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By Bill Boudreau

We have arrived in senior years, so it seems, quicker than expected, or wanted. Nothing we can do about the years count. It’s a biological fact that in advanced age, we must work harder to sustain a healthy and contented, physically and mentally, being.
There’s a lot we can do to maintain a fulfilled life.
We are fortunate to have the medical science, health care experts, and community support at our disposal to medicate and guide us on enjoyable remaining years. Though not enough seniors take advantage of the resources available to uphold an exciting, vibrant day-to-day existence.
Of course, when possible, keep physically fit, the other is to enrich, cultivate the brain – skills, aspirations, dreams that lingered dormant while younger, but too busy caring for others or thriving to achieve someone else’s business demands. This category includes traveling, the arts, and education to name a few.
Since retirement, I’ve been active in physical activities, creative arts, and academics. This provides me an inner satisfaction, contentment, feeling of self-actualization, not thought possible during my professional days, working to realize capitalists’ profits.
I’m 78 years old, retired in 2000 after four decades in the competitive high-tech computer industry. Itching to fill a void, I began to take courses in the literary arts. Took classes with Osha Long Life Learning Institute (OLLI). I learned how Greek Philosophy influenced modern culture, studied great writers, Nobel Prize winner Miguel Garcia’s A Hundred Years of Solitude, to name one, poet E. E. Cummings, religions, and Greek Mythology. Parallel to OLLI courses, I began to write and discovered that I needed to learn the creative writing craft. Attended classes conducted by well published novelist and teacher Carolyn Wall, author of Sweeping Up Glass, Playing with Matches, and The Coffin Maker.
To date, I’ve self-published seven books, fiction and non-fiction, and had numerous articles accepted and published.
My writing skills and computer knowledge stimulated me to publish books for others – format manuscripts and cover designs. For several years, in addition to my own novels, I’ve published, mostly on amazon.com, memoirs, some fiction, for numerous seniors, and I have two projects in process. Currently, I’m working on three of my own manuscripts – editing a journal, poems, and speculative narration.
In addition to book publishing, I construct websites.
Before leaving the 8-5 plus employment, I had begun to teach myself playing the guitar, learn and sing vintage ballades and love melodies. It continued in my so-called retirement and inspired me to write songs, a few in French. I’ve performed in nursing and retirement homes and festivals.
I’m a member of Will Rogers Senior Center, Oklahoma City, where, twice a week, I participate in Yoga and Tai Chi for Balance. Other mornings, adjacent to the Senior Center, among a flora spectrum, I walk for half an hour in the Botanical Garden.
Oklahoma City has several senior centers where a person over 55, the age that qualifies you as a senior, may realize a range of creative skills and physical activities.
You may attend sculptor classes and fantasize to rival Picasso. A senior may experience the emotions of mystery, suspense, drama, romance, adventure, history, as a member of a book club. Some of you may wonder how it would feel to tap-dance across the floor like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. Reading of other places in our country, and the world, cannot replace travels to discover new cultures. Mark Twain said, “Traveling kills ignorance.” Many of you, I’m sure, have wondered of the jewelry craft, using colorful gems designing bracelets, neckless, and broaches, and pondered registering in a class. Remember as a child, when given coloring crayons, the excitement it evoked? Well, you may again acquire the same exhilaration at a senior center – whether with paint, pencil, or watercolor. And of course you may take classes in dancing, learn to twirl and float the span of the room as a ballerina, pretending to be in Carnegie Hall, or dressed in colorful western outfits as you square dance to the call, or kick your legs in a chorus line.
In addition to games, such as Bridge, Bingo, Backgammon, etc., to keep the body fit, senior centers offer a variety of exercises: Yoga, Tai Chi for Balance, Treadmill, Armchair and Video Exercises.
A senior center is the perfect place to socialize, make friends, and be up to date on gossips!
Folks, don’t give up, you’re alive, make the most of it!
Bill Boudreau is a French-Acadian and grew up in Wedgeport village on the Nova Scotia’s southwest coast. He self-published seven books – Olsegon, Disharmony in Paradise, Moments in Time, Redemption Island, Beyond Acadia, Wedgeport, and Hopping the Caribbean Islands. All books are available on www.amazon.com and other online book providers.
Bill has also published the following articles:
First Confession in Seasoned Reader (Oklahoma’s Senior News and Living), Oct. 2007, Interlude, in The LLI Review, and Character, online at This I Believe, and Reflection: Long-Time U.S. Resident Remembers his Canadian Roots, online at Aging Horizons Bulletin, 2013.
His short story, Prelude to Punishment, may be read in “Conclave: A Journal of Character, Volume 8, 2014”
Provided cover image and story for: “Conclave: A Journal of Character, Issue 6”
Moon Dance, (Fiction) Published in CyberSoleil, an online Literacy Journal
Crossing the Bay of Fundy, (Personal Story) Published in CyberSoleil, an online Literary Journal
Bill lives in Oklahoma City
billboudreau@flash.net
Website: www.billboudreau.com

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) provided more than 7.8 million miles of rides to Oklahomans last year through its Section 5310 transportation program. The federally funded Section 5310 capital assistance grant allows DHS to contract with nonprofits and certain eligible governmental entities to provide up to 85% of the cost of vehicles to transport Oklahomans over 65 years of age or who have disabilities.
“This program helps keep people connected with their community,” said Lance Robertson, division director for DHS Aging Services. “Nearly 600,000 riders were able to take more than 1.4 million trips in the last year alone thanks to this program.”
The program includes sufficient funding to assist in purchasing about 52 vehicles a year, with 580 grant-purchased vehicles on the road today. The program has 160 sub-recipients covering 85 percent of counties in Oklahoma. DHS is actively looking for agencies meeting the program’s criteria that have a need to replace vehicles or receive new vehicles.
Entities interested in learning more can review the program’s management plan online at www.okdhs.org or call Patricia Heer at (405) 522-6683.

Bill Muir, and wife Karen, provide guidance and support for seniors needing to make a transition.

story and photos by Bobby Anderson, staff writer

Over the course of the last 15 years, Bill Muir has held a lot of hands, eased a multitude of fears and moved more than a few boxes.
As owner of Compass Senior Living Solutions, Bill, and wife Karen, focus on the next step for families who are in the midst of making important living decisions.
Do I need an independent or assisted living community?
Will this community help me thrive and get more out of life?
Can I afford what I need and where can I go to find out?
The Muirs answer all these questions and more, offering a one-of-a-kind concierge service in the metro all at no cost to the client.
Muir’s business is such that most times he gets a phone call from a distressed family member. Overwhelmed, stressed and under time constraints – the call relays the urgent need for mom or dad, grandmother or grandfather to find a new living situation.
All too often families are asked to make future living decisions within the span of a day or two when their loved one enters the hospital after a fall or sudden illness that makes it apparent they won’t be able to return to their home.
“Case managers will say ‘here’s a list of assisted livings in the area. You need to go visit them and let me know tomorrow which one you want to move your mom into,’” Bill said. “Boom. It’s deer in the headlights.”
That’s where Compass Senior Living Solutions comes in.
Here’s how it works:
* Bill or Karen will meet with you or fill out a brief evaluation over the phone. They will discuss what changes are going on in your life and determine what type of community will meet your needs.
* A review of your financial resources and communities that fit your budget comes next. Bill can also search out financial resources that can save you money if you qualify.
* Finding the area you are most interested in living and choosing three or four communities to tour follows. They will accompany you – or provide transportation if necessary – on tours to help you evaluate the offerings of each community.
The best part is the service is free to families and those who refer to him.
“I’m unbiased and my fees are paid by my communities,” Bill said. “Unlike my competitors, both Internet and other local referrals services my rates are all flat.
“I’m the only one like that.”
That means Muir is beholden to no one but his client.
And it doesn’t end there.
What sets Bill apart is his experience from the other side of the door working for communities in the metro. He spent the last 15 years marketing senior living communities.
“I know the information those assisted livings need and I know where to go get it,” he said. “Most assisted referral resources just spread names, point people in the right direction but they don’t do the most important part which is holding that family’s hand and helping them navigate through this whole thing all the way through move-in process.
“My service doesn’t stop when I connect them with a community.”
Move-in day is a big one not only for families but Bill himself.
He’s there early to make sure promised arrangements have been made.
He’s making sure medications are in place and ready to be dispensed and care plans have already been established by providers and are ready to go.
“It’s making sure those families are getting everything these communities advertise,” Bill said. “That is my goal, to provide that piece that is really missing.”
Bill also utilizes his sister, Vicki Muir – a 30-year case manager and social worker.
In addition, he’s a licensed long-term care insurance agent who no longer sells products but helps clients navigate the lengthy process of filing for benefits.
Uncovering forgotten aid and attendance benefits is another service Compass provides.
Over the past decade Internet services claiming to help find a place for mom or dad, have sprung up. It’s often a one-way street.
Muir’s service overlaps so many professions. He’s part real estate agent, counselor, confidant, life coach and negotiator.
He’s been there as people have agonized over decisions and he’s also seen the worry melt away with the right fit.
“It’s a transitions program but that’s an overused phrase now,” Bill explained of his service in a nutshell. “That’s the real difference in what I do is I make that transition all the way from first contact until after the move-in.”

Dear Savvy Senior,

What are the cheapest cell phone plans available to seniors today? I’m 78-years-old and want it primarily for emergency purposes. Infrequent Caller

Dear Infrequent,
While unlimited high-speed data, video streaming and mobile hot spot are now standard for most cell phone plans today, there are still a number of low-cost wireless plans designed with seniors in mind.
These plans offer limited talk time and text, which is ideal for seniors who want to stay connected without spending much money each month. Here are some super cheap plans to consider.
Cheapest Plans
Prepaid plans are the best deal for seniors who only want a cell phone for emergency purposes or occasional calls. The very cheapest prepaid plan available today is T-Mobile’s Pay As You Go plan, which includes any combination of 30 minutes or 30 text messages for only $3 per month. After that, additional minutes and texts cost 10 cents each.
Phone prices start at $75, but if you have a compatible device, you can use it rather than buying a new one. You will, however, need to pay for a $10 SIM Starter Kit fee, whether you bring your own phone or buy a new one. Visit T-Mobile.com or call 844-361-2792 for more information.
Two other companies that offer low-cost prepaid deals are TracFone and AT&T.
TracFone (TracFone.com, 800-867-7183) has a 30 minute talk/text plan for $10 per month, or an even cheaper a 60 minute talk/text plan for $20 for three months, which averages out to only $6.66 per month.
And AT&T (ATT.com, 800-331-0500) has two low-cost prepaid plans including the 25 cent per minute call plan, and a $2 daily plan that charges only when you place or receive a call or send a text that day. The fees are deducted from the prepaid balance on your account. But to use AT&T Prepaid, you must prepay into your account either $10 per month, $25 for three months or $100 per year.
Best Emergency Phone
If you’re interested in a senior-friendly cell phone that provides top-notched emergency assistance, consider the Jitterbug Flip (GreatCall.com, 800-918-8543).
This is a nifty flip phone that has big buttons, enhanced sound, a simplified menu, and a 5Star urgent response button that connects you to a trained agent that will know your locations, and will be able to assist you whether you need emergency services, directions, roadside assistance or a locksmith, or to contact family. GreatCall’s service runs on Verizon’s network.
The Flip phone costs $100, with monthly service plans that start at $15 for 200 minutes. Or, you can get the 5Star service with 50 minutes of monthly talk time for $25.
Free Phones
If your income is low enough, another option you should check into is the federal Lifeline program, which provides free or low-cost cell phones and plans through numerous wireless providers.
To qualify, your annual household income must at or below 135 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines – which is $16,389 for one person, or $22,221 for two. Or, you must be receiving Medicaid, food stamps/SNAP, SSI, public housing assistance, veterans pension or survivor’s pension benefit, or live on federally recognized Tribal lands.
To find out if you’re eligible, or to locate wireless companies in your area that participates in the program, visit LifelineSupport.org or call 800-234-9473.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

A group of senior friends published a new book that takes a look at the undercurrent behind today’s political climate.

by Bobby Anderson, Staff Writer

A sociologist, a psychologist and a benedictine nun walk into a room.
Sounds like the beginnings of a good joke.
But for John Karlin, PhD, those are just a few of the cast of characters that helped create his new book: Fear, Religion, Politics: Well I’ll Be Darn!
Karlin spent the last year of his life writing this book that takes a look at the intertwining of three things deeply personal to Americans.
“It was incredible in the sense that how much insight humans have but not realize it,” Karlin said. “In researching this I kept seeing these little lights in other people’s works.”
Karlin was aided by Dr. Melvyn Preisz, Rhonda Bell, Judy Martin, Marsha McMillin, Gerry Lantagne and others in developing his second book. Each brought their own unique talents.
Preisz is a local clinical psychologist who befriended Karlin years ago.
“I agree with Dr. Karlin’s timely and insightful assessments of this unprecedented crisis,” Preisz said. “From my own psychological viewpoint, these enemies of our individual freedoms collude to divide and conquer the good within us, and to continue to attack our personal conscience from a buffet of lies.”
Karlin stresses he has no political motives with this book.
His wish for what readers walk away with is simple.
“Simply an understanding of those undercurrents, a complete, full, intense understanding of … what’s actually happening underneath the surface,” Karlin said. “I just expose those undercurrents, that was my whole concern. I write from a sociological perspective.”
“I’m not the only one who has picked up on this. What I found is pieces of those themes in many, many other works.”
Karlin cites some 120 references in his work, that he says was a labor love performed with dear friends.
“Our intent was to give seniors out there a message that you can do stuff like this. You’re never too old,” the 72-year-old Karlin said. ”Don’t just sit, you’re capable of doing stuff.”
More than 20 years of Karlin’s life have been spent in teaching, largely at Northwestern Oklahoma State in Alva, Oklahoma City University and Phillips University.
While teaching sociology and criminal justice at OCU, Karlin begin his friendship with Preisz.
Preisz introduced him to Lantagne, who introduced Martin, a former Benedictine nun and things began falling into place.
“It was just friends introducing friends,” Karlin said. “It was basically happenstance then realized ‘Gosh, look at all this talent.”
The motives were simple.
“I just didn’t like the way things were going in this country especially politically and socially in terms of the turmoil and discontent,” Karlin said. “I thought there had to be something underneath that. As a sociologist you always know that what’s on the surface isn’t always the whole story.”
“Sometimes in our culture there are some very deep undercurrents that help explain.”
Karlin recalled attending Louisiana State University for his doctorate. A conversation with an old fisherman came to mind.
The fisherman pointed to the Mississippi River and told Karlin to watch it closely.
“It’s just real slow, old man river kind of thing but underneath that is just incredible turmoil,” Karlin said. “The Mississippi in spots is almost a mile deep and a lot of people don’t realize that because the undercurrent is cutting it.”
“There are literally complete trees down there. That’s the way culture and society can be.”
That got Karlin thinking about what’s underneath today’s politics and headlines.
“What’s under that is not good,” he said.
Karlin’s book flows through three sequences with the first being our innate fear of death and how we view our own mortality.
“And how that came to actually produce the phenomena we call religion in society,” Karlin said. “Any religion, it doesn’t matter what it is, came from the fear of death because religion was a way to escape that tension and fear.”
The second sequence evaluated Christianity and the life of Jesus Christ.
“I looked at what (Jesus Christ) was actually trying to accomplish in his own time and he was trying to accomplish something,” Karlin said. “You’ll find that as somewhat of a shocker.”
The third sequence takes things into the political realm.
“That’s where the dream goes awry because a big chunk of our Christian community want to blend religion and politics to the point where they are no longer distinguishable and that’s not good,” Karlin said.
“That’s what has created most of the problems you see in society today. Basically, it’s the drive towards theocracy.”
Karlin’s book is now available on Amazon. He will do a benefit book signing for the Peace House at the Peace Festival at the Civic Center Music Hall November 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Peace House will get $5 for every book sold.

Dear Savvy Senior, Can you provide some tips on how to choose a good estate sale company who can sell all the leftover items in my mother’s house?  Inquiring Daughter

Dear Inquiring,
The estate sale business has become a huge industry over the past decade. There are roughly 22,000 estate sale companies that currently operate in the U.S., up nearly 60 percent from just 10 years ago. But not all estate sale companies are alike.
Unlike appraisal, auction and real estate companies, estate sale operators are largely unregulated, with no licensing or standard educational requirements. That leaves the door open for inexperienced, unethical or even illegal operators. Therefore, it’s up to you to decipher a good reputable company from a bad one. Here are some tips to help you choose.
Make a list: Start by asking friends, your real estate agent or attorney for recommendations. You can also search online. Websites like EstateSales.net and EstateSales.org let you find estate sale companies in your area.
Check their reviews: After you find a few companies, check them out on the Better Business Bureau (BBB.org), Angie’s List (AngiesList.com), Yelp (Yelp.com) and other online review sites to eliminate ones with legitimately negative reviews.
Call some companies: Once you identify some estate sale companies, select a few to interview over the phone. Ask them how long they’ve been in business and how many estate sales they conduct each month. Also find out about their staff, the services they provide, if they are insured and bonded and if they charge a flat fee or commission. The national average commission for an estate sale is around 35 percent, but commissions vary by city and region.
You may also want to ask them about visiting their next sale to get a better feel for how they operate. And be sure to get a list of references of their past clients and call them.
Schedule appointments: Set up two or three face-to-face interviews with the companies you felt provided you with satisfactory answers during the phone interviews.
During their visit, show the estate liquidator through the property. Point out any items that will not be included in the sale, and if you have any items where price is a concern, discuss it with them at that time. Many estate companies will give you a quote, after a quick walk through the home.
You also need to ask about their pricing (how do they research prices and is every item priced), how they track what items sell for, what credit cards do they accept, and how and where will they promote and market your sale. EstateSales.net is a leading site used to advertise sales, so check advertising approaches there.
Additionally, ask how many days will it take them to set up for the sale, how long will the sale last, and will they take care of getting any necessary permits to have the sale.
You also need to find out how and when you will be paid, and what types of services they provide when the sale is over. Will they clean up the house and dispose of the unsold items, and is there’s an extra charge for that? Also, make sure you get a copy of their contract and review it carefully before you sign it.
For more information on choosing an estate sale company, see National Estate Sales Association online guide at NESA-USA.com, and click on “Consumer Education” then on “Find the Right Company.

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

Dear Savvy Senior, A good friend of mine got a bad case of shingles last year and has been urging me to get vaccinated. Should I? Suspicious Susan

Dear Susan,
Yes! If you’re 50 or older, there’s a new shingles vaccine on the market that’s far superior to the older vaccine, so now is a great time to get inoculated. Here’s what you should know.
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a burning, blistering, often excruciating skin rash that affects around 1 million Americans each year. The same virus that causes chickenpox causes shingles. What happens is the chickenpox virus that most people get as kids never leaves the body. It hides in the nerve cells near the spinal cord and, for some people, emerges later in the form of shingles.
In the U.S., almost one out of every three people will develop shingles during their lifetime. While anyone who’s had chickenpox can get shingles, it most commonly occurs in people over age 50, along with people who have weakened immune systems. But you can’t catch shingles from someone else.
Early signs of the disease include pain, itching or tingling before a blistering rash appears several days later, and can last up to four weeks. The rash typically occurs on one side of the body, often as a band of blisters that extends from the middle of your back around to the breastbone. It can also appear above an eye or on the side of the face or neck.
In addition to the rash, about 20 to 25 percent of those who get shingles go on to develop severe nerve pain (postherpetic neuralgia, or PHN) that can last for months or even years. And in rare cases, shingles can also cause strokes, encephalitis, spinal cord damage and vision loss.
New Shingles Vaccine
The Food and Drug Administration recently approved a new vaccine for shingles called Shingrix (see Shingrix.com), which provides much better protection than the older vaccine, Zostavax.
Manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, Shingrix is 97 percent effective in preventing shingles in people 50 to 69 years old, and 91 percent effective in those 70 and older.
By comparison, Zostavax is 70 percent effective in your 50s; 64 percent effective in your 60s; 41 percent effective in your 70s; and 18 percent effective in your 80s.
Shingrix is also better that Zostavax in preventing nerve pain that continues after a shingles rash has cleared – about 90 percent effective versus 65 percent effective.
Because of this enhanced protection, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone age 50 and older, receive the Shingrix vaccine, which is given in two doses, two to six months apart.
Even if you’ve already had shingles, you still need these vaccinations because reoccurring cases are possible. The CDC also recommends that anyone previously vaccinated with Zostavax be revaccinated with Shingrix.
You should also know that Shingrix can cause some adverse side effects for some people, including muscle pain, fatigue, headache, fever and upset stomach.
Shingrix – which costs around $280 for both doses – is (or will soon be) covered by insurance including Medicare Part D prescription drug plans, but be aware that the shingles vaccines are not always well covered. So before getting vaccinated, call your plan to find out if it’s covered, and if so, which pharmacies and doctors in your area you should use to insure the best coverage.
Or, if you don’t have health insurance or you’re experiencing medical or financial hardship, you might qualify for GlaxoSmithKline’s Patient Assistance Program, which provides free vaccinations to those who are eligible. For details, go to GSKforyou.com.

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

Deanna Waltens is giving back to the group that helped her so much in her time of need.

by Bobby Anderson, Staff Writer

Twenty five years ago, Deanna Waltens fled an abusive and threatening situation.
Life had put her in such a horrible situation that the prospect of leaving with nothing in hand was better than certain misery that waited for her at home.
“I was like Forrest Gump and I kept running and running and running,” Waltens laughed, looking back on her past heartaches.
“Maybe I could have done things better. Maybe I could have thought things out. Sometimes you don’t get that chance. So if you’re in that situation you just do what you have to do.”
Along the way she found people waiting to help.
She stayed at an emergency shelter.
“I saw all the hurt and all the need through all the little children that were there with their moms,” she said. “That really started opening my eyes a lot.”
Realizing she was homeless and chronically hungry she came back to Oklahoma.
Staying with her mom in Choctaw, she put her paralegal degree to work with a local attorney.
After more than a year she realized she needed something more permanent.
An application process through the federal government landed her a job with the immigration department.
After 15 years with the immigration department she retired.
Now she spends her days helping those in need at the Salvation Army Central Oklahoma Area command food pantry.
“I came here because actually I saw something in Oklahoma’s Senior News and Living about them needing summer volunteers,” she said. “I realized what it is to be hungry, cold and scared and all the things that go with the situation.”
She stopped by and hasn’t left since.
“It’s a lovely place,” Waltens said. “The people are so great. All the other volunteers are so sweet I really love it here. I decided this was for me.”
Waltens volunteers now, largely because it was volunteers who helped her journey.
Liz Banks, volunteer director at the Salvation Army Central Oklahoma Area Command, says that’s one of the beauties of the service. Lawyers, police officers, seniors, millennials – people from all walks and professions – come together with a common goal to help their fellow human being.
It truly is an army of people coming together to help those in need.
And the need is always great. That’s why Banks loves it when she gets a call for someone inquiring how they can help.
Right now, Banks is in immediate need of spanish translators. Help is ready but sometimes communication barriers make it difficult.
If you can help in any way with time or talent call 405-246-1107.
“I went to churches and they were good and helpful but nothing like this,” Waltens said. “To me this is the ultimate in food pantries. This is just really, really good.”
Waltens knows the need is there because it was once her.
Someday it could be you.
“I think maybe they understand some but unless you’ve been there you don’t understand the real impact of getting up and wondering if you’re going to have anything to eat today,” she said. “People don’t realize, I guess they think it’s third world countries that face it but you face it here.”
She likes the fact people can come and get short-term help while others can utilize services longer term.
“Makes me feel really good,” Waltens smiled. “I realize that the Salvation Army is just that, it’s salvation for a lot of people – not only temporarily but spiritually, too. So much good goes on here. I see the Red Shield Diner help people every day.”
“I know the shelter. I know it’s a great place to be. It’s just a helping situation.”
Waltens comes from a generation that takes great pride on self reliance. Hard times are just opportunities to pull up your bootstraps.
But sometimes life leaves you shoeless.
“Don’t worry about coming here if you need help because anyone of us is 24 hours away from something like that. Not only does it give them that experience and help but it gives us the opportunity to serve.”
“Everytime I help someone through there I think I’m getting a blessing.
“I get more out of it.”

Jennifer Melton, Ginny Curtis and Tonderai Bassoppo-Moyo help Oklahomans make decisions about their healthcare needs at MCM Insurance.

by Bobby Anderson, Staff Writer

Three decades ago Ginny Curtis began a career in insurance that would change her customers’ lives forever.
“We run the business like we’re working for our parents or grandparents,” says Curtis, owner of MCM Insurance LLC. “The question I always ask my agents is ‘Did you make a friend?’”
“If the answer is yes, then it wouldn’t matter if they made a sale or not” MCM is most concerned that the client is enrolled in the right plan.
MCM has grown their business to 30 agents statewide, including 3 of her children.
“It’s awesome,” Curtis said of working with family. “From early on I taught them the value of customer service and that it’s more about service and relationships than making a nickel.”
“They’ve adopted that philosophy and have seen it work over the years.”
As 2018 begins to wind down, one of the most important times of the year for seniors begins rapidly approaching. The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) occurs annually from (Oct. 15-Dec. 7). AEP is a time in which current Medicare beneficiaries can choose to change part of their coverage. They can change their Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) and/or Prescription Drug Plan (Part D). It’s a time to reevaluate based on their benefits, health, and finances. If they find a plan that is a better fit for their needs than their current plan, they can then switch to, drop or add a Medicare Advantage or Part D plan.
During AEP Curtis’ agency goes into overdrive to make sure that everyone that needs help facilitating the changes coming their way is reached. “It’s very important to us that each person that comes through our agency chooses their plan based on their specific needs,” said Ginny. During an appointment with the agents from MCM, they will compare plans based on the customers list of medicines and doctors to narrow down which plan will cover all their needs the best.
In addition to individual appointments, MCM offers no-cost Navigating Through Medicare informational sessions around the metro.
The hour-long informational sessions allow people to become more familiar with the ins and outs of Medicare in a low-key setting.
“We don’t talk company plans or premiums,” Curtis said. “It’s simply teaching them the basics of Medicare and how to navigate through it.”
MCM will open its Medicare Store Oct. 2-5 with every Medicare Advantage option available on display for customers to compare.
“It’s a great time for them to shop, ask a lot of questions and find the information they need without feeling the pressure of having to make a decision,” Curtis said. “Really what they should do is shop that first 2 weeks and then by Oct. 15 they can schedule a time to figure out what’s best for them and make a decision.”
MCM Insurance is family owned and operated. Their agents are all dedicated to helping seniors not only find the right healthcare solution but understand what they’re purchasing.
“We are a little different than some agencies, in that we represent all the Medicare Advantage companies,” Curtis explained. “We have a great contract with every carrier, and they all pay the same fees so there’s no reason for us to sway a client one way or another.”
While many appointments are scheduled in the comfort of client homes, Curtis staffs the office at 2232 W. Hefner Road in the Village so that clients can walk in anytime 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and speak with an agent directly without an appointment. During AEP they extend their hours to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

MCM also has agents in Tulsa, Claremore and Lawton. You can reach the OKC office by calling 405-842-0494. You can also view their calendar and get more info on their website at www.mcmmedicare.com.

 

Melissa Holland, right, is encouraging seniors like Wavel Ashbaugh to share their life stories with future generations.

by Bobby Anderson
Staff Writer

What started with an email from a 15-year-old high school sophomore in New Jersey has turned into Oklahoma seniors recording their history for future generations.
Melissa Holland serves as the executive director of the Oklahoma Assisted Living Association. An email from Michael Naya, Jr., showed up in Holland’s inbox a few months ago.
“He was interested in history and was having problems finding people who were Dust Bowl survivors,” Holland said of Naya’s project. “He asked if I could reach out to our membership.”
Holland mentioned each spring OKALA recognizes those over 100-years-old. A friend at the Oklahoma State Department of Health mentioned those who witnessed the Land Run might be a good source of information.
Veterans of the Korean War and World War II survivors might also be a good source of information.
With her head swirling with ideas Holland got back to Naya and the two hammered out an informational survey OKALA could send to each member’s Activity/Engagement Coordinator.
“He’s such a great kid,” Holland said of Naya. “It does give you hope in future generations.
“I’ve always told my children seniors are living history books,” she said. “And we need to document that.”
Holland said the goal is to publish the returned information in a book form.
The Oklahoma Assisted Living Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of dignity and choice for older Oklahomans and to the quality of their care in the senior living setting.
Naya said it was a school project that struck up his curiosity and led him to contact Holland.
“Well, I have always been interested in history starting when I was very young,” Naya said. “I enjoyed reading about the Titanic and events from that era as it was interesting. From there, I learned about World War II veterans, Great Depression and Dust Bowl survivors and decided to start finding and interviewing living witnesses from these historical events.
“The responses from these witnesses have been great; most are willing to share their memories.”
Naya’s goal is to collect enough responses to one day write a book.
“They hold a great deal of knowledge and it’s amazing to interview them in any way possible,” he said.
Holland has more and more stories to share as time passes.
“We get some really interesting responses,” Holland laughed.
One resident survived the Dust Bowl.
She recounted those days in her responses.
“There were terrible dust storms that were so bad you couldn’t drive. You just had to stop and wait till it was over,” she remembered.
The same resident also lived through the Great Depression.
“It was terrible. We didn’t have any money and couldn’t find work,” she said.
She remembered how many of her classmates struggled during those times. Her parents didn’t lose their jobs because they farmed.
The end of the Depression was a miraculous event.
Another resident responded to the call for 100-year-old stories.
Lois Wooten was born in 1914 and just turned 104.
“When I was a child the world was much safer,” Wooten said. “We did not have locks on our doors. In the summer we would sleep out in the back yard because it was so hot and we didn’t have electricity. We didn’t have running water in the house. We had a well just outside of our back porch.
“We had an outhouse instead of an indoor bathroom.”
Things were much slower back then. Wooten remarked how much has changed.
“We didn’t get the news within five minutes of when it happened,” she said. “Communication of world events was over the radio and we didn’t have one of those for a long time.
“I think people visited with their neighbors more. We made most of our own clothes. It was a slower time for sure – no fast food places, no ATM machines.”
Wooten’s age has brought her plenty of attention.
“I am enjoying many things because I’m this old,” she said, noting she’s had a lot of interview requests and has been contacted by researchers. “There have been so many changes.
Who would have thought we would have gone to the moon or astronauts would live on a space station.” While she admits the current technology “boggles my mind” she regularly uses a computer, an iPad and an iPhone, which she uses to text her family.
If you would like to find out more information or participate in the project you can contact Holland at 405-235-5000 or email her at mholland@okala.org.

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