abuse down in younger Americans, but up among older adults

While opioid abuse has fallen among younger Americans, the same cannot be said for older adults, a new government report shows.

Opioid abuse includes either the use of heroin or illegal use of prescription opioid painkillers, such as oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet) and hydrocodone (Vicoprofen).

Rates of opioid abuse among young adults -- aged 18 to 25 -- decreased from 11.5 percent in 2002 to 8 percent in 2014. But in adults 50 years and older, opioid abuse doubled, from 1 percent to 2 percent, according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).


Hey Old Man. You Stink

Ladies forgive me*. Today’s column is addressed to the men out there.

I have one word to say to my fellow old men at assisted living facilities, senior centers, public parks and wherever sexagenarians, septuagenarians, octogenarians and other old genarians live, congregate, and in some cases, infest.


I know, I’m being a bit harsh, but it’s the only way I can get through your thick, gnarly, un-clipped and unshaven, unwashed skulls.

And not only do you smell funny, you look and dress funny too.

I mean, really. At what point in your life did you decide that it was okay not to bathe, shave, cut your hair or dress appropriately?

And don’t you sit there with a blank expression and gummy grin and tell me that you have no idea what I’m talking about.

The truth is old men are their own worst enemies when it comes to perpetuating the stereotype.

And, it’s been going on for centuries.

Ancient texts and artwork have depicted old men as having long beards and hair and wearing outrageous (even for primitive cultures) clothing.

And, while those old documents and paintings don’t mention scent, I can guarantee those old dudes were no stranger to collecting flies.

Hey guys, this is the 21st century. We have soap, indoor plumbing, online shopping and electric razors. So why do you geezers insist on maintaining that forest on your face?

Let’s look at the most noticeable example of old-man-er-isms. The beard.

I have never been a big fan of beards. Mainly because most men have no idea of how to wear them or maintain them. And old men in particular haven’t a clue as to facial hair upkeep.

To the casual observer, watching a group of bearded old men, they would gather that some kind of contest was going on to see who could grow the longest, scraggiest beard in the nabe. And, I suppose, in some cases that may be true. It may be a way of some men attempting to show that the old hormones are still working**. And, “Even if I can’t get IT up anymore, I’m still able to grow hair anytime I want to. So that makes me still a man, right?”

However, I don’t believe that’s the main reason. I think the main reason is that they are just too damn lazy to shave every day. Manly because shaving involves the use of soap and water, something that old dudes have a natural aversion to.

One does not forget to shave. It takes an actual decision on the part of the bearded one whether or not he will take razor to face every day.

Believe me, I know. The first thing a guy does when he wakes up is run his hand over his face to see how much the “crop” grew overnight. It’s at this point that a man decides whether to shave or not.

Besides just the growing of the beard, It also takes a concerted effort to maintain a beard. Something that I rarely see done by old men.

The vast majority of the men who have beards here at the Center do not bother to trim them.

It’s like watching a lawn go to seed.

There is one old codger that has let his beard become so badly matted that it looks as though a stray poodle was glued to his face.

So, you listening old men? Shave it or trim it.

Okay, let’s say you do shave. Congratulations, there’s still some hope. You obviously care somewhat about your appearance. So how come you look as though you were dressed by a committee? And a blind one at that.

I understand that you are retired and that you may have had to wear a suit and tie (or a uniform) every day and that you are tired of it. That’s fine. It’s okay to wear sports clothes. JUST NOT THE SAME SPORTS CLOTHES EVERY DAY.

Short pants and a white “wife beater” (sleeveless) undershirt, is not proper attire for anyone except a 6-year-old living in the 1950’s. And don’t get me started on the shoes.

The only fashion statement you are making by wearing short pants with black leather shoes and white knee length socks is that you have decided to chuck any good sense you may have had out the window.

And as long as we are on the subject of clothes. Do you think that we don’t notice that you are wearing your pajama bottoms as though they were some sort of outlandish sportswear? You managed to put on your favorite shirt (you know, the one you have worn six days in a row) so how come you can’t put on a real pair of pants?***

Here’s some advice for my fashion clueless fellow old dude residents.

Ditch the checkered pants, patent leather belt, and that stupid old man's hat.

If you have no style acumen whatsoever, it’s best to wear solid colors in muted shades. Black pants are okay, but not with a white shirt. Gray or charcoal would look much better. Get it?

And if all else fails, ask women. Women have an inherent sense of how to coordinate an outfit.

Now, finally (and I have purposely left this part for last) the subject of personal hygiene.

I am a 72-year-old man, so I have personal, first-hand knowledge of all that can go wrong with our bodies and especially with our plumbing.

God must have had a real good time when he installed that prostate thing down there. ...

‘‘I know, I’ll make a guy-part that, when it is no longer needed for the purpose for which it was invented, will just get bigger and bigger as the man gets older until he spends the majority of his waking hours peeing. Anytime, anywhere. Oh, and here’s the best part. The only way to treat that afflicted gland is to have someone stick a finger up his ass.”

Yes, I know about (and have suffered from) “leakage”. It happens and it sucks.

Fortunately, there are products that help such as Depends. This is a good thing and there should be no shame or hesitation in using them.

The problem occurs when said sufferer decides to use his Depends as though it were a porta-potty and thinks it’s okay to ask the question “I wonder just how much this thing will hold.”

C’mon guys. If you pee in it, change it. We don’t need you smelling like the public rest rooms in Penn Station.****

And, while we are on the subject of odor, when did we decide that it was okay not to shower on a regular basis?

You are a grown man. Grown men should not have to be told to wash.

And remember, after shave lotion or cologne should be applied after one’s shower, not instead of.

Believe me, I don’t take any pleasure in admonishing you (Okay, maybe a little). I do it only to benefit all of us old duffers who have suffered under the weight of ageism and ridicule.

I know that you are better than the way others see and regard you.

There is still a lot of good left in us that is, unfortunately, most of it has been singed by the flames of bigotry directed towards old people of both sexes.

All I am asking is that we don’t give them a reason to stoke the fire.

Editor’s notes:
* I have no sense when it comes to ladies style, but just by observation I find that women do a far better job than their male counterparts when it comes to knowing how to dress and groom themselves.

** I guess this could be said of younger men too.

***Not having clean clothes is not an issue here at the asylum as we have free laundry service and a laundry room on premises.

**** Unlike its Grand Central Station crosstown counterpart, the bathrooms in Penn Station are the absolute worst and should be avoided at all cost.

“Foodie” has been silent for a while, but with the recent change of supervision in our Food Service Department, he has found it necessary to put his 2 cents in once again.

After just a couple of months on the job, our food service manager has decided to part waves and go elsewhere. Fortunately, the search for a replacement was not a long one.

As soon as Chef “R” departed, Chef “S” appeared on the scene.

In the five years that I have been here I have seen five (or is it six?) managers come and go.

The only difference is, that for the first time, we now have a woman in charge.

Hopefully, this will be a good thing. Perhaps a “woman’s touch” in the kitchen will turn the tide of the way food is cooked, plated and served.

One of the problems with our former manager was that the kitchen was constantly running out of supplies.

Shortages of basics such as rye bread, oat meal, yogurt, and condiments became a regular occurrence causing frustration among diners who don’t respond well to having their routines changed.

So far, after a week being under new management, I have to give our kitchen a mixed review.

Keeping in mind that our Chef is new to our facility and unfamiliar with the wants and needs of our residents, I still feel that it is necessary for me to offer some constructive criticism.

Left over from our previous manager (and every manager that preceded him) is the total disregard for the protein needs of older adults. The ratio of carbohydrates (which convert to sugar and is eventually responsible for weight gain) remains out of proportion to the amount of protein on our plates.*

At times, the abundance of carb-heavy foods such as pasta, rice, potatoes,(which, at times, has been served with breakfast, lunch, and dinner) as side dishes, becomes so obvious that it has become the source of jokes among the residents.

← As an example, I present this photo taken at Sunday night’s dinner.

The only protein on the plate was a half-golf-ball size chunk of ground meat which was dwarfed by the baked potato side dish.

Here is another view of this plate. Ridiculous, right?

At our next Food Committee meeting, I will bring this to the attention of our new chef.

I don’t want this rant to be all negative. There has actually been some major good stuff coming out of the kitsch.

One notable dish was this cheeseburger-topped pizza.Not only was the size of the slice fit for an adult, but the topping was a nice change from the usual pepperoni and cheese.

However, the highlight of last week’s dinners was the beef stew.

For years I have been asking for a beef stew made the way beef stew should be made. With beef, potatoes, and vegetables in a rich liquid, served in a bowl and not over rice or
pasta. Which is why I was delighted to finally see this on my plate, or should I say bowl?
And, it was delicious.

If you haven’t already guessed, I am passionate when it comes to food.

I come from a family of great home cooks who knew what food was all about. In fact, I wasn’t too shabby at it myself.

And now, that I can no longer cook for myself (the Center does not permit and cooking in our rooms), I have to rely on the experience and know-how of whoever is in the kitchen. And up until now, nobody has met my rather high standards.

That being said, I have high expectations for this latest entry in our “Chef du Jour” marathon. I wish her well.

Republicans' next health reform act targets Medicare
By Mark Miller

While U.S. senators debate the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) this week, their colleagues in the House are preparing for the Republicans’ next big move on health reform. A 2018 budget resolution that the House Budget Committee approved last week calls for major Medicare reforms, along with some changes to Social Security. The most dramatic changes would raise Medicare’s eligibility age, and shift the program to a flat premium-support payment, or voucher, that beneficiaries would use to help buy either private health insurance or a form of traditional Medicare.

The budget recommends raising the Medicare eligibility age - gradually - from 65 to 67. Conservative policy experts have been calling for this shift for years, arguing it is needed to protect Medicare’s solvency in light of rising American longevity.

But the recent longevity gains are not spread evenly across the U.S. population, so higher eligibility ages would hit some people harder than others in terms of lost years of Medicare coverage. Along with the gender gap, other factors playing important roles in determining longevity are income, educational attainment and race.

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Here's How Social Security
Generated $957 Billion in Income in 2016

By Sean Williams

Last year, in 2016, Social Security collected $957.5 billion in income, of which $922.3 billion was disbursed primarily to retirees, as well as millions of disabled folks, and the survivors of deceased workers. All told, this marked the 33rd consecutive year that Social Security's asset reserves increased, following the passage of the 1983 Amendments that gradually increased both payroll taxes and Social Security's full retirement age.

But have you wondered how exactly the Social Security program is able to generate nearly $1 trillion in income each year to disburse out to seniors, their families, the disabled, and survivors? Let's take a closer look at the three primary ways Social Security generates income.

1. Payroll tax

2. Interest income on asset reserves

3.Taxation of benefits

Piano, Ukulele or Trumpet?
 Choosing a Musical Instrument to Learn After 60

By Elizabeth Martyn

‘Learn a musical instrument’ is a piece of glib advice that’s often wheeled out to older people. But instruments are not all born equal, and choosing wisely will give you a head start in achieving your music-making desires.

What’s Your Musical Dream?

Would you like to while away hours playing on your own? Piano or guitar could be a good choice. Perhaps your fantasy involves playing in an orchestra? Your best bet is to pick a stringed instrument as amateur orchestras have space for lots of violins, but often far fewer for clarinet and flute players.

If having musical fun with a few friends is the aim, then look for an instrument that’s good to play with others, like the harmonica.

Inexpensive instruments that give swift results include ukulele (but don’t buy the bottom of the range, which will be hard to keep in tune), tin whistle and bongo drums, all good for informal gatherings with other players.

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How Allan Luks Hopes To Get Seniors Off Sidelines

Could senior citizens be the key to bringing the country together?
Allan Luks sure thinks so.

The Director Emeritus of the Fordham Center for Nonprofit Leaders has spent his career helping others with the Peace Corps, Big Brothers & Big Sisters of New York, the Children’s Aid Society, the Alcoholism Council, and the Institute for Advancement of Health.

He sees tremendous potential in senior citizens’ wealth of knowledge and experience.

“The seniors I’ve worked with don’t want to be on the sidelines. They really have this last lap mentality. They want to make a difference. And the country needs some group that’s going to push for social change to happen at a quicker rate, where people will come together, people will say I can cooperate. And seniors are that group.”


See more “At The ALF” cartoons in our cartoon gallery

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© Bruce Cooper, 2017

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This blog is dedicated to the memory of my dear friend, Carrie Hecht
who worked tirelessly to gain better service, respect and dignity for her fellow residents.

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