Aging Well in the Gorge June 6th 2022

When you consider the key influences affecting your health, are your primary care providers, medical specialists, and prescribed medications the first things that come to mind? Maybe because you spend too much time getting poked, prodded, and tested in a doctor’s office? Medical services are essential, but they are not the only factors influencing our health.

Over the past years, the medical community and local social service providers have recognized that to improve an individual’s health and health outcomes there must be a broader approach by addressing the social, economic, and environmental factors that affect our health. These social determinants of health (SDOH) such as adequate nutrition, safe and affordable housing, sufficient income, available and accessible transportation, and social connections can significantly impact our health, well-being, and quality of life especially our ability to live independently and age in place.

I have often written about many of the providers that address these social determinants of health: Aging and People with Disabilities in Oregon, Klickitat County Senior Services, Skamania County Senior Services, CAPECO Area Agency on Aging, Housing Resource Center, transportation providers, local senior centers and meal sites, and the many volunteer organizations such as Circles of Care.

I know I depend on the medical community. I seem to have a doctor for every organ in my body!  Access to health care is critical, but now there is also a greater understanding of how addressing the social determinants of health can reduce the risk of physical disease, mental illness, and even death.

But as you may know, accessing the many available services is not easy. One response has been employing community health workers such as Joel Pelayo, a senior community health worker for The Next Door, Inc., who is profiled in this month’s “Through the Eyes of an Elder”. Community health workers such as Joel have a deep connection with their community and can provide the personal and caring support when connecting individuals with the needed health and social service providers that will improve their quality of life and health outcomes. I encourage you to read his personal story to appreciate the important work Joel does in our communities.

To better understand the importance of social connections, the Aging in the Gorge Alliance is distributing the bestseller Together, The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World by former Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, MD. This timely book explores the importance of human connection, the hidden impact of loneliness on our health, and the social power of community. You can pick up a copy after July 15th at the libraries in Hood River, The Dalles, and White Salmon.

There will be discussion groups in September where participants can connect with others and consider how to increase connections in their lives and their communities. More information will be coming, but if you have questions now you can contact Britta Willson at

Brain Tease: Find the next number in these number sequences:

a.       a.       1, 3, 4, 7, 11, 18, ?

b    b.    4, 7, 15, 29, 59, 117, ?

              c.     2, 4, 5, 10, 12, 24, 27, ?

The 1960 hit novelty song sung by Brian Hyland included the lyrics, and you can sing along, “Two, three, four, tell the people what she wore. It was an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini.” Because of the July 4th holiday, I have once again submitted this column early and will announce next week all those with the correct answer.

During my long-ago days of lifeguarding, when I wasn’t embarrassed wearing a Speedo and before I knew about wrinkly skin and melanoma, I would go to great lengths to develop a tan. For this week’s “Remember When” question, when Coppertone tanning lotion wasn’t enough, what was commonly used as an inexpensive way to get that appealing deep tan? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788, or mail it with a bottle of SPF 50 broad-spectrum sunscreen.

Well, it has been another week, wishing for fall during the heat of summer. Until we meet again, be cool, keep cool, and whatever you do – don’t blow your cool.

“I never feel more alone than when I’m trying to put sunscreen on my back.”

—Jimmy Kimmel


a.        Answers:

            a.   29   (a+b=c, b+c=d, c+d=e, …)

b.                 b.    235   (×2-1, ×2+1, ×2-1, …)

c.                 c.   54   (×2, +1, ×2, +2, ×2, +3, ×2, +4, …)

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