Aging Well in the Gorge August 26th 2020

Once in a while Friday arrives and I wonder, “What am I going to write about for next week?” This last Friday was one of those times – until I received a call from Kimberly Herman, the public affairs officer for Social Security in Oregon. She asked me to share with you the best way to reach a Social Security representative by phone now that the local office is closed because of COVID-19.

While most business with the Social Security Administration (SSA) can be done online, if you did want to call your local Social Security office that’s closed, you were told to call the 800 number for SSA – and hope your cell phone battery is charged because it can take several hours to finally talk to someone.

SSA understands that is not acceptable and have made some changes. Now if you want to speak to a representative you can call the local office number on weekdays between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. You can find the number online using the Social Security Office Locator. But to save you time, the number for The Dalles office is 1-877-405-3526. And again, don’t call the 800 number if you want a quick response.

There is one exception. Although the Social Security offices are closed to walk-in visitors, you may be able to schedule an appointment for limited, critical issues if they cannot help you by phone or conduct your business online.

If you are comfortable going online, SSA has information about all their services at There you can find your latest statement, request a replacement Social Security Card or Medicare Card, change your address, set up or change direct deposit, print proof of benefits or your 1099, and review your earnings history. (I’ve forgotten how little I earned forty years ago!).

And while I’m writing about Social Security, this is a good time to remind you about the Medicare “NEVERS” that help protect you from Medicare fraud

Medicare will NEVER contact you for your Medicare Number or other personal information unless you’ve given them permission in advance; NEVER call you to sell you anything; NEVER promise you things if you give them a Medicare Number; NEVER visit you at your home; and Medicare will NEVER enroll you over the phone unless you called first.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Social Security Administration remains committed to providing uninterrupted benefits and vital services you rely on. Whether you go online or call your local Social Security Office, they want to make it easy for you to get the help you need.

Thanks to everyone who bought one of the almost five hundred masks sold at the Center’s Facemask Sale last Friday and Saturday. But if you missed it, you can still purchase a new and improved mask with behind the ear adjustable elastic straps for adults and children for $5. You can find them at The Dalles Farmer’s Market on Saturdays from 9:00 – 1:00 or call the Center to schedule a time to pick one up.

It was Michael who rowed the boat ashore in the African-American spiritual recorded by the Highwayman which reached number one in 1960. I received correct answers from Barbara Cadwell, Sandy Haechrel, Diana Weston, Tina Castanares, Rhonda Spies, Betsy Ayers, Beverly McKinney, Susan Donnelly, Rose Schulz and Keith Clymer this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone, because last week I missed Susan Ronning and Sandy Haechrel.

When you were a child, your father may have read you the Sunday comics which probably included this comic strip that took place on the fictional army post Camp Swampy. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the comic strip first published in 1950, created by Mort Walker and featured an army private who was often the subject of verbal and physical chastising from his superior officer, Sergeant Snorkel? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with the directions to Camp Crowder, the inspiration for Camp Swampy, where Mort Walker had once been stationed while in the Army.

Well, it’s been another week, trying to just get on with it. Until we meet again, there is always time to make new memories.

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not a mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” Washington Irving

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