Aging Well in the Gorge October 27th 2021

From the first public demonstration of network technology and the development of electronic mail in 1972, the Internet has revolutionized the computer and communications world. Today we can shop online at Fred Meyer and pick up our groceries and then go home and stream our favorite TV shows or log on to one of the many websites that offer more online classes in response to the pandemic. 

During the pandemic, I’ve had time to discover several websites offering a variety of classes. Two of my favorites are Oasis and Senior Planet. Both encourage lifelong learning by offering classes to learn and explore in this digital age. At Oasis Lifelong Adventure (https://www.oasisnet.org) you can find virtual classes from “Cybersecurity Scavenger Hunt” to the “History of Halloween”; and at Senior Planet (https://seniorplanet.org) classes from “Easy-to-Follow Tai Chi” to “Streaming and Smart TVs”. 

Locally, Kerry Cobb will teach a virtual class on Modern Art. She will be using the book What Are You Looking At to tell “the surprising, shocking and sometimes strange story of 150 years of modern art” – without all the jargon and pretentiousness. The class will be online, but you can also watch her presentation at the Mid-Columbia Senior Center on the big-screen TV. 

Copies of the book are available to borrow or purchase at the Mid-Columbia Senior Center thanks to a grant from the Wasco County Cultural Trust. The ten-session class will be every 3rd Tuesday of the month from 11 – 12 beginning with the Impressionists on November 16th. The book isn’t required but you do need to register for the class by calling 541-296-4788 or emailing mcseniorcenter@gmail.com.   

Most of us are fortunate. We still drive, have adequate retirement income, a house that is paid for, and now our children are buying us gifts – which we don’t have any room for! Life is good. But many older adults face various challenges: inadequate housing, inability to prepare healthy meals, poverty, isolation and loneliness. 

For those of you who live in The Dalles, you are invited to attend a virtual Community Conversation on Aging. Your voice will help identify our community strengths and the challenges older adults face in order to influence state and local policies. It is hosted by Age+ and will be held on November 4th from 6:00 – 8:00 pm. Since it is virtual, you will need to register at www.ageplus.org/register to receive the link for the conversation. 

If you are concerned about the environment, you should read this month’s “Through the Eyes of an Elder”. Susan Hess writes about her passion to protect the environment and how in her 70’s, when most people are considered over the hill and tumbling down the back side, she started an online environmental magazine. Not all of us have Susan’s skills, but is there a passion of yours you want to revive?

The name of Hanna-Barbera’s space-age animated series portraying life one hundred years in the future was the Jetsons. I received correct answers from Emmett Sampson, Steven Woolpert, Jeannie Pesicka, Doug Nelson, Gene Uczen, Lana Tepfer, Rose Schulz, Dave Lutgens, Patty Burnet, Margo Dameier, Mike Yarnell, and Rhonda Spies,

this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. Last week I missed Mike Nagle.

I can’t remember where I placed whatever was in my hand two minutes ago, but I do remember this television series from 1952 – 1956 when I was just a wee boy. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the popular comedy series starring Eve Arden as the sardonic high school teacher and Gale Gordon as the blustery high school principal? Email your answer to the mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, call 541-296-4788, or mail it with a picture of Walter Denton from the 1956 Madison High School yearbook.

Well, it has been another week zigzagging from one distraction to another. Until we meet again, don’t forget to take time to take care of yourself.

“Nobody ever said that growing old would be easy. Just having to hold the newspaper out in your forties and then hair growing out of unusual parts of your body in your fifties. It’s tough on the ego.” – Geoffrey Rush

Aging Well in the Gorge October 20th 2021

 Last week I wrote about the three daily habits scientifically proven to make us happier and healthier: gratitudes, acts of kindness, and moments of silence. But maybe there is another way to learn how we can be happier, maybe a little less scientific, but just as meaningful. Dave Barry awardwinning humor columnist and book author surprisingly found a way: observing his “consistently happy” old dog Lucy.  

Dave Barry wrote Lessons from Lucy: The Simple Joys of an Old Happy Dog because as he’s getting up in years (henow 74), he felt his constant companion Lucy could teach him a few lessons about being happy.  

 

Below are the seven lessons from Lucy. And I added a quote from the book for each lesson, because, well, I enjoyed the quotes. See what you think. 

 

First Lesson from LucyMake New Friends. (And Keep the Ones You Have.) “I’m going to think about Lucy – about the trustful, open, unreservedly joyful way she approaches everybody, and the happiness she clearly derives from her many friends.” 

 

Second LessonDon’t Stop Having Fun. (And IYou Have StoppedStart Having Fun Again.) Don’t settle for contentment. Don’t just stand around grinning. Get out there. It’s a wonderful world.” Life is too short to not be a part of something stupid. 

 

Third lesson: Pay Attention to the People you Love (Not Later. Right Now!) “In the end, all that really matters – all you really have – is the people you love. Not your job, not your career, not your awards, not your money, not your stuff. Just your people.” 

 

Fourth Lesson: Let Go of Your Anger, Unless It’s About Something Really Important Which It Almost Never Is. Lucy definitely gets angry. But not often, and this is the important thing  never for long. 

 

Fifth Lesson: Try Not to Judge People by Their Looks and Don’t Obsess Over Your Own “One of the positive aspects of aging is that, as you and your friends get old, you pretty much give up on being hot; you’re just happy just being not dead yet.” 

 

Sixth Lesson: Don’t Let Your Happiness Depend on Things; They Don’t Make You Truly Happy, And You’ll Never Have Enough Anyway“Lucy needs food and family. That’s all she needs now: that’s all she will ever need.” 

 

Seventh Lesson: Don’t Lie Unless You Have a Really Good Reason Which You Probably Don’t.  “Be like LucyAs the saying goes, iyou mess up, fess up. And do not be afraid to say these words: I was wrong. I made a mistake. I’m sorry. I apologize.” 

 

These lessons are not original, but they remind us we can learn how to be happy from all around us – even from Dave Barry’s old dog LucyBut now the essential question: Are there any lessons I can learn from my cat!?  

 

The name of the movie that depicted the societal tensions of the 1960s as two bikers traveled through the American southwest and south was Easy Rider. I received correct answers from Emmett Sampson, Steven Woolpert, Chuck Rice from Goldendale, Susan Ellis, Jeannie Pesicka, Doug Nelson, Barbara Cadwell, Gene Uczen, Kim Birge, Lana Tepfer, Rhonda Spies, Rose Schulz, Keith Clymer, Joan Chantler, and Mike Yarnell this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket.  

 

As a young boy, Saturday morning cartoons were an obsession and I remember enjoying this one that portrayed life in 2062For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the animated series, Hanna-Barbera’s space age counterpart to The Flintstones, that included supersized flatscreen TVto virtually communicate with others; home treadmillsreclining massage chairs, and robots. (We don’t have robots to walk our dog YET, but there are Roombas to clean our floors!) E-mail your answers to mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, call 541-296-4788 or send it with the series’ theme song that reached number nine on the Billboard charts in 1986. 

 

Well, it’s been another week ducking and dodging – which isn’t getting any easierUntil we meet again, when was the last time you did something for the first time? 

 

“We could learn a lot from crayons: some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, while others are bright, some have weird names, but we have to learn to live in the same box.” – Anonymous 

 

Aging Well in the Gorge October 13th 2021

 Finding happiness can be elusive. Life gets in the way creating roadblocks while we ask ourselves, “Why me?” It can be a difficult journey with constant challenges and often no good choices. But even during those difficult times, can we still be happy?

I may be naïve but I feel the answer is yes. It has been a tough couple of years with COVID-19 and the rigid political divisions – along with our usual medical issues and the loss of friends and loved ones we will always miss. But we can still find happiness by incorporating in our lives the three daily habits that can make us happier and healthier.

To remind us of these three habits, October has been designated Gorge Happiness Month. But without reading any further, can you imagine what they are? And it’s not a hot cup of coffee every morning!

First: Acts of Kindness. This can be as easy as saying good day to a stranger or picking up a piece of trash to volunteering as a Meals-on-Wheels driver or an AARP tax aide counselor during tax season.

Second: Moments of Silence. Take time to flip on the pause button particularly for you whose days are go-go-go. But for those of you who may feel your day is already on pause, this is different.

Sit silently for just five minutes per day. Turn off all the normal distractions, your TV,  radio, cell phone, your Facebook account! As you sit, observe the thoughts in your head, the sounds you hear around you, or other sensations that come and go. (I never noticed that tingling in my foot before.) Keep your eyes closed if you want or just look at one thing about three feet in front of you. Don’t beat yourself up if your mind wanders.  Just notice it and come back to observing and listening. And if you are like me, try to stay awake! This is not a quick five-minute nap.

Last, and I feel most important: Gratitude. Find time each day to list three things for which you are thankful. For example, I’m thankful for all of you who read this column. (I try to write something interesting at least once a month so you keep coming back wondering, “Is this the week?”); for my children having good-paying careers so they can afford the long-term care for me in my old age. And I’m thankful that my wife and I have been together for over forty years. I think she is also thankful, but there are times I’m not so sure.

These three daily habits: acts of kindness, moments of silence, and gratitude can help us be happier even during difficult times. You can learn more about Gorge Happiness Month at their website, www.gorgehappiness.org, where you can also find a calendar of daily happiness activities.

The name of the comic strip created by cartoonist Walt Kelley that included various animal characters living in the Okefenokee Swamp was Pogo. I received correct answers from Susan Ellis, Doug Nelson, Gene Uczen, Christy Turner, Rose Schulz, Steven Woolpert, and this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket, Lois Kinsfogel. Last week I missed Beth Thomas from White Salmon.

If you had a rebellious streak during the 60’s you may remember this movie, the third highest-grossing film of 1969. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the movie starring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Jack Nicholson that depicted the societal tensions of the 1960s as two bikers traveled through the American southwest and south? E-mail your answers to mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, call 541-296-4788 or deliver it to the Center while riding the “Captain America” Harley Davidson specially designed and built for the movie.

It’s been another week repeating those all too familiar words, “I forgot.” Until we meet again, to borrow from the words of Oscar Wilde, even though there may be times when you feel you are lying in the gutter, keep looking up at the stars.

“Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.” Robert Fulghum. 

Aging Well in the Gorge October 6th, 2021

How do you know it’s autumn? 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.

To help decide, you should have received your plan’s “Annual Notice of Change” which describes any changes for next year. Review the changes and 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’re 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 and just opted to automatically renew your current plan each year.

But choosing the right Medicare plan can be frustrating, perplexing, and downright confusing. (Most adults can’t identify what Medicare Parts A, B, C, and D cover. I always confuse Part A with Part B and it is not just my memory!) 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 now it’s our responsibility to wade through the information and compare plans to make the best choice which many of you know is not easy. It is no wonder 62% of people have not changed plans!

But there is help. You can go online to Medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). Also you can study your “Medicare & You” handbook that you should have received in the mail.

There are also local options. There are private insurance brokers who specialize in Medicare. Or you can make an appointment with a trained volunteer SHIBA counselor who will help guide you through the process. It is free, confidential and they aren’t selling you any plan. In Oregon call 541-288-8341 and in Washington call 800-562-6900 for assistance with your Medicare questions.

Most importantly, during Medicare open enrollment from October 15th through December 7thtake time to understand your Medicare options so you can make the most informed decision – both for your health and your pocketbook.

In this month’s column “Through the Eyes of An Elder” sponsored by the Aging in the Gorge Alliance, Dan Farbach interviews Judy Merrill, a registered nurse discussing the importance of foot care for older adults and her participation in the first Community Conversations on Aging in The Dalles. Another must read!

The name for a bruise created by someone sucking on your skin so hard that it becomes discolored was a hickey. I received correct answers from Mike Yarnell, Jeannie Pesicka, Emmett Sampson, Billie Maxwell, Sam Bilyeu, Susan Ellis, Louise Wooderson, Stephen Woolpert, Barbara Cadwell, Jay Waterbury, Rose Schulz, Gene Uczen, Doug Nelson, Keith Clymer (who mentioned you might get one of those during halftime at a football game under the bleachers. I don’t know how he would know!) and Dorthy Winterfield formerly from The Dalles class 1965 and this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket.

I remember back in the 50’s listening to the Sunday comics being read on the radio which would have included this popular comic strip. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the comic strip for children and adults – with a bite of political satire – first published in 1948, created by cartoonist Walt Kelley and included various animal characters: possums, alligators, owls living in the Okefenokee Swamp? Email your answer to www.mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, leave a message at 541-296-4788, or mail it on a t-shirt with the quote “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Well, it’s been another week turning over another leaf. Until we meet again, the best accessory you can wear is a smile.

“Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere.” Erma Bombeck