Some Americans aren't self-educators

As a new Medicare/Social Security recipient, I watch the future of these programs. Some Americans aren't self-educators.

So, what was on the front page on Sept. 13? A veiled sales pitch for the "sexy" Twitter IPO. No one's interested in the dull development of health care reform. Readers waited until page 7 to get the meaty education, "No change in benefits if you have Medicare."

This Associated Press article alludes to the "media blitz" that's helping to confuse "uninformed seniors." It's easy to castigate the government for any confusion instead of the personal laziness of Americans to self-educate about the government systems they use or the sensationalist focus of American media they swallow whole.

We are very shallow, devouring trivia about celebrities with dysfunctional lives, crime reports, diversions such as sports, and other useless information.

The article quoted Julie Bataille, spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, who reassured Medicare beneficiaries that Medicare benefits aren't changing and they are required to do nothing different.

A couple of weeks ago, I heard Jodi Reid of Oakland-based California Alliance for Retired Americans speak. I know I don't have to buy supplemental insurance through the exchange.

Jan Howe

San Ramon

Alzheimer's a crisis of epidemic proportions


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I lost my mother to Alzheimer's disease after a 15-year struggle. On Alzheimer's Action Day, Sept. 21, I'm wearing purple to dramatize the urgent need for better treatments, prevention and a cure for Alzheimer's disease.

Why should Californians care? Here are three critical reasons:

  • Alzheimer's disease is a crisis of epidemic proportions. Nearly 500,000 Californians have Alzheimer's -- more than in any other state. The number of Californians with Alzheimer's will jump 50 percent by 2025.

  • Alzheimer's is the fifth leading cause of death in California. It's the only leading cause of death that can't be prevented, reversed or even slowed. Deaths from Alzheimer's are increasing, while deaths from all other major diseases have decreased.

  • Alzheimer's, the most expensive illness in America, hurts California economically. Medi-Cal payments for Alzheimer's patients average 2.5 times higher than for people without dementia. Loss of California worker productivity due to dementia care-giving topped $1.5 billion in 2012.

    On Sept. 21, show your support for increased funding for Alzheimer's research by "going purple," and telling friends and colleagues why. The time for action against Alzheimer's is now.

    Karen Stevenson

    Berkeley Stevenson is a volunteer advocate with the Alzheimer's Association.

    Plan Bay Area being imposed on residents

    Only an autocratic monarch like King George III of England could support Plan Bay Area.

    This plan, which calls for Bay Area residents to get rid of their cars and live in stack-and-pack housing, is being imposed on residents without a vote of the people.

    In July, the directors of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments voted to support Plan Bay Area.

    If autocratic bureaucrats like those who run MTC and ABAG want to impose their policies on taxpayers, then all officers, directors and employees of MTC and ABAG must surrender their driver's licenses, ditch their cars, and move into stack-and-pack housing before requiring anyone else to do so.

    Richard S. Colman

    Orinda

    Let's all obey rules of the road

    None of us is perfect. As a pedestrian, I sometimes walk on the road instead of the sidewalk -- usually because cars are parked three quarters on the sidewalk, blocking my way, and sometimes because the surface is smoother.

    But I know this is against the law on both counts and I've notified the police about blocked sidewalks.

    It is also against the law for cyclists to ride on the sidewalk, to ride the wrong way on one-way streets and failing to stop at stop signs.

    There are bad pedestrians, bad drivers and bad cyclists. But many cyclists seem unaware of the law. I was happy to see the Sept. 3 letter in the Times by Jim Little, who commented on some cyclists' dangerous habits.

    How about if every cyclist were required to purchase and display a signed sticker indicating they understood the rules of the road and agreed to abide by them? Having to pay for something and affirm full knowledge of the laws they're breaking might remind cyclists to help keep our roads safe.

    Mary Rosenberg

    El Cerrito