Paquet Honored for Service to Seniors

May 15, 2014  
Filed under News

Rhonda Paquet has been named the Home Instead Senior Care caregiver of the Year for Vermont in recognition of her commitment and service to area older adults. “We’re proud to honor Rhonda for her compassionate service and commitment to older adults,” said Patrice Thabault, owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office serving Vermont. “Caregivers represent the best of our organization, making a difference in the lives of seniors every day.”

Retirement Philosophy From the Experts

May 15, 2014  
Filed under Aging Parents

How To Remain Intellectually, Socially and Physically Engaged With Life

By Clara Rose Thornton

Mark Twain wrote, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Wisdom is similar from society’s current batch of writers who, as did adventurer and author Twain, thoroughly enjoy every nook and cranny of life past what some consider life’s “prime.”

For example, Connecticut novelist R. Kevin Price writes in his book, “The Successful Retirement Guide” (Rainbow Books, Inc; 2009), “Are we going to ‘take it easy?’ Keep busy? Play more golf or tennis? Visit the grandkids? Go on a cruise? These are all fine activities but there is so much more that is available to us. Rather than letting retirement be a time of winding down, why not let it be a time of growth, accomplishment, giving back and personal fulfillment while maintaining a healthy mind, body and attitude?”

Maine-based editorial consultant Mark Chimsky, editor of books “Not Your Mother’s Retirement” (Sellers Publishing, 2014) and “65 Things to Do When You Retire” (Sellers Publishing, 2012), writes on webzine Next Avenue that, “A successful retirement today is often about re-creation — redefining who you are to make your future as meaningful as possible.”

It appears the prevailing wisdom for advanced years, as well as any age, is, essentially: go, go, go and never stop.

But, it is easier written than done. The Institute of Economic Affairs stated in a May 16, 2013 report that following retirement, after an initial euphoria stage, very good or excellent health decreases by 40 percent and the likelihood of suffering from clinical depression increases by 40 percent.

What steps should adults planning for retirement take to ensure a peaceful, healthy and engaged existence beyond what, for many, is a primary source of self-identification—their job? And how can adults already on this journey fortify their enjoyment, from self-conception to financial management?

The Age of Fulfillment

Melita DeBellis is a life coach and consultant living in Richmond, Vermont who focuses on clients in what she refers to as the Third Age. “The term ‘Third Age’ has actually been around for a long time and is probably better known outside of the U.S., especially in the UK and Australia. The Third Age is part of a four-age framework. If you think of a lifespan in very general terms of 100 years, each life stage in this framework is approximately 25 years.”

“First Age is the Age of Preparation,” she continued, “where we learn to take our place in the adult world. The Second Age is the Age of Achievement, where we are raising our family, building our careers, and acquiring many of the external trappings and markers of ‘success.’ Third Age -— running from age 50 to 75—is known as the Age of Fulfillment. This may also be a time of great engagement, activity and achievement, but the impetus for such activity comes from an internal exploration of what else gives our lives meaning and purpose. In the Second Age, we are often motivated by external markers and ‘shoulds;’ by Third Age, we start looking inward for what else might make for a fulfilling life or constitute a different meaning of success.”

Midlife Unlimited (www.midlifeunlimited.com) is DeBellis’ coaching practice. Midlife Unlimited guides Third Agers toward the realization that their strengths, talent and abilities will be the factors helping them to actualize desired changes in this potentially daunting new phase of life.

“Take the story of Carolyn Anderson (name changed by request),” said DeBellis. “She’d had enough. Nearing 60 and tired of working so hard in a high-pressure corporate job that was wearing her out, she could no longer ignore the urgent call of her creative side. She knew that in retirement she wanted to live her life authentically, to use her creative talents to tell stories, serve the environment and share her message. But getting from point A to point B seemed like a fantasy.”

“Our coaching approach was multifaceted,” DeBellis continued. “First and foremost was helping Carolyn get clear on what she valued and what was most important to maintain in her life going forward. We explored her various creative callings and discussed how she might have them in her life either professionally or personally. With a vision in hand, she set a retirement date and we crafted an exit strategy. Setting the target date was crucial; it locked in our work as real-life planning as opposed to an intellectual exercise. She was now committed.”

The next challenge was finding and maintaining the courage to stay the course. An opportunity surfaced with financial benefits similar to Anderson’s old job, yet which didn’t match her newly realized creative needs and desires. Ultimately, Anderson retired as planned and immediately embarked on a two-month road trip, focusing on discovery and creative experimentation. This choice is particularly remarkable considering she has a husband, and that the prevailing image of a solo road trip centers on post-college grads. She continues to live life as a working artist.

“As our culture so often defines us by our work, it was easy to be enticed by the new work opportunity, to consider choosing the known as opposed to the unknown,” said DeBellis. Yet avoiding a leap of faith wouldn’t have been a successful retirement.

DeBellis makes a case for loss of job title as the primary breakdown of confidence and self-progression, linked with its obvious material manifestation: money. How can philosophy bleed into the practical, in terms of not letting different financial terrain adversely affect one’s mentality, nor deter plans?

Your money works for you

Tim Carney is founder of Vermont Wealth and Retirement (www.vermontwealth.com) in South Burlington, where he provides financial planning and investment advisor services. “At the top of our professional careers, we all typically become quite good at earning money. However, retirement means putting that money to work for us. And that requires a very different knowledge base,” Carney said.

Carney shared Ed and Patty’s story (last names omitted for privacy reasons). “I met them soon after they returned to Vermont for their retirement, after living for years out of state. They were both successful professionals and had the good fortune to still own a house here, had a pension, were eligible for social security and had managed to save more than $1 million in their retirement and personal investments.”

Even a financially secure couple harbored doubt. Ed and Patty’s story illustrates the need for everyone—those anticipating retirement or in the throes of it—of methodical and realistic planning. Recklessness has no place in the service of actualizing dreams.

“When we met,” said Carney, “their basic question was, ‘Are we going to be all right financially?’ They’re still asking this question. We evaluated long-term care, the downturn in the markets, their desire to provide financial assistance for their children and grandchildren, trips and personal expenditures they wanted to make and whether to keep or sell their home. We’ve been working together for more than 15 years now. I’m proud to say they’ve reached their 80s with confidence, flexibility and financial vigor.”

Because of the opportunity for overhaul and renewal, one’s Third Age is potentially the most rewarding of life. Deciding what will create a happy and engaged mental state, and putting one’s resources in motion to feed it, help seniors continue to feel confident—socially and in their ongoing reinvention.

Cheers for the Health Benefits of Red Wine

May 15, 2014  
Filed under Food

By Dr. Stuart Offer

There are times I think people view me as the “food police.” Mostly, I get this impression when someone sees me at the supermarket and they abruptly turn their shopping cart and head in the opposite direction. Sometimes when I meet people in the supermarket, the first thing they say is “look I have healthy food in there.”

I am not the food police, really, and nothing could be further from the truth. My reality is I eat mostly healthy food, but I also eat my fair share of not so healthy food. I like to follow the 80/20 rule, if I am lucky the 90/10 rule. Eat 80 percent healthy food, and take it easy on myself for 20 percent of the time. This 20 percent allows me to stay motivated for the remainder of the time. That being said, I want to tell you about the health benefits of something you will have no problem wanting to consume — red wine. There is no badge needed to enforce this recommendation.

Red wine has been shown to have some amazing health benefits, but before you go out and buy a few cases, let me first tell you what a healthy dose of wine is. If you already drink red wine, do so in moderation and it is recommended that if you don’t drink, do not start for the health benefits alone. According to “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010,” published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation for healthy adults, which means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65 and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.”

The limit for men is higher because men generally weigh more and have more of an enzyme that metabolizes alcohol than women do. A drink is defined as 12 ounces (355 milliliters, or mL) of beer, 5 ounces (148 mL) of wine or 1.5 ounces (44 mL) of 80-proof distilled spirits. If you drink too much, you will not attain all of the health benefits and could end up with potential health problems instead.

Red wine has many healthy components such as polyphenols and procyanidins, but the shining star of red wine is a chemical called resveratrol, which contributes to many of the health benefits. Many drinks and foods have resveratrol, red wine just has more of it. The following plants and drinks are rich in resveratrol: red wine; grapes; blueberries; raspberries; bilberries and peanuts.

Resveratrol is a compound found in some plants. Plants produce resveratrol to fight off bacteria and fungi. Resveratrol also protects plants from ultraviolet irradiation. Red wine contains more resveratrol than white wine because it is fermented with the skins (white wine is not). Most of the resveratrol in grapes is in the seeds and skin. The positive effects of these chemicals are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and they also reduce the stickiness of blood platelets, raise our omega-3 fatty acids and improve certain healthy enzymes.

As you may be aware, red wine has been widely publicized for its heart-healthy benefits, however the more I dove in to the research, the more I learned that red wine’s health benefits go far beyond the heart. It may surprise you that red wine can reduce the risk of depression and prevent colon cancer (by reducing the rate of bowel tumors by approximately 50 percent). Red wine also has anti-aging properties as seen in the longer life spans enjoyed by the people in Sardinia and southwest France. A team from Loyola Medical Center found that moderate red wine intake can reduce the risk of developing dementia. The investigators explained that resveratrol reduces the stickiness of blood platelets, which helps keep the blood vessels open and flexible. This helps maintain a good blood supply to the brain.

Red wine can reduce the risk and help prevent blinding diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness among Americans age 50 and older. These diseases are caused by an overgrowth of blood vessels (angiogenesis) in the eye. Red wine can stop the out-of-control blood vessel growth in the eye that causes blindness.

Red wine also offers protection from prostate cancer. Moderate drinkers experienced a 6 percent reduced risk. Finally, red wine may have some benefits for insulin sensitivity, helping to prevent type 2 diabetes. Red wine may protect the brain after a stroke, improve lung function and help with preventing lung cancer.

That is quite an impressive list. Red wine has not been my go to libation of choice, however after writing this article, I may just rethink that. By the way, if you are thinking of resveratrol supplements, don’t bother. Research finds supplements do not have the same value as drinking red wine.

Dr. Stuart Offer is a Vermont health coach and educator currently traveling throughout North America.


Lentil stew with oranges

The flavors of this lentil dish are brightened with citrus, then deepened with Pinot Noir (a great way to use up any left over wine)

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 ounces Spanish chorizo sausage, thinly sliced (low fat is best or other sausage of your choice)

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

2 1/4 cups brown lentils, washed and drained

1 cup dry red wine, such as Pinot Noir

2 1/2 cups chicken broth

5 small oranges

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup chopped fresh dill

Directions

1. Heat the oil in a large, deep sauté pan over medium heat. Add the chorizo and cook for 5 minutes or until just browned on both sides. Remove from pan; set aside.

2. Sauté the onion over medium heat for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the lentils and cook over high heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the wine and simmer until almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add the broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 40 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are quite tender.

3. Meanwhile, squeeze the juice from 2 of the oranges. Remove the peel and pith from the remaining oranges and slice the flesh into 1/4-inch rounds. Add the chorizo to the lentils and stir in the orange juice. Season with the salt and pepper. Remove from heat and gently fold in the dill and orange rounds.

Tip: This stew can be served cold, too. Combine leftovers with fresh greens for a healthy lunch. To save time, you can substitute 1/2 cup store-bought orange juice for the freshly squeezed.

Plant a Garden: Harvest Savings?

May 15, 2014  
Filed under Home & Garden

The costs associated with backyard gardening, especially start up costs, can vary widely depending on how elaborate you want to get. These costs don’t factor in the sweat equity involved: the labor it takes to prepare, plant, care for, harvest and preserve what is planted. (Contributed photo)

By Matt Sutkoski

We all know vegetables grown in the backyard garden are fresh, tasty and nutritious, but does gardening also cut back on your grocery bill?

The short answer is, it depends, but very often, yes. It turns out the same is often true if you buy produce directly from a farm, or at a farmers market.

Backyard gardening, especially regarding start up costs, can vary widely, and calculating the costs depends upon whether you want to include the sweat equity. It also depends on how elaborate you want to get.

A minimalist approach is often the least expensive, but many gardeners want well-made raised beds, sturdy plant supports, fertilizers, fences and other equipment that can raise initial costs of starting backyard gardens.

Many gardeners prefer the reliability of sturdy, well-made garden equipment, such as raised beds and supports. Costs vary widely, depending on what the gardener wants.

For instance, at Gardener’s Supply, a Vermont garden equipment retailer, the cost of raised beds start at $50 but can run to more than $300 for larger, more durable ones constructed of material such as cedar. Vegetable supports can cost as little as $10 or as much as about $45 for larger, elaborate supports.

Gardening costs fall sharply in subsequent years, as gardeners can usually re-use raised beds, supports and other items for many years.

According to OSU Master Gardener, which analyzed studies of the economics of gardening, a relatively small garden, 200 square feet in size, could bring a return of $148 in cost savings the first year. Larger gardens of up to 700 square feet could return more than $500.

These costs don’t involve the labor of preparing, planting, caring for and harvesting from gardens, but many people enjoy the physical activity and the chance to be outside.

Gardeners can reduce their expenses by composting as much as possible rather than buying fertilizer, constructing raised beds out of recycled or reclaimed fencing material, and learning to preserve food for use all winter.

Vegetable growing is not just for people with big backyards. Many retailers offer durable containers and other vegetable-growing devices for patios and balconies that cost as little as $30 or as much as $300 or more for the most elaborate, large container gardens.

If you’re thinking of starting a backyard garden, you’re not alone. The idea is rapidly gaining momentum across the United States.

In early April, the Williston-based National Gardening Association released a survey that showed 35 percent of all households in America grow food at home or at community gardens. That’s a 17 percent increase in five years.

The largest increase in home gardening is among younger households. The number of gardeners between the ages of 18 and 34 increased by 63 percent to about 13 million in the five years ending in 2013, according to the National Gardening Association.

Another alternative to the grocery store is the rapidly rising availability of community supported agriculture, or CSAs.

It works like this: at the beginning of the growing season the consumer pays a set price for a share of the CSA farm’s expected crop. The farmer uses that money to bear the cost of planting seeds and otherwise preparing the farm for the growing season. As the produce comes ready to harvest, the ‘investor’ receives a weekly selection of just-picked produce.

Every CSA operates differently—from how the farm structures its plans to the variety of products they offer—and costs vary widely. Some offer just vegetables, others have options that include might include herbs, cut-flowers, meat, poultry and/or eggs. (There are also CSAs that don’t involve produce at all for farms raising meat or fiber-producing animals.)

Blue Heron Farm in Grand Isle, is an example of a working CSA. For prices ranging from $575 to $650, those who join this CSA get 18 weeks worth of produce throughout the year, said Christine Bourque, who owns the farm with her husband Adam Farris. The farm also offers less expensive options, including the “salad” plan, in which customers get mostly fresh greens and some snacking vegetables for about $200 a year.

Bourque said the CSA arrangement benefits the farm as well as the consumer. Share holders pay for their food up front in the spring, eliminating the farm’s need to borrow money at the beginning of the growing season.

In Vermont, the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) has an extensive list of CSAs with descriptions of what they offer (For examples see sidebar page 19).

Many CSA customers end up getting inspired to grow their own gardens after a few years and drop out of the CSA program. They are then replaced by new customers who follow the same path, Bourque said. “We have members who just come in for a year or two and others who have stayed on since we started,” Bourque said.

For those who don’t want to commit to a garden or to receiving weekly produce from a CSA, there is often the same cost benefit for consumers who frequent farmers markets.

Erin Buckwalter, a NOFA member, said prices at farmers markets compare favorably to organic produce at supermarkets.

A January 2011 study by NOFA concluded the price of groceries, mostly vegetables and fruits, obtained at farmers markets was roughly comparable to supermarket prices.

In fact, prices for organically grown tomatoes, peas, lettuce, cucumbers and other vegetables were lower at farmers markets than organic vegetables at grocery stores, the NOFA study concluded.

A growing number of CSAs and farmers markets accept payment under the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, Buckwalter said. Also, many CSAs offer sliding scale fees for customers with modest incomes.

There are many substantial benefits to backyard gardens, CSAs and farmers markets besides cost. The fresh produce harvested directly from your own backyard or from a nearby farm is the primary benefit. There is the added assurance of knowing what practices the gardener used in the production of their crop. The local economy benefits from local dollars being spent locally be it on gardening materials or the produce itself. And there’s the additional environmental benefit of less food being trucked across the country.

But isn’t it nice that reaping the benefit of lower costs is a benefit of gardening too?

A Road Map on Aging for Baby Boomer Women

May 15, 2014  
Filed under Mature Matters

By Sarah Lemnah

For women, aging brings some special concerns as society often bases value on the youth and appearance of women more than their substance and intelligence.

Local Vermont author Pamela Blair, PhD, tries to de-myth the aging process for women in her latest book “Getting Older Better: The Best Advice Ever on Money, Health, Creativity, Sex, Work, Retirement and More.”

The book is a quick read divided into short segments on every topic you can imagine regarding aging, especially for baby boomer women. The book is designed so you can easily check out topics that you can relate to and easily skip over segments that don’t currently apply to you.

For Blair, the journey started after having a traumatic brain injury that forced her to slow down and evaluate her life. “My world became smaller, but more beautiful. I had to pace my life differently. I took time to listen to the birds. I lived in the present.”

Blair writes about this experience in her book, including the need to ask for help. “I needed the help of friends and family, and for the first time in my life, I had to ask for help. Many of us have been taught that we shouldn’t admit to our pain and suffering, so we bear them in silence.”

Blair found, however, that the people in her life felt good about helping her and it brought them closer together.

Self worth

For women, aging brings questions of self worth. “As long as you are pretty, we will notice you, and you will be valuable. The scariest part of aging for many women is that they have to rely more on who they are than on what they look like for respect or attention. They feel invisible,” Blair noted. “Age is attitude. If your attitude about aging is poor, it can affect your health and cause depression, which is not a normal part of aging.”

The book was written with women, especially aging baby boomers, in mind, and provides them with examples of role models — proud women who have lived long and full lives. However, it can easily be a guide for anyone facing their fears, curious about the future and who is feeling isolated or alone. Each story is unique, but everyone has experienced pain, confusion, embarrassment and joy. Hopefully, joy is the one you focus on and let the rest just be part of a long and varied story. “If you focus on and build on the strength you do have, your emotional life will be less affected, and aging will become more satisfying,” Blair said.

Sarah Lemnah writes on senior issues for CVAA. For more information on services for seniors, call the Senior HelpLine at 1-800-642-5119 or click on cvaa.org.

Vermont Hickory Golf Association Sets Sights on Museum and Hall of Fame

May 5, 2014  
Filed under Feature Stories

By Phyl Newbeck

The game of golf is at least 600 years old and in that time there have been some significant changes in equipment. Club shafts have gone from wood to graphite and club heads from persimmon wood to titanium. Golf balls, gloves and shoes have also been transformed over time.

Of course, not everyone covets the newest equipment. The Vermont Hickory Golf Association (VHGA) is a group which plays with hickory shaft clubs, which were made prior to 1935 (replicas are acceptable). This is the group’s second year as an association, but they have been putting on tournaments for eight years. Tournament Director Jay Cooke said the VHGA started as a group of collectors who at one point decided it would be fun to play with their collectible clubs. Some also enjoy wearing period costumes when they golf.

Cooke said there are many reasons why people are drawn to hickory clubs, including nostalgia and history. “For the most part,” he said “people who really love hickory love the playability. There are different dynamics and hickory shafts are strong, durable and have a great amount of torque.”

Cooke said the stiffness of hickory shafts can also be controlled so younger and/or smaller players can use different clubs than their larger compatriots. “Most people love the way they feel and the sound they make,” he said.

Cooke conceded that modern equipment is easier to use. “These clubs demand more precision at first,” he said, noting that modern equipment allows players to hit the ball higher and have perimeter weighting, which reduces spin.

This is the eighth year the VHGA has run a tournament called the Vermont Hickory Open. The event has been so successful that for 2014, it has been relocated from Copley Country Club to Stowe Country Club, which has an 18-hole course. The tournament has also been moved to early October to take advantage of foliage season. A brand new team event called the Vermont Hickory Fourball is scheduled for early June at Copley. Previous tournaments have drawn players from across the United States and Cooke is hopeful that trend will continue.

Larry Kelley, President of the New England PGA, may be a proponent of modern equipment, but he tips his cap to the hickory golfers and their nod to tradition. “All these improvements have been made to enhance the experience of playing golf,” he said. “The goal is to make it easier and to have more fun, no matter what equipment you use.”

This year’s VHGA events are also promoting a good cause. A portion of the funds, as well as money from other events put on by VHGA members at their local courses, will go toward a new Vermont Golf Museum and Hall of Fame. The idea is still in its infancy and will begin as an on-line presence before hopefully expanding to a brick and mortar location.