Aging Well May 1st

For many older adults there comes the time, either of their own choosing or at the urging of their children, to move out of their familiar home and downsize to something considered more manageable: an apartment, a retirement community or assisted living. You could think of it as reliving those youthful carefree days of high expectations and excitement. I remember traveling from Indiana to Oregon with everything my wife and I owned in a Volkswagen Van so loaded down it could barely make it up the mountain grades. But forty years later, I am not as energetic or adventurous (but I hope a whole lot wiser) and downsizing now is more a struggle than an adventure. I have read several articles about where to begin: the old cell phones, VHS movies, used clothing, old bills – and how to get rid of stuff: yard sales, non-profit thrift stores, and eBay. But after raising two children in the same house with a quarter century of accumulated stuff, shrink wrapped in memories, my biggest challenge is the emotional difficulty of downsizing. What anyone else would consider junk misses my emotional attachments to many of the things I have kept: the unusable folding chair my dad gave me before I left for college; the first board game I played with my children; picture notes I drew for my daughter to go with her school lunches. When I look at those useless objects or pieces of paper, I experience feelings that I hadn’t felt in years. And I admit – I am afraid if I toss those memory triggers away, I will also be tossing those comforting memories – out of sight and out of mind – forever. And forever is a long, long time. There are other reasons why downsizing is difficult for older adults according to David Ekerdt, professor at the Gerontology Center at the University of Kansas. You may feel what you give away will not be appreciated as much by someone else. Or downsizing may force you to face reality: maybe you aren’t going to read all those books on your library shelves and you aren’t going to learn to play that electric guitar stored in the basement and tour the world with Paul McCartney. When you have to make decisions about what is important to you, you are really defining who you are by what you want to keep. But it has also been found that after downsizing, most folks are glad they did. You are no longer a prisoner of your past and by deciding what you want to keep as Professor Ekerdt states “you are choosing what you are going to be and this can be very gratifying”. And you may find less stuff can mean more happiness. The speaker for the 11:00 Tuesday Lecture on May 8th will be Dan Hammel from the Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue. Dan will discuss fire safety and prevention including the use and maintenance of smoke alarms. And on the following Tuesday there will be the program “Educate before you Medicate” funded by a grant through YOUTHTHINK discussing how to safely use medications. And don’t forget Saturday is your chance to empty your cabinets of unused and expired prescription or over the counter medications at the local “Drug Take Back Event” held at the Center from 10:00 – 2:00 in concurrence with the local Community Clean-Up day. Who is playing the Center tonight you may ask? It is Andre and the Strawberry Mountain Band for another entertaining evening of music and dance. And next week Martin and Friends will be back to strut their stuff. Doors open at 6, music starts at 7:00, everyone is invited and donations are suggested. The event that an estimated 500 million people watched live on July 21, 1969 was not the lunar landing – which occurred on the 20th – but the first time man walked on the moon. (And the winner of a free Saturday breakfast is Jody Cochenour.) This week’s “Remember When” question is again from Team Trivia Night to be held at the Center on Friday May 18th. What was the promotional name of the classic 1974 boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman? Email your answer to the, call 541-296-4788 or include it with a George Foreman “Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine”. Well, it has been another week spreading the manure among the dandelions. Until we meet again, keep singing even though you may have forgotten the tune. “Don’t cry because it is over, smile because it happened.” Dr. Seuss

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