Independent Seniors

I recently started to search for older seniors 75+ who would like to tell me about how they "age in place." Wow! I got an earful.

First, they don't like terms like "aging with grace" or "aging in place". These are fiercely independent people. They are determined to stay in their homes as they grow older. They are determined to stay active, despite the aches and pains and other problems. I'm touched and excited by the stories.

Next week, I'm going to talk to a woman who had a tree crash through her roof. She is not moving out. She is getting the house fixed!

More to come...

Why Is It So Hard to Throw Things Away?

I've often thought that one reason older people don't want to move is because it would make them have to decide what to move and what to throw away. How can you throw out a lifetime of memories or many of those items you just might need?

I think about this a lot because I donate my time to Aging In Place in Darien, and because when I was a kid, I used to move about every two years, which necessitated lots of throwing away, selling, giving away and packing up. I've now spent over 20 years in one place, and although wanderlust strikes me often, I also dread the idea of a move.

Recently, I tried to make myself do "spring cleaning" and discovered that it's good to sort through old papers. You can find things! You can clear the decks. But on the whole, it's just not as satisfying to me as weeding or tilling the soil. Spring to me means it's time to work in the garden. Maybe I just like putting down roots.

But yesterday, I read a wonderful piece in the New York Times Sunday Magazine about cleaning out the parents' home. The writer, Rick Marin, took a week to do it. The piece is worth reading, mostly because it's just good writing. But it's also worth it to make you think about who should do the throwing out. You? Your adult children? People left behind when you're dead or incapacitated? Not pleasant thoughts, but still, ones worth having. I commend the article to you.
Objects of Accumulation
Published: April 19, 2010
Packing up an entire houseful of stuff and memories.

Beware of Scammers!

I just got a good email from Connecticut State Senator Bob Duff. He is warning folks to make sure that the contractors they hire are actually licensed. Many people, especially seniors, are preyed upon by scam artists looking to make a quick buck. By asking to see a contractor's license, they can avoid scams. I'm pasting part of Senator Duff's email below. To check on licenses for your contractor, visit this site for Connecticut's Department of Consumer Protection:

In light of the recent storms in our area, I thought it would be a good time to remind you to be careful if you are hiring a contractor to do some work on your house.

Most contractors are hardworking people looking just to make a living through their trade. However, we all know that unscrupulous people will often try to capitalize on the misfortune of others in order to make a buck.

Though many out-of-state contractors may be looking for work in Connecticut, they must be licensed with the state to legally conduct work here. To protect yourself, your family and your property, you should take the necessary steps to verify that a contractor is licensed and in good standing with the state before choosing to hire them to work on your home.

Contractors-including carpenters, electricians, plumbers, heating and cooling specialists, stump removers and other trades people-must be registered with the state Department of Consumer Protection to conduct work in the state. Similarly, arborists must be registered with the state Department of Environmental Protection.

You are also encouraged to ask contractors to show a copy of their Connecticut license or registration cards and insurance certificates and to ask for a list of references.

If you've experienced property damage or unfinished work at the hands of a registered contractor, you may qualify for restitution through the state's Home Improvement Guaranty Fund. However, this fund is not available to homeowners who hire unregistered contractors.

For more information about hiring a home improvement contractor and the Home Improvement Guaranty Fund, call toll-free 1-800-842-2649.

I hope you enjoy the upcoming week.


Reply back if you would like to receive my Capitol e-newsletter. Your email address will never be used for any other purpose.
Approved by Bob Duff

News from Aging In Place in Darien

From Aging In Place in Darien

Here is a rundown of news and activities of interest to seniors in Darien and nearby towns.

National Healthcare Decisions Day:  Do you have an advance directive?
Friday, April 16th, 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the Darien Senior Center, 30 Edgerton Street.  Special presentation on advance directives (healthcare power of attorney and living will) by Christine Pfeffer, MS, RN of Mid Fairfield Hospice.  For more information, call the Darien Senior Center at 203-656-7455 or email           

“The Awful Truth” (1937) Starring Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, and Ralph Bellamy
Wednesday, April 21st, 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Darien Library, 1441 Post Road.  A classic sophisticated comedy about a couple who can’t make up their minds about divorce.  For more information, call the Darien Library at 203-655-1234 or go to

DCA Health Fair
Friday, April 23rd, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Darien Community Association (DCA), 274 Middlesex Road.  Free testing for cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, pulmonary function, skin analysis, body fat and more!  For additional information, call the DCA at 203-655-9050.

Looking for home-delivered gourmet meals?  Top Chef Meals offers an impressive variety of flash frozen gourmet meals for only $5.50.  Microwave/oven safe packaging.  Minimum order of $35.00 plus $15.00 shipping to Darien.  For more information, call Top Chef Meals at 914-372-7080 or go to

Are you considering affordable housing?  Because of the limited supply of affordable housing in Fairfield County, it is important to identify and apply to each affordable housing development several years before you need to move there.  But how does one find affordable rental housing?  Connecticut offers an excellent statewide listing service for affordable, accessible and market-rate rental housing.  Go to or call 1-877-428-8844.

Prevent a fall with a FREE grip rail/grab bar (value $300)!  Stephen C. Gidley, a Darien-based contractor and a Certified Aging in Place Specialist, will install one free grip rail/grab bar (18” - 24”) in your shower or bathtub tiled area.  Call 203-655-7018. 

Need a ride?  Take the Gallivant for a donation of only $5.00 (Tel:  203-655-2227) or use your Half-Price Taxi Vouchers!  Call Darien Social Services at 203-656-7328. 

Please feel free to forward this bulletin to friends and family who might be interested!

Want to subscribe or unsubscribe to this bulletin?  Write to

Alyssa Israel, MPH, CHES
Aging In Place Coordinator
P.O. Box 926, 701 Post Road
Darien, CT  06820
Tel:  203-202-2912  Fax: 203-655-9416

KFC - Komen Breast Cancer Promotion Blunder

A coupon book arrived in the mail yesterday shouting - "Save at KFC - help fight breast cancer".

Eat fast food and fight breast cancer? My mind was boggled. Pink buckets of friend chicken? Were they color blind or just tone deaf?

But then I opened the booklet. Staring me in the face: "BREAST DEAL - $2.59."

I still cannot believe that this promotion is real. How could the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization even begin to think it is doing the right thing with this promotion? How could KFC?

This has to be the biggest blunder of a promotion I have ever seen. I think the whiz-kids who thought this one up didn't think far or fast enough. Promoting eating breasts to raise money for breast cancer? It is just plain wrong on so many levels.

Obviously, the people involved with this promotion haven't read the research that fast food is making the nation obese. Obesity promotes cancer. Health and cancer experts tell people to eat less fried food, less processed food, less fast food. Even the Susan G. Komen Foundation itself says that weight gain can contribute to breast cancer:
Looking at this promotion to me is like hearing nails on a chalk board.

KFC Buckets Go Pink To Help Fight Breast Cancer: "PRESS RELEASE: --(BUSINESS WIRE)--KFC: WHAT: Starting today, KFC ..."

What's Your Biggest Fear About Aging in Place?

If you're aging or if you are the adult child of an aging parent, what are your biggest desires and your biggest fears?

I've just read a fascinating survey conducted about three years ago (2007) which asks these questions. The answers are not really surprising.

People want to age in place; i.e., stay in their homes as they get older. They fear losing independence, and their adult kids fear that, too. Get this, older people fear moving into a nursing home more than they fear death. They fear losing independence more than death. Wow. No wonder organizations which help people age in place are springing up everywhere.

What are other fears? Health is a big one because losing good health can make you lose your independence. Falling is not that scary to older people (Go figure.), but it scares their kids plenty.  Older people don't fear isolation very much. But a lot do fear losing their ability to drive. And their kids fear that their parents will lose their ability to drive or get around.

I could go on. The Clarity 2007 Survey on Aging in Place in America is available online, if you want to read it.

More info on the survey: 
  1. Clarity Final Report: Aging in Place in America Prepared by: August 20, 2007
  2. Dan Prince President [email_address] David Butler Vice President [email_address] Prince Market Research 200 31 st Avenue North Nashville, TN 37203 Toll Free: 800.788.7728 Phone: 615.292.4860 Fax: 615.292.0262
  3. Research Background & Purpose
    • Clarity, a Division of Plantronics, Inc. is the leading supplier of amplified telephones, notification systems, assistive listening devices and other communications devices for the aging population.
    • Seigenthaler Public Relations and Clarity commissioned Prince Market Research (PMR) to conduct a research study among two groups – Baby Boomers (ages 43-61) with aging parents and Seniors (ages 65+) – to focus on the attitudes and awareness of “aging in place.

Seniors - Targets of Scams and Con Artists

The New Canaan Advertiser just ran this important article about how seniors are being vicitimized by scam artists. Some claim to be grandchildren, others census takers. Seniors are being contacted by email, calls and people showing up at their doors. If you experience such scams, call the police.

This article is a must-read: