Aging Well in the Gorge August 17th 2022

Besides inflation and gas prices, the next biggest concern for many Americans is the cost of housing – and that includes for us older adults.

Like myself, many older adults have been living in their house for decades; not interested in moving except that there is just too much space. And then there is the hassle of fixing problems that always seem to pop up.  What I use to repair myself, I now want to hire professional help which is worth it but can be expensive – let me restate that, is expensive! So there comes a time to move and cash out that equity you have earned in your house.

Many older adults across the country are considering just that but have found it difficult to find affordable housing, but also finding housing that is accessible so they can continue to live there no matter their physical condition.

Although we may hate to admit it, most of us will need some level of accessibility if even for a short period. Because my wife and I are trying to sell our house, we moved into the downstairs apartment. But more importantly, we moved because after her hip surgery she needed a place that didn’t require climbing ten steps to get to the front door.

As with our house, most houses and apartments in the United States are designed for young, able-bodied adults (who will eventually get old!) and don’t meet the needs of older residents or people with disabilities. In fact, in much of the nation, most housing was built more than a generation ago to generally serve a population of traditional households consisting of two parents and at least two children.

But times have changed which has led to a new architectural standard: Universal Design – also called barrier-free design. Universal Design seeks to create environments and products that offer safety and comfort for all people with no need for adaptation or functional changes and are largely invisible to the casual observer.

When applied to housing, examples of Universal Design are: no step entrance from the sidewalk, rear patio, and garage; lever handles instead of doorknobs; hallways and doorways that are 36 inches wide or more; avoiding changes in floor height; lowered switches and raised receptacles so that they can be reached from a seated position;  and in the bathroom a walk-in shower, a wall-hung sink, and a 60-inch clear floor space for turning a wheelchair. Even though it costs very little more to build using Universal Design standards, barely one percent of the nation’s housing supply contains any “Universal Design” elements.

It is clear there’s a need for more affordable housing for all. But often overlooked when building both private and public housing is that for many, housing that is accessible is also critically important for now and in the future.

 Brain Tease: Unscramble the letters to reveal a quote by W.C. Fields.

“fi uoy actn zdaelz etmh tiwh becinrllai lafbef ehtm iwht llub.”

The name of the fictional cartoon band that recorded the number one single “Sugar, Sugar” in 1969 was the Archies. I received correct answers from Jeannie Pesicka, Kim Birge, Margo Dameier, Donna Mollet, Keith Clymer, Jim Tindall, and Jayne Guidinger who may still have the record she got from the back of a cereal box and is this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket.

And I missed Sandy Haechrel who enjoyed seeing lightning bugs when vacationing recently in Minnesota; and Rose Schulz and Rebecca Abrams who remembered Jaws.

Red Foxx starred in this 1972-1977 television series as a 65-year-old widower and junk dealer living in the Watts neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of this television series? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788, or mail it with one of the thirty-two “party” albums he recorded.

Well, it has been another week wishing for more rain and less wind. Until we meet again, always question but don’t let it keep you from acting.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

Aging Well in the Gorge August 10th 2022

 by Scott McKay

“There are only four kinds of people in this world: Those who have been caregivers, those who currently are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.” Rosalynn Carter

And yet most of us are not prepared for the challenges of caregiving: caring for someone recovering from a stroke, someone with memory loss, or someone who needs support to continue living in their own home.

It’s difficult, challenging, and may continue for years but we carry on and learn by doing what needs to be done. But it’s not unusual for the caregiver to ignore their own health jeopardizing the care they can provide.

If you are a caregiver, you may be asking how do I take care of myself? How do I manage my emotions: the guilt, anger, and depression that often accompanies caregiving? How do I increase my self-confidence in coping with the demands of caregiving? And how do I find the community resources when I need support?

Powerful Tools for Caregivers ( can help answer those questions. It is a six-session class held once a week led by experienced class leaders.

The next class in Oregon is virtual and will be held at 2:00 on Tuesdays starting on September 13thsponsored by Community Connections of Northern Oregon. To register contact Kathy Ganung at or 541-963-3186.

It is hoped that more Powerful Tools for Caregivers classes can be held in person in the Gorge IF there are more trained leaders. To become a trained leader, GOBHI (Greater Oregon Behavioral Health Inc.) is offering a virtual training 1pm – 4pm, September 19th through September 23rd. That is 15 hours but if you have the time and are interested in helping others learn how to care for themselves while caring for others, it is worth it. The cost is $200 plus $30 for the book. If you want to register or if you have questions, email Britta Willson at The deadline to register is September 1st.

My wife and I are back home from our trip driving to California to spend time with our children – and thankfully missing the 100-degree heat. (We did feel a little guilty!) It was a great trip, but I did learn several lessons.

First, being away for eleven nights felt like four nights too long.

Second, you don’t need to worry about stopping every few hours to stretch your legs – your bladder will remind you.

And finally, and most importantly, if you’re going to use the Google Maps app for directions, make sure you know how to use it BEFORE you leave. Learning to use it while seeking the best route out of Bakersfield is not good for any relationship. Trust me!

Brain Tease: How do you make the number 7 even without addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division? Hint: It’s not really a math problem.

To catch up on the “Remember When” question, here are the names of those who sent in correct answers from the last three weeks.

July 20th – Pentagon Papers: Pat Evenson-Brady, Lana Tepfer, Dave Lutgens, Doug Nelson, Rhonda Spies, Donna Mollett, Rebecca Abrams, and Steven Woolpert the quilt raffle ticket winner.

July 27th – Lightening bug or firefly: Scott Franke, Rebecca Abrams, Dave Lutgens, Margo Dameier, Deborah Medina, Rhonda Spies, Lana Tepfer, Judy Hanson, Doug Nelson, Billie Maxwell, Chuck Rice, and Patty Burnet the quilt raffle ticket winner.

August 3rdJaws: Lana Tepfer, Rhonda Spies, and Donna Mollett and Doug Nelson who both remembered the fictional beach town was Amity Island and are this week’s winners of a quilt raffle ticket each.

This week’s question is a tough one – well, at least my wife couldn’t answer it. The bestselling single in 1969 was “Sugar, Sugar” outselling The Rolling Stones, The Temptations, and The Fifth Dimension. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of this fictional cartoon band? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788, or mail it with their previous single, “Feelin’ So Good (S.K.O.O.B.Y-D.O.O)”,

Well, it has been another week, thankful for all the skilled and dedicated firefighters and support personnel. Until we meet again, it’s always good to be back in the Gorge.

“It’s paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone.” Andy Rooney 

Living Well in the Gorge August 3rd 2022

by Scott McKay

Were you ever called a “Fraidy Cat”? Unable to go to sleep without a night light. Or teased because you were too scared to watch Godzilla. Your imagination could run wild with all the “could be’s” and “maybe’s” – that monster could climb out from under the bed!

Fear. How many of our decisions are driven by this unpleasant emotion that often controls our lives? Afraid of seeing the doctor about a persistent cough, fearing the worse. Afraid of expressing what we really want to our adult children, because it may hurt their feelings. Afraid of starting a new activity because we might look silly or inept. Afraid of making an emotional commitment because it might not be shared – or last. And afraid of the unknown when an overzealous imagination conjures up only the worse that could happen. What are you afraid of that keeps you from doing what you want to do?

Our lives are full of fears. But it is important to distinguish between those things we are afraid of from those things that are truly dangerous. I may ride my bicycle along the Riverfront Trail, but I don’t think I will try a “backside heelflip” on a skateboard. And I will still use a step stool, but you won’t see me climbing thirty-foot ladders anymore. We are old enough to know where the line is between being fearless and just plain stupid. (Now let me point out that wearing a bright pair of lime green pants is not fearless or stupid – it is just showing really bad taste!)

Know the true risks. But don’t make your fear of what could happen make nothing happen. Because of our fears, we miss meeting new friends, starting new hobbies, or experiencing new adventures we never even imagined! Fear is a choice.

It takes tenacity and courage to move beyond our fears, to distinguish between the real dangers and the imagined, and to live our lives to their fullest, and although fear may be a passenger, don’t let it take control of the steering wheel.

To manage our fears, it helps to stay connected with family; enjoy the laughter and support of our friends, and plan and prepare for the “inevitables”. (I hate to remind you who are in denial, but we are going to get older; we are going to lose friends and loved ones; and someday, we will pass from this earthly existence – but hopefully not too soon!)

Life is too short to worry about how short life is; too short to play it safe and miss all the opportunities and possibilities. None of us know what is going to happen today or tomorrow, let alone ten years from now. But as we live with our fears, we can still embrace each day – while enjoying the dance as long as the music keeps playing.  April 2nd, 2013.

To read about Louise Palermo who lives with little fear and embraces each day with enthusiasm and heart, check out this month’s “Through the Eyes of an Elder”.

Brain Tease: Can you cut a cake into 8 pieces with three cuts?

The name of the flying insect that has a rear section that glows in the dark that many of us enjoyed catching during the summers was called a lightning bug in my home state of Indiana or a firefly in other parts of the country. I will mention those who sent in this week’s answers as well as last week’s answers next week.

This 1975 American thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg is the model for the summer blockbuster that we have come to expect. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of this movie, and for bonus points what was the fictional name of the New England beach town where the movie was set? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788, or mail it with a map of Martha’s Vineyard.

“Fear is an insidious and deadly thing. It can warp judgment, freeze reflexes, breed mistakes. Worse, it’s contagious.” Jimmy Stewart

Well, it has been another week, watching the pelicans bob in the river. Until we meet again, enjoy the special gift of each other – nothing on this earth is forever.

Aging Well in the Gorge July 27th 2022

by Scott McKay

Remember those hazy, crazy days of summer: making out in the back seat at the drive-in theater, hanging out with friends at the pool, and cruising the gut in my ‘63 Buick Skylark convertible? Those are some of my memories from the days of my youth.

But now that I’ve “grown up” my summers are more domesticated – each summer driving to California to visit our children. Since I’ll be enjoying their company for the next two weeks, I’m going to use the best of two columns I wrote several years ago and hope you feel they are still relevant. So here goes from October 13th, 2009.

Do you really want to stay young? Or let me put it another way. Do you really want to relive middle school? Although staying forever young may not be our goal, we do want to live independently; we do want to see our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren grow and set out on their own paths; and we do want to live caring and meaningful lives so that who we are and what we do matters.

The other day Jan Holt gave me a list of eleven simple rules that although they are titled “How to Stay Young”, are more about achieving those things we do want; about how to live well. Here they are for your consideration – plus my short observation for each rule.

1. Keep learning – see the world with virgin eyes.
2. Enjoy the simple things – as in the Shaker song, “Tis the gift to be simple”.
3. Laugh often, long and loud. – it’s contagious,
4. The tears happen – the ones we love won’t live forever.
5. Keep only cheerful friends – leave the rest alone.
6. Surround yourself with what you love. – not with what others say you should have.
7. Cherish your health – don’t take it for granted.
8. Don’t’ take guilt trips – life happens.
9. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity – stay current.
10. Forgive now those who made you cry. You may not get a second chance and forgiveness can set you free.
11. Try everything twice – except Brussels sprouts.

During one of the Senior Planet technology lectures, I learned about Gorge Learns ( a website providing educational resources on the history, art, science, and technology in the Gorge created through a collaboration with local Gorge cultural institutions. On their website, you can view videos of local performances, historical sites, and much more. It is especially valuable if you have difficulty getting out to see many of these events and sites. 

Gorge Learns is an outreach project of The History Museum of Hood River County. Its funding is made possible through the History Museum and grants from Oregon Humanities and the Providence Foundation.

Brain Tease. Well not exactly a tease, but I found this memory tip posted on the blog “Marc and Angel Hack Life”. (It seems like memory isn’t just a concern of us older folks.) To improve your memory, they suggest before going to sleep, reviewing everything you did during the day – in specific detail as if you were watching a video replay. At first you may not remember much, but with experience you will gradually remember the details of your day – and maybe even remember where you misplaced that missing book!  Try it for thirty days and see if it helps.

The unofficial title for the classified study “The History of U.S. Decision-Making Process on Vietnam,” released by Daniel Ellsberg was the Pentagon Papers. Since I’m enjoying the sunny skies and sandy beaches in San Diego, in two weeks I’ll mention all of you who sent in correct answers.

One thing I enjoyed about the hot, humid Indiana summers was trying to catch a particular flying insect. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what do you call this flying insect that has a rear section that glows in the dark? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788, or with a picture of the Indiana state insect.

Well, it’s been another week trying to decide – should I or should I not. Until we meet again, keep singing even if you can’t follow the tune.

 When your friends begin to flatter you on how young you look, it’s a sure sign you’re getting old.”  Mark Twain