Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, April 1, 2017

MVNews this week:  Page A:10



Mountain Views-News Saturday, April 1, 2017 



Dear Savvy Senior,

I would like to get my 82-year-old mother, who lives alone, a 
home medical alert system with a panic button that she can 
push in case she falls or needs help. Can you recommend 
some good options to help me choose? 

Overwhelmed Daughter

Dear Overwhelmed,

A good medical alert system is an affordable and effective 
tool that can help keep your mother safe, but with all 
the choices available today choosing one can be quite 
confusing. Here are some tips that can help.

How They Work

Medical alert systems, which have been around for about 
40 years, are popular products for elderly seniors who 
live alone. Leased for about $1 a day, these basic systems 
provide a wearable help button – usually in the form of 
a neck pendant or wristband – and a base station that 
connects to the home phone line, or to a cellular network 
if no landline is present. 

 At the press of a button, your mom could call and talk 
to a trained operator through the system’s base station 
receiver, which works like a powerful speakerphone. The 
operator will find out what’s wrong, and will notify family 
members, a friend, neighbor or emergency services as 

 In addition to the basic home systems, many companies 
today (for an additional fee) are also offering motion 
sensitive pendants that can detect a fall and automatically 
call for help if your mom is unable to push the button. And 
mobile medical alerts that work when your mom is away 
from home. Mobile alerts work like cell phones with GPS 
tracking capabilities. They allow your mom to talk and 
listen to the operator directly through the pendant button, 
and because of the GPS, her general location would be 
known in order for help to be sent. 

What to Consider

When shopping for a home medical alert system, here 
are some things to look for to help you choose a quality 

• Extra help buttons: Most companies offer waterproof 
neck pendant and wristband help buttons, but some 
also offer wall-mounted buttons that can be placed near 
the floor in high fall risk areas like the bathroom or 
kitchen, in case your mom isn’t wearing her pendant. 
• Range: The base station should have a range of at 
least 400 feet so it can be activated from anywhere on 
your mom’s property – even in the yard. 
• Backup: Make sure the system has a battery backup 
in case of a power failure.
• Monitoring: Make sure the response center is staffed 
with trained emergency operators located in the U.S., 
are available on a 24-hour basis, and responds to calls 
• Contacts: Choose a company that provides multiple 
contact choices – from emergency services, to a friend 
or family member who lives nearby – that they can 
contact if your mom needs help.
• Certification: Find out if the monitoring center 
has been certified by Underwriters Laboratories, a 
nonprofit safety and consulting company.

Top Rated Companies

While there are dozens of companies that offer medical 
alert systems, here are some top options that offer 
both home and mobile alerts: Bay Alarm Medical (fees 
start at $30 per month for a home landline system,, 877-522-9633); Life Station 
($30/month,, 800-554-4600); Medical 
Alert ($33/month,, 800-800-2537); 
MobileHelp ($30/month,, 800-
992-0616); and Phillips Lifeline ($30/month plus a $50 
activation fee,, 855-681-5351). 

 Most of these companies offer discounts if you pay 
three to 12 months in advance.

 For mobile medical alerts only, you should also see 
GreatCall’s Lively Mobile and Wearable (these cost $50 
plus a $20 to $35 monthly service fee,, 866-
359-5606) and Consumer Cellular’s Ally ($150 plus $25 
per month,, 888-345-5509).

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

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! …April Birthdays*

Howard Rubin, Hattie Harris, Mary Harley, Bette White, Dorothy White, Doris 
Behrens, Freda Bernard, Beth Copti, Terri Cummings, Marilyn Diaz, Virginia 
Elliott, Elma Flores, Julia Gottesman, Betty Jo Gregg, Barbara Lampman, Betty 
Mackie, Elizabeth Rassmusen, Maria Reyes, Marian DeMars, Anne Schryver, 
Chrisine Bachwansky, Colleen McKernan, Sandy Swanson, Hank Landsberg, Ken Anhalt, Shannon 

* To add your name to this distinguished list, please call the paper at 
626.355.2737. YEAR of birth not required


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



Hawaiian & Polynesian Dance Class: Every Tuesday morning from 10a.m. to 11a.m. Join instructor 
Barbara Dempsey as she leads you in the art of Hula. 

Bingo: Every Tuesday beginning at 1:00p.m. Cards are only $0.25 each! Everyone is welcome to join. 
May be canceled if less than five people. 

Free Blood Pressure Testing: 2nd Tuesday of the month from 11a.m. to 12p.m. No appt. is necessary. 

Brain Games: Thursdays, 10:30a.m. to 11:30a.m., improve your memory and strengthen your 
brain. Activities facilitated by Senior Volunteers.

Free Legal Consultation: Wednesdays from 10:30a.m. to Noon. Attorney Lem Makupson is 
available for legal consultation. He specializes in Family Law, Wills, Trusts, Estates, and Injury. 
Appointments are required by calling 626-355-7394. 

Senior Club: Meets every Saturday at the Hart Park House Senior Center. Brown Bag Lunch at 

Tax Assistance: Every Wednesday beginning on February 1st through April 12th from 1:00p.m. 
to 2:00p.m. - Don Brunner is available for income tax consultation. Appointments are required by 
calling 626-355-7394.

Chair Yoga: Mondays and Wednesdays from 11:00 to 11:45a.m. with Paul Hagen. 3rd Monday of each 
month, a variety of balance exercises are practiced. All ability levels are encouraged and welcomed! 

*A suggested donation of $5 at one of the classes is requested, but is not required.

Case Management: Case Management services are provided by the YWCA and provide assistance in 
a variety of areas. Appointments are required and can be scheduled by calling the Hart Park House 
Office at 626-355-7394.

Birthday Celebrations: Every 2nd Thursday of the month at the Hart Park House, share some free 
birthday cake provided by the Sierra Madre Civic Club.

Game Day: Every Thursday starting at 12:00p.m. Come join this group of Seniors in a poker game. 
Other games are offered to all. Please note time change. 

Free Strength Training Class: Every Friday from 12:45p.m. to 1:30p.m. with Lisa Brandley. This 
energetic class utilizes light weights for low impact resistance training. All class materials are provided.

Stress, Resilience, Positivity: Finding Balance - by The Kensington Sierra Madre Four Tuesdays, 
March 7 - 28th from 2:00 - 4:00p.m. Register by calling 213-821-6919 or 213-821-6908. 



 nday, March 20th.

Level of walking: High;


 Tanaka Farms Strawberry Tour (Irvine)

 Date: Thursday, April 27th

 Time: 9:30a.m. to 2:30p.m.

 Meeting Location: Hart Park House

 Cost: $20.00 (Not including Lunch)


Come experience a real working farm in the heart of Orange County. Tour includes a guided wagon 
ride around the 30-acre Farm. Learn about and sample different fruits and vegetables in season. Pick 
and eat fresh, juicy strawberries. You will be given a one-pound container to fill with berries. Things to 

- Wear comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty.

- The farm is not handicapped accessible; and wagon rides on dirt

roads will be bumpy.... and lots of bending to pick berries.

- Bring your sack lunch to eat at the picnic tables.

- Spending money is optional for market shopping.

Level of walking: Medium – High.

Please call the Hart Park House for reservations at 626-355-7394. 


Most weeks when I don’t have a new 
article I have no excuse except lack of 
inspiration or just plain laziness. But 
last week I had legitimate reasons. 
At work we had scheduled not one, 
not two, not three, not four, not five, 
not six, but SEVEN meetings! Thank goodness one was 
postponed and two were canceled. Nevertheless, we had to 
be ready for all of them, which is why I failed to turn in a 
new story. This was especially irritating because I actually 
had a somewhat interesting, or at least “different,” idea --”The 
Secret Life of Plants!” 

 Just when I thought I’d exhausted all the weird and 
cheesy movies from the past, my dad found a truly delicious 
specimen, this documentary from 1978. I had heard of 
experiments in which plants were 
hooked up to lie detector sensors 
and they were shown to have some 
mind-reading capabilities. So when 
Dad told me this was part of the 
film, I simply had to see it for myself. 
Unfortunately, it took a long time, 
with a lot of footage of molten lava 
and overly dramatic music before we 
even arrived at the part that included 
narration. (By the way, I apologize 
if I get any information wrong in 
my retelling of the film. It’s been a 
while since I watched it, and since it’s 
fairly long, I don’t want to see it again 
anytime soon!)

 Also preceding the lie detector 
segment was a whole piece on a 
scientist in India around the turn of 
the last century who proposed the 
theory that plants experience human 
emotions. That was fine and good, 
but the film totally ruined it by having 
a musical interlude about him complete with black and white 
still photography embellished with the curly-cue motif that 
was popular in the 70’s. The whole thing lost all credibility 
with me at that point, but I couldn’t tear myself away.

 At last we arrived at the lie detector portion! An 
investigator for the FBI became interested in plants’ abilities 
to read minds and human intentions, such as whether or not 
a person was actually going to water them, or if they were just 
holding a watering can to trick the plant. In this segment, the 
researcher had the plant hooked up to a polygraph machine 
in one room, and he had a small beaker of brine shrimp 
poised over a pan of boiling water in another room. At a 
random time later that night, not known to the investigator, 
the beaker would be tipped over and the shrimp would be 
released to their deaths in the boiling water below. In order to 
remove any interference that his own thoughts and emotions 
had on the experiment, the researcher left the building and 
drove several blocks away. Interestingly, the plant’s response 
spiked at exactly the time the shrimp perished, suggesting 
that it was keenly aware of the suffering of other life forms 
in its environment.

 Other interesting parts of the film included a program, 
in what was then the USSR, in which the plants themselves 
operated the facility in which they were being raised, 
controlling the amount of light, air circulation, and watering 
they received. I think I recall another part in which a 
Japanese scientist hooked up his plants to a microphone and 
made recordings of their “speech.” His wife was working on 
teaching their succulents Japanese. 
There was also a primitive African 
tribe that claimed that the star Sirius 
has a sister star, invisible to the 
naked eye, that orbits every 50 years. 
Scientists have proven this to be the 
case. What it has to do with plants, I’m 
not sure, but it was interesting.

 But without a doubt, the ultimate, 
cheesiest climax of the film was --wait 
for it-- the interpretive dancer! Yes, 
some poor girl donned a leotard and 
fluttered around in an urban vegetable 
garden, then finished by leaping and 
bounding through a verdant park. 
The 70’s were weird indeed... 

 Well, I could tell you much more 
about “The Secret Life of Plants,” since 
the movie was over 2 hours long, 
but my column is not over 2 pages 
long. A lot of the film was taken up 
with time lapse photography, strange 
music, and even stranger interviews. 
But overall it was entertaining in an odd sort of way. There 
were many instances when I thought the film was ending, 
only to have it continue with some additional narration 
or plant footage. I forced myself to wait it out, even to the 
credits, which, too, proved to be cheesy as well. The whole 
thing wrapped up with a sappy song in which a woman 
sings “Oh, I wish that I could come back as a flower...” I 

 *Stay tuned for next week’s article, as my dad has introduced 
me to a whole new collection of campy films from the 70’s. I 
plan to enthrall you with “Empire of the Ants,” a gem from 
1977 with Joan Collins vs. giant, radioactive ants! That is, 
unless they schedule another 7 meetings at work.

Mountain Views News 80 W Sierra Madre Blvd. No. 327 Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024 Office: 626.355.2737 Fax: 626.609.3285 Email: Website: