Aging Well January 28th

Senior Living January 27th 2008

I found that birthdays sure generate mixed emotions when you have passed the magical age of sixty. It can be a nice excuse to take your wife out to Cousins for dinner (although I shouldn’t need an excuse) or buy that new technological gadget. But it is also a time when you look ahead and the horizon seems a little closer than the day before. You play the game of feigning non-interest and embarrassment while appreciating the well wishes from friends and acquaintances (and even a special voice message from a good friend singing happy birthday). But why? Is it again an expression of denial, trying to ignore the inevitable, a reminder that we aren’t built to be here on this earth forever.

I imagine my friends in their eighties and nineties are just smiling at my ambivalence and gyrations. I imagine they are thinking “these boomers need to just get over it” and appreciate what you do have (or as the Frenchman thought when an attractive young woman passed by “if only I was eighty again”). Carl Kramer about to celebrate his 101st birthday in March keeps it in perspective by saying as long you can get your boots on and your feet touch the floor it is a good day. Amen.

We are fortunate to live at a time when the average life expectancy in the U.S. is 78, up 30 years since 1900 and up 10 years since 1950, according to the Census Bureau. There is even new terminology used by the professionals on aging calling those younger than 80 the “young old,” and those younger than 65 as the “near old. But the real benefit of aging is “been there, done that and learned from it,” said David Reuben, head of geriatric medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles. And because of the experience that comes with age, some professionals such as orchestra conductors and diplomats peak in their 60s and 70s. A recent example is George Mitchell who was just appointed by President Obama to be his special envoy to the Middle East and was born in 1933 (I give you his year of birth so you have to do the mental math. And remember it is 2009!) One of the swimmers I coach asked me how old I was, but not wanting to scare her and say sixty-one, I just answered “Old enough to appreciate each day”. It is just as Mark Twain once said “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

We are also fortunate to have the Transportation Network (formerly known as LINK) providing door to door rides in The Dalles area including Mosier. To reserve a ride you need to call 296-7595 and make your reservation by 3:00 for a ride the next business day, but you should try to make your request as early as possible. There is limited capacity so they cannot guarantee a ride every time, but they will do their best to accommodate every request. The fares range from $1.50 to $5.00 one way and you will need exact change. The Transportation Network service hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 – 5:00 PM excluding most holidays.

The Network also provides a weekly ride into Portland. Every Thursday morning the bus leaves the The Dalles Transportation Center at 7:30, stops at the Gateway Max Station at 9:10, OHSU at 9:45 and Clackamas Town Center at 10:30. For the return trip it retraces its steps and leaves Clackamas Town Center at 2:15, OHSU at 3:00, Gateway Max Station at 3:30 and arrives back in The Dalles at 5:10.Cost is $8 one way and there are no reservations so it is first come, first seat.

On February 3rd, Tuesday Night Music and Dance will host Harold and Friends starting at 7:00 pm. When I recently talked to Harold they were considering changing the name of the band to The Cherry Park Band. So whether it is Harold and Friends or the Cherry Park Band you will find gifted musicians playing great music for your listening and dancing pleasure. And playing tonight will be the Jazz Generations, which like a fine wine gets better with age. The music starts at 7:00 and admission is free although donations are gladly accepted. And not just anybody, but everybody is welcome.

The Next Chapter Lecture Series will present Thomas Koelker of Heart of Gold Caregivers to speak on the topic of “Selecting an In-home Caregiver”. Today there are many options for care and one many seniors choose is hiring an in-home caregiver. But what should you be looking for to make the right choice? Find out at the Center’s next lecture on Tuesday February 3rd at 11:00 AM.
Lyn and Jann Dalton wanted me to announce they have added some new games and larger payouts to the Saturday Night Bingo lineup. As the weather starts getting friendlier, we are seeing more new folks out experiencing this American pastime. And if you are busy on Saturday nights there is always Meals-on-Wheels Bingo on Thursday Night. Doors open by 4:30 and games start at 6:00.

When Fern Wilcox discussed this mode of expression that is good for the body, mind and spirit called laughter, she shared one fact suggesting we may be taking life a little too seriously: children laugh 400 times a day while adults laugh only 25 times a day. I know children don’t have all the responsibilities and commitments and their humor includes farting and belching, but we have late night comedians, the comic pages and ourselves. As adults we should set a goal of laughing at least 200 times a day, make up the difference with 200 smiles and count it good.

So until we meet again, put a grin on your face, a bounce in your step and a little love in your heart.

I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, And that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.
– Dr. Seuss

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