WBEZ | seniors http://www.wbez.org/tags/seniors Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Suing a nursing home could get easier under proposed federal rules http://www.wbez.org/news/suing-nursing-home-could-get-easier-under-proposed-federal-rules-113408 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/nursing-home_custom-80c8cb23ff11dd5ce8c1f86da5534458bd5c7daf-s700-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res449991080" previewtitle="Proponents of arbitration say the system is more efficient than going to court for both sides, but arbitration can be costly, too. And a 2009 study showed the typical awards in nursing home cases are about 35 percent lower than the plaintiff would get if the case went to court."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Proponents of arbitration say the system is more efficient than going to court for both sides, but arbitration can be costly, too. And a 2009 study showed the typical awards in nursing home cases are about 35 percent lower than the plaintiff would get if the case went to court." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/19/nursing-home_custom-80c8cb23ff11dd5ce8c1f86da5534458bd5c7daf-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Proponents of arbitration say the system is more efficient than going to court for both sides, but arbitration can be costly, too. And a 2009 study showed the typical awards in nursing home cases are about 35 percent lower than the plaintiff would get if the case went to court. (Heinz Linke/Westend61/Corbis)" /></div></div><p>As Dean Cole&#39;s dementia worsened, he began wandering at night. He&#39;d even forgotten how to drink water. His wife, Virginia, could no longer manage him at home. So after much agonizing, his family checked him into a Minnesota nursing home.</p><p>&quot;Within a little over two weeks he&#39;d lost 20 pounds and went into a coma,&quot; says Mark Kosieradzki, who was the Cole family&#39;s attorney. Dean Cole was rushed to the hospital, says Kosieradzki, &quot;and what was discovered was that he&#39;d become totally dehydrated. They did get his fluid level up, but he was never, ever able to recover from it and died within the month.&quot;</p><p>Kosieradzki says that Virginia Cole had signed a stack of papers when her husband was admitted to the nursing home. As is often the case, one of the forms was a binding agreement to go to arbitration if she ever had a claim against the facility. So instead of taking the nursing home to court, her claim for wrongful death was heard by three private arbitrators. They charged for their services.</p><p>&quot;The arbitration bill for the judges was $60,750. That was split in half between the two parties,&quot; says Kosieradzki.</p><p>Virginia Cole won her claim, but after paying the arbitrators, expert witnesses and attorney&#39;s fees, she was left with less than $20,000.</p><div id="res449978478"><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p>The federal government is now considering safeguards that would regulate the way nursing homes present arbitration agreements when residents are admitted.</p><p>But more than 50 labor, legal, medical and consumer&nbsp;<a href="http://theconsumervoice.org/uploads/files/issues/CMS_Long_Term_Care_Comments_Oct14_.pdf">organizations</a>&nbsp;have&nbsp;<a href="http://www.citizen.org/documents/FAN-CMS-arbitration-comments-10-14-15.pdf">told the government</a>&nbsp;that&#39;s not enough. They want these pre-dispute arbitration agreements banned entirely. Thirty-four&nbsp;<a href="https://www.franken.senate.gov/?p=press_release&amp;id=3247">U.S. senators</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.oag.state.md.us/Press/ArbitrationProvisons.pdf">attorneys general</a>&nbsp;from 15 states and the District of Columbia also have called for banning the agreements.</p><p>&quot;No one should be forced to accept denial of justice as a price for the care their loved ones deserve,&quot; says Henry Waxman, a former congressman from California. Arbitration agreements keep the neglect and abuse of nursing home residents secret, Waxman says, because the cases aren&#39;t tried in open court and resolutions sometimes have gag rules.</p><p>&quot;None of the systemic health and safety problems that cause the harm will ever see the light of day,&quot; he says.</p><p>The&nbsp;<a href="https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/07/16/2015-17207/medicare-and-medicaid-programs-reform-of-requirements-for-long-term-care-facilities">proposed federal regulation</a>&nbsp;would require nursing homes to explain these arbitration agreements so that residents or their families understand what they&#39;re signing. It would also make sure that agreeing to arbitration is not a requirement for nursing home admission.</p><p><a href="http://www.ahcancal.org/Pages/Default.aspx">The American Health Care Association</a>, which represents most nursing homes, is against this proposed change in the rules. Clifton Porter II, the AHCA&#39;s senior vice president for government relations, says that&#39;s because &quot;they&#39;re prescribing us to do things that we, frankly, already do.&quot; Porter acknowledges, however, that practices vary from facility to facility, depending on state law.</p><p>Arbitration agreements, he says, are common throughout the health care industry &mdash; in hospitals, surgery centers and doctors&#39; offices. &quot;Why aren&#39;t rules being promulgated to eliminate arbitration in those settings?&quot; he asks.</p><p>In any case, Porter says arbitration is more efficient for both sides than going to court would be.</p><p>&quot;It actually allows consumers to get an expedited award,&quot; he says. &quot;And you have the benefit of not having to use the courts and go through the entire process.&quot;</p><p>But that expedited award is about 35 percent lower than if the plaintiff had gone to court. That&#39;s one conclusion of a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ahcancal.org/research_data/liability/Documents/2009ArbitrationStudy.pdf">study</a>&nbsp;commissioned by Porter&#39;s organization in 2009.</p><p>If the federal government does regulate or ban the signing of arbitration agreements for new nursing home residents, Porter says the American Health Care Association will probably fight the move in court.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/10/19/449957318/suing-a-nursing-home-could-get-easier-under-proposed-federal-rules?ft=nprml&amp;f=449957318" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 19 Oct 2015 15:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/suing-nursing-home-could-get-easier-under-proposed-federal-rules-113408 Seniors tend to quit Medicare Advantage when health declines http://www.wbez.org/news/seniors-tend-quit-medicare-advantage-when-health-declines-113204 <p><p>Senior citizens are switching from privately run insurance plans for traditional Medicare when they face serious, long-term health conditions, a study shows.</p><p>Researchers at Brown University found that 17 percent of Medicare Advantage patients who entered nursing homes for long-term care chose to switch to traditional Medicare the following year. Only 3 percent of similar patients in Medicare made the decision to go to a private Medicare Advantage plan.<br /><br />The story is the same for patients who required short-term nursing care or home health care. A larger number switched out of Medicare Advantage plans than chose to move into them from traditional Medicare.</p><p>The results suggest that the private Medicare Advantage health plans are managing to get rid of patients once their care becomes too costly, says economist&nbsp;<a href="https://vivo.brown.edu/display/mrahman">Momotazur Rahman</a>, the study&#39;s lead author. &quot;When the plan finds out this patient is very costly, there are incentives for the plan to get rid of the patient,&quot; he says.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/insurance-switches-after-nursing-home-care_chartbuilder_enl-f04caa0a4fe0e4c938aaae0f8fa3fb6eac4c485f-s1400.png" style="height: 320px; width: 200px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="Bars show the proportion of people who left one type of Medicare coverage for the other after receiving either long-term or short-term nursing home care.(NPR/Source: High-Cost Patients Had Substantial Rates of Leaving Medicare Advantage And Joining Traditional Medicare, October 2015)" />The&nbsp;<a href="http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/34/10/1675.abstract?sid=225f9167-0749-445a-a660-80241597bc7d">findings were published</a>&nbsp;in the October issue of&nbsp;Health Affairs.</p><p>The shift of patients who were insured by private companies back to traditional Medicare rolls can cost taxpayers more.</p><p>The government pays&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/09/03/436964368/white-house-takes-aim-at-medicare-and-medicaid-billing-errors">a set monthly fee&nbsp;</a>for each patient in Medicare Advantage plans. The amount varies according to a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.publicintegrity.org/2014/06/04/14865/how-risk-scores-work">risk score</a>&nbsp;for each person. But since the ultimate cost for patient care is borne by the private plans, insurers&#39; profits can suffer if patients are more expensive to care for than expected.</p><p>The private plans don&#39;t kick people out. But they can provide reasons to leave, Rahman said. Those measures include imposing steep cost-sharing as patients need more expensive care, which is common for nursing or home care patients. They can also limit care for expensive treatments, such as cutting benefits for rehab after a hip replacement. And they can restrict their networks in some areas so physicians who care for particularly ill patients are hard to find or get to.</p><p>The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has been looking to minimize this so-called adverse selection &ndash; when sicker patients move back onto the government&#39;s health care rolls. The steps include paying more to private plans for sicker patients, and giving them incentives to manage costs.</p><p>These incentives aren&#39;t enough, according to Rahman. The agency should consider imposing penalties on the plans, he says, when patients &quot;disenroll.&quot;</p><p>Medicare Advantage plans &quot;definitely should not be telling people to leave in any kind of way,&quot; says Jack Hoadley, an analyst at Georgetown University&#39;s Health Policy Research Institute. &quot;There&#39;s no evidence in this study that they are.&quot;<br /><br />But limits on care in Medicare Advantage plans that are designed to cut costs can make those plans less appealing to sicker patients, Hoadley says. The Brown study, he says, suggests the incentives in the program aren&#39;t working properly.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/10/06/446112458/seniors-tend-to-quit-medicare-advantage-when-health-declines?ft=nprml&amp;f=446112458" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 13:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/seniors-tend-quit-medicare-advantage-when-health-declines-113204 Year 25: Chicago seniors reflect on an 'eventful' year http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/year-25-chicago-seniors-reflect-eventful-year-106288 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F85190477" width="100%"></iframe></p><div class="image-insert-image "><br /><div class="image-insert-image ">As we&#39;ve learned thus far through the Year 25 series, a single year can really influence how the rest of your life shakes out. And that is really evident within the walls of a large room in the Chicago Cultural Center, where every week, a group of ladies gather for a senior citizens memoir writing class.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></div><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">Each week, they&#39;re given a new assignment by their editor and teacher Beth Finke, a local writer you may have heard on WBEZ before. She&#39;s been teaching the class for almost 10 years now, so she&#39;s always on the lookout for new assignment ideas. When she heard about our Year 25 series, she thought it might be fun to ask her students where they were at 25.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">Well, of course, I had to be there.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">The class of about dozen older ladies meets in a wing of the Cultural Center named, pretty aptly, I think, Renaissance Court. The writers are in their mid-60s to early 90s: You can imagine the stories they have to tell.</p><p>They all sit around a long table littered with lipstick-stained coffee cups, a few<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/wanda.JPG" style="width: 442px; height: 300px; float: right;" title="Wanda Bridgeforth, pictured at left, celebrates her birthday (Courtesy of Darlene Schweitzer) " />&nbsp;pairs of reading glasses and small stacks of paper.&nbsp;</p><p>Wanda Bridgeworth always sits in the same seat - at the head of the table, on the left side. You&#39;d think at 91 years old,&nbsp;it might be difficult to match memories with specific years of a long, full life. But as she begins to read her essay, it&#39;s clear that 25 really sticks out.</p><p>&quot;The VMAIL letter read VJ Day! Our unit alerted to head for home,&quot; she read. &quot;I could hardly contain myself. I hugged my daughter and shouted, &#39;Daddy is coming home.&#39;&quot;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">It was October 1946. Wanda&#39;s husband was coming home from war, just in time for her 25th birthday. She says she remembers a big party at the house, with family and friends, celebrating both his arrival and her birthday. This would also be the first time Wanda&#39;s husband would meet their daughter, who was born after he left.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">All went well, Wanda writes, until bedtime.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&quot;When he started to get into bed, she jumped over the side of her crib and grabbed his pajama shirt screaming, &#39;You get out of this bed! This is my mama&#39;s bed! And you don&#39;t belong here!&quot; Wanda read, while all her classmates burst out laughing.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">Wanda writes how that year brought lots of changes: she was diagnosed with hearing loss, lost her new home to the railroad and on and on.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">Another reminder of how unpredictable 25 can be, no matter what generation you&#39;re born into.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">For some of these writers, the adventures were of their own making. For Nancy Walker, all it took was one decision to kickstart a year of self-discovery. The year was 1963 -- she had been teaching in Mount Prospect for three years.&nbsp;</p><br /><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&quot;I loved teaching,&quot; Nancy read, &quot;But I wasn&#39;t meeting any new people in my 2nd grade classroom. So I decided to resign from my job and look for a glamorous job downtown.&quot;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/nancy.JPG" style="float: left; width: 257px; height: 300px;" title="Nancy Walker, one of the students in the class (Courtesy of Darlene Schweitzer) " /></p><p>So off she went, submitting applications for the few female-wanted ads in the newspaper. Turns out, her search ended up bringing her right back where she started -- she was hired later that year to teach at a school in Skokie. And she stayed there for the next 31 years.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&quot;The decision to resign from a good job when I was 25, could have been disastrous,&quot; she went on. &quot;But now, I view it as one of the best decisions of my life.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">And that&rsquo;s the thing about this class: 25 was so long ago, that the lens these ladies are looking through often lets them see quite clearly how that one year fits in the span of their whole lives. That&#39;s something I learned from Hanna Bratman, who was 25 almost seven decades ago. It was that year that she gained her U.S. citizenship.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&quot;It meant that I now could say I&#39;m an American. I no longer had to identify myself as a German Jew,&quot; Hanna told me after class.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">Hanna says that new identity was very important to her. She calls herself a &quot;Holocaust person&quot; and told me some of the stories from her young life in Germany. She was thrown out of school when Hitler came to power, she recalls. And then there was the time she broke her leg and had to drive for hours in the middle of the night to find a doctor who would treat her.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/hanna.JPG" style="float: right; width: 350px; height: 300px;" title="Hanna Bratman, celebrating Wanda's birthday (Courtesy of Darlene Schweitzer) " /></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&quot;I think you grow up pretty fast when you&#39;re really on your own,&quot; she says.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">But yet, she says, she&#39;s always been a positive person. And today, at 93 years old, she&#39;s still keeping busy. She leads a support group for people with vision loss, she leads a midlife group, and as she puts it, &quot;I help all the way around.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">And she also shows up for this class, every week, to listen to her peers tell their own stories.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">But there&#39;s another story here that was not shared in the class. A 25th year that has rippled out from one person to all of these students. For Beth Finke, the woman who is teaching them, 25 started out with a lot of excitement. Her now-husband, Mike, proposed to her on her birthday.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&quot;We looked forward to having all our friends come in town...we got married in my sister&rsquo;s back yard. [We] all went to a White Sox game the day after, just, fun, fun, fun,&quot; Beth recounted.</p><p dir="ltr">But things took a sudden turn on her honeymoon in Scotland. She recalls that she started seeing strange spots.</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;I took my contacts out and cleaned them and put them back in,&quot; Finke said. &quot;And I knew right away.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/BigCrop%20from%20scan.jpg" style="width: 441px; height: 300px; float: left;" title="25 year old Beth Finke at her wedding (Courtesy of Beth Finke)" />Beth had been diagnosed with diabetes when she was seven, so she knew issues with her eyes were a possibility, but she didn&rsquo;t think she&rsquo;d lose her sight altogether.</p><p dir="ltr">For the next few months, her 25th year would be spent going back and forth between downstate Champaign and Chicago for surgeries and doctors&rsquo; visits.</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;We tried really hard to save my eyesight,&quot; she said. &quot;But by July of my 26th year I was totally blind.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">So the things Beth saw during her 25th year - her wedding, her family members&rsquo; faces, the White Sox stadium - those are the images she still has in her head today.</p><p dir="ltr">Of course, the following years were transitional ones; she had to learn how to read Braille, how to use a cane, but with all of these changes came a gift: writing. She says there was something therapeutic about putting all her feelings and life changes on paper.</p><p dir="ltr">It&rsquo;s a gift she&rsquo;s now able to pass on to her students.</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;I give them 500 words. That&rsquo;s all they have to write these essays, so if you only have 500 words to work with you have to use really strong words. You have to really think about what you&rsquo;re writing,&quot; Finke said.</p><p dir="ltr">And as many of her students near the end of their years, it&rsquo;s these strong words that give them a chance to honor the lives that they&rsquo;ve lived.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 26 Mar 2013 10:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/year-25-chicago-seniors-reflect-eventful-year-106288 Aging boomers, elderly face difficult housing market http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/aging-boomers-elderly-face-difficult-housing-market-99967 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/elderly%20lapotop.jpg" style="float: left; width: 400px; height: 266px;" title="(Flickr/homecaregiverstore@gmail.com)" />In our regular housing conversations with Dennis Rodkin, we spend a considerable amount of time talking about first-time buyers: what they&rsquo;re looking for and how they can leverage the sagging market. Monday on <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>, we look at &ldquo;last-time&rdquo; owners, i.e. retirees and seniors looking to sell their home and either downsize, move in with family members or into retirement communities.</p><p>In the boom years, retirees could depend on real estate to bankroll their retirement years, but sinking property values have changed the equation. Young families, having heard the horror stories of home ownership, aren&rsquo;t as eager to buy the properties boomers are selling. Banks, wary of fixed incomes, often turn down retirees looking to refinance their mortgages.</p><p>Rodkin, who writes the <a href="http://www.chicagomag.com/Radar/Deal-Estate/" target="_blank"><em>Deal Estate </em></a>column for <em>Chicago </em>magazine, advises boomers to ask themselves several questions when deciding where to live and whether to sell or stay put: Does your neighborhood have good transit options? How safe is it? If your mobility is impaired, can you install upgrades to make your current home more senior-friendly?</p><p>&ldquo;Selling can be a very emotional experience for seniors,&rdquo; said Mike Rickert, chair of the Senior Service Task Force for the <a href="http://www.succeedwithmore.com/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">MainStreet Organization of Realtors</a> and a guest on Monday&rsquo;s <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re leaving the home where they raised their kids.&rdquo; For individuals moving into a form of assisted living, they&rsquo;re struggling with the loss of independence.</p><p>Rickert and other members of the senior task force regularly meet with nursing homes, lawyers who specialize in living wills and tax accountants to better understand the housing needs of the elderly.</p><p>He says a lot of real estate agents don&rsquo;t want to work with seniors because many aren&rsquo;t looking to buy. The numbers indicate that agents may have to adapt. According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, <a href="http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2012/06/04/Housing-Mismatch-Boomers-Sell-Millenials-Rent.aspx#page1" target="_top">26 million boomers</a> plan to sell by 2030.</p><p>Are you of retirement age and considering selling your home? Are the child of a senior parent who is no longer self-sufficient? To share your experience, call <strong>312.923.9239. </strong></p></p> Mon, 11 Jun 2012 07:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/aging-boomers-elderly-face-difficult-housing-market-99967 Elderly expect brunt of postal closures http://www.wbez.org/story/elderly-expect-brunt-postal-closures-94620 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-December/2011-12-05/photo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The U.S. Postal Service announced that during the busy holidays it will take a break from a controversial plan to close post offices, but the issue is still stewing in some neighborhoods - especially among elderly residents.</p><p>Eleven post offices in Chicago are on the list of potential closures, nearly all on the city’s South and West Sides. Those are the communities where many say that older residents will bear the brunt of the hardship of having to travel farther to use a full-service postal facility.</p><p>Residents near those locations received letters over the summer notifying them of the proposal to close their local post office, and inviting comments. Dorothy Sumpter, a 73-year-old resident of the North Lawndale neighborhood, said as soon as she received the letter, she put the date of a public town hall meeting on the proposal on her calendar.</p><p>“People like me need the post office,” said Sumpter, “so that’s why I wanted to be in on it. I’m a citizen and I use every right that I possibly can.”</p><p>Sumpter uses the Otis Grant Collins Post Office, where revenue dropped $200,000 between fiscal years 2007 and 2010. Throughout the nation, post offices are seeing a decline in revenues and foot traffic, attributed to the shift to online bill-paying and correspondence. But Sumpter says she and many other elderly people like her aren’t part of the internet-using trend.</p><p>“I don’t feel comfortable using it,” she said. “I’m old-fashioned.”</p><p>Sumpter goes to the post office every week because she has a P.O. Box there, but also to buy stamps and mail her bills. She said she feels comfortable going there because it’s easy to access on foot and by bus, and she knows all the workers by name. If the Otis Grant Collins branch closes, the next closest post office would be in Cicero. “Which I don’t even know where the post office is in Cicero,” Sumpter laughed. “And I don’t really want to have to go over there just to go to a post office, because many times I can walk to the post office in less than 15 minutes.”</p><p>Sumpter said she fears that the elderly will become more isolated if they lose their neighborhood post offices, because many are less mobile to begin with, and sometimes walking to the post office is a crucial part of their social interaction and weekly exercise regime. Karen Schenck, Chicago District Manager/Postmaster, said many share Sumpter’s view.</p><p>“That was the largest concern. If you had to ask me what was the biggest concern of all the town hall meetings,” said Schenck, “was people were concerned about the elderly in their own community.”</p><p>The list of proposed closures came from USPS headquarters in Washington, D.C., said Schenck.</p><p>“Nobody took into consideration any other fact except for how much revenue,” she explained, “and if there was another post office within two miles close to it that could service the community.”</p><p>Schenck says the district office is now looking at population data to see how many elderly live near the post offices that may close. She says that’ll help them make a final decision. Schenck says of the 11 offices on the shortlist, some will be spared.</p><p>But concern for the elderly may be loudest in Chicago’s Chinatown. Of the zip codes where offices may close, Chinatown’s is the one with the greatest portion of residents over age 65, with several senior housing high rises in the immediate vicinity of the post office. Chinatown’s elderly also say they have an unique need - a place where people are bilingual.</p><p>“The employees, they don’t speak Chinese,” said 60-year old Harry Wong.</p><p>Wong is like many elderly Chinese immigrants in Chicago who speak limited English. He uses the Chinatown post office because if there’s a language barrier, he can turn to other customers in the store for help translating. That’s the reason that many elderly Chinese who live in other places will often bypass a closer post office to go to Chinatown’s.</p><p>Chinatown organizers have gathered hundreds of handwritten letters from residents to protest the potential closure of their post office. USPS is still accepting those comments, and says no post offices will close before March.</p></p> Tue, 06 Dec 2011 23:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/elderly-expect-brunt-postal-closures-94620 Are CTA rides really free? http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/are-cta-rides-really-free <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//71259299.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The <a target="_blank" href="http://www.rtachicago.com/">Regional Transit Authority</a> oversees <a target="_blank" href="http://www.transitchicago.com/">CTA</a>, <a target="_blank" href="http://metrarail.com/metra/en/home.html">Pace </a>and <a target="_blank" href="http://metrarail.com/metra/en/home.html">Metra</a>; in a system that big, fraud is a fact of life.</p><p>But the RTA has tended to focus on internal abuses of resources.</p><p>A new report out from the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;source=web&amp;cd=1&amp;ved=0CBwQFjAA&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bettergov.org%2F&amp;rct=j&amp;q=better%20government%20association&amp;ei=libtTOifH86lnAfeneC_AQ&amp;usg=AFQjCNF6XJziM-t1-6eNQQ1_G2wMmPNP3A&amp;sig2=esb-HLrPwISdGNo2_OEWkQ&amp;cad=rja">Better Government Association</a> and <a target="_blank" href="http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;source=web&amp;cd=1&amp;sqi=2&amp;ved=0CCAQFjAA&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.myfoxchicago.com%2F&amp;rct=j&amp;q=fox%20chicago&amp;ei=ribtTM3gKY3_nAf1z4mAAg&amp;usg=AFQjCNFBYGz91ys0rUDik-0Ol5fYngRPSQ&amp;sig2=-UtcljnFj04dpU-5MRkHHA&amp;cad=rja">Fox Chicago News</a> finds that riders have also been abusing the system. And some of them from the grave!</p><p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.luc.edu/soc/Part-Time_Jrnl1.shtml#Herguth%202">Bob Herguth</a> is with the Better Government Association and he explained how it all works,and where it all goes wrong.</p><p><em>Music Button: Thunderball, &quot;Moon on the Rise&quot;, from the CD 12 Mile High, (ESL Music)</em><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 24 Nov 2010 13:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/are-cta-rides-really-free