Aging Well in the Gorge July 7th 2021

Okay, you’re fairly certain you don’t have early-stage dementia. And you want to keep mentally sharp so when you finally find your car in the parking lot, you know the way home. What should you do?

Most brain research suggests there are six lifestyle behaviors that impact brain health. But before I go any further, take a minute and consider what they could be.

Did you think of ongoing exercise with the goal of exercising several times per week for 30–60 minutes? Or eating right such as a Mediterranean diet that emphasizes plant-based foods, whole grains, fish, and healthy fats such as olive oil?

Good. But you may not have thought of the next three: managing stress such as practicing mindful meditation; restorative sleep preferably seven to eight hours; and being social which with the lifting of restrictions will be easier now.

Now the last may seem the most obvious: engaging the brain. There are many simple although not easy ways to challenge your brain that you can do by yourself anytime, and anywhere. (You don’t have to carry around a book of Sudoku puzzles or download a brain training app.)

Here are three mental exercises you can try just using that grey matter between your ears.

1.) Think of a list of items such as the months in the year and without paper and pencil alphabetize them by their first letter – and then by the second letter.

2.) Make a list of anything that comes to mind such as a to-do list and memorize it. An hour or so later, see how many items you can recall. You may often do this already when you leave your shopping list on the kitchen table!

3.) “Backward Digit Span”. When you hear or read a four-digit number, repeat it – but backward. Try increasing the number of digits and see how many digits you can repeat. Now try the same idea with letters.

You can keep your brain sharp by incorporating these six behaviors into your daily activities. You just have to put your mind to it.

Now that both Washington and Oregon have lifted most COVID restrictions, it is now up to us to decide what level of risk we want to accept. The risk has diminished significantly but there is still a risk. And even though I am fully vaccinated, and Oregon has reached the milestone of 70% vaccinated (and an even higher percentage for older adults) I’m still going to wear a mask when shopping indoors. For me, it is a wise choice.

In this month’s “Through the Eyes of an Elder”, Jamie Olivera interviews Ramiro Elisea who in 1968 made the journey from Mexico to “enjoy working hard” in the orchards in Hood River. It is an inspiring story worth reading.

The title of the novel by Grace Metalious published in 1956 that followed the lives of three women in a small New England village where the residents hold seamy sordid secrets was Peyton Place. I received correct answers from Susan Ellis, Steven Woolpert, Jeannie Pesicka, Karen Asai, Vicki, Billie Maxwell, Norma Simpson, Gene Uczen, Kim Birge, Margo Dameier, Lana Tepfer, Christy Turner, Dave Lutgens, Barbara Cadwell, Sharon Hartley, and Vicki White this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And last week I missed Susan Ellis and now I’ve forgotten who else I forgot last week!

It’s summer, it’s hot, so what did many of us do when we were younger – or maybe still do? We headed to the beach or our local swimming pool. During the summer of 1960, this song sung by Brian Hyland reached #1 and made this style of bathing suit – which was initially considered too risque – the rage of the beaches and swimming pools to the glee of every young man. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the song? E-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or drop it off while singing “One, two, three, four/Tell the people what she wore”.

Well, it’s been another week gently telling my younger friends, “I can do it!”. Until we meet again, don’t you find what’s most irritating about driving on the highway is encountering someone driving the speed limit?

“The trick to accomplishing anything is to avoid the obstacles that are not in your way.” Robert Brault

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