Senior Agenda Link

Senior Agenda airs live every Thursday morning at 10 am. Podcasts are also available.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Girlfriend Chatter about Everything from Politics to Sex - this week on Senior Agenda

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This week (February 20th -2014) on Senior Agenda we will be engaging in an open forum with three beautiful, active, accomplished senior women - all in their 70's or better - and all supporters of our efforts to promote and protect seniors.  We won't actually be asking their ages because everyone knows a lady never tells.  But we can and will be asking about everything else from technology to politics to sex.  This is your opportunity to call in with questions at 1-877-932-9766.

We published a post recently called Wrinkles are Meaningless in the Face of Female Beauty  where I argued that senior women transcend traditional concepts of beauty.  One of this week's guests responded via email to that article in the following way:

Lisa, Dear Heart, 

I will voice my opinion on older folks and beauty.  Skin droops, eyes fail, knees buckle, hair even falls out for some, liver spots spring out of nowhere and teeth yellow.  Is that a pretty picture?  No, but true.  So...for you who are so young, keeping up physically and mentally is time-consuming and expensive for the rest of us.  God knows many of us hang in there and try to combat the inevitable. One of my ploys is to tell myself that I am here on earth FOREVER;  hence, no time to say, "No sense of going through that face lift (or knee surgery) because I might be around that much longer."  How's that, Girlfriend?

However, please continue to cheer for us.  I do see us older folks as role models for younger folks like you, so I cheer us on whenever I can. See you February 20, 2014.

Love to you, Lisa.

I have seldom been rebuked with so much love and sincerity.  Tune in this week to learn which of the three wrote the response above.  Our guests will be Melba Hompertz, Rosemary Barkes, and Susan Brunner.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Tomorrow is Unknown so Love your Elders Today

People often ask me what motivates us to care about seniors and push for the continued success and growth of Senior Agenda.  Well - this video says it all.

Not only we are too quick-tempered and easily aggravated when it comes to our parents and grandparents, but we forget that they paved our way.  Should I say that again?  They payed it forward and now they deserve our attention, devotion, concern and time.

Like the son in the video, most of us sincerely love our elders but we forget.  Life is a gift and tomorrow is unknown so please don't forget to love, honor and respect your elders.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Senior "Village Movement" Comes to Columbus

Katie White, Executive Director at Village Connections and Leslie R. Shaffer, Executive Director at Wesley At Home joined us on Senior Agenda on 1/30/14 to discuss a grassroots concept sweeping the country known as the "village movement." Listen to the complete interview here.  These two professionals serve different communities and organizations, but they work cooperatively to see that inquiring seniors get what they need and are directed to the correct service area.  

Village Connections and Wesley at Home are non-profit organizations which aim to assist older adults in sustaining independence.  Both organizations rely on community volunteers, concierge services, and home care to make their mission possible. The idea is to bring volunteers and vetted vendors together to assist seniors with everything from changing a light bulb to yard work to medical assistance - whatever is needed to make way for continued independence at home.  Additionally, they incorporate activities such as wellness talks, educational opportunities and fun activities to serve seniors. The village movement is described as cutting-edge but it is clearly steeped in old school ideas of community and community building.  It all hinges on the notion of neighbors helping neighbors.  Reports indicate that there are now some 220 village organizations in 39 states including Village Connections and Wesley at Home.  

Village Connections serves German Village, Merion Village, Schumacher Place, the Brewery District and Downtown Columbus at a cost of $500 per year for an individual membership. It originated with a group of German Village seniors who were determined to see the village movement come to their neighborhood.   Contact Katie at 614-226-6567 or visit their website here to learn more or volunteer.  

Wesley at Home serves Worthington, Upper Arlington, Clintonville, Bexley, Reynoldsburg, and Pickerington at a cost of $570 per year for an individual membership.  It is non-profit component of Methodist ElderCare Services.  Contact Leslie at 614-633-9826 or visit their website here to learn more or volunteer.  

Both organizations are membership driven and willing to help other communities take steps to start their own village movements.  Check out this how-to guide provided by Village Connections which includes the following steps: 
  • Huddle 
  • Count Your Chickens 
  • Know Your Customers
  • Get Non-Profit Status
  • Form Board and Committee
  • Launch Your Web Site
  • Do the Math
  • Line Up Players 
  • Pass the Hat
  • Get a Chief 
Bottom line, it takes a village! 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Chained CPI Treating the American People Like a Chain of Fools

Seniors are at risk thanks to components of President Obama's 2014 proposed budget which he calls a grand bargain.  The budget calls for a switch to a Chained CPI as a way of calculating cost of living increases for Social Security benefits.  It amounts to a bunch of bologna for folks who deserve chicken dinners!  

The Chained-CPI works against seniors and here's why;  It operates on the assumption that all items in the shopping cart are easily substituted.  Sure - my family can eat bananas instead of grapes (and we often do), but what to do when the items in the shopping cart are medications or other health-related necessities? Are seniors expected to substitute super glue for denture adhesive because it is cheaper?  How about private insurances with high deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses instead of components of original Medicare because they are cheaper. Some of us can cut corners, but for the millions of seniors already living in poverty and relying on the Social Security benefits they EARNED - there are no corners to cut - the box has already been transformed into a circle.

Chained CPI is shorthand for "Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers."  It's a formula used to index spending and taxes to the rate of inflation over time.  Social Security benefits are currently calculated using CPI-W or the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.  The switch will mean that seniors can expect to receive less in coming days because Social Security benefits will increase at a slower rate.   

How much less?  According to an article by George Zornick at "The Nation", the average earner retiring at age 65 would lose $658 each year until they turn 75 under the Chained-CPI, and $1,147 each year until age 85. The cumulative cuts to seniors on Social Security would reach $28,000 by age 95.  View charts
from Social Security Works here. 

AARP had this to say about the changes in payment: 

"Estimates show that under the chained CPI, your cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) would be about .3 percentage point below the plain old CPI.  That works out to $3 less on every $1000, which doesn't sound like much - except that it keeps compounding over time.

Look at it this way.  The COLA for this year was 1.7 percent.  If your monthly Social Security check was $1250 last year, it increased to $1271.25 this year.  With the Chained CPI, you would be getting $1267.5 - or $3.75 less a month and $45 less a year. Again, that might not seem like a big reduction, but if the COLA is the same next year, the difference increases to $7.61 a month and $91. 32 for the year.

You start to get the picture.  The gap accelerates and begins looking like real money.  If you're 62 and take early retirement this year, by 92 - when health care costs can skyrocket and more than 1 in 6 older Americans lives in poverty - you'll be losing a full month of income every year."  Read full article here.

Proponents of the Chained-CPI say that it's a more accurate measure of inflation because it takes into account consumer's ability to control for inflation by "substituting."  For example, when inflation causes the price of grapes to go up, one might substitute bananas for grapes that month.  Taking into account the effects of substitution means that inflation calculated using the Chained-CPI naturally rises at a slower rate than inflation calculated using the old formula. 

The proposed formula just doesn't work for seniors.  Their shopping carts contain items that cannot be easily substituted. Moreover, the items in their carts are subject to higher inflation than most.  For example, prices for health care are rising twice as fast as overall inflation and seniors spend roughly three times what the rest of the population does on healthcare.  Check out the Economic Policy Institute for confirmation of these numbers and other statistics that reflect the damage the Chained-CPI will do.

Shame -shame -shame on President Obama for being willing to throw seniors under the bus in an effort to reduce the deficit.  Sure - adopting the Chained-CPI will save the federal government an estimated $230 billion over a ten year period.  That might help reduce the deficit if we can trust the federal government not to spend the savings on research about the effects of cocaine on Japanese quail.  We all realize that something has to be done to save Social Security and Medicare but that is quite different that believing that Social Security and Medicare ought to save the nation.  

The White House shies away from calling the adoption of the Chained-CPI a cut to Social Security.  They prefer a "more accurate" formula that "will reduce deficits and improve Social Security solvency."  Trickery and slight of hand have become so commonplace in policy and politics that we have stopped expecting truth.  They tell bold lies and we forgive them. They make empty promises and we give them a pass. They use deception and code language and we roll our eyes. Obama claims that the Chained-CPI isn't really what he wants but he feels he must do it if there is any hope of striking a deal with those darned conservatives.  "I don't believe that all these ideas are optimal, but I'm willing to accept them as part of a compromise," Obama said. Sounds like someone is playing both ends against the middle and refusing to accept responsibility for his own proposal.  He was elected on a platform that pledged to protect and honor seniors, but...  As long as he can romance us with his charm and charisma, who's counting anyway?  

Seniors are counting - and if we leave it up to Washington - they will be counting pennies on the table.  Please contact your local elected official to make your grievances known and say NO to the Chained-CPI.  

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Ageism Works Against Seniors and Everyone Planning to Become a Senior

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How does this ad pass the smell test?  
Ageism has been defined as the tendency to regard older people as debilitated, unworthy of attention, past their prime and expendable.  It also includes stereotyping and discrimination based on age.  Popular messages about aging lead to disrespectful behavior towards seniors and the marginalization of seniors.  And for the record, we will never see enough "old bags" because we know they are not ready to be discarded in favor of a new face!!!  People expire when they die - not when they get old.  

Monday, February 3, 2014

Social Security Questions Answered this Week on Senior Agenda

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John LaMotte, a State Liaison (Ohio) from the Social Security Administration, will be one of our in-studio guests this Thursday morning on Senior Agenda.  Remember to listen to the live program at 10:00 am at   Call in with questions at 1-877-932-9766.  If you miss the live broadcast, you can listen at 5:00 pm on your drive home or just before bedtime at 10:00 pm on Thursday.  The program also airs on Columbus Community Radio for our seniors who are not internet savvy on Sunday evenings at 7:00 pm on 98.3 and 102.1 on your FM dial.  Be sure to listen and take advantage of this unique opportunity to ask questions and make comments.  

What's new with social security? 
Information pulled directly from Social Security Administration Official Site:
Social Security Announced a 1.5% Increase for 2014
Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for nearly 63 million Americans will increase 1.5% in 2014.

Some other changes that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages.  Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $117,000 from $113,700.  Of the estimated 165 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2014, about 10 million will pay higher taxes as a result of the increase in the taxable maximum. 

Want to learn more about how the COLA is calculated? The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated.  To learn more visit

New Payments to Same-Sex Married Couples / December 2013
"I am pleased to announce that Social Security is processing some widow's and widower's claims by surviving members of same-sex marriages and paying benefits where they are due.  In addition, we are able to pay some one-time lump sum benefit claims to surviving same-sex spouses," said Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security. 
New Compassionate Allowances Conditions / January 2014
25 new Compassionate Allowances conditions were announced to include dozens of cancers bringing the total number of conditions to 225.  The Compassionate Allowances program expedites disability decisions for Americans with the most serious disabilities to ensure that they receive their benefits decisions within days instead of months or years.  The new conditions also include disorders that affect the digestive, neurological, immune and multiple body systems.  

Other frequently asked questions include:  
  • How do I apply for Social Security?
  • How far in advance can I apply for Social Security benefits?
  • How can I get an estimate of my benefits?
  • At what age can I begin receiving full benefits?
  • What is considered my retirement age? 
  • Do I have to pay income tax on benefits I receive?  
  • Can I receive both Social Security and SSI benefits?  
  • What is the maximum Social Security retirement benefit? 
  • What is the benefit my spouse may be entitled to receive? 
  • How does a divorced spouse qualify for benefits?
  • How much can I earn while receiving benefits?  
and more....

The other in-studio guests will be representatives from the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare. Did you know your social security benefits are in jeopardy?  
Listen & join in on the conversation.  

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Senior Advocate Nominated for International Women's Day Recognition - Vote Here

As you know, we are serious about making the world a better place for seniors.  We work hard to raise awareness, educate, expose injustices and issue calls to actions in an effort to rally community support for seniors and issues that matter to seniors. That being said, I am personally honored to be nominated/recognized for my work via Senior Agenda and this blog for an International Women's Day (Ohio) Award in the category of community action.  My advocacy work for seniors is an extension of my life-long commitment to improve the lives of women.

Here are just some of the goals that we are actively working towards:   
  • To stop elder abuse, exploitation and neglect.  
  • To provide better healthcare and housing options for seniors.
  • To raise awareness and demand a cure for dementia and Alzheimer's. 
  • To honor and protect the elderly. 
  • To celebrate aging instead of practicing ageism.  
  • To stop scams against seniors and to catch and punish those who prey on seniors. 
  • To understand the aging process. 
  • To refuse to allow seniors to live in poverty or be homeless.  
  • To listen to seniors and allow their voices to be heard.  
  • To stop Medicare and Medicaid fraud. 
  • To protect pensions, retirements funds and Social Security.  
  • To make Medicare more transparent.  
  • To ensure that seniors get the same aggressive healthcare treatment as their younger counter-parts.   
  • To focus on wellness and help to raise awareness.  
  • To feature like-minded organizations and agencies in our community.  
  • To contribute in community building and to help get our seniors involved in those efforts.  
International Women's Day has a long and rich tradition of celebrating women around the world. Thousands of events will be held across the globe to inspire, celebrate and honor the economic, political and social achievements of women everywhere.  Ohio women are sharing in this year's 103rd celebration on March 8, 2014 through an event sponsored by Purpose for Women International at Monaco's Palace from 10 am -6 pm in Columbus, Ohio.  Visit their website to learn more and purchase tickets. 

The International Women's Day Recognition Awards Dinners will be held on March 5th from 6-8:30 pm at Monaco's Palace.  Keynotes speakers will include Rowena Gonzales-Siglos and Valerie Douglas.