Aging Well in the Gorge June 8th 2022

 Life is full of risks: stepping out of the shower, driving down I-84, walking around the neighborhood, flying the friendly skies to visit the grandchildren, speaking in public. Many of those risks we try to avoid, others we find ways to reduce, and still others we ignore the risk and proceed full steam ahead. Choosing one of those options was a difficult choice many of us made during the pandemic.

When calculating risk, we rarely rely on rational calculations but instead are influenced by emotional perceptions, the context of the situation, and personal experience. That is called our perception of risk. This can cause us to overact to risks that trigger us emotionally and underreact to risks that do not.

Then there is actual risk. It is more objective and quantifiable such as the likelihood and severity of the consequence of taking that risk. 

You may not be surprised, but our perceived risk is not always in line with the actual risk.

For example, I feel much safer driving than flying.  While driving I feel I have greater control. And flying? Who can forget all the catastrophic aircraft incidents we’ve heard about? But as you probably know, statistically flying is far safer than driving. The greater risk is driving to the airport.

One risk most of us are familiar with is the risk of falling. I imagine there are very few of you who haven’t fallen at least once in the last ten years. One reason older adults fall more often is we frequently overestimate our physical ability and take unnecessary risks of falling. Have you taken the shorter ‘risky’ path covered in ice, instead of the longer, ‘safe’ path? For myself, I perceived the risk of falling when walking down steps as very low. And then I missed a bottom step, fell, and broke my hip. Now that I have experienced the actual risk, I ALWAYS hold on to the handrail when walking down any stairs.

When assessing our risk, we should go beyond what we feel, and realistically appraise our physical abilities both our strengths and weaknesses to avoid unnecessary risks with serious consequences. We may be wiser, but we are no longer that spry twenty-something!

To live a full and rewarding life we need to take risks. And the right to take reasonable risks is essential for our dignity and self-esteem. So be adventurous – but also smart. And although they want the best for you, don’t always listen to your overly cautious and protective adult children!

Brain Tease: In my hand, I have two coins that are newly minted. Together, they total 30 cents. One isn’t a nickel. What are the coins?

The correct answer to May 25’s “Remember When’ question was Bell Bottoms. I received answers from Chuck Rice, Rhonda Spies, Lana Tepfer, Nona Moore, Kim Birge, Dave Lutgens, Rose Schulz, Margo Dameier, Doug Nelson, and Marlene Clymer this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket.

And from last week, the American comedian who in 1972 first used “seven dirty words” in one of his monologues was the irreverent George Carlin. I received correct answers from Rebecca Abrams who was “right on!”, Keith Clymer, Jess Birge, Steven Woolpert, Barbara Cadwell, Margo Dameier, Lana Tepfer, Dave Lutgens, Rose Schulz, and this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket Cheryl Rockowski who reminded me of “a blast from the past” – another popular expression from the 60s.

This singer-songwriter with her writing partner Gerry Goffin wrote such hits as

“Take Good Care of My Baby” “Up on the Roof”, “One Fine Day”, and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” for Aretha Franklin. What was the name of this artist who recorded Tapestry which won the 1972 Grammy Award for album of the year? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788, or mail it with a copy of her memoir A Natural Woman.

Well, it’s been another week, looking up and down and all around for that elusive wisdom of old age. Until we meet again, as Dave Barry wrote, life is too short to not be a part of something stupid – but that doesn’t mean climbing a 15-foot ladder!

“There’s something liberating about not pretending. Dare to embarrass yourself. Risk.” – Drew Barrymore

 Answer: One wasn’t a nickel but the other one was. So, the answer is a quarter and a nickel.


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