While we are careful about what we bring into our homes during the Safer-At-Home statewide rules, we were happy to welcome the $1,200 stimulus check! Some seniors say that they are on a fixed income and live off of only their Social Security funds, while others use Social Security to supplement pensions from former employers. What are seniors doing with the check? Having conducted a survey of several local seniors, it sounds like many have done their share to help stimulate the economy. Here are some results:
• Bills, bills, bills!
• I did some maintenance and minor repairs on my car. I had my stereo fixed in my car so I have music again! I bought some good watercolor paint, paper, and brushes, because I paint at least three days a week. It keeps me quite entertained, and helps me feel good. (Linda L)
• I bought a thick exercise mat. First because I have a hard time getting up and down, and second because I can no longer go to the gym. I also spent $100 of it getting my grandmother’s sewing machine repaired. (Carolyne D)
• My property taxes went up last year and I just got a bill for about $1,000 to refill my mortgage company’s escrow account. This way my monthly payments will not go up this year.
• I spent $800 on my new home rental security deposit. I spent the rest to move my piano out of storage and into my house, and then have it tuned.
• I made donations to some nonprofits like Can’d Aid (for water for the Navajo Nation); got badly needed new shoes; nutritional needs; a lower balance on a line of credit; got a piece of used furniture; and still have a significant amount which I’m in no hurry to spend!
Approximately half the respondents said they put the check in their savings accounts for future emergencies.
SAFER AT HOME & MORE
With a lot of businesses and restaurants opening up, it might seem like seniors should feel free to go about their days like they did earlier in winter. This is not the case. We are still under the April 26 Safer-At-Home regulations, with special emphasis by Governor Jared Polis for those over 60 years old and/or who have an underlying condition to continue to stay home except for doing essential business. It is advised that you only make one visit per day to limit exposure. Seniors especially need to follow the four safety rules: Wear a face mask, social distance six feet, frequently wash your hands, and clean surfaces that are touched after you have been outside.
Listening to the various government officials on television, it may be confusing as to whose rules you need to obey. The president of the United States can announce that all restaurants must open, but governors have the legal right to say that restaurants will only be open at 50 percent capacity. Mayors can say that those restaurants need to check the temperature of everyone entering, and the restaurants themselves can say that they are not opening because it is not safe enough yet.
For example, the Stone Cup never opened for take-out in May, despite having permission to do so. They are planning to open just for take-out for the month of June, despite the fact that they could open with 50 percent capacity and use both their inside and patio space. Yes, it is confusing, but it is worth calling and finding out the opening schedules and supporting local businesses and employees who were financially hurt over the past three months. This also goes for the retail businesses that are partially opening this week.
What are you doing to entertain yourself while isolating? I hope you are reading the Lyons Recorder, which has weekly articles on nature, wellness, and entertainment! The guidelines now allow you to visit your friends in groups of six or fewer, while still wearing masks and/or social distancing. A few churches are considering how they can re-open in the near future. Groups of eight or fewer can eat together at restaurants. A few seniors have said that they are watching free plays, concerts, and operas online. In an unprecedented move, organizations like Billboard and PBS are releasing these for only a few weeks.
Lyons seniors are fortunate to have a beautiful, serene riverwalk in town, as well as two parks. Visiting these parks meets the State of Colorado guidelines that encourage Colorado residents to “limit activities to your immediate community, not travel more than 10 miles from your home to recreate or vacation, and not travel to mountain areas.” If you want to venture out, Colorado has four National Parks, with trails and campgrounds that are beginning to open. Locally, Rocky Mountain National Park has begun a phased reopening as of May 27, which will include a plan for people to make reservations online so that the park can better control the number of people and their interactions. Other contained outdoor natural places like the Denver Botanical Garden and the Denver Zoo are also looking at a reservation system.
At this time, no large entertainment venues, whether inside or outside, will be open for most of the summer. In Lyons, that means that the Burning Can event and Good Old Days are cancelled. The Thursday Concerts in the Park are being reviewed, as well as the location. The library is still doing only curbside service, and the museum will have staff working, but is only reachable by telephone to answer research questions.
STATISTICS AND TESTING
Remember that when you wear a mask and social distance, you are not only protecting yourself but also the essential workers who have been bravely providing you with services. It will also help prevent a flare up or a second wave. Last month, I reported that the number of seniors dying from the virus went from 73 percent to approximately 60 percent of the state’s total death count. The National Guard was sent out to to test at “nursing homes” (a term covering all senior group living and care facilities).
The governor is now partnering with Colorado State University to launch an eight-week period of testing of workers and residents at the 30 largest senior homes. The governor noted that, as of Memorial Day, 15 veterans have passed away from the virus at the Veteran Community Living Center at Fitzsimons. Nursing homes are still not allowing in-person visits of residents or patients.
The state has just opened 35 sites statewide to test for the virus. If you are sick and want to know if you have the virus, you no longer need a doctor’s certificate, but must register to get the free test. See the article about Boulder and Larimer County testing. The state is close to achieving its goal of doing 8,500 tests a day. It is a leader in the country.
At this point it looks like we will be living the “New Normal” through the summer months. Many seniors say they will not travel or eat out until there is free testing for all or until there is a vaccine, which might not be until the end of the year or later. There is hope that the U.S. can speed up the vaccine because it is being studied worldwide, with research being shared. Some kits are being manufactured after the first successful test while the remaining two mandatory testing stages are being completed.
TAKE ACTION / WARNINGS
TAXES: The Colorado Legislature is back in session this week. There will be a need to cut millions from the budget. Senior property tax relief via the senior homestead exemptions may be cut for the coming year. Write your local legislators with your opinion.
WARNING: Do not use hydroxychloroquine to prevent the virus. It could kill you. Doctors advise that only patients under a doctor’s supervision should use it to treat some forms of malaria, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.
SCAM: We have some good news for a change. There was a paving company going around the Front Range signing people up for driveway repaving. The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office arrested a man with Roadside Paving who promised to fill in some pot holes in a Lyons parking lot. He proceeded to pave a larger area than agreed upon and demanded a bigger price.
Steve Kellison, a Deputy Sheriff who lives in Lyons, has some advice. First: A legitimate paving company knows how much asphalt they will need for a job. They don’t have leftovers. Certainly not enough to pave a parking lot. Second: A legitimate paving company will give you a written estimate (and have insurance). Third: A legitimate paving company won’t go door-to-door looking for business. Fourth: If it sounds too good to be true, it isn’t true. Local Donnie Shelton reported that it happened to her a few years back: “The scammers were clean cut–their equipment shiny and well maintained–and they hit me at a time when my brain was not working right! The asphalt continues to crumble.”
This will be my last column; thanks for your patronage! Watch LaVern Johnson’s About Town column for tid bits on senior news. To keep up to date on senior news, including any restarting of activities and meals, new scams, or entertainment news, sign up for the free Senior Newsletter by writing LovingLyonsSeniorGroup@gmail.com.