Summer Care for Perennial Gardens

June 28, 2018  
Filed under Home & Garden

By Melinda Myers

Keep your perennial gardens looking their best throughout the hot summer months with a bit of midsummer grooming and care. Investing time midseason means you’ll be enjoying beautiful gardens now through the end of the growing season. Read more

New Consumer Brochure from National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association Helps Seniors Spot and Stop Financial Abuse

June 19, 2018  
Filed under Money, News

The National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association is proud to participate in World Elder Abuse Awareness Day today with the release of a new consumer brochure, Recognize & Report Elder Financial Abuse.  The free tri-fold brochure, available for download from NRMLA’s consumer education website at, helps seniors, and their loved ones, avoid common scams, spot signs of elder fraud and exploitation, and stop and report wrongdoing.

“As professionals who serve older homeowners, we have a special responsibility to ensure the safety and fair treatment of seniors,” said NRMLA Executive Vice President Steve Irwin. “NRMLA’s new brochure, which we encourage all members to print and share widely, is another example of our work to raise awareness about the increasing number of financial crimes perpetrated against seniors and steps we can all take to report mistreatment.”

Each year, an estimated five million, or one in ten, older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, the annual financial loss by victims of elder financial exploitation was estimated to be $2.9 billion in 2009, a 12 percent increase from 2008.

Common signs highlighted in NRMLA’s Recognize & Report Elder Financial Abuse brochure include unpaid bills, eviction notices, or notices to discontinue utilities; withdrawals from bank accounts or transfers between accounts that the older person cannot explain; new “best friends;” legal documents, such as powers of attorney, which the older person didn’t understand at the time he or she signed them; and a caregiver who expresses excessive interest in the amount of money being spent on the older person.

If the situation appears threatening or dangerous, NRMLA advises readers to call 911 or the local police for immediate help.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was launched on June 15, 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations. WEAAD aims to provide an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic, and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect.


Older Americans Who Neglect Oral Care Put Overall Health At Risk

June 19, 2018  
Filed under Aging Parents, Health & Wellness


Conscientious parents constantly remind their children to brush and floss, and routinely schedule dental checkups to make sure their teeth and gums are healthy – and staying that way.

But youngsters aren’t the only ones who who can use such reminders. Older Americans need to put a priority on their oral health as well, and research shows that as a group they aren’t doing so.

In fact, the statistics are grim. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that almost every single American over age 65 (96 percent) has had a cavity, and 20 percent have untreated tooth decay. Another 65 percent suffer from gum disease, an ailment that has been linked to a host of other problems, such as strokes, heart disease and diabetes.

“Anyone who thinks they can ease up on dental care as they age is making a big mistake,” says Dr. Harold Katz, a dentist, bacteriologist and developer of TheraBreath Healthy Gums Oral Rinse (

“Not only do poor dental habits affect what’s going on in your mouth, they also affect your overall health.”

Some of the CDC’s findings that Katz says are troubling include:

  • Tooth loss. Nearly one in five adults aged 65 or older have lost all of their teeth. Complete tooth loss is twice as prevalent among adults aged 75 and older (26 percent) compared with adults aged 65 to 74 (13 percent).  The CDC points out that having missing teeth, or wearing dentures, can have a detrimental effect on nutrition. “It’s not surprising that people who have lost teeth, or wear denture, often are going to choose soft food they chew easily,” Katz says. “They will pass up fresh fruits and vegetables that are more nutritious, but are more difficult for them to eat.”
  • Oral cancer. Cancers of the mouth (oral and pharyngeal cancers) are primarily diagnosed in older adults; median age at diagnosis is 62 years. “That’s another reason it’s important for older people to have regular checkups,” Katz says. “Your dentist can check for signs of oral cancer during those visits.”
  • Dry mouth caused by medications. Most older Americans take both prescription and over-the-counter drugs, many of which can cause dry mouth. Reduced saliva flow increases the risk of cavities. Saliva helps prevent tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath, and also lubricates the mouth, making it easier to eat, swallow, speak and taste food. “Sometimes dry mouth might just cause mild discomfort,” Katz says. “At other times it can lead to significant oral disease that can compromise the person’s health, dietary intake and quality of life.”

“As  you age, proper oral care is just as important as ever,” Katz says. “It’s not something you want to ignore because your overall health is at stake.”



June 19, 2018  
Filed under Health & Wellness, News

Hundreds of VT athletes over 50 get ready for major summer competitions


The Vermont Senior Games Association (VSGA), a program of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, announces its summer season of competitive athletic events for people over 50.

Read more

Making an Entrance

June 14, 2018  
Filed under Home & Garden

Get the most out of foyer decor

By Melissa Erickson

The foyer is a place of welcome and transition. Enhance your entryway with some tips from expert designers:

“Given your entryway may be the only room a person ever sees, consider what you want people to know about you. It’s a great place to hang a sign saying something about your family, your love of a pet, your beliefs, a motivational saying. The entryway is usually a place where so much happens, so it’s important that everything in there serve a purpose, especially if you are tight on space,” said interior decorator Ellen Lindgren, owner of Ellen Lindgren Interiors.

Clutter-free and organized

“Nothing makes a small space look cluttered faster than shoes, keys, backpacks and other accoutrements that end up on the floor or bench instead of in their proper home,” said Lesley Myrick, owner of Lesley Myrick Art + Design. “If there’s a closet, invest in a great closet system to maximize storage. If you’re without a closet, a tall, slender shelving unit with bins or baskets can bring order to the chaos.”

“Since the entryway is likely the collection spot for a lot of the random things that come through your door, give it a home,” whether that means generic square cubbies with basket inserts or a small built-in, said Kayla Hein, creative director at “Painting an entry built-in the same color as the existing trim in your home will help it to look like it was always there. Simply adding painted beadboard and hooks is a quick and inexpensive way to get the built-in look without the cost.”

“If a shoe cabinet would never work for your family, consider placing a large wicker basket in your entryway. Kids can just kick their shoes off and throw them in the basket,” said Sarah Karakaian, interior designer and owner of Nestrs. “Make it a chore for someone to return all the shoes to their rightful owners before bedtime.”

Tight space

“The biggest mistake people make with small entries, believe it or not, is going too small with their design elements,” said interior designer Rebecca West, owner of Seriously Happy Homes. “Choose as large a rug as will fit in the space, and hang a large mirror or piece of art. Having fewer, larger things can make a space feel intentional and interesting, while a bunch of small things ends up looking cluttered. Go smaller on depth — keep tables, benches and other things that protrude into the room as shallow as possible.”

If space is lacking, think vertically

“Interesting wall hooks for coats or bags could serve as art pieces as well as for having a place to hang things,” said Marina V. Umali of Marina V Design Studio.

“For small entries, shallow wall-mount shelves can be a great way to provide a place for mail and a few decorative accents without sacrificing valuable floor space,” said Tory Keith, president of Board and Park.

“For small-sized entryways, consider implementing multifunctional furniture pieces into your design — trunks provide storage, but can also double as a bench,” said Tracy Stern, of T&T Design,.

Let there be light

“Invest in a pretty chandelier to greet guests,” said designer Shell Neeley of J. Banks Design. “Layers of lighting are great. If you have room for a side table, add lamps. These create a nice ambiance.

“Incorporating pendant lighting adds a touch of warm and inviting character to any space. Hanging lights also take up less space than a table or floor lamp, which will make your foyer seem larger and clutter-free,” said Molly Kay, community manager at Arhaus Furniture.

Design wise

“I think we are seeing a rise in the appreciation of hand craftsmanship, so we are starting to see some beautiful rugs making an entry come alive, or some fantastic handmade frames, etc. People are looking for unique and unusual pieces so that they can use this moment as a statement of their taste but also of their ability to curate an interesting collection,” said interior designer Mark Cutler.

“Interesting flooring that can be installed to visually enlarge a small entranceway, such as installing tile or wood planks on an angle or juxtaposition to the flooring of the room adjacent to the entryway, can set off the entry as an interesting, but separate room,” said Leslie Markman-Stern, president of Leslie M. Stern Design.“Circular mirrors have been increasingly popular in 2018, are great for small spaces and blend nicely across most design styles. Complete the space with a dramatic pendant light fixture. We find that geometric shapes work best in foyer areas as these shapes distribute light across the whole room, while providing the biggest ‘wow’ factor,” said interior designer Dayna Hairston.

The DOs and DON’Ts of backyard composting

June 14, 2018  
Filed under Home & Garden

By Jonny Finity, Chittenden Solid Waste District (CSWD)

DO: Line your kitchen pail with a paper towel or newsprint before you fill it with food scraps. This will help maintain a clean pail and keep odors down.

DON’T: Throw your food scraps in a pile and expect to get compost. This is a quick way to produce bad odors and attract animals. The microbes that support the composting process need a balanced diet of nitrogen (food scraps) and carbon (leaves, wood shavings, newsprint).

DO: Keep some leaves handy! When you empty a pail of food scraps into your compost pile, cover them with 1-3 pailfuls of leaves. Using enough leaves will control odors and avoid attracting animals. If you don’t have a lot of trees where you live, don’t worry! You can use newsprint, shredded cardboard, wood shavings, or other carbon-rich materials to balance out the high nitrogen content of food scraps.

DON’T: Add meat, bones, or dairy products to a backyard pile. They take a long time to break down, and will often attract unwanted attention from animals or pests.

DO: Store your food scrap pail in the freezer, especially if it takes more than a week for you to fill it.

DON’T: Add pet waste to your compost pile if you plan to use the compost. Pet waste may contain pathogens that aren’t killed off in a backyard compost system.

DO: Test the moisture level in your compost pile. Make a ball of compost – it should stick together, but it shouldn’t drip. If it’s too wet, you probably need to add more leaves. If it’s too dry, you may need to reduce the amount of leaves, or give it some water.

DON’T: Worry! There is no problem with a compost pile that can’t be solved. If you’re having trouble with your compost pile, there’s probably an easy solution that you just haven’t found yet. Contact your local solid waste district or call a master composter for advice.

For more tips on composting, including information about upcoming workshops, contact CSWD at 872-8100 or visit 

Elevated Gardens

June 14, 2018  
Filed under Home & Garden

Add Space, Beauty and Ease

By Melinda Myers

Elevate your gardens to waist high level for convenience and easy access.  Elevated gardens are easy on your back and knees and are perfect for the patio, balcony, deck or any area where a bit of planting space is desired. Place them near your kitchen door, grill or table for easy cooking and serving access. You’ll be able to plant, weed and harvest with minimal bending or even from a chair.

Purchase one on wheels or add casters to the legs of your elevated garden for added mobility. Then wheel it into the sun or shade as needed each day or out of the way when you entertain.

Set the garden in place first. Once it’s filled with soil, it will be very heavy and difficult to move. Those gardening on a balcony should confirm the space will hold the weight of the elevated garden you select when filled with soil and mature plants.

Make sure you have easy access to water. Since this is basically a container, you will need to check the soil moisture daily and water thoroughly as needed. Fill the elevated garden with a well-drained planting mix that holds moisture while providing needed drainage.

Incorporate a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer like Milorganite ( at planting. It contains 85% organic matter, feeding the plants and soil. Slow release fertilizers provide plants with needed nutrients for several months, eliminating the need for weekly fertilization.

Grow a variety of your favorite herbs and vegetables like basil, parsley, compact tomatoes, and peppers.  Support vining plants or try compact ones like Mascotte compact bush bean. Add color and dress up your planter with flowers like edible nasturtiums and trailing herbs like thyme and oregano which will cascade over the edge of the planter.

Maximize your growing space by planting quick maturing vegetables like radishes, beets and lettuce in between tomatoes, peppers, cabbage and other vegetables that take longer to reach their mature size. You’ll be harvesting the short season vegetables just as the bigger plants need the space.

Further increase your garden’s productivity with succession plantings. Fill vacant spaces that are left once a row or block of vegetables are harvested.  Add more planting mix if needed.

Select seeds and transplants that will have time to reach maturity for harvesting before the growing season ends.  Broccoli, cabbage, compact Patio Pride peas, lettuce, spinach and other greens taste best when harvested in cooler fall temperatures.

Replace weather-worn flowers with cool weather beauties like pansies, nemesias, dianthus, alyssum and snapdragons. Fertilize the whole planter so new plantings and existing plants have the nutrients they need to finish out the season.

Protect your fall flowers, herbs and vegetables from hard frosts with floating row covers. These fabrics allow air, light and water through while trapping the heat around the plant.

Once you discover the fun, flavor and ease of waist high gardening, you’ll likely make room for more elevated planters for your future gardening endeavors.   

Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books,and is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine.

Tips for a Greener Thumb

June 14, 2018  
Filed under Home & Garden

By Melissa Erickson

Employing some smart gardening tips will have you enjoying your landscape more while spending less time and effort.

“The quality of plant material available and the way the green industry is responding to what gardeners want mean that we can have beautiful gardens that are environmentally responsible and demand less time and energy, less water and fertilizer, are pollinator-friendly and offer incredible color from foliage and flowers,” said garden designer Kerry Ann Mendez, author of “The Right-Size Flower Garden” and just-published “The Budget-Wise Gardener.”

The key is to have the “right-sized garden,” Mendez said.

“Most of us are busy. We like the idea of a beautiful garden, but we want to put time back in our pockets,” she said.

The two largest age groups, millennials and baby boomers, gravitate toward gardens on a smaller scale, Mendez said. Millennials are more likely to live in urban settings, while boomers are downsizing because many don’t want to spend so much time maintaining a large landscape.

Picking Plants

In order for your gardening endeavors to be enjoyable, “pick the right plant for the right place,” Mendez said. That means a plant’s sunlight and soil needs should be a good match for the garden where it’s being placed.

“It should be a good marriage,” Mendez said.

Smart sizing

Sometimes your garden just gets out of hand, or maybe you’ve moved and inherited a big garden that requires too much effort. Mendez’s mantra is, “Plants are not your children or pets. You can ditch those that are too much trouble or never performed well in the garden.”

Plant subtraction is difficult, but a smart choice for people who want to enjoy their garden more. The garden should be a place of escape from the business of life, a place for family time, Mendez said.

“Get rid of what doesn’t work. Replace or remove. Take off your rosy glasses and stop feeling guilty,” said Mendez, who downsized her own garden to add an outside patio.


“Pick plants that are two-fers,” Mendez said, meaning perennials or shrubs should have long bloom times or feature blooms plus interesting foliage. “You’ve got to give me more than just flowers,” she said.

For example, the perennial foamy bells (heucherella) can thrive in sun or shade depending where you live.

“Gorgeous and easy to grow, foamy bells has dazzling, eye-catching clumps of foliage and tiny yet incredible flowers. Pollinators love it, and it requires low water. It’s a real workhorse plant,” Mendez said.

For a comparable shrub, consider the oakleaf hydrangea, which is one of the few hydrangeas native to the United States. Stunning flowers bloom in early spring/summer, and if not cut they dry on the plant and last into fall when foliage turns a stunning shade of burgundy, Mendez said.

“Over winter, its bark exfoliates, or peels back, to reveal a rich underlayer. It’s a four-season plant,” Mendez said.

Get Contained

A “huge revolution” is taking place in container gardening, Mendez said. The industry is responding to what people want and offering lightweight, self-watering containers pretty enough to be used indoors and out. They’re practical, efficient and great for people with poor soil or limited space. For example, Crescent Garden’s True Drop planters can go without watering for up to six weeks, Mendez said.

Mendez hosts free monthly online webinars on the art of high-impact, low maintenance, sustainable flower gardening and landscaping. Sign up at her website, Perennially Yours,

Health Coverage Options for Pre-Medicare-Age Spouses

June 14, 2018  
Filed under Savvy Senior

By Jim Miller

Dear Savvy Senior,

My wife, who is 62, is on my health insurance plan through my employer. When I retire in a few months at 65, and go on Medicare, what are my wife’s options? Is there some kind of Medicare coverage for dependent spouses, or do we have to purchase Obamacare?

— Approaching Retirement

Read more

Happiness is a butterfly…

June 14, 2018  
Filed under Home & Garden

Butterflies are the closest thing we have to living magical creatures – like fairies come to life. They delight us when we spot them in a field or garden. To be able to wander among over 4,000 of them is just enchanting.

Read more

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