Category Archives: Senior Living

Scammers at the door

Senior News Line
by Matilda Charles

The guy who showed up today came to the wrong door: mine. I pegged him for a scammer before he even said a word. And I was right. The only thing I didn’t know was what kind of scam it was.

Turned out it was utilities. The guy claimed he was at the door at the request of my electric company to update my records. Then he said he only needed to scan my previous utility bill.

Wrong. I’d read about these guys.

First, I knew that my electric company didn’t send him. Second, if I’d showed him my bill, he would have had my name and account number and would know what rate I pay.

The scam works like this: With all that information, they would offer me a ridiculously low rate. If I signed up, before I knew it, my electric bill would have gone up 400 percent. I’d be locked into a contract and would have to pay a lot of money to get out of it. If I didn’t pay, they would send the bill to a collection agency, and it would show up on my credit report. So I shut the door in his face.

This particular scammer has a long history in other states, and there are class- action suits and investigations. They’ve targeted seniors, saying the local utility company had changed names and new information is needed, falsified signatures to sign up, come to the door again and again, misrepresented who they worked for, lied about rates and much, much more.

If someone shows up at your door with a clipboard and a photo ID hanging from their neck, it’s probably a scammer. If they ask for any information, it’s probably a scammer. Just shut the door.

Tai Chi Balance Classes seeking volunteers to train to teach seniors

Improve Balance, Increase Strength, Help Others

RSVP will offer volunteer instructor training in February for a senior Tai Chi program, providing active retirees a way to serve their community through teaching classes while also improving their own balance and staying fit.

The two-day training with the Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance Master Trainer is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, February 16 and 17, in Ventura. Several follow-up practices with other trained volunteers will be scheduled before volunteers lead a class. Most volunteers will practice over 30 hours before being certified to teach. Attendance at quarterly in-services will also be required. No experience is necessary, but volunteers must be age 55 or older and make a six-month commitment to teach three hours per week.

For more information on the instructor training or to register to be trained as an instructor, please call 385-8023. The free classes will be held in the four west county cities served by the Oxnard RSVP.

A federal grant received by the City of Oxnard and its RSVP program funds the free exercise classes, which are being offered in partnership with the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging.

Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance follows curriculum developed at the Oregon Research Institute (in Oregon) where studies showed improved strength and balance, increased mobility and reduced incidence of falls among seniors who participated in the classes.

The 12-week evidence-based program consists of a core eight-form routine of Yang-style Tai Chi with built-in exercise variations. It teaches participants balance skills and good body alignment by using coordinated and flowing movements. The classes are intended for adults age 60 and older who can walk easily with or without assistive devices.

RSVP is currently recruiting volunteers to lead the classes in Oxnard, Ventura, Camarillo and Port Hueneme; bilingual volunteers are particularly needed. Volunteers team teach to allow for vacation and sick time. All RSVP volunteers must be age 55 or better.

One in three Americans over the age of 65 fall every year and falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries among older adults. Falls threaten seniors’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs, according to the National Council on Aging.

Falling, however, is not an inevitable result of aging. Through practical lifestyle adjustments, participation in evidence-based falls prevention programs, such as Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance, and other interventions, the number of falls among seniors can be substantially reduced.

Those interested in taking the 12-week class, but not being an instructor, should call the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging’s fall prevention program at 477-7347 to have their name put on the waiting list.

RSVP is a volunteer recruitment and placement program, helping people 55 and older find volunteer positions that match their interests, talent and available time. The Oxnard RSVP has almost 575 members and is sponsored by the City of Oxnard. To learn more about being an RSVP member or to discuss other volunteer opportunities, call 385-8023.

Donald is looking for a new girlfriend at 104

Senior plans to read the Breeze until he’s 120. Photo by Michael Gordon

by Jennifer Tipton

Donald Gay Wright born November 11, 1913 in South Sutton New Hampshire resides at Cypress Place Senior Living in Ventura. I first met Don at Cypress when I did a wellness clinic there and he and many of his neighbors would line up to get their blood pressure checked. Don was 102 at that time and always looked so put together with his hair neatly combed and sporting a rather dashing bolo tie.

Catching up with the now 104 years young gentleman was quite a delight! When I asked for this interview, Don told me, “oh I like to talk!”.

Don grew up in a family of show business, “my folks did vaudeville; my mother sang and played the piano, there were marionettes, dogs, doves and Punch & Judy”. He still has one of the ventriloquist puppets named “Billy” that he promised his father he’d care for sitting in the corner of his apartment and wearing one of his father’s hats from show biz days.

Don’s middle name “Gay” is a family name. “John Gay came to America by ship in 1630”, he told me. The Gay brothers had a factory that made Melton fabric, the heavy wool fabric that was used for United States Army uniforms.

Don himself was a Captain in the U.S. Army. “I was in the army for 25 years and was a high school dropout throughout my army career”, he laughs. “I’ve worked all kinds of jobs – Forestry Department, Highway Department and once for the County with zoning reinforcement, I knew a lot of judges”. He said he liked his position with military government the best and the most exciting thing he’s done was to help set up the government in (South) Korea. “I’d love to straighten out North Korea”, he added.

I asked him what activities he enjoys, and he said, “I’m a camera bug, I have about twenty cameras; in the older days we developed our own film and it was a big thing when it wasn’t black and white anymore!”. Lately he’s become quite the artist, Don’s apartment is filled with his work including a Mona Lisa sketch that won him a ribbon.

And the age-old question (pardon the pun) – “To what do you attribute to your longevity?” (I didn’t tell him I’d read in a previous interview he gave all the credit to shredded wheat) … and he responded, “shredded wheat!”. I did tell him that I read he performed a drum solo at his 104th birthday party and Don said, “I’ve been playing the drums for ninety years! I played with the Big Bands”.

With the next issue of the Breeze coming out on Valentine’s Day … I asked, “are there any secret crushes we should know about?”

And Don replied, “a while ago, a lady named Cookie came to my door and said, “what happened to our relationship?”, I was 103 and didn’t think I had any relationship! But we really did fall in love; she was a great lady. I couldn’t imagine that at 103 I’d have a girlfriend!”. Don said, “I asked the Lord for a friend, and then Cookie showed up, and then He took her away, and He hasn’t sent a replacement yet!”

Donald G. Wright has 4 children, 10 grandchildren, 20 plus great grandchildren and 6 great-great grandchildren.

Don sums it up, “I enjoy the time I have on earth!”

Women’s history and social security

“Grandma I hope that you have planned early and wisely.”

by Essie Landry Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Sierra West Area

March is Women’s History Month. This is a time to focus not just on women’s achievements, but on the challenges women continue to face. In the 21st century, more women work, pay Social Security taxes, and earn credit toward monthly retirement income than at any other time in our nation’s history. Knowing this, you can take control of your own rich and independent history, with knowledge you can get from Social Security.

Social Security has served a vital role in the lives of women for over 80 years. With longer life expectancies than men, women tend to live more years in retirement and have a greater chance of exhausting other sources of income. With the national average life expectancy for women in the United States rising, many women may have decades to enjoy retirement. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a female born today can expect to live more than 80 years. As a result, experts generally agree that if women want to ensure that their retirement years are comfortable, they need to plan early and wisely.

A great place to start is with Social Security’s Retirement Estimator. It gives you a personalized estimate of your retirement benefits. Plug in different retirement ages and projected earnings to get an idea of how such things might change your future benefit amounts. You can use this valuable tool at

You should also visit Social Security’s financial planning website at It provides detailed information about how marriage, widowhood, divorce, self-employment, government service, and other life or career events can affect your Social Security.

Your benefits are based on your earnings, so you should create your personal my Social Security account to verify that your earnings were reported correctly. Your account also can provide estimates of your future retirement, disability, and survivors benefits. You can access my Social Security at

If you want more information about how Social Security supports women through life’s journey, Social Security has a booklet that you may find useful. It’s called Social Security: What Every Woman Should Know. You can find it online at

Free tax preparation for Ventura county residents

The Ventura County Area Agency on Aging and the AARP Foundation are partnering to offer tax preparation services to residents of Ventura County. This service is free and available to anyone of low to moderate income, and may be especially suited to those 50 and older.

To receive services, individuals must bring all necessary documentation, including applicable Social Security cards, a photo ID, a copy of 2016 tax return, and 2017 documents showing income from all sources including wages, Social Security, interest, dividends, investments, self-employment and pensions. For individuals that itemize deductions, please provide total figures for each category of deduction, including medical, charitable contributions, property tax, and mortgage interest. Any individual that received a health insurance statement (Form 1095-A, 1095-B or 1095-C), is asked to also bring the required documentation. Volunteers are unable to prepare returns for married taxpayers who file separate returns, or for taxpayers with rental property income. Volunteers are also unable to prepare out-of-state tax returns.

AARP representatives will be available on Mondays and Wednesdays from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. through April 16 at the VCAAA offices located at 646 County Square Drive in Ventura. No appointment is necessary, and participants are not required to be AARP members. This location is accessible to individuals with disabilities.

The AARP Foundation operates the AARP Tax-Aide program under a cooperative agreement with the IRS. To help you complete your tax forms, AARP’s trained and IRS-certified volunteers will see personal information that you give them about you and your finances. There’s no fee and no sales pitch for other services and AARP membership is not required.

The Ventura County Area Agency on Aging, an agency of the County of Ventura, is the principal agency in Ventura County charged with the responsibility to promote the development and implementation of a comprehensive coordinated system of care that enables older individuals and their caregivers to live in a community-based setting and to advocate for the needs of those 60 years of age and older in the county, providing leadership and promoting citizen involvement in the planning process as well as in the delivery of services.

95th birthday celebration held for Rae who is still fiddling around

Rae Huffman playing with Wayne Agnew who is just getting started at 75.

by Amber Hansen

The Old Time Country Bluegrass Gospel Music Association celebrated member Lady Rae Huffman’s 95th birthday during their meeting-concert held at the Poinsettia Pavilion on February 4th. Rae is a native Californian with a deep-rooted love for music- from classical to bluegrass. Lady Rae has been active in the music community for most of her life- she began with the violin, before discovering her passion for fiddling in the mid 1970’s. She has been a member of the Old Time Fiddler’s association for many years and a member of the Old Time Country Bluegrass Gospel Music Association since its creation in 2013. Her musical career has spanned her lifetime and she has achieved many accomplishments along the way. Lady Rae continues to inspire through her music and frequently performs with the Old-Country Grass Band.

Going back to 1979 Rae was the ladies state champion in the fiddle division, she has owned the violin that she plays at concerts for more than 85 years starting when shew as 10. Her early training was in playing the classics and the great tunes of the swing era.

A humble woman she stated “music has been a joy to me, all of my life.”

Wayne Agnew estimates they have played more than 1000 gigs together over the past 20 years.

Her daughter Kathy Rae Huffman said “Rae is very special to so many of us . She has been a corner stone of the organization and the band. She has always been willing to play anytime, anywhere.

Music has kept her strong, active and young at heart !!!

“She first came to Oxnard in the 1950’s with her Seabee husband. After moving around for a number of years with the military, they settled in Oxnard to retire, in the 1960s.”

“Mother and dad (he died in 1995) were involved with the Old Time Fiddler’s for many many years. She has rarely missed a concert, only when she was in the hospital with pneumonia a couple of years ago.”

Beginning on the first Sunday of March from 2:30-4:30PM, the Old Time Country Bluegrass Gospel Music Association will meet in the Knights of Columbus Hall in downtown Ventura. The meetings with the fine music and chatter are free so join them for a fine afternoon.

Forum examines community disaster preparedness

Be prepared just in case.

How prepared are we for the next disaster? Attend “A Call to Action”, a community-wide disaster education forum, presented by the Ventura Council for Seniors on Tuesday, February 20th.

It will take place at Ventura Adult and Continuing Education, 5200 Valentine Rd. Registration will begin at 9:00 am. The program will be from 9:30 to 11:30 am and will include a personal story of loss and resiliency, and a panel that will discuss useful advice in disaster preparedness.

Spanish language interpretation will be provided. A free lunch will follow, courtesy of the Downtown Ventura Rotary. Please RSVP to 648-3035.

Free income tax assistance from AARP Tax Aide

“After reading the 1,700 pages of the new tax code we may still need to call Trump.”

AARP Tax Aide, in conjunction with the IRS, will provide free income tax preparation assistance and e-filing for seniors and low-to-moderate income adults of any age from February 5 through April 12, 2018. AARP membership is not required. Assistance will be available at the following Ventura and Ojai locations:

In Ventura, the service is at the Ventura Avenue Adult Center, 550 North Ventura Ave, on Tuesdays and Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and at the Area Agency on Aging, 646 County Square Drive, on Mondays and Wednesdays from noon to 3 p.m. Appointments are not required at either site.

In Ojai, tax assistance is available starting February 1 by appointment only at Little House of Ojai, 111 West Santa Ana Street, on Thursdays from noon to 3:15 p.m. Call (805) 646-5122.

Taxpayers must bring Social Security cards for themselves, spouses and any dependents, picture ID, copy of 2016 tax return, and 2017 documents showing income from all sources, including wages, Social Security, interest, dividends, investments, self-employment, and pensions. If the taxpayer itemizes deductions, they should bring total figures for each category of deduction, including medical, charitable contributions, property tax, mortgage interest, etc. Please also bring ACA (Obamacare) year-end statements as well.

There is no age limit on being a volunteer

At 96 LaVonne Askay has returned to volunteering.

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something.” These words by Edward Everett Hale clearly reflect the attitude of LaVonne Askay as she returns to volunteer for Community Memorial Hospital’s Auxiliary.

Askay began working as a volunteer in 1978 after retiring from the Ventura Unified School District. She served for 40 years as a flyer, front desk receptionist, and was on the board of directors for two terms. It was not until her husband’s illness required her to spend more time at home that she had to move from active to sustaining/inactive status.

Now, several months after her husband’s passing, Askay, at 96 years young, has returned to active service in CMH’s Auxiliary. It is natural to ask the question, why? “I don’t want to waste my time, and I want to give back to my community,” was her quick response.

Askay’s favorite part about being a volunteer was meeting the wonderful people who came into the hospital and working with the other volunteers. It was the friendships with her fellow volunteers that helped sustain her during her husband’s illness. “You always get more than you give,” reflected Askay. “The Auxiliary is a wonderful group to work with and I am proud to be a volunteer,” said Askay.

LaVonne Askay is proof that there is no age limit on being a volunteer. CMH’s Auxiliary offers a variety of ways to serve our community and the hospital. As Elizabeth Andrew put it, “Volunteers don’t necessarily have the time, they just have the heart.” Do you have the heart? Come join our team of volunteers as they strive to provide comfort to patients and their families while furthering the best interests of Community Memorial Hospital.

Applications are available at CMH’s front desk.

Elders and companionship

by Connie De La Rosa

After spending time speaking with many seniors at senior centers, assisted living places and elder events, many find themselves quite content in being part of a community that can relate to their present situation such as illnesses, losses, changes and challenges. Not only do they feel accepted and understood, they feel their day is fulfilled by being with their friends and acquaintances.

Many family caregivers may feel protective over their loved one and worry if they are able to attend functions or not ready to accept the fact that their loved one is interested in meeting someone their age to spend time with. Most elders really only want to be able to spend time with someone in having a cup of coffee or having a nice dinner and sharing some of their experiences good or bad. After listening to a few elders making statements such as “I don’t want to worry my kids so I talk to my neighbors, my friend, etc.” or “My kids don’t understand or respect my wishes.”

Elders have a need, like most of us, to speak to someone who can understand their situation. As long as their doctor approves and your loved one would like to join a senior center or attend a function, let them do so. This will only enhance their life to their fullest.

For more information on the nearest senior center or senior events, please call 420-9608 for free information and resources. Family Caregiver Resource Center Catholic Charities- OASIS.