Aging Well March 29th

Last October Dr. PK Swartz came by the Center and dropped off an article from the New York Times which discussed how to protect yourself from Medicare fraud. It may not seem like a big deal because Medicare recipients are rarely held financially liable for these fraudulent claims, but still Medicare fraud can affect you in several damaging ways.

According to the article, several individuals were denied medical equipment because unknowingly their Medicare had been previously billed for the same kind of equipment. Another potential harm is when Medicare identifies an excessive type of Medicare fraud, they respond by tightening eligibility requirements which makes it more difficult for anyone who really does need the service. And this is in addition to the obvious: billions of dollars of fraudulent payments raises the cost of premiums for everyone.

According to the “Stop Medicare Fraud” website, there are several common sense actions you can take to protect yourself and help prevent Medicare Fraud: guard your card, beware of free services, examine your Medicare statements, and make a report. More specifically – if anyone approaches you in a public place to offer free services in exchange for your Medicare number – WALK AWAY. If you are called to answer a health survey and asked to provide your Medicare number over the phone, – HANG UP; if you find unexpected and suspicious charges on your medical bill – REPORT IT; and if a health care provider tells you the equipment or service is free but they only need your Medicare number for their records say – NO THANKS.

Medicare Fraud is a billion dollar national problem. You can report any suspected Medicare fraud by calling 1-800-Medicare. And if your Medicare card is lost or stolen, report it right away by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) for a replacement. There are things you just don’t share with anyone: your Social Security number, Medicare number and what you did when you were twenty one!

As Snoopy – the happy hoofer of the comic pages – once said “To live is to dance, to dance is to live”. So if you want to live it up, down or sideways – there is always music on Tuesday nights at the Center. Tonight the Cherry Park Band will be jammin and next Tuesday it will be Andre and the Strawberry Mountain Band hitting the high notes. It all starts at 7:00 PM and even though we don’t expect to get rich, donations are appreciated. And everyone one – including beagles and their owners – are invited.

At this time I don’t have a speaker lined up for the April 5thTuesday Lecture. But to give you an idea of what’s on the horizon, I do have scheduled Jerry Tanquist for April 12th discussing Train Wrecks which should appeal to the little boy in all of us guys – I don’t know about the gals; Tara Koch director of Haven – but after their major fundraiser at the Civic on Thursday March 31st starting at 6:00 PM (complete with culinary delights by local chefs, wineries and music) and our monthly speaker from MCMC. If you are the curious type and want to learn more about the world around you, this is the place to be.

There are now eleven hearty singers plus a pianist interested in reigniting the Center’s “Young at Heart Serenaders” but the Center still needs a music director, councilor, shepherd or whatever the position requires. Is there anyone out there who wants to fill this once in a life time opportunity? Maybe Phyllis? I promise I won’t add my voice to the ensemble.

You must be a real Bozo if you didn’t know the answer to last week’s “Remember When” question. Although there were several Clarabell answers (It’s Howdy Doody time!), it was Bozo “The World’s Most Famous Clown” that was franchised to TV stations all across the country first airing in 1949. This week’s question is from Al Wynn who stumped me on the Coffeebreak when he asked “In 1964 and 1965 who hosted Death Valley Days which was sponsored by 20 Mule Team Borax? I had no clue – maybe it’s because I’m a Democrat – but if you know, e-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or write it on the inside of a 1932 yearbook from Eureka College.

Well, it’s been another week chasing my tail while looking for the end of the rope. Until we meet again, Ivy Baker Priest reminds us “the world is round – and the place which may seem like the end may also be the beginning”.

“I think I’ve discovered the secret of life – you just hang around until you get used to it.” Sally Brown (Charlie’s Sister)

Aging Well March 22nd

Now that it is Spring – at least astronomically speaking – it is time to put away the snow shovels and heavy coats and take out the hedge trimmers and hiking boots. And time to start thinking about warmer weather and longer days, and maybe some day trips out of town?

For late spring and summer, the Center has again scheduled trips into Portland for three always popular “Broadway Across America” performances: “Riverdance” on May 29th, “Les Miserables” on August 7th and “Momma Mia” on August 28th. They are all Sunday matinee performances starting at 1:00 for easy travel in and out of Portland and daylight when you return. Twenty-four seats are reserved for each show and the cost is only $70 a piece or $195 for all three performances. And that includes no-hassle, to-the-stage -door transportation in a comfortable 24 passenger van. The tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at the Center.

The Hood River School District Community Education also offers trips including the popular monthly Mystery Trips. You can call them at 541-386-2055 to place your name on the list for the Mystery Trips. Each month they will call you with the latest details and cost. As their web site states, their “past trips have ranged from train rides, visiting historic places and partaking of local attractions, and of course, great food! Each month expect something new and exciting! “

And I will keep you posted on other opportunities in the Gorge including trips offered by Northern Wasco County Parks and Recreation (there summer catalog will be out in April) and Sherman County Transit.

Through the many activities the Center provides for older adults, as well as through partnerships with local organizations, the Center tries to give back to the community as much as it asks. But the Center is now in their spring membership drive and is asking you to join the already one hundred eighty plus 2011 members. You may have been one of last year’s members who can’t believe it is time to renew already. Or maybe you haven’t had the nerve to take that leap and join a “Senior Center”. Although you can be a member at any age (you just have to be over 50 to vote at the annual membership meeting), the only real requirement is a zest for life. Annual membership dues are only $35 per person or $60 per couple and can be purchased at the Center.

The Center’s Tuesday Lecture will feature Steve Lawrence who is busy with several projects these days, but this time will be discussing the latest dreams and hopes for one of The Dalles most important landmarks: the Civic Auditorium. The long process of renovating the Civic began in 1991, and has restored this jewel of the downtown area into an active community center. But there is still exciting work to be done. On March 29th at 11:00 AM learn more about the past, present and future of The Dalles Civic Auditorium – the place “Where It Happens!”

You have heard it before but let me say it loud and clear – TUESDAY IS MUSIC NIGHT at the Center. Bring a friend or several friends – depending on how much fun you can handle – and enjoy an evening of two stepping, country waltzing, or whatever kind of dancing suits your fancy. Next week the Dufur Boys from Dufur will be playing, while tonight is your chance to enjoy the big band sounds of the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s with the Jazz Generations. The music starts at 7:00 and ends at 9:00 so you can still get in bed by 9:30 if you hurry – but why hurry.

The name of the 1930’s cartoon character and famous animated sex symbol (which just doesn’t seem right) was the “oop-opp-a-doop” Betty Boop. Of the many entries, the winner of a free Cherry Festival Breakfast on April 9th was Shirley Christiansen but only if she brings her “Betty Boop” handbag.

This week’s “Remember When” question is about a television character first appearing in 1949. Called the “World’s Most Famous Clown”, this clown was franchised to different TV stations where each station had their own actor playing the part including Bob Bell in Chicago and Willard Scott in Washington DC. What was the name of this clown? E-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or drop your answer off with a wing-tipped bright orange wig.

Well, it’s been another week -waiting for the ants to appear, the weeds to surface and warm nights to arrive. Until we meet again, take time to play – like the children we once were – spontaneously, with no real purpose and just for the fun of it.

“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” George Santayana

Aging Well March 15th

It usually starts off as “Did you hear the one about grandma Bessie – followed by a humorous story about the quirks of aging. I have read and heard many of these jokes and have certainly enjoyed sharing them – at least the clean ones.

But it is said in every joke there is a piece of the truth and as we look at ourselves there is plenty of truth to poke fun at (my forgetfulness is my own source of amusement). But with the condescending caricatures of older adults often portrayed in today’s culture, I can understand why some folks are offended by many of these jokes – fearing that they just reinforce those demeaning stereotypes. Granted many of us may not move as fast (okay let’s face it, none of us move as fast as we use to) or hold a cup as steady or find the wrong answer as quickly (research has shown even though our minds may not be as quick, they are more accurate!) But every day, you and I see folks who pop these bubbles of negative images: folks who are active, caring, and inquisitive – and are in their seventies, eighties and older.

We can still laugh with each other without consciously – or more importantly subconsciously – accepting these mis-perceptions that can limit our dreams and expectations of what is possible. We can have a good laugh and still change the world.

Even though these jokes often remind us of our limitations (I can’t find my banana!), humor can help us transcend the challenges we face by also reminding us that we are all in this aging vessel together – bailing water as fast as we can.

And did you hear the one about grandma Bessie? A police car pulls up in front of grandma Bessie’s house, and grandpa Morris gets out. The polite policeman explained that this elderly gentleman said that he was lost in the park and couldn’t find his way home. “Oh Morris”, said grandma, “You’ve been going to that park for over 30 years! How could you get lost?” Leaning close to grandma, so that the policeman couldn’t hear, Morris whispered, “I wasn’t lost. I was just too tired to walk home.”

On the 19th, Saturday breakfast at the Center is baaaaaaack! Because our regular cook Bonnie is out for the spring season, Edna will fill in cooking up a mouth-watering, toe-tingling, belly-filling breakfast menu of biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, sausage and fruit plus the regular beverages. And for all of you high school alumni from the 60’s – just pretend it’s spring vacation at Daytona Beach (that’s where all us from the Midwest wanted to go) and bring your beach blanket and sun tan oil. I betcha the “mouse” from the class of ’63 will! The doors open at 8:00 and breakfast is served till 9:30.

The Center’s Tuesday Lecture on the 22nd will feature Dr. Thomas Hodge discussing the programs and services available to help people with chronic lung disease. If you or someone you know is troubled by shortness of breath or is limited in their daily activities by breathing problems, you will find this presentation helpful. It all starts at 11:00 allowing plenty of time for questions.

Tonight’s Tuesday night music at the Center will give you a chance to step out to the sounds of Truman’s Country Gold. And next Tuesday the Jazz Generations will be playing the big band sounds giving folks an alternative to the Center’s regular menu of country western fare. The music starts at 7:00 and everyone is welcome.

And a last minute reminder. There is still room in the “AARP Driver Safety” class ably taught by Dennis Davis. This month’s class is from 9:00 – 1:00 on the 21st and 22nd. Call the Center to sign up and save a buck or two on your car insurance.

Many of you (including Joanne “pick me, pick me” Scott – the winner of a free breakfast on Saturday) knew that the musician who gave up his seat to the Big Bopper on that fateful flight in 1959 was “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” Waylon Jennings. But this week’s “Remember When” question is for Betty Harlan. What was the name of the 1930’s animated cartoon character and famous sex symbol (if a cartoon character can be considered a sex symbol) created by Max Fleischer and modeled after actress Clara Bow? E-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or drop your answer off with the original tape of the Talkartoon “Minnie the Moocher”.

Well, it’s been another week – dodging raindrops falling from the sky. Until we meet again keep laughing and don’t take yourself too seriously. As the baseball player Mike LaValliere once said “Whatever is going to happen is going to happen when it happens, regardless of what happens.”

“Whatever the limits are, you can always do a little more than you think you can, and you can get a certain pleasure out of that.” George Leonard from the book Ageless Spirit by Connie Goldman

Aging Well March 8th

Are there times when it feels like the world is changing so fast, and going in no particular direction, that you just want to ask the bus driver to drop you off at the next corner? Even those at the head of this technological revolution find it uncomfortable. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn in an interview in the magazine Fast Company stated that he can’t imagine, two years down the road, he will be doing the same thing he is doing today – and will just have to adjust. He believes every generation will have to learn how to relearn in order to adapt to the new technology – and it won’t be easy.

While the younger generations embrace change – often making the mistake of seeing all change as progress – we may find ourselves resistant, overwhelmed by the fast pace of change, forgetting that without change there is no progress.

But for better or worse, it is what it is. Our cell phones are now little computers (do you ever yearn for the simple days of the rotary phone?) and we now use our computers to call and actually see our children and grandchildren half way across the globe. Its mind boggling what has happened in the last twenty or even ten years – as we constantly try to ride this wave of change without capsizing.

If you are interested in learning – or relearning – how to stay upright – specifically how to use a computer to check email, write life stories and access information, the Center offers a computer help lab every Wednesday from 10:00 – 11:00 am. It is individualized help and is open to anyone and everyone.

And for many of you who have succumbed to the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, the Center is starting a users group this Friday the 11th from 11:00 – 12:00. This users group will meet monthly to share information about your favorite apps and the latest news in the world of Apple – and help feed your addiction to the latest and greatest.

Martin and Friends will be the headliners – and the only liners – for Tuesday night music at the Center. You can enjoy two hours of dancing frenzy with a short break to catch your breath. And next Tuesday, Truman will be performing for your dancing and listening pleasure. It is all free and to keep the music flowing, donations are always appreciated. The bass starts thumping at 7:00 and the doors are open to anyone and everyone.

The Center’s Loan Closet is in need of more medical equipment. The Loan Closet – a partnership with Visiting Health Services – lends to the general public medical equipment – from hospital beds to canes. The Center has already helped forty individuals since the beginning of this year, and the cabinets are now bare. We are in particular need of transfer benches, shower benches and rolling walkers (not the standard gray aluminum walkers of which we have plenty). If you have one of these or any other medical equipment you no longer need, we would be glad to take them off your hands and put them into someone else’s.

The Center needs a leader – a director – a warm body to step forward with baton in hand to lead an eager group of amateur singers to reestablish the Center’s Young-at-Heart Serenader’s. The YAH-YAH’s have been without a leader and an accompanist for a quite some time and there is now interest in reforming the group. If you are interested – or curious – in directing, accompanying or singing, call the Center at 541-296-4788 for more information.

It was Hopalong Cassidy, the name of TV’s first western series and the character played by William Boyd. And the winner of a free breakfast (which returns on March 19th) is Karl Vercouteren who use to go to the 10 cent Saturday afternoon matinees to see Hopalong. But enough of the Cartwrights, the Mavericks and Matt Dillion. Let’s get back to music. This question was suggested by Ron Sutherland who appreciated fine music during his high school days. On the day the music died, February 3rd, 1959, a small plane crashed in Iowa killing Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper. Who was Buddy Holly’s bassist who gave up his seat to the Big Bopper on that fateful flight and later became known as one of country music’s “Outlaws”? E-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or write it on the back of a recording of the “The Dukes of Hazzard” theme song.
Well, it’s another week of throwing ideas against the kitchen wall. Until we meet again – remember the past, but live for today as you look forward to tomorrow.

“Life isn’t about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain.”

Wednesday (9) Taco Casserole
Thursday (10) Pork Choppy Chops
Friday (11) Mushroom Swiss Burger on a Bun
Monday (14) Beef Stroganoff over Egg Noodles
Tuesday (15) BIRTHDAY DINNER Ham with a Glaze


Senior Living March 1st

In just a split second your world can turn – literally – upside down. With just a slip and a fall, what once was just an embarrassing distraction, can be a serious trip to the hospital. Our bodies –those uncooperative outer shells – aren’t as strong and flexible or as quick to heal as when we were young and spry. And the odds of falling aren’t on our side. One in three older adults falls each year; and falls are the most common cause of non fatal injury and the leading cause of injury death among older adults. Pretty sobering stuff.

But fear not. (We may not be able to run the bases as fast, but we know the short cuts.) There are steps all of us can take to help decrease our risk of falling. First, improve your strength and balance. The Center, MCMC and The Fitness and Court Club all offer classes that can help. (And my constant reminder – you just need to take one small step at a time. New Jersey wasn’t built in a day.) Also check your medications. Ask your doctor if the medications you take or the combination of medicines increases your risk of falling. And finally there are changes you can make around your house to create a safer environment: move coffee tables, magazine racks and plant stands from high-traffic areas; use recommended bath aids, fitted properly; and store clothing, dishes, food and other necessities within easy reach. You can learn more about what you can do to prevent falls and keep yourself safe at home at the Center’s Tuesday lecture featuring Thomas Koelker from Hearts of Gold Caregivers on March 8th at 11:00

For all of you who receive emails (about the only way you can connect with your kids and grandkids anymore) and are an avid gardener (proud of the dirt showing under your fingernails) or just a gardening wannabe (Master Gardeners are your new idols), you can receive a little gem of a newsletter called Garden Highlights – signed, sealed and delivered to your e-mailbox by Master Gardener, Marty Miller. The latest double issue is full of useful information: reminding us spring will be making its long awaited appearance on March 20th; describing how to grow your own groceries – “Grow what you can, buy locally what you can’t.” and identifying when to plant, what to plant, and where to plant. (And for those gardeners who have to know – last average frost date in The Dalles is April 15th.) If you have not subscribed to the newsletter and want to know what all the excitement is about, sign up by emailing And then start digging.

Tuesday night music at the Center will keep you swinging from limb to limb all night long with The Strawberry Mountain Band playing tonight and Martin and Friends doing the honors next Tuesday. The party starts at 7:00 and donations are gladly accepted. And if you are a dancing fool (and as the saying goes “God respects you when you work, but he loves you when you dance.”) or just want to catch Monday night fever, Neva and Bill will be offering their latest class, “Intro to Jive/Swing”, once a week starting March 14 from 7 – 9 at The Civic Auditorium. For more info call 541-296-1570 or email

Many folks remembered watching Sky King but only a few remembered (including this week’s winner Kathy Lindell) the name of Penny – Sky King’s teenage niece, who often found her way into the hands of local desperados. But before I ride off into the sunset on my horse Topper, here is one last “Remember When” question from the category “TV westerns”. It is from the very beginning – the first TV western series that aired on NBC starting in 1949. For the first several years, this series were just re-edited and shortened versions of the sixty-six western movies starring William Boyd. (The show became such a marketing hit you could find the image of this cowboy hero on everything from lunch boxes to children’s wristwatches.) What was the name of this TV series and the name of the fair dealing, soft spoken, good guy hero played by William Boyd? E-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or write it on the back of a movie poster for the 1944 movie “Forty Thieves”.
Well another week has passed bundled up like a babe in the woods. Until we meet again, stay on your feet and keep moving; preferably more often forward than backwards.

“There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” Will Rogers

Wednesday (2) Hot Turkey Sandwich with Groovy Gravy
Thursday (3) Spaghetti and Meat Sauce
Friday (4) Pub Battered Fishy Fish
Monday (7) Chicken Pot Pie
Tuesday (8) Lemon Peppered Chicken