Time is money. We’ve all heard it before, but these days it bears repeating. Yes, it’s always been important for workers to make sure that they’re doing the right things and staying on task, but in shaky economic times it’s a matter of survival (your own, career-wise, as well as your company’s). Yet nearly all of us are guilty of sabotaging our performances to some degree because we fail to go on the offensive against two specific threats: disorganization and poor time management.
Well, that’s true, you might agree. I know that I sometimes get my priorities mixed up, and that I lose one minute here and there. But I’m just a regular Joe — not an efficiency or organizational expert. How can I improve the way I spend my time?
Enter “Thriving in the Workplace All-in-One For Dummies®.” Comprised of seven books in one handy volume, this comprehensive reference gives people of all ages, in any job, and in any type of workplace, the information, tips, and action plans needed to boost professional value, increase visibility, and manage stress.
And to the specific relief of the pressed-for-time and organizationally challenged among us, Book II: Getting Organized and Managing Your Time: Smart Ways to Preempt Problems provides all the tools you’ll need to streamline yourself from nine to five—and beyond.
There’s no doubt about it: organization and time management are essential for job stability, career advancement, and contribution to your company’s well-being. Read the book for some ideas to help you take control of your time and boost your own hourly value.
Dear Savvy Senior,
I’ve heard that Medicare will soon be offering seniors free health screenings. What can you tell me about this?
It’s true! Starting Jan. 1, 2011, as part of the new health care reform law, everyone with Original Medicare will have access to many important preventive health services, and most of them won’t cost you a cent. Here’s what you should know.
Over the years, Medicare has covered a number of preventive health screenings like mammograms and colonoscopies with varying levels of cost-sharing (that includes deductibles, coinsurance or copayments). Cost-sharing for preventive services typically means that you, the beneficiary, pay 20 percent of the cost of the service (Medicare picks up the other 80 percent), after you’ve met your $155 Part B deductible.
But starting next month, Medicare beneficiaries will no longer have to pay any out-of-pocket costs for most preventive services, including annual wellness visits which are being added to the program to help keep you healthy. Here’s a breakdown of the different preventive services that Medicare will soon be offering that will be completely free.
In addition to the one-time Welcome to Medicare physical (which new beneficiaries can get but only within their first year of enrollment in Part B), free annual wellness visits with your physician will now be available.
These visits will give your doctor the opportunity to develop and maintain an ongoing personalized prevention plan for improving your health. Each exam will include body and blood pressure measurements, a review of your medical history including any medications you’re taking and care you may be receiving from other health care providers, an assessment of your cognitive condition, and establishing an appropriate screening schedule for the next five to 10 years.
In addition to the wellness visits, here’s a list of the free health screenings and vaccinations Medicare will be offering its beneficiaries in 2011, along with the eligibility requirements you’ll need to meet to get them.
Breast cancer screening: Yearly mammograms will be offered to women age 40 and older with Medicare.
Colorectal cancer screening: This includes the flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy for all beneficiaries age 50 or older.
Cervical cancer screening: Pap smear and pelvic exams are available every two years, or once a year for those at high risk.
Cardiovascular screenings: Free blood test to check cholesterol, lipid and triglyceride levels are offered every five years to all Medicare recipients.
Diabetes: Twice a year screening for those at risk.
Medical nutrition therapy: Available to help people manage diabetes or kidney disease.
Prostate cancer screening: A digital rectal exam and PSA blood test is available to all male beneficiaries age 50 and older every year. You pay nothing for the PSA test, but you’ll have to pay 20 percent for the doctor’s visit.
Bone mass measurements: This osteoporosis test is available every two years to those at risk, or more often if medically necessary.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening: To check for bulging blood vessels, this test is available to men ages 65 to 75 who have ever smoked.
HIV screening: Available to those who are at increased risk or who ask for the test.
Vaccinations: An annual flu shot, a vaccination against pneumococcal pneumonia and the hepatitis B vaccine are all free to all beneficiaries.
For more details on Medicare’s preventive services and their eligibility requirements, see your “Medicare & You 2011” booklet that you received in the mail in October. Or you can read it online at medicare.gov.
If you have Medicare Advantage – these are private Medicare plans sold by insurance companies that are typically available through HMOs and PPOs – you need to know that the health care reform law did not require these plans to provide free preventive services. However, most Advantage plans already offer Medicare-covered preventive services without cost-sharing. You’ll need to check your plan to find out your specific coverage.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit www.savvysenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” books.
The Vermont & New Hampshire Valley Region of the American Red Cross is pleased to announce that Larry Crist has been named Regional Executive.
Crist has a long history of work in Vermont State Government, most recently serving as the Director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness & EMS at the Vermont Department of Health. In that position, he served as the principal investigator for the state’s CDC Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program, HHS Hospital Preparedness Program, served as the primary Incident Commander for the Health Operations Center’s response to the Vermont Yankee tritium release and the year-long preparation and response to H1N1, considered the largest public health response in the State of Vermont in the past half-century. Through his many years of service at the Vermont Department of Health, he has served with Red Cross disaster services staff on various working groups. With his service in state government starting in 1986, his tenure in government has also included time as Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Health and Commissioner of The Department of Aging & Disabilities.
“The Red Cross name attracted a tremendous caliber of candidates for this position, but Larry’s experience, innovative style and commitment stood out,” said Pat Kaiser, Board Chair of the Vermont & New Hampshire Valley Region of the American Red Cross.
Crist holds a Bachelor of Arts from Nicholls University; a Master of Science and Social Services from Boston University; and a Juris Doctorate from Tulane University.
Crist will replace Rob Levine who, after five years with the Red Cross in Vermont, assumed the role of Regional Executive in the Palm Beach-Treasure Coast Region of the American Red Cross.
Jack and Carolyn Kovac and their partner Jennifer Sinclair have purchased the popular Sauce restaurant in Shelburne, which will re-open in mid-December under the new name Barkeaters.
The name is a Mohawk term from the Adirondacks, the Kovac’s favorite getaway spot. They plan to combine the charms of their home state with those of the Adirondacks in the décor of the new restaurant.
The new owners plan to offer a casual dining experience with a “twist.” A relaxing and rustic atmosphere will greet customers and the menu options will include local foods. The Kovac’s have been collectors of wine for many years and this passion will be reflected in the carefully selected wine list.
“Sauce has been one of our local restaurant choices for a long time, and when the opportunity presented itself, we were absolutely thrilled,” said Carolyn Kovac. “Our goal is for Barkeaters to be the first on everyone’s ‘go-to’ list.”
Cori Fine and Carol Bourque of Burlington, recently launched a Nanny and Elder Care agency serving the greater Chittenden and Lamoille county areas. Fine has been a professional nanny for the past 10 years. Bourque, Cori’s mother, has been a certified elder care companion for the past four years. “Caring for aging parents on your own can be a big responsibility,” Bourque said. “We are here to help alleviate some of that stress and to make the time you spend with your loved ones all that much more special.”
“Hiring a nanny or elder care companion can be a bit overwhelming to undertake on your own. Babies to Boomers was created to help families save countless hours of research and paperwork, and provide them with a safe and dependable resource to hire a caregiver that has been fully screened and meets the recommended requirement s of the International Nanny Association,” says Fine. “As a nanny, I saw the need for a full service agency in the area. Whether it’s an in-house placement or a weekend sitter for families staying in a local hotel, our goal is to help clients rest well at night knowing their loved ones are receiving the best possible care in their absence.”
Options include “nanny share,” in which two families share one nanny and all costs associated with the nanny, and a “mommy nanny,” in which the nanny brings her child to the job with her and earns a lower salary.
As a member of the International Nanny Association, Babies to Boomers follows its commitment to professional excellence. They can be reached at 802-540-0433 or www.babiestoboomersvt.com.
Nestled in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is an internationally famous art center that is home to one of the only museums in the world dedicated solely to a woman artist. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, N.M., honors a Midwestern girl who grew into a famous artist.
Georgia O’Keeffe spent a summer in New Mexico in 1929, then returned year after year to paint this fascinating high-desert country. The pure light and shimmering mountains gave her a feeling of exhilaration. She particularly loved the bigness and openness of the wide world she had discovered.
When I recently visited this museum, a special exhibit of her art titled “Georgia O’Keeffe Abstraction” was on display. While the exhibition was quite stunning, she is better known for her repertoire of enlarged flowers, paintings of the red hills of New Mexico, shells and skeletons lying starkly against desert sands.
Visitors to Santa Fe who enjoy O’Keeffe’s art may also tour the home where she lived about 50 miles north in the tiny village of Abiquiu. In 1945 O’Keeffe purchased the property, a 5,000-square-foot Spanish Colonial era compound on around three acres. She immediately employed Maria Chabot and put her in charge of having the property renovated, a task that took three years.
Meanwhile, O’Keeffe and her husband, the internationally known photographer, Alfred Stieglitz, were living in New York. Stieglitz had promoted his wife’s work with annual gallery showings for many years and was mainly responsible for making her famous. Twenty-four years her senior and with a history of heart attacks, Stieglitz died in 1946. It took O’Keeffe three years to close his estate, after which she moved to New Mexico permanently.
The house is located high on a hill with a stunning view of the Chama River Valley below. From the hilltop, we could see cottonwood trees along the river and multicolored mesas in the distance.
The house was starkly furnished in a decor of white with black chairs. Decorations were used sparingly and consisted of a mobile, oil paintings by an artist named Arthur Dove and several of O’Keeffe’s own paintings. There were also displays of the rocks and feathers O’Keeffe had collected over the years, plus the skeleton of a rattlesnake that had been entombed in a glass box and built into one of the adobe walls. Fireplaces had been added to each room, along with large panes of glass to feature the views. Adobe benches were built into the walls of the living room. A single bed had been added to the living room to accommodate a person hired to help O’Keeffe in her later life.
Her own bed was a single and placed so she had a view of the Chama River Valley and Route 84 that ran past her house between the town of Espanola and a property called the Ghost Ranch, where O’Keeffe owned another house.
This property, 15 miles farther north, was located at a former dude ranch where O’Keeffe stayed prior to purchasing the property in Abiquiu. At first she rented the house but later decided to purchase it when she arrived once and found it rented out to other people. Though she really enjoyed the property, she found it difficult to make the long runs by car to purchase food, especially during the rainy season, when roads could be flooded out. It was also impossible to grow a garden in the ranch’s poor soil.
The house at Ghost Ranch is not open to the public, but the larger property, now owned by the Presbyterian Church, welcomes visitors. There are bed-and-breakfast accommodations, five hiking trails and nearby museums that feature anthropology and paleontology.
IF YOU GO
Getting there: I flew US Air into Albuquerque and rented a car to drive to Santa Fe. You can also board a rail commuter train called the New Mexico Rail Runner, which connects Albuquerque to Santa Fe: 866-795-7245 or www.nmrailrunner.com.
Where to stay: Best Western Inn of Santa Fe, 3650 Cerrillos; 505-438-3822 or www.bwsantafehotel.com. A double with two queens is $101 plus tax. Breakfast is included.
La Fonda on the Plaza, 100 E. San Francisco; 505-982-5511, 800-523-5002 or www.lafondasantafe.com. Doubles in this historic hotel in the downtown area start at $159.
What to see: Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, 217 Johnson St.; 505-946-1000 or www.okeeffemuseum.org.
Admission is $10, students and seniors, $8. The museum offers revolving exhibits of O’Keeffe’s art.
Contact the Georgia O’Keeffe Home and Studio Tour Office for Abiquiu reservations: 505-685-4539. A one-hour tour allows visitors to see a replica of her vegetable garden, patio, a passageway, the laundry room, kitchen, pantry and half of her studio. We could only peer through windows to see her living room, bedroom and bath, and her book room was closed off entirely, as was the garage. No public restrooms are available; patrons are sent to use single men’s and women’s restrooms in the Abiquiu Inn. Admission is $30 per person or $25 for seniors over 65.
Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu and Santa Fe: 505-685-4333 or www.ghostranch.org or www.newmexico.org.
For general information: www.santafe.org or www.santafe400th.com
~ CNS .
Ban the beige! That’s the message from designer Genevieve Gorder for do-it-yourself home decorators this fall. The star of HGTV’s popular “Dear Genevieve” makeover show, Gorder has been transforming the homes of desperate design-deprived viewers for four seasons. Her fans also remember her previous stint on TV’s “Trading Spaces” before she joined HGTV. In her 19-year career, this New Yorker has worked her “before” and “after” magic on everything from the kitchen floor to the bathroom sink. She has turned a dingy laundry into an elegant foyer and created a happening family room out of a dark basement. And she has lots of advice for homeowners who want to take the plunge into turning their homes from blah beige boxes into stylish havens.
Here are her top 10 tips on how to get started on those projects you’ve been putting off around the house:
• ”Everyone seems to live in beige and cream,” Gorder says. “They think that it’s safe and that their homes will have more resale value. But it’s one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Paint is one of the least expensive ways to transform a house, and it’s very easy to change if you don’t like it.”
Indeed, this year, gray is Gorder’s new go-to neutral. “It’s a great alternative to everyone’s beige,” she says.
• But how does the “Dear Genevieve” host suggest one go from boring beige to gorgeous gray?
“Don’t over-think the design process,” Gorder says. “Fear” is one of the biggest obstacles most homeowners face when it comes to starting design projects in their homes..
• She admits that the process should be much more personal. “Seventy-five to 80 percent of decorating is emotional,” she says. “But it’s not rocket science. It’s the one environment in our lives that we can control.
Hey, you can always return that sofa if you don’t like it!”
• Before you open that first can of gray paint, stop, look and listen to your room, says the designer. “Ask yourself a series of questions,” she says: “How do I want to feel in this room? How do I want to move through this room? Where is the light coming from? What are the problems with this room?”
• Then, she says, it’s time to get creative. “All it takes is a little time and more effort,” she says. “But you have to look past the home improvement stores and give your home your own personal touch. It needs to make you feel good and reflect the things you care about.”
• Use the resources at your fingertips. “There are no excuses anymore with the availability of the Internet,” Gorder says. “There are so many people doing so many different things now. You can find amazing furniture and accessories.”
• Keep it personal, the designer says. “Create what I call ‘pauses,’” she says. “Put together vignettes of personal items that make you stop and pause to look at them, whether it’s a group of family photos on your front entry table or a piece of art under a glass cloche in a bookshelf.” • Mix old and new. “It’s great to mix vintage and modern pieces,” says Gorder, whose kitchen in her 1850 Manhattan Italianate brownstone features a 1903 “science lab” cabinet and limestone countertops salvaged from an old school building. “Look for architectural salvage pieces to incorporate into your designs with newer furniture for a very eclectic interior.” On a recent “Dear Genevieve” episode, Gorder “repurposed” an antique dresser for use as a bathroom sink.
• Keep evolving your style. “There are lots of things you can do to update your rooms,” Gorder says. “Accessories are very inexpensive and can give you instant impact with just a change of a wonderful piece of sculpture on a table or a $10 bouquet of fresh flowers in your kitchen. Accessories are like last-minute additions of jewelry to your outfit.”
• And perhaps her most important home improvement tip of all? “Concentrate on making your home a beautiful place,” she says. “After all, it’s a refuge.”~ CNS
Lets say you were named as Executor of your uncle’s Will. Either with or without foreknowledge of this nomination, you are now facing the decision of whether to accept this responsibility.
Your main duty as Executor is to “execute” the terms of the will — basically, getting assets from Point A to Point B. In Part 1 we addressed some asset identification issues (the Point A on the map), and now we will consider potential beneficiary issues (the Point B). How do you identify the beneficiaries? Are there many? Will they be arguing over the items in the house, or the terms of sale of the house, or simply scrutinizing every decision you make? These are the questions that will determine how complex the beneficiary side of the probate equation will be.
Let us first define the term beneficiary as used in this context. In a probate of a Will, there may be many interested parties, some of whom may be entitled to certain notices only and some who actually are or become beneficiaries. However, in order to avoid confusion, we will limit the rest of our review to actual beneficiaries – those entitled to take some asset under the terms of the Will
Generally, a review of the Will should indicate how many beneficiaries exist. For example, “I give all my assets to Y and Z.” If X, Y, and Z all survived your uncle, then there are 3 total beneficiaries. And if you know they are all legally competent and cooperative, then perhaps you have an easy situation. However, if any have predeceased your uncle, you will have to look at additional terms to determine if this was considered, or whether you have now involved the estates of X, Y or Z. Yes, more complicated.
Now let’s consider that Y isn’t very cooperative – perhaps refusing to sell the house at a fair price, or questioning every division or sale of household goods. Or maybe the list of beneficiaries isn’t as clear as X, Y, Z, but to unfamiliar individuals or charities no longer in existence. Your duties may now have expanded to a search for beneficiaries. While you may be able to request certain remedies and specific instructions through Court Orders, your Executor job has become more time-consuming and perhaps more stressful.
Regardless of the complexity, serving as Executor is a responsibility. For many Executors, the process goes smoothly. However, if you do receive any advance knowledge, it may in your interest to give a moment’s pause to really understand the responsibility and consider whether you can simplify your later tasks by addressing any issues about assets and beneficiaries while your uncle is still alive and well.
Jennifer R. Luitjens is Certified as an Elder Law Attorney (CELA) by the National Elder Law Foundation, a non-profit organization accredited by the ABA. She lives in Jericho and practices in South Burlington with the Jarrett Law Office.
A new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (JAGS) found that older drivers who completed 10 sessions of speed-of-processing training or reasoning training had an approximately 50 percent reduction in at-fault motor-vehicle collisions (MVC) compared to the control group.
The study shows that the right kind of brain training can produce cognitive improvements that transfer to real-world skills. Led by scientists from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, John Hopkins University, Pennsylvania State University, Indiana University School of Medicine, the University of Florida/Wayne State University and other institutions, the study included 908 drivers (mean age 73.1) who drove a total of more than 25,548,914 miles over the time of the study. These drivers were randomly placed into one of three different training programs or a control condition.
The first group of participants completed up to 10 hours of computerized training designed to improve the speed of their visual attention. The second set of participants completed up to 10 hours of classroom training where they learned strategies to improve their memory. The third set of participants completed up to 10 hours of classroom training where they learned ways to improve their reasoning and problem-solving skills. The participants in the control condition completed no brain training exercises at all.
Scientists then reviewed the participants’ driving records over the next six years and found that those participants who had had reasoning and speed training had a 50 percent lower rate of at-fault car crashes than the control group. There was no significant difference observed in the group that used the memory training.
“Considering the importance of driving mobility and the cost of crashes, cognitive training has great potential to sustain independence and quality of life in older adults,” said Dr. Jerri Edwards, Associate Professor of Aging Studies at the University of South Florida, and co-author of the paper. “But importantly, this study provides further evidence that the right kind of brain training program can generalize to improve real-world activities among older adults.”
The speed-of-processing training program used in the study was licensed by its inventors to Posit Science, which has made it available to consumers as part of the DriveSharp and InSight brain fitness programs. Allstate Auto Insurance is currently running a pilot program to test the benefits of this software for its members. Early results show that Allstate customers who trained for 10 or more hours experienced a significant decrease in damage claim frequency relative to a control group that did not go through the training.
“There has been ongoing discussion in the scientific community regarding how well brain training works and how well it transfers to real world activities,” said Dr. Henry Mahncke, Vice President of Research & Outcomes at Posit Science. “This study clearly demonstrates that some types of training don’t work, but the right types of training – including the speed-of-processing core of DriveSharp and InSight – do work, and produce real world benefits that can help people live better.”
For more information visit www.positscience.com.
When holiday time rolls around, and you feel like you are squeezing every last dollar and stretching it as far as you possibly can, the time has come to go on a shopping diet, says Phillip Bloch, Hollywood stylist and TV personality.
“Regardless of the way you shop or your style, whether it’s out of boredom, impulsive or emotional, you may feel that shopping is something you must do, particularly when it comes to the holidays,” says Bloch.
“However, in these economical and emotionally strenuous times, there is now a simple solution to curb your shopping addictions.”
Bloch’s new book, “The Shopping Diet” (Gallery Books, $15), shows readers how to make healthy choices to lose physical weight with wasteful, “closet-hogging” purchases that never get worn to shedding financial fat and debt.
Bloch — who divides his time between New York City and Los Angeles — has a unique sense of humor when it comes to fashion advice. And in a recent interview, he shared some of his tips for sticking to a fashion diet, even during the holidays — the biggest buying time of the year!
When shopping for the holidays (or every day), Bloch always advises looking for “transformational” pieces. “We all have many sectors to our lives,” he says, “work, getting kids here and there, errands, casual moments, romantic time, dinner with friends, cocktail parties — those oh so dreadful office parties for the holidays — and even the occasional gala or event.”
Bloch suggests finding pieces that can be transformed into outfits for three or four different occasions. “Perhaps, you can find a tunic top that can double as a mini dress in the warmer months and thrown on with a legging or a boot in the fall,” he says. “Or perhaps it even has a little beading or embellishment or an extra ruffle, and with a quick change into a sparkly pump, the tunic top could make a great date night look or even cocktail holiday party attire.”
Block acknowledges that accessories can be big “style changers” and save lots of money when putting together an outfit for the holidays. “It’s really about people opening up their minds to the various possibilities any piece of clothing can become with a little imagination and the right accessories,” he admits.
“I think of accessories as the GPS of your outfit,” says the Hollywood stylist. “They give your look a whole new direction.” He advises adding a little bit of sparkle or dazzle with earrings or a pin. Or a sexy stiletto can make the little black dress “oh so glamorous” and the perfect piece to “play in” this holiday season.
To transform a black dress into a professional piece to wear during the day, Bloch suggests another change: “Throw just the right blazer over it and a loafer-inspired pump (one of this season’s favorites), and you are ready to go to work … and work it like a fashionista!”
Bloch also likes the idea of layering to give your wardrobe a fresh look during the holiday season. Plus, it keeps your clothing budget on track. “Perhaps even for the colder months, try layering that shift dress over a classic button-up shirt or a fine gauged thermal,” he says. “Add a more sensible heeled shoe, and it’s perfect for PTA meetings or even dinner with the girls. That same little black dress with a leather jacket and a sexy patent pump is perfect for date night, but don’t hesitate to wear a dangly earring just to draw attention to your neck.”
“And while we are on the subject of the little black dress,” Bloch says, “we need to take it to the next level. Why be ho-hum during the holidays? We have all done the ubiquitous Audrey Hepburn look to the max. Isn’t it about time we try something new?”
Bloch admits that the popular little black dress doesn’t have to be black. “It’s the deep dark color that is flattering and slimming, and you can get the same effect with the deep chocolate brown, a rich emerald green, a luxurious ruby red or burgundy. Or why not be passionate in the perfect little purple plum-colored dress?”
The celebrity stylist also likes to use colorful accessories. “Don’t forget you can always add a pop of color to draw attention with what would seem to be your tiny waist with a great wide belt — another must-have accessory this season.”
He adds: “Never be boring; take a tip from one of your favorite stars. It’s all about colors that pop. Though neon and bright colors are very in, I find those colors are great for accessories such as great bags, gloves or even shoes.”
Leopard prints are also favorites of the famous stylist. “It is absolutely fabulous as a shoe, bag or even a little cardigan or a top,” says Bloch. But he does caution: “Don’t ever mix your animal prints and wear only one patterned accessory at a time. There is no need to scream when you can whisper.”
The bottom line to staying on a shopping diet: “Know you and know your style,” says Bloch. “Be your own editor and make your closet your favorite place to shop. Fifteen pieces you love will get you a lot further than 50 you don’t know what do to with.”
“I never say not to shop,” adds Bloch. “I just want people to shop smarter. And now more than ever, there are countless retail solutions to finding endless designer duds to buy.
“I always suggest to my celebrities — that are always shopping on a budget, as well — that I would rather find five fantastic pieces for the price of one very expensive piece.” ~ CNS