Aging Well in the Gorge July 28th 2021

I’ve found that after I’ve asked someone to repeat themselves – for the third time, they just shake their head with that look that says “Oh, never mind. It’s not that important – even though your house is on fire!” Or when someone asks me a question, I often just silently nod, with a goofy smile, hoping I just didn’t agree to something I’ll regret. Ah, the joys of living with hearing loss.

This became particularly evident during my family reunion in Montana. The eight of us spent most of the time around the table sharing childhood memories, discussing sports and politics, and deciding who is going when to visit what the next day. But often I found it difficult to understand the conversation and would turn to my wife and ask, “What did they say?”. I felt like a tourist in a foreign land with my interpreter!

Those familiar with hearing loss get it. But those who aren’t, or experience it only once a year at a family reunion, often don’t understand. So how do you describe hearing loss to others?

Recently I read “How to Explain Hearing Loss to the Uninitiated” by Shari Eberts on the Living with Hearing Loss blog that offers several suggestions

Explain that hearing loss Is like playing Wheel of Fortune. On Wheel of Fortune, the contestants try to identify a phrase with only some of the letters visible. With hearing loss, you are trying to do the same, but with sounds instead of letters. You are constantly combining these incomplete sounds with other clues: lipreading (Masks don’t help.), body language (You need to face me!), and the context within the conversation to come up with something coherent. 

They may also believe hearings aids work like glasses and can give you 20-20 hearing. Hearing aids make sounds louder but are not always good at differentiating among sounds so the sounds often remain muffled or unclear making it harder to hear particularly in a noisy environment.

She has several other suggestions but those two I found most helpful in explaining hearing loss to my family so conversations don’t lead to frustration, anger, name-calling – which is sometimes my wife’s reaction when I can’t understand her. And she loves me!

Good news! Many senior and community centers have or will soon welcome folks back for in-person activities and meals. For example, the Hood River Valley Adult Center will be open starting August 2nd. Masks will be required except when eating and there will be few other safety requirements which are a small inconvenience so we can gather again safely. Check with the meal site in your area to learn more.

The broadcast journalist who served as anchorman for the CBS Evening News for nineteen years and during that time reported on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and other significant events was Walter Cronkite. I received correct answers from Rhonda Spies, Doug Nelson, Barbara Cadwell, Jess Birge, Margo Dameier, Stephen Woolpert, Susan Ellis, and the winner of a quilt raffle ticket Alan Winans. 

And for the previous week’s Paul Lynde question, I received correct answers from Susan Ellis, Barbara Cadwell, Doug Nelson, Kim Birge, Dave Lutgens, Margo Dameier, Lana Tepfer, Rhonda Spies, Keith Clymer, Gene Uczen, and that week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket “CK the DJ” Courtney Kiser.

Even furrrrrrther back I missed Keith Clymer, Pat Kelly, J Chantler, and Clare Zumwalt, and in my coming and going I probably missed a few more.

I know many of you are country music fans so you may have watched this show starring Buck Owens and Roy Clark. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the television variety show aired on CBS-TV from 1969–1971 (before going into syndication) and featured country music and humor from the fictional rural Kornfield Kounty? E-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or drop it off with a greasy hamburger from Lulu’s Truck Stop.

Well, it’s been another week, trying to resist the irresistible. Until we meet again, in life there are good days – and then there are days when you feel like “Lonesome” George Gobel when he asked, “Did you ever get the feeling that the world was a tuxedo and you were a pair of brown shoes?”

“Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest.” Larry Lorenzoni 

Aging Well in the Gorge July 21st 2021


It’s summer in the Gorge: hot, dry, and windy. Perfect conditions for wildfires. There have already been several in the Gorge, and even though we wish and hope there won’t be any more, there probably will be. Besides the personal and economic harm wildfires can cause, the smoke from wildfires can be damaging to our health causing burning eyes, runny nose, scratchy throat, headaches, and illnessesuch as bronchitis. The smoke can also worsen chronic heart and lung disease including asthma, emphysema, and COPD 


So how do we prepare and protect ourselves from wildfire smoke?  


A mask is one way to protect yourself when outdoorsWe have all become accustomed to wearing cloth masks during the pandemic, but cloth masks offer little protection against wildfire smoke because they do not effectively catch the harmful small particles when you breathe in. But as we know the masks are effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19 by blocking respiratory droplets you breathe out.  


N95 and KN95 particulate respirator face masks can provide protection from both: wildfire smoke and from getting and spreading COVID-19. The benefit of an N95 and KN95 respirators is that they filter up to 95% of particles in the air as long as they meet the right requirements, are not counterfeit/fake, and fit properlyBut many folks find them uncomfortable – when they fit properly, they often require more effort to breathe. They also are more expensive and are meant to be used only once 


N95 NIOSH-approved masks which are commonly used in the United States are the gold standard and the supply has increased significantly over the last several months. Make sure you purchase NIOSH approved N95 mask. KN95 respirators are commonly made in China and are similar to N95 masks, but only a few Chinese manufacturers have been approved by the FDA for emergency use. You can find online a list of the NIOSH approved N95 and the FDAapproved KN95 respirator face masks. 


Besides wearing protective mask when the air quality deteriorates because of wildfire smoke, you can create cleaner air space at homeKeep doors and windows closedand if you have onecontinuously run a portable air purifier in one or more roomsIf you don’t have an air purifier, an inexpensive and surprisingly effective alternative is making your own DIY filtration unit by sealing a 20inch square furnace filter (which you can find at any hardware store) with clear pro-strength packing tape to a 20inch box fan 

If you have a forcedair system in your home, you may need to talk to qualified heating and cooling professional about different filters and settings you can use to reduce indoor smoke. (Set to recirculate” and “on” rather than “auto”.) 


If you want to know more about the air quality in your area, you can find up-to-date information by going to on your computer or smartphoneAirNow is one-stop source for air quality data including the air quality index (AQI) for your area, a smoke and fire map, and AQI forecast You can also find air quality information on several weather apps such as Weather Bug. 


Besides spoiling the scenic beauty of the Gorge, wildfire smoke can be detrimental to our health and should be avoided if possible. Because we know who’s at risk. Us!   


Some of my most vivid memories are from watching the evening news: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Vietnam War, Watergate. This week’s “Remember When” question is who was the broadcast journalist who served as anchorman for the CBS Evening News for nineteen years; often cited as the most trusted man in America”; and always signed off with “And that’s the way it is? E-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or send it with the last episode of The Twentieth Century.  


The comedian/actor who found his greatest fame occupying the middle square of the game show Hollywood Squares was Paul LyndeSince I will be out of town (yes, again, this time for the annual reunion with my sister and brother), I’ll mention those who submitted correct answers next week. 


Well, it’s been another week running so fast I feel like I’m moving backward. Until we meet again, when the going gets tough, the tough – take a nap? 

If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can’t it get us out? Will Rogers 

Aging Well in the Gorge July 14th 2021

Lets’ face it – we aren’t getting any younger (or better looking – although I have noticed I find grey much more attractive these days!) And at some point in our lives, we will likely have difficulty caring for ourselves. It may be anticipated or unexpected; shortterm or unending, because life happens and not always the way we wish. 

But do we plan or even discuss how to deal with these possibilities? Rarely. Maybe we think if we ignore the possibility it won’t happen – like believing if you don’t buy snow tires, it won’t snow. But no matter our current health or living situation, we should plan to make sure our wishes are known and to avoid the problems and confusion that may occur when something does happen. 

A great resource is a planning guide for families called “Prepare to Care”, primarily for the adult child but also helpful for the older parent, produced and distributed by the AARP Foundation ( “Prepare to Care” offers more information than I can share in this column, but here are several points I found particularly helpful. 
First, don’t try to avoid these difficult conversations by making decisions unilaterally. If you are the adult child, you should never make a plan affecting your parent without their knowledge and consent – both to protect your parent and also to protect you – the caregiver – from allegations of abuse and fraud. 
Secondly, it is never too early to start the conversation. Ideally, this conversation should take place over a period of time before there is an immediate need – to nurture trusting relationships and to create a plan agreeable to all. 
Lastly, use the following ground rules to help navigate these or any difficult conversations. 
1. Don’t start with preconceived ideas. You can’t assume what your loved ones will think or how they will respond. 2. Enter into the conversation with the idea of listening instead of telling. No one wants to be told what to do. 3. Be direct with the facts of the situation. Don’t hide or sugar coat them but also don’t embellish them to fit your point of view. 5. Ask questions so that your loved ones can draw their own conclusions and make their own decisions. 6. Allow for anger and upset feelings. But respond calmly and with respect. 7. Don’t push for a decision. You can always come back to the conversation which also allows everyone time to think about it. 8. Make sure everyone participates in the planning. You may need to coax a response out of the more reserved members of the family. 9. End the conversation on a positive note. Do something fun together – reminding everyone you are all family with common experiences and close relationships. 
When the future may not seem as appealing as when you were twentyone, discussing and planning may be difficult, but even more necessary. Start the conversation, sooner than later, and with respect and understanding, so you will be prepared when life does happen. 

One, two, three, four/Tell the people what she wore/“. It was an “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini”. I received correct answers from Steven Woolpert, Susan Ellis, Barbara Cadwell, Norma Simpson, Margo DameierLana Tepfer, Gene UczenBarb Blair, Dave Lutgens, Diana WestonKeith Clymer and Clair Zumwalt this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. I’m always missing someone and last week I missed both Clair Zumwalt and Karen AsaiBut there have been a few of you I haven’t realized I missed. My apologies but keep sending in your answers. I appreciate hearing from you. 


The first version of Hollywood Squares ran from 1966 through 198and featured such celebrities as George Gobel, Rose Marie, Cliff Arquette (as Charley Weaver), and Wally Cox. This week’s “Remember When” question is who was the comedian/actor who found his greatest fame occupying the middle square from 1968 to 1981? E-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or write it on the back of a celebrity photo of Uncle Arthur from the TV series Bewitched.  


Well, it’s been another week watching buzzards circling gracefully in the air. Until we meet again, as my wife affectionately reminded me, “Don’t try to be humble. You aren’t that good.” 


“The first rule of holes: When you’re in one, stop digging.” Molly Ivins 

Aging Well in the Gorge July 7th 2021

Okay, you’re fairly certain you don’t have early-stage dementia. And you want to keep mentally sharp so when you finally find your car in the parking lot, you know the way home. What should you do?

Most brain research suggests there are six lifestyle behaviors that impact brain health. But before I go any further, take a minute and consider what they could be.

Did you think of ongoing exercise with the goal of exercising several times per week for 30–60 minutes? Or eating right such as a Mediterranean diet that emphasizes plant-based foods, whole grains, fish, and healthy fats such as olive oil?

Good. But you may not have thought of the next three: managing stress such as practicing mindful meditation; restorative sleep preferably seven to eight hours; and being social which with the lifting of restrictions will be easier now.

Now the last may seem the most obvious: engaging the brain. There are many simple although not easy ways to challenge your brain that you can do by yourself anytime, and anywhere. (You don’t have to carry around a book of Sudoku puzzles or download a brain training app.)

Here are three mental exercises you can try just using that grey matter between your ears.

1.) Think of a list of items such as the months in the year and without paper and pencil alphabetize them by their first letter – and then by the second letter.

2.) Make a list of anything that comes to mind such as a to-do list and memorize it. An hour or so later, see how many items you can recall. You may often do this already when you leave your shopping list on the kitchen table!

3.) “Backward Digit Span”. When you hear or read a four-digit number, repeat it – but backward. Try increasing the number of digits and see how many digits you can repeat. Now try the same idea with letters.

You can keep your brain sharp by incorporating these six behaviors into your daily activities. You just have to put your mind to it.

Now that both Washington and Oregon have lifted most COVID restrictions, it is now up to us to decide what level of risk we want to accept. The risk has diminished significantly but there is still a risk. And even though I am fully vaccinated, and Oregon has reached the milestone of 70% vaccinated (and an even higher percentage for older adults) I’m still going to wear a mask when shopping indoors. For me, it is a wise choice.

In this month’s “Through the Eyes of an Elder”, Jamie Olivera interviews Ramiro Elisea who in 1968 made the journey from Mexico to “enjoy working hard” in the orchards in Hood River. It is an inspiring story worth reading.

The title of the novel by Grace Metalious published in 1956 that followed the lives of three women in a small New England village where the residents hold seamy sordid secrets was Peyton Place. I received correct answers from Susan Ellis, Steven Woolpert, Jeannie Pesicka, Karen Asai, Vicki, Billie Maxwell, Norma Simpson, Gene Uczen, Kim Birge, Margo Dameier, Lana Tepfer, Christy Turner, Dave Lutgens, Barbara Cadwell, Sharon Hartley, and Vicki White this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And last week I missed Susan Ellis and now I’ve forgotten who else I forgot last week!

It’s summer, it’s hot, so what did many of us do when we were younger – or maybe still do? We headed to the beach or our local swimming pool. During the summer of 1960, this song sung by Brian Hyland reached #1 and made this style of bathing suit – which was initially considered too risque – the rage of the beaches and swimming pools to the glee of every young man. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the song? E-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or drop it off while singing “One, two, three, four/Tell the people what she wore”.

Well, it’s been another week gently telling my younger friends, “I can do it!”. Until we meet again, don’t you find what’s most irritating about driving on the highway is encountering someone driving the speed limit?

“The trick to accomplishing anything is to avoid the obstacles that are not in your way.” Robert Brault

Aging Well in the Gorge June 30th 2021


Boy, it’s been hot!

It reminds me of my younger days living in Indiana when we didn’t have air conditioning:  fans strategically placed throughout the house; a dehumidifier in the basement; sleeping uncovered, sprawled out on the bed, driving with the windows down and my shirt glued with perspiration to the back of the seat: hopping barefoot on the hot asphalt waiting in line to enter the pool. (I wasn’t too smart at that age!); and wearing my bathing suit all day long – which I thought I’d try again, but my wife quickly nixed that idea. Do you have memories of those not-so-good, good old days without air conditioning?

But we managed, didn’t we? Fortunately, these days there is air conditioning. Unfortunately, we are more susceptible to dehydration during these hot days because the percentage of a person’s weight in water significantly decreases as we get older. Consequently, any decrease in drinking fluids can cause proportionately more dehydration which can take a tremendous toll on every aspect of bodily functions, including possible changes in memory, vision, and kidney and heart function. (Okay, I’ll be back. I’m going to get a glass of water!)

Besides drinking plenty of liquids, preferably at least six cups throughout the day, stay cool. My house has only two window air conditioners so the house can get pretty warm. These last several days I’ve been using ice packs (or bag of frozen peas works well), cold water foot baths, and cold showers – plus plenty of fans.

As you hear on the news, heatwaves are dangerous. Thousands of emergency department visits are caused by heat illnesses and two of the most serious ones are heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

Heat stroke requires immediate medical attention. Someone experiencing heat stroke may have a headache, confusion, no sweating, rapid heart rate, nausea or vomiting, and may lose consciousness.

If a heat stroke is suspected, it is vital to take the following steps: Call 911 immediately.

Move the person to a cooler place, use cold compresses to get their temperature down, and do NOT give them fluids.                                                                                                                                     

Unlike heat stroke, heat exhaustion does not require immediate medical attention. The early warning signs of heat exhaustion are nausea, light-headedness, fatigue, muscle cramping, and dizziness. It is imperative to recognize the warning signs and act on them as soon as possible to help get the temperature down and cool the person’s body. Those steps include moving the person to an air-conditioned place; having them take a cold shower or using cold compresses; drinking plenty of fluid, and removing tight or extra clothing.

You probably know all of this, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded because even with air conditioning during a prolonged heat wave with the hot days and nights that don’t cool off, homes can get dangerously warm. Stay cool, stay hydrated (although I would NOT recommend six glasses of your favorite wine!) And don’t forget to take time to check on your neighbors to make sure they can handle the heat.

Next week I’ll write more about dementia and how to keep your brain sharp.

The name of the original 1965 award-winning Broadway musical Inspired by Miguel de Cervantes and his 17th-century novel Don Quixote was Man of La Mancha. I received correct answers from Doug Nelson, Gene Uczen, Lana Tepfer, John McGuinn, Dave Lutgens, Diana Weston, Barbara Cadwell, and Deloris Schrader this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And last week I missed a bunch: Patty Burnet, Pat Evenson-Brady, Billie Maxwell, Keith Clymer, Gene Uczen, and Lana Tepfer.

This week’s question is about fine literature: a novel written not by Hemingway or Steinbeck, but Grace Metalious which was on the New York Times bestseller list for 59 weeks. For this week’s “Remember When” question what was the title of her novel published in 1956 that followed the lives of three women in a small New England village and became a popular expression describing a place where the residents hold seamy sordid secrets E-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or send it with a DVD of the 1964 primetime television adaption of the book.

Well, it’s been another week enjoying cold showers and popsicles. Until we meet again, when does something misplaced become lost?

“I’m glad it is finally hot enough to complain about how hot it is!” Unknown