April 20, 2018

SENIORS: Extending the driving age

Advanced automotive technologies and safe driving habits can help older motorists remain behind the wheel longer into their lives, according to two new studies by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. A record 36 million adults ages 65 and older drive in the United States, and this number is expected to increase substantially over the next decade.
The researchers examined 16 advanced vehicle technologies and determined that six of these can provide high value for older adults by potentially reducing crashes and improving the ease and comfort of driving:
Forward collision warning / mitigation: These systems can help prevent crashes by warning drivers of a potential collision or by automatically applying the brakes. For older drivers, this technology can improve reaction times and reduce crashes by up to 20 percent.
Automatic crash notification: These systems automatically alert emergency services in the event of a crash. Older drivers are more likely to suffer from the serious effects of a crash because of their age, which means these systems can provide a greater safety benefit to seniors.
Park assist with rearview display: This technology includes backup cameras and obstacle-detection warning systems, which can help prevent crashes when pulling out of a parking space. About 95 percent of seniors want these systems in their next vehicle, while 55 percent reported that it can help reduce driver stress and workload.
Parking assist with cross-traffic warning: These systems utilize radar sensor technology to notify drivers of crossing vehicles when backing out of a parking space, and on some vehicles, the systems automatically can apply the brakes to prevent a collision.
Semi-autonomous parking assistance: These systems take over steering while moving into a parallel parking space, which can reduce stress and make parking easier for older drivers.
Navigation assistance: Turn-by-turn GPS navigation systems can provide older drivers with increased feelings of safety, confidence, attentiveness and relaxation, which can help seniors remain focused on the road and comfortable behind the wheel.
“Seniors in the market for a new car may want to consider the potential long-term benefits of choosing a vehicle with advanced safety technologies,” said Pat Moody Director of Public Affiars for AAA Northern New England. “Equipping a new car with the right features can help an aging driver remain confident behind the wheel and out of crashes.”
Older adults also can extend their driving years by adopting strategies that reduce their risk on the road. The research finds that many seniors can improve their safety by avoiding challenging situations such as driving at night, in bad weather, during rush-hour traffic, in unfamiliar areas or on the highway. In addition, seniors who successfully continue to drive are less likely to engage in potentially distracting behaviors, such as talking on a cell phone, texting, eating, smoking or grooming in the car. Many older drivers also are less likely to speed or frequently change lanes, which can further reduce crash risks.
For more information on senior driving, visit SeniorDriving.AAA.com.

SAVVY SENIOR: Helping an aging parent with their finances

By Jim Miller

Dear Savvy Senior,
Can you offer any tips on helping an elderly parent with their finances? My 82-year-old mother is having some trouble keeping up with her bills, and I just found out that she has been making a lot of small contributions to suspicious charities.
—Concerned Daughter

Dear Concerned,
Millions of adult children today serve as financial helpers to their elderly or ill parents or other loved ones. They provide services like paying bills, handling deposits and investments, filing insurance claims, preparing taxes and more. Here are some tips and resources that can help you help your mom.

Have a Talk
Taking on some or all of the financial responsibility of an elderly parent or other loved one can sometimes be awkward and difficult.
The first step in helping your mom is to have a thoughtful and respectful talk with her, expressing your concerns, and offering your help in simplifying her financial life. If you have siblings, it can be a good idea to get them involved, too. This can help you head off any possible hard feelings, plus, with others involved, your mom will know everyone is concerned.

Get Organized
If your mom is willing to let you help manage her financial affairs your first order of business is to get organized by making a list of her financial accounts, and locating her important legal documents. This will help you get a handle on her overall financial situation and let you know if any key documents are missing. Your list should include:
Monthly bills: Phone, cable, water and trash, gas, electric, credit card accounts, etc.
Financial accounts: Including bank accounts, brokerage and mutual fund accounts, safe-deposit boxes and any other financial assets she has.
Company benefits: Any retirement plans, pensions or health benefits from your current or former employer.
Insurance policies: Life, home, auto, long-term care, Medicare, etc.
Important legal documents: A will, advanced medical directive which includes a living will and health-care proxy, and durable power of attorney which gives one or more people the legal authority to handle her finances if she becomes incapacitated. Make sure these documents are prepared.
Taxes: Copies of your mom’s income tax returns over the past few years.
Contact list: Names and phone numbers of key contacts like insurance agents, financial advisor, tax preparer, family attorney, etc.
Seek Advice
If your mom has considerable assets or a complex financial situation, you and your mom should sit down with her financial advisor or attorney to review her situation. If she doesn’t have anyone, consider hiring a reputable fee-only financial planner who can help you figure things out and put a smart plan in place. Fee-only planners do not earn commissions by selling you financial products. They charge only for their services, which can be around $150 to $300 an hour. To locate one in your area, visit napfa.org or garrettplanningnetwork.com.
Simplify Financial Tasks
One of the easiest ways to simplify your mom’s monthly financial chores is to set up automatic payments for her utilities and other routine bills, and arrange for direct deposit of her income sources. You can also make arrangements to have her bank statements mailed directly to you, so you can monitor what’s coming in and going out each month. Or, you could set up your mom’s online banking service (if available), so you can pay bills and monitor her account anytime.
For more tips on financial caregiving, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers four guides on “Managing Someone Else’s Money” that you can read online at consumerfinance.gov/blog/managing-someone-elses-money.
If you need some help or live far away, you may want to consider hiring a daily money manager (aadmm.com, 877-326-5991) who can come in once or twice a month to pay bills, make deposits, decipher health insurance statements and balance her checkbook. Costs range between $50 and $150 per hour.
Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

HEALTHY FOOD FOR TWO: Quick and tasty Ayurvedic soup

By Ania Robertson
As my regular readers may know, I generally cook simple meals that support digestion, and I create my own dishes based on whatever is in my pantry. However, for this recipe, I felt it is my duty to be true to the ancient dish called kitchari. That is why I decided to present the original recipe that is posted at the website of The Ayurvedic Institute. [Read more…]

State suggests waiting to feed birds

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Dept. says some bears are still active and suggest waiting for six or more inches of snow and colder weather before putting up your bird feeders. (Courtesy photo by Kris & Norm Senna)

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Dept. says some bears are still active and suggest waiting for six or more inches of snow and colder weather before putting up your bird feeders. (Courtesy photo by Kris & Norm Senna)

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is urging people to wait for colder weather and snow before putting up their bird feeders in order to avoid attracting bears.
Normally, Dec. 1 is the recommended start date for feeding birds in Vermont, but this year’s lack of snow is keeping some bears from going into their winter dens.
“An abundance of beechnuts and apples coupled with our lack of snow cover this year have resulted in male bears staying active, rather than denning for the winter,” said Forrest Hammond, Vermont Fish & Wildlife’s bear biologist.
“Female bears normally go into their dens before males,” he added. “Males tend to enter their dens in response to most of their foods being unavailable to them rather than to cold temperatures. Without snow covering the ground, some males are still foraging for nuts and apples.”
“We suggest waiting for six or more inches of snow that lasts before putting out your bird feeders, especially if you have been visited in the past by bears or if there are sightings of bears in your neighborhood,” said Hammond. “Due to lack of snow and frozen ground, birds are able to forage in fields and forests for their natural foods.”
Surveys have shown that feeding birds and watching wildlife are popular with Vermonters. A 2011federal survey revealed that people spend more than $280 million annually to watch wildlife in the state. Feeding birds at home is considered the primary wildlife watching activity.

Auditor: Agency of Ed failed to seek competitive bids for federal money

William-Talbott

William Talbott, deputy commissioner of the Agency of Education. File photo by Amy Ash Nixon/VTDigger

By Tiffany Danitz Pache
For Vermont Digger
The Agency of Education didn’t properly engage in the competitive bidding process when awarding some federal Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grants in fiscal year 2015, according to the state auditor.
Auditor Douglas Hoffer said the State of Vermont’s policy requires an open and competitive procurement process, but instead, “the Agency of Education engaged in procurement practices under Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge that were overwhelmingly non-competitive.”

To read the rest of the story, click here.

REGION & STATE: New initiatives strain education agency

By Tiffany Danitz Pache
For Vermont Digger
Over the past few years, lawmakers have asked more and more of the Agency of Education.
First they passed Act 77, then Act 166, and then last year, they adopted new Education Quality Standards.
Each new initiative demands more staff time from the agency, but when the governor signed Act 46 this past June, officials said the workload intensity hit a whole new level.
No new positions were created for the agency to deal with the new initiatives. In fact, the workforce at the agency has declined 31 percent since fiscal year 2008.
“This is one of the biggest financial operations in the state,” said Bill Mathis, a member of the State Board of Education (SBE). Mathis has worked as a school policy consultant in more than a dozen states and he said, “Frankly, I have never seen an agency stripped out as much as this one is.”

To read the read of the story, click here.

Colchester next for CVU boys basketball

Observer staff report
The Champlain Valley Union High boys basketball team will face off against Colchester High on its home court Dec. 29 after a week off for the holidays.
On Jan. 2, the team will take on Essex High in its first game of the new year, then head to South Burlington the following Monday, Jan. 4.
The Redhawks were scheduled to play Spaulding High Tuesday, Dec. 22, after the Observer’s press deadline. They were 3-3 going into Tuesday’s game after a win Saturday against St. Johnsbury, now 1-4.
CVU beat St. J 44-32 at home, holding them to one second-half field goal.
Reece Pawlaczyk led CVU scoring with 12 points, while four teammates had six points apiece, according to Coach Michael Osborne.

Essex, South Burlington loom for boys hockey

The Champlain Valley Union High boys ice hockey team has two games left this year. On Wednesday, the Redhawks head to Cairns Arena to take on South Burlington High. A week later, they’ll be at the Essex Skating Facility to face Essex High.
The team is coming off a weekend in Canada. On Saturday, they played Loyola of Canada, which edged them 5-4.  On Saturday, they tied Lower Canada 1-1.
The new year will bring a Jan. 2 contest with Spaulding.
—Observer staff report

Girls basketball faces Mount Anthony next week

Observer staff report
Mount Anthony is up next for the Champlain Valley Union High girls basketball team.
The 5-0 Redhawks will head to Mount Anthony Dec. 28 for the last game of 2015.
The team played Mount Mansfield Tuesday evening, after the Observer’s press deadline, as the second half of the Spaulding Tourney.
Thursday, the girls played Colchester High in the first game of the tournament, winning 81-13.
On Jan. 5, CVU will play BFA St. Albans at home.

January blood drives scheduled

Observer staff report
The American Red Cross asks eligible blood donors to make a resolution to give blood regularly in 2016, beginning with National Blood Donor Month in January. [Read more…]