Looking Ahead -- June 2003

by Jack Beckley, executive director, Melrose COA

June, 2003
Save a Life Heart & Stroke Community
Education Program

On Tues., June 10, at 1:30 p.m., the Northeast Affiliate of the American Heart Association and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts are teaming up to save lives through a program called "SAVE A LIFE, Fighting Heart Disease and Stroke Through Community Education."

During this 30 to 45 minute program, you will learn to recognize the warning signs of heart attack and stroke, the immediate action steps to take and how to prevent cardiovascular disease, our nation's number one cause of death.

The program is free and open to the public.

BC & BS of Massachusetts Information Table

On Tuesday, June 10, a representative from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts will be present to answer questions regarding Medicare and Medex from 1:00-1:30 p.m. Both members and those who wish to learn more about Medex are welcome.

Make your Own Sundae

On Wednesday, June 11, at 1:30 p.m., courtesy of the Melrose Friends of the Aging, we will have a "Make Your Own Sundae" day in the air-conditioned comfort of the Milano Senior Center.

After everyone has served themselves, we will describe the Milano Center Basement Renovation project and listen to your ideas.

Please tell us if you plan to attend by signing up in the lobby of the Milano Senior Center or by calling 781-662-6886.

Prescription Advantage Update

In May, the House of Representatives approved a slimmed-down version of the state's landmark elderly prescription drug program.

Governor Mitt Romney had recommended ending the first-in-the-nation Prescription Advantage program, which provides discounted drugs to about 80,000 elderly and disabled people. Romney also closed enrollment to the plan during the current fiscal year, which ends July 1.

Romney's recommendation to shut the program, which costs the state about $98 million annually, sparked angry protests by advocates for the elderly.

The House proposal approved in May creates a new $59 million program to be administered by a nonprofit manager.

"I think this is the number one issue for almost every member in this chamber," said Rep. Daniel Keenan, D-Southwick.

All those currently enrolled in the Prescription Advantage program would be allowed to remain, although they would be asked to pay higher fees, including a $18 co-pay for generic drugs and a $36 co-pay for brand-name drugs.

All those who join after July 1 will be charged an annual $25 fee and must meet a $3,000 annual out-of-pocket deductible. After meeting the deductible, they become eligible for the co-pays. New members will also receive a drug discount card to help with the cost of their prescriptions.

The House pays for the new plan by combining $90 million in cuts from smaller funds with $28 million from a state fund for the uninsured and sending the combined $118 million back to hospitals in the form of higher Medicaid reimbursement rates.

Boosting Medicaid reimbursements by $118 million will make the state eligible for a 50 percent federal matching grant of $59 million, which will be used to pay for the new Prescription Advantage program. Massachusetts was heralded as a pioneer in 2001 when it adopted the program, which for the first time offered drug coverage to all seniors regardless of income and certain disabled residents.

The program allows residents to buy deeply discounted prescriptions, with the poorest recipients paying about $6 per month.

Romney has said the state, faced with a $3 billion spending gap, could not afford the program. He has said he hoped to create a new program.
Associated Press, 5/8/03

Girl Scout Skit

Please join us at the Milano Senior Center for a 15-minute performance by Girl Scout Troop 1258. The eight Girl Scouts (ages 11&12) will perform a couple short, funny skits then pass out home baked desserts.

The girls and their troop leaders Vicki Middleton, Janet Gallant, and Tina Luongo will join us for lunch, served promptly at noon. After lunch, the girls will perform.

The program will take place on Tuesday, June 24. If you plan on having lunch, call (781-662-6886) before noon at least a day ahead to reserve your meal and come at 11:45 a.m. If you are coming just to see the girls perform, come at 12:20 p.m. so you are seated for the 12:30 show.

Protect Your Assets

New York Life Insurance Company is sponsoring a seminar at the Milano Senior Center on Wed., June 25, at 1:30 p.m. Topics will include long-term care insurance and protecting assets from nursing home costs and probate. NY Life representative Jeff Hughes will conduct the seminar.

Additional topics to be covered briefly are: Transferring Assets -- Pros & Cons, Homestead Act -- What It May Mean, Trusts -- Revocable & Irrevocable, Estate Taxes -- Federal & State Limits, and Gifting -- As a Means to Minimize Loss.

This seminar is for informational purposes only. Please register by calling 781-662-6886.

2003 Long Term Care Guide

The Massachusetts Extended Care Federation just released its 2003 membership guide listing over 500 nursing and rehabilitation facilities, hospital-based transitional care units, assisted living residences and continuing care retirement communities.

Facility information, listed alphabetically and by community, includes the name, address, telephone number, size, ownership and services provided at the facility.

The guide is available for reference at the COA office. The information is also available online at www.masslongtermcare.org.

To learn more about working and collecting Social Security benefits, visit Social Security's Retirement Planner at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/whileworking.htm or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213.

Brown Bag Barbecue

The public is invited to a "Brown Bag Barbecue" at the Elmhurst Nursing Home on June 18 on or after 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 18. There will be hot dog and hamburger barbecue. Pharmacists from Green Street Pharmacy will be on hand to review medications, check for drug interactions and, if requested, to recommend less expensive generic medications.

The Elmhurst Nursing Home is located at 743 Main Street, directly across from the hospital. There is no charge, however registration is requested. To register, call Jelaine or Sharon at 781-662-7500.

Health Insurance/Prescription Information

SHINE volunteer Mary Sullivan can help with your health insurance related questions on Tuesdays, 9 a.m.-12 noon, in the CoA office. SHINE (Serving Health Information Needs of Elders) is a program of the Executive Office of Elder Affairs. Volunteers receive ongoing training and have the latest information on health care insurance developments. Call 781-665-4304 for an appointment or just stop in.

Minibus Transportation

The Council offers residents, age 60 and over, transportation within Melrose. The van runs weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Medical appointments can be booked up to three months in advance. Non-medical related rides, such as for shopping, to visit a friend, bank, etc., can be booked after Thursday, 12 noon, for the following week. However, if you wake up and decide you want to go shopping, call us and we'll try to fit you in. To schedule a ride, call 781-665-4304. A $1.00 donation is suggested.

Senior Dining Program

Tasty noontime meals are served each weekday at 12 noon at the Milano Center. Daily entrees are listed in the printed version of the Calendar on pages 6 & 7. The lunch program is run in cooperation with Mystic Valley Elder Services.

To reserve a meal call 662-6886 from 10-11:45 a.m. at least a day before you plan to attend. A $1.50 donation is requested.  Rides are available by calling 665-4304.

Social Security Website Changes

Social Security's website, already considered one of the best and most useful government sites, has been renamed and made even better and easier to use! The new address is www.socialsecurity.gov. When you visit the site, the information you are most likely to be interested in is on the front page. If you're a person thinking about retiring, click on "plan for your retirement" or "apply for benefits online." The website is also more accessible than ever to people with disabilities.

You can use the site to request personal information, such as an estimate of your future Social Security benefits or a letter verifying your benefits if you're already getting them. You also can use the site to replace your Medicare card and to get all sorts of information about Social Security and what it means to you. Rest assured that your information is safe -- they use the best security methods available to be sure that no one can access your information but you. Tour the new site now! http://www.socialsecurity.gov.

Long Live Americans

Here's some great news -- Americans are living longer than ever before! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, life expectancy for Americans has reached an all-time high. In 2001, life expectancy for men reached 74.4 years and for women 79.8 years. This means that Americans can now expect to live an average of 77.2 years.

Compare these current life expectancies to those of the past. A century ago, in 1900, the average American man could expect to live to about 40.4 while the average woman lived around 43.1 years. Fifty years later, in 1950, life expectancy for men was 62.6 and for women was 67.4. And in 1980, life expectancy for Americans had increased to 68.2 for men and 76.1 for women. Americans have nearly doubled life expectancy in 100 years.

Along with the good news comes the reality that Americans now need to save for their futures more than ever. To make the best of their longer lives, Americans need to plan for their retirement as early as they can. Social Security is the foundation for a secure retirement, but it was never meant to be the sole source of a person's retirement income. To learn more about their part of your retirement, see Social Security's retirement page. http://www.socialsecurity.gov/retirement/

Movies - Movies - Movies

The romantic comedy "Maid in Manhattan" starring Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes will be shown at the Milano Senior Center on Wed, June 18, at 1:30 PM. The movie is about a hotel maid who has to decide what to do when a Senatorial candidate mistakes her for a well-to-do guest.


FREE WELLNESS CHECKS -- Friday, June 13, 2003 from 11:30 - 12:30 p.m. Melrose/Boston VNA Nurse Cynthia Giansiracuso provides free health checks including pressures, weights and more. Please drop in; appointments are not necessary.

PODIATRY Friday, June 20, 2003, Dr. Robert J. Connolly, D.P.M. provides foot care & consultations at moderate cost ($25). Appointments (781-662-6886) are required and can be made on or after the 1st of the month. Melrose residents receive preference.


This month's Arthritis Support Group will be held on Friday, June 27, 2003 from 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. The topic is "The Mind/Body Connection" - an introduction to complimentary therapies, Paula Kelly, Huggins Center for alternative Therapies. The public is cordially invited to attend the presentation; you do not have to be a support group member. Support Group meetings are held at the Milano Senior Center on the 4th Friday of the month unless otherwise indicated. Meetings are free and open to all. For additional information, call Betty at 781-245-5003.

Bridge Club - Meets Wednesday mornings. New members are always welcome. Recent winners include Joe Fallica, 1st & Phil Tedesca, 2nd; Lou Froio, 1st & Elizabeth Cserhalmi, 2nd; Jean Pulsifer, 1st & Lou Froio, 2nd.

Duplicate Bridge - Meets the first Wednesday of the month. Recent winners include George Hughes, Sr. & George Hughes, Jr., E & W; Bill Ciampa & Lou Froio, N & S.


June 2 - Community Associates - 1:00 p.m. meeting at the Melrose Highlands Congregational Church.

June 13 - AARP Chapter 1124 - Luncheon at Kernwood Restaurant. Social hour 12 noon; luncheon 12:30. Entertainment by "The Broadwayettes". Call Helen Spear @ 781-245-1707. $20.00

June 20 - Ham & Bean Supper 6 p.m. Green Street Baptist Church, 179 Green Street. Public invited. Call 781-665-7331. $6.00

Melrose Veterans' Club - Meets every Friday at 9:00 a.m., GAR Room, Memorial Hall. All are welcome!

Go Go Seniors - No meeting in June.

Womans' Club of Melrose - Resumes in October.


Minibus to Area Malls - 781-665-4304 to reserve seats on the bus.

June 2 - Leaves Cefalo Memorial Complex to Meadow Glen Mall at 10 a.m.- returns at 1:15 p.m.

June 8 - Leaves Julian Steele & McCarthy Houses to Square One Mall at 10 a.m.- returns at 1:15 p.m.

June 16 - Leaves City Hall to Square One Mall at 10 a.m. - returns at 1:15 p.m.

AARP Chapter 1124 - Contact Beatrice Wadland at 781-554-1442.

Aug. 18-23 - Prince Edward Island, "Anne of Green Gables" Country. Wandlyn Hotel, Frederickton, New Brunswick & Stanhope by the Sea Hotel in Covehead Bay PEI. 5 breakfasts, 4 dinners & one lobster. $559 per person double occupancy. $50 deposit per person.

200 Club - Call Rosemary Behrle at 781-665-3258 to register for trips

July 15 - Winnipesaukee Turkey Train, Meredith, NH - Christmas Tree Shop, Little Red Doll House & 2 hour train ride with complete turkey dinner. $52

July 31 - Aunt Polly Cruise, Old Saybrook, CT. Includes lunch. $49.

Aug. 10 & 11 - 2 Day Albany, Saratoga Springs & Race Track. Dinner, Cruise & reserve seating at racetrack. $199 pp twin, $189 pp triple and $259 single.

Aug 20/ - Sail and Rail Cape Cod, MA. All you can eat luncheon buffet & one hour cruise of Hyannisport. $49

Sept. 8 - Prince Edward Island & New Brunswick Canada. 5 days. $599 twin/pp; $579 triple/pp; $799 single.

GO-GO SENIORS - Call Mary Pagano at 781-662-9796.

June 4 - Venezia Waterfront Restaurant & Cruise on the Gondola Venezia. Lunch $52

June 11 trip sold out.

June 18 - Historic Tour of Quincy - Visit the birthplace and home of Presidents John Adams and John Qunicy Adams. Lunch at Raffael's Skyline Restaurant. $49

July 16 - Essex River Cruise. Shopping in Rockport and lunch at the Gloucester House. $50

July 30 - Captain Jack's Lobsterbake. Wakefield, RI $49

Milano Senior Center Basement Renovation

Committees selected for $150,000 CampaignWe are delighted to announce the formation of a Design Committee for the basement renovation. The committee's major tasks will be to select an architect, develop the best possible design plan for the space available, and determine the overall look of the finished basement. Current members are: Michael Hughes, Chairman, Jack Beckley, Frances Bertulli, Les Brown, Rita Quinn Dietrich, Denise Gaffey, Dick Lyons, Eileen Olsen and Don Norris.

In addition, a Civic/Service organization committee was formed to contact groups and update them on the renovation plans. Volunteers include: Eileen Olsen, Mary Lepage and Peg Kenny. We also extend our thanks to Silver Stringers Ella Letterie and Louise Fennell for serving as photographers-on-call.

Fundraising activities will become more visible as the program gains momentum. Be sure to look for progress reports in the Senior News section of the Melrose Free Press. This is a big undertaking so we need all the help we can get. If you care to help in anyway, please contact Jack Beckley (781-665-4304).


The Melrose Friends of the Aging and Council on Aging are joining to expand the Milano Senior Center on behalf of our senior residents. Since state and city funds are limited due to the struggling economy, we are seeking private donations from individuals, foundations, local businesses and the banking community. Funding will provide for a computer classroom with high speed Internet access; a much needed health office and a drop-in center with beverage station.

The Friends of the Aging kicked off the fund raising campaign with a $10,000 donation! Major donors - Benefactors $5,000, Patrons $1,000, & Leaders $500 - will be recognized on beautiful slate plaques: All donors, including Sponsors $100 and Leaders $25, will receive certificates and be recognized in Looking Ahead and the Melrose Free Press.

Many thanks to the recent contributors to the Milano Senior Center Renovation Fund including Jack & Amy Beckley, Jim & Barbara Driscoll, Natalie Thomson, Rita Quinn Dietrich, Ruth & Edward Perkins, Don & Lea Shea, Claire DiMeo, and Arthur Miles.

The Friends of the Aging gratefully acknowledge Renovation Fund contributions by Mary Vaughn in memory of Dorothy MacDonald, Rose Toomey in honor of U.S. Servicemen and in memory of John, Joseph and Leo Judge, Anne Egan in memory of George A. Egan and Jim Milano in memory of Joseph Milano, Sr.

COA Needs Volunteers

OK, here is a chance to really make a difference as a volunteer. Given the budget squeeze, help MVES, our state home care agency, by volunteering to deliver meals on Fridays at the Levi Gould and Fuller Houses (across the street from the Milano Senior Center). Currently, the YMCA, COA, and ReMax Realty have three days covered. More volunteers are needed for Fridays and, eventually, Mondays.

Friday could be covered if we get 8-10 people to volunteer for an hour once a month. If someone wanted to volunteer every Friday, 5-6 volunteers would be sufficient.

Volunteers deliver meals in pairs. This allows for flexibility if one is sick or unable to work for any reason. When they arrive at the houses, the meals are waiting in insulated containers on rolling carts. Volunteers simply deliver the meals according to a printed out sheet.

If you can give an hour, between 10:30 a.m. - 12 noon, one or more Fridays a month, please call Ed Wright at 781-665-4304. Training is provided.

Holiday Card Contest

Secretary Galvin has announced the 7th Annual Senior Citizens Artistic Interpretation of the State House Holiday Card Contest. Sponsored by the Secretary's office, the contest is open to all citizens age 62 and over. The theme of the 2003 contest is Celebrating The Winter Holiday at the State House. Entries will be accepted from both amateur and professional artists. All Entries will be exhibited at the Commonwealth Museum beginning July 15, 2003. Professional artists will judge the entries.

All medium of art is acceptable (Oil, watercolor, ink, pastels, etc.). The size requirements are a minimum of 5" x 7" and a maximum of 18" x 24". If an artist is unable to mat and frame their entry, we will provide matting using basic materials. Please print name, address and telephone number on the back of the artwork.

The deadline for entries is June 30, 2003. Entries must be mailed or delivered to the Attention of Dolores McCray, Commonwealth Museum at Columbia Point, 220 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, MA 02125. In order for artwork to be displayed on our web site each entry must include the enclosed signed authorization form. Artists are responsible for retrieving their artwork from the Commonwealth Museum at or after the awards presentation.

The winning card will be reproduced and sold at the State House Gift Cart with the artist's name printed on the card. The Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth will retain ownership rights to the artwork only as a card.

An Affirmation of Award will be presented to the winning artist at a date to be announced in August 2003.

Men's Senior Golf has Openings

Residents, non-residents, members, non-members, age 60 and over, are welcome to join Mt. Hood's Men's Senior Golf. Regular tee times are 7:30 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 18 holes. Quota system used. Birdie - 4 pts.; Par - 2 pts.; bogie - 1 pt. Competition for prizes voluntary. Three to five prizes per round. Compete as singles, pairs or scramble. Form your own foursome on Friday. For more information contact Jack Stanley at 781-662-2860.

Hot Weather Facts

As we get older, we need to be more careful in hot weather. Change of season hot days can be particularly difficult because our bodies have not had time to adjust to the extreme heat. Here are some Hot Weather Facts to remember regarding the hot weather. Seniors are at an increased risk of developing heat-related disorders such as Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion.

Be aware of the danger signals: Dizziness, Weakness, Agitation, Fainting, Confusion, Vomiting, Hot Skin, and Unresponsiveness.

Tips for keeping your cool:

Make sure your living environment is well ventilated. Use fans or air conditioners to promote air circulation.

Drink plenty of water.

Avoid using the oven in cases of extreme heat.

Take cool showers or cool baths.

Keep shades down during the day.

Wear loose clothing.

Avoid being outside during the hottest hours of the day, between 10 AM and 2 PM.

If you do not have air conditioning, open the windows and use fans to move the air around. Or, plan to spend some time at the air-conditioned comfort of the Milano Senior Center and Melrose Public Library.

Legal Consultation

On Tuesday, June 17, Attorney Daniel Bartley of Greater Boston Legal Services provides free legal assistance in the COA office at 235 West Foster Street. Consultation is by appointment only (781-665-4304) for problems with bureaucracies, such as the Social Security Administration, entitlement programs and tenants having disputes with their landlords. Time doesn't permit the handling of wills, estates or accidents; however, Mr. Bartley can offer opinions about estate planning.

This service is made available with federal money authorized by the Older Americans Act and channeled through Area Agencies on Aging. Mystic Valley Elder Services is Melrose's Area Agency on Agency.

Minor Home Repair Program

All residents age 60 and over can use this program for minor home repairs. Repair program hourly rates are $38 for the handymen and $60 for the electrician and plumbers. Sliding fee users, of course, may pay significantly less. To be eligible for the sliding fee, an individual's annual income must be $21,199 or less and $28,617 or less for a couple

This program is supported by a grant from the Farnsworth Trust and the Community Associates of Melrose.

Massachusetts Senior Games

The 2003 Senior Summer Games will be held in Springfield, Massachusetts June 12-15. Competition for men and women, age 50 and over, is in 5 year brackets to 90 plus. There are 25 events, some of which include archery, basketball, billiards, cycling, golf, horseshoes, pistol shooting, swimming, tennis and volleyball. A complete listing of events along with registration forms are available in the Council on Aging office. The registration deadline is June 7, 2003.  

Community Associates Getting the Job Done

In April, the cash-strapped Minor Home Repair Program received a generous donation from the Community Associates of Melrose. The donation will support the sliding fees paid by low-income seniors for approximately three months. The repair program helps residents find tradesmen and make needed minor repairs such as fixing leaky faucets, replacing faulty electrical outlets, and replacing rotting stair treads. The Council on Aging thank members of the Community Associates for helping them better serve our senior residents.

Dutton Center has Openings

Are you looking for fun exercise and interesting activities? Do you need assistance with health care issues throughout the day? Or, are you a caregiver and need a break? The Dutton Center can help. It offers a full day program for elders needing a supportive, stimulating and social environment. Please call 781-246-2820 for a free brochure, activity schedule and additional information.

Newsletter notices/announcements may be sent to the Council on Aging, 235 W. Foster St., Melrose, MA 02176. They must be received by the 5th day of the month before you want the notice to appear. Questions? Call us at 781-665-4304.

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