Aging Well in the Gorge July 11th 2018

Last week I felt I was playing the game “What day is it?” The official fireworks were on a Saturday – in June, (although moving the fireworks to Saturday may seem blasphemous, I did enjoy sleeping in on Sunday morning since the fireworks ended an hour and a half past my regular bedtime); the July 4th edition of the Chronicle arrived in the mail on Tuesday, and the Center’s Saturday Bingo celebrated our independence on July 7th.  But thankfully, the July 4th parade was on the fourth.
Holidays such as the Fourth often gives us a reason to spend time with friends and family. But what if one of them lost their spouse – someone they had depended on for so many years. And now they feel disconnected, isolated and alone. And making matters worse, needing to ask for help from others when they never had to before. It can be a real struggle – often causing a vicious cycle of loneliness and depression leading to isolation and grief.
We want to help in these situations, but what can we say that doesn’t make a person feel more isolated. In the Next Avenue blog post, “What Not to Say to an Isolated Older Adult”, Michelle Seitzer shares some ideas she has learned from talking to various experts.
First don’t say, “Oh, that was so long ago…” Each person’s grief is expressed differently and the time it takes to heal varies. It is not something you just “get over”. Instead give the person time knowing that it may take as long as a lifetime.
Don’t’ say “Let me know how I can help” – unless you really mean it. Instead, do those unexpected little things that show you care: bring them dinner or their favorite dessert. Little gestures can make a real difference.
Don’t say: “You must be doing better since …” They may have started a new job but getting more involved doesn’t erase the risk of the pain of isolation. They still must go back to their house alone. Instead be there when needed and stay in touch. Even when a person feels lonely or isolated, a phone call can be a lifesaver. 
Don’t say: “You should go out and enjoy yourself more often…” You can be more socially active and still feel isolated and lonely. Instead suggest something more personal such as creative activities and new traditions. Or maybe the next Blue Zones Purpose Workshop where a person can rediscover the talents and interests they had once relegated to their “another day” file.
For people who feel isolated, getting past the “used to” or “can’t do” is difficult without us making it worse. When you want to help, maybe the best thing is just to be there and listen.
Because there is room for only twelve, I want to give you enough time to sign up for the next class in the Center’s series of Fourth Wednesday art classes provided by the Columbia Art Center. The class is on July 25th from 1:00 – 2:30 and it will give you a chance to try something new, improv theatre: a form of theatre in which the plot, characters and dialogue of a game, scene, or story are made up spontaneously. No experience is necessary – just a desire to have fun.
The doctor who on December 3rd, 1967 at the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa performed the world’s first human-to-human heart transplant was Surgeon Dr. Christiaan Barnard. (I received correct answers from Sharon Hull, Lana Tepfer, and this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket, Virginia McClain.)
While serving in the US Army in Germany, this rock and roll star met his future wife when she was only 14 years old – and seven years later on May 1st, 1967 they were married in Las Vegas. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what were the names of the bride and groom in the most highly publicized wedding of 1967? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with a stale slice of the six level, $10,000 cake served at the wedding.
Well, it’s been another week, looking for a cool breeze – not a windstorm. Until we meet again, take time to know what you really want.
“How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.” Abraham Lincoln

Aging Well in the Gorge July 4th 2018

I hope you are enjoying the 4th of July holiday. I’ll be home celebrating a day off by working in the yard and taking care of other chores my wife has planned for me.
But it is also a time to celebrate this great country we live in. And as older Americans, the benefits we enjoy because of the courageous efforts of many individuals and organizations to pass critically important federal legislation often against great odds: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, funding for senior housing, public transportation, and the Older Americans Act which supports meal sites, in-home care, and abuse prevention. These are programs and services that could not have been started by ourselves individually but became possible through collective effort by many.
But we often forget the work of these Americans that by working together made these programs and policies possible. Today more than ever, we live in a society where the emphasis is on the individual and what you can do for yourself to improve your health and well-being. You hear the messages constantly: stop smoking; eat healthy and save for retirement.
All of that is necessary – but not sufficient. When the only message is about individual lifestyle choices to improve your health and well-being, it ignores societal factors and impedes support for policy interventions at the state and federal level that affect our social and economic conditions which ultimately affects our health and wellbeing. We shouldn’t think either/or, individual choices or collective action. The health of older adults depends on both.
Undoubtedly in the future, there will be changes in many government programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to maintain their financial viability – as has happened in the past. But we must be vigilant to make sure the fundamental values of those programs are protected, and the cost of medical and long-term care is not shifted to the individual who cannot afford the constantly increasing medical costs.
America’s population is aging which offers tremendous benefits and challenges. As Americans we need to work at both the individual and societal levels to ensure a healthy future for ourselves and for future older generations. We should not tolerate the veiled idea that society just can’t afford old people.
Thanks to the sponsorship by The Dalles Health and Rehabilitation Center, Nehemiah Brown will be back on July 6th from 7:00 – 9:00 PM for his only evening performance at the Center this year. The cost is $4 which includes a delicious Root Beer float served between 6:30 and 7:00. All ages are welcome.
If you’re looking for something cool to do on those hot summer evenings, whether you’re 81 or 18, look no further than Thursday and Saturday Night bingo. We’re not one of those large bingo halls run by professionals in the name of a non-profit, but a small operation run by all volunteers with good payouts averaging a total of over $1400 every night. All the remaining revenue from Thursday Night Bingo supports Meals-on-Wheels and from Saturday Night Bingo the remaining revenue supports the Center.
And if The Dalles can celebrate the 4th on the Saturday before, then the Center can celebrate the 4th on the Saturday after. During Bingo on Saturday, July 7th, you can purchase a special $2.00 meal of hamburger or cheeseburger with baked beans and potato salad.
The observation tower built in 1962 for the Century 21 Exposition, considered a Seattle icon, is the Space Needle. And for the bonus question, President Kennedy was not able to attend the exposition’s closing ceremony because he was dealing with the Cuban Missile Crisis. (I received correct answers from Sharon Hull, Virginia “Lucky” McClain, and this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket, Carolee Lyddon.)
I imagine this will be a more difficult question, but let’s give it a shot. In the last 50 years medical advancements have accelerated dramatically. For example, approximately 3500 heart transplants are performed every year in the world with post-operation survival periods averaging 15 years. For this week’s “Remember When” question, who was the doctor that on December 3rd, 1967 performed the world’s first human-to-human heart transplant? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with a picture of the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa.
Well, it’s been another week, enjoying the long days. Until we meet again, don’t be afraid of veering off the beaten path.  
“With freedom comes responsibility.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Aging Well in the Gorge May 26th 2018

Do you consider yourself in good shape? I don’t mean becoming another Charles Atlas, but having the ability to do the things you enjoy doing without feeling limited. For example, I may no longer be able to run a five-minute mile, (Why would I want to go through that pain again!), but I would like to be able to get under the sink to fix the leaking drain pipe. Well, actually, I don’t really want to that either. But I would like to be in good enough shape to have the stamina to walk 10,000 steps a day.
In an article on’s website. written by Sara Schwartz, fitness expert Joel Harper explains there are five elements to being in good shape: muscle strength, heart strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination. To help assess your fitness level and what elements you may want to work on, he has devised the following set of activities. (Warning! You will have to get down on the floor.) They only a take a few minutes and require no equipment.
See how many you can complete. And it is always a good idea to talk to your doctor before trying anything too demanding.
1.Stand up. Rise from a chair without using your hands; a test of balance, coordination and muscle strength.
2. Take a walk. Walk briskly for three blocks; a test of cardiovascular ability.
3. Pulse your arms. Hold your arms straight out to the side, palms up, at shoulder height and pulse them 1 inch upwards 25 times. Do three more sets of 25 pulses but change the direction your palms are facing — facing down, facing forward and facing backward. This is a test of muscle strength.
4. Stay on your toes. Balance on your toes for 30 seconds without touching your heels to the ground; a test of balance.
5. Balance on one foot. Stand on your left foot and clap your hands 30 times, then switch feet and repeat; a test of balance.
6. Rise up, hands-free. Lie on your back on the floor and get up to a standing position without using your hands; a test of muscle strength and coordination.
7. Do yard work. Rake leaves or shovel snow for 20 minutes; a test of cardio and muscle strength.
8. Hold a plank. Hold yourself in upper push-up position (otherwise known as “plank position”) for 30 seconds; a test of muscle strength.
9. Bounce those knees. Get down on the floor on all fours with your palms on the floor directly below your shoulders and your knees on the floor directly below your hips. Keeping your upper body stationary, lift your knees so they are hovering off the ground, and bounce them upward 1 inch and back down to the hovering start position for 45 seconds without stopping. This is a test of cardio and muscle strength.
So how did you do? What elements do you need to work on? Endurance? Balance? Muscle strength? Heart strength? Flexibility? All of the above?
Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities in the area to get in shape including the movement classes at the Center. But remember, staying fit is not an end in itself. It is the means to living the life you want to live.
The name of the popular sketch comedy show on which Richard Nixon appeared and recited the shows famous catch phrase, “Sock it to me.” was Laugh-In. (I received correct answers from Don McAllister, Kim Birge, Jeannie Pesicka, Jim Ayers, Sandy Haechrel and this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket, Sharon Hull.)
In 1962 from April 21 to October 21, the Century 21 Exposition (the official name) was held with the motto “Living in the Space Age”. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what observation tower was built for the exposition and is considered an icon of the host city? And for bonus points, President Kennedy was supposed to attend the closing ceremony, but didn’t because of a “heavy cold” when in fact he was dealing with what international crisis? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with a model replica of a Boeing 727 jetliner.
Well, it’s been another week, looking for any good idea. Until we meet again, every morning when you get dressed, don’t forget to put on a smile – and zip up your zipper!

““Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” Lao Tzu