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Tara Franey

I’m 28 and Planning My Retirement

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by Misha LJ Stallworth, Director of Arts and Culture

Of all the moments I should have known my last relationship wouldn’t work out, one of the most glaring is that while I have been thinking about retirement for years, he hadn’t even considered it yet.

Perhaps he is more typical of people my age—some of my peers are contributing to employee benefits programs if they have the option—but how many are really dreaming and planning for life after required scheduling?

In this American culture that so values being busy, I think it’s difficult for my peers and much of society to consider a time when they won’t be working. However, I know from my many relationships with people over 60 that the image of shifting into a life of endless daytime television is not what retirement looks like.

Retirement, as a withdrawal from working society, is actually a misnomer. I have met and worked with so many people who have started a brand new life with different goals, learning, and accomplishments after having finished their first careers. They have started businesses, cultivated creative skills, and found new ways to serve their communities. There are people like Mr. Rodwan who took time to develop his photography skills and published a book with his son. He’s participated in performances with his work and recently had a Midtown gallery opening for his art. Or Mr. Charlton who started a second career as an executive in technology. My grandmother is 84 years oldand has had at least 3 retirements, each time beginning a new project and now serves on organizational boards, mayoral committees as well as writing and publishing her own books.

Because of these people I’ve been so fortunate to know, I think of my life in chapters. This career I’m working on now is one chapter characterized by goals I want to achieve, having less autonomy in creating my schedule, and the necessity of income. I’m dreaming about the next chapter when I have more freedom and flexibility to publish my book of poetry, work in animal rescue, and launch whatever world-changing initiatives I fancy. Retirement is not ceasing to work; it’s ceasing to work on one thing and moving on to the next great adventure. Who wouldn’t want to plan for that?

AGE OUT LOUD: Mr. Vito Valdez

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Mr. Vito Valdez

Studio Instructor at Detroit Institute of Arts
and frequent contributor to Ellen Kayrod Gallery
Vito Valdez has been an artist since he was a teenager producing commercial signs. He first exhibited his work while serving in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam conflict and then went on to attend the Center for Creative Studies where he focused on painting. He began showing internationally while living in Montreal and then through an artist residency in Brussels. Vito returned to Detroit in 1995 to teach and work on community public art projects in Southwest Detroit and at the U.S./Canadian border.

Since 1999, Vito has taught Hannan seniors in the Community Arts program at the Detroit Institute of Arts. He says, “this community partnership still continues and has enriched my life – becoming a senior myself in the process!” When asked what he enjoys most about partnering with Hannan he noted it is the opportunity to learn alongside his students, “sharing stories of life while creatively enjoying the art of making – hands, mind and heart!”

What does it mean to Age Out Loud to Vito? He shares that staying alert, active, and having fun is being alive, all while being engaged in positive change for the common good, society in general, family, community, and planet.

How do you Age Out Loud?  We’d love to know and to possibly feature you in Hannan’s newsletter and other media channels.  Drop an email to Tara Franey at tfraney@hannan.org.

Director’s Corner

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Shortly after the passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) a couple months ago, I read a poll that asked the question, “Will the repeal of Obamacare affect you?” Sixty-percent of the respondents shared that revoking the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) would not have an impact on them. However, President Obama’s signature legislation was broad and touched every American. It’s also complex as many people who study these issues for a living can attest.

No one likes to pay for or think about insurance until you need it. However, if you are wondering whether the bill might have an impact on you, here are a few topics to consider.

Pre-existing conditions – As we age, pre-existing conditions become a greater concern. These concerns are not always catastrophic illnesses like cancer or Alzheimer’s. Many people have or will have chronic conditions – hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol – that fall under the term “pre-existing.” Questions you might ask as you try to understand the AHCA’s impact should include – “what, if any, pre-existing conditions are covered and if so, will you be able to afford the premium?”

Affordable plans – Health insurers price their products by spreading the cost of insurance over a large pool of customers. Older customers utilize health services more than younger ones, and seniors cost more to insure. Under the American Health Care Act, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that a health plan will eventually cost 10% less than it would have cost under Obamacare. However, over the next couple of years, premiums will spike – 15% to 20% more than they are today. Seniors on fixed incomes may find that they cannot afford the higher costs which may result in many older adults becoming uninsured. As these seniors are priced out of insurance, the remaining customers in the insured pool are younger and healthier which allows insurers to lower premiums.

Essential benefits – Obamacare required employers and the marketplace to offer insurance that covered ten health services, from ambulatory care (think of your doctor visits) to prescription drugs and preventative services. AHCA will allow states to waive the requirement on employers to provide insurance plans that address the essential benefits. Given rising health care premiums, employers could decide to not offer health insurance or shift a greater burden of the costs to employees.

Medicare – AHCA would repeal the additional 0.9 percent payroll tax on higher-income workers. The removal of this Obamacare provision would reduce the Hospital Insurance Trust fund by $117.3 billion over the next ten years. The result would mean that Medicare will run out of money four years earlier than under the Affordable Care Act.

There are more issues to explore including the cut in Medicaid expansion that will affect older adults. In thinking about whether AHCA affects us today, we must also keep in mind that whatever Congress decides will also affect us when we are in our eighties which is when we will have our highest health care demands. If you want more information on how AHCA might impact you, go to this website link from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Are you ever too old to whip and nae nae?

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by Vincent Tilford, Executive Director

As a parent of an eleven-year-old, I’m his preferred target when it comes to jokes about getting older.  Recently while watching my attempts to learn a dance that had gone viral he said, “You’re too old to learn how to whip and nae-nae.  You look creepy.  I’ll never be able to un-see this.”

While he may be commenting more on my dancing abilities than my age, he also loves making wisecracks about age that come at my expense, from me needing to eat softer foods to my “one-pack” stomach ab.  We laugh at his attempts at humor and I will even admit that he can be funny sometimes.  Unfortunately, as harmless as this banter may seem, I have to wonder if I’m encouraging ageist beliefs and ideas in him.

These concerns may seem like unnecessary political correctness; however, ageism, a bias against older people because of their age, has real consequences.  Research has shown that seniors who experience age discrimination are more prone to mental and physical health declines.  Given that the fastest growing age demographic is the population that’s over the age of 65, more people in the generations below them will have to shoulder the emotional, financial and physical responsibilities for caring for older loved ones.  Negative stereotyping increases this burden; however, the reverse is also true.  Older adults who are valued, respected, and empowered, live longer, healthier lives.  Therefore, it’s in our best interests to figure out ways to combat ageism.

Most of us learn our “isms” when we’re children.  However, the difference between “ageism” and the other “isms” is that it doesn’t carry the societal penalty that’s associated with “sexism” and “racism.” We rarely challenge our ageist attitudes let alone another’s.  As a result, these opinions become beliefs, and these beliefs become our filters for how we see and treat people of a certain age, ourselves included.

Take driving as an example.  According to a Consumers Reports’ article, drivers over the age of eighty have accidents at a rate that is five and a half times greater than middle-aged drivers.  For some, the knee-jerk reaction is to take away a senior’s car key.  After all, why take the risk? However, the same article points out that teenagers have an accident rate that is nine times higher!   Do we stop them from driving or do we create solutions to help them become safer drivers?  Ageism is insidious, and when we gift wrap it with benign intentions, we disempower the people that we love.

I have a friend whose father is in his eighties.  A hard working man, his dad, works three jobs.  In my friend’s opinion, his dad needs to stop working.    He planned a trip to visit his father for the purpose of convincing him to retire.  I asked, “Why? Is he ill?” My friend said no.  “Does he need the money?” Again, the answer was no.  His dad would have three pensions in addition to social security.  “Why stop him from working then?” I asked.

“He’s too old to be working.  He needs to stop and enjoy life before he kills himself!” he replied.  Since I’ve never met anyone who has managed to get out of life alive, I urged him to ask his dad about what he wanted.  It could be that his father is happy working.  Maybe, it gives him something to look forward to each day.  Without work or something else to take its place, he might lose his sense of purpose and reasons to get up every morning.  All of us give our talents and time to our family, church, community and work.  It’s how we achieve meaning in life, and it doesn’t stop once we’ve hit some magical number.

Satchel Paige, a famous baseball player who was 42 years-old when he entered the major leagues, was asked after a game about being an older rookie.  His reply was, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?”

What if we looked at age as nothing more than a number?  What if instead, when we looked at a person, we considered experience, talent, motivation, skills, and other gifts?  How old would they be if we didn’t know how old they were?  People over age 65 are as diverse as any other demographic and their skills and years of experience don’t vanish when they hit retirement age.

If we want to eliminate ageism, younger adults must recognize the value and appreciate the skills and experiences that older adults can offer.   Those of us who are older must also demand respect, and quiet the chatter in our minds that says that we are too old to do something.   It may take us a little longer, and we may do it differently or not as well, but as long as we are breathing, we have much to share.

That’s the lesson I want to teach my children when they watch me whip, whip and watch me nae nae.

Hannan Center for Lifelong Learning

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by Pat Baldwin, Director HCLL

The Hannan Center for Lifelong Learning is more popular than ever. HCLL registered 120 participants for the fall semester—a record! Additionally, 29 of those enrolled are new to Hannan. Our growing numbers support our belief that  diverse, creative programming is vital for seniors and their quality of life.

We are very happy to note our ability to expand our arts programming this fall. Through a partnership with Wayne State University, the HCLL is offering a free four-week workshop that will allow participants the chance to work with various media such as charcoal, graphite, pastels and watercolors.

We continually strive to enhance and expand our programs and your suggestions are always welcome.

You can reach Pat at:
313.833.1300 X15
or email pbaldwin@hannan.org

Medicare Open Enrollment

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by Brenda Carney, Director of Social Work

October ushers in the annual Medicare Open Enrollment period, which starts on October 15th and runs through December 7th.  During this Open Enrollment period, individuals can change their Medicare health plans and prescription drug coverage for 2017.  Everyone enrolled in a Medicare health plan should receive an “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) and “Annual Notice of Change” (ANOC).  It is important that you read these when you receive them.  These will detail the coverage through your current plan.  If your plan has any changes, you should make certain that your current plan will still meet your needs for 2017.  If you are satisfied with your current plan, then you don’t need to do anything.

A big change this year is the premium increase on the BCBS Legacy Medigap Plan, after the discontinuation of a 5-year rate freeze by BCBS.  Rate increases for the Legacy Medigap Plan C will be anywhere from about $48 to $192 per month.  Michigan Medigap subsidies will be available for income-eligible seniors, however an application is required.  The application start date is October 1, and the deadline is December 15.

To apply, you can call 1-866-824-9772 or go to MichiganMedigapSubsidy.com.  They estimate about 32% of those currently on Legacy Medigap will be eligible for a subsidy.

During Open Enrollment, if you require assistance in understanding your current benefits, please call and schedule an appointment with a Zena Baum Senior Service Center Social Worker at (313) 833-1300, ext. 32.  If you need assistance with selecting a new Medicare health plan or prescription drug coverage plan for 2017, you can contact a MMAP counselor by calling 1-800-803-7174 or by going to mmapinc.org.

Important Upcoming Dates:

ELAC Elder Law Clinic Dates – Tuesday, November 15th , by appointment only

To schedule an appointment, please contact the Zena Baum Senior Service Center at (313) 833-1300, ext. 32

 

Reminder: Zena Baum Senior Service Center is open Tuesday and Thursday, by appointment only.

Please call (313) 833-1300, ext. 32 to make an appointment.

The Impact of Aging

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by Vincent Tilford, Executive Director

While driving with my teenage son, we saw a bumper sticker that read, “I still blame Yoko.”  “What’s a yoko?” he asked.

If I was ever in denial about my age, his question reminded me that statistically, I have way more years in my rearview mirror than what I have left ahead.  Generally, I don’t dwell on my mortality because it is a little chilling to think about Grim skulking in the shadows with his sickle.

While I would like to believe that I have time to complete any unfinished business, the truth is that none of us know when our alarm will ring.  If you’re in good health, you are likely to spring through your days making plans:  your children’s college graduations, their weddings, or a trip.  Then, while you are packing to go visit your grandchild for the first time, Mr. Reaper sees it as the perfect moment to jump out at you yelling, “Game over!”

It could be life threatening:  cancer, stroke or heart attack.   It could be life changing:   fading sight, a fall that leaves you in chronic pain, or memory loss.   Often it’s both.  Whatever the circumstances, you can bet that the timing will stink, trashing any carefully laid plans.

Most people never consider the impact that aging might have on their future.   We hope that we will be healthy enough to check off the items on our bucket list, but hope isn’t the same as being prepared.

Preparation means having conversations with relatives and/or friends about medical, financial and family issues you might face as you get older.   It means assuring that the legal issues around estate planning, guardianship, advance directives and living wills are in place.  It means being free to make the choices that you still can make even when your health betrays and robs you of other decisions.  It means having a say in what happens to you when you can’t say.

But too often, we are afraid of getting old and all that we believe it means.  Say “old person” or “senior citizen” and in most cases, we think of a frail, older adult with dementia, arthritis or some other chronic illness.  We look at these conditions like we would view someone wearing police clothes or medical scrubs.  The sickness, like the uniform, defines them.

Most of us don’t like thinking about getting old and the losses that come with it.  As some capacities diminish, our concerns turn towards the loss of independence and self-determination.  We worry about having to live in a nursing home, where freedom to choose is a distant second to the institutional need to keep us safe.  Yet we also don’t want to become a burden on our families.  Hence, we deny our growing deficits and/or hide them from our relatives and friends, kicking the can down the road until it dead ends.

If we are to change the narrative on “growing old” we must first accept that getting older will eventually require course changes and likely several of them.  When we understand that “aging” happens, if you are lucky, it frees us to shape our lives around what matters most to us like spending time with family, conversations with friends and shared experiences.  It gives us perspective.  Once we realize this, we can start making plans that help us to live life on our own terms and savor the time that remains.

And for that Yoko question?  I went with a response that never ages, “Ask your mom.”