Tag Archives: retirement

Uber and Lyft

March 26, 2017 by
Illustration by Matt Wieczorek

With the post-millennial rise of ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft, a generation weaned on digital technology could suddenly tap a smartphone app, summon a private car driven by the owner, and pay for the fare electronically. Easy peasy.

Uber and Lyft can thank their younger demographics for pushing revenue into the billions of dollars.

But guess what? Both transportation companies have figured out that profitable fruit doesn’t only come from young trees. The push to make ride-hailing easier for retired Americans looms on the horizon, and that horizon can’t come into focus soon enough.

“Transportation has always been one of our greatest challenges,” says Erin Endress, director of sales and marketing at Remington Heights, a retirement community in Omaha. “We have vans, but getting residents to and from medical appointments takes priority, which it should. That leaves little opportunity for trips just for fun. We could definitely use a transportation alternative, as long as it’s safe.”

And for those who still live at home but whose eyesight or reflexes may not be the best?

“Personally, I think Uber and Lyft are going to make a huge difference for folks as they stop driving or don’t drive as much, or as far, on their own,”  says Cynthia Brammeier, administrator of the Nebraska State Unit on Aging. “I’m looking forward to getting to that point. It’s awesome!” she exclaims, having personally experienced the buzz surrounding Uber while visiting another state.

Nebraska came late to the party, approving Uber and Lyft operations in July 2015, which may explain a lack of awareness among Omahans in general.

The necessity of a smartphone to summon a ride excludes many seniors from ride-hailing apps. According to the Pew Research Center, 70 percent of those 65 and older don’t own a smartphone, instead preferring cheaper, old-fashioned flip phones with limited data capabilities.

One segment of the senior population did benefit immediately from having the transportation alternatives in Omaha: drivers.

“I’ve been with Lyft for over a year. It’s my only job now, “ says Dave*, 68, who prefers to remain anonymous. Working about four hours a night, the Dundee resident brings home “between $400 and $500 a week working the entertainment district and trips to the airport. But that’s not counting my car payment, gas, and insurance.”

The insurance question explains why Dave doesn’t want to be identified. Both Uber and Lyft have up to $1 million in liability coverage. But if a driver gets into an accident on the way to pick up a passenger, how much his or her personal insurance carrier will pay out becomes murky, since the driver uses the car for profit.

The advantages of ride-hailing services, previously called ridesharing, seem pretty clear.

“We’re half the cost of a cab,” Dave says. “We pick up passengers within five to 10 minutes. The cars are newer, clean, and have to be four-door. No cash exchanges hands, unless the passenger tips me in cash.”

The advantages for Dave include setting his own work schedule, meeting “wonderful people,” and showing off his hometown to visitors. “I love Omaha and I consider myself an ambassador for this city,” he says. “Nearly all my passengers say how friendly we are here.”

But why would someone in their 80s summon a stranger to their home to pick them up?

“[The companies] check us out pretty good,” Dave assures. Both Uber and Lyft conduct extensive background, criminal, and DMV checks. Lyft sent an employee to inspect Dave’s Toyota. “Believe me, we’re safe.”

The opportunity for seniors without smartphones to utilize Uber or Lyft as passengers depends greatly on a “no app required” platform. One such service recently appeared on a list of transportation options compiled by the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging.

“It’s called GoGoGrandparent,” says Taylor Armstrong of the ENOA. “We’re told you don’t have to use a smartphone. People just call a number.”

The brainchild of a California man whose grandmother couldn’t tool around San Diego anymore, GoGoGrandparent uses a toll-free hotline to connect seniors with an operator, who then summons an Uber car for them.

“We’re not recommending this service over all the other transportation options ENOA offers,” cautions Jeff Reinhardt of the public affairs division. “We haven’t gotten any feedback yet on GoGoGrandparent.”

Lyft’s contribution to creating easier access involves senior-friendly Jitterbug cell phones and smartphones. When paired with a 24/7 health care provider, a registered user simply dials “0” on the Jitterbug phone and books a ride through the operator. This pilot program has yet to find its way to Omaha.

“We’re going to be top-heavy in seniors in the next 10 to 20 years,” Endress says. “There’s a huge need for entrepreneurs who want to make a difference in someone’s life.”

As evidenced by the rapidly changing technology that grants the gift of mobility, the difference-makers have arrived.

Visit uber.com, lyft.com, and

gogograndparent.com for more information.

* Dave is not the driver’s real name.

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of 60 Plus.

Pickleball

July 16, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

This article published in July/August 2015 60-Plus.

It’s played on a badminton-size court, but with the net lowered to 34 inches at the center. The paddles look like a hybrid of racquetball racquets and table tennis paddles. The rules are somewhat similar to tennis, but the serve is underhand. And the ball looks more like a whiffle ball than a vinegar-soaked cucumber.  It’s Pickleball—a sport that is quickly gaining a large following, with the local club, Pickleball Omaha, boasting around 225 members.

The game’s origins date back to a 1965 Washington state backyard, and even its creators can’t quite agree on whether the name came from a family dog or a term associated with rowing. Regardless of this, pickleball has evolved over 50 years from an improvised family pastime to a thriving, widely recognized passion. The statewide organization, Pickleball Nebraska, was founded in 2012, and the sport has been part of Nebraska’s State Games of America (formerly Cornhusker State Games) since 2011. It is even going to be part of the State Games of America’s national competition for the first time this summer when Nebraska serves as host state.

Pickleball Nebraska President Bill Holt discovered the sport in 2008 while wintering in Arizona. It was popular with the retirement crowd there, he says, but relatively unknown back home in Nebraska—without an organized following or designated courts. So Holt and his wife, Nancy, created a makeshift playing field on an Omaha tennis court that spring and began introducing friends to the sport. Interest has grown steadily since.

Pickleball3

“There was no place to play pickleball in Nebraska that I was aware of, and nobody I knew played,” Holt says. “We now have 10 places to play listed (on the USA Pickleball Association website at uspaa.org) and there are actually more than that.” More information on this pastime is available at pickleballnebraska.wordpress.com, and players can now also find local places to participate through the club’s page on Facebook.

Like Holt, Camille Culp’s association with pickleball originated in Arizona. Her husband, Wayne, played the game for the first time on a business trip six years ago, introduced Camille, and soon the couple found other enthusiasts in Omaha. Culp was one of the first women to play locally, and she says introductory clinics, open play sessions, and a welcoming community have helped the sport grow in the area. Women now make up more than half of Pickleball Nebraska’s membership.

“That’s the pickleball thing, always chat up whoever stops by,” says Culp, who now serves as the group’s treasurer. “They can try it right away and see what they think, and of course, in my opinion, 95 percent of them are hooked.”

Pickleball2

Holt says club members range from 30-something to 82, and most participants play doubles. A high degree of physical conditioning isn’t necessary to start, but the game can be very intense and local players self-classify as A-level, B-level, or somewhere in between to determine if they should play recreationally or competitively.

“Anybody can join. The typical person is 60-65 and has played sports; I’ve always been fairly active in one thing or another,” Holt says. “Anyone can learn to play…it’s great for all ages.”

“It’s relatively easy to learn,” Culp agrees. “I only see the sport getting more popular.”

Pickleball1

Riding into the Sunset?

May 13, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

In February 2013, U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns announced he would not seek reelection for his senate seat this November. But don’t ask him if he’s looking forward to his retirement.

“Well, retirement is always (discussed) in these circumstances when you’ve decided not to seek reelection,” Johanns says. “I honestly don’t plan on retiring as such. I’m not exactly certain what will be next, but no, it won’t be retirement.”

Due to senate ethics rules, Johanns isn’t able to officially accept offers for employment until after the November elections, “but you can answer a call or a letter, and it looks like there’s a lot of interesting things out there,” he says.

Of course, if he was to retire, who could blame him? His political career is coming to a close after 32 years of public service across a variety of offices. During those 32 years, Johanns was either running for something, or his wife Stephanie was running for something, or he was serving, or Stephanie was serving. For her part, Stephanie has worked as both a county commissioner and a Nebraska state senator.

So, it’s hard not to speculate in an information vacuum. The most natural move, considering his past, might be some form of return to his agricultural roots. After all, Johanns is a farmboy at heart. And, in his life outside of city and county government, agriculture has been a major focus of his life.
In fact, early on, he considered a life on the farm he grew up on in Iowa. “You know, I gave it a lot of thought. My parents put a tremendous amount of value in education. And they would always say, ‘Get an education, then come and talk to us about farming.’ I think they knew that once we left the farm and got a college degree, I think they were fully aware of the fact that we probably weren’t going to end up farming.”

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He did end up back on the farm for one summer after receiving his bachelor’s at St. Mary’s University. “I loved farming,” he says. “And I was good at it. I was good with livestock and good with equipment.” But, his great passion was the law. So, after undergraduate work in Minnesota, he attended Creighton Law School.

With law degree in hand, Johanns began to consider running for political office. But that young Johanns is not the politician we know now. Consider: He had grown up in a devoutly Catholic family with pictures of the Pope and John F. Kennedy on the wall. “I think as a very young man, I kind of thought, gosh, what a great calling. I must admit, (Kennedy) probably sparked the interest as much as anything.”

In 1981, Johanns ran for county commissioner in Lancaster County as a Democrat. He was elected to the position in 1983.

Before Johanns won his seat with the Lincoln City Council, he found himself inspired by another charismatic president: Ronald Reagan. His view of the role of government shifted. In time, he says, “I just felt the conservative philosophy matched my judgments better.”

Johanns was elected mayor of Lincoln in 1991 and served for eight years. Immediately after, he became Nebraska’s governor. He was reelected for a second term in 2002, becoming the first Republican to do so since the ’50s.

As governor, Johanns traveled frequently, often to Asian countries to facilitate the sale of Nebraska agricultural products to a growing middle class. Johanns’ background in agriculture didn’t escape the attention of Washington, D.C. George W. Bush appointed Johanns as his Secretary of Agriculture in 2004.

“I had the background in agriculture, I came from a big ag state. This was a natural,” Johanns says.

After a few years in a cabinet position, he was ready for something else. So, he ran for the U.S. Senate. “It was just a great opportunity to take that ag background, a background as mayor and governor, and put that to work.”

As Johanns prepares to leave his seat in the Senate this November, he can look back on a career that’s fairly controversy-free. Indeed, the few controversies in which he’s been embroiled where more a consequence of party politics, not his own maneuvers. Take, for example, the explosive issue of the government shutdown last October. His natural inclination was to negotiate and diffuse.

“I said before the shutdown, I wasn’t sent to Washington to shut down the government.”

He reflects that each office he has held had its own challenges. If closing government was a nightmare at the federal level, trying to open a new jail (as any city or county officials would likely agree) was a nightmare in Lancaster County. “As county commissioner, we built a new jail. And nothing is more controversial than a new jail. No one wants to spend money on jails.”

Perhaps public life was more contentious at the most local level. When he was on the Lincoln City Council, there were budget issues. Throughout eight years as mayor of Lincoln, controversy was everywhere from budgets to planning.

While Johanns says he has no plans for retirement, it is clear he has plans for a more leisurely pace in life. When describing his idea of the perfect future—halcyon days spent with his wife and grandchildren—he does sound a bit like a man targeting semi-retirement.

“A life that would let us focus on our faith—faith is very important,” he says. “We have grandkids, and I have two children by my first marriage, and then five grandchildren. Stephanie and I want to spend more time with family.”

It also sounds like Johanns hopes to spend more time in the couple’s home in the Old Market enjoying his wife’s company.

“Stephanie wakes up every day believing that it’s this day that’s the best day of her life. And that attitude just…if you met her, you would say how does she do that? But she lives her life that way. The two of us have just had the most amazing time.”

Dating Over 60

August 28, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Jim Hanson peruses a sea of online profiles, hoping to find his match. What sets this self-professed Renaissance man apart from thousands of other men doing the same exact thing? His age: 65. At a time in life when most people his age are thinking of retirement and mutual funds, he is looking for love.

After being happily married for 33 years, Hanson, a widower, found himself in a position understood by many of his generation: He was alone. Never one to give up, he has tirelessly searched for the right person for the last seven years. “I have met a lot of neat people in that time,” he says. “The main thing I noticed that’s different dating now than then [in his 20s] is people have twice the baggage.” He explains that there are two groups of people he has encountered on his quest: widows and divorcees. “The thing about baggage is you gotta find someone to help you unpack it.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, people 65 and over make up 13.9 percent of Nebraska’s population. Many local seniors are experiencing being single again after the death or divorce of a spouse. Plenty are turning to online dating sites to meet other people.

This was the case for Linda Knapp. “It is really difficult to meet people,” she admits. Despite the fact that she owns her own business and interacts with countless people both socially and professionally, the 66-year-old has not dated much in the last year and a half. “I don’t like going to bars. It’s difficult to find a venue to meet people of my generation.” Like many, she turned to online dating. After a couple of bad experiences, she decided it wasn’t for her.

“The thing about baggage is you gotta find someone to help you unpack it.” – Jim Hanson

Karen Larson doesn’t look at seniors dating as any different from the younger generations. “No matter what age, it’s difficult to meet people.” Which is why the local 56-year-old started organizing meetup groups on Plenty of Fish, an online dating forum, to help people get out there and meet new people. “I like to host in small venues so people can actually get a chance to talk,” she says adding, “It’s a safe environment where people can meet.” According to her, a safe environment is what women want. “Many women from my generation have never walked into a bar by themselves.” She will meet up with people and help ease their anxiety, acting as a modern-day matchmaker.

“I have success stories,” she says. One woman who was nervous about attending a meet-and-greet that Karen organized found her special someone after attending the gatherings for a few months.

“Everyone has baggage,” Larson says, echoing Hanson. “I don’t even like to look at it as baggage. I think of it as experiences that shape who you are. It can be positive or negative. Just like your past experiences, dating can be the same way, depending on how you look at it. It’s a scary adventure. People don’t want to be taken. There are those who play games and want to play with your heart. You have to discern the difference. One sign? Can the person describe their past without extreme emotion? Without anger or sadness? If not, they aren’t ready to date again.”

“The way I see it, it’s a numbers game,” Hanson says with the zeal of a pep squad cheerleader. “You have to love without fear. It takes honesty, integrity, and a sense of humor. Yesterday is gone forever. Learn from it and move on. I lost my beautiful wife of 33 years in an instant. Nothing is a given. Embrace today. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.”

After many years of dating and many more being married, he will tell you the importance of communication and making compromises. At the end of the day, he says he is looking for the same thing everyone looks for: that person who is the last person you think of at night and the first thing you think of in the morning.

“It’s like that famous quote,” Hanson explains, “‘Love is like a butterfly.’ If you chase after it, it will fly away. But if you are patient and wait long enough, it will land in your hands.”

Dating Sites
plentyoffish.com
seniorpeoplemeet.com
eharmony.com/senior-dating
datingforseniors.com
dating.aarp.org
seniorpassions.com
ourtime.com

Meetup Sites
seniors.meetup.com
single-seniors.meetup.com
seniors-social.meetup.com
senior-singles-get-together.meetup.com

The Affordable Care Act

August 26, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), better known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is a federal statute signed into law in 2010. The objective of the Act is to increase affordability and rate of coverage for health insurance and reduce the overall costs of health care, which will be executed through mandates, subsidies, tax credits, and other means. The ACA is divided into 10 titles with some provisions that became effective immediately, while others are phasing in over a 10-year period.

But what does this mean for most seniors?

“If you don’t have insurance between age 60 and 65, that’s a concern.” – Andrea Skolkin, OneWorld Community Health Centers, Inc.

Individuals over 65 will likely find that not much will change as far as Medicare is concerned, says Andrea Skolkin, chief executive officer for OneWorld Community Health Centers, Inc. More preventive care is covered and prescription drug coverage will improve, she says, but most facets of Medicare will carry on as before.

“People who have Medicare, other than the little bit of expansion in the ‘donut hole’ [Medicare Part D coverage gap between the initial coverage limit and the catastrophic-coverage threshold for prescription drugs], should be secure in their coverage,” she explains. “The new marketplace isn’t for people who have Medicare.”

Sixty-plus individuals who will definitely be affected by ACA are those seniors who haven’t reached the Medicare eligibility age of 65 and are without medical insurance. In January 2014, uninsured individuals will be required to buy health insurance, available through an exchange, or pay a penalty tax. Some people will certainly struggle to finance the premiums, but currently, seniors who don’t yet qualify for Medicare and can’t get covered through an employer are likely to take their chances and go without health insurance altogether, Skolkin says.

EJ Militti, financial advisor with The Militti Group at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management

EJ Militti, financial advisor with The Militti Group at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management

“If you don’t have insurance between age 60 and 65, that’s a concern,” she says. “We see a lot of it—people 55 and up—who are being ‘right-sized,’ if you will, out of their jobs and are left without anything until they are eligible for Medicare. Especially at our new clinic in West Omaha, we see a lot of uninsured adults.”

From a financial standpoint, it’s fair to say that ACA will not spell good news for everyone’s pocketbook, says EJ Militti, a financial advisor with The Militti Group at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.

“[For] the wealthy and those who have properly saved for health care and other retirement costs, there is less to like and greater confusion about government-mandated health care. Moreover, those considered wealthy will be helping foot the bill of this epic legislation,” he says, explaining that a Medicare tax increase and additional taxes on taxable investment income have been instated, and other proposals are pending. “In my opinion, there is little doubt higher-income earners are going to be paying more in taxes. Higher-income earners need to be aware of future tax proposals on the table.”

On the other hand, Militti points out, some Americans will clearly benefit financially from the legislation.

“[For] the wealthy and those who have properly saved for health care and other retirement costs, there is less to like and greater confusion about government-mandated health care.” – EJ Militti, The Militti Group at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management

“The poor, the lower middle class, the long-term unemployed, and those with pre-existing conditions will benefit the most, and that’s by design,” Militti says. “The entire premise for government-mandated health care is to provide taxpayer-financed subsidies for those who, otherwise, cannot provide for themselves.”

**

EJ Militti is a Financial Advisor with The Militti Group at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. The information contained in this article is not a solicitation to purchase or sell investments. Any information presented is general in nature and not intended to provide individually tailored investment advice. The strategies and/or investments referenced may not be suitable for all investors as the appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives. Investing involves risks and there is always the potential of losing money when you invest. The views expressed herein are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, Member SIPC, or its affiliates. 

Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC (“Morgan Stanley”), its affiliates, and Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors or Private Wealth Advisors do not provide tax or legal advice. This material was not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used, for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer. Clients should consult their tax advisor for matters involving taxation and tax planning and their attorney for matters involving trust and estate planning and other legal matters.

Zumba Instructor Iris Moreano

Photography by Keith Binder

Iris Moreano just can’t seem to sit still. The 66-year-old Zumba instructor keeps her days filled to the brim with such activities as exercising, gardening, and teaching. And she has no intention of slowing down any time soon.

Moreano moved to Omaha nine years ago with her husband shortly after he was diagnosed with a chronic illness. Living in a new town coupled with the new role of caretaker left her feeling a bit stressed. Not one to sit around and wallow in despair, she joined a gym to meet new people and relieve pressure. When the gym began offering Zumba classes, a total-body workout combining Latin and international rhythms with dance moves, Moreano signed up.

“I’m originally from Puerto Rico, so I grew up with that type of music: salsa, merengue, and cumbia,” she says. “It was a lot of fun, and I felt good afterwards.”

In 2007, Moreano became licensed to teach Zumba. While she currently teaches regular classes at Motion41 Dance studio at 125th and West Center streets, she also teaches at Curves in Elkhorn and at Fullerton Elementary School. All in all, Moreano teaches Zumba three to five days per week and substitutes when needed. But she has been known to teach six days per week with five classes each day.

“I don’t think I’m ever going to retire,” she says. “My age is just a number. It’s all about how you feel and live. Zumba is good for that because it’s like a party. I get e-mails from students saying that they can’t wait for the next class. So it feels good to help other people relieve their stress like I do mine.”

Moreano is also a full-time English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) teacher assistant at Fullerton Elementary, a position she finds “very rewarding.” In her spare time, she enjoys reading and tending to her garden. As a walking (and dancing) testament to the benefits of an active lifestyle, Moreano credits her clean bill of health to her on-the-go schedule. As for other Omaha seniors looking to become more active, Moreano has some advice: “Keep your mind busy but don’t take things too hard,” she says. “Try to stay positive. Try to exercise, whether it’s just walking. Do it for you. You’ve got to keep healthy and take care of yourself before you can help anyone else.”

Family Ties

Photography by Chris Wolfgang

Killion family members from all over the country take turns hosting reunions every two years, a ritual that’s been going on now for over three decades. Jim and Anna Killion of Omaha had a chance to relive shared memories with 50 of Jim’s blood relatives and their spouses, most of them elderly, when the couple hosted the gathering July 19-21 at the Marriott Regency. Advancing age and health issues have pared down participation; reunions used to draw over 100.

Since 1985, the Lewandowski clan has met every three years in several different states and always over the Fourth of July weekend. Kathy Aultz of Omaha welcomed more than 250 people, including a two-week-old baby, to her home turf for this year’s reunion. The fest took place at Mahoney State Park, where families stayed in cabins or nearby hotels.

A 90th birthday party for Marian Leach of Omaha, organized by her daughter, Kathy Meier Morris of Columbus, Neb., provided a much-anticipated get-together of the Meier/Leach immediate family in early June. The last time Meier Morris, her two brothers, and their families converged on Omaha (outside of weddings and funerals) was 10 years ago for Leach’s 80th. The community room at Pacific Springs Village in West Omaha, where Leach lives independently, provided an intimate space for heartfelt congratulations.

Three family social gatherings—each different in size, scope, and purpose—nevertheless answer a basic need most Americans share: the need to belong.

“We tell our history through stories. By gathering families together, you have the opportunity to reconnect,” muses Aultz, who, as executive director of the Douglas County Historical Society, dedicates both her personal and professional life to preserving and sharing the past. “Reunions keep us grounded.”

Successful reunions have a central purpose. For Aultz and her relatives, the marriage of Anton and Sophia Lewandowski on May 6, 1919, in central Nebraska provided the reason to celebrate. Aultz’s mother, 88-year-old Esther Lewandowski Kaminski, was the first of 10 children born to the couple.

“I put Grandma and Grandpa’s wedding pictures up a lot of places at the reunion because that’s when our family tree started,” says Aultz.

“We tell our history through stories. By gathering families together, you have the opportunity to reconnect.” – Kathy Aultz

The family tree now has 449 leaves on it and is still sprouting. Aultz contacted every family by letter over a year ago about the reunion dates and then followed up with several e-mails. A nod to the fierce pride the group feels about their Polish heritage could be found in the handouts: a cookbook with favorite Polish recipes that families e-mailed to Kathy ahead of time, and a refrigerator magnet made of cloth and shaped into a pierogi (Polish dumpling).

The Lewandowski reunions include lots of games for the children, golf tournaments for adults, outings (a busload of people visited the Holy Family Shrine in Gretna), endless buffets, and socializing that lasts into the wee hours of the morning.

Genealogy spurs the Killions to gather biannually. They have traced their roots to an ancestor, possibly Irish, who sailed from England and landed on the shores of North Carolina in 1755. Descendants, many of whom live in Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska, spend reunion time visiting cemeteries, checking dates on gravestones, documenting family historical data, and touring places of historic significance; a passion not necessarily shared by the younger generations.

“Anyone under 40 couldn’t care less about history and antiques because they haven’t reached an age where it’s important to them,” laments Killion, 73, who acts as keeper of the spreadsheet that contains 225 family names, addresses, and phone numbers.

Then, with a wry smile, Killion continues, “I called Omaha Magazine to get some handouts because it has a great events calendar, and she asked me, ‘What age group are we addressing?’ And I said, ‘Seventy and over. You know, yesterday’s teenagers!’”

As reunion organizer for the past 15 years or so, Killion knows the importance of nailing down dates and hotel space at least a year in advance, no matter where the event is held. Almost 100 members of her husband’s family don’t have e-mail, forcing Killion to use the U.S. Postal Service for the initial Save the Date letter that also contains the location and registration information. She then follows up with phone calls.

“Anyone under 40 couldn’t care less about history and antiques because they haven’t reached an age where it’s important to them.” – Anna Killion

“One of my favorite tricks is to put the invitation on iridescent paper. That way it doesn’t get lost,” chuckles Killion, who’s been married to Jim for 48 years and together raised six children.

No ‘snail mail’ for Meier Morris; she used Facebook and cell phones to gather about 30 members of her immediate family and stepsiblings to Omaha for a reunion that actually served a dual-purpose.

“We had a noon baby shower for one of my daughters, who is due in September, at Upstream that Saturday,” says Meier Morris, who explains that the men played pool and ate lunch there. “Mom’s party was at 7 that evening, and we had it catered. It was easy. Our family stayed at the Embassy
Suites La Vista.”

“I was just thrilled to see everybody,” exclaims Marian Leach, a grandmother of eight and great-grandmother of eight (with one on the way). “I couldn’t believe they would go to that trouble and expense to be with me!”

To which her family might respond, why wouldn’t they give back to a woman who continues to give so much to them? Why wouldn’t they celebrate a woman whose strength, vitality, faith, and loving nature sustained her through the heartbreaking loss of two husbands?

“We all stood up and told ‘mom’ stories,” says Meier Morris. “The grandchildren talked about all the trips she took them on; trips to Cozumel, Cancun, Baja. We just wanted her to know that we love her, and we’re very proud of her.”

The Killions, Lewandowskis, and the Meier/Leach families reached through time, miles, and hectic lifestyles to strengthen the ties that bind them—a legacy worth passing down to generations.

Big Names in Fashion Who Are Over 60

Photography by Jim Scholz

When we think of fashion, we think of designs for the young and beautiful.

However, when we hear the names of big designers, fashion editors, and stylists, we don’t think about how old they are! The reason for that is because they are, in a way, ageless. The word fashion means “of the times,” and people in fashion are of the times. Their hair may gray and their bodies might get sloppy, but fashion designers, directors, editors, stylists, and all of the creators involved tune into the times and project to the future. The older they get, the more they know, and the better they are. They work hard and very long hours. Travel for many may seem glamorous, but it’s often grueling.

Here are some of fashion’s biggest names, all still working and 60-plus years old:

  • Giorgio Armani brought his signature Italian style of menswear to America in the ’70s. Today he oversees the design of not only his menswear collections but also collections for women, the home, hotels, and more.
  • Christian Lacroix delighted fashionistas with his couture masterpieces in the ’80s and ’90s and just created a museum collection for Schiaparelli.
  • Vera Wang is busier than ever in a world of design far beyond bridal now.
  • Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue, is the woman every designer wants to impress. Also at Vogue is Grace Coddington, who went from a ’60s and ’70s top model to a visionary as creative director of the magazine today.
  • Vogue Italia editor Franca Sozzani is almost 64.
  • Suzy Menkes, the most famous fashion reporter and journalist in the world, is almost 70.
  • Photo journalist Bill Cunningham is 84.
  • Donna Karan and Calvin Klein, both designers, are still active today and have expanded their empires beyond their dreams, I am sure.
  • Tim Gunn, the guy from Project Runway and Parson’s School of Design, is “The Word” to young designers. What he says is respected and taken as the best critique.
  • The Latin lady and gentleman of sophisticated American style, both years beyond 60, are Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta.
  • Diane von Fürstenberg, famous for the wrap dress in the ’70s, has a fashion business today bigger than ever.
  • Ralph Lauren, a man with an eye for class and timeless elegance, is still at work after brain tumor surgery.
  • Tommy Hilfiger hasn’t let age stop him. His business expands every season.
  • Karl Lagerfeld, the designer at Chanel and Fendi and for his own collections, turned 80 this year.
  • Valentino Garavani claims to have made an exit from his world of couture, but all say that, at 81, he remains involved.
  • Max Azria is the man responsible for all the fun, young, and adorable BCBG collections, and he’s 64.
  • Betsey Johnson, 71, and Vivienne Westwood, 72, are still creating edgy, fun, and rock-star-wild designs.
  • Norma Kamali, who made high fashion of sweatpants and shirts in the ’80s, is still designing fabulous swimwear and sexy, signature dresses and sportswear.
  • Those beautiful Manolo Blahnik shoes we all love are designed by a man who is 71.
  • I adore the creative genius of Jean Paul Gaultier and Thierry Mugler’s understanding of structure and construction.
  • I just looked through 83-year-old Sonia Rykiel’s fall collection. It’s wonderful, ageless, timeless, and personal, with qualities that speak of a designer who understands women.

I welcome your feedback and invite you to send questions to sixtyplus@omahapublications.com.

Mary Anne Vaccaro is a designer and image consultant to businesses and individuals. She designed clothes and products in Omaha and New York and ran a fashion advertising business in five states. She writes and speaks about image, fashion, art, and style. maryannevaccaro.com, invisibleapron.com

Making Summer Fashion Decisions

June 20, 2013 by
Photography by Jim Scholz

The summer wardrobe of any and everyone over 60 is a definite challenge to coordinate.

I just tell it like it is: A body that’s older than 60, even slim and in the best shape, needs more camouflage than exposure. If you care about how you look to others, shorts and short skirts are of a previous life. I’ve never seen pretty knees on anyone over 60.

The length of capris is very personal. Find the length that looks best on you and have your capris hemmed there. When wearing capris, the shoes or sandals you wear with them are very important for making a style statement. Comfort matters, too, but you won’t be happy with your look if your summer footwear isn’t stylish. When wearing sandals, NO scaly skin and callouses allowed, and keep toenails polished to perfection!

Tank tops, halters, and tube tops are not necessarily of your past. You can still wear them but not alone. Under a cardigan sweater, a jacket, a stole, or a loose-fitting shirt, they can be fabulous! Use them to add a splash of color, print, or texture to monotone separates. Dark-colored ones can be very slimming. Sundresses…hmm. There are many cute ones that I love in fresh, young florals, but they are indeed for the young.

Blue denim can be dangerous at 60 or older. It has to be worn with an attitude, and it’s usually not the attitude that 60-and-overs have. Comfort jeans are only to be worn around the house. Denim jumpers date, age, and frump you. But black denim, white denim, and fashion-colored denim jeans and jackets are must-haves! Be sure, however, to buy a cut that flatters you. The cut is not about your age. It’s about your shape.

Summer clothes must look fresh. When you’re hot, whatever you’re wearing wrinkles. Press the wrinkles out of every piece you wear before you return it to the closet. If washing first is necessary, do it, but if a garment shows wear after washing, retire it. NEVER wash black cotton separates. They may say washable, but washing sucks the life and color out of them. Dry clean only! Linen is of its own world. Clients used to come to me saying, “I want you to design and make me linen clothes that don’t wrinkle.” Impossible. Linen wrinkles, regardless of how it’s designed, made, or treated. If you wear linen, you must accept wrinkles.

As for Summer 2013 colors, avoid pastels even if on-trend. They look fresh if you’re under 40 but give you a grandma look if you’re over 60. The colors best on you depend on their relationship to your hair and skin tones. To play it safe, wear black or white, together with orange, lime, or turquoise when you want to add some pop.

Accessories are what it’s all about. Use them to style and personalize your summer looks. Bold-colored beads on a loose linen shirt, a fringed stole over a tank top, or a studded belt hanging loose over a calf-length skirt can take your look from everyday/everybody to a unique and stylish you! Scarves are important but not by day when it’s hot. In the evening, they’re both useful and fashionable tossed over your shoulders to break the chill of the night and air conditioning. Summer purses should have a lighter look than the ones you carry through winter. Color, texture, and fabric should relate to the season and to what you’re wearing. If black is your color, choose a poplin, straw, or woven bag.

Summer hair and makeup should be easy care. A lipstick color change is often necessary, and if you wear foundation, a darker tone might be better. Always wear sunscreen!

Finally, swimwear, OMG, it creates a crisis for almost everyone, regardless of age. After 60, no bikinis except for home swims and tanning. There are plenty of flattering one- and two-piece swimsuits you’ll love, and many of them are shaped and color-blocked to slim you.

The season is short. Enjoy it with confidence knowing my advice will make the BEST of you!

I welcome your feedback and invite you to send questions to sixtyplus@omahapublications.com.

Mary Anne Vaccaro lives in Omaha. She designed and made couture clothing for an international clientele of professionals and socialites of all ages. She created ready-to-wear collections that were sold from her New York showroom, and she designed for the bridal industry. She designed for three Ak-Sar-Ben Coronation Balls and ran a fashion advertising business in five states for a number of years. Invisible Apron® is one of several products that she has designed and developed. She still designs for select clients and works as an image consultant, stylist, personal shopper, and speaker on the subjects of fashion, art, and style. For more information, visit maryannevaccaro.com or call 402-398-1234.

Shingles

Most of us weathered childhood chickenpox years ago with no worse than some intense itching and a few missed days of school. But for approximately one out of three people who’ve had chickenpox—99 percent of us, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—that’s not the end of it. A painful viral infection called shingles can show up years later.

“It’s pretty common. About 30 percent of Americans will get shingles at some time in their lifetime; it turns out to be one million cases a year,” says Dr. Michael Walts, a family medicine physician with Alegent Creighton Health. “Usually shingles only occurs once. In most cases, it’s self-limiting; it goes away, and you don’t have any further problems.”

Shingles is so common because it’s caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox, he explains.

“Although the [chickenpox] rash goes away, the virus doesn’t. It crawls into your spinal column, where it goes to sleep, maybe forever,” Walts says. “But maybe, for most reasons we don’t know, the virus wakes up and will crawl down one nerve of the spinal cord and into the skin. Wherever that nerve is going to, that’s where the shingles rash will show up.”

And unlike chickenpox, this rash is more than just annoying.

“The most significant risk factor for the development of shingles is age. The reason we think that’s the case is that the immune system, like everything else as we get older, just doesn’t work as well.” – Michael Walts, M.D., family medicine physician with Alegent Creighton Health

“You’ll have pain first, and then all of a sudden the rash appears…It can be excruciatingly painful,” Walts says. And for some, the pain is long-lasting, even permanent.

“One of the most significant complications of shingles, a small percentage of time, is that even after the rash goes away, the pain doesn’t,” Walts explains. “The condition is called postherpetic neuralgia, or PHN.”

Shingles is more common after age 60, Walts says. “The most significant risk factor for the development of shingles is age. The reason we think that’s the case is that the immune system, like everything else as we get older, just doesn’t work as well. And the older you are when you get shingles—if you do—the more likely you are to get postherpetic neuralgia.”

It’s even possible that people who’ve been immunized against chickenpox can still get shingles later, he says, and it also strikes people who believe they’ve never had the chickenpox.

“People will say ‘I got shingles, but I never had chickenpox as a kid,’ and my response to that is, ‘Yeah, you did. You just didn’t know it,’” Walts says. “Maybe you had a bump or two that nobody ever even noticed, or maybe you had a rash that somebody said was contact dermatitis, because there’s no way you can get shingles unless that virus is living in your spinal cord.”

It’s not all bad news. A single-dose vaccine called Zostavax may prevent shingles altogether or prevent a recurrence. And if a person suspects shingles, especially when a rash appears on only one side of the body, he or she can still see their physician for treatment.

“(Anti-viral) medication does help. It does speed up the resolution of the pain and the rash, so go to your doctor and make sure it’s shingles,” Walts says. “We’re not sure about this, but one of the theories is that maybe treatment will not only decrease the amount of time you’re symptomatic, but it might decrease your risk for that postherpetic neuralgia. That’s all the more reason to get treatment, because, boy, anything you can do to prevent that side effect—even though it’s not common—you ought to try.”