Looking Ahead

Health specialists to speak at Milano Center

 ... St. Paddy's Day party highlights March Activities

by Jack Beckley, executive director, Melrose COA

Looking Ahead -- March, 2004

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

St. Patrick's Day Celebration

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day at the    
Milano Senior Center on Wed. March 17, at 12 noon.

For lunch there will be corned beef, boiled potatoes, cabbage/baby carrots, Irish soda bread and Irish cupcakes.

For entertainment, multitalented John Root will play several musical instruments and sing a variety of songs, including old Irish favorites. This performance is supported in part by a grant from the Melrose Arts Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
Ticket Information -- Tickets for lunch are limited and must be purchased by Friday, March 12. There is a $2.50 suggested donation, $1.50 for lunch and $1 for the entertainment. If lunch tickets sell out, come for the entertainment at 1:00 p.m. Tickets can be picked up in person (no phone reservations) at the Milano Center and are limited to 2 tickets per person.

Keep Your Heart Healthy

Want to cook and eat in ways that benefit your heart? Come to the Milano Senior Center to learn about what fats to use and those to avoid, get low-fat-recipe ideas, and see how to eat well while keeping your heart healthy. Join Candace Quigley, Registered Dietitian, from Mystic Valley Elder Services on Friday, March 12, from 9:30 - 9:50 a.m. Handouts will be provided.

D.E.A.F. Presentation

On Fri., March 19, at 2:00 p.m., Hard of Hearing Specialist, Laura Brown, will give a presentation at the Milano Senior Center for deaf, hard of hearing, and late deafened adults. Laura will describe the many services available through DEAF Inc., such as advocacy, information and referral, American Sign Language, and skills training.

Please call 781-665-4304 in advance if you wish to use an assistive listening devise.

Medicare-Endorsed Discount Drug Cards

Though the new Medicare drug benefit program does not begin until January 1, 2006, enrollment in the Medicare approved prescription drug discount card program begins in May 2004, with discounts honored as of June 1, 2004. All Medicare beneficiaries will be able to purchase a discount card for an annual fee of $30.00. Average savings with a card will be about 10 to 15 percent on total drug costs, with savings of up to 25 percent or more on individual prescriptions.

Additional information about the cards will gradually be available from Medicare's web site www.medicare.gov. In the meantime, if you have questions, call the SHINE Program at 1-800-AGE-INFO (1-800-243-4636) or make an appointment to see our SHINE volunteer, Mary Sullivan, on Tuesday mornings in the COA office (781-665-4304).

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 combined annual property tax and 50% of their annual water bill are 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. Residents receiving a state or federally rent subsidy are not eligible for the tax credit.

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.

Hungry for Air
Sharing Facts About COPD

Join Ellen Raitman, Respiratory Therapist at the American Lung Association, for a presentation describing ways for people with chronic lung disease to cope with it and to live better. Her presentation is open to all. It will be held at the Milano Senior Center on Wed., March 10, at 12:30 p.m.

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 on pages 6. 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.

Health Insurance/Prescription Information

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.


Free Wellness Checks -- Friday, March 12, 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.

Arthritis Support Group: The next meeting of the Arthritis Support Group will be on Friday, April 23, at 1:00 p.m. The topic is "Acupunture -- the old, new medicine" by Mimma Mogavero, Lic.Ac., MAOM. The Support Group meets at the Milano Senior Center the 4th Friday of the month unless otherwise indicated.

For additional information, call Betty at 781-245-5003.

Podiatry -- Friday, March 19, 2004: Dr. Robert J. Connolly, D.P.M. provides foot care & consultations at moderate cost ($25). Appointments (781-662-6886) for the March 19th visit may be made now on or after March 1st. Melrose residents receive preference.

Bridge Club -- Meets Wednesday mornings. New members are always welcome.  Recent winners include: Al Mandrachia, 1st & Esther Snow, 2nd; Alan Faller, 1st & David Brisette, 2nd; Al Mandrachia, 1st & Joe Fallica, 2nd.

Duplicate Bridge -- Duplicate Bridge is played on the first Wednesday of the month. Recent winners include: Ruth Tracy & Nancy Moradian, N & S; Ann Morse & Frances Wadland, E & W.

Free Tax Assistance

Free tax assistance is available again this year at the Milano Senior Center, 201 West Foster Street. Tax-Aide Counseling for the Elderly, 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. Electronic filing of tax returns is available. Tax-Aides will be available on Mondays, 12 noon - 3:00 p.m. through April 12, 2004.
You will need to bring your year 2002 Federal and Massachusetts tax returns and this year's tax package, including all Federal and State tax forms and instructions, year-end brokers' statements and instructions, Forms W-2, 1099, social security statements, unemployment compensation and any expense items that would be applicable to itemization on Schedule A Form 1040.

Appointments are recommended and may be made by calling 781-665-4304. Walk ins are also seen on a first-come, first-serve basis -- after the appointments. Depending on the number of people without appointments, some walk-ins may be asked to return the following week.


Mar. 2 -- Community Associates -- 1:00 p.m. meeting at the Melrose Highlands Congregational Church.
Mar. 12 -- AARP Chapter 1124 -- 1:30 p.m. meeting at the Melrose Highlands Congregational Church. "The Mount Washington Observatory" by Ken Smith.
Mar.  20 -- Ham & Bean Supper, 6 p.m. Green Street Baptist Church, 179 Green Street. Public invited. Call 781-665-7331. $7.00 (children 12 & under with parents FREE).
Mar. 17 -- Melrose Woman's Club ?12:00 noon Tea at the First Congregational Church. Singing Grandpops.
Mar. 22 -- Melrose Arts & Crafts Society. Classes 9:30 a.m. Sunbonnet Sue Quilt Square, Embroidery on paper, and Bead Weaving Bracelet. Program: 1:00 p.m. Rug Hooking.  
Melrose Veterans' Club -- Meets every Friday at 9:00 a.m., GAR Room, Memorial Hall. All are welcome!  


Minibus to Square One Mall -- Call 781-665-4304 to reserve seats on the minibus.
Mar. 1 -- Leaves Cefalo Memorial Complex to Square One Mall at 10 a.m. --  returns at 1:15 p.m.
Mar. 8 -- Leaves Julian Steele & McCarthy Houses to Square One Mall at 10 a.m. -- returns at 1:15 p.m.
Mar. 15 -- Leaves City Hall to Square One Mall at 10 a.m. -- returns at 1:15 p.m.

200 Club -- See write-up below. To register for trips, call Rosemary Behrle at 781-665-3258.
Apr. 1-4 -- Washington, DC
Apr. 28 -- Charlie Prose at Foxwoods Casino, Ledyard, CT. Trip includes: $10 buffet, $20 in Keno time and 2:00 p.m. performance -- Charlie Prose.
May 13-17 -- Ottawa Tulip Festival with Toronto & Niagra Falls. Twin, $499; single, $679; Triple, $479.
May 28 -- Boston Spring Pops. 8:00 p.m. performance. Keith Lockhart. $55

GO-GO SENIORS -- Call Mary Pagano at 781-662-9796.
Mar. 16 -- St. Patrick's Irish Cabaret, Luciano's Lake Pearl, Wrentham, MA. $49
Apr. 1-4 -- Washington, DC. Twin, $379; single, $549; Triple, $369

Crafts -- On Tuesday, March 9th, the Craft Group will again make framed silhouettes. You may paint a girl which we did in January or you may paint a boy or both. Call before March 4th to reserve a place and so that materials may be provided for you. The cost will be $15 for each silhouette. Everything will be provided for you.

Movies -- Movies -- Movies

The drama "And Now Ladies And Gentlemen", starring Jeremy Irons, will be shown at the Milano Senior Center on Friday, March 26, at 1:30 p.m. In "And Now Ladies & Gentlemen", a jewel thief and lounge singer, suffering from similar but undiagnosed bouts of blackouts and amnesia, fall in love after meeting in Morocco where they hope they'll find a cure for what ails them.

The picture above was submitted to the 2004 Older American's Month National Photography Contest sponsored by the Administration on Aging. The picture of people active and enjoying themselves expresses the 2004 Older American's month theme "Aging Well, Living Well." Pictured from left to right are Jean Hong, Natalie Thomson, Shirley Rabb, Don Norris, Elizabeth Sunkees, Louise Fennell, and Persis Chisholm.  

The 200 Club of Melrose

The 200 Club is the activities arm of the Congregational Retirement Homes, Inc. It was organized in June 1968 to provide charitable, recreational, educational, and social opportunities for local seniors. All residents of Levi Gould, Fuller and Jonathan Cochrane Houses are automatically Club members, but it is also open to all citizens in the communities in and around Melrose who are 62 years of age or older.

Activities include monthly programs/teas from Oct. - May; trips year round; various games six nights a week; an annual fair; and a food sale to help fund Club programs. The monthly 200 Club newsletter, Cross Currents, is given out in the residences and mailed to non-resident members.

Non-resident guests may attend an activity twice before being asked to join. Yearly dues are $5 for one and $8 for a couple. Visit us and make yourself known to the tea hostess or chairman of whatever event you attend.

Spring programs include Accordionist Bob Caruso, Mon., March 29th, at 2:00 p.m. at the Cochrane House; a Fashion Show by the Kappa Swap Shop on Wed., April 14th, at 2:00 p.m. at the Fuller House; and a Ballroom Dance Exhibition by John and Mary Sumares on Mon., May 24th, at 2:00 p.m. at the Cochrane House. We hope to see you there!

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, the exemption amount will raise from $500.00 to $700.00. In addition to the new higher amount, other adjustments were made to lower the age requirement from as 70 to 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.

MBTA Passes

Passes from the MBTA will give you:
Half the cost for a train ride,
25˘ to ride the "T",
Half the cost for a bus ride

Steps to getting an MBTA Pass:
65 years or older,
Copy of drivers license or birth certificate,
One-inch color photograph of yourself,
Send to: Senior Access Pass Office, Back Bay Station, 145 Dartmouth Street, Boston, MA 02116-5954.

Melrose Artists Recognized in Card Contest

Two Melrosians recently participated in and received awards in the seventh annual Senior Citizens Artistic Interpretation of the State House Holiday Card Contest. We are not surprised because one of them, Anthony Accettullo, paints in the Center's Tuesday morning Art Workshop. He received The Committee's Choice -- Museum Committee Awards Category. Anthony De Stefano received Third Prize in the Watercolor Category.

William Francis Galvin, Secretary of the Commonwealth, sponsors the contest.

"Are You Okay?®" Program Begins Calls

Though late in getting started due to software problems, Are You Okay®, the city's new computerized calling system, began calling senior citizens in February. The system provides daily phone calls to check on the well being of those enrolled in the free service. While the system does not offer the personal warmth of a human's voice nor replace personal response systems like Lifeline, it has been credited with saving many lives in communities around the country.

The Melrose Friends of the Aging purchased the software and a police department grant provided the computer. The Council on Aging will process new enrollees and the Police Department will house the system, monitor it and respond to no answers.

Jack Beckley, on behalf of the COA Board, wants to publicly thank Chief O'Neil, Lt. Morrissey and, especially, the officers of the Melrose Police Department for supporting this effort to provide senior citizens an extra measure of safety.

For more information about Are You Okay?, call COA outreach worker, Ellie Forrest, at 781-665-4304.

MVES Ready to Help

Mystic Valley Elder Services (MVES) provides information, services, and resources to elders and caregivers in Melrose. The agency helps elders live safely in their homes through comprehensive programs -- most of which are low-cost or even free. Among our services are home care management, money management advisors, caregiver support, general information, volunteer opportunities, home-delivered meals, and providing daily meals at senior dining sites. Please contact us with any aging-related question at 781-324-7705 or www.mves.org.

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 Community Associates of Melrose.

March 5, 2004

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