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Celebrating 100 Years of Votes for Women!

Monday , August 24 , 2020

Celebrating 100 Years of Votes for Women!

The Roaring 20s. The Jazz Age. Whatever you call it, it was a decade of change. Many Americans owned cars and telephones for the first time. Football became a professional sport, and Amelia Earhart took her first flight across the Atlantic. The era of Prohibition began.

And American women were guaranteed the right to vote.

This August, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Ratified in August 1920, it prohibits states and the federal government from denying citizens of the United States the right to vote based on sex.

Not That Long Ago

It may seem like an eternity, but 1920 is not that long ago. 100 years is just three to four generations – and it’s likely that your grandparents or your great grandparents were alive to see women fight for their right to vote.

The first women’s rights convention in the United States was held just 80 years prior, in Seneca Falls, New York. There, the women’s suffrage movement was launched.

Some states passed legislation that allowed women to vote if they owned land, or only in certain types of elections (such as school or municipal). Other territories granted women the right to vote and then took it away again.

In New Jersey, some women could vote as early as 1776, but that right was taken away in 1807 when the state legislature restricted suffrage to white, tax-paying male citizens.

According to the National Archives, the first amendment to guarantee women the right to vote was introduced in Congress in 1878. On May 21, 1919, the House of Representatives passed the amendment, and two weeks later it was passed by Senate. It wasn’t until August 18, 1920, when Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, that it was adopted.

A Long and Thorny Path 

The movement to secure the vote for women was not an easy one. The path, even today, is dotted with disappointments, factional disagreements, prioritization of the rights of the white and wealthy, and (on occasion) scandal.

Though the amendment stopped states from barring citizens from the polls based on sex alone, they had plenty of other tools to keep people away. But activism for women and minority voting rights didn’t end there.

According to Rutgers University,

“In 1924, the Snyder Act granted Native Americans citizenship rights, including the right to vote. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 sought to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented racial minorities, especially Black voters in the South, from exercising their right to vote as guaranteed under the 15th and 19th Amendments to the Constitution. The 1975 extension of the Voting Rights Act ended discrimination against ‘language minorities,’ including those who speak Asian, American Indian, Alaska Native, and Spanish languages, by requiring certain jurisdictions to provide translation materials for voter registration information and ballots.”

While the 19th amendment was a landmark in history, it was still decades before all women (particularly those of color) could exercise their right to vote.

Today, many Americans take that right for granted. But as we continue to battle a global pandemic, as well as racial unrest on our own soil, voting has never been more important.

This November 3rd, get out there and exercise the right that so many women before you fought to secure!

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The Power of the Senior Vote

Wednesday , August 19 , 2020

The Power of the Senior Vote

This year, on November 3, 2020, Americans will be heading out in droves to vote for the new leader of our country. And seniors are no exception.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the turnout of voters over age 45 has significantly outpaced that of younger Americans during the last ten presidential elections. For example, in 2016, 71 percent of Americans over 65 voted, compared with 46 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds.

Even more importantly, the number of voters who fall into the category of “older” keeps rising. In fact, by 2030, all Baby Boomers will be age 65 or older.

For the candidates, that means that they must do well with the senior vote if they are going to do well in the general election.

Beyond the Presidency

This year, all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, 35 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate, and the office of President of the United States will be up for grabs. Thirteen state and territorial governorships will also be contested – although, we won’t vote for a new governor in New Jersey until 2021.

Top issues run the gamut from the economy to crime, with several topics that are of interest to older adults. Among them are health care, the coronavirus outbreak, social security, and nutrition support.

Why is the Senior Vote so Important?

First, every vote counts in a close election. And right now, it’s a tight race. No matter which side you’re on, your vote will make a difference.

Second, despite older adults being a remarkably diverse population overall, they’re often able to come together to defend common interests by donating money, contacting local officials, and (most importantly) voting.

One of the most critical issues is Social Security. Often considered “untouchable” third-rail issues, Medicare and Social Security are more and more often being threatened. With 53% of married couples and 74% of unmarried persons relying on Social Security for the bulk of their income, many seniors have chosen to take an active role in the political process to protect their interests.

This, of course, does not mean that all seniors vote the same way and vote lockstep with one another. People do not suddenly abandon their lifelong beliefs just because they have reached a certain age. But seniors do take more of an active role in politics than their younger counterparts – and politicians are paying attention.

How to Vote in New Jersey

This November 3rd, voting in New Jersey will primarily take place through mail in ballot. All active registered voters will receive a prepaid, return postage vote-by-mail ballot from their County Clerk. Ballots will be mailed out by October 5.

Voters can choose to:

  • Mail in their ballot
  • Return their ballot through a secure drop box
  • Hand their ballot directly to a poll worker on election day or
  • Vote in person

All ballots being returned via mail must be postmarked by November 3rd. Any voter who chooses to cast their vote in person must do so via provisional ballot.

Not sure if you’re registered to vote? Fill out this simple form on Vote America and make your voice heard this November!

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OTC Hearing Aids are on the Horizon

Monday , July 6 , 2020

OTC Hearing Aids are on the Horizon

The mythical over-the-counter hearing aid has always seemed like a unicorn – a magical thing that everyone wants to believe exists, but no one’s ever actually seen.

As countless older adults know, regular hearing aids are extremely expensive and easily lost. Because of this, many people end up going without.

Unfortunately, poor hearing doesn’t just mean strained conversations or a higher volume on the television. It can trigger a landslide of other issues, including social isolation and hastened dementia symptoms.

Recently, however, I’ve been hearing a lot about lower cost hearing aids becoming a viable option. The U.S. is beginning to introduce OTC alternatives to the public. If they work well, they could be a boon for many people. People who, otherwise, can’t afford to take care of their hearing.

Keep reading for a recap of a recent white paper from HomeCare and learn how the dream of affordable hearing aids may soon become a reality:

Traditional Hearing Aids

Authors at HomeCare recently wrote that U.S. markets are beginning to introduce over-the-counter hearing aids to the public, and some models are already available. This fall, the FDA is set to approve and regulate additional less-expensive models.

Traditionally, acquiring a hearing aid is a lengthy process. According to one expert, “Once a person recognizes they have a hearing loss and wants to do something about it, they have to go to their doctor, and often get a referral to an ENT for a hearing test and then they are able to meet with an audiologist. Audiologists are not direct service providers as of yet, most of the time requiring a referral.”

Once all the testing is done, the patient will be advised of their hearing aid options. Typically, hearing aids range from about $3,000 to $5,000 – the more expensive, the more functionality.

Older adults, often on a tight budget, sometimes can’t afford the better models and have to settle for an inferior product. Some can’t afford the litany of doctor appointments in the first place and are left with no options at all.

OTC Hearing Aids 

New over-the-counter options may make it possible for people who couldn’t otherwise afford it to get the hearing aids they desperately need.

Available in two basic tiers, OTC hearing aids will start at under $100 per ear. These will provide sounds amplification with any special bells and whistles. The mid-level product, already available, starts at around $699 and has slightly more functionality than the lowest tier. Companies who sell these have an audiologist on staff, though an exam isn’t necessarily given.

There is hope that both products will qualify as durable medical equipment and, thus, allow the patient to qualify for more reimbursements.

Physician Concerns

Some medical professionals are concerned that the OTC availability of hearing aids will lead to patients missing critical diagnosis.  “There are two important exams that people might receive as part of getting a hearing aid. The first may be the exam carried out by their medical doctor or ear, nose and throat specialist,” they explain. The other is a hearing evaluation conducted by an audiologist. The physician’s exam—also known as medical clearance—is conducted to assess whether any medical conditions may be present. “It helps rule out any medical conditions that may be the underlying cause of the patient’s hearing loss.”

Without a prerequisite hearing exam, serious medical conditions could be completely overlooked.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is this: Thousands of people, previously forced to live a life of half-heard sentiments, will now be able to effortlessly take part in conversation, listen to the radio, or catch up on the evening news. Though they’re not a perfect solution, OTC hearing aids could be a game changer for low-income seniors in the United States.

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