Senior Living November 18 2008

It won’t be long before we are all sitting around the dining room table with friends and family sharing our blessings and stuffing ourselves with delicious home cooked culinary delights prepared by a kitchen saint. But Thanksgiving is also when we really get serious and start mimicking the animal world by adding an extra layer of body fat insulation to keep us warm during the long, cold winter months.

But this is also a good time to consider what we eat and how it can affect our long term health (but after thanksgiving dinner). We always hear about the fat we consume; whether they are good fats or bad fats, unsaturated or trans fats and which fats to eat and which ones to avoid.

But in all this discussion another aspect of healthy eating is often overlooked: sodium intake. I became aware of this after a conversation with Denise Patton, the Director of Meals on Wheels, who shared how seniors, particularly if they live by themselves, may not have the ability, desire or means to prepare a home-cooked meal and consequently rely upon pre-packaged foods and soups.

The problem is that most of these foods are high in sodium (salt being the main source) and may be partly responsible for high blood pressure and congestive heart failure found in the elderly. Tracy Dugick, a certified dietician, confirms that a low-sodium diet can help you feel better and help prevent heart problems. Limiting the amount of sodium you eat and drink helps prevent and control the build-up of fluids around the heart or in your legs. Too much fluid makes your heart work harder which may make your blood pressure too high.

As a guideline you should limit the amount of sodium you get from food or drink to 2,000 milligrams (mg) per day and try to select foods with no more than 140 mg per serving (and don’t forget to check serving sizes on the label).

There are also some foods commonly consumed by seniors that are not recommended. They include canned vegetables (unless they are salt free), canned meats, canned or smoked fish, processed cheese and cheese foods, cured or smoked meats such as bacon, ham or sausage and obviously salt including sea salt and garlic salt.

An alternative is to eat lunch at the Senior Center. The meal provided by Meals-on-Wheels is a wholesome balanced meal with plenty of vegetables for an affordable suggested donation of $3.50 if you are 60 or over. It’s healthy and you get the added benefit of sharing lunch with a bunch of great folks.

The Center has just concluded a very successful drawing class taught by Nancy Russell. Nancy has agreed to repeat the class, same time same station, starting January 20th when the days are gray and cold and you really need a burst of creative activity. But the Center could also offer writing classes such as writing your life story, creative writing or even poetry for folks who want to write but don’t know how to start or just haven’t found the opportunity. Several weeks ago I read how Phil Knight the head of Nike was using his wealth to make Oregon better. In the article it was quietly mentioned that at the age of 70 even with his busy schedule and responsibilities, Phil was taking a creative writing class at the University of Oregon. But before we can “Just Do It!” here at the Center we need someone who will teach or facilitate the classes. If you are interested, call the Center at 296-4788.

The Jazz Generations are playing on Tuesday the 25th and when they play, it is a chance to get on the dance floor and show your stuff. And tonight Truman Boler will be playing his Country Gold. The music starts at 7:00 PM and admission is free although donations are greatly appreciated. Everybody is welcome!

For those of you who use the computer to keep in touch with friends through e-mail you probably have receive unwanted solicitations for fashionable watches, college degrees, and pills to relieve any kind of dysfunction. You may have also received forwarded e-mails that seem like they could be true but seem a little farfetched. Would Sarah Palin really pose for a picture in a stars and stripes bikini? Sorry guys, the answer is no. And you can find out whether any other statements that are presented as facts are actually true or just unsubstantiated rumors by going to or Jean Hockman from the Area Agency on Aging is working with volunteers to help answer your questions about Medicare Part D during the open enrollment period that started November 15th. If you have any questions and are looking for unbiased free help, you can make an appointment on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays by calling Jean at 541-298-4101.

Just a quick reminder. The Senior Center’s Kick-Off for the Building Expansion Community Campaign will start at noon this Wednesday the 19th. There will be information on the expansion plans plus for those who are motivated be their stomach, several “Strong Women” will be serving cheesecake to add to the always delicious Meals-on-Wheels lunch. And while the “Strong Women” serve I might give you a peak at their calendar that would make Sarah Palin envious.

From the bulletin Board:
There will be a Toy Drive Kick-off for Families First at Washington Federal Savings downtown on Friday November 21st from 11:00 – 4:00. They will be collecting new unwrapped toys from November 21st until December 19th. Stop in and enjoy seasonal goodies and enter to win a holiday food basket. There will be a Family Bingo Night on Friday, November 21 from 6:30 – 9:00. The fundraiser will help pay for the medical expenses of Dufur resident Tim Pullen and is sponsored by Country Kidz 4-H Club. Bring your kids and grandkids. Games begin at 7:00 PM at the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

Well that is it again. As usual I’m late. So until the next time, a note from William Allen White, “I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today.”

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