Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, October 13, 2012

MVNews this week:  Page 14



 Mountain Views News Saturday, October 13, 2012 



Dear Savvy Senior:

Is it important to compare Medicare Part D prescription drug plans every year? My pharmacist recommends 
it, but it’s such a hassle sorting through all those different plans. What can you tell me? 

Confused Beneficiary 

Dear Confused:

Because all Medicare Part D prescription drug 
plans can change their costs and coverage each 
calendar year, comparing plans every year during 
the open enrollment period (which is Oct. 15 
– Dec. 7) is still the best way to ensure you don’t 
miss out on your best deal for 2013, especially if 
you take a lot of medications. 

Here are a few tips and resources that can help you compare plans with the least amount of hassle. 

Online Tool

If you’re comfortable using a computer, you can easily compare Medicare’s drug plans yourself online. 
Just go to Medicare’s Plan Finder Tool at, and type in your zip code or 
your personal information, the drugs you take and their dosages, and select the pharmacies you use 
and you’ll get a cost comparison breakdown for each plan available in your area. 

This tool also provides a five-star rating system that evaluates each plan based on past customer service 
records, and suggests generics or older brand name drugs that can reduce your costs. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that when you’re comparing drug plans don’t judge a plan strictly 
by its monthly premium cost. Low-premium plans are often associated with higher prescription co-
payments and may end up being more expensive. Look at the “estimated annual drug costs” that 
shows how much you can expect to pay over a year in total out-of-pocket costs – including premiums, 
deductibles and co-pays. 

Also, be sure the plan you’re considering covers all of the drugs you take with no restrictions. Some 
plans may require you to get permission or try a number of cheaper drugs before they will cover 
certain prescriptions. 

Get Help

If you need some help with this or if you don’t have Internet access to compare the plans yourself, ask 
your kids, grandkids or a trusted computer-savvy friend to help you, or you can call Medicare at 800-
633-4227 and a customer service representative will do it for you over the phone for free. 

Another resource that you can call on for help is your State Health Insurance Assistance Program 
(SHIP), which provides free one-on-one Medicare counseling in person or over the phone. They also 
conduct seminars during the open enrollment period at various locations throughout each state. To 
find the contact information for your local SHIP visit, or call the eldercare locator at 

Smaller Donut Hole

You also need to know that Medicare’s “donut-hole” coverage gap will shrink a little more next year. 
In 2013, Medicare Part D beneficiaries that hit the coverage gap will receive a 52.5 percent discounts 
on brand-name drugs, and a 21 percent discount on generic medications. 

For 2013, the coverage gap begins when your total drug cost exceeds $2,970 (that includes your share 
and the insurer’s share of the costs) and ends when combined spending is $6,733. After that, your Part 
D plan usually covers around 95 percent of your remaining drug costs for the year. 

Low Income Assistance

Also, be aware that if you’re a low-income beneficiary and your annual income is under $16,755 or 
$22,695 for married couples living together, and your assets are below $13,070 or $26,120 for married 
couples, you may be eligible for the federal Low Income Subsidy known as “Extra Help” that pays Part 
D premiums, deductibles and copayments. For more information or to apply, call Social Security at 
800-772-1213 or visit

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit 

 By Pat Birdsall

FYI: I’m Baaack! Having started Senior Happenings in this publication several years ago, 
I took a substantial break. I’m ready now to get back in the saddle and resume keeping the 
seniors informed as to what is available for them in our community. I’m going to revert 
back to some of the format that I used to do, except for the Recipe of the Month. The editor 
has moved that to the Good Food & Drink page and is now calling it: “In the Kitchen, Our 
Favorite Recipe of the Week.” That’s just as well... as most of you know, Betty Crocker never 
spent much time at my house...Truth be told, she didn’t spend any time at my house. 

 I would also like to add more names to the monthly birthday list...That of course, depends 
on what age you think qualifies one to be called a “senior.” I’ll leave it up to the individual. 
If you would like to see your name in print for your special day please call the paper at 
626.355.2737 and leave your name (spell it please) and your birthday month only.

The two vacancies for the Senior Community Commission have been filled. Two more worthy 
candidates would be hard to find. Please welcome Fran Garbaccio and Marilyn McKernan! 
Our Senior Commission needs input from YOU; they can’t get it through osmosis. They 
meet in the Council Chambers on the first Thursday of each month at 3:00 P.M. It’s difficult 
to have enthusiasm for a meeting with nobody in the audience. Please make the effort to 
attend...after all, what they discuss and decide to do as policy, directly influences you.


 ~ Helpful Hint~


Sharper Scissors:

Take your dull scissors and cut through 3 layers of tin foil 10 times. Cut some paper to test. 
Repeat if necessary. OR cut a sheet of medium-grade sand paper into small pieces. Lastly, 
you can cut an SOS pad or a Brillo pad in half with the scissors, this sharpens the scissors 
and also gives you two pads instead of one. Being frugal is a good thing. Be careful not 

to cut yourself! 


For Your Funny Bone 


My neighbor’s son picked up a stray dog and named it Sam. Some time later I was at their 
house and inquired about Sam. “Oh, the dog is fine,” my neighbor said. “She had a litter of 
puppies, and so we fixed the problem. Now we call her Sam Spayed.” 





 Sole Krieg, Margit Johnson, Ann Tyler, Pat Birdsall, Dick Anderson,

Barbara Cline,Mary Jane Baker,Cathleen Cremins,Alma Mays, Eva Poet, Dixie 
Coutant, Angela Stella, Darlene Traxler, Darlene Crook, Gloria Giersbach, Susan Gallagher, 
Maggie Ellis, Elva Johnson, Ellen O’Leary, Jenny Piangenti, Gail-Ann Skiles, Anita 
Thompson, Adie Marshall, Lillias Eubanks.

AND, add to that stellar list: A very special birthday for a very special man! 

On October 5th, George Maurer turned 90! He is the gold standard when it comes to 
community service...our community. He so tirelessly lends a hand wherever it’s needed; 
whether it be family or the community at large, he’s always there to lend a helping hand. 
Happy Birthday my friend! 


 *Quote: Everyone is the age of their heart. ~ Guatemalan Proverb


ACTIVITIES: Unless listed differently, all activities are at the Hart Park 
House (Senior Center) 222 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre

YMCA San Gabriel Valley Intervale Senior Café:

 Monday-Friday at 12:00 Noon

(Participants are urged to arrive no later than 11:45 A.M.) All seniors 60 and up can take 
part in the lunch program. There is a suggested donation of $2.00 for those 60 and over and 
$3.75 for non- senior guests. Daily reservations are necessary as space is limited. Please 
call 24 hours in advance...626.355.0256


Free Blood Pressure Testing: On the 2nd Tuesday of the month from 11:00 am-12:00 pm: 
A nurse from Methodist Hospital, Arcadia volunteers to do the readings. No appointment 


Bingo: Every Tuesday afternoon from 1:00 pm- 3:00 pm. Cards are only .25c each! 

Free Chair Yoga: Every Wednesday morning from 11:00 am-11:45 am. Volunteer Teryl 
Willis offers this class that focuses on senior yoga techniques. It is geared toward gentle 
movements, breathing techniques and balance improvement. No reservations are necessary.


Free Legal Consultation: Pasadena attorney Geoffrey Chin volunteers on the 2nd Wednesday 
of the month. He focuses on estate planning, trusts, wills, probate, conservatorships and 
business law. *Appointments are a must. Please call Adam Matsumoto at 626.355.7394 to 
make yours. * Conflicting court schedules can occasionally cause cancellations.

Birthday Celebrations: The 2nd Thursday of the month the Senior Center celebrates 
the birthdays of our patrons at 12:30 pm. Please join us for free cake and ice cream and 
“celebration.” (The cakes are provided due to a generous donation from the Sierra Madre 
Civic Club.) 

Game Day: Every Thursday at 1:00pm. Poker is usually the game of choice, or should I say 
chance? Board games and other card games are also available.

Free Strength Training Class: Every Friday from 1:00 pm -1:45 pm Conducted by long-time 
volunteer Lisa Brandley. The class utilizes light weights for low-impact resistance training. 
Weights are provided by the Sierra Madre Senior Center. It’s a great way to stay in shape and 
to socialize with your peers. (Gossip, is also free of charge).




 Friday, October 26th: Departure at 9:30 am from the Hart Park House.

 Lunch & activities: 10:30 am- 2:00 pm

 Return: To the Park House at 3:30 pm 
Cost: $10.00 (does not include lunch) 


Graber Olive House tour highlights the tradition of grading, curing and canning of Graber 
Olives. After the tour, lunch will be at Molly’s Souper, a wonderful brunch restaurant in 
Upland. (All participants are required to eat at the same restaurant.) For more information 
on the Graber Olive House visit 

Registration deadline is Monday, October 22nd Call the Hart Park House at 626.355.7394 to 
make reservations or to get more information.

 “NEW”- Senior Movie Program: Movies are shown on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of 
the month. The films are chosen by the seniors themselves and will be shown in Council 
Chambers (222 W. Sierra Madre Blvd.) at 1:00 pm. The price of admission??? FREE!

 *The Senior Moments Newsletter has been updated thanks to Adam Matsumoto. To receive 
a copy by USPS or on your computer, please call Adam at the Senior Center...626.355.7394.



 Governor Brown recently gave 
Californians official permission to drive 
“autonomous” cars. This is great news, 
since I am admittedly not the world’s 
greatest driver! I console myself in knowing that other 
women whom I hold in high esteem (e.g., my pastor’s 
wife) suffer from this same driving impairment --being 
under five feet tall. I’m not complaining about my modest 
stature (I’d much rather be too short than too tall!). 
However, being short has its pitfalls. If you’re munchkin-
height, you can’t reach things on the top shelf at the 
market, and all your pants have to be shortened. Also, 
I’ve sometimes had to sit on a stack of cushions to see over 
the dashboard. I love my Civic for many reasons, but one 
of its main advantages is that the seat can be cranked up 
high enough for me to see over the steering wheel! 

 Despite this improvement, I still have poor perception of the distance between my car and the 
curb. It was at the San Gabriel Hilton, where I was attending a mandatory conference for work, that 
I overestimated my distance from a very solid, concrete pillar. I’ve never enjoyed driving on Valley 
Blvd. through San Gabriel, but this incident “cemented” my feelings about that area. Valley Blvd. has 
been the scene of many accidents. The only thing I hate more than driving on Valley Blvd. is parking 
in one of its subterranean structures.

 Returning from the conference upstairs, a colleague and I noticed that nearly half of the spaces had 
signs with warnings such as, “Staff Parking Only! Vehicles will be towed at owner’s expense!” These 
staff/valet only signs weren’t all together in rows, instead they popped up periodically among “safe,” 
spaces. “Don’t tell me my scraped car has been towed, too!” I thought. I was thankful to God to find 
my car! I very slowly, cautiously left the structure.

 So you can see how I’d love a car that could parallel park itself and maneuver around obstacles like 
pillars! Apparently these new cars of the future are rigged up to Google Street View, and use artificial 
intelligence to keep you from side swiping fellow motorists and barreling down one way streets the 
wrong way. But there’s more!... These cars have successfully navigated the steep, hairpin turns of 
San Franscisco’s Lombard St. Hey, I heartily embrace artificial intelligence any day it can accomplish 
something I would never attempt! I have no qualms about admitting a machine is more skilled than 
I am!

 Nothing is perfect, however, and the car’s makers allow for human intervention when needed. 
Apparently if you wake up in the seconds before your car decides to plunge over a cliff, you can 
escape death by breaking or turning the wheel a certain way. But in the great scheme of things, that’s 
a risk I’d be willing to take. I’ll just be careful to avoid driving near cliffs. The next innovation should 
be something for those few of us who HATE shopping for clothes. Maybe a little R2D2 could be 
programmed to have “fashion intelligence,” visually take my measurements, and then buzz around 
the store collecting clothes while I read the paper. If they come out with this, remember, you saw it 
here first!