Looking Ahead

Looking Ahead -- January 2004 -- Section One

by Jack Beckley, executive director, Melrose COA


Happy New Year!
Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year!
from Jack Beckley and COA staff



"Looking Ahead"

This month, Looking Ahead is mailed to all residences with a resident age 60 or over. In future months, copies may be picked up at city hall, library, Shaws, Johnnie's, and the Milano Senior Center. Elderly housing residents may pick copies up in the lobby of their buildings. To have the newsletter mailed directly to your home, send a $4 check (one year's postage) payable to the Melrose Council on Aging.  Send it to the Melrose COA, 235 W. Foster St., Melrose, MA 02176. If you already receive the newsletter by mail, do not send in another check. When your year is up, a notice will be sent to you. If you have questions, call us at 781-665-4304.
    
Fall Prevention

November's "Falls: How to Lower Your Risk" presentation was unavoidably cancelled.  Sincere apologies to those that were inconvenienced. It has been rescheduled for Wed., Jan. 14, at 1:00 p.m. at the Milano Senior Center. The presentation will be given by physical therapists from the Life Care Center in Stoneham.

Falls are the leading cause of injury in Americans over age 65 and are a major contributing factor in hospital and nursing home admissions. Many of the causes of falls are preventable.

The Life Care Center is a Continuing Care Retirement Community located in Stoneham.  Literature on the Center will be available.

Scratching for Dollars

December's "Completing the Journey" fund raising party for the basement renovation was a lot of fun and a big success thanks to your generosity and the hard work of volunteers too numerous to mention. In November, $6,835 in donations were received, plus $3,735 at the party. The total is now $70,734.
   
As to the lottery tickets, they provided lots of entertainment and a small profit.  You'll have to visit the Melrose Mirror online for details and lots of wonderful pictures. There you'll find details of the afternoon, a listing of volunteers and special guests, and who scratched the $400 lottery ticket. The address is http://silverstringer.media.mit.edu

Property Tax Exemption Changes

Recently the Melrose Board of Aldermen, at local option, adopted changes to the Clause 41C Elderly Exemption program administered through the Assessing Department.  Most notable, if you have already applied for the exemption for fiscal year 2004, the exemption amount will raise from $500.00 to $700.00.

In addition to the new higher amount, other adjustments were made to the age requirement which will be 65 as of last July 1 to qualify for this fiscal year.  Also, the new adjusted income limits are $20,000 for singles and $30,000 for married couples and the asset limits were raised to $40,000 for singles and $55,000 for married couples respectively.

The Aldermen also took action to raise the income limit of the Clause 41A Tax Deferral from $20,000 to $40,000 for persons 65 and over that wish to defer payment of their property taxes.

If you think that you now may be eligible for the Elderly Exemption program or the Tax Deferral program, please contact the Assessing Office at 781-979-4104.

Wellness Presentation: Overactive Bladder

If you suffer from an overactive bladder, you are not alone. In facti, one out of every three women over 45 has a problem when she sneezes, lifts a heavy bag or swings a golf club. Join us at the Milano Senior Center Thurs.,Jan. 15, at 1:00 p.m. for a presentation by Patricia Bernardine. Light refreshments will be served.
    
Are You Eligible for a Tax Credit?

Some senior citizens (65+) may be eligible for the Personal Income Tax Credit (Circuit Breaker). This credit is not a refund on your real estate taxes so, even if you do not pay any income taxes, you may still qualify for the credit. Elders whose annual property tax is more than 10 percent of their annual income can file for a refund of up to $810.

The taxpayer's "total income" cannot exceed $42,000 for a single filer, $64,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly; and the assessed valuation of a homeowner's personal residence cannot exceed $432,000.

For renters, the law assumes that 25% of rent goes toward property tax. Accordingly, renters may claim as a credit the amount by which 25% if their annual rental payment exceeds 10% of their total income.

For information, call the Massachusetts Dept. of Revenue at 1-617-887-6367.

Health Insurance/Prescription Information

Given the many changes taking place effective January 1, 2004, now is an excellent time to review your health care coverage. Fortunately, we have an expert right here in Melrose to help you.

SHINE volunteer Mary Sullivan can help 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 calendar. 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.

Fuel Assistance

Tri-City Community Action Program (TRI-CAP) is accepting applications for fuel assistance now. Income eligibility levels are $17,960 for individuals, $24,240 couples, and $30,520 for three-person households.

Tri-Cap's Fuel Assistance, Weatherization, and Heartwrap Programs help homeowners and tenants pay their home heating costs, conserve energy, and, in emergencies, repair, retrofit, new burners, and even replace heating systems.
   
Eligible households also receive a 25-35% discount on their monthly utility bills and a discount on their phone bill.
For additional information, call Tri-Cap at 781-322-6284 for fuel assistance and 781-322-4190 for energy conservation.  You can also visit the web site at http://www.tri-cap.org

Senior Gym & Swim "Y Knots"

Water exercise is good for you, fun, and easy on the joints.  The Melrose YMCA has Senior Gym & Swim and Aquatic Stretch classes that increase mobility in joints and help relieve arthritis pain.

Senior citizen YMCA members may take the classes free of charge. There is a nominal fee for non-members. For information, call the YMCA at 781-665-4360.

Immunization Clinics

Let's hope that 2004 is not as bad as predicted. The accompanying table shows the total number of shots administered by the Melrose Health Department at past public immunization clinics.  
 
Year    Flu    Tetanus    Pneumonia       
2003        2,046    48    85       
2002        1,877    32    86       
2001        1,871    83    101       
2000        1,688    30    54       
1999        2,119    79    230       
1998        1,640    124    209       
1997        1,256    268    440    

Free AARP Tax Assistance

Tax-Aide counselors, trained by the IRS, assist disabled persons and those over age 60 with low to moderate incomes in filing their taxes again this year at the Milano Senior Center. Tax-Aides will be available on Mondays, from 12:30 - 3:30 PM, during the months of February (except Feb. 16), March and for the first two weeks of April.

Please bring this year's tax package, your current tax information, and last year's return. It is recommended that you call 781-665-4304 for an appointment in the latter part of January. Time permitting, walk-ins are seen on a first-come, first-serve basis -- after the appointments.  Occasionally, time may not permit accommodating all walk-ins.

Movies -- Movies -- Movies

"Seabiscuit" will be shown at the Milano Senior Center on Fri., Jan 16 at 1:30 PM. It's the time of the Great Depression in America when various men get a second chance on life when they come into possession of a reportedly washed up and troublesome racehorse that they hope to turn into a winner.

Link to Section 2:
Section Two


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