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New Year, New You: January 2016 Programs at the Bellingham Senior Center

Dec 30, 2015 06:00AM ● By Pamela Johnson

Bellingham Senior Center

Bellingham Council on Aging News

The next COA meeting is on Tuesday, January 12, at 1 pm. Please drop by to learn more about the services and programs available for you here. Refreshments are served and an attendance prize is awarded. Come and try something new for the winter or check out the programs that continue without a fee like Motion to Music, Chair Volleyball, Guitar Lessons, Chorus, Quilting, Knitting, Bridge, Mahjong, Canasta, and Billiards.

Check out the programs at the Bellingham Senior Center:

Chair Volleyball—Monday, at 9:15 am, with Peg Brooks (free). Fitness for older adults of all activity levels—regularly active to wheelchair bound. Classes are offered weekly throughout the year. There are many mental and physical health benefits associated with playing Chair Volleyball ,including promotion of camaraderie, stress reduction, improved cardiovascular fitness, increased upper body flexibility, and enhanced muscle tone and endurance. Give it a try and boost your confidence and self-esteem.

Yoga—Tuesday, at 10:30 am, with Susan Winters ($3). These hour-long basic fitness classes are great for those looking to lubricate joints, improve flexibility, increase circulation, and increase muscle strength. Susan Winters is our certified instructor (with 35 years teaching experience). You may bring a mat or use one of ours. We will do warm-ups, postures, and deep relaxation each week. It’s a class for both men and women of all abilities.

Chair Exercise—Monday and Friday, at 10:30 am, with Beth Coelho ($3). This basic fitness class is great for those looking to improve endurance and vitality, increased circulation, and strength while seated. Don’t let your balance or physical condition deter you from exercising. This easy-to-follow chair exercise program will help you tone up and improve your flexibility.
Qi Gong—Tuesdays, at 12:30 pm, with Jean Donnelly ($5 for 60+ seniors; $10 for non-seniors).  Also known as chi kung or chi gong, this is an ancient Chinese discipline that involves the mind, breath, and movement to create a calm, natural balance of energy that can be used in work, recreation or self-defense. The three essentials of the practice are posture, breath, and a quiet mind.

Easy Zumba—Tuesdays, 3—4 pm, with Suezy O’Coin ($2 per class; pay as you go).  Develop better fitness in easy increments in this fun class, all at a healthy and flexible pace.  Dance moves are set to music and are adjustable for all abilities. The instructor, Suezy, has many years of experience and loves to teach newcomers. (Or try the Beginners Line-dancing class on Mondays, at 1 pm, for the same cost.)

Yogalates—Thursday, at 10 am, with Kay Thomas ($5). This class is offered to a wide range of yoga enthusiasts. Stretching, strengthening, and improving body alignment are incorporated and help make the practice of yoga less tiring and more enjoyable. Pilates is focused on core stability to maintain a balanced and aligned body that looks fit, feels revitalized, and moves with ease.

Zumba/Core—Friday, at 9:30 am, with Kay Thomas ($3). The routines feature intervals of fast and slow Latin rhythms. Zumba uses the principles of interval training and resistance training to maximize caloric output, fat burning, and total body toning. It is a mixture of body sculpting movements with easy to-follow dance steps.

Tai Chi for Seniors—Fridays ($5 for 60+seniors; $10 for non-seniors) at 1 pm, with Jeanne. Practicing regularly can improve cardiovascular health, lower your blood pressure, and improve balance. Studies indicate that seniors who practice TaiChi regularly are less likely to fall than those who do not.

Important Notice: Participants in exercise classes, dancing and sports activities should consider having a physical examination prior to entering strenuous programs. Please check with instructor about proper clothing and shoes necessary for each activity.

Bereavement Support Group
This group will meet twice a month on a weekday for the next six months to provide an opportunity for you to join with others who have experienced a similar loss. Over time, you will talk, listen, and heal. You are invited to attend as many or as few of the meetings as you wish; one time or every other week for 1 hour.  The Group Leader and schedule are being worked on now.  If you think you might be interested in coming to the Bereavement Support Group, please call the Center at 508-966-0398; we will take your name and number. You will be contacted when arrangements are complete and the Group is ready to begin. All seniors in the Bellingham area are welcome to attend with no fee. Transportation may be available with advance reservations. Funded by a state grant administered by MCOA.

Caregiver Support Group
Do you help or assist an elderly loved one? Caregivers often experience feelings of fear, concern and stress. Fortunately, there is hope and help.  A new, free support group for family caregivers will start very soon at the Senior Center at 40 Blackstone Street. It will meet twice a month for the next 6 months. The schedule of days and times is being planned. Meetings will focus on support and information for you and will be facilitated by Lisa Mottola, the Assistant Director. For more information contact Lisa at 508-657-2708 or email her at [email protected]  All caregivers in the Bellingham area are welcome to attend with no fee. Transportation and care for your loved one during meetings may be available with advance reservations. Funded by a state grant administered by MCOA.

New: Conversational Italian Classes
Our fabulous instructor is resident  Antonio Cence, and students will quickly begin to develop listening and speaking skills. Why not try this fun way of practicing a new language in a conversational setting? This group is open to Italian language-learners of all levels. Keep in mind that one of the most important parts of learning a language is speaking it. If you are interested, please call 508-966-0398 with your name, phone number and days of the week when you would most like to attend class. We will start with a 10-week session 1-1/2 hours per class. A minimum of six enrollees needed. All area residents are welcome. Sign up now!

Beauty Services
Local stylist Maliwan, a great volunteer, is now taking requests for haircuts as well as nail polish changes and hand massages. Please call the Center to sign up and reserve a spot.  She is available on Monday, January 25, 9:45—1:00 pm. Pamper yourself; you deserve this great free service.

Men’s Group
Stop in any Wednesday morning at 10 am, for coffee, light discussion, storytelling and occasionally a joke or two. This group meets for an hour in the Center’s dining room without any agenda unless a guest speaker stops by. New members are always welcome.

Monthly Birthday Party
This month’s luncheon is set for Thursday, January 28 at noon. A ham buffet provided by Mickey G’s Catering is planned; cost is $9/pp. This event always includes birthday cake and ice cream, and everyone with a January birthday will receive a gift. Reservations must be accompanied by your payment, and there is no refund if you cancel after Jan. 26. All residents 90+ are invited free with a reservation during their birthday month. If you need a container for leftovers, the BESG has a limited number available for $1 each for your convenience, or bring your own.

Financial Mentoring
If you have financial questions that are personal in nature and related to specific financial issues, you can make an appointment to meet privately with Gerald Loftin, experienced Certified Financial Planner®, every third Thursday (January 21, February 18, and March 17), 10 am—12 pm, by appointment, at the Bellingham Senior Center. (No fee.) Rides are available; call 508-657-2709.  Call the Senior Center and sign up today to reserve your space to get honest and unbiased answers to many of your financial questions, including social security, retirement income sources and retirement plan distributions, investments, annuities, life insurance, long-term care, Medicare, Medicaid, risk management, asset protection, and estate planning. All consultations are complimentary and any information discussed will be held in the strictest confidence.

Be a Good Neighbor
Volunteering is a way of giving back something to the community, a way to bring smiles to an elder’s face, to make new friends and learn new skills. Tri-Valley can present you with various options. Enrich your life by visiting an isolated elder once a week as a Friendly Visitor or as a Medical Advocate or Companion Volunteer by providing transportation to appointments, errands and outings to increase socialization. Time commitment is about one hour per week. Please call Jayne at 1-800-286-6640.

Mohegan Sun Casino—Depart on Thursday, January 21, at 7:45 am, and return about 5 pm. Enjoy one of our favorite day trip getaways; the package includes a $15 free food coupon, three $5 free bets and a chance for a free trip. No refund if cancelled after Jan. 19. Cost is $22 /pp including the driver’s tip.

Genealogy Workshop
 Join Activity Leader Toni Picariello on Monday, Jan. 4, 2—4 pm. Why not start a new hobby, and research your family history at your own pace. No fee for this class.

Circuit Breaker
If you pay rent or property taxes, you may qualify for cash or credit from the state. The Massachusetts Circuit Breaker tax program is for persons 65 or over whose property taxes (or 25% of rent) exceed 10% of their annual income and who meet other qualifying criteria. You may be eligible even if you receive a property tax exemption through your city/town. If you meet certain requirements, you may be eligible for the refundable tax credit or Circuit Breaker now and for the past three years—even if you did not file state income tax forms. The maximum credit you may receive for tax year 2015 is $1,070; 2014 is $1,050; 2013 is $1,030;  and f2012 is $1,000.
Seniors must meet certain guidelines to qualify for the refund or credit:
  • Age: 65 or over by the end of the tax year for which you are filing.
  • Income: includes Social Security, and other income not ordinarily taxed in Massachusetts.
  •  Residency: Own or rent residential property in Massachusetts (primary residence). Subsidized renters are not eligible.
  • As of January 1, 2015, assessed valuation of home before residential exemptions but after abatements cannot exceed $693,000.
  • 10% Rule
  • For Owners: Amount by which property tax (plus 50% of water and sewer fees when not in property tax bill) exceeds 10% income, up to the maximum.
  • For Renters: Amount by which 25% of annual rental payments exceed 10% of total income, up to the maximum. The law assumes that 25% of rent goes toward property tax.
  • Your total income cannot be greater than these limits for the 2015 tax year: $57,000 single, $71,000 head of household, and $85,000 married filing jointly.
Even if you don’t normally file with the state, if you meet the above criteria, you are most likely due a refund check/tax credit from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR). For assistance, call the Bellingham Council on Aging at 508-966-0398, or call the state DOR’s customer service at 1-617-887-6367.

From the Veterans' Desk

VETERANS' ID CARD---On July 20, President Obama signed into law the Veteran’s Identification Card Act of 2015. The law directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to issue a veteran’s identification card to a requesting veteran who is neither entitled to military retired pay nor enrolled in the VA system of patient enrollment. The law requires the card, to: (1) display the veterans name and photograph, and (2) serve as proof that the veteran has a DD-214 form or other official document in his or her military personnel file that describes the veteran’s military service. The law also directs VA to charge a card fee and states that the card shall not serve as proof of entitlement to any benefits.

TRICARE Pharmacy Benefits--Staring Oct, 2015, a new law required all TRICARE beneficiaries, except active duty service members, to get select brand name maintenance drugs through either TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery or from a military pharmacy. Beneficiaries who keep using a retail pharmacy for these drugs will have to pay full cost. “A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both”- Dwight D Eisenhower-

YOUR TAXES - During Jan. 2016, Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) will begin providing IRS Forms 1095 (C and/or B depending on your status as a military member, military retiree, annuitant, or federal civilian employee). The information will be necessary when you prepare to file your 2016 federal tax return. Like your other tax and pay statements, the new forms will be available in your myPay account when they are released (no later than Jan. 31, 2016.)

Military retirees and people receiving VA benefits will see no increase in their payments for 2016. Military and federal worker retirement pay, VA disability compensation, VA pension benefits, and Dependents’ Indemnity Compensation benefits will all remain the current level for the coming year mainly because of the decrease in the price of a gallon of gas. “None but an armed nation can dispense with a standing army. To keep ours armed and disciplined is therefore at all times important.”-Thomas Jefferson” On the of Veterans Day, the Senate passed a bill with language to grant “honorary” veteran status to as many as 200,000 Reserve and National Guard retirees--- those not deemed veterans now because they did not serve a qualifying period of active service under federal orders. The House is expected to adopt similar language soon, either by passing a standalone bill, or by mirroring Senate action. Veterans Service Officer Bob Greenhalgh at 1- 774-292-2437.

 Veterans can find their State Veterans Benefits information online: at when you apply for state benefits, it is important to contact your veterans' agent.




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