Aging Well in the Gorge October 31st 2017

The winter holidays are fast approaching: a joyful time to spend with family and to cherish and share all the holiday memories. But if you have lost a loved one with years of special memories, the holidays can accentuate the grief you may already be experiencing. Grief is very personal and there is no right or wrong way to experience it, no matter what well-intentioned advice you may hear. And as you navigate your way through the healing process, there is nothing wrong with asking for help.
There are several bereavement groups in the area, one of which meets at the Center on the first Tuesday of every month starting at 9:00 am. It is open to anyone, you just need to show up. During the November meeting on the 7th there will be a discussion of experiencing grief during the holidays.
The Center has purchased 12 tickets to see the Singing Christmas Tree for the 2:00 matinee performance on Sunday, November 26th. It is back at the Keller Auditorium in Portland where we have good seats on the orchestra level and in the balcony. The cost is $75 which includes the transportation, so you don’t have to worry about driving through downtown Portland. Everyone who has seen the Singing Christmas Treein the past has raved about the performances. The tickets should go fast, so call the Center ASAP.
Last week I discussed the Blue Zones Project in The Dalles and the “Power of 9”: nine actions you can take to live a longer, healthier, and happier life. But I did not list them, and instead asked you to think about what they could be. Could you think of nine?
Well, we’ll see how well you did over the next nine weeks starting with the first of the “Power of 9”: Move Naturally. This is usually the first on everyone’s list, but usually mentioned as exercise such as walking, spending time in the weight room or the gym. But to move naturally is a bit more nuanced.
The inhabitants in the Blue Zones don’t necessarily think about moving. They just do it as part of their everyday lives – such as gardening or riding their bicycles to get around. And they don’t have all the modern conveniences that we see today as making life easier. So what can you incorporate in your everyday activities that provides more opportunities to keep moving naturally?
If you enjoy making and selling items for the holidays, there are still spaces available for additional vendors at the Center’s 4th Annual Holiday Bazaar on Saturday, November 18th. If you are interested, call the Center to sign up.
In 1957, the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn, New York. And how did they acquire the nickname Dodgers? At one time they were called the Trolley Dodgers, which was then shortened to Dodgers, because in the 1890’s when the electric trolley cars was first introduce, they proved much more dangerous than the horse drawn streetcars they replaced resulting in 51 deaths in 1883. And if you think it strange to be known for dodging trolleys, they were also called the Bridegrooms from 1888 through 1898.
(I received correct answers from Diana Weston, Ron Nelson, Sandy Haechrel, and Jerry Phillips, this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And once again I was reminded I forgot someone last week: this time Sandy Haechrel who also receives a free quilt raffle ticket for my forgetfulness.)
One last baseball question to celebrate this year’s amazing World Series. Now that the baseball season has been extended through the month of October, there have been several players who have come through in the clutch during this critical month. One of those players was nicknamed ”Mr. October”. For this week’s “Remember When” question, who was the player nicknamed “Mr. October” by catcher Thurman Munson? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or drop it off with a number 44 New York Yankee’s jersey.
Well, it’s been another week, always looking for the car in the parking lot. Until we meet again, don’t worry about what you can’t control, but focus on what you can.

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow! What a ride!’” Hunter S. Thompson

Aging Well in the Gorge October 24th 2017

Why do people in some regions of the world live seven to twelve years longer than would be expected? That is the question that has driven National Geographic writer and explorer Dan Buettner to search for the lessons learned from these “longevity hotspots” in order to help us all live longer, healthier, and happier lives.
It started with the demographic work by Gianni Pes and Michel who identified Sardinia, an island in the Mediterranean near Italy, as the region of the world with the highest concentration of male centenarians. On a map, Pes and Poulain drew blue circles around those villages of extreme longevity and began to refer to the areas inside the circles as “Blue Zones.”
Dan Buettner took the concept of “Blue Zones” further, identifying four other parts of the world with exceptional longevity including Loma Linda in California. Dan and his team of researchers studied those areas and found nine evidence-based common behaviors of the inhabitants which they called the “Power of 9”.
But what about genetics? Your genes do have an influence, but only between 20 – 30% variation in life span is due to genetics. The rest is due to environmental factors and lifestyle choices.  
Last Wednesday, Brett Ratchford from The Dalles Blue Zone Project team spoke at the Center about how the project team was working with community partners to use the lessons from the Blue Zones to improve the health and well-being of everyone in The Dalles. It is a three-year effort and right now they are just starting. But by January you should be hearing more about their work to make healthy choices easier so we can all enjoy more “years in our life and life in our years”.
You may have noticed I haven’t listed the nine common behaviors of the “Power of 9”. In the coming weeks, I will describe each of them, but until then what do you think are the nine behaviors for living a longer, healthier, and happier life?
As you may have read, the Mid-Columbia Council of Governments (MCCOG) is divesting itself of the programs they administer. That includes the local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) which provides valuable services for older adults in the five-county region of Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam, and Wheeler counties.
Because of MCCOG’s action, the State Unit on Aging, is now responsible for identifying a new administrative home for the AAA. To that end, the State Unit on Aging will be holding public meetings in all five counties to hear what the communities would like to see in a new AAA. In Wasco County, the meeting will be held at the Center on Tuesday, October 31st at 1:00 pm. (If you need transportation, you can call 541-298-4101.) And in Sherman County the public meeting will be held at the Sherman County Senior & Community Center in Moro on Friday, November 3rd at 12:00 pm.
The Center’s 4th Annual Holiday Bazaar will be on Saturday November 18th. There is still room for additional vendors, and if you are interested call the Center. And on the same day is the St. Peter’s 39th Annual Holiday Bazaar which will be held across the street from the Center at St. Mary’s Academy. This gives you a chance to check out two bazaars within walking distance for your holiday gifts.
The pant style from the 60’s when the legs of a pair of store bought pants were cut and sewn so they would be skin tight were called “pegged” pants. (I received correct answers from Diana Weston, and Deloris Schrader this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And a raffle ticket also goes to Rhonda Austin who I forgot to mention last week.)
Since the World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros begins this week, I must ask a baseball question for all the baseball fans in the audience. In 1957, the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles. For this week’s “Remember When” question, where did they move from? And for bonus points, why are they called the Dodgers? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or drop it off with a picture of Ebbets Field.
Well, it’s been another week, trying to get use to the darker mornings. Until we meet again, it’s never too late to try something new – but don’t expect it to be easy.
 “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” Bill Nye, the Science Guy

Aging Well in the Gorge October 17th 2017

Do you care for a loved one? Maybe you help with their grocery shopping, house cleaning, medications or provide emotional support. Or maybe you are a 24/7 caregiver caring for a spouse with advanced dementia or a serious chronic condition, assisting with their personal care and daily activities.
If you are caring for someone and are not paid, you are one of approximately 34.2 million family caregivers in America who provide unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older. To acknowledge the importance of caregivers and their invaluable contribution to our communities, November has been designated National Family Caregivers Month.
In conjunction with National Family Caregivers Month, there is going to be the first ever gorge wide Caregiver Appreciation Day. It will be held on Saturday, November 4th from 10:00 – 4:00 at The Hood River Valley Adult Center (2010 Sterling Place, Hood River). It is free to all unpaid caregivers in the Gorge, and respite care for a loved one will be available. (Screening required.)
The event will start with opportunities for caregivers to pamper themselves: massage, acupuncture, and self-care workshops, followed by lunch with keynote speaker, Dr. Elizabeth Eckstrom, geriatrician at OHSU and co-author of The Gift of Caring. Then in the afternoon there will be educational sessions.
If you are an unpaid caregiver or know of anyone who is, you can register by going to the registration site at Or if you are unable to register online, contact either Melissa at 541-298-4101 ext. 1005, or Britta at 541-298-4101 ext. 1007 at the Area Agency on Aging. This event is organized by the Area Agency on Aging, Providence Volunteers-in-Action, Hood River Valley Adult Center and sponsored by many local organizations and businesses.
Caregiving is rewarding, but also demanding. Here are ten tips from the Caregiver Action Network to help caregivers care for themselves while caring for another.
1. Seek support from other caregivers. You are not alone! 2. Take care of your own health so that you can be strong enough to take care of your loved one. 3. Accept offers of help and suggest specific things people can do to help you. 4. Learn how to communicate effectively with doctors. 5. Be open to new technologies that can help you care for your loved one. 6. Watch out for signs of depression and don’t delay getting professional help when you need it. 7. Caregiving is hard work so take respite breaks often. 8. Organize medical information so it’s up to date and easy to find. 9. Make sure legal
documents are in order. 10. Give yourself credit for doing the best you can in one of the toughest jobs there is!
What is this Blue Zone Project that has come to The Dalles? And why are the zones called blue? If you would like to learn more about the local Blue Zones project and the 9 components of living a longer, healthier, and happier life, you are invited to attend the Wednesday Lecture at the Center on October 18thfrom 11:00 – 12:00.
The name of the television show that aired on NBC from 1950 – 1959 and featured versions of the top songs in America was “Your Hit Parade”. (I received correct answers from Jim AYERS, Don McAllister, and she who does not want to be mentioned. But this week’s winner of a quilt raffleticket is Tiiu Vahtel – who can still remembers the closing song.)
Fashion is a funny business with fashion trends recycling through time. Today you see all ages of people wearing skinny pants thanks to the new elastic materials. But back in my high school days, skinny pants were also the “cool” thing to wear. And since I couldn’t find them in the stores, I had to beg my mom to sew the pant legs so skin tight I could barely push my feet through them. For this week’s “Remember When” question what was this style of pants called? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or drop it off with a picture of yourself wearing this kind of pants.  
Well, it’s been another week, wondering what good news will come next. Until we meet again, as anonymous once said, “Maturity is the art of living in peace with that which we cannot change.”

“My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.” Hank Aaron

Aging Well in the Gorge October 10th 2017

As we age we encounter many different life stages. In August, I mentioned three stages when planning your retirement described by George H. Schofield, Ph.D.: New Freedom, New Horizons, and New Simplicity.
But there is another stage many of us will reach that isn’t as appealing. A time when the mind may be willing but the body isn’t; and your world seems to shrink and your options appear to evaporate. This stage can seem so scary, we often ignore it and avoid preparing for that time when we must make some very difficult decisions.
In an article for Next Avenue, Debbie Reslock urges us to understand what we fear so we can take responsibility for our lives and discover options that alleviate those fears, so we can make decisions that create a future we can accept and enjoy. And to do it before someone else makes those decisions for us.
There are three aging decisions she thinks we should start considering.
Continue to drive or hang up the keys? Most of us fear the day we can no longer drive. Ever since we were young, the car was a sign of our independence: our ability to be in control of our lives. We don’t want to lose that independence and become a burden for someone else. 
Stay in your home or move? Your home may now be more than you can handle, but it is familiar and full of memories. Do you modify your home, move into an accessible apartment, a retirement or assisted living community or move near your children?
Continue caring for yourself or ask for help? Struggling with daily life on your own not only presents challenges as we age but can contribute to depression and isolation. But no longer being self-reliant is hard to accept.
These are difficult decisions and the answers are unique for each individual. But it is not too early to be proactive. Start imaging your future life while understanding all the options and consequences, so if you do have to give something up, you can do it on your own terms. Because the ultimate loss of independence is when others, often well-intentioned, start making decisions for you.
Now that the elevator is running up and down, we have started straightening up around the Center and have found there is stuff that the Center really doesn’t need or have room to store. So, on Saturday, October 14th from 9:00 – 1:00, there will be a “house cleaning” sale downstairs that will include file cabinets, bookcases, motorized scooters (without batteries), lift chair, and miscellaneous odds and ends.
The next AARP Smart Driver Course will be held at the Center on October 16 and 17 from 8:45 am to 12:05 pm on both days. The cost is $20 and $15 for AARP Members. Call the Center at 541-296-4788 to sign-up. And at the class, you can enroll in a free 20-minute CarFit Safety event that will follow the class.
The title of the instrumental recording composed by David Rose that reached #1 in 1962 (and whenever you hear it you want to start gyrating and throwing your clothes off!) is “The Stripper”. (I received correct answers from Jim Ayres, Diana Weston and this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket, Marcia Lacock.)
I have a faint memory of wanting to watch this television show so I could hear the week’s most popular songs – although I was always disappointed when the original artists didn’t perform. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the television show that aired on NBC from 1950 – 1959, sponsored by Lucky Strikes, and featured versions of the top songs in America. Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or drop it off with a group picture of Snooky Lanson, Russell Arms, Dorothy Collins, and Gisèle MacKenzie.
Well, it’s been another week, wishing and hoping. Until we meet again, don’t let doubt keep you from living. 

“What you eat today walks and talks tomorrow.” Esther Blumenfeld

Aging Well in the Gorge October 3rd 2017

How do you know it’s the end of summer? The leaves falling? The cooler mornings? The football hysteria? No, it’s a mailbox full of solicitations from Medicare insurance plans.
And why? Because October 15th is the start of the annual Medicare Open Enrollment period. Since each year the insurance companies can adjust their Medicare plans, the Open Enrollment period gives you a chance to decide if your Medicare plan is still the best option for you or if it’s time to switch to another plan.
To help decide, you should take time to review the “Annual Notice of Change” which describes any changes in your current plan for next year and which you should have received by now. Then ask yourself the big three Medicare questions. Does your plan allow you to go to the providers you want including your pharmacy? Are your prescription drugs covered? And how much does the plan cost?
Even if you are satisfied with your current plan, you still may want to look around to see if there is a better deal, especially if you have avoided the hassle of comparing plans over the past several years and just opted to automatically renew your current plan.
Choosing the right Medicare plan can be frustrating, perplexing and downright confusing. But all health insurance is complicated. Before I was enrolled in Medicare, I relied upon my employer or insurance agent – insulating me from the complexity of choosing a health insurance plan.
But there are many places where you can find help. You can visit and use the Medicare Plan Finder; study the “Medicare & You” handbook; call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) where help is available 24 hours a day, including weekends; or visit the Oregon SHIBA (Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance) website. If you’d rather talk to someone face to face, you can meet with a private insurance broker who specialize in Medicare, or you can call the Center and make an appointment with a trained impartial SHIBA volunteer who will help guide you through the process.
In the meantime, if you want to better understand the ins and outs of Medicare Part A, B, C, and D; Medigap and Medicare Advantage plans; and all the timelines and deadlines, you are invited to attend a Medicare 101 class at CGCC’s The Dalles Campus, on Thursday, October 12th from 1:00 – 3:00. The class is free but seats are limited. Call 541-308-8211 to register or register online at
Tomorrow’s 11:00 Wednesday Lecture at the Center will feature Marylyn Urness discussing the fascinating history of the Chinese community in The Dalles as detailed in her book “Chinatown”. Last May, Marilyn spoke at the annual Wasco County Pioneer Association meeting and her presentation was so impressive we invited her to speak at the Center.
Then at 11:00 on October 11th, Colleena Tenold Sauter from the local Aging and People with Disabilities office will provide an overview of the many services her office provides including elder abuse prevention and investigations, caregiver support, food assistance and long-term care for those who qualify.
Last Wednesday, Kerry Cobb, executive director of the Columbia Center for the Arts, gave a very enlightening presentation on the life and work of five female artists. Fortunately, she will be back at the Center on October 11th at 1:00 to direct a table read of several humorous one-act plays about older adults. There is still room for several more readers. If you are interested, call the Center to sign up.
The popular music pianist and top selling piano recording artist known for his 1955 recording of “Autumn Leaves” was Roger Williams. (I received correct answers from Betsy Ayres, Jeannie Pesicka and this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket, Pat Foster.)
During some reminiscing at the Center with Jeanne Pesicka, this easily recognizable song, which I hadn’t thought of for decades, came to mind. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the title of the instrumental recording composed by David Rose, that reached number one on Billboard’s Top 100 in 1962 and is often associated with the entertainment at a bachelor party? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or drop it off with a picture of Gypsy Rose Lee.
Well, it’s been another week, watching the leaves dance down the street. Until we meet again, keep up the good work. 

“Here is the test to find whether you mission on Earth is finished: if you’re alive, it isn’t.” Richard Bach