Senior LIving June 17th

Often as we age we settle into our familiar routines. They are comforting and provide a sense of control. We don’t have to think; it’s automatic. When I arrive at the Senior Center every morning, I unlock the basement door, turn off the alarm, unlock both front doors, turn on my computer, and start my daily tasks. When I am interrupted from my regular routine, I usually end up forgetting something. Routines provide a tremendous benefit in our daily lives, but because they are automatic and require very little mental effort, they do not increase the cognitive activity that helps strengthen our brains.

There is a growing body of scientific evidence suggesting that by engaging in new and novel activities that do not depend on automatice processing we can maintain or even improve our cognitive health. The key is to seek activities requiring cognitive effort where you actively focus on the task and give it enough attention to successfully complete the task.

Instead of engaging in a passive activity such as watching TV, try learning something new: a new card game, a new language, or how about tap dancing (you have to learn to use both your brain and your feet at the same time). Or join a book club, try a new Wii game, or learn how to use a computer – which will keep you busy and frustrated for many years.

It is even suggested you change the way you do simple daily tasks: drive home a different way, and observe the new surrondings; learn to eat with chop sticks and then change hands. Very few things maintain their novelty for very long, so we must constantly pursue new opportunities to challenge our brains. In the simplist terms; you either use it or lose it.

In order to provide a structured and challenging program to strengthen our brains, I would like to establish within the next year a Brain Fitness Gym within the computer lab at the Senior Center. At the National Conference on Aging I saw several computer software programs marketed to senior centers and retirement communities to help maintain cognitive health. If you or someone you know would be interested in helping start a Brain Fitness Gym get in touch with me. And in the mean time if you are interested in learning more about brain health check out the Sharp Brains website at

This coming Tuesday the 24th the Next Chapter Lecture Series presents “Managing your Medications without Mayhem or Mix-up. “ The presenters will be Icey Sheeran and Marcia Medler both RN’s from Visiting Health Services. Since most of all of us take some kind of medications and many on a regular basis, you should find this interactive presentation informative and helpful. This lecture will be the last one until September, so we can take the summer off to plan for the next season of lectures. If you have any suggestions or ideas for lectures or would like to speak about a specific topic, contact us at the Center 296-4788.

The Cascade Singers will present a farewell concert prior to a musical tour of the British Isles on Saturday, June 21, at St. Peter’s Landmark in The Dalles starting at 2 p.m. There is no charge for the concert, but donations will be split between Cascade Singers and St. Peter’s Landmark. The local concert is a “dry run” of the tour program after several weeks of intensive rehearsals.

And later that same day at 7:00 pm at The Dalles High School Auditorium, Maryhill Museum of Art is presenting a Jody Sperling/Time Lapse Dance production of La Noir, Dance of the Elements, and a preview of the new work, Ghosts, all inspired by the mesmerizing spectacles of Loïe Fuller’s dances. Artistic Director Jody Sperling — a choreographer, performer and dance scholar — combines research with imagination, to craft inventive, visually lush and often humorous dances. Sperling’s luminous works in the style of early modern dancer Loïe Fuller are a mainstay of the repertory. General Admission is $10.

On Sunday, June 22, 2008, 5:00pm – 8:00pm you can celebrate the 100 year opening of the Historic Balch Hotel in Dufur. Live music by Hardshell Harmony, catered dinner on the north lawn, and a vintage fashion show 1900’s – 1920’s with pieces from the Historical Museum of Hood River County. All proceeds will benefit the continued restoration and collection for the museum. Tickets are $40 and available by calling 541-467-2277 Seating is limited. Period dress is encouraged!

On June 24th, Tuesday Night Music at the Senior Center will feature “The Jazz Generations” playing their big band sounds. There is no excuse now that the weather is warmer and the days are longer. Music starts at 7:00 pm and everyone is invited, young and old. Admission is free but donations are gladly accepted. And tonight the always popular bluegrass band “Hardshell Harmony” is performing.

This coming Saturday is the third Saturday of the month so you know what that means. You don’t have to cook breakfast! Edna Chandler and Bonnie Lobdell will be cooking up a fine breakfast at the Senior Center for your morning enjoyment. Edna has created four different menus that she rotates though out the year and this month’s menu includes: French Toast, Bacon, Scrambled Eggs, Fruit and the regular beverages. This month’s sponsor is the Oregon Veterans’ Home and we appreciate their support. I remember when the late Fred Spivey and the Dalles Chamber of Commerce worked so hard to get the legislative support to build the Veteran’s home here in The Dalles. The Veteran’s Home is a real asset to the community and to veterans throughout the state.

That is it for another week. Until we meet again try something new, take a chance and explore new horizons. Your comfort zone is not always the best place to be.

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