March 2014

Managing a long-term medical condition

Flus, colds, scrapes and bruises may upset your week, but diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, depression, COPD and fibromyalgia - to name a few - can be unwanted companions that stay with you like a bad marriage. Data from the National Health Interview Survey in 2010 showed that one quarter of adults in the U.S. have multiple chronic health conditions, with an even higher prevalence among older adults. An even gloomier reality is that poorly managed chronic diseases can spawn additional health problems (for example, eye and kidney disease as a result of high blood glucose in diabetes).

For many people, managing a chronic condition or disease is almost second nature: You take the medications that your doctor prescribes, get regular lab tests, and eliminate things from your diet that your doctor says you shouldn't eat. You try to get some exercise each day, but sometimes pain and fatigue make you put that off until tomorrow. And you might remember a few times when your condition worsened and you had to go to the hospital. You wonder if you will ever feel better.

You can, when you have more support. In 2014, you don't have to face any chronic disease alone, and thanks to the Internet and various foundations and societies, it is easy to find others who have even rare conditions and get support online and often locally, in-person. Senior Services, and partnering locations, offer a number of programs that can help. These programs don't require much commitment in time or money and have been developed as a result of evidence-based research studies.

Living Well with Chronic Conditions is a six-week, interactive class that reminds you of the various strategies you may already know but have forgotten, and teaches some new tips and tricks, including relaxation exercises and more effective ways to communicate with health care providers and family members. This program was originally developed as part of a research study at Stanford University.

While your doctor may only have 15 minutes per visit to spend with you at a visit, what if you could expand your health care team? With EnhanceWellness, you have access to a health coaching team who can help you identify ways to improve your health and set specific, realistic goals to reach them.

For depression, PEARLS, developed by researchers at the University of Washington, teaches a seven-step approach to solving problems and develops a plan to increase social and physical activity. And for people who have had falls or have balance/equilibrium problems, Matter of Balance, developed at Boston University, not only offers specific exercises to increase strength and balance but teaches how to make your environment safer and reduce the fear of falling.

University research has shown that people participating in these programs report a better quality of life, a reduction in symptoms and fewer trips to the hospital. If you have been living with a health problem for years, find an Evidence-Based Wellness Program near you or contact the Mayor's Office for Senior Citizens, 206-684-0500 or Project Enhance, 206-448-5725, for more information and additional resources.

(by Alain Rhone, Senior Information & Assistance) 

Do you like to have fun while learning?

Registration is now open for anyone 50 and over for Seniors Training Seniors Personal Growth computer classes. Humor, patience, and fun included in all classes! Great instructors and small classes limited to a maximum of five students to meet individual needs. Take-home curriculum is provided. The cost is low: $10 to $15 for a two-day, four-hour-per-day course. Enjoy lunch, laughter, and make new friends.

Personal Growth Classes "Introduction to Computer Basics"  
  • For those who are just starting 
  • Those who know a little, but want to learn more
  • An interactive learning experience with plenty of time to practice and ask questions 
  • Humor and patience provided in a pleasant, non-intimidating atmosphere
Personal Growth Classes "Beyond the Basics"
  • If you are somewhat familiar with computers
  • Know how to send and receive emails
  • Search the Internet daily 
  • Want to learn about folders, files, and how to send and receive photos
  • Want to strengthen your computer skills
March and April classes will be held in southeast Seattle; Greenwood, Lake City, Belltown, and Wallingford. To register or for more information, contact Patti-lyn Bell at 206-684-0639 or

(by Patti-Lyn Bell)

Members sought for African American Elders council


The City of Seattle is seeking candidates to serve on the Mayor's Council for African American Elders. Council members are appointed by the Mayor to serve renewable two-year terms. Members must reside within King County and serve without compensation. The Council advises City officials on policies, programs and services of benefit to older African Americans. For more information about the Council please visit this link. To be considered for appointment to the Mayor's Council for African American Elders, please send a letter of interest and resume to:

Rowena Rye
U.S. mail: Mayor's Council on African American Elders
c/o - Aging and Disability Services of Seattle-King County
PO Box 34215
Seattle, WA 98124-4215 

Q&A about Social Security

social security Question: It's hard for me to get around because of my disability. Can I apply for disability benefits from home?
Answer: Yes - in fact, the best way to apply for disability benefits is online. Our online disability application is convenient and secure. You can apply for benefits at this Web site. If you do not have access to the Internet, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to schedule an appointment to visit your local Social Security office to apply. However you decide to apply, begin by looking at our Disability Starter Kit at this Web site. It will help you prepare for your application or interview.

Question: What's the average monthly Social Security benefit for a retired worker? How is the retirement benefit amount calculated?
Answer: The current average monthly Social Security benefit for a retired worker is $1,294. Social Security benefits are based on earnings averaged over most of a worker's lifetime. Your actual earnings are first adjusted or "indexed" to account for changes in average wages since the year the earnings were received. We calculate your average monthly indexed earnings during the 35 years in which you earned the most. We apply a formula to these earnings and arrive at your basic benefit amount. Learn more by visiting us online.

Question: I am nearing my full retirement age, but I plan to keep working after I apply for Social Security benefits. Will my benefits be reduced because of my income?
Answer: No. If you start receiving benefits after you've reached your full retirement age, you can work while you receive Social Security and your current benefit will not be reduced because of the earned income. If you keep working, it could mean a higher benefit for you in the future. Higher benefits can be important to you later in life and increase the future benefit amounts your survivors could receive. If you begin receiving benefits before your full retirement age, your earnings could reduce your monthly benefit amount. After you reach full retirement age, we recalculate your benefit amount to leave out the months when we reduced or withheld benefits due to your excess earnings. Learn more about Social Security reading our publication, How Work Affects Your Benefits.

Question: Will my Medicare coverage change because of the Affordable Care Act?
Answer: No, not at all. People who have Medicare coverage are not affected by the Affordable Care Act. Medicare is not a part of the Affordable Care Act's Health Insurance Marketplace. If you are a Medicare beneficiary, your Medicare benefits are not changing. You do not need to replace your Medicare coverage with Marketplace coverage. For more information about the Marketplace, visit this Web site. For more information about Medicare Parts A, B, C, and D, visit this site. Or read our publication on Medicare here.

Question: I'm quite a number of years away from getting Social Security but I used to get a copy of my Social Security Benefits Statement every year around my birthday. I haven't seen it. Is there a problem?
Answer: There's no problem. In light of the current budget situation, the Social Security Administration has eliminated the annual mailed Social Security Statement and suspended the Request a Social Security Statement by phone service You should visit "my Social Security" to obtain your statement. Don't worry, it's fast, it's safe, and it's easy.

Question: Are there any big changes with Social Security in 2014?
Answer: Yes, there are. To meet the increasing demands for Social Security services, Social Security will make changes to how it provides some services to customers. As of February 2014, the Social Security Administration will no longer offer Social Security number (SSN) printouts and benefit verification information in local field offices. Social Security is making these changes to meet the increasing demands for services at the same time that the agency's budget has been significantly cut by over $1 billion in each of the last three years. During this same time, Social Security has invested in technology that offers more convenient, cost-effective, and secure options for customers to obtain certain services without visiting a local office. If you need proof of your Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefits, you can get a benefit verification letter online instantly by having a my Social Security Account. To create your account go to this Web site. You can also find out about the information and tasks you can complete with a my Social Security Account.

(by Kirk Larson, Social Security Washington) 

Farm to Table wins sustainability award

Farm to Table The Seattle Human Services Department's Farm to Table program won the Resource Impact award as part of the Sustainability Leadership Awards sponsored by Sustainable Seattle. The Farm to Table project links senior meal sites and Seattle child care programs to local area farms. The goal of these efforts is to get local, organic produce into some of Seattle's most under-served communities. HSD staff members Natalie Thomson (Youth & Family Empowerment) and Maria Langlais (Aging & Disability Services) coordinate the department's participation in this innovative project. For more information, please visit this Web site

City partners with United Way to offer FREE tax preparation

The Seattle Human Services Department and United Way of King County's Free Tax Campaign are partnering to offer free tax preparation at drop-in sites across Seattle. From January 14 - April 15, anyone making under $52,000 a year can drop-in and have their taxes prepared for them at the Seattle Public Library, Rainier and Rainier Beach Community Centers, El Centro De la Raza, Seattle Goodwill, Lake City Neighborhood Service Center, YWCA in Greenbridge, or Phinney Neighborhood Center.

In addition to tax help, benefits volunteers will also be on site to help with health care enrollment, credit pulls, and money for college or food. This service is always free, and is provided by hundreds of trained local volunteers. To learn more this service, or to join the team as a tax preparer or benefits volunteer, visit this Web page.

Financial Resource Day on March 22

Your connection to financial and job search resources is Financial Resource Day on March 22, 2014, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Rainier Community Center, 4600 38th Ave. S. At this event, get one-on-one help with
  • Credit, debt and budgeting
  • Financial planning and investments
  • Homeownership and foreclosure
  • Bankruptcy and consumer rights
  • Starting a business
  • Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid
  • Student loans and FAFSA
  • Veterans' benefits
  • Resumes and job hunting
You can also get your tax return prepared (free for people earning less than $52,000 a year), print a free credit report, apply for public benefits and much more. Meet with experts from many organizations including counselors from the new Financial Empowerment Center. This event is FREE. For more information please visit this Web site or e-mail

Save energy AND money!

Tips from Seattle City Light on saving energy and money on your monthly
electric bill:

Power down your electronics: Most electronics, computers, and monitors draw power (called stand-by power) even when they are turned off. Hook up your electronics to a smart power strip so you can completely turn off your electronics when not in use. For additional energy-saving tips, contact a City Light Energy Advisor at 206-684-3800.
"Phantom Load": Check out a Kill-A-Watt plug-load monitor from the Seattle Public Library to better understand the electricity use of your electronics. The Kill-A-Watt will help you discover unexpected "phantom" loads that are common when electrical devices are turned off.

Savings with a twist: ENERGY STAR bulbs use at least 75% less energy to produce the same amount of light, and last 10-25 times longer than incandescent bulbs. Seattle City Light makes it easy and affordable for you to purchase efficient lighting. Look for the Twist & Save label on qualified ENERGY STAR bulbs and fixtures at participating retailers.  

Smoke alarms for Seniors

Have you tested your smoke alarm this month? Do you have enough smoke alarms in your home? According to the National Fire Protection Association, almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in properties without working smoke alarms. A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a deadly home fire.

Get some piece of mind and check your smoke alarms today. The Seattle Fire Department recommends that you install at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home, including the basement. Even better is one in every bedroom.

Do you need smoke alarms in your home? You may qualify for free smoke alarms from the Seattle Fire Department if you meet the following criteria:
  • You live in the City of Seattle
  • You own and live in your home
  • You are a senior citizen or have a disability
To request the installation of smoke alarms in your home, call the Seattle Fire Department's Public Education unit at 206-386-1337 or send an e-mail to
Upcoming Events


Mayor's Office for Seniors Coffee Hours 

  • Thursday, March 20, 10-11 a.m. A Conversation with Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell. Central Building, 1st Floor Conference Room,   810 3rd Ave, Seattle, WA 98104 206-684-0500
  • Thursday, April 17, 10-11 a.m. Speaker TBD, Central Building, 1st Floor Conference Room,   810 3rd Ave, Seattle, WA 98104 206-684-0500
  • Thursday, May 15, Speaker TBD, Central Building, 1st Floor Conference Room,   810 3rd Ave, Seattle, WA 98104 206-684-0500

More Events



  • Saturday, March 1, 1 p.m. Artists at Play Community Engagement: Design team presents new program at Seattle Center Next 50 Pavilion Annex, 305 W. Harrison St., Seattle, WA 98109
  • Saturday, March 1 -9, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus | Book-It Repertory Theatre, Center Theater
  • Saturday, March 1-9, Venus in Fur, Home, Bagley Wright Theatre
  • Friday, March 7, 6-9 p.m. Rainbow Bingo: Disco Fever, Southeast Seattle Senior Center, 5655 S. Holly St, Seattle, WA 98118 
  • Sunday, March 9, 12 p.m. Community Budget Conference Armory Stage/Dance Floor Find out about the City's budget process and get involved in decisions 
  • Tuesday, March 11, 12 p.m. U.S. Air Force Band of the Golden West, Armory Stage/Dance Floor
  • Saturday, March 15, 12 p.m. Irish Festival, Armory Stage/Dance Floor Irish Festival 
  • Wednesday, March 19-Sunday April 13, The Importance of Being Earnest, Center Theatre 
  • Wednesday, March 19-Sunday, April 6, The Suit, Bagley Wright Theatre
  • Saturday, March 22, African American Caregivers Forum: Color of Love, The Central (Central Area Senior Center), 500 30th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98144 


HSD logo 
Catherine Lester, Interim Director

HSD's mission is to connect people with resources and solutions during times of need so we can all live, learn, work and take part in strong, healthy communities. For more timely or breaking news, visit our blog, Human Interests, or visit our Web site.