Archive for December 2008

January updates – new computer, website delays.



If you are one of the faithful who checks our website on the first of each month looking for updates, I’m sorry to say that this January you will be disappointed.  Not because we do not have new content – we do – but because we are having some technical difficulties that are keeping us from updating.

Last week one of our computers gave up the ghost.  This was our computer that hosted our website software and published our website to the internet.  This computer, we fondly recall, was once struck by lightning and has been through many years of repairs and upgrades (thanks to the hard work of DaneNet).  It has served us well, but its day has come.  We were fortunate to have enough funding to purchase a new computer which will serve as the new “project” computer, hosting our graphic design software, web design software, and other large programs which require newer systems.  This is good news!

The bad news is that there will be a period of a couple weeks before our new computer arrives that we will be unable to perform certain computer-dependent tasks, such as updating our website.  Fortunately we are still able to post information to our blog, and in the meantime we will put the new January information here.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!!!!



40.6 inches of snow and December isn’t even over yet! We are definitely on our way to another record setting year of snow.

I thought this might be a good time to review the City of Madison’s snow removal policy. Per the City of Madison Website, Madison City Ordinance 10.28 requires that sidewalks be cleared of all snow and ice not later than 12:00 noon of the day following each snowfall.  Days end and begin at 12:00 midnight.  An example would be:  Snow starts to fall on Monday morning. The snow stops at 11:59 p.m. on Monday night.  The sidewalk would have to cleared by 12:00 noon on Tuesday.  If the same snow continued until Tuesday morning at 12:00 midnight, the sidewalk would have to be cleared by 12:00 noon on Wednesday.

When public walks are found in violation, the property owner is issued a citation with an initial fine of $109.00.  All subsequent violations at the property during the current snow season will result in a $172.00 fine. After a City inspector photographs a sidewalk in violation and cites the property, the owner has until 8:00 a.m. the following morning to remove the hazard. Failure to do so will cause the City crews to do the work with costs assessed the property.  There are no warnings given for this ordinance violation.  To make a complaint, call the Building Inspection Unit between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, 266-4551. If you have questions about snow removal ordinances, policies, or procedures, call a property maintenance inspector at 267-4997.

The inspectors are looking for reasonably safe conditions. In cases where ice has formed on the public sidewalk and cannot be removed, the property owner must use sand or salt to effectively eliminate dangerous conditions. The City provides a mixture of sand and salt for public use at the following locations:

Demetral Park (parking lot off Sixth St)
Warner Park (Sherman Ave by shelter)
Monona Golf Course (parking Lot)
Olbrich Gardens (by Walter St)
Reindahl Park (off Portage St)
School Rd Oil Site (Wheeler Rd and School)
Tenney Park Beach House

Glenway Golf Course (off Speedway)
South Point Yard Waste (402 South Point Rd) 
Brittingham Park Parking Lot (Entrance Off W Washington)
Spring Harbor Parking Lot (Norman Way)
Elver Park (off McKenna Blvd)
Garner Park (Mineral Point Rd & Rosa Rd)

Senior adults who live in their own homes (not an apartment or rental unit) can contact any of the four senior coalitions (listed below) to request to be placed on the 72 hour snow list. This allows 72 hours to clear the sidewalks without receiving a citation. Each of the coalitions also have volunteers available who love to help senior adults with the snow shoveling.

North/Eastside Senior Coalition – 243-5252

East Madison/Monona Coalition of the Aging – 223-3100

South Madison Coalition of the Elderly – 251-8405

West Madison Senior Coalition – 238-7368

Informacion del Programa Latino



Yo soy Yolanda Salazar y soy la especialista de diversidad cultural de la North/Eastside Senior Coalition.Soy de Mexico y he vivido en Madison por 20 años.He trabajado en esta agencia por más de 14 años, para las personas mayores que hablan Español.

La North/Eastside Senior Coalition tiene un programa latino para la gente de la Tercera Edad, en donde estas personas pueden venir a socializar, aprender cosas nuevas, recibir información sobre temas de interés y sobre las agencias a donde pueden recurrir en caso de necesitar ayuda.La edad para participar en los programas es de 55 años en adelante.

El programa latino tiene las siguientes actividades:

Bingo bilingue una vez al mes, en el Warner Park Community Recreation Center de 10:30 a.m. a 12:00 p.m. Se puede proporcionar almuerzo dando una donación y haciendo una reservación anticipadamente.

Grupo de apoyo para las personas de la Edad de Oro en el Madison Senior Center del 330 W. Mifflin en Madison. De 6-8:30 p.m. Se proporciona merienda para los participantes.

Grupo de apoyo para personas que cuidan un ser querido, en el Madison Senior Center del 330 W. Mifflin en Madison. De 6-8 p.m. Se proporciona un pequeño refrigerio.

En el verano tenemos los días de conciertos los Lunes por la tarde, durante los meses de Junio y Julio en el área de pic nic del Warner Park.

También tenemos viajes en donde tienen oportunidad de visitar sitios de interés.

Para todas las actividades se requiere registro y reservación. Se puede proporcionar transporte a las personas que necesiten pero en forma limitada.

Hablamos Español. Para más información por favor comuníquese con Yolanda Salazar al 243-5252.

The Facts about Seasonal Affective Disorder



If you notice periods of depression that seem to accompany seasonal changes during the year, you may suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This condition is characterized by recurrent episodes of depression – usually in late fall and winter – alternating with periods of normal or high mood the rest of the year.

Most people with SAD are women whose illness typically begins in their twenties, although men also report SAD of similar severity and have increasingly sought treatment. SAD can also occur in children and adolescents, in which case the syndrome is first suspected by parents and teachers. Many people with SAD report at least one close relative with a psychiatric condition, most frequently a severe depressive disorder (55 percent) or alcohol abuse (34 percent).

What are the patterns of SAD?

Symptoms of winter SAD usually begin in October or November and subside in March or April. Some patients begin to slump as early as August, while others remain well until January. Regardless of the time of onset, most patients don’t feel fully back to normal until early May. Depressions are usually mild to moderate, but they can be severe. Very few patients with SAD have required hospitalization, and even fewer have been treated with electroconvulsive therapy.

The usual characteristics of recurrent winter depression include oversleeping, daytime fatigue, carbohydrate craving and weight gain, although a patient does not necessarily show these symptoms. Additionally, there are the usual features of depression, especially decreased sexual interest, lethargy, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, lack of interest in normal activities, and social withdrawal.

Light therapy, described below, is now considered the first-line treatment intervention, and if properly dosed can produce relief within days. Antidepressants may also help, and if necessary can be used in conjunction with light.

In about 1/10 of cases, annual relapse occurs in the summer rather than winter, possibly in response to high heat and humidity. During that period, the depression is more likely to be characterized by insomnia, decreased appetite, weight loss, and agitation or anxiety. Patients with such “reverse SAD” often find relief with summer trips to cooler climates in the north. Generally, normal air conditioning is not sufficient to relieve this depression, and an antidepressant may be needed.

In still fewer cases, a patient may experience both winter and summer depressions, while feeling fine each fall and spring, around the equinoxes.

The most common characteristic of people with winter SAD is their reaction to changes in environmental light. Patients living at different latitudes note that their winter depressions are longer and more profound the farther north they live. Patients with SAD also report that their depression worsens or reappears whenever the weather is overcast at any time of the year, or if their indoor lighting is decreased.

SAD is often misdiagnosed as hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, infectious mononucleosis, and other viral infections.

How is winter SAD treated with light?

Bright white fluorescent light has been shown to reverse the winter depressive symptoms of SAD. Early studies used expensive “full-spectrum” bulbs, but these are not especially advantageous. Bulbs with color temperatures between 3000 and 6500 degrees Kelvin all have been shown to be effective. The lower color temperatures produce “softer” white light with less visual glare, while the higher color temperatures produce a “colder” skylight hue. The lamps are encased in a box with a diffusing lens, which also filters out ultraviolet radiation. The box sits on a tabletop, preferably on a stand that raises it to eye level and above. Such an arrangement further reduces glare sensations at high intensity, and preferentially illuminates the lower half of the retina, which is rich in photoreceptors that are thought to mediate the antidepressant response. Studies show between 50% and 80% of users showing essentially complete remission of symptoms, although the treatment needs to continue throughout the difficult season in order to maintain this benefit.

There are three major dosing dimensions of light therapy, and optimum effect requires that the dose be individualized, just as for medications.

Light intensity

The treatment uses an artificial equivalent of early morning full daylight (2500 to 10,000 lux), higher than projected by normal home light fixtures (50 to 300 lux). A light box should be capable of delivering 10,000 lux at eye level, which allows downward adjustments if necessary.

Light duration

Daily sessions of 20 to 60 minutes may be needed. Since light intensity and duration interact, longer sessions will be needed at lower intensities. At 10,000 lux – the current standard – 30-minute sessions are most typical.

Time of Day of exposure

The antidepressant effect, many investigators think, is mediated by light’s action on the internal circadian rhythm clock. Most patients with winter depression benefit by resetting this clock earlier, which is achieved specifically with morning light exposure. Since different people have different clock phases (early types, neutral types, late types), the optimum time of light exposure can differ greatly. The Center for Environmental Therapeutics, a professional nonprofit agency, offers an on-line questionnaire on its website,, which can be used to calculate a recommended treatment time individually, which is then adjusted depending on response. Long sleepers may need to wake up earlier for best effect, while short sleepers can maintain their habitual sleep-wake schedule.

Side effects of light therapy are uncommon. Some patients complain of irritability, eyestrain, headaches, or nausea. Those who have histories of hypomania in spring or summer are at risk for switching states under light therapy, in which case light dose needs to be reduced. There is no evidence for long-term adverse effects, however, and disturbances experienced during the first few exposures often disappear spontaneously. As an important precaution, patients with Bipolar I disorder – who are at risk for switching into full-blown manic episodes – need to be on a mood-stabilizing drug while using light therapy.

What should I do if I think I have SAD?

If your symptoms are mild – that is, if they don’t interfere too much with your daily living, you may want to try light therapy as described above or experiment with adjusting the light in your surroundings with bright lamps and scheduling more time outdoors in winter.

If your depressive symptoms are severe enough to significantly affect your daily living, consult a mental health professional qualified to treat SAD. He or she can help you find the most appropriate treatment for you. To help you decide whether a clinical consultation is necessary, you can use the feedback on the Personalized Inventory for Depression and SAD at

Article courtesy of NAMI.

2009 Events – African American Cultural Diversity Group



2008 will be history soon, setting many records along the way: snow amounts, the price of gasoline, food prices, folks losing their homes and job, and the ultimate surprise of the year, the electing of a President of Color, someone that looks like us, and in this time of need, it is giving more people hope.

My early wish to everyone in preparing for the New Year and all that it will bring is to take time out for yourself and that will make it easier to take time for others. Exercise the mind, as well as the body, surround yourself with good people in good places, doing good things.

Stay tuned for activities for the coming year, along with the regular Diabetes Support Group, which is consistent, and people like consistency. We meet once a month, the fourth Thursday of the month at Romnes Apartments in the Community Room, from 2-4pm. As well as our Healthy Tune-Up Fairs, Discussion Groups meet on the second Wednesday of the month at Quaker Apartments in the dining area from 2-4pm.  This group also participates with NESCO’s  summer concerts and trips. Your input and ideas for programs are always welcomed; I insist on it, remember this is YOUR PROGRAM.
Enjoy the Season!

Holiday Favorites



It’s the most wonderful time of the year and a time to enjoy and debate some of the things that make the holidays so special. Here is a list of my Holiday favorites. Write down your list of favorites and send them to me by Dec. 31. I will post the results in January and you can see where you stand.

Favorite Holiday Songs
White Christmas
Winter Wonderland
Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Frosty the Snowman
Jingle Bell Rock
Deck the Halls

Favorite Holiday Singers
Bing Crosby
Frank Sinatra
Vince Guaraldi
Nat King Cole
Manhiem Steamroller

Favorite Holiday Specials (radio or tv)
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
The Grinch
Charlie Brown’s Christmas
Frosty the Snowman

Favorite Holiday Movies
It’s A Wonderful Life
Miracle on 34th Street
White Christmas
Home Alone

Favorite Holiday Traditions
Christmas eve
Midnight mass
Christmas caroling
Fire in the fireplace
Building a snowman

Favorite Holiday Treats
Egg Nog
Christmas bread
Christmas cookies
Hot chocolate

Happy Holiday Wishes to All!

(Send Jim your favorites at

Social Security’s 5.8 Percent Benefit Increase May Mean More Money in Your Pocket in 2009



The Social Security Administration recently announced that it would increase monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits by 5.8% in 2009.  This increase, known as a cost-of-living adjustment or “COLA increase,” will result in higher benefit amounts for more than 55 million Americans.  For example, the average retired couple will see their benefits increase from $1,773 per month to $1,876 per month.

This is the largest increase in benefits since 1982.  The Social Security Administration automatically increases benefits based on the rise of Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).  The increase in this year’s CPI-W was 5.8%.

Individuals who receive Supplement Security Income benefits will see the first increase in their benefits beginning December 31, 2008.  The increased payments to those who receive other Social Security benefits, such as retirement or survivor’s benefits, will begin in January 2009.

Individuals who are currently receiving other benefits, such as the Wisconsin Medicaid Purchase Plan or QMB, SLMB, SLMB+, may wonder how these benefits will be affected by the Social Security increase.  These benefit programs have income limits that are set using the federal poverty guidelines, or “FPL.”  A different government agency, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), is responsible for setting the FPL each year.  DHHS typically announces the new FPL in late January to mid February. Fortunately, the cost-of-living increase to Social Security benefits is not counted for these programs until the month after the new federal poverty guidelines become effective.

The new increase is especially fantastic news for Wisconsin seniors who also receive Medicare. You may remember that Medicare announced this fall that the Part B Premium for 2009 will remain unchanged at the current $96.40 per month.  This means that Medicare recipients who are also receiving Social Security benefits will see the full increase in monthly Social Security benefits because it will not be offset by a higher monthly Part B Premium.  These days, every penny counts—and now a few more of them will be headed your way!

Questions?  Please feel free to contact the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups at (608) 224-0606 and ask to speak with a Dane County Elderly Benefit Specialist.

Information courtesy of