Living Well January 6th

2008 was a good year. And last week I was only able to get half way through my reflections on last year’s Top Ten Senior Center highlights. So with speed and haste, the rest of the story.

5. The Computer Lab – There is a vast range of computer literacy among older adults. Some seniors use the Internet to play bridge with partners all over the world or video conference with their kids, while other seniors have no idea what a mouse is. (It is not the furry little creature that scurries under your cupboards). You may be one of many seniors who had no desire to learn about computers, until that fateful conversation when your kids informed you they are going to do you a favor and start sending pictures of the grandkids by E-MAIL! “Mom it’s really easy! And it’s so convenient.” “Convenient for who?” you thought and immediately wondered where you could learn to use these evil alien devices that your children find so indispensible. Fortunately we have three excellent teachers who know all about computers and have the patience to work with beginners. The Help Lab is available on most Tuesdays from 1:45 – 3:00 and the Basic Computer classes will start again in February. And thanks again to Rhett Mullins, now a TDWHS sophomore, and Google for making the lab possible.

4. Network on Aging – Over the years we have enjoyed strong, collaborative relationships with many partners. As a result the Area Agency on Aging, Hospice of the Gorge, Columbia Basin Care Facility and the Senior Center worked together to establish the Network on Aging: an association of providers that meets monthly to network, educate and advocate in order to better support seniors. One immediate result of this network was the Center’s collaboration with Visiting Health Services expanding the Center’s Loan Closet. With their professional help and the Center’s ability to store and obtain used equipment, the Center is now able to lend more equipment including shower seats, commodes, safety rails for beds, and grab bars as well as wheelchairs and walkers.

3. The Community Campaign for the Center Expansion- The Center has been planning this effort for over a year and the preliminary work has been completed. With the help of Design Structures we have basic architectural plans with a realistic cost estimate, with the help of the City of The Dalles we have Planning Commission approval, with the help of Columbia Gorge Community College we have a business plan and with the help of the Mid-Columbia Medical Center we have the brochures for the capital campaign. Like the United Seniors 25 years ago we are committed and excited about completing the Senior Center Expansion. It will meet the needs for the future and fulfill the dreams of the past by providing more opportunities for older adults to explore their world, connect with friends and contribute to their communities, so they can live longer and healthier lives.

2. The volunteers – The strength of any organization is its volunteers. At the Center we have committed and caring volunteers who do all kinds of large and small tasks: managing the bookkeeping, running Bingo, operating the NU-2-U shop, serving on the board, moving tables, opening the building, shoveling snow, answering the phones, and correcting the mistakes in my column. Volunteers contribute over a hundred hours a week, equivalent to 2 1/2 full time employees to support the Center.

1. All the folks who walk through the doors of the Senior Center. Every year we see new faces come and unfortunately we also see some old faces go. When you first walk into the Center you may see worn carpet, old chairs and cracked tiles, but soon those images are replaced by the kindness, the humor and the wisdom (and at times pettiness and stubbornness) that is shared. The Center is more than a building. Ultimately, the Center is about the stories we share, the people we meet and the relationships we build

This Thursday at 1:00 the monthly Healthy Aging class will be held in the basement of the Senior Center. Fern Wilcox thought during the cold dreary month of January; after all the holiday mirth festivities, it might be appropriate to lighten things up and talk about laughter: the physical, mental and social benefits, how humor differs with age, and ways to find humor in your life. To prepare you for the class I want to share an April Fools’ puzzler I found in Reader’s Digest from several years back where you are challenged to connect the comedian – Steve Martin, Ellen DeGeneres, Jerry Seinfeld, Lily Tomlin, or Rodney Dangerfield – with the joke they have told. Make your best guesses but the answers will only be available at the class.

1. “First the doctor told me the good news: I was going to have a disease named after me.”
2. “My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was 60. She’s 97 now, and we don’t know where the hell she is.”
3. “I am so busy doing nothing…that the idea of doing anything – which as you know, always leads to something – cuts into the nothing and then forces me to have to drop everything.”
4. “I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific.”
5. “I told my psychiatrist that everyone hates me. He said I was being ridiculous. Everyone hasn’t met me yet.”

Next Tuesday Night starting a 7:00, the Notecrackers will be performing for your dancing and listening pleasure. And tonight Harold and Friends will be playing good old country music. All ages are welcome and the music is free although donations are appreciated to help keep the musicians fed and the lights on.

The Next Chapter Lecture series is back in play. Tuesday the 13th at 11:00, Dana Schmidling will be at the Center to discuss The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce and all they do to promote area businesses and local tourism.

That is another page in the book of life. So until the next time, find something that makes you laugh because as that famous raconteur “anonymous” once said “He who laughs, lasts.”

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