Senior Living November 4th 2008

When I was younger, much younger, I was afraid of many things: the monster under my bed, the algebra test on Friday, kissing girls (which I quickly got over), and disappointing my parents. The fear of falling wasn’t even on the list. As a toddler I would fall and get right back up; while playing football I would fall and get right back up, albeit a little slower and sorer. But I always got back up.

But now we all know too many friends who have fallen and did not get right back up. Or you may have fallen for the first time, now no longer protected by the shield of self-assurance knowing it could happen again. (For some it takes three falls off the ladder before they learn) And now you are afraid to work in the garden or take your daily walk or go to church. Maybe it will be safer to just stay inside sitting in front of the TV.

But the lack of activity due to the fear of falling can be worse than falling. And like walking it is a matter of balance: a balancing act between the actual risks of falling and the mental, social and physical benefits of staying active. What is the cost if you decide to stay inside instead of venturing out to play bridge? What are the benefits of seeing friends at the Senior Center? What do you want out of life?

It is your decision because you can make changes that will give you greater control. Attend exercise and movement classes increasing your strength and balance. Get a good night’s sleep, know your medications and their side effects, wear non-slip shoes, and know where your pets are so they don’t get in your way. And especially keep your mind active – meet your friends for bridge. You can also make your home safer: avoid throw rugs, add a second railing for stairs, provide adequate lighting and keep everything within reach so you don’t need a step stool. Fear can create more problems than it tries to avoid. But you can do something about it. As Dorothy Thompson, the famous American journalist in the 30”s, once said “Fear grows in darkness; if you think there’s a bogeyman around, turn on the light”.

November is National Family Caregiver Month, a time to recognize, support and celebrate family caregivers many of whom think of themselves as just a spouse, a parent, or a loving adult child.

The theme is SPEAK UP! encouraging and supporting family caregivers to protect and advocate for not only the health and safety of their loved ones, but their own health as well.

The National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA) states that family caregivers are “about 50 million strong and provide over 80% of care given in the US. The care in dollars amounts to over 390 million a year.” Many situations eventually require constant 24/7 care and the caregiver may experience feelings of guilt, exhaustion and anger. But they do what they have to do because of their love and commitment.

But who supports the caregiver? Respite care is one source of support that provides an occasional break that all caregivers need. “Respite care can relieve the emotional, physical, and financial hardships of providing continual care. Respite focuses on the needs of the caregiver, giving them time to care for their own needs and pursue activities essential in maintaining a healthy well-balanced life.” The Mid-Columbia Community Action Program manages the Lifespan Respite Care Network covering Wasco and Hood River counties. One does not have to be low income to be eligible for this service. Call Linda Carroll at Lifespan Respite at 298-5131 to learn more or go online to NFCA’s website, To care for your loved one, you need to care for yourself.

“There are only four kinds of people in this world: Those who have been caregivers, those who currently are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”

Rosalynn Carter

The Center, in cooperation with Visiting Health Services, is expanding its Loan Closet to assist folks with mobility challenges whether it is moving around, using the bathroom or getting into bed. But the Center could use more of the following equipment: safety rails for beds, grab bars, high risers and safety frames for toilets, and good condition wheel chairs. We currently have plenty of walkers.

The Notecrackers will be back for their November gig on Tuesday the 11th to play sweet dancing and listening music. But don’t let the seasonal changes keep you home. There is no better place to be on a dark and dreary night than with friends, old and new, tapping and swaying to the music. And tonight The Olde Tymers featuring Mike Tenney and Dave Warren will be playing a little country western and pop standards. If only they could spell.

Next week there will not be a Next Chapter Lecture. But on the 18th Corliss Marsh will discuss the mission and activities of the local Habitat for Humanity chapter including their successful Restore Store out by Big Jims.

Diabetes Day is November 7th from 11:00 – 4:00 at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center presented by Mid-Columbia Medical Center and Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital. This event will provide an opportunity for those with diabetes and their families to receive the latest information on diabetes. Come hear experts from various fields discuss the latest advances in research and treatment. There will also be vendors, exhibits, screenings, refreshments including sack lunches for $3.00 and door prizes. For more information call 296-7202.

Meals-on-Wheels will be closed Monday the day before Veteran’s Day, but will be open on Veteran’s Day to help honor our veterans and the sacrifices they have made for our country.

Well that is another week. Until we meet again, I’ll leave you with this quote from Albert Einstein, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving”.

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