Aging in the Gorge October 25th 2016

Imagine you are the director of a local non-profit and you want to celebrate your organization’s thirty-year anniversary. What would you do? Invite all the local elected officials to a community party with free cake and ice cream? Take out a full page ad in the newspaper? Good ideas, but One Community Health, a local non-profit health center in The Dalles, stepped outside the box and came up with a unique and positive way to celebrate their thirtieth anniversary. They created Gorge Happiness: a month of activities in October each designed to make for a healthier community based on the science of happiness.
It’s not hard to believe that happiness is good for your health. But there is actual evidence to show that happier people have better overall health and live longer than their less happy peers.
But could we just be born happy? Well, there is some research that shows 50% of our happiness is genetic, and 10% is environmental. But the other 40% we can control by consciously nurturing habits which can improve our happiness.
Those habits begin with gratitude: being grateful for the blessings, both large and small, in our lives. Start by listing three things each day for which you are thankful. It can be as simple as being thankful for a good night’s sleep; or for your neighbor who keeps an eye on you. What’s important is recognizing the many blessings even when life events seem to be careening down the street out of your control; and it’s so easy, and understandable, to start your own “woe is me” pity party.
Another habit to cultivate is expressing acts of kindness: Picking up that piece of trash, visiting a friend in the hospital, or keeping an eye on your neighbor. And if you aren’t already volunteering, find an opportunity even if it is only a few hours a week.
And the last habit I’ll mention is creating moments of silence. You might call it prayer or meditation, but sit silently for as little as five minutes each day. No television or radio. Just sit and observe the thoughts in your head; the different sensations around you – the sounds, the smells. And if your mind wonders, don’t worry. Just acknowledge it and pull your mind back into observing and listening to what is around you.
Gorge Happiness Month will be over soon, but the search for happiness is a lifelong journey. You can start now by incorporating these three habits in your daily routine: the habit of gratitude, acts of kindness and moments of silence – which can improve your health and well-being. You can find out more about Gorge Happiness Month and the benefits of happiness at the website:
Next week we start a new month; and a new time for the Tuesday Night Music at the Center. With the night skies visiting us sooner, music will start at 6:30 – a half hour earlier and end at 8:30 or whenever the last couple leaves the dance floor. And once again we’re back at the top of the dance card with Andre, KC and Joe performing on November 1st. And starting when? 6:30 PM. Doors open at 6:00 and donations are appreciated.
Continuing the countdown of “40 Great Things about Growing Older”: #4 “You take more things in stride.” After enduring a full life of experiences, we learn to separate what is truly important from all the small stuff cluttering our lives.
The name of the television show starring John Steed and his partner Emma Peel was The Avengers. (This week’s winners of a quilt raffle ticket each are Marcia Lacock and Jim Ayres.)
William Powell and Myrna Loy played Nick and Nora Charles in the movie version of The Thin Man. But for this week’s “Remember When” question who played Nick Charles in The Thin Man television series that aired Friday evenings on NBC for two seasons from 1957–1959? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or deliver it to the Center with a picture of the 1960’s “Rat Pack” performing at the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Well, it’s been another week, learning there is a simple wisdom in saying “I don’t know”. Until we meet again, if you point your finger, make sure your hands are clean.

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” Thich Nhat Hanh

Aging Well in the Gorge October 18th 2016

Last month I mentioned the Aging in the Gorge Alliance (AGA) – a recently formed grass roots association whose goal is to create local communities that promote and foster the well-being of elders through education and advocacy.

One of their first initiatives is the “Community Reads” project. They raised enough local funds to purchase and distribute for free to discussion groups and libraries in the Gorge, four hundred copies of the book Age of Dignity – Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America written by Ai-jen Poo.

In the book, Ai-jen Poo states that more than fourteen percent of Americans are now over sixty-five; and by 2030 that ratio will be one in five. The fastest growing age group is those eighty-five and over which are over 5 million people now, and expected to more than double in the next twenty years.

How do we respond as a community and as a nation to this coming demographic earthquake? Who is going to provide the care? How do we ensure the caregivers, both paid and unpaid, are respected and supported? How do we care for our elders, which are many of us, so they live long and meaningful lives?

In the coming months there will be several conversations about aging, elders and caregiving starting with the World Café Community Conversation on Saturday, October 22nd from 1:30 – 4:30 at the Columbia Gorge College in Hood River on the Heights. If you plan to attend, they ask that you RSVP by going to the website:

You are also invited to attend one of the smaller Age of Dignity discussion groups held in The Dalles at the Mid-Columbia Senior Center on November 16th from 10:00 – 12:00; and The Dalles/Wasco County Library on November 22nd from 6:30 – 8:30 PM. If you don’t have the book Age of Dignity, you can pick one up at the Center to read and then share with others; or stop by the library where they still may have a few copies left.

Thanks to The Springs at Mill Creek and everyone who attended the Baby Back Rib Dinner. If you weren’t able to make it, you missed some literally finger-licking good ribs prepared by the Meals-on-Wheels crew, and some lively bluegrass music performed by Hardshell Harmony (with The Dalles City Councilor, Tim McGlothlin, filling in at his old spot playing the stand-up bass).

There will be a new quilt hanging in the Center’s lobby. The Center quilters sold over $200 worth of raffle tickets – but unfortunately there can only be one winner. And that lucky person was Jean Spee. Congratulations!

In just over a month, we will be entering the holiday craft fair season starting with the granddaddy of them all – the St. Peter’s 38th Annual Holiday Bazaar on November 19th. On the same day, right across 10th street, the Center will host its 3rd Annual Holiday Bazaar – and there’s still room for a few more vendors. It you are interested, call the Center at 541-296-4788.

Last week I forgot to mention that the Simcoe Boys will be playing tonight at the Center. And before I forget again, next week for the Center’s Tuesday Night music, Country Road will be strutting their stuff from 7:00 – 9:00. Doors open at 6:00 and donations are appreciated.

Continuing the countdown: #3 of “40 Great Things about Growing Older”: “Grey hair earns respect.” And for some reason, I find much more attractive these days.

The comedian that impersonated John F. Kennedy on the 1963 album The First Family was Vaughn Meader. (This week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket is Tina Castanares.)

Spies and espionage were a common theme on television in the 60’s. This spy-fi British television series was created in 1961 and was the first British series to be aired on prime time in the U.S. when it aired in 1965. For this week’s “Remember When” question what was the name of this show that starred the ever-graceful and gentlemanly John Steed and his partner – the intelligent, quick-witted Emma Peel? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or deliver it to the Center while wearing a bowler hat made of steel.

Well, it’s been another week, chasing windmills. Until we meet again, as my Aunt Mo once told me, “When you are over a hundred years old, people start asking you the dumbest questions.”

“A hospital bed is a parked taxi with the meter running.” Groucho Marx

Aging Well in the Gorge October 11th 2016

In a few days Medicare Open Enrollment starts. And in preparation you should have received your “Annual Notice of Changes” which describes any changes in your current Medicare plan for 2017 such as cost, coverage, and what providers and pharmacies are in their networks. It is strongly recommended that you review those changes to make sure your plan will still meet your needs in 2017.
If your current plan won’t, then during Medicare Open Enrollment from October 15 to December 7, you can change your Medicare plans. But as many of you know, it’s not always easy to navigate through all the choices. If you have questions, which most folks do, you can call the Center to make an appointment with a trained SHIBA (Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance) volunteer; or visit the website
One significant change for 2017 is Regence will no longer offer a Medicare Advantage Plan in Wasco County forcing over four hundred Regence Medicare Advantage plan recipients to search for another plan. If you are one of the four hundred, don’t panic. There will be a meeting at the Center at 1:00 on October 25th presented by local SHIBA volunteers to describe your options; and if you need further assistance, to schedule an appointment with a SHIBA volunteer.
Last week when I looked out my office window I was reminded that the speed limit in a school zone between 7:00 and 5:00 pm is 20 mph. What was the reminder? A city policeman parked at the corner of 10thand Cherry Heights for two days, with his radar gun, ticketing drivers for speeding in a school zone. Now, there is good reason for the 20 mph limit. Research shows pedestrians have a 90 percent chance of surviving car crashes at 18 mph or below, but less than 50 percent at 28 mph or above. So for the sake of our children – and your pocketbook, remember to slow down to 20 mph in the school zones.
A growing percentage of older adults own smartphones – which you can use to check Facebook, send and receive texts, and even tract your medications. It also is a pretty decent digital camera – right there in your pocket for those unexpected special moments. But what do you need to know to take great pictures? Framing? Lighting? And what do those terms even mean?
The Center is looking for a volunteer knowledgeable about photography and can answer those questions to facilitate a Smartphone Photography class. If you are interested, give me a call at 541-296-4788.
I don’t want you to wake up Saturday morning and realized you missed an opportunity to hear vocalist Nehemiah Brown sing the standards from the 50’s and 60’s. So here is your last reminder that Nehemiah will be performing at the Center on Friday, October 14th, from 7:00 – 9:00 PM sponsored by The Dalles Health and Rehabilitation Center. You can purchase $3.00 tickets at the door.
Last week I started a new feature: “40 Great Things about Growing Older”: Here is #2. “The longer you live, the smarter you get.” Of course that’s assuming I can remember what I learned last week! (Anyone remember from grade school who was the first to sail around the world? It isn’t who you think.)
The name of the show that aired from 1950–1956 and starred the title character and his sidekick Pancho was the Cisco Kid. (This week’s winners of a quilt raffle ticket each are Ed Anghilante, Jim Ayres, Alice Mattox and Virginia McClain.)
Even though this political spoof of President Kennedy was good natured and pales in comparison to the nasty political satire these days, it was still rejected by most music recording executives because it would be “degrading of the Presidency”. But it was released in November, 1962 by Cadence Records and was one of the fastest selling records in history. For this week’s “Remember When” question, who was the comedian that impersonated John F. Kennedy on the 1963 Grammy “Album of the Year”, The First Family? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or deliver it “with great vigah” to the Center.
Well, it’s been another week, enjoying my favorite season of the year. Until we meet again, remember there are only twenty-seven more days.
“I’m not taking any chances and leaving it ‘till the election. When you are 103, you make every minute count.” Ruline Steininger, 103 years old, who voted early in Iowa as reported by CNN.

Aging Well in the Gorge October 4th 2016

According to, 70% of people turning age 65 can expect to use some form of long-term care during their lives. Often that care is provided by paid in-home care professionals. To find an in-home caregiver, you can contact one of the home care businesses in the Gorge. Or you can hire your own caregiver which can be a complex and time consuming process.

But now there is Homecare Choice – a new in-home services program offered by the Oregon Home Care Commission for people using their own funds to pay for help at home. If you are enrolled in the program, you have a choice of who you would like to interview and hire as a caregiver (using the Oregon Home Care Commission’s Registry); when and how those services are provided; and the services you would like to purchase such as assistance with personal care, household tasks, companionship, transportation, medication reminding, running errands, and pet care.

Often forgotten or ignored is that if you hire someone, for as little as four hours a week, you could qualify as an employer with all the associated responsibilities. But the Homecare Choice program can help by paying the caregiver on your behalf, paying the withholding and reporting payroll taxes.

I will explain more about the Homecare Choice Program and how to enroll at the next 11:00 Tuesday Lecture on October 11th. If you think you might ever need a paid caregiver, you will find this presentation helpful.

My apologies for this late announcement about the Oregon Alzheimer’s Association’s Living with Alzheimer’s Late Stage class that will take place tomorrow (Wednesday) from 10:00 – 12:30 at the Center. This class is for caregiver’s who are caring for someone in the late stage of Alzheimer’s disease, when caregiving typically involves new ways of connecting and interacting with the person with the disease.

For each of the last three years, over 300 folks have enjoyed a delicious finger-licking Baby Back Rib dinner. Now you have a chance to join the fun this Friday, October 7th from 4:30 till 7:00. Because of the generous sponsorship by The Springs at Mill Creek, every penny of your $15 ticket will go to providing healthy nutritious meals and classes and other activities that support older adults. You can purchase tickets at the Center, Klindt’s Booksellers or at the door.

The Center quilters meet every Monday from 10:00 – 3:00 downstairs at the Center where they stitch and sew the large beautiful quilts hanging in the Center’s lobby. But did you know they also make unique smaller quilts that are ideal as gifts? At the Center, you can purchase a small quilt as well as raffle tickets for one of the larger quilts. And if $200 worth of raffle tickets are sold by the end of the Baby Back Rib Dinner, we will draw the winning ticket and someone will be going home draped in a beautiful quilt.

Martin and Friends will be playing at the Center on Tuesday, October 11th. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00, and donations are appreciated. Last spring while attending the annual Gerontology conference at OSU, I picked up a bookmark that identified “40 Great Things about Growing Older”. Email me one of the great things you think makes growing older great, and each week I will mention one. The first one on the list of 40 is “Senior discounts are great” – which includes my favorite, the “young man” (a euphemism for “this old guy”) discount at Subway.

Am I the only one who remembers Donovan, the 60’s British singer and songwriter who was often described as a Bob Dylan clone? Oh, well.

But for this week’s “Remember When” question, I’ll try something a little more familiar – an American Western television series. What was the name of the TV show that aired from 1950–1956; starred the title character and his English mangling sidekick Pancho who traveled the west fighting injustice; and by 1955 was the most popular non-animated television series among American children? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or drop your answer off at the Center with a copy of the O. Henry’s short story “The Caballero’s Way”.

Well, it’s been another week, keeping a hand on the banister. Until we meet again, don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good.

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Yogi Berra