Senior LIving September 9th

Now that the presidential conventions are over and the election is in full swing and IF we can get past who does or doesn’t wear a flag lapel pin or who is or isn’t pregnant, I hope there will be an honest and thoughtful discussion about one of the most important issues facing all of us: the crisis in our health care system and the need for health care reform. It is undoubtedly a complex issue, but the public’s dissatisfaction with the current system is deep and broad and growing.

According to Humphery Taylor, Chairman of The Harris Poll – Harris Interactive, who spoke at the Aging in America conference last spring, only thirteen percent of the public felt our health care system works well, while fifty percent felt fundamental changes are needed and almost a third felt there is so much wrong with the system that we need to completely rebuild it.

And there is substantial evidence to support the public’s perception. Based on data presented by Taylor, the US health care system compared to most other western democracies is by far the most expensive, the most inequitable, the least efficient and one of the most unpopular. The one bright spot is that we Americans have relatively short waiting time for elective/non-emergency surgery.

While there is consensus that the system is broken, there is no consensus on the specifics of how to fix it. That is the challenge. Forty-eight percent of the public want to maintain the current system based mainly on private insurance compared to forty-one percent who want to replace the current health system with a government run health care system. And even more challenging, the public wants change but doesn’t want much higher taxes, higher out-of- pocket costs, bigger government, rationing, reduced quality and reduced choice. It may take a Solomon to find the solution to what everyone agrees is a critical problem.

But in the greatest nation in the world, it is unacceptable that a husband, after his wife falls, must think first about whether he can afford to take her to the emergency room. It is unacceptable that one can’t get health insurance because he has a “previous medical condition”. It is unacceptable that health care costs are increasing so fast, fewer individuals and businesses can afford it. It is my hope that after this election, we as a nation can find an answer to one of the most critical issues facing us: how to provide basic affordable health care for everyone.

Next Tuesday another home grown talent will be performing at the Senior Center. Victor Johnson, an excellent folk and blues guitarist, has entertained folks from 80 to 8 months, (well maybe not 8 months but close) and you can hear for yourself this coming week. On Saturday take your grand kids to hear Victor and Steve McLennon kick-off the Wonderworks Free Kids Music concerts at 11:00 am on the outdoor amphitheater stage at Columbia Gorge Community College. And then stop by the Senior Center on Tuesday night and enjoy his musical talents again. There is a child in all of us.

And tonight The Notecrackers will be playing for your listening and dancing pleasure. You may not think you know how to dance but come anyway because as I heard at the center (I can’t remember who told me, which may be a good thing), “I never learned to dance, but I sure know how to hold them.”

Hal Sessions has scheduled speakers for the next three months of the Next Chapter Lecture Series, but he had one open date next Tuesday the 16th. So Hal and I took the easy route and scheduled ourselves to present the latest news on the Senior Center’s building expansion. We have the cost estimates and floor plans and are working hard on developing a capital campaign. This is your chance to get the latest information on this important community project.

A new monthly informational series called “Healthy Aging” starts at 11:00 this Thursday (11th) at the Senior Center. The class is taught by Fern Wilcox, Wasco County Extension Faculty and Strong Women instructor, and the first topic is “Food Safety for Seniors”. But you may ask, “Why is this important to me? I have had a lot of experience buying and preparing food and studies show that older adults are better handling and preparing food than any other age group”. The first reason is obvious: things have changed. Food is produced and distributed differently. And secondly, as we age we are less able to resist food-borne illnesses which is a serious concern for older adults. Fortunately, food-borne illnesses can be easily prevented and you will learn how at this informative presentation.

Couple of quick reminders: “Living Well with Chronic Conditions” starts on Tuesday September 16th at 2:00. Over 14 people are registered but the more the merrier. The class is set up so you can learn from each other as you share what works for you. Also only six seats are left for “Menopause: The Musical”, Sunday, September 26th at 2:00 pm and only $65 including transportation. We haven’t had one daring man sign up yet. And that includes me. I’m staying home because women have always been a mystery to me and I am afraid to learn what I don’t know.

Every Wednesday I e-mail to folks (you don’t have to be a Senior Center member) the Center’s weekly newsletter as well as this column. If you would like to receive either or both electronically send an e-mail to and I will put you on the list.

Well that is it again for another week. I do have to go. I have important work to do: I need to practice my Wii golf and tennis skills for the Friday 10:00 Wii class. Isn’t life grand! So until we meet again, don’t forget to stretch – it is good for your body and mind.

“If you are sure you understand everything going on around you, you are hopelessly confused.” Walter Mondale

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