Baking flour can harbor toxin producing bacteria. Escherichia coli (aka E. coli) and species of Salmonella are suspected of moist environments like unwashed greens or eggs, but not dry, arid habitats. It turns out that these pathogens can persist for months in dry bags of flour. The message from a recent report is that you should resist the strong urge to have your cookie before it's baked: don't lick the spoon or spatula -- and don't give the kid the bowl to 'clean out' as my mom did -- when you bake cookies this holiday season because bacteria lurking in the dough might just make you sick. The same holds true if you bread fish before frying. Wash your hands thoroughly
This warning does not apply to cookie dough ice cream or to ready to bake cookies found in the dairy shelf of wherever you shop, which have been pasteurized or are otherwise free of contamination.
HERE IS YOUR DECEMBER ISSUE OF SENORS ALIVE! Lots going on in our area for our seniors. Look especially at the 'High Tailing It' on this Saturday, 9 December, This trip goes to Yankee Candle, Golden Corral buffet and the 'Bright Lights Tour.'
The price for the transportation and tour is $25.00 per person. You're on your own for food at Golden Corral. Check out the details in this issue today. This trip is co-sponsored by GHSS and the town of Hillsborough.
a loss what to get your favorite senior who doesn’t really need anything?
A Greater Hillsborough Services Gift Certificate (GHSS) can be purchased in any
amount of your choice. These certificates can be applied to any GHSS
activity. For details call Pat Mathison at
I must be one of the very few people in the world, or anyway my small corner of the world, who does not have a smartphone.
I know that because when I look around me the people I see are NOT looking around themselves. They are rapt in the small world of their smartphones. Either talking to their smartphone or otherwise immersed in it.
The 'Tech Revolution' -- epitomized by the smartphone-- promises connection to a larger universe. Maybe. I'm not so sure, and at what price?
Spend a lot of time in the virtual world and you run the risk of becoming virtual yourself. Lose physical interpersonal contact and you can become anonymous. Disembodied.
We seniors might be less susceptible to the lure of tech. Me, for example. Often we have a great responsibility in bringing up our grandchildren. We might recognise some of the downsides of addiction to the rush of multiple 'Like's' on Facebook, and shake our gray heads in dismay when all we can see of our family members at the dinner table is the tops of the heads, the rest of the head bent over the smartphone. But what we might see in particular cases we might not recognize in the larger world.
Here are some sobering statistics drawn from a larger world than our own that should make us say "Enough already!" the next time the smartphone appears at the dinner table--or anywhere else for that matter!
Eighth graders who spend more than ten hours per week on social media are 56 percent more likely to say they are unhappy than those who spend less time. Eighth graders who are heavy users of social media increase their risk of depression by 27 percent. Teens who spend more than three hours per day on electronic devices are 35 percent more likely to have a risk factor for suicide, like making a plan to do it. Girls, especially hard hit, have experienced a 50 percent rise in depressive symptoms.
(and if these statistics are not sad enough by themselves, remember that the greatest number of deaths attributed to guns in the USA each year are suicides. If your grandchild is depressed enough to plan a suicide, a loaded, readily available gun in the house greatly increases the likelihood that that plan will succeed. You might also want to consider securing your guns as we enter the Christmas season, which is a notorously difficult time for those suffering from depression)
Social media, smartphones and all that are business schemes and they need to make money. To make money they require our participation. Addiction, even.
Utility companies in our region are reporting that customers are receiving calls that demand payment. These are scams. The callers might tell you that you owe money on your power bill and that you must pay immediately. You are to go out and buy a prepaid debit card in the required amount and then call back with that card number. Don't do it.Energy companies will never demand payment with a prepaid debit or gift card. If this happens to you, don't panic and don't pay. If you get a call or a home visit, or if something seems suspicious, call your local police right away.
The Utilities Against Scams website provides information about scams and how you can protect yourself from identity theft. You can report suspicious activity to the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission at 271-2431.
53,000 Granite Staters will be selecting or renewing a health plan
through HealthCare.gov, through an agent, or directly from an insurance
company. A lot of seniors find them selves caretakers of our children, so it behooves us to become familiar with the insurance process, while we thank our lucky stars that we have Medicare. Even if you like your 2017 plan, you should shop and compare your options for 2018. Minuteman will not offer plans in New Hampshire in 2018. Coverage is available through the Marketplace from three insurance companies (Ambetter, Harvard Pilgrim and Anthem).
Open season is shorter than has been in the past, running from 1 November through 15 December. The Marketplace (www.HealthCare.gov)
is your source for federally regulated and subsidized health insurance.
If you have
questions about or issues with using the Marketplace and obtaining
coverage, please call the federal government at (800) 318-2596. (Once
you have coverage, please contact the NH Insurance Department with
questions or concerns, at 1-800-852-3416 or (603) 271-2261, or by email
For an overview of how to get coverage in New Hampshire, the NH Insurance Department provides extensive information on plans, networks, help in finding a plan for you through navigators or brokers, how to file complaints and lots of other resources. See also the NH Insurance Dept's NH HEALTH COST site for information about health insurance in New Hampshire and the open season. Additional helpful sites are HealthInsurance.Org, where you can compare plans and obtain quotes, and Covering New Hampshire.
The HealthCare.gov 2018 plan preview tool
is available and the interactive tool will help you to figure out how much of a subsidy the federal government will provide for you and your family to help you get health care.
You don't have to do anything if you are happy with your current insurancee. If you had a policy that is no longer offered in New Hampshire and you don't do anything, you will be
automatically enrolled in a plan that is deemed similar to your current
plan; but that plan may not have a similar premium and your doctors and
prescription drugs may not be in network.
Remember that the mandate to have health care still applies to 2018.
Shingles affects about 30% of the population. If you had chicken pox when you were a kid, that same virus is likely hiding out in our body, ready to emerge and present itself as shingles years later.
Although shingles is a scourge of seniors, and vaccination is recommended for those over sixty, Medicare Parts A and B does not cover the greater than $200 vaccination. Only the prescription drug part of Medicare, Part D, will cover the vaccination.
There is a lot of misinformation about shingles. A recent NY Times article provides links to several resources that provide information about protecting oneself or one’s parents against it.
This week a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel recommended a new shingles vaccine called Shingrix, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, for adults aged 50 and older. The panel’s recommendation gives preference to the new vaccine over
Merck’s Zostavax, which has been the only shingles vaccine on the market
for over a decade and was recommended for people ages 60 and older. The committee vote still awaits formal endorsement by the head of the C.D.C., which
usually takes a couple of months. Insurance companies must also agree to
cover the cost of the vaccine, which GSK estimates to be $280 for two
The good news is that Shingrix extends protection against shingles by ten years, to people aged 50, and outcomes from Shingrix are somewhat better than with Zostavax. The bad news is that Shingrix can have unpleasant -- but not-life threatening -- side effects. If you are thinking of being vaccinated against shingles, you might want to discuss this new vaccine with your health provider.
Early in September Equifax, the premier credit rating agency in the USA, reported that its system had been hacked. The breach meant that potentially millions of Social Security numbers,
driver’s license numbers and other information had been stolen, leaving
many of us to wonder how vulnerable we might be to identity theft.
This breach was reported extensively in the NY Times and other newspapers. Following are some actions that you might want to follow in order to protect your identity. These are recommended by the Times. Most importantly is that you frequently change your PIN numbers and don't use the same pin for multiple uses. (although Equifax says that no PINS were stolen in the breach).
Trying to remember one new PIN, not to mention a whole bunch of them, is way beyond me. What I do is store PINS, and other critical information such as income tax and social security information, on a thumb drive that is only connected to the computer when I need to recall something. Other than that, the thumb drive lives unconnected in a drawer next to my right hand.
Don't use the same PIN for multiple applications. For example, your bank and Netflix, and so on. Once hacked, it is not a stretch for the hacker to use that PIN for other applications. But, what to do about the Equifax breach apart from regularly changing and diversifying your PIN numbers?
1. Find out whether your data been compromised? You can find out the likelihood that your information has been compromised by going to the Equifax website.
2. Freeze your credit file. Contact the credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Eperian and TransUnion, and set up a freeze on each. You can either do this through the web or by phoning. The Times article describes the whole process of freezing your credit -- and how to unfreeze it.
Many seniors have a new job in their retirement: child care.
And that might mean taking your grandkids to see the doctor.
It makes sense that doctor’s offices and hospitals are hot
spots for germs, but what can you do?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently issued a policy statement
that aims to minimize the spread of germs in waiting rooms and exam rooms.
Much of what this policy recommends goes back to the
essentials of preventing infections, like the importance of hand hygiene and
immunizations. But there is specific advice for your experience in the waiting
In considering a pediatrician, you might want to ask how
your pediatrician handles children who have not been immunized and whether they
are kept out of the waiting room when they are sick.
Bring along a toy. Those toys in the waiting room have been
handled by an unknown number of kids who may be infected so, even if they are disinfected
daily it’s better to be safe and to pack your own. If your grandkid wants to play with the toys
in the office, wipe the thing with the alcohol-based sanitizer that should be
When you make an appointment, be sure to mention if your
child is infected -- coughing, sneezing, itching and so on -- which indicates that the child should not spend time in the
waiting room. If your child is prone to infections, you might also want to consider
asking the office to call you when it is your child’s turn to be seen while you
wait outside. Maybe take a walk or wait in the car with your kid and a book.
Ask for a specific time when your kid will be seen.
It all comes down to sanitation. Wash your hands often and
use the alcohol based sanitizer in the doctor’s office. Many people do not seem
to know about “cough [and sneezing!] etiquette.” Cover your mouth, cough into
your elbow rather than your hand … and sanitize your hand after wiping your
nose or dealing with a sneeze. Cough etiquette refers equally to you, your child and their child!
Even before reaching the doctor’s office protect your grandchild
by making certain that her immunizations are up to date. It is important for
your grandchild to get a flu shot as soon as it is available so that she or he
can develop full immunity before there is a lot of flu going around in the air.
Remember also that we seniors need to keep up our own
immunizations. Get that flu shot! It will probably be free to you at the local
Starting next April, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
will begin issuing Medicare cards that do not display Social Security
THAT'S A GOOD THING. BUT...
OF COURSE SOMEBODY HAS FIGURED HOW TO USE THIS PROGRAM TO SCAM US!
Scammers might call you. They will claim to be MEDICARE or Medicaid Services or Social Security -- you get the idea. Hang up!
They might ask you for personal information, even your social security number. Maybe the voice on the phone will tell you that you must pay to get this new card. Maybe they will ask for something else... whatever.. MEDICARE WILL NEVER CALL YOU. PERIOD. NADA. TELL THE VOICE WHERE TO GO. HANG UP. SAYONARA. DELETE THE CALL.
THE NEW CARDS ARE FREE. YOURS WILL ARRIVE IN THE MAIL New beneficiaries will get the modernized cards first, and then
new cards will be issued to existing beneficiaries.
NEVER GIVE UP YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER OR ANY OTHER PERSONAL INFORMATION TO A VOICE ON THE PHONE THAT CLAIMS TO REPRESENT MEDICARE OR SOCIAL SECURITY OR ANY OTHER AGENCY.
IT'S A SCAM. DON'T GIVE THEM ANYTHING. THEY ARE CROOKS. THEY WANT TO HURT YOU.
Report scams to local law enforcement. Contact the AARP Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork for more information on fraud prevention.
Carmen de Lavallade is honored by the Kennedy Center
She will forgo the related reception at the White House.
am truly honored to receive the Kennedy Center Honors Award and look forward to
attending the ceremony at the Kennedy Center. In light of the socially divisive
and morally caustic narrative that our existing leadership is choosing to
engage in, and in keeping with the principles that I and so many others
have fought for, I will be declining the invitation to attend the reception at
the White House.”
– Carmen de Lavallade
Our parents, and even some few of us who remain, fought the Nazi's and Fascists.
In our time we fought the racists and bigots who stood in the way of racial equality in our nation. None of them -- the Nazi's, the bigots -- were 'very nice people,' as our President would have us believe.
To follow our President in believing this is to dishonor ourselves, our parents, and the proud history of the United States.
Carmen de Lavallade could not do this. For this I honor her/