7 steps to healthier barbecue

Here’s how to make the best Fourth of July cookout ever

By Maureen Callahan for Next Avenue


Credit: Getty Images

It may be the favorite way to cook on hot summer days, but experts say the high heat of grilling can produce cancer-causing compounds that are dangerous to your health.

But with the 4th of July nearing, don’t ditch the barbecue just yet. Grilling can still be one of the healthiest methods of cooking, as long as you use the right techniques and make healthy food choices.

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Why Social Security benefits won’t be cut

One of the presidential candidates is a key reason

By Chris Farrell for Next Avenue

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

I love Social Security. Seriously. Social Security was signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1935 and over time has evolved into America’s most successful pension and insurance program.  Social Security helps keep millions of America’s elderly out of poverty, too.

Those aren’t particularly controversial sentiments, except in bitterly polarized Washington, D.C. Conservatives have routinely called for cutting back on Social Security’s “unaffordable” benefits and “privatizing” the system. Social Security, they say, is “bankrupt” and a “Ponzi scheme.” Liberals have staved off Social Security benefits cuts in recent years largely through a defensive strategy of preserving the status quo established by the 1983 National Commission on Social Security Reform.

But things are changing — bigtime.

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Prepare for surgery with exercise and diet

‘Prehabilitation’ is slowly being recognized as valuable for success after a procedure

By Judith Graham for Next Avenue

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

A dozen years ago, at the age of 50, Lillie Shockney decided to have breast reconstruction surgery after two bouts of cancer and two mastectomies. The procedure called for removing a flap of skin and fat from her abdomen, used to rebuild her breasts.

Shockney knew a lot about breast cancer and the trials of recovery: she was (and still is) director of the breast center at Johns Hopkins’ Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center. Characteristically, this dynamic nurse didn’t want to stay in the hospital for any longer than absolutely necessary.

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Opening our eyes to elder abuse

On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, a call for better detection and action

By Emily Gurnon for Next Avenue


Today is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, and Next Avenue joins in the effort to shine a light on this pervasive problem.

An estimated 5 million older Americans are abused, neglected or exploited every year, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse. That’s a conservative number, the organization says: for every one case that’s reported, as many as 23 are not.

“Elder mistreatment is a serious public health issue, and merits the same level of response as child abuse or domestic abuse,” says Terry Fulmer, Ph.D., president of  The John A. Hartford Foundation and a researcher and authority on elder mistreatment and abuse, in a statement last week.

She urged all of us to increase our vigilance.

“In particular, health care, emergency services, social service, and law enforcement professionals, who are on the front lines, should use every interaction with an older person to screen for possible mistreatment,” she says. “One simple yet powerful way to do this is by asking the question: ‘Are you safe at home?’

That’s especially important with older adults who may be cognitively impaired or rarely outside of the presence of a potential abuser, Fulmer says.

Manifestations of Abuse

Elder abuse comes in many forms, including physical, psychological, financial and sexual abuse.

Last month, Next Avenue published a series on abuse in the guardianship and conservatorship systems, finding that, despite decades of efforts, pernicious patterns have endured.

As the boomer population ages, the numbers of people affected by guardianship and conservatorship will rise tremendously, experts predict. With the stroke of a judge’s pen, an older adult can see his or her most basic rights stripped away. A family member or even a stranger appointed by the court will decide where they will live, how their money will be spent, what health care they will get, when they will go out and whom they are allowed to see.

Educating Ourselves

We urge everyone to learn about elder abuse and know the signs that someone may be being abused.

We also urge the presidential candidates to recognize World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, and offer their ideas on how to address the disturbing reality many older adults live with every day.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is organized by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations.

© Twin Cities Public Television – 2016. All rights reserved.

Getting rid of possessions: It’s harder than you think

Since the process is partly psychological, here’s how to prepare

By Harriet Edleson for Next Avenue

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

If you’re ready to move to a smaller space or think you might want to downsize in the not-too-distant future, take a deep breath and start planning.

It’s a much bigger task than you’ll ever imagine, partly because the process entails far more than just deciding which possessions to keep and which to toss.

Most people acquire things over a lifetime — one decade, year, month or day at a time. Through the years, possessions from clothes to decorative arts can accumulate: Flexible Flyer sleds tucked away in the basement crawl space; bridesmaid’s or flower girl dresses stored in closets; Valentines, birthday cards and other personal correspondence stashed in night table drawers.

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How to start painting at any age

3 tips from a pro on easy ways to pick up a brush and begin

By Heidi Raschke for Next Avenue


Untitled painting and collage by Megan Jackson

Megan Jackson is the kind of person people describe as an old soul. “It’s hard for me to really connect in my own age group, and that’s always been the case,” says the painter who created the untitled work that tops Next Avenue’s Artful Aging Special Report. “I’ve always had older friends.”

Before Jackson created this work of painting and collage, she wasn’t familiar with the terms “artful aging” or “creative aging” — which refer to the practice of engaging older adults in participatory, professionally run arts programs with a focus on social engagement and skills mastery. But she knew many people who were living it. Like her friend Lori, who became what Jackson calls a “botanist photographer” in her 60s.

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Give elders and their caregivers the support they deserve

This Influencer In Aging says changes are vital as the nation gets older

By Ai-jen Poo for Next Avenue


Editor’s note: This article is part of Next Avenue’s 2015 Influencers in Aging project honoring 50 people changing how we age and think about aging. Here, Ai-jen Poo, one of the Influencers, discusses the importance of caring for our nation’s caregivers.

Every day, at least 10,000 Americans turn 65. When we imagine the future, most of us envision ourselves living life on our own terms, in our homes and communities, connected to the people we love, even as we become more frail. As Atul Gawande, Next Avenue’s 2015 Influencer of the Year, so eloquently put it, we want to continue to be “the authors of our own stories” as we age.

Yet, most of us don’t have a plan to make that happen, and we as a nation don’t have a plan, either. Our family caregivers are overstretched and our care workforce is underpaid; both are undervalued. Families are pushed into poverty to pay for care. What we have in place simply isn’t sufficient to meet the growing need for care and supportive services in our country.

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What banks are doing to curb elder financial abuse

Why some are proactive, but others are afraid to be

By Juliette Fairley for Next Avenue


Credit: Thinkstock

An increasing number of banks and credit unions are implementing fraud-prevention initiatives to prepare for the onslaught of aging Americans expected to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

They are training tellers “to flag potential suspicious behavior, such as coercion by family members, frequent withdrawals of large sums of money in a short period of time or transferring large sums of money,” said Ramsay Alwin, vice president of economic security at the National Council on Aging in Washington, D.C.

This proactive work is likely to benefit older customers as well as the financial institutions. By 2025, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s is estimated to reach 7.1 million — a 40 percent increase from today’s 5.1 million, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

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Retired van still helping others

Steven Abarr now has the use of the Fort Scott Presbyterian Manor van that was recently replaced with a new van.

Steven Abarr now has the use of the Fort Scott Presbyterian Manor van that was recently replaced with a new van.

By Ginger Nance, Executive Director

When Jane Abarr came to work at the Presbyterian Village almost a year ago, little did we know that we would be changing each other’s lives.

Jane’s story began more than 30 years ago. She grew up in the Fort Scott area. She began working in dining services in a healthcare community in Fort Scott when she was 13 years old; she later became a nurse’s aide and continued to work in long-term care for many years.

As time went on, Jane’s life seemed normal for a young family in southeast Kansas. She had married. She and her husband were making a life, working hard, and she was expecting her first baby boy. At eight months pregnant, Jane went into labor. Everything seemed normal, even though she was a month early to deliver. However, tragedy struck in a short period of time when they discovered their beautiful baby boy was born with spina bifida.

The nerves to his legs were held in a sack attached to his back. Doctors worked fast to stabilize their baby and get the help they needed for him to survive. After many months of hospitalization, multiple surgeries and making medical history at KU Medical Center, their son Steven was stable enough to travel to the Shriner’s Hospital in Dallas, where doctors were able to close Steven’s back. Jane’s friends in long-term care, where she worked, and friends from the Fort Scott community raised money to help Jane stay with Steven while he was hospitalized.

Jane and the immediate family remained in Texas after his surgery for many years to be near specialists. Procedures and adaptive appliances were designed for Steven over time, enabling him to sit up, chew, swallow and live a life at home with Jane and the help of her family. They were even able to use braces to lock into his hips, knees and back, and use special crutches which allowed him to stand and take a few steps.

Doctors said from the beginning that Steven would not likely live beyond the age of 16, as with most children born with spina bifida. With the help of wonderful people, Steven has flourished!

About a year ago, Steven (now older than 30 years old) relocated from Texas to Tri Valley in Fort Scott, which enabled the entire family to move back to Fort Scott to be surrounded by Jane’s relatives. Jane came to work at Presbyterian Village part time and does what she knows and demonstrates so well: caring for others in her loving way. By working part time, she is able to be connected to her profession and still have the flexibility to be involved with Steven as much as possible.

As for Steven, he is using a manual wheelchair now but it doesn’t keep him from being active and involved in sports and fun with those around him. Although visiting Steven where he lives is great for family, Steven didn’t have any way to go to their homes or family events and be involved with them unless they came to him.

After hearing of their limitations and struggles, Presbyterian Village decided that the recently retired van could still help someone in need in a way that could benefit an entire family. The van has a wheelchair lift, which will allow Steven’s wheelchair to get in and out without putting Jane at risk for a lifting injury. We hope this will open doors for Steven to live a fuller life with the rest of his family.

“It’s been years since I’ve had a van with a lift so that Steven could come to family events,” Jane said.

Already graduations and birthdays are being planned, and Steven will be able to be part of that for the first time in more than 10 years.

Jane said, “This feels like I’ve come full circle. I began working in the long-term care field as a teenager, and I was surrounded by people who cared for me and my baby and helped when times were so hard when I had Steven. Now, I’m back in Fort Scott and again working in long-term care and once again, I am being blessed by people who care. Fort Scott is a good place to live!”

Art is Ageless® winners announced

Painting first place winner by Elaine Buerge,“Silent Snow.”

Painting first place winner by Elaine Buerge,“Silent Snow.”

Congratulations to all resident and area artists who participated in Art is Ageless, our annual juried art competition for those 65 and older.

Winners were:

Best in Show: Paul L. Milks, “Winter Trees” (Amateur)

People’s Choice: Bobbi Kemna, “Peek-a-boo” (Professional)

First Place: 

Christmas- BernieceBuell,“Christmas Favorites” (Amateur)

Drawing – Bobby Roberts, “Osage Indian Teepees” (Amateur)

Painting – Elaine Buerge, “Silent Snow” (Professional)

Mixed Media – Marjory Bailey, “Turquoise Necklace and Earrings” (Amateur)

Mixed Media – Tony Fornelli, “Roman Defense” (Professional)

Photography – Paul L. Milks, “Winter Trees” (Amateur)

Needlework- PaulL.Milks,“Jesuson the Cross” (Amateur)

Quilting – Joyce Lundeen (Amateur)

Sculpture/3-D – Tony Fornelli, “Fish, Reptiles, Amphibians” (Professional)

Sculpture/3-D – Marge Bailey, “Ocean Treasures” (Amateur)

FiberArts- JeanStrader,“Chokecherry Harvest Shawl” (Amateur)

Second Place: 

Drawing – Bobby Roberts, “A Moonlight Night in Mo” (Amateur)

Mixed Media – Marjory Bailey, “Seaside Memories” (Amateur)

Photography – Paul L. Milks, “Burning the Grass” (Amateur)

Needlework – Patricia German, “Tiger Paw Afghan” (Amateur)

Sculpture/3-D – Tony Fornelli, “2016 Creation” (Professional)

Fiber Arts – Jean Strader, “Rainbow Trout Scarf” (Amateur)

Quilting – Berniece Buell, “Bargello” (Amateur)

Third Place: 

Drawing – Bobby Roberts, “Cabin in the Hills of the Ozarks” (Amateur)

Mixed Media – Marjory Bailey, “Brown Necklace” (Amateur)

Needlework – Louise Strader, “Prairie Coneflower Wall Hanging” (Amateur)

Sculpture/3-D – Bobbi Kemna, “The Swirl” (Professional)

Quilting – Berniece Buell, “Going Bananas” (Amateur)

Honorable Mentions: 

Louise Strader, “Tip Toe Though The Tulips” (Amateur)

Bobbi Kemna, “Serenity” (Professional)