Aging Well August 26th 2014

How many times have I heard that folks don’t come to the Center because it is just for old people – as if there is something wrong with being older. Is it a fear of catching some kind of “old age” contagion that will cause you to lose your cognitive abilities or sense of humor?
I meet folks every day at the Center ranging in age from fifty to ninety plus, and they don’t exhibit the common stereotypes of “old”: tired, unhappy, crouched over with a walker or cane – although you will find walkers, and canes and the occasional wheelchair, but they are used by folks to come to the many activities at the Center. They are tools to stay active and engaged. 
But what is “old”? Bernard Baruch stated “Old age is ten years older than I am”. And according to the 2009 Pew Research Study “Growing Old in America: Expectations vs. Reality” he isn’t far off the mark. The study found that as people grew older, they felt relatively younger. Among adults 65 and older, 60% felt younger than their age. And for those between 65 and 74, a half said they felt 10 to 20 years younger.
In terms of chronological age, academics have categorized old age into three sub groups: the Young Old 65-74, the Old 75-84 and the Oldest Old 85 plus. But chronological age doesn’t really help either, because it doesn’t correlate with biological age. As Leonard Hayflick points out in his book How and Why We Age, time itself produces no biological effects. Events occur in time but not because of its passage. In fact, there is really no reliable measurement for determining our biological age; and appearances alone don’t determine how old we are.
The reality is we all start aging the moment we are born; we cannot stop it or reverse it – contrary to what they may tell you in various advertisements. Arriving at the point of being “old” is an individual experience which resists any absolute definition.  
The greatest challenge may not be determining when we become old, but changing the perception of what old is: moving from the demeaning stereotypes of old age to a full picture of the blessing and burdens of getting older. My Aunt Mo, who I quoted last week, is one example of many who break the stereotypes of old age, But she is also proud of being old at the age of 99 and isn’t afraid of the label. It is something she works at – and every day she relishes the chance.
The Center is looking for musicians interested in playing good danceable music on Tuesday nights. Unfortunately, the pay is just a share of the donations – but it could be your first step to Nashville stardom. If you know of anyone who is interested have them call the Center.
But there is still plenty of music at the Center. For Tuesday nights in September, we have Martin and Friends playing on the 9th, Truman on the 16thand The Dufur Boys on the 30th. Donations are suggested to support the band and the Center. Also there is the Pie and Jam on Sunday, September 21stwhich is free with Pie and Ice Cream for sale. And on Friday, September 19th, the popular NW vocalist Nehemiah Brown will be back once again to perform for an admission price of $3.00.
The mustached, henpecked, cigar-chomping, comic strip character wearing gloves and a top hat was “Barney Google (with the Goo-Goo-Googly Eyes). (And the winner of a free Saturday Breakfast is Herm Neuberger.) 
For the next several weeks, I am going to add a little “Chubby Checke”r twist to the “Remember When” question by giving the hint in the form of a quote. For this first week, the quote is “If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not with him, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.” In what movie and by what actor were those lines spoken? E-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or send it with the lyrics to “As Time Goes By”.
Well, it’s been another week trying to keep the boat upright and water tight while enjoying the ride. Until we meet again, eat slowly while savoring each bite.

“Old age is far more than grey hair, wrinkles, it is “that” feeling that it is too late and the game finished, and the stage belongs to the rising generations. The true evil is not the weakening of the body, but the indifference of the soul.” Andre Maurois

Aging Well August 19th 2014

Have you had to move from a place that was your home for many years? Rita and I are considering selling our house where we have lived twenty eight years. The children have moved away, and it is just too darn big. (My perfect size for a house is one small enough, I only needed to plug in the vacuum cleaner once.)
But you may have had other reasons for moving: too many stairs, you no longer want to drive so far to the store, or you may have the will but no longer the energy to care for five acres of trees and grass.
But even knowing the benefits of moving, it will be hard to move. It is where Rita and I have raised our children, built the basketball hoop in the driveway – in my failed attempt to raise the next Bill Walton. It is where I read to my children every night; and where my parents stayed in the downstairs apartment. It is a repository of personal memories I don’t want to forget.
But I don’t remember feeling this way when I left home after high school. Even with the fear and anxiety, I was looking ahead to the exciting opportunities: college, a career and the chance to make something of myself. But now as I look ahead, this could be one of my last moves. And I can see it as another signal of decline and the loss of independence. Or I can see it as a new adventure; an opportunity for greater freedom, fewer responsibilities and more time to discover new possibilities and new friends.
At least that is what I will be telling myself when Rita and I eventually sell the house. It may be the end of one chapter of wonderful memories I will always cherish. But it will also be the beginning of another chapter, yet to be written.
The Center is now accepting reservations to see Kinky Boots, the 2013 Tony award winner for best musical, on Thursday, October 2nd at the 2:00 matinee performance at the Keller Auditorium in Portland. There is only room for 20, and five tickets have already been reserved. The cost is $75 which includes transportation.
Health insurance, whether provided by an insurance company or the government, is complicated and often frustrating. Fortunately, in the case of Medicare, there are dedicated SHIBA (Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance) volunteers who offer unbiased help for older adults trying to navigate the Medicare waters.
But this valuable service is only available if there are trained volunteers. If you are interested in becoming a SHIBA volunteer, now is the time, because there is a two day training at the Center scheduled from 9:00 – 4:00 on August 26th and 27th sponsored by the local Area Agency on Aging. The deadline to register for the training has passed, but if you are interested, I will go out on a slippery limb to ask you to call Mary at 541-298-4101 and register for the training. And you don’t have to worry about lunch – it is provided.
Last week’s two missing vowels, C,D, have returned from the music store, so there is now peace and harmony in the alphabet. But now that everyone is home, I’m not sure who will be playing at the Center next Tuesday night. Hopefully we will have someone lined up, so you can enjoy another evening of dancing and listening to music performed by local musicians.
The name of the tough, wise cracking and hard drinking private detective in the Big Sleep is Philip Marlowe. (And the winner of a free Saturday Breakfast is Alex Currie.)
This week’s “Remember When” question is about a comic strip character who was the central figure of one of the longest running comic strips, and was the inspiration for a 1923 hit song, which if I told you the title would give the answer away. But in 1934 he met Snuffy Smith in the mountains of North Carolina and by 1954 his character was eliminated from the comic strip except for occasional cameos. Who was this mustached, henpecked, cigar-chomping, comic strip character wearing gloves and a top hat? E-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or send it with a picture of his beloved race horse Spark Plug.

Well, it’s been another week trying to stay in the game without losing my shirt. Until we meet again, as my ninety-nine year old Aunt Mo told me, “You have to work at getting old”.

“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.” Maya Angelou

Aging Well August 12th 2014

It may be overwhelming at times, but the technology bus is still careening down the freeway. And with more information, from medical records to local news; plus an increasing number of services, from online banking to Fred Meyer coupons, migrating to the Internet, there is a national effort to get everyone connected to the Internet whether through a phone company, cable company or a local provider such as Qnect.

But getting on this bus can be both expensive and confusing as demonstrated by a recent situation I encountered.

My wife’s parents are active and living in their own home, but they feel, like many, that for their own safety they need a cellphone in case of emergencies away from home. But their Tracfone no longer works. I quickly saw this as an opportunity to show them the advantages of a smartphone that can tell time, check the weather, watch videos and practically walk the dog, compared to their Tracfone which is, well, so one dimensional and boring.

So we went to a Verizon store to check out prepaid devices. But after finding that the cheapest prepaid plan was four times more expensive than their Tracfone; and more importantly, realizing they didn’t want a smartphone that could run their lives, it was clear the “dumb” Tracfone was the most sensible option for them.

But this experience raises the question, do we all have to have a smartphone? Do we all have to be connected to the Internet?  Does everyone have to get on the bus? Maybe the “dumb” phone, the television set and paper and pencil is all many folks really do need.

Unfortunately, it will become increasingly likely that you will need something that is best found on the Internet. And for those occasional times, you can always call the Center for assistance. We have helped many already and can help you find the information or access the services you need.
So if you don’t want to get on the bus of ever changing technology, we will ride it for you and make sure it stops when you need it.

There is nothing like a wildfire to get you thinking about emergency preparedness. At the Center you will find the Red Cross resource guide Prepare that has valuable information about how to prepare for emergencies. It is particularly important for individuals who have mobility or health issues to plan ahead because disasters can strike at any time. You can also find the resource guide online at

For all of our faithful Saturday Breakfast friends, there will not be a Saturday Breakfast in August. The Center volunteers have been so busy this summer, we decided to give them a break. But there will be a September breakfast on September 20thsponsored on behalf of the AARP Smart Driver Program. The Smart Driver course is offered every month on the third Monday and Tuesday from 9:00 – 12:00.
The five vowels have returned from there foray into the unknown, but before their return two consonants left searching for them. See if you can determine which consonants are missing and where you can probably find them.
Truman will be playing his *ountry Gol* at the *enter on Tues*ay August 19th starting at 7:00 PM. The *oors open at 6:00 an* the musi* keeps rolling from 7:00 until 9:00. *onations are appre*iate* an* everyone is wel*ome. An* this Sun*ay, it is time for the Jammers’ monthly gig at the *enter from 2:00 to 5:00. It’s free and there will be pie and i*e *ream for sale.
The name of the play-by-play announcer known as the “Voice of the New York Yankees” was Mel Allen. (And the winner of a free Saturday Breakfast is Tiiu Vahtel.) 
During the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and read a good “hard boiled” mystery. But before Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, there was Raymond Chandler who at the age of 51 wrote his first novel The Big Sleep which was published in 1939 and adapted to the big screen in 1946 starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. For this week’s “Remember When” question, who was the tough, wise cracking and hard drinking private detective in the Big Sleep as well as Chandler’s other mystery novels? E-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or drop it off with two cocktail glasses filled with ½ lime juice and ½ gin.   

Well, it’s been another week trying to be part of the solution and not the problem. Until we meet again, there comes a time when keeping score no longer matters. 

Aging Well August 5th 2014

I was reading an online post from a young person asking, if at the age of thirty she still had time to make something of her life. When I read it I wanted to say to her, “WHAT ARE YOU THINKING! It is never too late. At the age of sixty, seventy, eighty or even ninety!”
I thought of that question again when I scanned the Habitat supporters seated during the celebration at the construction site of Habitat’s newest home in The Dalles. The vast majority were over 60, some still working but most retired from paid work, but not from giving their time to support, in small and large ways, habitat’s mission of building affordable, safe housing for families in the Mid-Columbia.
Habitat is just one of many organization that can use volunteers: from walking dogs, answering phones, and swinging hammers to reading stories, stuffing mailers, and delivering meals. The opportunities are endless.
But I admit, putting yourself in a new situation may be uncomfortable for many. Like me, you may be afraid of “messing up”, although I’m getting use to that. Or you might be worried about taking on too much responsibility. Or afraid of “volunteer creep” when a one day commitment turns into three and you wonder, “How did that happen. I’m retired!”
Our communities run on the social capital of volunteers, many over 60, who are the fuel for much of the good that is accomplished in our communities. Being engaged, whether volunteering at your church, a service club or non-profit, visiting friends at a care facility, or by keeping an eye on your neighbor, because one of these days he may be keeping an eye on you, is what makes our communities strong and vibrant.
Never think the days when you can contribute and make a difference are behind you. It is never too late, because the older you are the more you have to give back.
The Dalles Art Center has announced the opening of their popular open juried show “Gorge Artists Create”. This year the theme of the show is “water” with sixty-three works of art on display. The awards will be announced at the art reception on Thursday, August 7th from 5:00 – 7:00 pm when you will have a chance to meet the artists, and mingle with other art enthusiasts. And there will be appetizers for the evening provided by the Senior Center. The Art Center is open from 11:00 – 5:00 on Tuesdays through Saturdays. And don’t forget their annual Art Auction on November 1st.
The LINK bus to the Wasco County Fair and the free Senior Lunch on Thursday, August 14th is beginning to fill up. If you are interested in taking the bus I would suggest you sign up now. It sold out last year. The cost is $3.00 each way and the LINK bus will leave from the Center at 10:00.
For the Center’s Tuesday night music announcement, the editor seems to have left out those five pesky vowels. See if you can decipher the music announcement for August 12th without them.
t’s nc gn tm fr Mrtn nd Frnds t d thr cntry thng t th Cntr n Tsdy, gst 12th. Th msc nd dncng strts t 7:00 PM nd th drs pn t 6:00 fr th rly brds. Fr Tsdy nght msc thr s nt  chrg bt dntns fr th bnd nd th Cntr r pprctd. 
The British actress who starred in Breakfast at Tiffany’s with George Peppard and Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck was the beautiful Audrey Hepburn. (And the winner of a free Saturday Breakfast is Bev Ayers who pointed out that Audrey Hepburn was not born in England, but Brussels Belgian.)  
I remember at night listening to baseball games on the radio when the play-by-play announcer would create the excitement as if you were there in the ball park. One of the best announcers was famous for his many catchphrases he used doing the games including “How a-bout that?!” and “Go-ing, go-ing, gonnne!!” What was the name of this play-by-play announcer known as the “Voice of the New York Yankees”? E-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or mail it with a copy of the 1995 baseball computer game Old Time Baseball.  
Well, it’s been another week trying to remember to breathe in slowly when things start moving too fast. Until we meet again, stay plugged-in and the power turned on.
“Never take someone for granted. Hold every person close to your heart because you might wake up one day and realize that you’ve lost a diamond while you were too busy collecting stones.” Unknown