Aging Well in the Gorge ~ May 3rd, 2023

I’ve been thinking (I know, don’t believe everything your mind tells you) about the book Being Mortal written by Atul Gawande, a surgeon, writer, and public health researcher. In this thought-provoking book, he reminds us that contrary to popular culture and marketing hype, we will not live forever. And unfortunately, most of us are not prepared to deal with this eventuality. As we age, we may try to do all the right things: being mentally engaged, staying physically active, and eating right, but like the tires on a 65 Mustang, we will eventually wear out.

But there is good news. Atul Gawande highlights the research of Laura Carstensen, a professor of psychology at Stanford University. Her work has shown that as we acknowledge our mortality, it changes our perspective on life, or as she says, “how we seek to spend our time may depend on how much time we perceive ourselves to have”.

She found when people feel they will live forever or are too busy to consider their eventual fate, they are more focused on climbing the economic ladder, trying new experiences, and taking chances, because if it doesn’t work out, well, there is always tomorrow.

But when you see your future in years instead of decades your perspective and focus changes to the here and now, the everyday pleasures, and the people closest to you. You see more clearly what is important and pay less attention to the trivial. You are more appreciative of the years you have.

That may not be news to most of us, but isn’t that ironic? As we ride what is seen by many as this downward trajectory of aging, we generally are happier. What was thought to be so important during our “productive” years is no longer, while friendships and living in the present are. It is like seeing the world with sharper glasses and thinking, wow, even with all the challenges of personal losses and physical ailments, life is pretty good.

In this month’s “Through the Eyes of an Elder”, Nancy Turner shares how she learned the meaning and importance of stories and offers an opportunity to learn the art of storytelling. Check it out.

Save the date. Starting May 25th, a “Getting to Know Dementia” class will be held at the Mid-Columbia Senior Center from 10:00 – 11:30 every Thursday for six consecutive weeks. It is open to anyone in the Gorge. Stay tuned for more information.

Brain Tease: If you were able to solve last week’s brain tease, this one may be too easy. “How many pennies can you put into an empty piggy bank?”

The name of the 1955 – 1956 television show featuring the characters Ralph Kramden, Ed Norton, and their wives Alice and Trixie was The Honeymooners. As I am writing this column, my children are home visiting – and checking up on us. (We spent days cleaning so we wouldn’t give the impression we couldn’t take care of ourselves!) So, we’ll be enjoying our time with them and next week I’ll mention all of you who submitted the correct answer for the last two weeks.

I often use the word “cool” a slang term that was popularized back in the late 1940s. But there are many other slang terms we seldom hear anymore: “wet rag” – no fun or a bore, “don’t flip your wig” – tell someone to calm down, or “gas,” – any activity or event that was either fun or funny.

For this week’s “Remember When” question, what were the slang terms for something extremely gross or dirty; and for an unpleasant person who betrayed your trust or revealed a secret – and often included the prefix rat? You can email one or both answers to, call 541-296-4788, or send it with a picture of a 50s teenage couple attending a “submarine race”.

Well, it has been another week looking life in the eye and trying not to blink. Until we meet again, most things are never as easy as you first thought, nor as hard as you may now believe.

“There are six myths about old age: 1) That it’s a disease, a disaster. 2) That we are mindless. 3) That we are sexless. 4) That we are useless. 5) That we are powerless. 6) That we are all alike.” Maggie Kuhn

Nutritious home-delivered and in-person meals are available at noon Monday through

Friday unless otherwise noted.

Seniors of Mosier Valley (541-980-1157) – Mondays and Wednesdays; Hood River

Valley Adult Center (541-386-2060); Sherman County Senior and Community Center

(541-565-3191); The Dalles Meals-on-Wheels (541-298-8333)

For meal sites in Washington, call Klickitat County Senior Services – Goldendale office

(509-773-3757) or the White Salmon office (509-493-3068); Skamania County Senior

Services (509-427-3990).

Answer: Just one – after that it won’t be empty.