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Providing relevant news and articles to active seniors at
Briarwood and throughout the Central Mass community.


Tower Hill Botanical Garden: Bay State African Violet Show

Posted in Activities, Community Events on April 10th, 2014

African VioletsThere’s no better way to become immersed in spring than with flowers.  After all, they liven up a gloomy face, energize a tired room, bring fragrance to air grown stale, and so much more.  In fact, flowers have the uncanny ability to transport our consciousness to a surreal-like state, metaphorically speaking.

So, with flora in mind, what preferred setting can there be to celebrate these visual and sweet-smelling wonders than Tower Hill Botanical Garden in Boylston, MA, while enjoying the Bay State African Violet Show?


Hmm, you want to know a bit more about African violets?

Well, for starters, they are colorful, handsome, mesmerizing plants that require a proper measure of TLC to keep them vibrant.  For example, these indoor delights should have a healthy amount of indirect light.  At the same time, it is important not to over water the soil.



Over watering can leave this particular plant vulnerable to root rot and other types of pathogens.  It is vital to mention that water should be devoid of chlorine and the temperature tepid, not cold.  Moreover, do not water plants from the top but focus solely on moistening the soil.  Fortunately, self-watering saucers eliminate the lion’s share of watering worry, so they are a great option for some people.


And additional light info?

Well, these beauties do best in copious amounts of indirect sunlight.  If there is too little light, the leaves typically become pale and the plant stops blossoming.  If there is too much light, the blossoms and leaves tend to develop brown spotting (and the leaves could bend downward).

Naturally, the sun varies in intensity at different times of the day, so there is a certain degree of strategy concerning placement of the plants and where best they will thrive.


Saintpauila sp.

But you want guidance from the experts?

Then put the Bay State African Violet Show, sponsored by The Bay State African Violet Society, on your calendar.  This spring event takes place on Saturday, April 26, from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M., and Sunday, April 27, from 9 A.M. to 4 P.M.

A lecture demonstration, guided walk-through of the show, and educational displays are some of the fabulous features on hand.  For further details, go to http://www.towerhillbg.org/ then click Visit and Events Calendar (under What’s Happening).


Oh, and if you do go, have a great time!

Wireless Sleep Tips

Posted in Health & Wellness on March 25th, 2014

Using a cellphone in before sleepingThe last time we looked at a physical condition that interrupts sleep: sleep apnea.   And, we explored that insufficient sleep can encourage more menacing woes like pain, diabetes, dementia, premature aging, cancer, and heart disease.  However, did you know that external culprits (besides noise and light) might also disturb slumber?  Let’s examine a probable player.


Cell phones are a fascinating invention.  Actually, how many individuals removed from the technological world could have imagined 40 years ago or so they would one day have the ability to travel almost anywhere and have a cordless conversation using a pocket-size telephone?  And, to add to this futuristic prospect, how many would have thought they could access virtually every news outlet from that smart device?  Gosh, when you to stop to think about, this hi-tech gadget is amazing!


Yet, negatives sometimes accompany positives.  For example, mobile phones have been the focus of various studies because they emit electromagnetic radiation.  Regrettably, the body absorbs some of the waves, albeit in very small measures.


Cell phones are certainly not the only wireless units under scrutiny, but they are prime subjects.  In addition to potentially messing with sleep, other harms might be possible, as well.


What can we do?


Undoubtedly, most of us are not yet ready to chuck our coveted contraptions.  Yet, we can take steps to minimize the hazards.


Here are some thoughts.

  • Keep cell phones and other wireless devices away from the bedroom when you retire for the evening.  This includes iPods, Nooks, Kindles, computers, etc.
  • If the above suggestion is unlikely to occur, then never put a cell phone under your pillow.  Not only does this behavior have the potential to more effectively disrupt sleep, experts assert it might even have a harmful influence on the brain.
  • If your cell phone is your alarm clock and it’s going to be in the room with you no matter what, then put the device in airplane mode.  This usually stops the transmission function.
  • Okay, this has little to do with sleep, but it touches upon safety, so it warrants mentioning.  Use headphones, a Bluetooth connector, or speaker mode during conversations on your cell (better still, text!).  To be frank, do your best to keep the handset away from your head.

Wireless technology is incredible, innovative, and downright convenient.  Nevertheless, inadequate sleep is serious business, and defeating the problem requires serious measures.


For some additional sleep tips, go to http://www.sleepcare.com/index.php/lack-of-sleep-may-impact-memories-of-the-elderly/


Sleeping With Sleep Apnea

Posted in Health & Wellness on March 11th, 2014

Sleep ApneaUneven sleep is considerably more than a nuisance.  It disrupts daytime hours, leaves us feeling cranky, and sometimes results in blunders we might otherwise not make.


However, did you know that jagged sleep could even put us at a higher risk for some pretty serious medical conditions and even death?


One culprit known to disrupt slumber is sleep apnea.  The word apnea is a Greek word that means without breath/want of breath.  Apnea occurs when breathing has been interrupted.  Some people believe that only overweight or elderly individuals suffer with the problem, but that is not entirely accurate.  While it is true that excess weight and advanced age can be contributing factors in some individuals, even thin people and children experience the condition.


One obvious symptom of sleep apnea is snoring.  Nonetheless, it’s important to mention that not all snorers have sleep apnea.


Naturally, some people do not realize they snore because they are asleep when they do so.  Oftentimes, other individuals in the home alert them to the issue.  It is vital to have your doctor closely monitor the situation when loud snoring or other alarming nocturnal symptoms surface.  He or she will likely recommend a sleep study.


Let’s look at the two main types of sleep apnea.

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).  OSA is often characterized by paused/shallow breathing, loud snoring, gasping for breath, and/or restlessness.  This happens because an airway obstruction is taking place.  Aging, obesity, and head, neck or mouth shape can cause or worsen OSA, but even large tonsils in children can be responsible for the condition.
  • Central sleep apnea (CSA).  CSA is not as common as OSA.  This type generally occurs because the part of the brain that controls breathing sends faulty signals to the breathing muscles.  Subsequently, an inability to properly take in air occurs and breathing stops and starts.  And the cause of CSA?  It may be secondary to another medical conditions or spurred on by medication.  Loud snoring is less likely to be a symptom.


Infrequently, individuals receiving treatment for obstructive sleep disorder (OSA) develop central sleep disorder (CSA), as well.  When this happens, the condition is known as mixed or complex sleep apnea.  The mixed type exhibits symptoms of both OSA and CSA.


How do you treat sleep apnea?


Sleep apnea management is typically customized to the respective form and could include a nighttime mouth device that pushes the jaw forward, nasal strips, diet modification, a continuous positive airway pressure machine (CPAP), or other appliances/lifestyle changes.  Because the condition tends to be chronic, it is important to stick with treatment to realize a higher degree of success.


Sound sleep is much more important than many of us know.  For additional information on this topic, go to http://www.sleepapnea.org/


Marching Into March

Posted in Community History on February 25th, 2014

MarchThe snow, cold and ice have been steady companions this winter.  Yet, as each day departs and another one begins, spring inches closer.  Actually, the birds begin singing, snow banks start to dwindle, and even the sky looks brighter.


So, as we march into March, which by the way is the first month in the Roman calendar and named after Mars (a.k.a., Martius, the Roman god of war), here are some local and state March tidbits to ponder.


  • On March 1, 1692, the Salem Witch Trials begin.
  • On March 2, 1816, Alexander Hamilton Bullock, 26th Governor of Massachusetts, was born in the great City of Worcester.
  • On March 4, 1634, I’ll Drink to That became the first tavern in the American colonies, and it opened in Boston!  (Um, I’ll drink to that).
  • On March 4, 1830, Massachusetts native and sixth President of the United States, John Quincy Adams, returned to Washington after his presidential term to serve as Congressional representative.
  • On March 5, 1770, five men were killed and six were injured in the infamous Boston Massacre.
  • On March 8, 1979, Andy Ross, famous guitarist, keyboardist and vocalist, was born in Worcester.
  • On March 12, 1888, the Great White Blizzard began and wreaked havoc in Massachusetts and other areas in the Northeast.
  • On March 16, 1850, Scarlet Letter, penned by famed Massachusetts writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, was published.
  • On March 16, 1911, esteemed sculptor and metal smith Joseph Skinger, was born in Worcester.
  • On March 18, 1953, the National Baseball League approved the Boston Braves move to Milwaukee.
  • On March 25, 1774, Parliament passed The Boston Port Bill, which closed Boston ocean traffic.  The bill was enacted in response to the 90,000+ pounds of tea tossed in Boston Harbor (a.k.a., Boston Tea Party).
  • On March 30, 1849, the Ordinance to Establish the Seal of Worcester City passed.
  • On March 31, 1776, Abigail Adams, a Massachusetts native, penned a letter to her husband, John Adams, and urged him and fellow members of the Second Continental Congress to “remember the nation’s women as they fight for independence from Great Britain.”


There are many idioms associated with the month of March: mad as a March hare; when March comes in like a lion, it goes out like a lamb; March Madness.  Interestingly, March 1 is the first day of meteorological spring in the Northern Hemisphere.


Still, whatever weather plans await during this transitional month, hopefully warmth will be mixed in there somewhere.  And, because most of us are ready to feel the sun on our skin, that will undoubtedly be a good thing!


In Retrospect: Sid Solomon – The First 80 Years

Posted in Activities, Community Events on February 11th, 2014

Painting by Sid Solomon

Okay, art lovers, interested in a fantastic event featuring a Worcester-raised, renowned artist? If so, then February is the month. In Retrospect: Sid Solomon – The First 80 Years will be featured from 1 P.M. to 4 P.M. on Saturdays and Sundays at The Sprinkler Factory, 38 Harlow Street, Worcester (second floor). An impressive assortment of the artist’s stirring collection will undoubtedly enchant the senses. The creatively brilliant works include oil paintings, prints, pottery, pastels, light boxes, watercolors, and sculptures.


Let’s look a little closer at Mr. Solomon’s remarkable background.

  • He was born in Springfield, Massachusetts.
  • His post-secondary art studies began in 1951 at the School of the Worcester Art Museum.
  • In addition to the art certificate he earned at WAM, he also achieved a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Arts at Clark University.
  • Following graduation from both institutions, he spent three years in the army.
  • He painted portraits in South Florida.
  • He studied with the prominent teacher and painter, Edmund Archer, at Corcoran Art School in Washington D.C.
  • He taught at Corcoran Art School and copied masters in the National Gallery (like Rembrandt!).
  • He painted government and military leaders (e.g., generals, politicians), as well as members of their families.
  • He earned a Masters Degree in Education at Worcester State College.
  • He traveled throughout the East and South polishing his craft. His notable experiences afforded him the position Director of the Army Arts and Crafts Program for the Department of Defense.
  • He worked for the 7th Army Training Command in Germany and traveled to foremost art venues in Europe.
  • While in Germany, he earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Art Theory and Criticism at University of Georgia.
  • He has maintained an art studio in Worcester for over 30 years.
  • He coordinates the Worcester Life Drawing Group at Worcester State University.
  • Farm on a HillPurgatory ChasmLittle GirlLady with a TeacupElisabeth’s Garden, and Stone Church in Winter are a few of Mr. Solomon’s many incredible works.


Gosh, Worcester has talent! For additional information concerning this fascinating exhibit, go to http://www.sprinklerfactory.com or call 508-852-8860.


Preventing Senior Falls

Posted in Health & Wellness, Safety Tips on January 20th, 2014

preventing senior fallsFalls have the ability to encourage an unwelcome cycle of incapacitation.  And, the older we become, the more debilitating the consequences can be.  Sometimes the reason for the tumble is apparent (e.g., something was in the way, another person bumped in to us), but there are times unobvious circumstances precipitate a fall.


Because falls usually occur when we least expect them, here are some factors to think about.


  • Medications.  Medication is prescribed to help make us feel better, and many times it accomplishes its mission.  Nonetheless, certain drugs can unfavorably affect our bodies and/or make us feel woozy or tired.  If you think your medication is affecting your stability, be sure to discuss this concern with your doctor.
  • Eye problems.  When we cannot see as clearly as we should, our chance of visually identifying a hazardous situation tends to lessen.  For example, we may miss a step or bump against a jutting object.  Since good vision is pivotal to negating falls, make an appointment with your optometrist or ophthalmologist if you believe your eyesight is not as crisp as it should be.
  • Shoes.  Shoes that are too tight, too high, too slippery, too loose, too wide, etc., can throw off balance, encourage unsteadiness, and increase the risk of accidents.  Because of this, it is important to have your feet measured to be sure you are wearing the right-size shoe, and regularly choose comfortable footwear with nonskid soles.
  • Inflexibility.  Did you know that exercise helps to optimize balance, augment coordination, and increase strength?  Naturally, this all leads to improved footing and stability.  Inactivity, on the other hand, compromises steadiness.  So, as long as you have the approval of your doctor, be sure to engage in regular workout sessions.  If you are unsure which exercises are best for you, ask your physician or physical therapist for some ideas.
  • Inadequate lighting.  Lights that are too intense can produce an unwanted glare that ultimately affects a person’s ability to see.  At the same time, lights that are overly dull can make it difficult to discern common items in the way.  Well-it lighting devoid of glare is easier on the eyes and better for seeing surrounding objects.  (P.S.  Don’t forget to keep a flashlight nearby at all times in the event a power outage occurs!).


Honoring a New Year

Posted in Activities, Health & Wellness, New Year's Resolutions, New Years on January 6th, 2014

honor-the-new-yearTwo thousand fourteen has arrived, and with it comes an assortment of hopes, expectations, and dreams we mentally construct.  So, in honor of the New Year, here are fourteen thoughts to consider.


  1. Exercise patience whenever possible, we never fully know the burdens other people carry.
  2. Let go of bitterness.  As recently deceased Nelson Mandela once said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
  3. Be happy for small pleasures.  In retrospection, they could hold greater value than large ones.
  4. Try something new.  Should you do the enterprise well, great!  If you don’t, feel good about your attempts (and do it anyway if you enjoy it).
  5. If it doesn’t hurt anyone, brings you happiness, and puts an added spring in your step, go for it.  We should reward ourselves every now and then.
  6. Enjoy the moment, whether it’s a baby’s smile, loved one’s accomplishment, or animated interaction with a neighbor.  After all, these are the things memories are made of.
  7. Be kind.  Few people get intrinsic pleasure from being harsh, but many feel uplifted when they are considerate of others.
  8. Remember that actions teach more effectively than words.  Thus, live the example you wish to impart.
  9. Remain dignified.  Mimicking negative behavior will neither even the score nor make you feel better.
  10. Go the extra mile.  Even if others fail to recognize your efforts, you will know.
  11. Give back.  In the short term, it might seem taxing.  In the long-term, the rewards are immeasurable.
  12. Cry if you feel the need.  Sometimes we just need to get it out and then everything seems fresh again.
  13. Forgive yourself.  Everyone makes mistakes: we can’t assume it will not happen to us.
  14. Pray, meditate, or set periods aside for calm: it nourishes the psyche.


Every person enters the New Year with imperfections.  Nonetheless, growth is possible no matter what our age.  Therefore, make 2014 a very good year, and remember we are the ones who fashion our own happiness.


Worcester First Night 2014

Posted in Activities, New Years on December 18th, 2013

Worcester First Night 2014 - New YearWorcester First Night, the second oldest event of its kind in the nation (Boston is the first), will be exploding with talent and entertainment to ring in the New Year.  The cultural nonprofit has been in need of financial support due to declining donations, but fortunately for everyone contributions have been coming in and the show will go on.  First Night buttons can be had for $10 until December 25, $12 from December 26 to December 30, and $15 at the door on New Year’s Eve.  Children 7 and under get in for free.  Worcester City Hall, AAA, and The DCU Center Box Office are some of the multiple locations selling buttons.


So, what’s lined up in addition to face painting, pony rides, and a fantastic ice exhibition?


Here are some additional activities on hand.

  • 10 A.M. to 4 P.M.  Visits to EcoTarium, Worcester Historical Museum, and Salisbury Mansion are free to everyone with First Night Buttons.  Therefore, pack up the car and celebrate the coming New Year with the entire family.
  • 3 P.M. to 5 P.M.  Worcester Oval Common is offering free ice-skating from three to five to First Night button-holders.  Hmm, if gliding freely on a most-impressive arena puts a smile on your face, then don’t forget your skates!
  • 4 P.M. to 11 P.M.–(WAM). Industrial Sonic Echo will feature a creative presentation on the entry steps of Worcester Art Museum from 5 P.M. to 6:45 P.M.   Worcester Bravehearts Baseball Team will be on hand for pictures from 5 P.M. to 7 P.M.  And, Polar Beverages will be handing out free samples at their table from four to eleven.
  • 7 P.M. and 11 P.M.  Polar Beverages is sponsoring two fireworks displays.  Revelers can meet at WAM (Lancaster Street entrance) at seven o’clock for a procession through the city to the corner of Grove and Highland Streets, where the first fireworks extravaganza will then begin.  A second fireworks presentation will commence around eleven.


The above is merely a sampling of the numerous activities scheduled for December 31.  Impressively, about fifty performances at various locations will be available to please.  In fact, singer-songwriter Ayla Brown, comedian Eric Dittelman, Alexander King Of Jesters, acoustic duo Neptune’s Car, guitar-driven Raging Grace, jazz combo Blue Champagne, comedy show Auto Body, and Greater Worcester Opera are some of the many talented artists scheduled to perform.  For specifics regarding performance times and locations, go to http://www.firstnightworcester.org/


Worcester First Night?  Don’t miss the fun (and have a blessed and Happy New Year!).

Celebrating the Holidays With Music

Posted in Activities, Holidays on December 4th, 2013

Holiday MusicMusic is a delightful instrument to revel in the holiday season.  It enchants the senses, warms the soul, and presents an uplifting outlook.  While radio and stereo tunes tend to sufficiently satisfy even discriminating tastes, few things can compare to the splendor of live music.


So, what’s going on in Worcester?


Here are a few of the many happenings taking place at Mechanics Hall.

  • Saturday, December 7.  Worcester Chorus performs Handel’s Messiah at 8 P.M.  This long-standing favorite, presently under the artistic direction of Christopher Shepard, is a darling.   The cost?  Reserved seating is $40, college students pay $15, and children 18 and under get in for $5.
  • Tuesday, December 10.  WXLO presents Acoustic Christmas featuring multitalented Daughtry: four coveted Music Awards and four Number One hits are among this artist’s impressive achievements.  Delta Rae, lauded for their extraordinary performances, Erika Van Pelt, an American Idol favorite, and My Silent Bravery, an engaging performer, will also be on hand to please.
  • Saturday, December 14.  The Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra presents a Holiday Pops concert.  This beloved treat will highlight traditional selections, classics, and even some Broadway tunes.  Table seating is $45, and balcony seating is $37.  For additional information, call 508-754-1234.
  • Sunday, December 15.  Dance Prism will perform The Nutcracker.  Through the years, this darling ballet has mesmerized individuals of all ages.  In fact, Tchaikovsky’s score is undoubtedly a musical masterpiece.  Ticket costs are $24 for adults and $18 for seniors and children.  For detailed information regarding the above shows or other Mechanics Hall programming, go to http://www.mechanicshall.org/


Additional pleasant-sounding thoughts?


A Holiday Festival Choir Christmas Concert will be held at First Unitarian Church located at 90 Main Street on Sunday, December 15, at 4 P.M., and A Christmas Celtic Sojourn with Brian O’Donovan will take place at Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts located at 2 Southbridge Street on Tuesday, December 17, at 7:30 P.M.  Indisputably, these musical events, and the many other talent-filled Worcester wonders, are certain to propel peoples’ hearts in to a most cheerful spirit.


Holiday music?  Um, let it ring!

Minimizing the Risks of Alzheimer’s Disease

Posted in Health & Wellness on November 19th, 2013

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.  As many of us know, this condition is characterized by declining cognitive functioning.  It is not the only form of dementia, but it is highly recognized, and some researchers fear it is on the rise.

Alzheimer’s Disease is characterized by declining cognitive functioning.

Regrettably, experts cannot assert with certainty that Alzheimer’s disease is preventable, but many health practitioners agree there are steps we can take to perhaps minimize the risks.  Let’s look at some of the possibilities.

  • Limit sugars.  Many physicians agree that diets high in refined sugars are not beneficial for a number of reasons, and Alzheimer’s disease is suspected to be among them.  But you like sweets?  Then consider raw or less refined, organic sugar (in small measures).  Still, if you are insulin resistant, always follow your doctor’s orders regarding sugar intake.
  • Exercise.  Exercise seems to surface as a superstar in multiple health arenas.  Actually, we now know that regular workouts are positive for not only the body but also the mind.  So, as long as your physician gives his or her approval, be sure to exercise.  In fact, researchers from The University of Maryland School of Public Health found exercise can improve cognitive functioning for individuals at risk of Alzheimer’s disease.  For addition information regarding this study, go to http://www.umdrightnow.umd.edu/news/exercise-may-be-best-medicine-alzheimers
  • Mind workouts.  Exercising the body is important to the brain, but so is exercising the mind.  Puzzles, board games, computer challenges, brainteasers, memory tests, crossword puzzles, college courses, etc., can sharpen the brain and perhaps delay (or reduce) dementia symptoms.  Therefore, be sure to engage in mentally challenging activities on a regular basis.
  • Proper diet.  The right food choices qualify as another all-around health benefit.  Lean meats, fresh vegetables (particularly the leafy variety), and fresh fruits (like wild blueberries) are great dietary selections.  Still, did you know that healthy fats, in moderation, like omega 3 fatty acids, extra-virgin olive oil, avocados, pecan nuts, and organic coconut oil, are also great options?  Some nutritionists profess they are!
  • Quit smoking.  Smoking has failed to show a beneficial effect on the body, but it has been linked to damaging conditions, including an increased risk of dementia.  Subsequently, if you smoke, try your best to stop.  As you undertake this challenge, it is helpful to implement stress-relieving measures like massage, meditation, prayer, and music therapy.  Stress can lead to inflammation, and inflammation is never a good thing.

The data is still uncertain as to whether or not Alzheimer’s disease can be prevented.  However, research seems to suggest that certain practices may reduce the threat.

For additional information concerning this topic, go to http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dementia/DS01131/DSECTION=prevention