Saturday, June 29, 2019




Robocalls are generated by some computer, somewhere, and send pre - recorded messages to a whole lot of telephones all at once. Basically they are a pain.

Some provide valuable informational services such as weather alerts, power failures, school closings or a doctor's appointment. Annoying as they may be, robocalls from charities and political campaigns are legal.

Debt collection robocalls are legal too, but here is where you really must be careful. First off, a debt collection call is not permitted to attempt to sell you anything. You MUST be completely sure that the caller has the right number, and that you really do owe money. As a rule of thumb, don't commit to a thing that you do not see in writing. 

Some robocalls are out-and-out scams. No government agency such as IRS or Social Security Administration or Homekand Security will ever call you. Period.

Robocalls can come cloaked in a variety of disguises. I am getting a lot of them from my old area code, I guess the idea is that I will think the caller is an old neighbor who wants to contact me to return the tool they'd borrowed - -  like years ago? I don't think so. Some 'spoof' a number; that is, the caller uses a device that misleads you by hiding the real number. In the past eBay and Craig's List advertisers have been tricked into giving information before the purchaser (i.e. scammer) came to see the object.

This week the US Senate approved legislation called TRACED,  that increases penalties for illegal robocalls, increases the time FCC has to catch a robocaller to 3 years, brings together state and federal agencies to formulate and report to Congress policy to deter robocalls, directs FCC to develop rules that protect subscribers from unwanted calls and texts, and requires providers of voice services to authenticate calls before they reach their subscribers.

Meanwhile, there are some ways to be proactive.

Don't pick up the phone if you do not recognize the number. Assuming you have set up voice mail, a legitimate caller will leave a message. 

Don't engage the caller, just hang up as soon as you realize that it is a robocall. Engaging the call will confirm that yours is indeed a working number. And do not think that by remaining engaged you are costing the caller money. More likely you are only registering interest and will be placed on the list for more frequent calls.

Register for the Federal Trade Commission's 'Do not call' list. Registration will not stop callers who do not honor the list, but it can reduce the number of unwanted calls you receive, while providing FTC with information about the caller. 

Be skeptical. Legitimate retailers will not ask you to pay by purchasing prepaid gift cards such as Amazon or  iTunes cards and then reading the scratched-off code to them. Do not give personal information, especially your social security number but also birth date and credit card number over the phone unless you are completely certain of the identity of the caller. Government agencies will not use robocalls to contact you, nor will your bank or credit card company. If you have even a little doubt, hang up and call your bank or whatever to check whether they tried to contact you.

Use a call-blocking service. Some mobile and landline telephone  service providers can provide free filters and, usually, for a monthly fee of  a few dollars will provide caller-id for numbers that are not in your contact lust.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Our New Bus "The Betsy" Has Arrived

In January, GHSS initiated a fundraising  effort to purchase a new bus.  In a few short months, we successfully reached our goal primarily because of an extremely generous, anonymous donation.  The new bus was purchased and manufactured by Absolute Bus Company of Lumberton, NC and has been dubbed The “Betsy”. Thank you to those many contributors who made this endeavor possible so quickly.

The new bus arrived June 13th by flatbed truck.

"The Betsy's" first outing was Friday, June 14th when a group went to the Hood Museum at Dartmouth College & University in Hanover, NH.

We are planning an Open Bus celebration in the near future and all our members and everyone who contributed funds and/or volunteered to achieve this vital project are invited.  Watch for the announcements!

Saturday, June 15, 2019



 Pseudoscience, snake oil by any other name, preys on our fear of Alzheimer's disease. Sadly, this industry thrives because of the lack of treatments for Alzheimer's. There is always somebody willing to exploit our fear if there is a buck to be made.

Of course the most devastating effect of Alzheimer's is the deterioration of cognition and brain health - -  loss of your memories.

Several dietary supplements claim to reverse the process and they are widely available without a prescription. Twenty-five percent of folks older than 50 spend a lot of money  on daily dietary supplements that claim to improve the health of their brains. According to AARP studies, none of those supplements does what it claims. There is no clinically proven dietary supplement that improves cognition or brain health. You should always remember that dietary supplements are not subjected to US Food and Drug administration review and approval. Check with your doctor before taking dietary supplements.

The maker of one of the supplements, Prevagen, makes claims for it's active ingredient - - a biofluorescent protein from a jellyfish  - -  in improving 'mild memory loss.' This claim is based on a 'facade of proven benefits.' As was pointed out in an article written by three neurologists in JAMA, the so-called scientific research done by the company  in support of its product Prevagen lacks the critical elements of real scientific research. First, the studies were conducted by in-house people who have a vested interest in obtaining impressive results. The research was not reviewed by independent researchers (peer review). The number of participants was too low to provide significant variation. There was no randomization of treatment and, finally, the study did not include limitations. In 2017 the Federal Trade Commission charged the maker of Prevagen with false and deceptive advertizing. The suit is on-going and Prevagen is still available at pharmacies. What you should remember is that there is no valid scientific basis for the claim that Prevagen has any effect on 'mild memory loss.'

The AARP study noted that some dietary supplements can be dangerous for you if you have certain conditions such as cancer, are about to undergo surgery, or are taking drugs such as blood thinners. Again: check with your doctor before maybe spending  your money needlessly

The AARP study does note that for that small part of the population that is deficient for vitamin B12, which can be associated with cognitive function and dementia, B12 supplements can be helpful.

Thursday, June 6, 2019


There is some good news . . . and there is some bad news . . .  for we Seniors!


 We all know that exercise is good for us. It helps to improve our mental outlook and helps us to live longer/ 

Here is the good news . . . 


Taking more steps each day can help to extend your life! 


Simple walking with no special equipment required (other than your brain, which might give you a thousand-and-one reasons NOT to take that walk) is a way for all of us to maintain some beneficial level of fitness. Studies show that active people have lower incidences of heart disease, obesity and Type 2 diabetes and usually live longer than people who are sedentary.

The official exercise guidelines in the United States and many other nations recommend that adults complete at least 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise, such as walking. But some scientists have begun to wonder whether monitoring our exercise in terms of active minutes might not be ideal.Step counts are a simpler, more concrete and convenient measure of physical activity.

Activity monitors are often set to a goal of 10,000 steps per day. But, there is no scientific basis for this number. In a very large study of older women, data showed that about 4,500 steps per day was effective for reducing the risk of premature death. A woman who reached that threshold was about 40 percent less likely to have died during the follow-up period than someone taking only about 2,700 steps each day.

It is impossible to know if the findings apply likewise to men or younger people or to risks for diseases and other outcomes. The researchers tried to but could not completely control for the possibility that women who were weak or ill walked less and died early, with little or no relationship between their steps and their life spans.

The message is clear though that taking more steps is better than fewer, and counting your steps is a useful way to monitor your exercise.

The bad news is ... 


With all this walking and other activity, your risk of dying from a fall increases!

The rate of deaths from falls by Americans over 75 years of age is increasing. There are ways to minimize the risk.

The most likely reason is that people are living longer with conditions that in the past they might have died from. In addition, older adults are on medications that increase their risk of falling. Women are slightly more likely to fall than men, but men are slightly more likely to die as a result of a fall.

Here are some ways to decrease your risk of falling, or of dying from a fall.


One suggestion is that we exercise 20 min per day, mixing aerbic with anaerobic exercises. This might sound counter intuitive, but through exercise you will  strengthen your legs and improve your balance, thereby reducing the chance that you will fall. Tai Chi has been found to be very effective in improving both balance and strength. A study published last year found that among adults over 70 who practiced tai chi twice a week for an hour, the incidence of falls was reduced by 58 percent. 

 Do you really need that sleep aid?
Benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax are especially bad at compromising balance.The same goes for non-benzodiazepines such as Ambien. Sedating antihistamines such as Benadryl and Advil PM are also bad for balance.Some doctors recommend melatonin to their patients as an  effective sleep aid.

Think about your accessories when walking outside!
Avoid bifocal or progressive lenses when walking outside because they can change your depth perception when stepping off a curb. Although this article recommends single focal length lenses, I have never had a problem with my TRIFOCALS, so will not be following this recommendation.

Wear shoes with flat soles that grip the ground and that fit you well. Your feet should not slip around inside your shoes and think twice about making a fashion statement with 4-inch-heels!

Eliminate tripping hazards!
Throw rugs are dangerous, not only because they might slip around, but also the slight rise from the surface of the floor can cause us to trip, especially if we are suffering from neuropathy that reduces the feeling in our feet. 

Pets can also cause us to fall when they twine in and out of our feet --- for some reason especially in the kitchen, at least for my cats.  You probably cannot eliminate your pets -- I certainly couldn't -- but we have learned the 'kitty shuffle' in our kitchen. To do the kitty shuffle, slide your feet rather than raising them when  you know a pet is nearby.

Hydrate . . . . and pee! Often!
Inadequate hydration can lead to dizziness. We are supposed to drink a lot of water before we become thirsty. I am not a drinker, so this  takes a conscious but worthwhile effort.

Drinking a lot can lead to the need for frequent visits to the bathroom. What you do not want to do is have to RUSH to the BR and risk tripping over something. An added advantage of frequent sitting on the toilet is the leg exercise gained in gettintg up again -- and, men, you can do this too (and your partner who cleans the BR might thank you)!