Aging Well March 30

While more and more older adults are jumping on the information superhighway, many are tentatively dipping their toes in the pool of social networking sites to broaden their social connections and to stay engaged in their communities. According to one report in the New York Times, the number of older adults visiting social networks online last year grew twice as fast as the overall rate of Internet use among older adults.

For folks who live alone – about one third of persons over 75 according to a recent study by AARP – it is important to stay connected and engaged. And social network sites – where you can share stories; connect with old friends and make new ones; and learn about civic and educational opportunities – can help. As Joseph F. Coughlin, director of the AgeLab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, stated “The new future of old age is about staying in society, staying in the workplace and staying very connected. And technology is going to be a very big part of that, because the new reality is, increasingly, a virtual reality. It provides a way to make new connections, new friends and new senses of purpose.”

Jeff Eagan, in his work helping many older adults navigate through the maze of Medicare options, has seen the need for an easy accessible online Internet site where adults over 50 can keep connected and engaged in the community. Because of this vision, Jeff has created the online site You can learn more about how to use this website to stay connected with friends and your community at 11:00 next Tuesday April 6th at the Center.

April is the month for planting, taxes, baseball and, yes, the Center’s spring membership drive. By providing opportunities to “explore, connect and contribute”, the Center is working hard to fulfill its mission of “promoting healthy aging by sharing and caring”.

By being a member you will help support the many activities and programs that the Center offers: drawing class, wildflower hikes, monthly foot care, a loan closet of medical equipment, exercise classes, computer classes, lecture series, music and dance, cards, driver safety and Wii bowling. And I mustn’t forget Bingo!

And it is not just about us. The Center also provides space for the local ARC chapter and sponsors Boy Scout Troop and Cub Scout Pack #395; provides space for several community programs including the Area Agency on Aging’s “Living Well with Chronic Conditions” and Medicare counseling; and La Clinica’s “Steps to Wellness” class and well as the AARP Tax Aide.

Since there is a richness of activities providing a variety of opportunities for older adults we, we also support and promote other community resources including MCMC, the Columbia Gorge Community College, Wasco County Historical Society, Community concerts and many others.

The Center’s goal is to increase its membership to 600 – one person, one couple at a time. Whether you participate directly in the Center activities or indirectly – such as reading this column – I ask you to become a member. The annual dues are only $35 per person on $60 per couple. Just drop in or mail you membership dues to the Center at 1112 W 9th, The Dalles.

Next Tuesday, Truman, the Center’s friend and guitar picker (who like Madonna and Bono is identified by only one name) will be playing his country gold. And tonight the good ole Dufur Boys (and Molly) will be playing for your dancing and listening enjoyment. The fingers start plucking at 7:00 and there is no charge but donations are widely accepted.

The epic film that debuted in 1959 and featured a chariot race was Ben-Hur. Joe Usatine’s name was randomly drawn winning him a free breakfast on Cherry Festival Saturday.

This week I am taking a different tack and see how far upriver I can sail. My memories of my youth – those that I can remember or want to remember, and which usually involve a girl – usually include a sound track. This week’s “Remember When” question is “What is your most memorable song from your high school days? Call 541-296-4788, or email

Well that is another week and another seven dollars. Until we meet again, keep clean, keep current and keep connected.

“A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked” Bernard Meltzer

Aging Well March 23

Last week was Brain Awareness Week – no, I didn’t forget, apparently I just wasn’t aware. But at the Center and in this column I have been discussing and promoting brain fitness for some time. Although it is personal (where is my banana?), there is a growing national interest in how our brain functions so as we live longer, we can continue to be productive and enjoy our later years.

At last year’s “Aging in America” conference I attended a workshop by Alvaro Fernandez, co-founder and chief executive officer of SharpBrains which provides independent, research-based, information about the growing brain fitness market. Their website offers fascinating information about the brain including a list of ten lifestyle activities to help maintain and improve your brain health. As part of Brain Fitness Week – better late than never – I want to share them with you in an abbreviated version – since we all have things to do and people to meet.

1. Better understand your brain. “It will serve you well to appreciate your brain’s beauty as a living and constantly-developing dense forest with billions of neurons and synapses”.
2. Eat well. The “brain only weighs 2% of body mass but consumes over 20% of the oxygen and nutrients we intake.” And especially avoid the junk foods.
3. Exercise. “Things that exercise your body can also help sharpen your brain”.
4. Be positive. “Stress and anxiety, no matter whether induced by external events or by your own thoughts, actually kills neurons and prevent the creation of new ones. You can think of chronic stress as the opposite of exercise: it prevents the creation of new neurons.”
5. Engage in Mental Challenges. “The point of having a brain is precisely to learn and to adapt to challenging new environments. Challenge your brain often with fundamentally new activities”.
6. Aim high. “The brain keeps developing, no matter your age, and it reflects what you do with it.”
7. Explore and travel. “Adapting to new locations forces you to pay more attention to your environment. Make new decisions, use your brain.”
8. Think for yourself. “Make your own decisions, and mistakes. And learn from them. That way, you are training your brain, not your neighbor’s”.
9. Develop and maintain stimulating friendships. “We are ‘social animals’, and need social interaction”.
10. Laugh loud and often, “especially to cognitively complex humor, full of twists and surprises”.

In a nutshell, the four legs to the table of good brain health are: physical exercise, a balanced diet, stress management, and brain exercise. At the Center there are activities addressing all to these legs: Seniorcise and Strong Women, the Meals-on-Wheels’ noon dinner, yoga and massage, and the Center’s Brain Fitness class. Celebrate a belated Brain Awareness Week by stopping by the Center and giving your brain a treat.

And speaking of treats, there are only four months this year that include a special fifth Tuesday and March is one of those months. And what does that mean? Another evening of dancing on the 30th for all of you dancing fools. And the special treat will be the Dufur Boys (and one girl) playing for your dancing and listening pleasure. And tonight don’t forget the Jazz Generations playing your favorites from not too long ago. Admission is free but donations are appreciated. And all generations are welcome.

The answer to last week’s “Remember When” question was “Wheaties” – the Breakfast of Champions. The name randomly drawn from the fourteen entries and winner of a free Cherry Festival Saturday breakfast at the Center is Nadine McCracken.

This week’s question and another chance to win a free breakfast in April is “What 1959 epic film directed by William Wyler, won eleven academy awards and included a chariot race – considered by many as one of the most spectacular action sequences ever filmed? Call 541-296-4788, email or just write the answer on the back of a 1200 sq ft piece of carpet delivered to the Center.

Well that is another week with flowers sprouting – checking who is new in the neighborhood. Until we meet again, take a chance and try something uncomfortable – anything new will be.

“Brain: an apparatus with which we think we think.” Ambrose Bierce

Aging Well March 16

If only I was a cow. I wouldn’t have to endure this biannual tradition of adjusting my inner timepiece – which always takes me a few days even though it is only one hour. Cows don’t have to adjust their watches so they can “spring forward” in March and then “fall back” in November to insure all the planets are aligned. So here I am at my desk– still yawning, after having dragged my body out of bed, grasping for the covers screaming “one more hour!” Well I guess all I can say is “Moooo?”

Like your favorite lost pet that has finally returned home, the Center’s Third Saturday Breakfast is back this coming Saturday between 8:00 – 9:30. You can enjoy some tasty biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, fruit and your favorite beverages. The breakfast is sponsored by Mel Thompson’s family in his memory. Mel’s wife Dee regularly attends the lunch time meal provided by Meals-on-Wheels and is also a Monday night Wii bowler at the Center. So come and join Dee for a fine breakfast with good friends – because as Jack always said, “Breakfast tastes better when someone else cooks it.” The cost is $5.00 and for Center members it is only $4.00.

Tuesday night music at the Center may be a kick in the pants but no one steps on the blue suede shoes. Next Tuesday playing the beats from the past will be the Jazz Generations and their favorite big band sounds. And tonight the Sugar Daddies will be playing for your dancing and listening pleasure. You won’t have to smash your piggy bank to get in – it’s free, but to keep the musicians off the street corners we do gladly accept donations.

Next up on the Center’s Tuesday lecture card on the 30th at 11:00 is Jerry Tanquist, a popular local historian, presenting his latest slide show and commentary on the “Restoration of the Harris Canyon Water Tower” and the “Harry Carleton Story”. Jerry always seems to find those personal stories and anecdotes that make our local history so fascinating.

Folks must be doing their spring cleaning early because once again the Center’s Nu-2-U shop has received some nice donated clothes. And since we really don’t have the room to store them and we don’t have much room to display them, we need to move them. So Betty and Martha have decided to have another half price sale. But this time it won’t be just for a day, or three days but for practically two weeks from Wednesday March 17th to Friday the 26th. The Nu-2-U shop is open from 10:00 – 1:30 Monday through Friday.

Saturday’s Prescription Drug Collection was a tremendous success. Organized by YouthThink with help from The Dalles City Police and several local pharmacists, over seventy-five folks turned in their unused prescription drugs totaling almost one thousand containers. A big thank-you goes to all of these folks for making our community a healthier and safer place to live.

The answer to last week’s “Remember When” question was Edward R. Murrow: the American broadcast journalist who from 1953 – 1959 hosted the popular television show “Person to Person”. Sandi Goforth’s name was randomly selected from the 10 correct answers submitted and wins a free Saturday breakfast.

This week’s question is “What breakfast cereal in the 1930’s started depicting athletes on their packaging (including Bob Richards as the first athlete on the front cover in 1958) and is known as the ‘Breakfast of Champions’”? You can call 541-296-4788 or email

And finally, you may want to stop by the “Citizens for the Gorge Discovery Center” Annual Meeting, on Wednesday the 17th at 5 pm for their annual social hour, business meeting, and tribute to Bill Hulse. I had the pleasure of working with Bill when he was Wasco County Judge and he is at the top of my list for people I admire most. He is definitely a class act. For more information call 541-296-8600 x 215.

Well that is another oar in the water – I just hope I am going in the right direction. But if you’re ever confused take solace in this perspective from Edward R. Murrow, “Anyone who isn’t confused really doesn’t understand the situation”.

“For myself, I am an optimist. It does not seem to be much use being anything else.” Sir Winston Churchill

Aging Well March 9

The great baseball player Satchel Paige once asked “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?” Do see yourself younger, older than your chronological age? Are you as young (or old) as you feel?

Your actual age does matter but according to Markus H. Schafer, a doctoral student in sociology and gerontology at Purdue University “it’s your interpretation that has far-reaching implications for the process of aging. If you feel old beyond your own chronological years you are probably going to experience a lot of the downsides that we associate with aging. But if you are older and maintain a sense of being younger, then that gives you an edge in maintaining a lot of the abilities you prize.”

Shaeffer believes there are both negative and positive effects of trying to stay up with the Jones’ kids. “People want to feel younger, and so when they do inevitably age they can lose a lot of confidence in their cognitive abilities.” As the saying goes, “Inside every older person is a younger person – wondering what the hell happened.”

But Shaeffer also sees the positive effects of trying to stay young. As we try to keep up with all the new trends and activities we can feel energized, excited, alive and relevant. One example he mentions is learning new technologies which from my experience will keep you cognitively challenged for a long time. (I mean it will keep you on your mental toes and not make you feel stupid – well actually it will do both.)

In our current modern culture we constantly see messages urging us to look younger: Botox, vitamins and plastic surgery; and to stay active: Elderhostel (renamed Exploritas), a variety of master sports such as swimming – and should I even dare mention Viagra!

But even though you were God’s gift to the human race when you were 21, there are limits to staying youthful and current: don’t wear anything that shows more flesh than fabric, if you “cruise the gut” looking for some action there is a reason you are alone (they’re texting) and even though wearing shoulder length hair was a sign of standing up to the “man”, it doesn’t quite have the same affect when your hair line starts at your ears. There is a difference between possibility and fantasy!

A quick reminder: The Prescription Drug Collection will be held this coming Saturday from 10:00 – 3:00 pm at the Center. Help your community, your environment and yourself by bringing your out-of-date, unused or unwanted prescription drugs to the Center so they can be safely disposed.

Dance till the stars come down from the rafters/ Dance, Dance, Dance till you drop. W.H. Auden

Every Tuesday Night starting at 7:00 pm at the Center whether it is cloudy or not, the stars shine when the music starts. Next Tuesday the Sugar Daddies will be back. The Center missed them last month because of illness (thanks to Truman for filling in at the last moment) but the Center always look forward to their upbeat sounds. And tonight the Notecrackers will be playing your favorite dance tunes. Even though you may feel like a million dollars, the evening is free, although donations are gladly accepted

The answer to last week’s “Remember When” question was American Bandstand hosted by the venerable Dick Clark. Ben Neumayer’s name was drawn from the fourteen entries and wins a free breakfast at the center on Saturday March 20th serving from 8:00 – 9:30 am.

This week’s question is “Who was an American broadcast journalist (and WSU graduate) who first came to prominence with a series of radio news broadcasts during World War II. And from 1953 – 1959 hosted the popular television show “Person to Person” interviewing celebrities in their homes from his chair in his New York studio. Call 541-296-4788, email or just slip me a ten dollar bill with the answer written on it.

Well, that is another divot in the fairway of life. Until we meet again as Jonathan Swift once said “May you live all the days of your life”.

“Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.” Will Rogers

Aging Well March 2 2010

Through this weekly column I try to provide a little humor, invoke a few memories, suggest a couple activities to enjoy and offer some ideas to ponder. But more importantly, I hope to encourage you to keep exploring, keep seeking adventure and not just accept what appears to be – no matter your situation.

Many of us don’t have a clue what to expect during this third chapter of our lives: the emotional and physical challenges that lie ahead. Many of those who do know tell me, “It ain’t easy!” But we are all given this gift of life, some longer than others, in this land of so many opportunities for a purpose. And this gift is to be embraced and not ignored. I am optimistic because I see so many folks who still have the energy and passion to dance, to read, to share ideas and most importantly to visit and care for one another – to nurture those relationships that mean so much.

So keep up the good fight. Stay strong. Keep looking. But if you can’t see, use your ears; if you can’t hear, raise your arms and if you can’t move, open your heart to all the possibilities.

Are you up for a win-win-win opportunity? At the Center on Saturday March 13th from 10:00 – 3:00 PM, there will be a “Prescription Drug Turn-in Event” sponsored and organized by “Youth Think” – a local grass roots organization partnering with youth to prevent the use of alcohol, tobacco, other drugs and other harmful behaviors. Bring to the collection expired or unwanted prescription medications, over the counter medicines that are no longer used and any unknown medications. By doing so, you will keep them out of the soil and groundwater – which could happen if flushed down the toilet, keep them from those who would abuse the use of prescription drugs, and reduce the risk of you or a loved one accidentally taking the wrong prescription. By helping your environment, your community and yourself, it is definitely a win-win-win. For more information contact Debby Jones at 541-506-2673.

It has been said, “There ARE short-cuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them”. So you don’t have to go to the top of the mountain, just show up every Tuesday night at the Center. On the 9th you can dance to the sounds of the Notecrackers who will be playing favorites from the 20s through the 60s — vintage music that will bring back memories. And tonight the popular two-man country duo the Rhythm Ramblers will be playing for your dancing and listening pleasure. And how much does all of this happiness cost? Zero, zip, zilch, but donations are kindly accepted. The Center starts shaking at 7:00. And as Dave Barry says, “Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.”

The Center’s 11:00 AM Tuesday lecture on March 9th will feature Carola Stepper, Licensed Acupuncturist, explaining and demonstrating the benefits of “Acupressure”. Carola has presented several times at the Center and you can expect her presentations to be informative and “hands-on”.

Last week’s ‘Remember When” question caught a few off guard with the reference to the “forgotten miracle”. It was 1960 when the US won the Gold to Canada’s Silver – a reversal of the outcome 50 years later. And the location was Squaw Valley in California. Correct answers were sent in by John Layson and Joann Scott, who were both just old enough to watch the Olympics on TV.

Many of my peers learned the latest dance steps (the Monkey, Watusi and the Twist) from the “regulars” on this television show – originally taped in Philadelphia – which featured teenagers dancing to hits from the top 40 introduced by a clean-cut 26 year old (it was 1956). What was the name of the show? Call 541-296-4788, or email The first name drawn from all the correct answers will win a free Saturday Breakfast on March 20th.

Well, that is another seed in the ground. Until we meet again, keep your chin up but don’t forget to duck.

“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming…Wow! What a ride!” Melvin Trotter 1924-2006