Accurate census count is critical

Accurate census count is critical

Yes, this will be my second column on the upcoming census in as many months, but hopefully you’ll forgive me. After all, there’s a lot at stake here. What happens in 2020 will determine the fate of our region’s communities for the next 10 years.

Did you know that, according to the U.S. government, Ventura County is in the top 2% of counties “at risk” for undercounting in the upcoming 2020 census?

Why would Ventura County be any different than other counties? It seems, according to the federal government, that we have an overabundance of factors that will challenge census takers. Among them: potentially hundreds of individuals (if not more) who may be in the country illegally and who are fearful of being asked if they are a citizen (they won’t be).

Seniors: Start planning for new year now

Seniors: Start planning for new year now

What will 2020 look like for you? That answer is likely to be different for everyone, but there are a few things most older adults will have in common. 

For example, if Social Security is your primary source of income, you may want to think about tightening your belt a little. In 2020, seniors will be getting a 1.6% increase in benefits, which pales in comparison to the 2.8% cost-of-living adjustment they received going into 2019.

Additionally, the standard monthly Medicare Part B premium is increasing from $135.50 in 2019 to $144.60 in 2020.

Belt tightening can include getting a part-time job, taking in a roommate and reducing expenses.

One of the major areas of expense for older adults are healthcare costs. By this time of year, seniors have selected their Medicare

It makes sense that seniors need to be counted in 2020 Census

It makes sense that seniors need to be counted in 2020 Census

 I recently attended a presentation by a partnership specialist for the Los Angeles Regional Census Center. She met with a group of nonprofits to explain details of the upcoming 2020 Census and to express the importance of each household completing the census.

According to AARP, older Americans have been more likely than other age groups to return their U.S. Census forms and make sure they were counted.

That is the good news, because there has never been a census in history that is more important to seniors than this upcoming one—because the senior population is growing at such a rapid pace and needs to be counted.

Are America’s seniors facing an ‘aloneness’ epidemic?

Are America’s seniors facing an ‘aloneness’ epidemic?

Recently, my coworkers and I have begun to see a spike in the number of seniors in our community who go days on end without human contact. Yet when asked if they’re lonely, they say no.

These individuals are quite content with their daily schedule. In many cases, they’re proud of their independence—even if it means a lack of socialization and the absence of trusted resources.

This journey into aloneness can be likened to the tale of the boiling frog.

As the fable goes, if a frog is suddenly put into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water, which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death.

A not-so-pretty analogy but one that bears truth for some seniors who, over time, have isolated themselves.

More and more older adults picking up pickleball

More and more older adults picking up pickleball

I’ve never been a sports-oriented person. I’m not sure if it’s the required physical exertion or the competitive aspect that doesn’t excite me, but I’d much rather spend my days pursuing a host of other activities.

So when my husband announced he wanted us to join a club and play pickleball, I was less than enthused.

Sure, I’d heard that pickleball was one of the fastest-growing sports in America and was being played by lots of older adults, but I really knew nothing about the details.

Pickleball is a paddle sport that requires two to four players using a solid paddle, hitting a Wiffle-type ball over a low net. Players use an underarm stroke to serve the ball and play it on a court that’s about one-quarter the size of a tennis court, so there’s less physical exertion.

The game was invented 50 years ago as a way for three dads to keep their kids occupied. The fathers creatively used materials they had around the house and yard to fashion the paddles, ball, net and court, and then made up the rules.

No gifts this birthday, plan memories instead

No gifts this birthday, plan memories instead

I recently visited New Hampshire to join my mother in celebrating her 85th birthday.

While planning the visit, I asked my mother if she would like to go on a short trip with me—maybe a visit to Cape Cod or to Maine?

My mother has temporarily lost her “partner in crime” for outings. My sister is in “grandma mode,” babysitting her 4-monthold grandson four days a week.

On the girlfriend front, my mother was never much of a socializer. She preferred to spend time with her family and work at her job, and then in retirement tend to her husband’s needs. Having a gal pal was really not her thing.

My mother always displayed a true New England work ethic. When I was a child, if a neighbor called to gossip or chat, my mother 

Winning the battle with robocallers

Winning the battle with robocallers

I just received my fifth email this month on the same topic.

In the email, my friend informed me he’s canceled his landline service and has chosen to use only his cellphone for voice communication because of the abundance of robocalls and scams he was receiving.

Unfortunately, this will not solve his robocall problem.

A robocall is a phone call with prerecorded messages. All robocalls are illegal, unless you have agreed to be called.

The reason we receive so many of these calls is that technology has made it easy and cheap for robocallers, and there’s money to be made by scammers.

Robocalls are the No. 1 consumer complaint to the Federal Trade Commission. According to the FTC, the agency received 4.5 million robocall complaints in 2017, an increase of 132% over 2016.

Giving time becomes its own gift

Giving time becomes its own gift

I volunteered to work at the recent Thousand Oaks Chili Cook-Off for a friend who was going out of town and didn’t want to leave the Rotary Club that puts on the event short-handed.

It was to be an all-day assignment, so I asked my husband if he’d like to join me. I have no idea why he said yes. Maybe it was because I was assigned to work the beer booth.

Upon arrival we met our team leader, Jim, and the other members of our group—one assigned to check IDs, one to place a bracelet on patrons’ wrists to signify they were of age, two to sell drink tickets, two to pour and two to serve the beer, wine and water. We helped with the latter.

We began at 10:30 a.m., and only at 2:30 p.m. could we finally take a breath. The line stayed about 20 deep the entire day. It was 5 p.m. by the time we broke down the booth, packed up and hugged our goodbyes.

Attention to detail gets more important as we age

Attention to detail gets more important as we age

My husband is a finance guy, a CPA with a master’s in taxation. He is, by all accounts, a meticulous, detail-oriented individual.

It’s nice to have one of those in a family. At least one of us should be reading the dishwasher manual when it malfunctions, checking a contract’s fine print before signing and making sure the stove is turned off before leaving the house.

Most recently, my husband won kudos from my mother when he found an error in the Required Minimum Distribution from her 401(k) while calculating her taxes. My mother’s investment advisor, who should have caught the error, was embarrassed and apologized.

Sometimes paying attention to detail can reap financial rewards. 

A little planning can reduce stress when evacuating

A little planning can reduce stress when evacuating

After the recent wildfires ripped through our community, I mentioned to my husband that I didn’t want to let too much time go by before we debriefed on what we did right and wrong when we evacuated.

I wanted this natural disaster— the first my husband and I have really experienced since moving to California 25 years ago—to become a teachable moment for us.

I began by creating a list of things I would take if we were evacuated again. I didn’t do too badly during the recent fires. I was able to function reasonably well in the 48 hours I was away from home, but then again, I had the safety and convenience of being in a hotel.

That may not always be the case, so there are several things I will include next time.

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