Meg Haskell

Senior writer

I am second-career journalist with an idealistic commitment to the power of the Fourth Estate. I have a professional background in health care and 60-plus years of life experience that inform my work. I’ll be writing about a variety of issues for the Bangor Daily News, both in this blog and as a reporter, with a focus on matters of interest to readers in the “sweet spot” of their maturity: those productive adult years from 50 to 70 when (maybe) we have the time to pursue our personal interests, the energy to contribute to our communities and the wisdom to steer clear of needless drama.
 
Sheila Swazdowich plays a recorder at the Somerset Place in Brewer Monday. She was among the participants of a class teaching seniors to read music and play the recorder.

Learning music late in life could prolong brain health

By Meg Haskell on July 27, 2017, at 6:10 a.m.
For the researchers, it’s an opportunity to study the theory that challenging the older brain to learn and coordinate new skills helps stave off age-related cognitive decline and dementia.
Eleanor Cain, 81, of Brewer performs at senior centers, clubs and other venues in the Bangor area. Cain has been belly dancing since she was in her 30s and continues to learn new steps and choreographies.

At 81, this Brewer belly dancer is still perfecting her art

By Meg Haskell on July 21, 2017, at 6:02 a.m.
The soul of authentic belly dance is in the Middle East, and Cain honors that tradition, with her costumery and technique, when she dances at area senior centers and other venues.
Women at the age of menopause or older are at increased risk for developing a urinary tract infection. UTIs in older women are harder to identify and harder to treat than in younger women, but preventive steps can help minimize your risk.

UTIs can be more dangerous, harder to cure as we age

By Meg Haskell on July 19, 2017, at 1:06 p.m.
In the catalog of age-related indignities, the humble urinary tract infection, or UTI, may not seem like a very big deal. But the truth is that, for women in particular, UTIs become much more problematic as we age. They’re easier to acquire, harder to identify, more challenging to cure and more dangerous if left untreated.
POLL QUESTION
Pat Guerard of Portland, Connecticut, has spent the past year touring the country in her hand-crafted "Gypsy caravan" she named Wandering Rose. The caravan was constructed by John Kaznecki of South Thomaston.

Her ‘retirement home’ is a Maine-built tiny house on the open road

By Meg Haskell on July 15, 2017, at 7:30 a.m.
“I told my daughter she needed to give me two years to explore, and then I’ll be ready to settle down,” Pat Guerard, 62, said.
Students get ready to leave the moorings during a sailing class for women at the WoodenBoat School in Brooklin.

Women master the craft of sailing at Maine coast school

By Meg Haskell on July 07, 2017, at 6 a.m.
The female-only sessions, which enroll about a dozen women and have been offered each summer since the early 1990s, fill up quickly.
Hope Brogunier, a lifelong environmental advocate, decided to invest in solar panels instead of more predictable home upgrades.

Bangor woman, 80, goes solar at home

By Meg Haskell on June 30, 2017, at 7:38 a.m.
“I have so much pent-up frustration over this anti-environmental head of the EPA, our pulling out of the Paris Agreement [on climate change], all that. I felt like, ‘This is it, my chance to literally put my money where my mouth is.’”
A Bangor neighborhood in June 2017.

Why seniors should think twice before choosing a reverse mortgage

By Meg Haskell on June 29, 2017, at 6:21 a.m.
“A reverse mortgage is a financial tool. It’s not right for everybody, but a lot of people are able to use it shrewdly as part of their retirement planning.”
Ruth Frost, 64, of Hampden worked for 30 years in the family business and used a computer for billing and bookkeeping. To make herself more comfortable with  setting up and using her new home laptop for Facebook and other websites she signed up for a digital literacy class at Eastern Area Agency on Aging.

Bangor computer program helps seniors surf the web safely and stay connected

By Meg Haskell on June 23, 2017, at 6:25 a.m.
“It’s not that I’m brand new to computers, but I only ever used it at work and never for myself. I get the devil all the time because I’m not on Facebook yet.”
Molly surveys the landscape from the steps of the lean-to at Site 105  during a recent camping trip to Cobscook Bay State Park.

Solo camping is an act of solitude, confidence

By Meg Haskell on June 21, 2017, at 9:14 a.m.
“There are some decisions you can reach more easily alone than in even congenial company.”
Ayurveda Yoga practitioner and teacher Deborah Keene (left) poses during one of her yoga classes at her studio in Liberty.

‘My spirit is so happy’: Maine woman embraces mindful lifestyle, shares it with others

By Meg Haskell on June 14, 2017, at 11:07 a.m.
“Yoga is a sister practice to ayurveda,” she said. “It all focuses on oneness. Yoga is about the spirit, and ayurveda is about the body.”

Experts say to respect ‘hierarchy of grief’ with death and social media

By Meg Haskell on June 12, 2017, at 10:52 a.m.
“People jump the gun posting news of a loved one’s death on social media. They mean well, but it does create issues.”
Subarus, popular among Maine drivers, are among the best cars for seniors, according to a new ranking from Consumer Reports.

How aging Maine drivers can avoid being forced to give up their keys

By Meg Haskell on June 09, 2017, at 5:45 a.m.
Before older Mainers hang up their keys for good, there are several options to help them stay safely behind the wheel.
Lynn Stark moved to Greenfield with her family in the early 1980's. She took in animals as her children brought them home over the years and eventually she started Samsara Exotic Animal Refuge. The state certified refuge takes in all types if animals from exotic pets to farm animals.

Inside the remote refuge saving Maine’s abandoned exotic animals

By Meg Haskell on June 02, 2017, at 5:45 a.m.
Every animal at Samsara has a story. As the number and variety of creatures has grown, so has the need for funding and volunteer labor.
"Orion on the Dunes," a biography of the Henry Beston the author of "Northern Farm," written by Daniel G. Payne

Biography offers glimpse into the life of ‘Northern Farm’ naturalist Henry Beston and his deep ties to Maine

By Meg Haskell on May 29, 2017, at 7:32 a.m.
The first biography of Henry Beston sheds light on his trajectory as a writer, on his complex emotional and intellectual responses to the world around him and on his deep connection to Chimney Farm and his adopted state of Maine.
People participate in a 50+ 'N Fit Class at the Bangor Y Tuesday.

Losing weight, getting fit in midlife is a reachable goal

By Meg Haskell on May 26, 2017, at 5:30 a.m.
For men and women in their 50s, 60s and older, the weight-loss challenge comes with some powerful motivators to succeed, as well as some particular difficulties.
Aaron Pyle (left) and Shawn Lefevre work to install the work of New York-based artist Jason Bard Yarmosky at the University of Maine Museum of Art in Bangor Thursday. Yarmosky's show features large, realistic paintings of his elderly grandmother, who is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer’s turns into artwork at upcoming Bangor exhibit

By Meg Haskell on May 19, 2017, at 8:22 a.m.
The show will hang through September 2, serving as the catalyst for a summer series of free noontime talks and workshops aimed at educating family caregivers about age-related dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Peter Werner talks about the 1961 reprints of the Gutenberg Bible he is in the process of binding for a customer. Werner of Blue Hill is a master bookbinder who learned the craft from his grandfather, Arno Werner.

‘Understated elegance’: Inside the world of a Blue Hill bookbinder

By Meg Haskell on May 18, 2017, at 6:35 a.m.
“I love producing something beautiful and functional that you can hold in your hand,” said Peter Werner, a master bookbinder in Blue Hill.
Members of a tennis team at the Ellsworth Tennis Center pose on a balcony overlooking the city of Florence, Italy. Left to right: Melissa Hale, Teri Green, Anne Dentino, Sarah Maxwell, Andrea Maloney, Sandy Johnson, Anne Gibson and Karen Robidoux.

Red clay, rolling hills and risotto: Maine tennis team takes game to Tuscany

By Meg Haskell on May 13, 2017, at 1:09 a.m.
Elizabeth Johns, a social security expert, poses for a portrait in Bangor Tuesday. A number of changes in Social Security took effect at the beginning of 2017, most people don't know about them. By 2034, it is estimated that the system will be able to pay only about 75 percent of its obligations unless revenues increase and/or benefits decrease.

Midlife Mainers should know about these changes in Social Security

By Meg Haskell on May 10, 2017, at 12:47 p.m.
Social Security is stable and adequately funded, but it’s important that beneficiaries here understand how it changes from year to year as well as the forces that shape its future.
Ann Leffler, 70, administers a cannabis tincture while caring for her spouse, Dair Gillespie, 77, at their home in Orono. Gillespie, who has advanced Alzheimer's disease, is among the first Mainers to be certified to use marijuana to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer's.

77-year-old using cannabis for Alzheimer’s is ‘much less fearful’

By Meg Haskell on May 05, 2017, at 6:39 a.m.
“I think that at that stage you try everything to help stop the suffering.”