Senior Living October 28 2008

Okay, raise your hands if you are registered to vote. I suspect every hand is raised because I know the readers of this column are really smart and nationally 79% of those over 55 are registered to vote compared to only 60% of ages 25 – 44. Next touch your toes if you are planning on voting by the time you read this column next Tuesday, Election Day. Okay, okay, something simpler. Pat yourself on the back if you are planning on voting. Again those over 55 do significantly better than rest of the age groups with 72% voting in the 2004 Presidential election compared to only 47% for ages 18 to 24 and 53% for ages 25 – 44. And lastly, jump up and down if you can’t wait for this election to be over. We are fortunate to live in a country where we have a tradition of expressing our views though the ballot box (or in Oregon’s case through the post office), but at times it sure seems like it takes forever. (I think I was wearing bell bottoms when this presidential campaign started.)

In past elections senior issues such as Social Security, Medicare and the cost of prescription drugs were major talking points in the political debate, but this year the economy has trumped all other issues even for seniors. What will my retirement account look like? Will government continue to support seniors with in home care and hospice? There are difficult decisions ahead, but there is still so much to be grateful for.

Such as the Meals-on-Wheels program. The Dalles is very fortunate to have one of the best run and successful Meals-on-Wheels program in the state. But it is not easy. They have to struggle with the double whammy of higher food costs and folks having less money to spend even for the necessities such as food. Meals-on-Wheels serves all older adults by providing a good healthy meal and a time to connect with others. They are a critical partner in fulfilling the Senior Center’s mission of “promoting healthy aging by sharing and caring”.

And the food is good! Denise Patton and the cooks provide a high quality meals (with plenty of good, wholesome, nutritious, and tasty vegetables), all for a suggested donation of only $3.50 if you are in that esteemed age group of 60 and over. For rest of you younger folks you will have to pay a suggested donation of $5.50 until you reach that higher level of maturity.

Meals-on-Wheels also adds a festive spirit to the Center. I’m just not into decorations and dressing up so I am thankful Meals-on-Wheels regularly does something special such as this week with two special Halloween events. This Thursday evening, October 30th is their Bingo Halloween Costume Party which starts at 6:00 PM with free food and drinks. The best costume will win $100 and second place $50. And for the less expressive personalities, you do not have to wear a costume. Also at Friday lunch, Halloween costumes are encouraged and there will also be prizes for best costumes.

For the Next Chapter Lecture Series, we try to provide a variety of presentations covering such areas as health information, local history and local government. This coming Tuesday, Northern Wasco County Parks and Recreation’s director Scott Green will discuss the importance of Parks and Recreation in our community and how their programs and facilities support older adults.

The Center’s most popular program is Tuesday Night Music because it offers good music and a place to dance for all ages. When the Jazz Generations are playing, which they are tonight, you can always find great dancers on the floor showing us how to stay young by dancing the night away. Next week the Olde Tymers with Mike Tenney and Dave Warren will be playing good old country music. Music always starts at 7:00 and admission is free but donations are greatly appreciated.

The Center’s goal is to expand the creative opportunities available at the Center. Studies show engaging in creative activities that encourage personal expression whether it is music or dance or drawing improves overall health including fewer falls and doctor visits and significantly reduced risk of depression and loneliness. The creative process of personal expression can be a lifelong activity that provides a sense of satisfaction and enjoyment and a healthier life.

In The Dalles there are many opportunities for “creative engagement”. At the Center we offer Tap and Clogging for folks who want to put their constantly tapping toes to good use, the Serenaders for folks who want to stretch their vocal chords by reaching the high notes and the Quilters for folks who want to create beautiful quilts one stitch at a time.

You can also audition for the Cascade Singers or the Theater Company of The Dalles, or just show up and perform with the Dallesport Jammers on Sundays. The Dalles Art Center is another opportunity to express yourself and they will be offering several adult classes this fall including: Acrylics on Saturday, November 15 from 10-12 and Painting Better Landscapes on Saturday, November 22 from 9:30 am – 3:30 pm. For more information you can call them at 296-4759 or stop by. The Art Center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 – 5.

And don’t forget The Dalles Art Center’s 51st Annual Art Auction “Vote for Art!” on November 8th. Tickets are on sale at Klindts and the Chamber of Commerce.

Well, that is it for another really fast week. How time whizzes by. Until the next time, appreciate the banquet we have before us.

Borrowed from the Meals-on-Wheels monthly newsletter: “Dear Lord, so far today, I am doing alright. I have not gossiped, lost my temper, been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish or self-indulgent. I have not whined, complained, cursed, or eaten any chocolate. I have not charged nothing on my credit card. But I will be getting out of bed in a minute, and I think then I will really need your help.”

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