Happy Birthday Helen Granier ~ Going Strong at 105

Helen Granier turned 105 on Friday and she has no idea why she’s lived so long, because for years she indulged in bad habits. Turns out the secret to her long life is partying hard.

 “I never expected to live this long,” Helen Granier of Palm Harbor told WTSP. “No one in my family ever did. I don’t know what the secret is.”

Helen celebrated her birthday at Coral Oaks Independent Living Facility last week, where she has lived for the past nine years.

She reminisced about her life and how she went against the grain in her younger days.

“I used to drink beer and I smoked and everything,” she told WTSP. “I stayed out late, you know, dancing, and then I would go to work.”

She loved to dance, but her husband prevented her from going to Las Vegas to test her luck.

“My husband wouldn’t take me to Vegas, because he knew I liked to gamble. Oh, I loved to play the slot machines,” she said. “So I went to Las Vegas after he passed.”

Some memories are clear, as if they happened yesterday, she said. Helen was only five when World War I ended, but she said she still remembered it. She does not recall getting her driver’s license, though.

“I don’t even remember when I started to drive,” she laughed.


The Week Magazine.  June 29, 2018



Successful Aging - 10 Proactive Steps

Hi Readers,
One of the questions I am asked most often is, “How can I age successfully and retain my independence?”  Although “success” is a relative term, everyone wants to attain optimum aging regardless of income, socioeconomic status, or limitations.  Is successful aging possible regardless of your circumstances?  YES! While there is no magic formula for retaining optimum health, strategies begin with living healthy and taking responsibility for making wise decisions about eating, lifestyle, social activity, and physical activity.

The Spring 2018 edition of AFA Care Quarterly included “10 Steps for Healthy Aging,” a strategy for retaining a healthy mind and body:

1.    Eat well – Although the article included guidance on fruits, meats, and vegetables, I recommend that all people age 65+ [unless directed otherwise by a physician] follow the eating guidelines detailed in the Tufts Food Pyramid. Eating well means maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding frailty, overweight, or obesity.  Eating well includes staying hydrated with at least 8 cups [64 oz.] of water daily.  Vital organs including the brain cannot work effectively when the body is dehydrated and dehydration in older adults mimics dementia.  http://globalag.igc.org/health/us/2007/pyramid.pdf

2.    Stay active-  Walking, aerobics, and weight training are included on the AFA list.  I also recommend Silver Sneakers and Sit and Be Fit, as both programs include low-impact activity for people with physical challenges and limitations.

3.    Learn new things – Research shows that people who retain their curiosity throughout life and engage in new activities give their brains a good workout.  Remember that language is also needed to keep the brain working! 

4.    Get enough sleep – Sleep deprivation mimics dementia, a condition known as psudodementia and may lead to memory problems, falls, and driving accidents.  Daytime napping is the number one cause of insomnia.

5.    Take your medication – No one likes taking medication but the average older adult takes five prescription medications daily.  Please take your medications as prescribed and speak with your primary care physician before taking over-the-counter products.

6.    Stop smoking and limit alcohol consumption – Cigarette smoking causes disease consequences including lung cancer, but COPD, cardiovascular disease,  and other chronic conditions.  Studies show that second-hand smoke impacts the health of others around you.  Alcohol may have protective factors but studies are contradictory.  Best to limit alcohol to moderate consumption.

7.    Social connectedness – Social isolation not only impairs cognitive health, but language is needed to keep the brain firing.  Retain your network of friends and stay in touch.  Talk to people and engage in conversation. 

8.    Check your blood pressure – I recommend keeping a log and check it around the same time every day.  If your physician has prescribed medication for HBP, take it!  I have encountered too many older adults who quit taking it due to negative side effects and some of them had strokes as a result.  The negative side effects typically diminish over time.

9.    Get your checkups – This includes being proactive and getting annual vaccines for flu and pneumonia.  Health screenings and diagnostic tests are now covered by Medicare.  Examples are PSA testing, mammograms, pap tests, sugar levels, and colonoscopies.  Here is a link to Medicare.gov showing types of preventive screenings and services. https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/preventive-and-screening-services.html


10. Get a memory screening – This is also covered now by Medicare.  If your primary care physician does not offer it, then ask for it.  These are typically administered by a social worker or case manager trained in interpreting the results.  I have administered hundreds of cognitive screenings and these are private, non-invasive assessments.  They are NOT “tests” for Alzheimer’s Disease.  As my readers know, AD cannot be diagnosed by the family physician.  The diagnosis is a result of brain imaging and other tests administered by specialists.  The overwhelming majority of older adults do NOT have AD. 

I recommend accessing or subscribing to the AFA Quarterly, published by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.  Their website is www.alzfdn.org. 



New Medicare Cards

Hi Readers, beginning this month, older adults will receive their NEW Medicare cards.  The purpose of replacing the old ones is simple: The new ones do not have the social security number.  The National Council on Aging [NCOA] recently sent this information to me and I hope you find it useful.  I have also included some resources from Medicare.gov including the mailing schedule for the new cards.  AgeDoc

New Medicare Cards: 5 Things You Need to Know Before They Arrive


by: The My Medicare Matters Team at NCOA

Beginning April 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will be sending new Medicare cards to beneficiaries. The new cards are being sent to decrease Medicare beneficiaries’ vulnerability to identity theft by removing the Social Security-based number from their Medicare identification cards and replacing it with a new unique Medicare Number.

Here’s what you need to know before they arrive.

  1. Medicare cards will be sent between April 2018 and April 2019. Make sure your address is up to date because Medicare will be sending it to the location associated with your Social Security account. To update your address information contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or go online. https://www.ssa.gov/site/signin/en/
  2. Your new card will no longer include your Social Security number. It will include your name, new Medicare number, and the dates your Medicare Part A and Part B coverage started.
  3. Start using your new Medicare card once you receive it. Destroy the old one immediately, since it contains your Social Security number. If you happen to lose or misplace your card you can get a replacement, but you can also can access your new Medicare number on a Medicare Summary Notice or through Medicare.
  4. Keep your Medicare AdvantagePart D prescription, and/or Medigap. Continue using your health or drug plan’s card when you get health care or fill a prescription, but know you will also get the new Original Medicare card.
  5. The Railroad Retirement Board will issue new cards to Railroad Retirement beneficiaries.

These are just a few quick tips to keep in mind as new Medicare cards are issued. You can find additional information on the release of Medicare’s new card on Medicare.gov.

New Medicare card mailing schedule:

More resources and details:


Watch out for scams

Medicare will never call you uninvited and ask you to give us personal or private information to get your new Medicare Number and card. Scam artists may try to get personal information (like your current Medicare Number) by contacting you about your new card. If someone asks you for your information, for money, or threatens to cancel your health benefits if you don’t share your personal information, hang up and call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).  



Older Adults, Vets, and Disabled Blamed for National Parks Revenue Decline

American Society on Aging [ASA] Board Chair Bob Blancato, Chair-Elect Karyne Jones, and CEO Bob Stein today condemned remarks offered by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke during testimony to the Senate Energy and National Resources Committee on Tuesday.

As reported in The Hill, Zinke said “When you give discounted or free passes to elderly, fourth graders, veterans, disabled, and you do it by the carload, there's not a whole lot of people who actually pay at our front door. So, we're looking at ways to make sure we have more revenue in the front door of our parks themselves.”

ASA leaders responded by saying “On behalf of the older and disabled Americans and veterans in our membership we take offense at the comments of the Interior Secretary about all of these groups not continuing to enjoy free access to national parks. It is especially disingenuous coming from a Cabinet Secretary who according to published reports spent almost $140,000 in taxpayer funds to fix doors leading into his office. This proposal to impose these new fees should be shown the door.”

ASA will continue to support policies that provide preferential access to public resources for older Americans, youth, the disabled and the veteran community.

Gstalter, M. (2018, March 13).  Zinke: Too many people enter national parks for free. The Hill.   Retrieved from http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/378220-zinke-too-many-people-can-enter-national-parks-for-free

Expanded Support from Alzheimer's Foundation of America

Hi Readers, her is some fantastic news from my friends at the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America:


AFA's National Toll-Free Helpline is
Now Open 7 Days a Week!


Effective 4 February 2018, AFA's National Toll-Free Helpline will be available to provide support, assistance and referrals to families affected by Alzheimer's disease seven days a week.
The new helpline hours are:
Monday-Friday: 9 am to 9 pm (ET)
Saturday: 9 am to 1 pm (ET)
Sunday: 9 am to 1 pm (ET)
Call 866-232-8484 to speak with one of AFA's licensed social workers if you have questions or need help!


Guide for Seniors ~ Recognizing and Avoiding Internet Scams

Hi Readers,

Globally, older adults are the most targeted group for scammers.  To approach this issue using a proactive stance, I have attached this guide developed by internet experts. 


It was sent to me by the ATT community outreach manager, Gary Bell.  I hope you find it useful.  If you do, download and forward the booklet or pass along the link. 


NCOA Advocates for Older Adults

According to Marci Phillips, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy at the National Council on Aging [NCOA], several programs impacting seniors have been included in the FY19 budget.  As she stated on the NCOA website, these are proposed changes that will wrap up on March 23. I suggest following this issue on the NCOA link below and make your voices heard: 


Ms. Phillips also included another article about the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, passed on February 9.  While there are some positive changes for older adults, there are also cuts to some important programs, as shown below:



Happy Birthday Helen Granier ~ Going Strong at 105

Helen Granier turned 105 on Friday and she has no idea why she’s lived so long, because for years she indulged in bad habits. Turns out th...