Aging Well in the Gorge February 10th 2021

Over the past eleven months the pandemic has turned our lives upside down: were staying home more and seeing friends less. But many folks are coping by engaging in this hundred-year-old, low-tech activity: jigsaw puzzles. You can work on a puzzle for days or even weeks; they’re fun; and what may not be surprising, particularly if you are a puzzler, is that they are good for your brain.

Our brain health can take a beating during the pandemic; affecting many of the key habits that keep our brain healthy: physical activity, healthy diet, quality sleep, meaningful social interactions, stress reduction, and mentally stimulating activities.

But studies have shown jigsaw puzzles benefit your brain in several ways: reduces stress by totally immersing yourself in a puzzle (But dear, just one more piece and then I’ll come to bed!); improves your attention span, mental speed and problem-solving skills – as any puzzler will tell you when struggling to find that last edge piece.

So, if during the pandemic you have friends wondering why you are wasting your time working on jigsaw puzzles, just tell them it’s good for your brain – and then hand them a puzzle so they can also enjoy the benefits of a healthier brain.

Now if you want a high tech challenge for your brain, I suggest the two online programs I am currently using: AARP’s Staying Sharp and Brain HQ. Both have free activities, but if you want the full benefit you will have to pay. I just started subscribing to Brain HQ and in a month, I’ll tell you if I’m smarter, quicker and better looking. (I’m not sure about that third benefit.)

Since we’re talking about puzzles and mental challenges, how about four quick riddles that made me think.

1) If two’s company, and three’s a crowd, what are four and five?

2) There’s a one-story house in which everything is yellow. Yellow walls, yellow doors, yellow furniture. What color are the stairs?

3) What five-letter word becomes shorter when you add two letters to it?

4) If there are three apples and you take away two, how many apples do you have?

Providence Volunteers in Action is excited to team up with OATS (Older Adults Technology Services) and Senior Planet to bring to the Gorge the FREE online 5-week course, “Virtual Essentials”. These ten 75 minute lectures cover a variety of topics to help you use technology including “All Things Zoom”, “Protecting Your Personal Information Online”, “Telemedicine” and more. If you’re interested, you can register for the upcoming classes by calling 541-387-6404 or emailing

The teenager in the 1959 sitcom who “aspired to have popularity, money, and the attention of beautiful and unattainable girls” was Dobie Gillis. I received correct answers from Bob Sampson, Julie Carter, Dave Lutgens, Kim Birge, Rhonda Spies, Lana Tepfer, Tina Castanares, Margo Dameier, Patty Burnet, Susan Ronning, Jim Ayers, and Mike Nichols this week’s winner of a free quilt raffle ticket.

Kerry Cobb, former director of the Columbia Center for the Arts, has offered classes at the Center and senior living facilities in the area. Since that opportunity is no longer possible, she has created a highly recommended monthly newsletter “Art News and Activities”.  You can find it online at under the Art Appreciation Tab.

And that leads me to this week’s art inspired “Remember When” question. Who was the American artist, an icon of the “Pop Art” visual arts movement and famously known for his screen-prints of Campbell’s Soup Cans? Email your answer to mcseniorcenter@gmail.comleave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with the album The Velvet Underground & Nico.

Well, it has been another week, trying to solve the puzzle of life with so many missing pieces. Until we meet again, when it’s sunny – pull back the curtains.

Answers: 1) Nine, 2) There aren’t any – it’s a one-story house. 3) Short, 4) Two

Nutritious Home delivered meals and pick-ups for anyone over 60.

Hood River Valley Adult Center – For Meals-on-Wheels call 541-386-2060. Pick up a drive-thru meal from 11:30 AM until 12:45 PM.

The Dalles Meals-on-Wheels – Call 541-298-8333 to sign up for home-delivered meals. Call before 10:30 AM to pick up a meal at noon at the Mid-Columbia Senior Center.

The Sherman County Senior and Community Center – Call 541-565-3191 by 10:30 AM and leave a message with the number of meals needed and names of each person.

Klickitat County Senior Services – Call the Goldendale office (509-773-3757) or the White Salmon office (509-493-306).

Skamania County Senior Services – Call 509-427-3990.

Seniors of Mosier Valley – Call 541-503-5660 or 541-980-1157 at least one day in advance to order a Grab-N-Go meal. Monday and Wednesdays from 11-11:30. Pick-up at the Mosier Senior Center. Delivery is also available.  

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