Senior Living May 27th 2008

I started reading a book called “Secrets of Becoming a Late Bloomer” by Connie Goldman and Richard Mahler that I heard about while attending the “Aging in America” conference.

The book tells the stories and secrets of how older adults transformed and brought new meaning to their lives becoming late bloomers, those “extraordinary ordinary people who defies the notion that his or her best years are over, someone who responds to the late stage of life not as a crisis but as a quest.”

One of the secrets Connie identified for staying creative, aware and involved in midlife and beyond is knowing who we are. For many of us, we lived our lives trying to be what others wanted us to be or would allow us to be. We became the role or position that we held: a respected manager, a caring parent or a successful adult athlete. But when we turned 50 reaching that half way point in our adult lives and began to see the end of our working career, or we got smacked in the face with some serious event that knocked us off our balance: a major illness, or a death in the family, these life events may cause us to question who we are and what do we really want.

Through greater insight and understanding particularly through the lens of experience we have developed over our many years, we have the ability to better understand who we are. We can begin to see the possibilities and opportunities and live our lives congruently, as one late bloomer would say, where “who we want to be” becomes the same as “who we are” and we stop worrying about who we should be.

Everyday I meet and hear the strories of extraordinary ordinary people: one who started singing in a local country western band, another who is learning to tap dance, another who started a college class in psychology, and another who taught a class on aging. It can go on and on.

By taking this step of finding who we are and what we want with honesty and without fear, we can redefine aging as a time of great potential for growth and opportunity with remarkable rewards. It is not easy but it is possible.

On Tuesday June 3rd, at the Next Chapter Lecture Series, Dean Dollarhide, financial representative for Northwest Mutual, will be discussing the The Myths and Realities of Long Term Care – The Basics”. Dean is another home town boy who has returned and is actively giving back to the community.

Next Tuesday Night, June 3rd, the music program will feature Harold Gimlin and Friends playing down home Country and Western music. Harold is well known in the local “jamming” scene and he and his friends will put on a really nice show. Tonight the “Jazz Generations” will be performing. The dancing always starts at 7:00 PM. The admission is free although donations are gladly accepted.

Tuesday is the Senior Center Night for music and dancing but Friday night is dance night at the Cherry Park Grange, 1002 Lambert St. in The Dalles. They have line and partner dance lessons starting at 7 p.m. followed by open dancing to DJ music until 10 p.m. It is open to singles and couples of all ages (kids, teens and adults) and only costs $3 per person, $5 per couple and $6 for the whole family. For more information, call 993-3540. And if you don’t want to dance the night away, there is Gospel Music every Thursday night and Karaoke Music on the fourth Sunday of the month from 7 – 10 p.m. All at the Cherry Park Grange.

On June 7th from 12 to 8 pm, you are invited to a Mosier Cherry Festival benefit for the Seniors of Mosier. It is described as an Octoberfest but in June. There will be food booths, arts and crafts, carnival games for the kids, bingo, desserts and dancing in the streets. For venders or anyone who has questions contact Bernie Evans at 541-490 6882. It sounds like fun and way to support the seniors in Mosier. Like many of us, Seniors of Mosier Valley are dealing with the transition from depending on the old guard to recruiting the younger newly retired seniors. They have been in existence for 28 years providing many activities including lunch every Monday and Wednesday in the community room at Mosier Creek Terrace. As Bernie Evans said, “The Seniors of Mosier Valley isn’t anything but a fun place to go relax and visit.”

Skip Tschanz has led three Wildflower Walks this spring, and he is willing to continue through the summer leading a hike on the first Monday of every month. The next hike on June 2nd is a moderate trail hike, less strenuous than last month’s Mosier Syncline hike, and has two great waterfalls, Horsetail Falls and Ponytail Falls plus the bridge over Oneonta Gorge. (And there could even still be some wildflowers.) Skip suggests hikers wear traction soled walking shoes to avoid slipping and sliding and to also bring some water. This hike will start at 10:00 a.m. and we should be back to the center by 4:00 p.m. We will car pool from the Senior Center and gas donations are welcome, but not mandatory.

Just a last reminder on Thursay May 27th at 1:00 at the Senior Center, Collette Tours will present information about trips to Branson, Missouri this October and San Antonio in March 2009.

That is it again for another week. It is always nice to have an extra day off. It gives you a little time just to catch up. So until we meet again, be true to yourself.

Senior Living May 20th 2008

As I mentioned last week, May is Older Americans Month, and this year’s theme is “Working Together for Strong, Healthy, and Supportive Communities”. By working together we can address issues at the national, state and local level to improve older adults’ overall quality of life and indirectly create better care and reinforce healthier communities for all ages.

In the Mid-Columbia we are finding additional ways to work together. Thanks to the Mid-Columbia Medical Center and the Area Agency on Aging, many of the senior providers meet annually to prepare for the Senior Expo as part of MCMC’s Health Fair during the Cherry Festival. To continue these conversations beyond the Cherry Festival, a ”Network on Aging” has been formed for professionals who work in areas related to aging to provide an opportunity for networking, education and advocacy. The first meeting of this professional group will be June 5th from 8 – 9 am at the Senior Center. A light continental breakfast will be provided. For more information contact the Area Agency on Aging or the Mid-Columbia Senior Center or just show up. By working together we can improve the health and well being of our seniors and pave the way for future generations.

Now that we have the perfect place to display the beautiful quilt hand stitched by the Senior Center’s quilters – hanging on the wall in the Senior Center lobby – it is about time to find a new home for it. People have been waiting patiently for the raffle drawing and I promised it would happen by the end of May. I will be close. At noon on Monday June 2nd we will hold the drawing at the Senior Center. That is the good news. The bad news is you have less than two weeks to buy your winning raffle ticket.

We now have over forty classic movies for rent – mostly VHS – including “Monkey Business” with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, the Marx Brother’s “Duck Soup”, and Charlie Chaplin’s “City Lights”. We also have some of the favorite TV shows of the 50’s such as “I love Lucy”, Jack Benny and George Burns. With these classics you don’t have to worry about inappropriate language or too much skin. You can borrow them for seven days for $1 for non-members and free for members (because we know where to find you). Just check them out with the receptionist at the front desk. And to build the collection, we are accepting donations of movies from the 30’s through 60’s.

Volunteering is one proven way to stay active, maintain your mental skills and contribute to the community. One local non-profit that is doing terrific work and relies on many retired folks is Habit for Humanity. They have just opened a “Restore” store across the street from Big Jim’s, selling new and used building materials and home furnishings. They are open on Thursdays and Fridays from 10:00 – 3:00 and on Saturdays from 10:00 – 4:00 and are in need of volunteers. This kind of store has been very successful in other communities and all proceeds will go to building more homes for local families. You can see the result of Habitat’s efforts at a dedication ceremony for the Flores family’s new home at 4675 Lockwood in The Dalles, Sunday, May 25, starting at 2 p.m. Thanks goes to a group from Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity, a division of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, for supplying two thirds of the funding and to the local Lutheran community for supplying half of the volunteers for building the new house. For more information call The Dalles Habitat for Humanity at 296-8817.

With the weather improving (except for that early reminder of what summer is really like – just in case we may have forgotten) Tuesday is the night to get out of the house and make your way to the air conditioned Senior Center to enjoy fine music and dancing. Next Tuesday on the 27th our fourth Tuesday regulars “The Jazz Generations” will be playing for your dancing and listening pleasure. And tonight the one man band of Truman Boler will be playing his country Gold. Truman also played The Spring Fling Dance last Friday evening, reminded me of my high school days, when I would stay in the corner hoping that no girl would find me unattended and ask me to dance. You see I am as graceful as a fly struggling in a spider web and I would hate to crush anyone’s toes. But for all of you folks who can dance, come down and kick up your heels or at least shuffle your feet. The dancing always starts at 7:00 PM. The admission price is free although donations are gladly accepted. Everyone’s welcome.

At this time I don’t know who will be the featured speaker for The Next Chapter Lecture series 11:00 on Tuesday May 27th, but I do know it won’t be a waste of your time. The series has been a tremendous success providing information topics from the medical to the historical and in between. We will continue this lecture series through June and then take a two month vacation before we start again in September.

Several folks have expressed interest in travel tours, so we have scheduled a Collette Vacations presentation after lunch at 1:00 at the Senior Center on Thursday May 29th. They will be describing two tours: a six-day tour to Branson, Missouri from October 16 – 21 and a five day tour of San Antonio in March of 2009. Both trips are reasonably priced to great locations and since you won’t be leaving the country you won’t have the passport hassle.

A final reminder, the Senior Center including Bingo will be closed for Memorial Day weekend to honor the men and women past and present who have served in our armed forces.

That is it for another week. Until we meet again, I can’t think of anything else to say.

Senior Living May 13th 2008

At the luncheon honoring the Senior Center’s Charter Members, Hal Sessions presented a slide show using newspaper articles and photographs saved from the early years of the Senior Center. It was a nice reminder of all the hard work and challenges involved in building this senior center. But I realized that besides supporting seniors for the next twenty five years, the building expansion will also fulfill the original vision for the center: a two story multi-purpose community facility with an elevator, an exercise room and offices for rent. It amazes me that even though times are different and approaches and styles may change, two visions twenty five years apart can still be fundamentally the same.

The Senior Center will be serving breakfast this Saturday the 17th from 8:00 – 10:00. This month’s tasty offerings include: country fries, scrambled eggs, sausage links, biscuits, fruit and the regular beverages. We want to thank Washington Federal Savings for sponsoring this month’s breakfast and also for doing double duty by providing volunteers for last month’s Cherry Festival Breakfast. So enjoy a fine breakfast with good friends for only $5 for the general public and $4 for Senior Center members.

The Wasco County Historical Society is inviting you to join them for a trip to the Whitman Mission, a National Historic Site in Walla Walla, Washington on Saturday May 31st. The trip will be guided by local historian Jon Carlson, retired Army Corps of Engineers and WCHS Board member. The thirty passenger bus will be leaving at 7:30 am from the upper parking lot of The Dalles/Wasco County Library with the estimated return time being 6:30 pm. The cost is $10 plus $3 admission and bring your own sack lunch and beverage. If interested contact Jan Leininger at 541-478-3429.

May is AARP Driver Safety Program Month and for this month AARP has a special promotion. Any AARP member (with a membership card) can bring a friend to the AARP Driver Safety class at the Senior Center on May 19th and 20th from 9:00 – 1:00 and the cost for BOTH persons will be $10 instead of the normal $10 a piece. Dennis Davis has ably replaced Dick Frost as instructor for the class (Dick has been teaching the class forever – which is a very long time – and is still busy teaching classes and coordinating the program throughout the Mid-Columbia region). And when you do see Dennis you may want to ask him what it’s like to live with a very special dancing mouse. Call the Senior Center at 296-4788 to sign up for the class.

May is also “Older American’s Month” and to celebrate the Area Agency on Aging and Meals-on-Wheels are putting together an Ice Cream Social at the Senior Center this Friday May 16th from 6:30 – 8:00 pm at the Senior Center. Truman Boler will be providing the entertainment with his crowd pleasing and danceable music. Here is a chance to get out of the house on a Friday night for a little music, dancing and Ice Cream.

And to “double your pleasure and double your fun”, Truman will also be performing at Senior Center’s Tuesday Night Music on May 20th. If you already had your Friday night planned or once is not enough, come down on Tuesday night for another chance to enjoy the sounds of Truman Boler. And tonight the Notecrackers are playing for your dancing pleasure. The dancing always starts at 7:00 PM. The admission price is free although donations are gladly accepted. Everyone’s welcome.

The Next Chapter Lecture series 11:00 on Tuesday May 20th will feature Dr. Ryan LeBreton O.D., local optometrist, discussing common problems with your vision including Cataracts/Macular Degeneration and Glaucoma. It is always nice for a home town boy to go off to college, come back and contribute so much to the community.

May 20th is the last day to turn in your mail ballots in this important primary. Serious issues are being discussed including health care, the economy and war and peace but there has always been room for humorous look at the political events. This year we had Stephen Colbert a comedian on Comedy Central running for President and in the late 60’s does anyone remember Pat Paulson’s run for President? But again realizing there’s nothing new under the sun, I found in 1940 when Franklin Roosevelt was running for his third term, a political novice, Gracie Allen, announced her quixotic run for the White House. Since both of the major parties had qualified candidates, she decided to create her own party, the “Surprise Party”, explaining that her mother was a Democrat and her father was a Republican and she was born a surprise. Gracie had such high ethical standards that there was no vice-presidential candidate, because she had warned all along that she would not tolerate any vice in her administration. During the campaign she was asked several difficult questions. When asked if she would recognize Russia, Gracie answered: “I don’t know. I meet so many people….” and when she was questioned about what party she was affiliated, she replied, “I may take a drink now and then, but I never get affiliated.”

Like the major parties she also had a platform which she described as “redwood trimmed with ‘nutty’ pine”, with two key provisions (which she admits came to her in a dream). (1) Put Congress on a commission basis. Whenever the country prospered Congress would get ten percent of the additional take, and (2) extend Civil Service to all branches of government, because “a little politeness goes a long way.”

Well that is it again for another week. Until we meet again as I told my son last week during this election year, “Relax!”

Senior Living May 6 2008

Retirement ain’t what it used to be. In fact, William D. Novelli, Executive Director and CEO of AARP speaking at the Institute for Public Relations conference said that in the coming years as the boomers start to reach 65 we will see the end of retirement as we have known it.

My mom and dad were examples of what commonly considered retirement. When they retired they bought a second home in Florida (no one really wanted to spend the winters in Indiana if they could avoid it) and traveled, fished, relaxed and enjoyed the comforts that they so richly deserved. They both had sufficient pensions and had made wise financial investments to support their retirement.

My sister and I are examples are of what Novelli predicts retirement will look like in the coming years. When I retired from Wasco County government after serving for 20 years I continued to work, becoming the director of the Senior Center. My sister when she retired after working 25 plus years for the Fairfax school district in Virginia, went back to school, will finish her doctorate this summer and will start teaching as an assistant professor at a major university in Indianapolis at the age of 59. I don’t think either one of us can imagine ourselves not working in some capacity as long as we are physically able to do so.

My sister and I are not the exceptions. Research shows that 80 percent of boomers expect to continue working in some form past the age of 65. This could include starting a new career, a new business, or volunteering for a non-profit organization. Some will have to work (I will be paying off student loans for the next 20 years) and others will work for the fun of it.

For many, retirement is now seen as the start of the next chapter of one’s life and that next chapter will probably include some kind of work. And at 50, where one has half of their adult life ahead of them, many are viewing that as a time to start considering new adventures, activities and goals that will provide them with both choice and freedom and also personal fulfillment. Institutions including senior centers will have to adapt and adjust to these significant changes to what has been considered retirement.

Alzheimer’s is a terrible and very difficult disease for both the individual and the caregiver. Seeing a loved one drift away to the point where they no longer recognize you is heartbreaking. The Planetree Health Resource Center in partnership with the MCMC Spiritual Care Department is presenting a special health lecture on “The Challenge of Alzheimer’s” at 7:00 PM on Thursday May 8th at MCMC’s Medical Office Building. This free presentation “will summarize what is currently known about the disease, including the signs and symptoms that lead to diagnosis, risk factors, treatment, and important things to remember when relating to a person with Alzheimer’s”. It will be presented by Judy McKellar, Executive Director, Alzheimer’s Association. The lecture is free, but pre-registration is required. Call 296-8444 to reserve a seat.

On Thursday May 8th, The Senior Center will be taking this year’s first day trip to visit the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum, a non-profit museum established in 2006 in Hood River. The museum provides a living history of aircraft and automobiles with a growing fleet of 50 plus flying antique aircraft plus dozens of automobiles and military jeeps. Many of the airplanes are either the last of their make and model or the only ones left flying. The cost for the museum tour is $7 for seniors and veterans. We will carpool from the Senior Center at 9:30 and return by 2:30 with lunch in Hood River.

The Notecrackers will be returning to perform on Tuesday May 13th at The Mid-Columbia Senior Center “playing pop standards from the ’20s – ’70s. They sing and play saxophone, flute, guitars, mandolin and strict tempo bass and drums for your dancing pleasure. With such variety, if you don’t like one song – just wait – the style will change! We try to have something for everybody. Revive old memories and make new memories of a good time”. And tonight the “Sugar Daddies” will be playing. The fun always starts at 7:00. It is free although donations are gladly accepted. All ages are welcome!

Jason Corey, local attorney, will discuss “Wills and Estates” at the Next Chapter Lecture Series, 11:00 on Tuesday May 13th at the Senior Center. Many people were disappointed when we had to postpone his presentation last winter because of the weather. Hopefully it won’t snow this time.

Both Basic Computer classes for May are almost full but one service that we offer that is underutilized is the Help Lab on Tuesdays from 1:00 to 2:30 taught by Corlis Marsh. She is excellent in explaining the complex and frustrating world of computing. If you feel you know the basics but have individual questions about e-mail, the internet or word processing, or whatever this is the place for you.

One last plug for the “Tough Talk on Aging” workshop on Saturday the 10th from 9:00 – 11:30 at the Senior Center with registration starting at 8:30. Aging parents and adult children are both invited. You can come together or by yourself. Many folks are talking about this workshop and I hope to see you there.

That is it for another week. I wish all the mothers, both young and old, a happy mother’s day. Until the next time, give your kids a hug.

“Retirement at sixty-five is ridiculous. When I was sixty-five I still had pimples.” George Burns

“Age is only a number, a cipher for the records. A man can’t retire his experience. He must use it.” Bernard Baruch