seniors

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Seniors could play an important role in the upcoming election, as Michiganders age 50 and older are expected to represent well over half of the voters who show up to the polls next week. That’s pretty typical of a non-presidential election. But as Michigan Public Radio’s Jake Neher reports, seniors and retirees are playing an especially important role in this year’s election.

Rick Pluta / Michigan Public Radio Network

Michiganders age 50 and over are expected to represent well over half of the voters that show up to the polls on November 4.

That is pretty typical of a non-presidential election. But seniors and retirees are already playing an especially important role in this year’s election.

Perry Seavitt, a 70 year old retired teacher from Freemont, considers himself a Republican. But he is not sure which candidate for governor will get his vote. He says he is leaning toward Democrat Mark Schauer because incumbent Gov. Rick Snyder decided to start taxing retiree pensions.

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Groups advocating for the elderly are organizing an effort to lobby Michigan lawmakers for new protections for caregivers.

“We’re going to be pushing hard in 2015 for something called the CARE Act,” said Mark Hornbeck with AARP Michigan. “That will help people have some rights when they’re taking care of elder parents or an older aunt and uncle or even an older friend.”

The proposed legislation would require health care workers to notify caregivers when a patient is admitted, transferred, or discharged from a hospital. It would also require them to give clear instructions on how to care for the patient when they come home from the hospital.

“A lot or caregivers out there are working full time and trying to take care of elder parents at the same time. And it’s just overwhelming,” said Hornbeck.

AARP has been lobbying state Legislatures across the country to pass versions of the CARE Act. Oklahoma has already adopted the law.

In-home care workers in Michigan used to be automatically represented by a union, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). In 2012, Governor Rick Snyder signed a law ending automatic union membership for caregivers.

Thousands have since left the SEIU.

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KISS bass player and noted "God of Thunder" Gene Simmons says a film about his band's visit to Cadillac, MI in 1975 is now fully funded and in pre-production. 

Talk about "Cadillac Dreams!"  

According to Cadillac High School's then assistant football coach, Jim Neff, the town's team was using KISS' music to motivate their players in what went on to become a spectacular winning season. 

The film was reportedly offered $8.2 million in incentives from the Michigan Film Office back in 2012. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - In the height of tax season, many Michigan residents owe more money to Lansing.

Some major income tax changes approved 21 months ago by Gov. Rick Snyder and lawmakers are just now starting to hit taxpayers filing their state returns.

Homeowners and renters used to qualify for a credit if their household income was no more than around $83,000 a year. Now they don't get it unless their total household resources are $50,000 or less.

A state tax deduction for children is gone. So is a special exemption for seniors.

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A lot of Michigan seniors are not happy with some of the proposed changes to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

The legislature is overhauling Blue Cross, changing it from a charity to a state-tax paying business.

But some seniors say it could make their healthcare bills skyrocket, or even take away some of their health insurance plans all together.

Now, if your brain is starting to hurt at this point, don’t worry:  contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be a rocket scientist to understand this healthcare change stuff. Promise.

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When people find out I work in radio, there are usually a few classic questions they ask.

"How'd you get into it?" (I got my foot in the door as an intern.) "Are you related to Michelle Norris?" (Nope.) "Where do your story ideas come from?" (From different news outlets, TV Shows, books, people, press releases, conversations, and a lot of times from my own curiosity.)

But another place our stories come from is you. We read and listen to the letters and calls you send us, and occasionally, we bite.

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It all started in Romeo.

According to the House Fiscal Agency, members of the Romeo Senior Center held weekly Texas Hold 'em poker games.

Five bucks got you a seat at the table and you played until your chips were gone - top four finishers took home a payout.

But some legal-eagle rained on their parade, and the games stopped in the spring of 2010.

Michigan's law, they were told, only allowed recreational poker games at senior housing facilities - not at senior citizen centers. If they wanted to continue, they needed a license.

Michigan legislators in the House have come to the rescue with HB 5009. The bill would make these games legal at senior citizen centers.

The bill passed today and now it's up to the Senate.

The House Fiscal Agency analysis says during committee deliberation, "there was concern that providing exemptions to gambling prohibitions to specific classes of people is unfair."

If recreational card playing for money is going to be permitted then it should be opened up and applied to all citizens, irrespective to age. A substitute bill to this effect was offered, but was voted down by the committee.

So there may be one more freedom offered to those over sixty.

Now, who is going to keep on eye on the tables? As written now, players cannot bet more than 25 cents per bet, and the winnings from any one hand of cards can not exceed $5.

Kyle Norris

Romantic love, crazy love, puppy love -- there are all kinds of loves. But there's another kind of love some people experience, and that's love late in their lives.

That's what happened with 70-year-old Judith Narrol and 71-year-old Ed Storement.

They grew up in the same neighborhood in Salem, Ill., but went on to marry different people and raise separate families.

The two have recently reconnected 56 years later.

"He was the guy who sat on my stoop," says Judith, who explains that the couple's religious differences — she is Jewish and he is a Southern Baptist — caused their families to forbid their courtship.

The Ann Arbor Home Share program at the University of Michigan connects homeowners over the age of 55 with younger people looking for a place to live. 

The program allows senior homeowners to manage household chores and offset costs--but it also offers companionship. 

Every arrangement is unique.

In some cases, younger roommates take on housework or run errands in exchange for lower rent. 

Michigan Radio's Christina Shockley spoke with Carol Tice and Kristina Gifford, who participate in the Home Share program. Tice, 80, rents out part of her home to Gifford, 24. Tice has been a participant for over 7 years.

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A community near Akron, Ohio opened a new playground last week - one specially designed for senior citizens.
    

The Akron Beacon Journal reports that the playground consists of eight pieces of low-impact athletic equipment designed for older adults.
    

Every week on What’s Working, we take a look at people and organizations that are changing lives in Michigan for the better.

The Luella Hannan Memorial Foundation in Detroit has been around for 75 years. People who work at the foundation describe it as a center for creative aging, an opportunity for seniors to learn new ways to creatively express themselves as they grow older.

Christina Shockely, host of Michigan Radio's Morning Edition, spoke with Rachel Jacobsen, the community development coordinator at the foundation.

Jacobsen said that proactive aging allows seniors "to exercise the more creative parts of their minds and bodies in ways that help them age well and also, hopefully, continue to develop into old age."

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio's West Michigan reporter Lindsey Smith went to Kalamazoo yesterday to report on a community forum with Congressman Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph).

Upton was invited by the Kalamazoo County Advocates for Senior Issues and he discussed the economy, health care, and social security with the group.

But as Smith reported the "crowd of 200 people also demanded he talk about what he’s doing to create jobs and improve the economy. Several interrupted and shouted at Upton. Those doing the interrupting asked him about the economy."

Here's some video of that forum. Upton attempts to talk about the information on his chart, but he's interrupted:

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A 78-year-old woman says a 6-mile canoe trip down a river in northeast Ohio was a dream come true. That’s despite the fact that she’s afraid of water.

Kay Riffle took her first canoe ride thanks partly to the Second Wind Dreams group. The nonprofit organization works to help grant dreams for seniors.

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Organizers for AARP Michigan say their rally will be held on the east steps of the State Capitol Building on March 15th from 11 a.m. to 1p.m..

From the AARP Michigan blog:

The rally was the brainchild of AARP member and retiree Mary Lee Woodward of Oxford, who launched the effort on Facebook with the help of her daughter.  Woodward says she's heard from thousands of seniors who say new taxes on their pensions and other income will make it difficult to pay their bills. Many also object to elimination of a tax credit for low-income working families, and proposed cuts to schools, universities and local police and fire protection and road maintenance.

Kyle Norris / Michigan Radio

In the basement of a church in Grand Rapids, there's a rehearsal for the Beginners Swing Band.

Most of the musicians here are in their sixties and seventies.