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senior living

Al Brandenburg
Al Brandenburg

By Al Brandenburg

Americans are living longer, and most would prefer to age in their own home and community, rather than going to a hospital or other facility.

But there are challenges and costs associated with maintaining that independence. Health care technology is helping. Nearly 11,000 people turn 65 each day in the United States. The Census Bureau projects the annual number to nearly double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060.

Not surprisingly, 9 out of 10 senior citizens would prefer to avoid a nursing home or assisted living facility, according to an AARP study. A 2015 report by the National Council on Aging found the leading reasons include liking where they live, having friends and family nearby, and not wanting to deal with the inconvenience and expense of moving.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines aging in place as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.” The emotional effects of leaving a home or community can have serious health implications. A study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that both social isolation and loneliness are associated with a higher risk of mortality in adults ages 52 and older.

Aging in place is a lot safer now than even a decade ago due in large part to a wide range of technologies. A few examples follow:

HomeFit AR is an app that uses a smartphone to scan a room and recommend modifications to ensure safety, mobility and accessibility. www.aarpinnovationlabs.org/homefit-ar/

Pillo Health offers a device that uses voice recognition, real-time alerts and video-calling capabilities to remind users when to take medication at the correct time and dose. The device stores and dispenses up to four weeks of pills and alerts when it’s time for refills. pillohealth.com

BellPal offers a watch that functions as a medical alert device. In the event of an emergency, it can notify loved ones via smartphone or 24/7 monitoring center that contacts EMS, police or fire department. The watch uses motion detection sensors to determine if the wearer has fallen. www.bellpal.com/us/

CarePredict @Home is a smart wearable that uses AI to detect changes in daily patterns that may signal a health problem. It can alert others if the user has been skipping meals, has trouble sleeping, hasn’t gotten out of bed, or displays atypical behavior. www.carepredict.com

Aging in place requires planning ahead. Talk to your doctor about any health problems or concerns you have and what assistive devices and home modifications could help.

Al Brandenburg is director of Maricopa Senior Coalition (MCS).

Sources: AARP, seniorlifetips.com, greatseniorliving.com, everydayhealth.com

This column appears in the July issue of InMaricopa.

Will your kitchen setup be as convenient in five years as it is now?

By Ron Smith

Let’s make our living spaces easier on ourselves. Our older selves will thank us. We are going to start our room-by-room review in your kitchen.

A kitchen can be one of the more challenging rooms in your home as you age. You have to move and store food, dishes, glasses, small appliances, pots and pans. You are working with potentially heavy, awkward objects and sharp knives. As your eyesight, dexterity, balance and strength diminish, tasks that were once done without a thought can become challenging.

The trick is to analyze your kitchen space to find ways to make it easier to use and move around. Those 42-inch cabinets that were once very desirable can now be a hazard if you have to use a stool to access them. Everyday cookware, plates and tools should be conveniently stored in pullout drawers, Lazy Susans and racks for easy access. The cabinets and drawers should have easy-to-access D-shaped pulls and handles rather than knobs to assist your grip.

In addition to the overall space being well lit, there should be task lighting for the sink, stove and other work areas. The sink should be fitted with a lever-, touch- or sensor style faucet rather than one with turn-style handles or knobs. The faucet should also be a pressure-balanced, temperature-regulated faucet that is kept at 120 degrees or less to avoid scalds. The stove or cooktop should have easy-to-read, front-mounted controls so the cook doesn’t have to reach over hot pots or open flames. Those controls should have a lockout for the safety of small children who may visit.

A side-by-side refrigerator can usually provide the easiest access to both refrigerated and frozen food.

At some point, you might find yourself using a walker or a wheelchair. At that time, you might want to consider modifying work surface access by providing roll under or dropped height counters for food preparation from a seated position.

If you are modifying cabinetry, you might want to install an under-counter microwave or drawer style dishwasher. They are much more convenient and safer to use. Upper cabinets can be fitted with adjustable, pull-down shelving. If you don’t already have a pot filler, you may want to investigate the installation of one.

Flooring should be slip-resistant and should be a different color than the countertops to provide more contrast for better depth perception.

All kitchens should have an easy-to-use ABC-rated fire extinguisher stored in a convenient location, and the entire family should be trained on how to properly use it.

(Source: AARP HomeFit Guide at aarp.org/homefit.)

Ron Smith is a Maricopa resident and an aging-in-place advocate. He is also a member of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee and a member of the Maricopa Senior Coalition.

This column appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

Joan Koczor

By Joan Koczor

Have you ever been asked if you have a hobby and thought, “good question”?

Maybe you like to watch TV or go online for the news or play a game. These “passive leisure” activities – time fillers – are OK temporarily but not as a steady diet.

With active leisure you lose yourself in a challenging project. You will notice how time flies when you are immersed in an activity you enjoy.

A hobby you love is more than a distraction. It’s a part of you, something you are energized by. A feeling of satisfaction when a project is completed. It can help you structure you time. Get your chores done, pay bills or other paperwork more quickly so you have time to enjoy your hobby.

There was a time when being an active senior included activities like board games, sewing and dining out with friends. Times have changed.

Looking for something rewarding? Consider volunteering. Many community programs and nonprofits require the help of senior volunteers who give their time to get things done.

Feeling creative? You may want to consider sketching or water coloring, sculpting or taking photographs. These hobbies can be for individual enjoyment, gift-giving or even extra income. Woodworking and carving help promoting nimble hands, relaxation and arm strength, as well as eye focus and mind activity. And learning to play an instrument could showcase a hidden talent.

Is sports your thing? You might consider swimming, golfing or dancing. In addition to being fun, playing sports can improve your coordination, balance and flexibility as well as boost your energy levels. Sports can also increase socialization.

When choosing a hobby think about what fits you. Think about something you enjoyed but stopped doing because life and its responsibilities got in the way.

Joan Koczor is a member of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee and a senior advocate.

This column appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.

Ron Smith


By Ron Smith

Ready to find your “forever” home? Here are a few things to consider:

The community you are looking at for your forever home should have easy walkability or an excellent transportation system for shopping, going to the doctor or visiting friends.

Social opportunities and support groups should be plentiful. These are important considerations since isolation is often one of the most significant problems for seniors as they age.

So, if the community checks out, what should you look for in choosing your new home? Ideally you will be looking for a single-story home with easy access in and out of your home with no step thresholds to minimize future problems with steps, walkers or wheelchairs. The landscaping should not create any additional barriers to navigation.

If you have your heart set on a two-story design, don’t despair but consider future problems navigating stairs. To be safe, you should have a first-floor bedroom and full bath or a staircase that has enough width for handrails on each side and can support the future installation of a chair lift. Stair treads should be no greater than 7.75 inches in height and 10 inches deep. Well-designed homes for aging-in-place may provide for the future installation of a residential elevator.

In all home designs you will want to have an adaptable design with a suitable footprint for wider doors (minimum 36 inches), wider halls, lever door handles, backing boards in the walls around showers, toilets and halls for the installation of future grab bars or safety rails. There should be an open floor plan with limited obstructions. Other features to look for include lowered switches and raised outlets for use by wheelchair bound residents.

Due to changing vision, the home should have suitable colors, extra lighting and contrasting finishes in flooring changes or at the countertops to assist with depth perception. In the bathrooms, there should be a walk-in shower/wet room, comfort-height toilets and skid-resistant surfaces. Lower air returns make it easier to change filters. LED bulbs and 10-year smoke alarm batteries will help keep you off dangerous ladders.

Kitchens generally can be retrofitted with variable height cabinets and counters, pull out shelves, shallow sinks and under-cabinet lighting. But the initial installation at the time of construction of rounded edge countertops, a pot filler, a counter height microwave, front mounted controls on the cooktop and D-shaped cabinet/drawer pulls can save future costs.

Having these features in place greatly reduces the cost of future renovations since they are dependent on the actual construction of the home. Many other features can be added at reasonably low cost in the future as they are needed.

Finally, consider the possible need for a live-in space for a future home-care assistant or aide. Casitas, upstairs bedrooms or above-the-garage apartments can be very helpful in providing for such accommodations.

Ron Smith is an aging-in-place advocate. He is also a member of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee and a member of the Maricopa Senior Coalition.

This column appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.

Includes assist living, memory care

North elevation of Seasons Living at Copper Sky complex. (Landmark Designs)

Plans for senior housing at Copper Sky are set to come before Maricopa Planning and Zoning Commission Monday.

Seasons Living at Copper Sky, created by Shea Connelly Development, is seeking a design review permit and rezoning.

The property is on 3.82 acres at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Greythorn Drive. It is planned for 146 units. According to the City’s report, the plan includes 62 assisted-living apartments, 34 memory-care units and 50 independent units.

City ordinance requires 78 parking space, and the plans include 114. According to the staff analysis, “The proposed use will not create any significant increase in vehicular or pedestrian traffic that will impact the public health, safety and welfare.”

The developer is asking that the property’s zoning change from genera mixed use to planned area development.

City staff is recommending approval of the developer’s two requests, but with 21 conditions.

P&Z meets at 6 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall, but access is limited due to COVID-19. Commissioners may participate remotely. The agenda includes a public hearing on Seasons Living. Members of the public who wish to address the commission during the public hearing will be admitted to the hearing room one at a time, or they can email comments and questions to lisell.blancarte@maricopa-az.gov or call 520-326-6835 at least one hour before the meeting.

The meeting will stream live on the City’s YouTube channel, where it is also possible to leave comments. Those without Internet access may listen to the proceedings over speakers at City Hall outside council chambers while practicing social distancing.

City of Maricopa

Al Brandenburg

By Al Brandenburg

Well, here we go again. Another year, another round of trying to keep the IRS from getting the best of you.

The deadline for filing your federal tax return is still a couple of weeks away, but there are plenty of reasons to start your taxes well before April 15. If you’re owed a refund – most taxpayers are – you’ll get your money that much sooner.

Filing early will also reduce the risk that a crook will hijack your refund, because a refund already claimed can’t be stolen. And even if you end up owing the IRS, it’s better to know that now, when you have time to come up with the money, than at 11 p.m. on April 14.

But perhaps the most compelling reason to start now is that filing early will give you enough time to claim all the tax breaks available to you. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, now in its second year, nearly doubled the standard deduction, which for 2019 is $12,200 for single taxpayers and $24,400 for married couples who file jointly. Only about 10% of taxpayers will continue to itemize.

Congress has recently enacted a bevy of tax credits and deductions for non-itemizers (Yay!). Overlook them and you could end up paying more to the IRS than you should (Boo!).

Homeowners who have a large mortgage are still good candidates for itemizing. For loans acquired after Dec. 15, 2017, you can deduct interest on a mortgage (or mortgages) of up to $750,000. For loans taken out before that date, you can deduct interest on mortgage debt of up to $1 million.

If you had extraordinary medical costs last year, deducting your unreimbursed expenses could push you into the itemizing pool. However, you’ll only be allowed to deduct a portion of those expenses. For 2019, you can deduct unreimbursed medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of your “adjusted gross income.” If your AGI was $50,000, for example, you would only be allowed to deduct the unreimbursed medical expenses that exceeded $3,750.

The list of eligible expenses is long, ranging from long term care to health insurance copayments to prescription drugs. And if any costs for dental and vision care aren’t covered by your insurance, those expenses are also deductible.

If you’re retired, as most of us are, it’s even more important to start your tax return early. While you’ll probably claim the standard deduction, you could be in for some unpleasant surprises, particularly if you’re a new retiree. The money you’ve scrupulously saved in your 401(k) or traditional IRA will be taxed when you make withdrawals. A portion of your Social Security benefits may also be taxable. That means it’s critical to take advantage of all the tax breaks available to you.

(Sources: AARP, US Federal Tax Code, Kiplinger’s)

Al Brandenburg is director of Maricopa Senior Coalition. He is a master gardener and has a master’s degree from Binghamton University School of Management.

This column appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.

Ron Smith

By Ron Smith

Ron Smith

In February, InMaricopa provided an introduction to the topic of aging-in-place. We will continue the topic to help provide insight into many of the facets of aging-in-place. Whether you’re just approaching retirement, already in retirement or are trying to help a relative who is currently facing aging issues, there should be many topics of interest to you.

Planning is not the typical strength of most people approaching retirement. Per a 2018 study conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Northwestern Mutual, one-third of Baby Boomers have less than $25,000 in retirement savings. In addition, many approaching retirement have their eyes focused on an active-adult lifestyle. The notion of aging and all the things that potentially accompany it are often not high on the new retiree’s planning sheet.

Aging-in-place considerations should be factored into retirement decisions as early as possible. We often don’t think about access problems caused by entry steps, staircases, narrow doors and hallways until that first knee or hip operation.

Having to move to another house because your initial “forever” home can’t accommodate your needs can be both costly and disruptive.

What you want is an “adaptable” home, i.e. one that can change to meet changing needs caused by growing old. The more adaptable the home is, the less costly it will be to make those necessary accommodations in the future. Better yet, it might help avoid a costly move due to the high cost of a retrofit needed to remain in your own home.

Keep in mind, accessibility is not the only consideration because other issues, like the need for skilled nursing care or dementia safety, may demand another solution.

As part of your planning, considerations for the availability of other senior-support services in the area are helpful to maintain support networks, social connections and in-home medical assistance when needed.

It is probably unwise to assume aging won’t happen. Planning for aging-in-place is a personally responsible way of coping with unexpected changes that can be life-altering events and potentially lead to institutionalized long-term care.

Aging-in-place planning can help a person live in their own home longer. There are many excellent resources available through AARP and the National Institute on Aging to aid in your planning.

Ron Smith is an aging-in-place advocate. He is also a member of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee and a member of the Maricopa Senior Coalition.

This column appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

Joan Koczor
Joan Koczor

By Joan Koczor

Many of you have heard or read about Freon R-22 and how the oils in R-22 destroy the ozone. According to the Clean Air Act of 1990, R-22 is a harmful refrigerant and currently being phased out of use. Homeowners are now recommended to use Puron, or 410A, refrigerant to maintain indoor comfort.

In 2004, there was a 35% reduction in R-22 production the quantities available have diminished over the years. Now in 2020 a 99.5 % reduction in the production of R-22. Simply put, the law of supply and demand will prevail with the price of each pound of refrigerant increasing dramatically. Prices have risen from $100 to $300 a pound.

My concern is if R-22 becomes unavailable – or unaffordable – and we have to use 410A, does that mean we need to replace the air conditioning unit? So, I asked an expert in the A/C field – my son Dan. Information he provided is based on his years of experience in the heating and air conditioning business.

He said R-22 can be replaced. To do so, you would need to replace the unit; the A coil inside and the condenser outside. Lines could be cleaned, but it is best to replace.

Dan also said there is no need to panic. Many units in Maricopa and cities in Arizona may already be using 410A. Each A/C unit has a label that lists the type of freon being used. It’s easy to check what type of Freon is in your A/C unit.

If your current A/C service person suggests changes that are expensive, get a second opinion. If you question the repairs they are suggesting, get a second opinion. Disreputable service persons target seniors. They are the most vulnerable. Seniors know there is a need for a properly working A/C unit, especially in the Arizona heat.

Dan advises to always question a service person who cleans your A/C unit and tells you they had to add freon because of a leak. An A/C system is sealed so there is no need to replace freon unless a noticeable leak is present. Just a practice some A/C service persons use, especially targeting seniors, to increase the cost of the service call.

Joan Koczor is a senior advocate and a member of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee.

This column appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

Al Brandenburg

By Al Brandenburg

The Maricopa Senior Coalition has three long-term goals. Internment and funeral services in Maricopa, digital-photo storage services and a livable/age-friendly community.

As part of the latter and considering the growing size of our senior population, assisted living services becomes important. At some point, some of us will no longer be able to fend for ourselves. Most seniors wish to age in place in their own homes, but sometimes the best option for keeping an aging loved one safe, healthy and active is to consider a move to an assisted-living community.

Fear of the unknown often causes seniors to hesitate when it comes to moving to long-term care. Fortunately, some senior living communities are offering temporary stays, which allow potential residents to test the waters with no long-term commitment.

In the next year or so, Maricopa will have its own assisted-living senior facility near Copper Sky. Senior care exists in two scenarios. Independent living being the least restrictive and assisted living which is also minimally restrictive but, as the name implies, offers assistive services and supports.

Independent living encompasses a wide range of housing arrangements, from apartment-style communities to housing co-ops. Generally, though, residents live in their own private dwelling spaces and have access to common areas where they can gather with other members of their community. Independent living can also be referred to as an active adult community, senior apartments, a retirement community, a 55+ community or a retirement home.

Because this option is designed for seniors who can still live independently, the features and amenities in the individual dwelling areas are comparable to those in a typical small home, townhouse or apartment.

Assisted-living communities with specialized memory care units for seniors with cognitive impairment often feature increased security measures (e.g. locked doors and extra surveillance equipment) and may not allow residents to have kitchens in their apartments, due to safety concerns.

So, when is the right time to consider this move? Timing a transition to senior living can be tricky because it is highly personal. It depends on how well your loved one is faring in their current home, their present health status, and their future medical and personal needs.

Some things to consider:

  • Is the senior capable of getting around safely?
  • Are they wearing fresh, clean clothing each time you visit?
  • Can they bathe themselves, groom adequately, and launder their clothes, towels and linens?
  • Is the senior remembering to take their medications correctly, with the right dosages and at the right time?

If the answer to any these questions is “no,” it may be time to begin researching local assisted-living communities.


Al Brandenburg is director of the Maricopa Senior Coalition.

This column appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.

Joan Koczor

By Joan Koczor

An unpleasant subject? Something you don’t want to talk about? Does your family cringe when you bring the subject up? Consider it a final gift to your family and loved ones.

An End-of-Life Checklist can avoid any confusion or questions that may arise among different family members.

Take the time now to consider your wishes, gather information and, most importantly, write everything down. A listing of all your assets and important personal information is a guarantee that nothing is missed or lost. Estate Planning Worksheets are available online to guide you through the process.

Add any specific directions you want to make that is not already included in your will or other documentation. Appoint an executor, one you trust, who will carry out your wishes.

Personal information should include your name, birthday and Social Security number, the location of key documents and items, birth certificate, marriage license, military discharge paperwork, will, power of attorney, medical directives, ID cards, medical insurance cards, house and car keys and burial plot.

What is the source of your income? Note information on pensions., retirement accounts, 401(k) or 403(b) – include company and contact – account number, date of payment, document location and when/how received.

Include all medicine and medical equipment used and the location of these items.

Check locations of the following items: bank documents, titles and deeds, credit cards, tax returns, trust and power of attorney, mortgage and loan, personal documents, types of insurance – life, health, auto, home, etc. Include the account number and contact for the company and the location of the policy.

You may also want to consider adding a list of online passwords, in printed form, in a secure location for your loved ones to use to access and check accounts.

And be sure to keep your End-of-Life Checklist in a secure place, like a safe or safety deposit box since it contains sensitive information. Inform your executor where it is located.

Joan Koczor of Maricopa is a senior advocate.

This column appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.


From width of doorways to styles of doorknobs, design and remodeling of homes for an aging population has drawn notice from the construction industry since the 1990s.

Though the topic is uncomfortable for many to talk about, surveys have found many seniors or soon-to-be seniors want to stay in their homes as they age. According to AARP, that’s 89%. The idea of having to move to a new living space to accommodate the issues of health or just slowing down is just not palatable.

Incorporating concepts of “universal design,” what became known as “aging in place” became an industry designation. It is no longer only about the lifestyle needs of the elderly but all who want to stay in their homes when health and mobility issues are directing them toward care facilities.

National Association of Homebuilders began offering certification for aging-in-place specialists, called CAPS. The organization wanted to emphasize home designs and redesigns that were not only accessible and safe but also aesthetically pleasing.

The newest member of Maricopa’s Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee said he does not think the talk about aging-in-place precepts among architects and builders has transitioned into action well enough.

“It turns out we have one of the few homes in Province that has adequate doors, adequate hallways,” Ron Smith said. “We have grab bars. I didn’t want them installed; I just wanted the blocking in the walls. I just wanted to be ready.”

Though he has spoken to several residential developers, the aging-in-place design options remain limited. He finds that frustrating, because the U.S. Census predicts the number of older adults (code for age 65 and up) will double by 2060 and surpass the number of children being born.

“It’s marketing,” Smith said. “People buying these homes are coming in for a lifestyle. You don’t advertise grab bars to them.”

Lennar introduced a Legacy Series of designs for age 55 and up in Texas communities, using aging-in-place guidelines. D.R. Horton introduced its Freedom brand in other parts of Arizona. Meritage and K. Hovnanian have 55+ communities.

The Smiths are not elderly or impaired. Like many, however, Ron and Helen had to meet the needs of their own aging parents. Seeing the issues that came up was enlightening.

Hall width, flooring, paint color, counter height and especially grab bars became topics of discussion.

“That’s the one thing that really annoys people are grab bars,” she said. They often look institutional and are also a physical reminder that age is creeping on. Too often a fall is the wakeup call.

“Until it happens to you, it’s not real,” he said.

National Institute on Aging Remodeling Tips
1. Don’t use area rugs and check that all carpets are fixed firmly to the floor.
2. Install grab bars near toilets and in the tub or shower.
3. Replace handles on doors or faucets with ones that are comfortable to use.
4. Install a ramp with handrails to the front door.
5. Reduce fall hazards: place no-slip strips or non-skid mats on tile and wood floors or surfaces that may get wet.
6. Place light switches at the top and bottom of stairs and remember to turn on nightlights.


While building a home for accessibility costs more than a standard home, retrofitting a home to meet mobility needs often costs much more but is still less expensive than moving into a care facility.

“What aging in place is all about is educating the homebuyer,  so that they understand what they may face and be prepared for it,” Ron Smith said. “You can build a house initially to have the right footprint so you can have wide doors, wide hallways when you frame it.”

The NAHB Aging in Place checklist includes 36-inch-wide doors and hallways, non-slip flooring, lever handles on doors and faucets, low- or no-threshold doorways, low windows with lots of natural light and 5-by-5-foot turn space in main rooms.

Smith said the aging-in-place concept inspired him to leave his work as a college administration IT and go back to school 15 years ago to learn more about universal design and aging in place. For about five years, he worked for an interior design company that did cabinetry. With the recession, he returned to college admin for more than three years before retiring in 2014.

“A lot of my work was in planning,” he said. “I’m one of those guys that like to think down the road. I love architecture and building and construction. All these things were coming together.”

Aging-in-place concepts go beyond adapting a home to age-related limitations to “universal design.” Unexpected health crises or physical injury can change a lifestyle in a second for anyone at any age and put surprising demands on your home.

This article appears in the February issue of InMaricopa

Photos by Kyle Norby

Maricopa’s Senior Info/Expo was Saturday at Copper Sky Multigenerational Complex and included workshops, organizations, vendors, resources, blood-pressure checks, hearing tests and food. Pinal County’s animal shelter also had dogs for adoption during the event.


Al Brandenburg

By Al Brandenburg

Most homes in Maricopa are just over 10 years old, and 10 years is the useful life expectancy of the original smoke detectors built into our homes. If you haven’t already replaced your smoke detectors, then it’s time to get serious about doing it now.

You might be diligent about replacing your batteries to quiet the low-battery chirping, but it is important to check the date of manufacture and date of expiration listed on the back side of the detector. If your home is more than 10 years old, the unit most likely has expired and may not sound an alarm if there is a fire even with fresh batteries.  Licensed electricians can provide new detectors and install them for you. You can also buy them and install them yourself. They are not expensive.

The easiest solution is to buy exact replacements of the smoke detectors you have now, using the same bases, wiring and connectors. (Remember to turn off the circuit breaker controlling the smoke detector first.) To disconnect the old alarm twist it, and it will drop down so the wires can be disconnected. Then plug in the new unit’s wire connector and twist it onto the base. No tools required.

Consider installing new alarms with 10-year lithium-ion batteries instead of regular alkaline batteries. Whatever way you choose to do it, do it now. It’s time.

Death from carbon monoxide poisoning can occur within minutes. You can help keep your family safe by using a carbon monoxide (CO) detector, which can alert you to the presence of this odorless, silent toxic gas.

Fuel-burning appliances such as gas stoves, gas dryers, gas water heaters and gas furnaces are generally well-designed, tested and safe to use, but over time components can age and get clogged. Should there be a clogged vent or any part of the appliance becomes faulty, hazardous levels of carbon monoxide could be released in your home.

When your CO detector is beeping:

  • DO NOT IGNORE the beeping of the alarm.
  • Open all windows to get air ventilation
  • Turn off any gas appliances
  • After the home has been ventilated, reset the carbon monoxide detectors
  • If the detectors do not sound the alarm again, to ensure your safety call a qualified technician to inspect and repair any gas problems.
  • Should the alarm sound a second time, call 911.
  • If the alarm did not go off, but the unit is chirping, replace the battery and check the expiration date inside the unit to see if the unit needs replacing.

If anyone is showing symptoms of CO poisoning:

  • Get everyone (including your pets) out of the house immediately.
  • Call 911.
  • Do not re-enter the home until emergency services has indicated it is safe to return.

CO alarms need replacing every five to seven years. You can get more advice from Maricopa Fire Department at the non-emergency phone number, 520-568-3673.

This column appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

Al Brandenburg


Al Brandenburg

By Al Brandenburg

Last month I wrote about the need for a cemetery and internment services in Maricopa. This month we’ll address some things a bit more on the lighter side, especially with the holidays here.

The notion of how old you feel versus how old you really are has been attracting more attention from researchers and medical professionals. Recent studies have linked subjective age — the age that you feel – to a range of health outcomes, including depression, dementia and longevity. The findings: The younger you feel, the better off you may be.

Adults who feel younger report fewer chronic conditions than those who feel older. They also take fewer medications, visit the doctor less often and are more likely to maintain a normal weight, according to data collected from a large national study on health and wellbeing led by the University of Wisconsin.

Some people might feel younger if they go for a walk outside, or, if they can’t walk, if someone takes them in a wheelchair outside, according to recent research. You might feel younger if you play a card game or an activity you did when you were younger. It’s a matter of finding what you enjoy and, if you have to adapt it, figure out a way to do so.

There are tons of things for seniors to do in Maricopa from the various gyms in town to golf and myriad people playing card games. Soon we will have an operating senior center with all kinds of activities to keep you thinking younger.

Research companies are working on medications that slow the process of aging. One of these that show promise in humans is RTB101, a drug developed by a Boston-based biotech company.

Here are readily available things that are proven to slow down aging:

Fruits and vegetables. There are more than 20,000 different phytonutrients in fruits and vegetables, and each has a unique role in fighting age-related damage to our bodies.

Lean protein. Studies have shown that people hold on to muscle better if they eat enough protein — at least 25 to 30 grams per meal.

Strength training. This can help improve metabolism and mobility by maintaining muscle.

Aerobic exercise. Walk, run, bike — move for a minimum of 30 minutes, five times a week.

Sunscreen and shades. They help reduce the sun exposure that activates free radicals and damages DNA.

Weight loss. Losing extra pounds, especially around the midsection, can help reduce inflammation.

Vacations. Offset chronic stress, which speeds aging by producing inflammation, by taking breaks. For acute stress, such as grief, counseling may help.

I wish my readers a healthy and safe holiday season. For your New Year’s resolution, vow to think younger and do something to keep you that way.

Al Brandenburg is a founder of Maricopa Senior Coalition.

Sources: American Institute on Aging, Medicine Net, US News.com, AARP.

This column appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.

Joan Koczor
Joan Koczor

By Joan Koczor

A recent article by Ginger Fligger with Pinal-Gila Council for Seniors states 173,000 people in Arizona will live with Alzheimer’s or another condition that causes the symptoms of dementia – memory loss, difficulty making decisions and communicating, and disorientation or confusion – by 2020.

In Pinal County the estimated number of individuals living with Alzheimer’s is 2,440. Individuals living with dementia as well as their spouse, child or others who are close to them often become socially isolated, due to stigma and lack of public understanding about dementia, as well as the difficulty in managing daily tasks.

Fligger goes on to report, “However, we are fortunate in Pinal County to have a new program called Memory Café, which has been implemented by Pinal-Gila Council for Senior Citizens.”

The Memory Café is a welcoming, social gathering for people living with dementia and their families, friends and caregivers. The number of family caregivers continues to grow in proportion to the aging population. The demands on family caregivers are multi-faceted. Demands are physical, emotional, financial and spiritual.

Most of the caregivers PGCSC works with are caring for either a spouse or a parent. These amazing individuals make personal sacrifices every day, placing their loved ones’ needs ahead of their own. PGCSC is offering an opportunity to put those demands to the side for a short period of time, enjoy a cup of coffee and make a connection with friends.

Guests are welcome whose dementia is due to any underlying condition, and at any stage of disease progression. The atmosphere is more like a coffeehouse or a neighborhood party than a clinical program. Guests are not asked their diagnosis. This way, individuals who have not been diagnosed or are not comfortable with their diagnosis feel welcome.

Information about resources and services is available for those who seek it. However, the Memory Café is to provide a break from focusing on disease and disability and just focus on having an enjoyable time.

The Memory Café meets the third Tuesday of every month at 10 a.m. at the PGCSC office located at 8969 W. McCartney Road in Casa Grande. Ginger Fligger, 520-836-2758

Joan Koczor is a Maricopa resident and senior advocate.


This column appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.

Desert cemetery in Pima County
Al Brandenburg

By Al Brandenburg

Now that a true senior center is in the offing for next year, Maricopa Senior Coalition (MSC) is refocusing its efforts toward other amenities our seniors sorely need, like ageing in place, senior transportation, and in-home health and wellbeing services.

Having said that, a longer term need also requires attention. At the moment, aside from a local branch office, the only interment and funeral services available are in Casa Grande, including a cemetery. We need a cemetery somewhere within the boundaries of Maricopa with a funeral home where memorial services can be held.

Planning for a new cemetery requires determining in the first place whether a cemetery is needed at all. If it’s needed, what size should it be? Where can it best be located where it will not be an obstacle to municipal growth and where it will not be a public health hazard? Do cemeteries depress property values and, if so, how can real estate depreciation be minimized? How can the cemetery and the community be protected against future neglect?

The permanence of a cemetery as a land use makes decisions regarding it unusually important. The city planner knows any building can be expected to outlive its usefulness in two or three generations. The planner also knows if there is civic necessity for the removal of a building, the procedure is comparatively simple, although the cost may be high. This is not true of a cemetery. Not only will the cost be excessive, but legal obstacles can very well make removal impossible.

Cemetery land is, for the most part, situated in or near our cities, where land is not in oversupply.

A city planner tackling a problem involving a cemetery faces pressures, ideas and laws not paralleled in any other city planning question. The disposal of the dead is enmeshed in religious doctrine, custom, fear, superstition and complicated statutory law. Probably the most important single technique in handling the promotion of cemeteries is the delicate public relations job.

Having said all of this, MSC will make this one of our longer-term project priorities by working with regional funeral service providers and city government toward enabling a privately owned cemetery to be built in the next five years along with a full-service funeral home. With the upcoming 2020 census, there is a strong potential that Maricopa’s population will grow along with a strong increase of seniors needing services.

With the many city improvement projects ongoing and planned for the next three-plus years, more people with families and related seniors will be coming to the area to live and take advantage of available services; thus local internment capabilities will increase in importance.

Al Brandenburg is the director and secretary of Maricopa Senior Coalition.

Sources: Legacy.com, the American Society of Planning Officials

This column appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.

Joan Koczor
Joan Koczor

By Joan Koczor

Effective Oct. 1, 2020, driver’s licenses in Arizona will not be compliant with the REAL ID Act, according to Arizona Department of Transportation. The REAL ID Act, which Congress passed in 2005, tightens requirements for identification presented by travelers at airports.

Arizona residents won’t be able to get through TSA airport security checkpoints with a standard driver’s license as identification. The non-travel license says “NOT FOR FEDERAL IDENTIFICATION” across the front.

The biggest visible difference between a standard driver’s license and the “voluntary travel ID” is a gold star on the top right corner of the new cards.

A travel ID costs $25 and is valid for eight years. Applications are available online at AzDOT.gov/travelID. Travelers must bring completed application to a Motor Vehicle Division office or an authorized third-party driver’s license provider to apply.

Three categories of identification documents are required. All documents must be originals or copies in English certified by the issuing agency.

Bring one: Proof of identity (birth certificate, U.S. passport, passport card). If you need a certified copy of an Arizona birth certificate, you can request one from Arizona Department of Health Services.

Bring one: Proof of Social Security Number (Social Security card, W-2 form). To order a replacement Social Security card visit the Social Security Administration website SSA.gov/myaccount and establish an account.

Bring two: Proof of Arizona residency via two printed documents with your current Arizona residential address (utility bills, credit card/bank statements, insurance policy). Note: If your current legal name is different from the one shown on a document, you must show legal proof of name change, such as a marriage certificate, divorce decree or court order.

Those who don’t have the required residency documents must complete an Arizona Residency Affidavit and supply additional proof of residency.

Joan Koczor is a senior advocate and Maricopa resident.

This column appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.

Joan Koczor

By Joan Koczor

Joan Koczor

Some of us are reaching that stage of our life when we are considering downsizing. Some are looking forward to removing the clutter and enjoying free time by moving to a smaller place that requires less upkeep.

If you are experiencing medical issues or unable to care for yourself, downsizing should be considered. At this time, it may become necessary for family, friends or your physician to discuss your options. Family members should use caution to ensure the senior feels part of the process.

Once the decision to downsize is made they will need to discuss what living arrangement is best for them.

Typically, renting or buying a smaller home or condominium, living with a family member or friend, assisted living, retirement community or nursing home facility are a few options you may have. Are there road trips you always wanted to take? You might consider an RV.

Taking into consideration where you will be moving and space available, a list of things you want to take with you and what can be donated or discarded can be helpful in the de-cluttering process.

Ask yourself: Is it necessary? Do I really want it? When is the last time I used it? Any financial value? Sentimental value? Are there a few things to pass along to family members?

No family members nearby? Feeling overwhelmed? There are several senior placement agencies in Arizona that can work with you. A representative will assess your situation taking into consideration your medical condition and needs, location and financial status.

If you are considering a senior placement agency do some research. Are they reputable? Is there a language barrier? Is the agency familiar with Medicare/Medicaid? Consider an agency that has the best experience dealing with all types of insurance. Does the agency charge a fee?

Downsizing is a life changing experience but not as scary as it sounds. It can also present new opportunities. A smaller living space means less maintenance and can free up time to pursue your hobbies, allow time to travel without the worry of what has to be done at home and more time for socialization. Check off a few items on your bucket list.

As with anything, exercise caution. Get as much information as you can before you make any decision. More importantly, do what is right for you.

Joan Koczor is a senior advocate and a member of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee.

This column appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.

Joan Koczor

By Joan Koczor

Joan Koczor

Falls are a real and growing risk to older adults’ health and independence and, in some cases, to their very lives. Falls can cause serious injury that can threaten independence and even result in death. A common misconception is falling is a natural part of aging and there is nothing you can do to prevent falling. Despite being labeled “accidents,” many falls are preventable and don’t have to be a part of aging.

The Healthy Aging Communications Network states, “Unintentional falls were the leading cause of injury-related mortality among Arizona residents 65 years and older. Accounting for an average of two deaths every day.”

  • Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in an emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.
  • Falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths.
  • In 2015, the total cost of fall injuries was $50 billion. Medicare and Medicaid shouldered 75 percent of these costs.
  • The financial toll for older adult falls is expected to increase as the population ages and may reach $67.7 billion by 2020.

A few safeguards you can implement outside the home:

  • Use bright outdoor lighting.
  • Install handrails on both sides of the stairs.
  • Check handrails periodically so see if they are loose or broken.

Inside your home:

  • Use night lights.
  • In the bathroom, install grab bars by the toilet and shower.
  • Use non-skid mats in the tub or shower. Have a light by your bed within easy reach.
  • Have a firm chair that has side arms, which can be used as support while you dress.Avoid walking on wet floors.
  • Remove throw rugs and other things on the floor that can cause you to trip and fall.

Additional proactive measure you can take to prevent falls include:

  • Review your medication with your doctor. Some medicines can make you dizzy or cause other side effects that can cause you to fall.Improve your balance and coordination with regular physical activity.Get yearly vision checkups as poor vision can increase your chance of falling.

This is a small sampling of what you can do to prevent falls.

ncoa.org/fallprevention, azdhs.gov/phs/healthy.aging

Joan Koczor is a senior advocate and a member of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee.

This column appears in the July issue of InMaricopa.

Joan Koczor

By Joan Koczor

Joan Koczor

Robocalls, those prerecorded, unsolicited annoyances that are becoming all-too-frequent in many households, have reached epic proportions. They are the largest source of consumer complaints to the FTC.

In 2018, a record 48 billion robocalls were placed to phones in the United States, according to YouMail, a company that blocks and tracks robocalls. That is 57 percent more robocalls than there were in 2017.

Legal or Not

Political parties and candidates, as well as charities, are legally allowed to autodial you with a prerecorded message to your home landline. The same is true of callers whose messages are purely informational: the pharmacy telling you that your prescription is ready, your child’s school to say there’s a weather delay, your doctor’s office to confirm an appointment.

Autodialed telemarketing calls from legitimate outfits to your home landline are also legally permitted, provided the person on the other end is a human being; for prerecorded messages, your written consent is required.

Payment reminder calls to your landline — for example, when your credit card company robocalls you to alert you that your payment is due — are generally legal without prior consent. Robocalls from debt collection agencies, which are also payment reminders, are legal to landlines and require no previous consent to be called. Moreover, these calls are not covered by the Do Not Call Registry.

Almost all autodialed or prerecorded calls made to your cell phone – charities, political parties to name a few – are illegal unless you have given permission to be contacted this way or a call is for an emergency. If you get these calls to your cell phone and don’t remember giving permission, it’s possible that you checked a terms-of-service box or provided a phone number during a sign-up process. Doing either can constitute consent to be called, per FCC regulations.

What can you do?

Many companies, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon, have services that alert you an incoming robocall may be from a scammer or spammer.

While the carriers’ systems can notify customers of calls that may be problematic, they are far from perfect. Scammers can still spoof legitimate numbers.

Instead of simply being alerted to incoming robocalls, a call-blocking app can intercept robocalls before they reach you. Though some apps don’t access your contact lists, some of the free apps do. If you’re planning to download a robocall-blocking app, read the app’s privacy policy first.

One option available from some phone companies is to automatically reject anonymous calls. If you turn this feature on, all anonymous calls are instantly rejected, preventing the caller from even leaving a message.

Joan Koczor is a senior advocate and member of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee.

This column appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

By Joan Koczor

The meaning of the American Dream has seen many changes since first introduced as early as the 1600s.

The American Dream is mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, which states “all men are created equal” with the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Freelance writer James Adams popularized the phrase “American Dream” in his 1931 book “Epic of America.” In his 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King Jr. based the civil rights movement in the African American quest for the American Dream.

As young adults, many believed they could achieve the American Dream by working hard, saving a little to provide an education for their kids so they could have a better life than they did, and retire with sufficient funds to see them through their retirement or golden years – hopefully, mortgage- and debt-free.

The new reality is people are living longer, more expensive lives with very little money in reserve.

The result is nearly one in five Americans older than 65 is working. Over the past decade, those numbers have risen faster than any other age group. Today, there are 9 million seniors working compared to 4 million in 2000.

Some seniors are returning to the workforce by choice while others are returning out of need. A recent poll showed many older people are more concerned with running out of money than dying.

Theresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist said, “There is no part of the country where the majority of middle-class older workers have adequate retirement savings to maintain their standard of living in their retirement.”

Seniors are traveling the nation looking for seasonal jobs offering hourly wages and few or no benefits.

Amazon’s Camper Force program hires thousands of seniors to box online orders during the Christmas rush. Websites such as Workamper News have been created listing various types of jobs.

This is not the case with all seniors. There are some who have adequate funds to enjoy a carefree lifestyle. That makes some of us wonder where we went wrong. How did they accumulate all that money?

A little grim? Reality can be like that.

Ask yourself – how important are money and possessions. You can’t put a dollar amount on sharing each day with the person you love, and having reasonably good health, a place to call home, food on the table and friends to share the good times and bad.

Joan Koczor is a senior advocate and a member of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee.

This column appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.

Is your family history in the Cloud?

Bob Marsh said there is a nationwide problem that could be turned into a golden opportunity for Maricopa.

Bob Marsh

“Everybody my age has a shoebox or 50 of photographs in a closet somewhere in their home,” said Marsh, a graduate of MIT with a degree in computer science. He has decades of experience working for and with Microsoft.

“When they moved here from Iowa or Minnesota, they brought those shoeboxes with them. Those photos contain historical records, faces, clothing, special scenarios and names of people who can be tagged if you digitized the photos.”

Marsh said if those images were then placed into an online cloud and people tell a story about what is known about the photo, they become historically valuable.

“That will become part of the knowledgebase for future generations. Once the Boomers die off, those photos go away. They aren’t time-stamped the way today’s iPhone photos are. The facial recognition doesn’t exist for them in the cloud. They lived in the 1920s, ‘30s, ‘40s, ‘50s before the digital camera was really a force.”

Marsh said he’s trying to connect with Ancestry.com and see if they are interested in adding these images to their data base and get a pilot project going with seniors in Maricopa to start moving these historic images into the cloud.

“We are an insular community, just as if we were an island off the coast of Hawaii,” Marsh said. “We are between two Indian reservations. You can do things here and word doesn’t leak out. We can get a pilot project going here with a senior center of some sort to use Android and iPhone technology to digitize photos.”

Marsh said with the proper application on a phone, the digital images taken of these old photographs are as good as, and even better than, computer scans of the images.

“With the right app, a senior could scan some photos and get four or eight at a time in one shot,” he said. “Bring them up on a big screen, go in with a mouse and keyboard and tag those photos. Give them a title and sub-title, add names and locations.”

Marsh hopes to nail down several things to get the project off the ground, including determining what phone applications work best and a place to start the project. He is also hoping for partnerships with large technology companies.

“Where seniors could gather around and have multiple work stations. They can socialize while they’re doing it,” Marsh said.

This story appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.

Joan Koczor

By Joan Koczor

Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. The brain will try to make almost any routine into a habit because habits allow our minds to ramp down; an effort-saving instinct.

Merriam Dictionary defines habit as an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.

Charles Duhigg in his book “The Power of Habit” explains once a habit is established your brain can take a backseat in the decision making. You instinctively do a task without much thought or conscious decision. You will continue to, unless you make the deliberate decision to fight back against the habit.

As we go through life we create habits that are normal to our everyday routine. These habits can be good or bad for our health or not impact our health at all.

Daily Health Lifestyles lists 12 habits we may do every day and should make an effort to avoid as soon as possible. A sampling:

Slouching while walking. Slouching is a habit that, for some, has become a way of life. The way we walk illustrates the mood we are in or how we are feeling. Walking with the back straight and the chest out means we are feeling excited or eager for what is ahead. Slouching may signal depression or not feeling motivated.

Letting others get the best of you. It is all-too common to worry about what others think about you and try their hardest to impress the ones that make an impression on a lot of people.

Procrastination. When you put things off until a later date you begin to subconsciously worry about not getting the task completed on time. Your sleep could be affected. And it could lead to the task becoming more difficult to complete because you have thought about this one task for so long you become anxious and stressed.

Multi-tasking. An increasing number of people multitask and often complete the work of three people at the same time. We are not allowing ourselves and our brains the small breaks necessary throughout the day.

Talking solely through text and social media. This has become a habit that should/must be avoided. There is nothing wrong with using text messaging or social media as means of contact; the problem comes when this is your only method of communication. Talking face to face with people allows us to become more intimate and allows the conversation to be more meaningful

Habits are here to stay, never truly disappearing. But, they can be overcome by learning new routines and practicing them over and over again.

Information from “Power of Habits and Daily Health Lifestyles” by Charles Duhigg.

Joan Koczor is a senior advocate and a member of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee.

This column appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.


MMCC will host a free briefing on “The Dangers of Long-Term Opioid Usage by Seniors,” March 22 at 2-4 p.m., at the Copper Sky Police Substation Community Conference Room. Presented by the Pinal-Gila Council for Seniors, it will cover both consequences and alternatives and will be appropriate for both seniors and caregivers. Light refreshments will be available.

Maricopa Multi Cultural Consortium (MMCC) provides educational programs important to senior needs and is working toward providing venues where seniors can gather and receive services.

MMCC exists to fill gaps in the City’s vision, plans and actions and to stir the pot to make things move in directions that are important to Maricopans in general. We are successful when our pot-stirring is effective, when those gaps get filled.

In recent times, MMCC has been asking the City:

  • To staff a person to coordinate the landing of national, state and regional senior services in our city so seniors don’t have to go to Casa Grande or Florence. The good news is City Manager Rick Horst and Community Services Director Nathan Ullyot have hired a senior-focused staff member, Brandelyn Baumhefner, to work on this issue.
  • For an increased focus on seniors at Copper Sky, especially when Copper Sky’s resources are underutilized during hours when commuters are out of town and when many parents are helping their kids with homework. Ullyot has a bunch of new concepts at the idea stage.
  • For some sort of senior center or a set of variously focused senior centers, perhaps a combination of physical and virtual/online centers, opportunistically using existing resources because of low levels of available funding. Horst, City Councilmember Nancy Smith, Age-Friendly Committee Chair Joan Koczor and County Supervisor Anthony Smith have responded at their levels and we have some excellent ideas in the pipeline, including a possible path to augment Copper Sky’s possible senior fitness center with a senior social center (with hot meals and social activities) in a city building currently being used for other things.

MMCC’s original goal was to create a community center with multi-focused, multi-generation, multi-cultural resources for people to come together to have a wide variety of events that are larger than somebody’s living room, more open than someone’s church, and lower cost than some commercial establishment.

Within the context of an eventual community center goal, MMCC down-focused its first project focusing on the group’s first and highest priority – seniors and Maricopa’s growth-killing embarrassment of being one of the only cities in Arizona without a senior center.

Ted Yocum, MMCC President
Bob Marsh, MMCC Treasurer
Al Brandenburg, MMCC Secretary


By Bob Marsh

Bob Marsh

I repeatedly see Facebook posts asking, “What services are available to seniors in Maricopa?” The question is coming from seniors who want to retire here, from homeowners who want to relocate their parents here, from retirees who are learning what it’s like to live on a fixed income, and from seniors who need help or are looking to enhance their lifestyle and get the most out of their senior years.

While the City of Maricopa and the Maricopa Unified School District have done a good job of providing a temporary replacement for the demolished Copa Center in the form of classrooms where seniors can gather to play cards, and while City Council has supported a monthly game night at Copper Sky, the senior years aren’t all fun and games. Our civilization has created an extensive set of resources and services to enhance our seniors’ lives and to provide a safety net when needed.

The Maricopa Multi-Cultural Consortium (MMCC) is working to pull together an inventory of all the federal, state, regional, county and local resources and services available to seniors, their families and their caregivers.

To start this off, MMCC, in cahoots with Joan Koczor and Arnold Jackson from the City’s Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee, hosted a presentation by the Pinal-Gila Council for Senior Citizens at the Copper Sky Police Substation in October. The presentation covered a timely summary of Medicare-based resources. (Medicare Open Enrollment is Oct. 15-Dec.7.) The presenter also provided information covering a long list of senior resources available through the Pinal-Gila Council and the Arizona Department of Economic Security, including categories like:

  • Adult Protective Services
  • Addiction and Drug Management
  • Aging, Disability and Caregiver Resources
  • Benefits, Entitlements, and Advocacy
  • Financial and Legal Planning Services
  • Food and Nutrition Assistance
  • Health, Medical, and Long-Term Care
  • Housing and Utilities Assistance
  • Independent Living Services
  • In-Home Services and Personal Care
  • Mobility Management
  • Pets and Pet Care
  • Physical Fitness Resources
  • Recreation and Community
  • Senior Employment and Adult Education
  • Transportation
  • Travel and Tourism
  • Tribal Services
  • Veterans Services
  • Volunteer Opportunities and Community Involvement

We’ll be working to add to this list and fill in the many resources available in each category along with information on how to access these resources.

Some key resources:

Most of these senior services are available online, by phone and through administrators and volunteers at Pinal and Gila counties’ Senior Centers in Apache Junction, Coolidge, Florence, Casa Grande, Eloy, Globe, Hayden, Miami, Payson and Superior.

Bob Marsh is a director and treasurer of the Maricopa Multi-Cultural Consortium and can be reached at bobmarsh@alum.mit.edu.

This column appears in part in the December issue of InMaricopa.

Silver Sneakers exercise classes are geared toward older adults. Photo by Michelle Chance

By Ted Yocum

Ted Yocum

“If we could turn the benefits of exercise into a pill, it would be demanded by patients and subsidized by government – it would be seen as a major breakthrough in cancer treatment.”

So says Professor Prue Cormic, chair of the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia, who helped formulate a position paper based on data gathered worldwide from 20 health organizations as quoted in the Arizona Republic.

There is overwhelming evidence that exercise for cancer patients contributes to longer life and less recurrence. What does exercise do for cancer patients?

  • Lowers the risk of heart disease. It can help overcome the stress of chemotherapy and radiation on the cardiovascular system.
  • Lessens the risk of osteoporosis and diabetes.
  • Improves your mood—lowers the risk of being anxious and depressed.
  • Helps with fatigue and tiredness.
  • Lessens nausea.
  • Contributes to higher self-esteem and helps improve your ability to keep social contacts.
  • Greater bone and muscle strength, less weight gain, leaner body mass.
  • Stress reduction. To quote the National Cancer Institute, “Evidence from experimental studies does suggest that psychological stress can affect a tumor’s ability to grow and spread.”

The list goes on.

General factors that may affect your ability to exercise include the type and stage of your cancer, your treatment regimen, and your overall endurance, strength and fitness level.

Generally, The American Cancer Society recommends “at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity at least three times a week.” However, as with any exercise program, it is important to first consult with your oncologist, get a physical examination, then discuss what is right for you considering your own abilities, stamina, limitations, frequency. Also, cancer patients may be at slightly higher risk for heart problems, which should be discussed with your doctor(s).

 The Maricopa Multi Cultural Consortium (MMCC) will present another educational program for seniors and their families Oct. 25, 2-4 p.m., at the Maricopa Police Department Community Conference Room (adjacent to Copper Sky). The topic will be “Benefits, Entitlements and Advocacy for Senior Citizens,” presented by Jane Jones and Jean Carr, benefit specialists from the Pinal-Gila Council for Senior citizens (PGCSC), a part of the State Region V Area Agency on Aging. Al Brandenburg, 315-427-5507

Finally, even if the cancer is advanced, or has spread to other places and is not responding to treatment, it might still benefit from exercise at some level to improve quality of life. But, the situation can change quickly. It is essential to base physical activity on continued close contact with your doctor along with your ongoing and changing goals and abilities.

Ted Yocum is a member of the Maricopa Multi Cultural Consortium and the Copa Seniors.

This column appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.



By Joan Koczor

Older adults need to be extra careful of overheating and heat stroke. As we age, our bodies cannot adjust to high temperatures as well.

Our sense of thirst decreases, which can cause seniors to not realize they are thirsty and face the dangers of dehydration. Common medications, such as those for blood pressure, flush water from the body. Diuretics or low-salt diets could also affect the way your body regulates temperature. Side effects from some medications can cause excessive sweating and diarrhea.

A daily intake of about six 8-ounce glasses of water is about average. Medications you are taking are also a consideration, so talk to your doctor about how much water you should be drinking each day.

A few simple steps can make a difference in how you handle these excessive temperatures.

Schedule a checkup for your home or car air conditioner – make sure both are running properly.

Keep the shades/blinds closed during the hottest part of the day. Eat light, cold meals like salads and chicken.

Drink plenty of cool water throughout the day. A body that is hydrated feels cooler and can regulate temperatures better. Lessen your caffeine intake. Take a cool shower. Put a cold cloth on the back of your neck. Wear loose-fitting clothing. Fans help circulate the air and can make an air-conditioned house feel cooler. Freeze plastic bottles of water, take one with you when you go outside. As the ice melts, you will have a supply of cold water.

Visit a shopping mall, library or coffee shop. Go see a movie.

Drinking enough water every day is one of the smartest, simplest ways to keep the body functioning properly. Be aware of the signs of dehydration – dry mouth/skin, lightheadedness, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat – and use these tips to keep cool throughout the summer. And don’t forget to take that water bottle wherever you go.

Remember, pets also need to be protected from dehydration and many heat-related illnesses.

Joan Koczor is a senior advocate and member of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee.

This column appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.

By Joan Koczor 

Initially, your primary care provider will be the first step in diagnosing many health issues. He will recommend screening, help you manage chronic conditions and, if needed, refer you to other types of providers or specialists.

A short list of specialists may include cardiologists, oncologists, allergists, psychologists, podiatrists and orthopedists.

Through all this, your life has changed – you’ve become a patient.

Your days are no longer ordinary. There are examinations, medications, diagnosis and treatment options, doctor appointments, hospital stays, decisions to make, endless paperwork, phone calls to health insurers. Who can you turn to in time of an emergency?

Dealing with any illness can be a very stressful time for patients and their families.

Add to that the health care system has become so confusing – think walking through a maze – that some patients may need someone to help them navigate.

A new trend is enlisting a patient advocate.

An advocate may be a member of your family or a close friend. An effective advocate is someone you trust and will act on your behalf as well as work with other members of your health care team.

Another type of advocate is a professional advocate. Hospitals usually have professionals who play this role called patient representatives or patient advocates. Social workers or nurses may also fill this role.

In choosing a patient advocate, it is important to decide what you want help with and what you can handle without assistance.

Do you need a better understanding of options for hospitals, doctors, diagnostic tests? Assurance your wishes are carried out if there comes a time you might not be able to do that yourself? Would you like your advocate to accompany you to tests, appointments, treatments and procedures? Assist you in wading through the never-ending medical bills? Become your representative to health care providers?

It is important to let your physician and those caring for you know who your advocate is and how much involvement they have in your care. Make sure your doctors and nurses have your advocate’s contact information. And the same for your advocate – provide them with numbers for your health care provider, hospital and pharmacy and anyone you wish contacted in case of an emergency.

Not all advocates charge a fee. Not all who do will charge for their services in exactly the same way. The cost may depend on:

  • your location, or your location in relation to where they are located.
  • the advocate’s experience and education.
  • the amount of time you work together.

Additional factors like necessary travel, acquisition of medical records, or others may cause the price to fluctuate.

PatientAdvocate.org, AdvoConnection.com/advocatelocations/arizona

Joan Koczor is a senior advocate and member of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee.

This column appears in the July issue of InMaricopa Magazine.

Joan Koczor

By Joan Koczor

Mesothelioma (me-zoe-thee-lee-O-muh) is a rare type of cancer of the mesothelium caused by exposure to asbestos. The mesothelium is a thin membrane that protects and lubricates different body cavities, such as the chest and abdominal cavities.

Men 60 years and older are often diagnosed several years after exposure. Women have contracted this disease from washing their husbands’ clothes, although the husband – exposed to asbestos – does not contract this disease.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that resembles a rock in its natural form. The rock will split into fibers, which are resistant to heat, fire and chemicals. Considered a natural product, it was widely used in the United States until the late 1970s. Over 3,000 products containing asbestos were in general use until the late 1980s.

Asbestos materials have been used in every branch of the military until the late 1970s. As a result, 30 percent of veterans have been diagnosed with mesothelioma.

It takes 20 to 50 years to develop and occurs in the lining of the lungs, chest, abdomen and heart.

There are three types of mesothelioma:

  • Pleural: Cancer of the lungs which is the most common because most asbestos fibers are inhaled. Symptoms may include shortness of breath and chest pain.
  • Peritoneal: Cancer of the abdomen. It is caused by ingesting asbestos fibers. Symptoms may include weight loss and nausea.
  • Pericardial: Cancer surrounding the heart. This is the rarest form and is rarely diagnosed while the patient is still alive.

Mesothelioma is often mistaken for less serious conditions. If you have been exposed to asbestos and are experiencing symptoms attributed to this disease, consult your family doctor. They will perform the basic tests and X-rays. Based on the results, your doctor will refer you to a radiologist who will do extensive testing – X-ray, CAT scan, PET scan and CT scan. These tests are used in the diagnosis of this disease.

A surgical biopsy is done and sent to a pathologist for review. A pathologist will review fluid or tissue biopsy samples to determine cell type. If the results of these tests determine further treatment is required, a qualified specialist will be suggested. One who has a wide range of extensive experience with mesothelioma cases.

A pulmonologist specializes in lung disease and evaluates lung function. A gastroenterologist specializes in disease of the digestive system and tissues which occur in the abdominal region. A cardiologist specializes in heart defects and other heart disorders.

Only 20 U.S. doctors specialize in the treatment of this disease.

The Mesothelioma Organization offers a doctor-match program, saving time and expense to those seeking treatment. Patient advocates are also available to answer questions and provide information.




Joan Koczor is a senior advocate and a member of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee. The Mesothelioma Guide provided information for this article.

This column appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

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By Joan Koczor

U.S. passport fees are going up $10, effective April 2. Adult passport books will be $145, children 16 and younger $115.

Joan Koczor

The less expensive passport cards, which are good for border crossings and travel by sea to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean but are not valid for international air travel, will increase to $65 for adults and $50 for children.

The price hike is due to an increase in the passport acceptance, or “execution,” fee. The U.S. State Department says it is increasing the passport acceptance fee from $25 to $35 to better cover the costs of processing passport applications.

The $10 increase does not apply to passport renewals by mail. Application fees, the biggest part of the cost of a passport, are not increasing.

This year, travelers from some states may need a passport card and not just a boarding pass and driver’s license to get through domestic airport security. While Arizona is already compliant with the REAL ID Act, which went into effect in January, other states received an extension to become compliant.

Ohio, for instance, is scheduled to become compliant in July, and Michigan will be compliant in October. Until then, travelers from those and other non-compliant states may need to show TSA agents a passport card.

REAL ID established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses (and ID cards) and prohibits the Transportation Security Administration from accepting cards that don’t meet the standards.

Passport cards were largely designed to be a smaller, less expensive alternative to a traditional passport book. It serves the same purpose as a regular passport book in that it allows you to prove both your U.S. citizenship and your identity while you’re traveling around the world. Instead of being a large book such as a passport book, a passport card is similar in size to a traditional credit card.

It also contains a radio frequency identification chip, also commonly referred to as RFID, as a security measure to help protect against identity theft.


Joan Koczor is a senior advocate and a member of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Board.

Source: https://go.usa.gov/xn7Ph

This column appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.