Looking Ahead

CoA director urges 'heart-healthy' activities

 ... President's tea, tax assistance on seniors' docket

by Jack Beckley, executive director, Melrose COA

Looking Ahead -- February, 2004

Eileen M. Olsen, Chairperson
Jim Driscoll, Vice-Chairperson
Kay McCarte, Secretary
William Ahern
Gene Baldi
Peggy Kenny
Rosemary Behrle
John Averell



President's/Valentine's Tea

You are cordially invited to the Milano Senior Center for a "Remembering Past Presidents' Tea" on Fri., Feb. 13, at 1:30 p.m.  

There will be tea, refreshments, and a chance to reminisce with others about past presidents (a sheet of questions will stimulate conversation).  Also, if you have an old Valentine, bring it along to show others. As you know, all old Valentines have a story that goes with them.
        
February is American Heart Month

In recognition that February is American Heart Month, how about starting a heart-healthy activity? Take an exercise class at the senior center. They are fun as well as beneficial. Check the calendar on page 6 for times when yoga, line dancing, tai chi, strong bones, and aerobic exercises are offered.
 
Take a moment to read the Heart Attack warning signs by the American Hearth Association on page 8 of the paper edition of Looking Ahead.
    
Free Tax Assistance

Free tax assistance is available again this year at the Milano Senior Center, 201 West Foster Street.

The Tax Aide Program, administered by the AARP Foundation in cooperation with the IRS, assists disabled persons and those over age 60 with low-moderate incomes in filing their taxes. Tax Aides will be available Mondays from 12 noon - 3:00 PM during the months of February (except Feb. 16), March and for the first two Mondays in April.

You will need to bring this year's tax package, your current information, and last year's return. You may call 781-665-4304 for an appointment or just drop in the Milano Center on a first-come, first-serve basis - after the appointments.

Renovation & Fund Raising Update

Plans to renovate the basement of the Milano Senior Center are moving along.  Courtstreet Architects, the same firm that did the original Milano Senior Center renovation in 1994, has, for the most part, completed the design plans. They include a lounge/meeting room, computer classroom, health office and rest room.

In January, the $150,000 fund raising campaign got a big lift with a $25,000 grant from the Charles H. Farnsworth Charitable Trust. Now, total cash raised is over $100,000, plus about $5,000 in pledges. Reaching the two-thirds raised milestone will help fund raising with the remaining foundations, banks and major donors.  

Senior Health Care Options

February and March is Medex's Open Enrollment. On Wed., Feb. 25, at 1:00 p.m., a representative from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts will be present to discuss Medicare and Medex. All three "classic" Medex plans - Core, Bronze, and Gold - will be explained, along with a new option called Medex Core Plus. As with all Medex plans, Core Plus lets you choose your own physician while adding some prescription drug coverage and preventive services including eyewear and dental.

Current members and those wanting to learn more about the plans are welcome to attend..
    
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.  

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 or schedule an appointment with the AARP Tax Aides by calling 781-665-4304.

Health Insurance
Prescription Information

    
SHINE volunteer Mary Sullivan helps with health insurance related questions on Tuesdays, 9:00 a.m to12 noon, in the CoA office (located in the Beebe House next to the Senior Center). 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.

Senior Dining Program

Tasty noontime meals are served each weekday at 12 noon at the Milano Center.  Daily entrees are listed in the paper edition of the calendar on pages 6 & 7. The lunch program is run in cooperation with Mystic Valley Elder Services. To reserve a meal call 781-662-6886 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 781-665-4304.
    
Meal Weather Cancellation Procedure

In the event of a weather emergency during the winter months, Mystic Valley Elder Services' nutrition department may cancel meal service. This will be determined by 6:30 am on a bad weather day.

If meal service is canceled, announcements will be broadcast on Channel 7 WRKO and Channel 5 WCVB and on the radio at 680 AM WRKO. You may also call MVES at 781-324-7442 extension 300 for a recorded message.


HEALTH PROGRAMS

FREE WELLNESS CHECKS - Friday, February 13, 2004 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 - No Podiatry in February. Dr. Connolly 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.

Arthritis Support Group - No Arthritis Support Group meetings Feb.- March.  Next meeting is Friday, April 23, 2004; Acupuncture - the old, new medicine by Mimma Mogavero, Lic.Ac., MAOM.  

Bridge Club - Meets Wednesday mornings. New members are always welcome. Recent winners include: Lou Froio, 1st & Arthur Hughes, 2nd; Alicia Roman, 1st & Ralph Lepage 2nd.

Duplicate Bridge - Recent winners include Norma Bellemare & Mary Mihaljan, N & S; Elizabeth Cserhalmi & David Marshall, E & W.

Movies -- Movies -- Movies

The drama "It Runs in the Family", starring Kirk & Michael Douglas, will be shown at the Milano Senior Center on Wed., Feb. 11, at 1:30 PM. It Runs in the Family is about various generations of a family trying to overcome their dysfunctional ways and difficulties in communicating with one another. 1 hour & 43 minutes, PG-13.

CLUB MEETINGS

Feb. 3 - Community Associates - 1:00 p.m. meeting at the Melrose Highlands Congregational Church.
Feb. 13 - AARP Chapter 1124 - 1:30 p.m. meeting at the Melrose Highlands Congregational Church. Ron Chorzewski from Melrose/Wakefield Hospital.
Feb. 18 - Melrose Woman's Club -1:00 p.m. First Congregational Church.  Frank Maher "The Many Benefits of Hypnosis" Certified Hypnotherapist.
Feb. 21 -  Ham & Bean Supper - 6:00 p.m. Green Street Baptist Church, 179 Green St., Melrose. Cost: $7 (children under 12 with parents, free). Public invited. No reservations needed!  781-665-7331
Feb. 23 -  Melrose Arts & Crafts Society - 9:30 a.m. classes at the First Baptist Church. Botanical Flowers, and Reverse Glass Painting. Program 1 p.m.  Stained Glass.
Melrose Veterans' Club - Meets every Friday at 9:00 a.m., GAR Room, Memorial Hall. All are welcome!  

You're invited to the first MAPLEWOOD MIXER to be held at Maplewood Place, Independent and Assisted Living Community. This event is exclusive to residents of Melrose and Saugus. We will be holding Maplewood Mixers for other local towns in the next few months. Please join us for wine, appetizers and live music on Wednesday, February 18th from 4:00 - 6:00 at Maplewood Place, 295 Broadway, Malden. This is a great opportunity to meet and mingle with your neighbors!  Reservations are required and will be taken on a first come first serve basis.  R.S.V.P. today to 781-324-4999.

TRIP INFORMATION

Minibus to Meadow Glen Mall - Call 781-665-4304 to reserve seats on the bus.
Feb.   2 - Leaves Cefalo Memorial Complex to Meadow Glen Mall at 10 a.m.- returns at 1:15 p.m.
Feb.   9 - Leaves Julian Steele & McCarthy Houses to Meadow Glen Mall at 10 a.m.- returns at 1:15 p.m.
Feb. 23 - Leaves City Hall to Meadow Glen Mall at 10 a.m. - returns at 1:15 p.m.

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

Feb. 11 - Hu Ke Lau Restaurant, Chicopee, MA. Luncheon Choice: Prime Rib or Baked Scrod . Five Star Entertainment takes you on an excititing trip to Hawaii. $49
Mar. 16 - St. Patrick's Irish Cabaret, Luciano's Lake Pearl, Wrentham, MA. Luncheon choice: Corned Beef & Cabbage or Baked Schrod. Entertainment direct from the Georgian Hotel in Lake George, NY. $49
Apr. 1-4 - Washington, DC - Twin $379; Single $549 and Triple $369.

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

Mar. 17 - "St. Patrick's Irish Cabaret at Luciano's Lake Pearl, Wrentham, MA $49
Apr. 7 - Foxwoods Casino - Buffet. $18
Apr. 14 - The Ricky & Lucy Show at Chez Josef, Agawam, MA. Full lunch. $63
May 5 - The Top of the Hub. Lunch plus show.  $65

"Do Not Call" Registry

Consumers can reduce the number of telemarketing calls that they receive by signing up on the Do Not Call Registry, managed by the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. The list is updated every quarterly. Consumers may sign-up on the web (www.mass.gov/donotcall) or by calling a toll free number (1-866-231-2255).  

Crafts

The Craft Group, taught by Marie Salamanca, is making painted and/or appliqued sweatshirts. This is a chance to express yourself and have a good time while you're at it. The group will meet on Tues., Feb. 10, at 1:30 p.m. in the Milano Senior Center. Call the Center at 781-662-6886 to reserve a place. Bring a prewashed sweatshirt. Everything else will be provided. The cost is $20.00. The deadline for registering for the class is Tues., Feb. 3.

Beware Hypothermia
 
The National Institute of Aging estimates that thousands of older people die of hypothermia each year in their own homes. The risk of dying from hypothermia is actually five times greater for people over age 75 than for the general population. Most elderly victims become ill at temperatures between 50 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit!  Therefore, make sure your home is warm enough. If you feel cold indoors - regardless of the indoor temperature - wear more clothing.

If you rent, state regulations require temperatures of 68 F from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and 64 F from 11:01 p.m. to 6:59 a.m. If your apartment is too cold, notify your landlord. If you are having trouble paying for fuel, call Tri-City Community Action Program at 781-322-6284.

Teen-Aging Program
    
The Council's "Teen-Aging Program," funded by an Executive Office of Elder Affairs grant, matches senior citizens with local teens for snow shoveling and other chores.  Program coordinator, Doreen Lam, continues to reach out to schools, churches and youth groups to find shovelers. If you need a shoveler, or know of a teenager looking to earn extra money by shoveling, call Doreen at 781-665-4304.      

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.

Social Security Information

Something Is Missing From Government Checks.

If you get Social Security, Supplemental Security Income or any other paper checks printed by the U.S. Department of Treasury, you will find something different about them. To protect your privacy, the Treasury Department removed Social Security numbers from all federal government checks starting January 1, 2004. Of course, you also can protect your privacy and guard against theft if you simply sign up for direct deposit. Direct deposit is the safest and most reliable way to receive payment. Find out more by visiting this link: www.socialsecurity.gov/deposit/index.htm or by calling the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213.

Simplifying Benefits For Government Employees

With some assistance, most people can learn how Social Security computes an individual's retirement payment. But it gets much more complicated when people try to figure the ins and outs of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), which affects mostly federal, state and local government employees. These provisions are among the most complex Social Security entitlement rules. For anyone affected by these provisions, there is now a handy-dandy chart that shows how your benefits can be affected by WEP. You don't even have to touch a calculator! Visit the Social Security Administration's web site at:
www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/wep-chart.htm

Charts For All Ages

If you just cannot wait until you reach your full retirement age to collect Social Security benefits - and statistically most workers do retire 'early' - we have a chart that quickly shows you what percentage of your full retirement benefits you will be able to get. If, on the other hand, you are one of those individuals who intend to work well beyond their full retirement age, you will enjoy checking out the second link below for our chart on delayed retirement credits. (HINT - you will get a higher benefit!).

To see our chart for retiring early, visit this link: www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/agereduction.htm

Thinking of a delayed retirement?  Look at this one: www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/delayret.htm

Storm Cancellation Policy

When storms force the cancellation of Melrose Public Schools:

The Milano Senior Center will close for the day.
No congregate meals will be served at the Milano Senior Center even though they may be served in other MVES communities. To find out about Meals on Wheels service, MVES broadcasts announcements on Channels 7 (WRKO) and 5 (WCVB), and on AM radio at 680 WRKO. You may also call MVES at 324-7442, ext. 300 after 7:00 a.m. for a recorded message.
The Minibus will not run the entire day.
The CoA office will be open unless City Hall closes.  

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 $70 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 Executive Office of Elder Affairs.

Tai Chi & Yoga fight the Winter Blues

Tai chi, yoga and other exercise activities can work wonders in alleviating the winter blues. Tai chi, taught by physical therapist Rick Wong, improves balance and increases strength and flexibility. Yoga taught, by Trudy MacDonald, increases flexibility, strength and creates a feeling of calm relaxation. Other classes to consider are line dancing with Anne MacGillivray or Steve White, aerobics with Kay Danieli, prime time fitness, and strong bones with Susan DeColaines. Any one of them will get you out of the house, meeting people and feeling better.

Check the calendar on page 6 of the February issue of Looking Ahead for days offered and start times. A nominal fee is charged for classes, with the exception of prime time fitness, which is free. Call 781-662-6886 for additional information.



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