Aging Well in the Gorge August 30th 2016

After last week’s column, I received a phone message from a friend I’ve known for a long time (I could say an old friend, but these days I try to avoid to avoid using the word old) reminding me of the risks associated with taking statins.

It was a good point. Statins, as is the case with most every prescription drug, do have side effects that every person who uses them should know. But it is always important is to weigh the benefits against the risks for any drug.

We all know that too much cholesterol in your blood increases your risk of heart attacks and strokes. And research shows that statins block a substance that your liver needs to make cholesterol which causes your liver to remove cholesterol from your blood – which is a good thing. But there are side effects.

According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the most common complaints of taking statins is muscle pain causing mild discomfort, but it could be severe enough to interfere with your daily activities. Statins can also cause mild to severe liver damage; increased blood sugar levels which may lead to developing type 2 diabetes; and some people have developed memory loss or confusion. If you think you’re experiencing any side effects from taking one of the different types of statins, it is important you talk to your doctor. Your doctor may be able to come up with an alternative treatment plan.

We all react to drugs differently, so know the possible side effects and always consider both the benefits and the risks. And in the case of statins, they can reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke, and even though the risk of life-threatening side effects is very low – they do exist. It’s your choice.

You may have noticed, it’s back to school time – a time for drivers to keep an eye out for youngsters walking to school. And doesn’t it also bring back memories of walking to school in your new clothes, with your used books, notepads, Scheaffer pens and no. 2 pencils; and sitting at your wooden desk with that round ink well in the corner. They were simpler days. 

If you want to get in the back-to-school spirit and learn something new, here are three going-ons you might want to check out. Columbia Gorge Genealogical Society’s presents “Non-Population Census Records” on Saturday, September 10, 2016 (; ODOT historian, Robert Hadlow presents “Remember, Restore, Reconnect: The Historic Columbia River Highway,” Friday, September 9, at Columbia Gorge Discovery Center (; and a 2-Day Beginner Pastel Painting Workshop with Karen Watson on September 10th and 11th at The Dalles Art Center (

This is the last week I’m going to pester you to send in your favorite grandchild experience, because the entries have to be submitted by Saturday, September 3rd. Mail them to the Mid-Columbia Senior Center at 1112 W 9th Street, The Dalles, 97058 or email them to

Even though Grandparents Day is on Sunday, September 11th, the Center is celebrating the importance and joy of being a grandparent at the Grandparent Pancake Breakfast sponsored by Flagstone Senior Living on Saturday September 10:00. This is the Center’s first year of what is hoped to be an annual tradition – and I already have some ideas for next year.

There is music every Tuesday at the Center and on September 6th, Andre, KC and Tom will be playing for your listening and dancing enjoyment. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00 and ends when there’s no one left on the dance floor. Everyone is welcome and donations are always appreciated.

The movie that starred Charlton Heston; and was the highest-grossing film of 1959 and winner of a record eleven Academy Awards was Ben-Hur. (This week’s winners of a quilt raffle ticket are Sandy Goforth and Ed Anghilante.)

This week’s “Remember When” questions is about one of network television’s longest running and most beloved prime time game shows which broadcast from 1950 – 1967. What was the name of this game show that consisted of the four panelists trying to guess the occupation of a guest contestant? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it in an object “bigger than a breadbox”.

Well, it’s been another week, laughing at my own mistakes before anyone else can. Until we meet again, remember no one ever died of laughter.

“Grandmas are moms with lots of frosting.” Author Unknown

Aging Well in the Gorge August 23rd 2016

John C. Maxwell, an American author and speaker, talks about two kinds of pride: “Good pride” representing our dignity and self-respect; and “bad pride” – the deadly sin of superiority composed of conceit and arrogance. As we age, sometimes we let that “bad” pride” get in the way when making decisions about our own well-being.
This may sound silly, but for example, I was proud I took only one prescribed medication. I felt special particularly when nurses were always surprised to learn I took so few for a “man of my age”. 
That was until my annual physical when I was told that according to the latest recommendations, I should be taking a statin to help reduce my cholesterol. I balked. That would mean two prescriptions. And I wouldn’t be so special!
So I went to a higher authority – my cardiologist. He explained that by taking a statin, it would increase my chances of living another twenty years. Okay, so I could be proud and take only one prescription OR I could have a better chance of living another twenty years. And since I need to work twenty more years to pay off my parent loans for my children’s college education, I decided to swallow (no pun intended) my pride and take the statin.
We would all like to feel and act as we did fifty years ago (without repeating the stupid things!). But let’s face it. It ain’t gonna happen. Instead we need to be smart and accept what “is” – and adapt the “is” to what we want it to be. And not let pride get in the way of making good choices – whether deciding to use a walker, or telling someone you were wrong or taking a recommended medication.
It’s early but save the date, October 7th, for the annual Baby Back Rib dinner. The dinner is again sponsored by the good folks at The Springs at Mill Creek, so all the proceeds from the dinner will support Meals-on-Wheels and the Center. The cost is still only $15 – and it includes music performed by the fabulous bluegrass band Hardshell Harmony, who you may have heard at the County Fair’s Senior Picnic.  
And speaking of the Senior Picnic, it was good to see The Dalles Mayor Steve Lawrence; Wasco County Commissioners Steve Kramer and Rod Runyon; and Wasco County Clerk, Lisa Gambee, dishing out all the fried chicken and fixins. (There were others but apparently my memory’s capacity is only four names). Thanks to Flagstone, the Area Agency on Aging and Canyon Rim Manor for sponsoring this county fair tradition.
At the Center’s Saturday Night Bingo on the 27th, there is a real good chance someone will blackout in 58 numbers on the last game and drive home with an extra $1000. Games start at 6:00 and the minimum buy-in is $10. All ages are welcome.
I know there are more great stories out there about your special grandchild experiences. Entries have to be less than 300 words – we have one entry of only 40 words, and you can even write you story on the back of a napkin. We don’t care. Prizes include a Grand prize of a $300 certificate to any Shilo Inn. You have until September 3rd. So get a pen and napkin and start writing.
The Center’s usual fifth Tuesday band couldn’t make it, but we were able to rope in the Shades of Country to perform on Tuesday August 30th. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00, and donations are appreciated.
The television broadcaster and entertainer who hosted his own Talent Scouts television show was the “Old Redhead” Arthur Godfrey. (This week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket is Harold Stephens.)
Back in Indianapolis, I remember watching this epic movie with my parents at one of those big motion picture palaces built in the 20’s and 30’s. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the movie that starred Charlton Heston; and was the highest-grossing film of 1959 and winner of a record eleven Academy Awards? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or drive it to the Center in a late model chariot.
Well, it’s been another week, looking for shade on a sunny afternoon. Until we meet again, don’t let the “some things” that could happen, keep you from enjoying the “good things”.  

“I don’t intentionally spoil my grandkids. It’s just that correcting them often takes more energy than I have left.” Gene Perret

Aging Well in the Gorge August 16th 2016

Since 1966, Medicare has been critical to the health and wellbeing of older adults. But it will be facing significant challenges and the fall elections could have a significant impact on the future of Medicare and your healthcare coverage.
What are some of the challenges?
1. Healthcare spending is nearly five times higher for those aged 85+ than the national average. (Why I probably have seen a doctor more over the last four years than I had during my first forty years.) 2. A growing aging population with the Baby Boomers starting to turn sixty-five. 3. The number of people who pay into Medicare are fewer. (In 2000, there were 5.2 reported workers for every retiree, but by 2030 it is expected there will be only 3 workers for each retired individual.) 4. While Medicare already consumes 15% of the federal budget, many experts believe that today’s benefit levels and quality of service cannot be sustained without more revenue.
So what might you want to know from the candidates? To get you thinking, national senior advocate Carol Marak suggests the following questions that address many of the issues facing Medicare.
What are your proposed policies and strategies to keep Medicare financially secure for generations to come? Do you support limiting Medicare benefits only to those with low incomes? What role would you like to see private health plans play in Medicare? How would you improve the Medicare drug benefit? Do you support federal or state government’s involvement with drug prices negotiations? Do you think greater coverage for preventive care would drive health care costs down?
These are important times. Whoever we elect to Congress and the White House will have to address these questions and find solutions to keep Medicare financially viable while maintaining the benefits levels and quality of services for future generations.
But in blunt terms, the fundamental question may be: Will our elected leaders work together to improve the healthcare for older adults – or will they give up and say we can no longer afford “old” people?
If you like country music from the 50’s, you’ll want to hear Jeanne Coady perform in a free “Tribute Concert to Patsy Cline” at The Springs at Mill Creek’s new Outdoor Amphitheater (1201 W 10th) on Thursday, August 18thstarting at 7:00. Because there is limited seating, please bring blankets or LOW sitting chairs for the grass area.
I’ve found reminders a good thing, so here are a couple quick second reminders.
Write down your most memorable experiences with your grandchildren in 300 words or less, and send it to the Center by September 3rd. And it can just be handwritten if you like. The grand prize for best story is a $300 Shilo Inn gift certificate and runner up prizes include three one-year subscriptions to The Dalles Chronicle.
Thursday, August 18th is Free Day at the Wasco County Fair and Rodeo sponsored by The Dalles Disposal, plus there is a free Senior Picnic in the Park starting at 11:00 – thanks to the generous support of Flagstone, Area Agency on Aging, Hearts of Gold Caregivers and Canyon Rim Manor.
There’s music and dancing at the Center on Tuesday nights; and on August 23rdCountry Road will be playing. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00, and donations are appreciated.
The first televised National Convention was in 1952 and the anchor was Walter Cronkite – “the most trusted man in America”. (This week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket is Ron Nelson. And last week’s winner was Jim Ayres who reminded me that he was the one who told me you had to wait an hour before swimming.)
Patsy Cline had been performing for many years before she had her breakout national exposure in 1955 singing “Walkin after Midnight” on the television show Talent Scouts. It was hosted by an American radio and television broadcaster and entertainer who played the ukulele and was nicknamed “Old Redhead”. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was his name? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with the 1951 hit recording, “What is a Boy”.
Well, it’s been another week, when I’m REALLY looking forward to sweater weather. Until we meet again, try something different. You may be pleasantly surprised.
What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies. ~Rudy Giuliani

Aging Well in the Gorge August 9th 2016

Often I write about the importance of volunteers to the Center and to all the local non-profits in the area. At the Center, volunteers have started and lead most of the activities including many of the exercise and movement classes, card games, quilters and more.
But the Center is always looking for new ideas, and if there is something you enjoy and think others might also, we can find a space for you. For example, Edna Chandler enjoyed playing Dominoes when visiting her family in Hawaii and now she has started a Dominoes group at the Center every Tuesday at 1:00. Evelyn Brown enjoys playing the Ukulele and is now leading a small Ukulele class for all levels on Wednesday afternoons at 3:00. Everyone is invited to join either of these new activities or any of the other activities at the Center. You don’t have to be a member to participate – although we hope you will see the Center’s value and eventually become one.
I’ve heard so many stories about the joys of having grandchildren, great grandchildren and even great-great grandchildren that one of these days I hope to enjoy the pleasure of my own grandchildren – although coaching seventy enthusiastic, young swimmers on The Dalles Swim Team fills in quite well.
So I’m sure you have stories of your most memorable experiences with your grandchildren. And as you may have read, the Center, with the help of The Dalles Chronicle and BiCoastal Media, is asking you to share those special stories in 300 words or less. Mail them to the Center at 1112 W 9th Street, The Dalles, OR 97058, email them to, or just drop them off at the Center before September 3rd. There will be prizes for the best ones including a grand prize of a $300 Shilo Inn gift certificate. The Dalles Chronicle staff has graciously offered to do the judging, and to keep it fair no names will appear on the entries being judged. And to make it sound like one of those national contests – all entries become the property of the Mid-Columbia Senior Center.
Jean Vercouteren would like to me to help spread the word that the Gray Century Ranch, begun in 1868, will be the subject of a free presentation by fourth generation co-owner Nancy Gray Proctor at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 13th, at the Moody/Rorick House located at 300 W. 13th St., The Dalles. As the presentation will be held outside, lawn chairs are welcomed.
If you are planning to attend the free County Fair Picnic on Thursday, August 18that the Wasco County Fair and Rodeo, but don’t have a ride, the LINK is providing a bus to take the first fourteen folks who call the Center and sign up – for free. The bus leaves the Center at 10:00 to arrive at the fair in time for the 11:00 picnic. The County Fair Picnic is made possible by the generous support of Flagstone, Area Agency on Aging, Hearts of Gold Caregivers and Canyon Rim Manor.
There’s always music and dancing at the Center on Tuesday nights, and on August 16th, the Simcoe Boys will be playing. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00, and donations are appreciated.
My parents allowed me to do many things that are considered unsafe today, but I had to wait one hour before going swimming. For some reason they thought I would drown from cramps. (This is a little embarrassing, although not unusual, but I can’t remember who told me their correct answer last week. So whoever you are, could you tell me again. But I did remember that I forgot Kay Havig from the week before, who called in the correct answer to the “Beep, Beep” question and wins a quilt raffle ticket.)
The Republican and Democratic National Conventions use to be rough and tumble affairs before television came along. Now the conventions are often described as “sanitized, made–for-television, infomercials”. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what year was the first televised national convention and who was the anchor? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a picture of “the most trusted man in America”.
Well, it’s been another week, looking forward to sweater weather. Until we meet again, not all that is said was worth saying.
“Becoming a grandmother is wonderful. One moment you’re just a mother. The next you are all-wise and prehistoric.” Pam Brown

Aging Well in the Gorge August 2nd 2016

Can you tell the difference between the color of lemonade and apple cider? It could come in handy during the summer and I’ll tell why later.
Last week’s heat wave reminded me of the importance of staying hydrated – especially for older adults who are more susceptible to the dangers of dehydration. But it is not always easy to drink enough fluids, but here are some simple tips I found on
1.) Keep a bottle of water with you – and don’t lose it. (By the way, if you find a purple metal water bottle with “SMILE” printed in bold white letters on the side, please return it to me. It was my favorite!) 2.) If you are the forgetful type, drink on a schedule. For example, drink water when you wake up; at breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and when you go to bed. Although I skip the water before bed. It only adds another bathroom stop during the night and I don’t need any more. 3.) If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try adding a slice of lemon or lime. 4.)  If you like to sweat, be sure to drink water before, during, and after a workout. 5.) When you’re feeling hungry, drink water. Thirst is often confused with hunger, but real hunger is not satisfied by drinking water.
But how much water do you really need?
Although there is no hard evidence to support the popular recommendation to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day, it is close to what the Institute of Medicine recommends for women which is nine total cups of fluids a day; and for men thirteen cups a day. Or drink enough so you go to the bathroom every two to four hours. And the obvious, drink water when you are thirsty. Thirst is an excellent indicator of your hydration needs.
But there are other considerations. You may need more water if you are eating a diet high in sodium. Avoid sugary fluids with their unnecessary calories, but not necessarily caffeine – which has a mild diuretic effect, but doesn’t seem to increase the risk of dehydration. Taking a lot of medications without drinking enough water could also put a strain on your kidneys. If that is a concern, talk to your health care provider.
Now you have ideas on how to stay hydrated and how much you should drink, but we are all different, so how can you tell if you are actually hydrated?  An easy way, although maybe a little distasteful, is to check your urine. And this is where we get back to that first question I asked. If your urine is pale like the color of lemonade, you are in good shape. But if it’s dark like apple cider, you need to increase your intake of fluids.
I never use to drink much water. I could run 26 mile marathon without taking a sip. But I’ve changed after finally realizing how important water is to maintaining good health – especially at my age.
There’s always music and dancing at the Center on Tuesday nights, and on August 9th, Martin and Friends will be playing. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00, and donations are always appreciated.
The 1958 novelty song “Beep, Beep” sung by the Playmates describes the driver of a Nash Rambler passing a Cadillac at 120 mph and yelling, “Hey, buddy, how can I get this car out of second gear”. (The winner of a quilt raffle ticket is Jim Heitkemper.)
Back in the 50’s and 60’s, there were different ideas of what was safe and what wasn’t. I didn’t wear a bicycle helmet; I put raw eggs in my milk shakes; I used baby oil instead of sun screen: and my sister and I would sleep on the mattress in the back of the Mercury station wagon while my mom and dad drove to Florida. But during the summer we were constantly reminded to wait an hour before doing what? Email your answer for this week’ “Remember When” question to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a copy of a Sandra Dee Coppertone ad.
Well, it’s been another week trying to catch the next wave. Until we meet again, don’t stop. The race isn’t over until you cross the finish line.
“I think fish is nice, but then I think that rain is wet, so who am I to judge?” Douglas Adams