Aging Well in the Gorge November 9th 2022

You may have recently talked with someone who is having trouble expressing themselves: finding the right word or remembering a name, and thinking to yourself, “Poor soul. He must have dementia” while in the back of your mind worrying about your own memory.

Dementia is not a normal part of aging but many of us will be diagnosed with it. And although a diagnosis of dementia may seem dire, it is not the end of living. We’ll handle the diagnosis in different ways: denial, confusion, self-awareness and even humor.

As a community and as individuals, we need to support people with dementia. We can by using the following ten dementia friendly communication skills when speaking with someone with memory loss.

  1. Greet people warmly even if you think they do not remember you. If they seem confused, remind them who you are.
  2. Slow your pace slightly and allow time for the person to process and respond.
  3. Speak clearly and calmly, and be patient and understanding.
  4. Keep communication simple; ask one question at a time.
  5. Listen with empathy and seek to understand the person’s reality or feelings.
  6. Connect on an emotional level even if conversation topics shift or do not make sense to you.
  7. Be aware of the person’s and your own body language: smile, and make eye contact at eye level.
  8. Enjoy spending time with the person in the present moment.
  9. Offer hugs and hand-holding as appropriate.
  10. Avoid arguing with or embarrassing the person.

Because some of us will experience dementia, there are several facts we should consider.

Dementia is not a specific disease but rather a general term for the impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions that interfere with doing everyday activities.

Experiencing dementia-like symptoms may not be dementia. Those symptoms may be caused by infections, metabolic problems, a reaction to a medication or an interaction of several medications, depression, and even nutritional deficiencies.

To make the diagnosis of one of the several types of dementia including the most common Alzheimer’s, a neurological exam, brain imaging, and neuropsychological testing is generally needed.

Dementia is a scary diagnosis taking us into the unknown. But those diagnosed with dementia are still with us, living life in their own way and still in need of affection, connections, and opportunities to express themselves and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

Brain Tease: In the last two weeks, I challenged you to translate several common phrases in Spanish and French to English. This week see if you can translate this sentence that’s written in my favorite childhood language: Pig Latin. “orryWay isyay ikelay ayay ockinray’ orsehay. Ityay’say omethingsay otay oday atthay onday’tay etgay youyay owherenay.”

The name of the 1958 novelty song that included the memorable line “Ooo eee ooo ah ah ting tang walla walla bing bang” was the “Witch Doctor”. I received correct answers from Diana Weston, Donna Mollet, Lana Tepfer, Rhonda Spies, Jess Birge, Dave Lutgens, and this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket Doug Nelson back from his trip to Ireland.

For those of you who have won a quilt raffle ticket, you will learn if you are a winner of a beautiful quilt on November 19th when the quilt raffle drawing will be held at the Mid-Columbia Senior Center during their annual Holiday Bazaar. Everyone who was a quilt raffle ticket winner since last December will be entered in the drawing. You do not have to be present to win but you are certainly invited to attend the holiday bazaar.

Two bits is a word we seldom hear anymore except in a cheer at sporting events. It means inferior, cheap, worthless, or insignificant, but is also an old slang term for a monetary value that dates back to the 1700s. For this week’s “Remember When” question, how much are two bits? Email your answer to, call 541-296-4788, or a video of George Edmondson Jr. leading a cheer before the University of Florida football game at the age of 86.

Well, it’s been another week, wondering what is going to be served next. Until we meet again, don’t let the monsters under your bed keep you up at night.

Good things come in threes so one more piece of cowboy wisdom.

“Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.”

Nutritious home-delivered and in-person meals are available at noon Monday through Friday unless otherwise noted.

Seniors of Mosier Valley (541-980-1157) – Mondays and Wednesdays; Hood River

Valley Adult Center (541-386-2060); Sherman County Senior and Community Center

(541-565-3191); The Dalles Meals-on-Wheels (541-298-8333)

For meal sites in Washington, call Klickitat County Senior Services – Goldendale office

(509-773-3757) or the White Salmon office (509-493-3068); Skamania County Senior

Services (509-427-3990).

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