Safer Cycling for Seniors | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 16 May 2012 08:24



By Jim Miller



Three-wheeled bikes – also known as adult tricycles – are a great cycling option for older boomers and seniors, especially those who have concerns with their balance or stamina.



Here’s what you should know, along with some tips to help you shop for one.

Safer Cycling

If you’d like to take up bike riding, but worry about falling, an adult tricycle is a smart option to consider because of the stability it provides.

With a tricycle, you can ride as slow as you want without ever losing your balance and you can put both feet on the ground while seated, which is very reassuring for many older riders.

In addition, adult tricycles are also made with a low “step through” design making mounting and dismounting much easier than a traditional bike; they come with big tires that ensure a smooth ride; have raised, ergonomic handlebars that are easier to reach and grip; and offer oversize seats (some even have backrests) for comfort and support.

And, other than the frame, tricycles use the same standard components as traditional bikes do, so replacement parts are readily available, and repairs are not an issue.


Types of Tricycles

There are literally dozens of different types of adult tricycles to choose from with prices ranging anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

To help you figure out the right kind of tricycle that meets your needs and budget, here’s a breakdown of the different styles and costs, along with some popular models to checkout.

Upright: If you’re primarily interested in a leisurely ride around the neighborhood for pleasure, fitness or running errands, upright trikes are a good choice. These are traditional upright-positioned tricycles that come with rear cargo baskets and limited gear options usually ranging from one to three-speeds.

Some popular models in this category include the Schwinn Meridian Adult Tricycle sold at Walmart and Target for around $270, the Sun Traditional 24 trike (see that retails for around $375, and the Torker TriStar three-speed ( which costs around $500.

Recumbent: These are the lower-to-the-ground, stretched-out frame tricycles that allow you to recline with your legs positioned in front of you. Available in various styles, recumbent trikes are very comfy, easy on the back and aerodynamic which make them ideal for long rides.

See,,, and for a nice variety, but be aware that recumbent trikes are more expensive than upright models, typically ranging between $800 and $2,500.

Tandem: If you plan to ride primarily with your spouse or another partner, you may want to get a tandem tricycle that comes with two seats (front and back), or you can get a double seat tricycle with the seats side-by-side. You can find these types of bikes for around $1,000 to $2,000, at the same websites that offer recumbent trikes.

Folding: If you like to travel or if you have limited storage space, tricycles that are designed to fold up to fit in tight spaces are another popular option.

The Adventurer Three-Speed Folding Trike which sells for $390 at, Kent Westport Folding Tricycle sold at Target and for $300, and Walmart’s Port-O-Trike 3-Speed Folding Tricycle for $400 are three good folding trikes to consider.

Electric: If you need a boost from time to time, electric tricycles are hybrids that have pedals and an electric motor, so you can exercise when you want or you can sit back and let the trike do the work. Some good options include the EW-88 electric trike at for $1,200, and the Cabbike 3 Electric Tricycle offered through for $979.


Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.


The Afterlife of Online Accounts | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 16 May 2012 08:20

By Gene L. Osofsky


I do most of my banking and bill paying over the Internet, participate in Facebook and exchange e-mails with friends and family. What would happen to these online accounts when I die or if I become disabled and can no longer manage them?



As we move further into the 21st century, more and more of our lives are moving into the digital realm. This includes friendships, networking, business and banking.

While this gives us instant access to our “digital assets” and on-line friends on a 24/7 basis, the downside is that a large portion of our lives are locked away behind password-protected accounts.

How would our loved ones, executor or trustee access this information, notify our online friends and take other steps to freeze, transfer or terminate these accounts when they are protected by user names and passwords known only to us?

Unfortunately, unless you have taken appropriate steps during lifetime, it could be very difficult for your loved ones to access this information, notify your “friends” and memorialize or terminate your accounts. In one notable case decided in Michigan, the parents of a deceased Iraqi marine had to sue Yahoo in order to secure access to their son’s e-mails.


Here are several recommendations:

1. Make provision for your loved ones to get access to this information upon your incapacity or death. You might do this simply by creating, and keeping current, a list of user-names and passwords and keeping it in a place known to your loved ones.

Alternatively, you might sign on with companies who offer to safely secure your digital property and grant access to your friends and loved ones upon your death or disability. One of them is Legacy Locker. Others include Entrustet and AssetLock.

You might even arrange to send an e-mail to your loved ones in the future, even after you’re gone, such as your grandchild’s 16th birthday. Check out the GreatGoodbye and EternityMessage. However, in order to serve their purpose, the online services you select would need to survive you.

2. Include in your Durable Power Of Attorney, Will or Living Trust special provisions authorizing your agent, executor or trustee to access and manage these assets upon your incapacity or demise.

Caution: It is not yet clear under California law whether user-names and passwords are a part of your “estate” and subject to the control of your nominee. However, in anticipation of the law addressing this issue in the future, I suggest including appropriate provisions in your estate planning documents now, so that when California law does reach these issues you will be prepared.

3. Check your favorite websites and see if they have procedures in place to deal with incapacity or death. For example, Facebook, the world’s most popular online social network, allows someone to “Report a Deceased Person’s Profile.” Upon satisfactory proof of death, the decedent’s page can be “memorialized” so that only confirmed friends continue to have access to the decedent’s “wall,” which may then remain on Facebook indefinitely as a memorial to the deceased.

Most importantly, think about these issues now and discuss them with your loved ones. Remember, also, that none of us is immortal and we may or may not wish our online presence to continue after our demise. When you next update your estate planning documents, make it a point to discuss these issues with your estate planning or elder law attorney.


Gene L. Osofsky is an elder law and estate planning attorney in Hayward.  Visit his website at

New Owners for Kay’s Bridal Shop | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 09 May 2012 14:25


Robert and Karina Gillette took over Kay’s Bridal shop on Redwood Road eight weeks ago and are looking forward to many more years in business.

A local shop that has provided wedding gowns for hundreds of Castro Valley brides since the 1930s has reopened under the new management of lifelong Castro Valley residents Robert and Karina Gillette.

The Gillettes took over Kay’s Bridal Boutique at 21120 Redwood Road in March.

“A friend of the former owner made the connection for us,” explained Robert Gillette who said it was the previous owner’s desire to have local people run the business.

“We want to refresh the business to something we will be proud of,” added Karina.

The couple is focused on having Kay’s become the premier bridal shop for the East Bay.

Awards are Just Icing on The Cake for CV Baker | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 09 May 2012 14:07


With just 19 months of cake-making experience, amateur baker Misti Short of Castro Valley has already brought home two prominent awards for her cake creation “Rapunzel’s Tower.”

Misti Short loves to bake cakes. But not just those round, three-layer jobs.

The Castro Valley housewife – mother of five and grandmother of one – talked her husband into letting her take a cake-making class a while back and since then her oven has been turning out the most extravagant of creations.

Short  edged out 40 other contestants for First Place in the Alameda County Fair competition and brought home a “People’s Choice” award from the April 29th Contra Costa Cake and Sugar Art Society competition in Concord.

“I have so many cake ideas in me I need an excuse to make more,” says the amateur baker.

Last September, Short went to the Wilton School of Confectionery Art in Chicago and is planning on enrolling in culinary courses at Diablo Valley College. She hopes to open her own cake shop in San Leandro in the near future.


–Robert Souza


Question of the Week • 05-09-12 | Print |  E-mail
Tuesday, 08 May 2012 14:54






Movie Review: Marvel’s ‘Avengers’ Revive Hero Genre | Print |  E-mail
Tuesday, 08 May 2012 15:19

By Trevin Smith

The Avengers revives the overhyped genre of superhero beat-em-ups and wraps you in a blanket of hope and imagination in a way only superheroes can.

In two hours childhood fantasy gets a shot of adrenaline as Hawkeye, the Black Widow, Thor, the Hulk, Captain America and Iron Man team up in an all you can eat buffet of bullets, mindless violence and explosions. Plus Samuel L. Jackson wears a cool leather eye patch, what else could you need?

Alone, each of The Avenger’s individual movies were good at best (the only two so far not to have films are Hawkeye and the Black Widow). But when combined, each hero offers endless snappy comebacks, one liners and unique powers that keep the movie from dying a boring death.

The older and younger crowds together erupted in cheer in a way I’ve never heard in a Marvel movie before, as the Avengers put their many differences aside to take down the Norse mythology inspired villain Loki who is out to take over the world.

My favorite hero after seeing the film is easily the Hulk. “The Avengers” tended to keep David Banner under wraps for most of the film, only to later reveal him as a car throwing, building scaling machine.

As each hero meets one another, some tension and rock star egos emerge, especially in Tony Stark (Iron Man) which at times can get a tad annoying, but overall it’s fun to watch how The Avengers use each of their individual skills to get the job done.

With solid characters, countless explosions and a hint to a sequel after the credits, “The Avengers” is a great way to open the approaching summer movie season by both giving you someone to root for and making you want to give superhero flicks another chance.


Trevin Smith, who lives in Castro Valley, is currently studying journalism at Las Positas College where he has been the Arts and Entertainment Editor of the school newspaper, The Express. You may read more of his work at and contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Adopt-A-Pet • 05-09-12 | Print |  E-mail
Tuesday, 08 May 2012 14:37





Question of the Week • 05-02-12 | Print |  E-mail
Friday, 04 May 2012 11:52





Question of the Week • 04-25-12 | Print |  E-mail
Friday, 04 May 2012 11:57






Question of the Week • 04-18-12 | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 19 April 2012 14:59






Non-contingent Offers Return; Buyer Beware | Print |  E-mail
User Rating: / 1
Thursday, 19 April 2012 13:23

Real Estate Reality

By Carl Medford, CRS
Special to the Forum

I’m old enough to know that life comes in circles… hang around long enough and things you thought were gone will suddenly re-appear.

Like men’s neck ties… if I’d only hung on to some beauties from years ago, I could wear them again!

While some things are OK to be back in vogue, others are not: we’re seeing a return to some real estate practices many hoped had gone the way of the dodo bird.


Non-contingent offers.

When markets overheat and multiple offers proliferate, some buyers become desperate and resort to whatever means necessary to land a home.

This can include shortening contingency time periods to “sweeten” a deal or removing them all together.

A standard residential real estate transaction for properties with four units or less includes three contingencies: loan, appraisal and inspections.

These are like “Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free” cards. If something happens to your loan, the house doesn’t appraise at contract value or your inspections uncover issues that you can’t live with — contingencies give you an opportunity to leave the transaction and get your good-faith deposit returned.

Contingency time periods are determined up front and, once a contract is signed, serve as transaction mileposts. After contingencies are removed, if you cancel a transaction, you run the risk of losing your good-faith deposit.

While standard purchase agreements default contingencies to 17 days, they’re frequently shortened to make offers more attractive. And, some reason, if we’re going to make them very short, why not just remove them all together?

It’s a tactic that can seriously harm buyers and lead to long-term issues, including litigation. Deeply concerned the last time these appeared, the California Association of Realtors issued a Market Conditions Advisory warning of the practice and inherent risks involved. Starting as a one-page document signed by buyers, it’s grown to two pages and now must be signed by both buyers and sellers. It includes the following:

“There is an inherent risk in writing a non-contingent offer. Only you, after careful consultation and deliberation with your attorney, accountant or financial advisor, can decide how much risk you are willing to take. It is your decision alone and cannot be made by your broker or real estate agent.”

Central Alameda County Realtors recommend you avoid this practice at all cost. You may get the property, but end up with a whole lot of grief in the bargain.


Carl Medford is a licensed Realtor with Prudential California Realty in Castro Valley. This article is sponsored by the Central County Marketing Association at


Which Financial Records to Save, Toss | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 19 April 2012 14:49


By Jason Alderman

If the memory of hours spent hunting for and organizing paperwork to file your taxes is still fresh, think about doing some financial spring cleaning so next year’s tax preparation won’t be such an ordeal.

Many people hold onto mounds of receipts and account statements because they’re not sure when it’s safe to toss them. (By toss, I mean shred – don’t give identity thieves any ammunition.)

Here’s when you wouldn’t want to lack proper documentation:

If audited by the IRS you must be able to justify deductions, charitable contributions, income, etc.

Track stock and fund transactions so when you sell you’ll only be taxed on profits above the purchase amount; also to justify claiming a loss on your taxes.

To claim tax credits/deductions for home improvements, such as energy-efficiency upgrades or for medical reasons.

If you make nondeductible (after-tax) contributions to an IRA or 401(k), to prove you’ve already paid taxes on the amount.


Your heirs will need your financial documents to settle your estate.

The IRS has several periods of limitations during which you can be asked to produce records proving income, deductions or credits you claimed:

Normally, they have up to three years after your tax return to request documentation.

However, if you failed to report income that is more than 25 percent of the gross income on your return, they have six years.

If you file a claim for losses from worthless securities, it’s seven years.

If you don’t file a return or file a fraudulent return, there is no statute of limitations.

So, you should probably hold onto back-up documentation for seven years, to be safe.

These records include:

• W-2 and 1099 income forms.

• Year-end bank and brokerage statements showing interest earned.

• Receipts, cancelled checks or other proof of payment for deducted expenses.

• Home purchase or closing statements, insurance records and receipts for improvements.

• Homeowners, car and medical insurance claim payouts.

Investment statements (stocks, bonds, mutual funds retirement accounts, etc.)

IRS Form 552 contains detailed instructions on what to save and for how long (

Hold onto certain documents for even longer than IRS audit requirements. For example:

Keep records for investments and major assets at least as long as you own them.

Save records and tax forms relating to retirement accounts, at least until you’ve drained their balances.

Toss monthly and quarterly loan statements after receiving year-end summaries, but always retain final payoff notices in case the loan erroneously goes into collection and you need proof.

Save all tax returns and attachments (Schedules, W-2 form, etc.) indefinitely. The same goes for hard-to-replace personal documents such as birth, marriage and death certificates, divorce, adoption and military discharge papers, will, power of attorney, etc.

You can always save actual documents and receipts. But if your goal is to reduce paper clutter, scan copies and save as PDF files. Back up electronic “soft copies” on an encrypted flash drive or external hard drive in case your computer crashes. And, if you’re worried about fire, theft or other disasters, store additional copies in a safety deposit box or with a trusted friend.

Recordkeeping is no fun, but compared to tearing the house apart to prepare for an audit, it’s a small price to pay.


Jason Alderman directs Visa’s financial education programs.

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