Senior Living December 9th

I hesitate to start with this next topic because who really wants to talk about feet, because what do you think of? Ugly toenails, disgusting smells and corns and bunions? There ain't nothing sexy about feet. (I always thought a podiatrist was the lowest of the medical professions.) But you live and learn, and I have found that this constantly used by often neglected part of the body is critical to our well being.

Thursday, December 10th at 1:00 at the Senior Center you will have the opportunity to discover more about “Foot Care in Later Life” with Fern Wilcox from Wasco County Extension. During this session of the monthly Healthy Aging Series you will learn steps to prevent foot problems including foot hygiene, how to take care of your toenails and when to seek a doctor's advice. If you think you know all you need to know about feet, try this short true or false quiz and see how smart you really are.

1. Our feet can mirror our general health. Not surprising the answer is yes. Often foot problems are the first indication of more serious problems including arthritis, diabetes, and kidney, heart, circulatory or neurological disease.

2. There is no difference between the number of men and the number of women who experience foot problems. I know women live longer, are smarter and better looking, but I figure when it comes to our feet, men and women should be equal. Right?
Wrong. This is one area where men shine. Women have about four times as many foot problems as men. One reason might be that 9 out of 10 women wear shoes too small for their feet.

3. About one quarter of all bones in the body are in the feet.
True. I was surprised to learn that the human foot contains about 52 bones - 25% of the number of bones in the body. - as well as numerous joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons.
Well, I didn’t so well. Maybe you did better, and even if you did, you will learn much more about this critical part of the body. I believe it was the Greek philosopher Socrates who proposed the first step to personal fulfillment was to “Know thy feet”.

I am not sure it is a lecture because the presentation for the Next Chapter Lecture Series is literally hands-on. Freda Wasson and Robin Fritts, both Licensed Massage Therapists will be at the Center to discuss and demonstrate the “Joy of Massage”. I know there are some of you where just the thought of being touched by some unknown person gives you the willies - like my wife - but even she has learned that massage can provide tremendous benefits. "Joy of Massage" will be informative, relaxing and fun and definitely not one to miss on Tuesday the 16th at 11:00 in the basement of the Senior Center.

With so many pleasant distractions during this time of the year: Christmas cards, holiday bazaars, and where to find a place to park, you may have forgotten about the AARP Driver Safety class this coming Monday and Tuesday. Dennis makes sure the class is informative and interesting with cookies and coffee and bathroom breaks. And if you are really good students, I heard he lets you out early for recess. The class is on the third Monday and Tuesday of every month from 9:00 – 1:00 at the Senior Center. You can call the Center at 296-4788 to sign up.

This holiday season there is music in the air everywhere. Next Tuesday, the 16th, Penny and Small Change will be performing for the Senior Center's Christmas Dance and Music with finger foods, beverages and Santa. The special evening is sponsored by Heart of Gold Caregivers. And tonight the Notecrackers will be performing for your dancing and listening pleasure. Music starts at 7 PM, and is free but donations are appreciated. All ages are welcome.

And there is more holiday music. On Saturday the 13th at 7:30 PM and Sunday at 4 PM, you can hear the Cascade Singers “Shout the Glad Tidings”, at their 2008 Christmas Concert at the St. Peter's Landmark. General admission is $10, $5 for students and seniors, children 10 and under free. Then on Sunday December 14th at 2 PM, The Gorge Winds Concert Band will be presenting their Christmas Concert in the ballroom of the Civic Auditorium. The concert is free but a $5 donation per person is suggested. On Monday, December 15th you can listen to the next generation of musicians at The Dalles-Wahtonka Symphonic and Jazz Bands’ “Winter’s Eve Concert“ at 7:00 PM at the Civic Auditorium. And there is always music and dance at the Cherry Park Grange.

An early reminder that on Saturday December 20th the Senior Center will hold a special third Saturday Christmas Breakfast sponsored by Mill Creek Point. The Sweet Adelines will provide special seasonal music and Santa will make an appearance. Bring all your kids and grandkids for breakfast with Santa.

Will winter finally arrive? Is there snow in the air? Will I again wait till last moment to put on the snow tires? Stay tuned. Until we meet again, enjoy life and keep your feet dry.

Senior Living December 2nd

It was a nice Thanksgiving. The kids were home, Thanksgiving dinner was delicious (which I had nothing to do with), the evening was warm for the Starlight Parade and the best team (Go Ducks!) won the Civil War game. It can’t get much better. I hope you also had an enjoyable and relaxing Thanksgiving. It is a great time to be with family and friends and to start the holiday season full of turkey and good cheer. But not for everyone.

For someone who has recently or even not so recently lost a loved one, the holidays can be particularly difficult. You may be that someone, when those memories of special times together around the holidays come flooding back, along with all of the conflicting questions associated with grief: Shouldn’t I be over this? Am I going crazy? Why can’t I feel happy?

Or it may be someone you know who is experiencing the lost of a loved one; needing your support by listening and being open and present to their quiet and many times silent sadness. It is not a time to offer advice. We all grieve differently and for many deeply personal experiences of loss it takes time and understanding to heal.

Whether it is you or a friend, it can help to find a supportive safe haven where you can cry, share your pain and realize you are not alone. It may be a natural support group such as your church or close friends. Or it may be a professional support group where you can discuss the particular challenges of the holidays.

There are several excellent and compassionate grief support groups open to anyone who has experienced a loss that provide a supportive and caring environment where you learn how to take care of yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually. Hospice of the Gorge (541-296-3228) offers a support group that meets at 10:00 AM every first and third Wednesdays at 751 Myrtle Street and Heart of Hospice (541-386-1945 or toll free 888-882-1942) sponsors a group that meets every Thursday, 10:00 AM in the lower level Community Room of The Commodore II, 312 Court Street.
Everyone goes through the grieving process differently. Father Joe shared with many that the only thing you can do wrong is to get stuck: get stuck in your sense of loss, your grief, your sadness. As life carries on, you will need to move on and eventually you will. But when, is up to you. It takes time. And until then, the rest or your life is waiting for you.
Several weeks ago I suggested you should be wary of the many e-mails circulating making claims that seem so true and believable. But aren't. One such cyber legend circulating for several years states that all cell phone numbers will be soon released to telemarketers. To keep your number out of reach of the telemarketers and avoid an avalanche of unsolicited calls, you will need to register your phone by calling the Do Not Call directory before an impending deadline. Although it is not a bad idea to register your phone, the FCC regulations already blocks the vast majority of telemarketer’s calls on cell phones and contrary to the e-mail, you can register your cell phone with the Do Not Call registry at any time. There is not a deadline. The number to call is 1-888-382-1222 and you have to call from the phone that you want registered. You can get more information at
The Next Chapter Lecture Series will feature John Bailey discussing various aspects of the Cherry Industry in the Columbia Gorge: the changes taking place in the industry, the new innovations and technologies in cherry production and harvest and how cherries are being sold and marketed throughout the world. It is a fascinating story and you will have a chance to hear it next Tuesday December 9th at 11:00 at the Senior CenterMusic can make a cold day warmer, a grey day brighter and a lonely day magical. So if your day has felt a little dreary, and needing a little pick-me-up, try the Center's Tuesday night music program. Tonight, Hardshell Harmony a popular local band is back to play Bluegrass; on the 9th, The Notecrakers will be playing their sweet sounds and then on the 15th, Penny and Small Change will be playing for the Center's Christmas Music and Dance which will include finger foods and treats and maybe even Santa. (And Penny has promised to play some holiday music to get everyone into the spirit.) So far no music is scheduled for the last two Tuesdays in December, but stay tuned because things could change. Admission is free but donations are gladly appreciated. Everybody is always welcome no matter their biological age.
You are invited to attend the Handel's Messiah Community Sing featuring the Community Chorus, orchestra and soloists on Saturday December 6th, 7:00 PM, at the St. Peter's Landmark Church. Admission is free and refreshments will be served. This community event is sponsored by St. Peter's Landmark Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
The Senior Center was closed for three days, but we got back into the swing of things on Sunday with a group of 19 folks leaving the Center for Portland to see the Singing Christmas Tree and another 100 folks dropping in for an afternoon of music: listening, dancing, jamming and eating pie. (Thanks to everyone who made it such a warm and friendly afternoon.)
Well that is all I have to say this week. Until we meet again, here is quite I want to share again that reminds us there is always hope.
Hope is that thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops... at all. ~Emily Dickinson

Senior Living November 25th 2008

I am of that age where many of my peers are new grandparents (and some not so new) and they have shared with me the many rewards and joys of grandparenthood including the fact you can send the little tykes home at the end of the day and get some rest. And with the holidays coming, this is a special time for family gatherings and a chance to see grandchildren, great grand children and in a few cases great-great grand children.

Grandparents play a unique role in our society. Because parents have to deal with the everyday activities and stresses of raising their children, grandparents with the benefit of distance and perspective, can be a valuable listener, friend and mentor to their grandchildren.

But it can be challenging (“What are kids thinking now a days?”) as grandparents struggle to see the difference between temporary styles and long term substance. What is “in” and the means of self-expression are different (Jimmy Buffet’s grandmother told him tattoos are “just a permanent reminder of a temporary feeling”). Everything seems to be changing so fast most children today probably have never seen a vinyl record let alone know the difference between 78, 45 or 33. But through this windstorm of change, the really important things remain the same: self-discipline, compassion, work, responsibility, friendship, courage, perseverance, honesty, loyalty, and faith. And grandparents by sharing their stories and personal history can be the intergenerational bridge that conveys these values and cultural norms to today’s children.

Grandparents can also provide the long view: a deeper appreciation of the past and lessons learned to help the grandchild can move beyond the “latest is the greatest” and past their parent's preachy “When I was your age I had to - fill the blank”. (A tradition I have picked from my parents, as I have been heard to say “When I was a kid we didn't have a heated swimming pool, so get in the water!”)

But there are also tremendous benefits for grandparents. Through their grandchildren, they can see a world of possibilities and hope. Grandchildfren can help one understand and appreciate the unimaginable changes that are occurring and to stay engaged in this ever changing world. And as our generations help this next generation understand our past, they can help us embrace their future, knowing that the consequences of our decisions we make today will affect their lives tomorrow.

Look for Denise Patton and myself - with adult children and spouses and other assorted relatives and friends - volunteering at the Fred Meyer after-Thanksgiving Early Bird Sale from 5:30 - 11:00. Last -year because of our volunteer efforts Fred Meyer donated to Meals-on-Wheels a Nintendo Wii which started the Center’s adventure into the Wii sports. There is now bowling on Thursday after the meals-on-wheels lunch, on Monday nights at 6:30 and on Fridays in the basement at 10:00. If you are out shopping come on by and say hi and see if we are still awake or just sleeping on the job.

You may have read recently in The Dalles Chronicle about Miyoshi, The Dalles Sister City. It has been a rewarding global relationship with many positive benefits for both cities. Although our honorable mayor Robb VanCleave never did make a trip to Miyoshi, (probably at the request of our state department) we will see how our new mayor Nikki Leisch will handle her new diplomatic responsibilities. Who knows it could be her first step to even higher office.

But I digress. At the Center's Next Chapter Lecture series on Tuesday December 2nd, you will have an opportunity to learn more about Miyoshi and The Dalles Sister City program from Bob McFadden who has been the sparkplug behind the effort. He has put his heart and soul and some of his wallet into making the relationship a success. It will be a fascinating presentation with pictures and stories that show how The Sister City program can make a difference in the world.

The Dallesport Jammers will be performing at the Center this Sunday, November 30th from 2:00 - 5:00. Every fifth Sunday, the Jammers have been gracious enough to bring their guitars, amplifiers, accordions, and best singing voices to the Center for an open jam session - you never know who all is going to show up - where everyone gets a chance to sing, pick or strum. There is a full range of musical talent but what everyone has in common is that they all love to perform. So if your family and friends are gone, you have finished your early Christmas shopping (with what money you have) and you are looking for something to do besides watching football on TV, this is the place to be.

From the bulletin board - The local chapter of the American Red Cross with cooperation from Meals-on-Wheels will be serving breakfast on Saturday Dec 6th from 7:30 - 10:30 at the Senior Center. Because Santa will be making a special guest appearance, they are serving his favorites: pancakes, scrambled eggs and ham. The cost is $6.50 and Santa will stay around long enough so you can have your picture taken with him (he does have important work to finish at the North Pole).

As well as a time to gather with family and friends, Thanksgiving is also a time to give thanks for all the blessings we have received. The Center's mission is to promote healthy aging by sharing and caring and without the volunteers who care enough to share their talents, skills and time the center would not exist. So the Center would like to thank all the volunteers from the teachers to the table movers; from the building monitors to the bingo callers; from the receptions to the quilters, and everyone in between.

And thanks to all the folks who have helped make our community a healthier place to live and grow by giving of themselves for the benefit of others whether through your church, civic organizations, elected office or just on your own visiting your neighbor. Healthy aging is not just about getting old. It’s about learning, loving, living and giving back.

Well that’s it again. Until we meet again, enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving and as it has been said, if the only prayer you say in your whole life was, "Thank you," it would suffice.

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.”

Senior Living November 11 2008

The official kick-off for the Community Campaign for The Mid-Columbia Senior Center Expansion will be at noon on Wednesday, November 19th during the Meals-on-Wheels lunch. And you are invited. With the generous help of many community partners including The Columbia Gorge Community College, The City of The Dalles, the Mid-Columbia Medical Center, and Design Structures, the Senior Center now has a business plan, a conceptual design with cost estimates and planning commission approval for the Senior Center Expansion. But that is only the first act. Now we need to raise the estimated $1.8 to begin the construction. But don't panic. Most of it will come from large foundation grants. But for them to invest in this project, they want to see strong community support and although the city, college, and hospital are important they aren’t enough. The success of this project will depend upon you.

In a few years, the Center will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Senior Center building. With the “silver tsunami” coming and all of us living longer, this community deserves a facility that will meet the needs of the future while fulfilling the dreams of the past; provide financial security for the Center’s activities while being a resource for the whole community. We are grateful to those faithful and determined elders of the community, many of whom are no longer with us, that left us with such a wonderful legacy. They made it happen and now it is our turn.

The Wasco County Library is looking for storytellers for National Tellabration Day on Saturday, November 22nd, a day when you can gather together with friends, family, neighbors, even total strangers, and share your stories no matter your age or skill. How did you get in trouble when you were young? What did you really do with the school's outhouse on Halloween? Do you have a favorite joke? Only limitation is that the story must be suitable for all ages and each story must be no more than 15 minutes. The Tellebration will run from 10:00 – 4:00 pm. Contact Rita at 296-2815 for more information.

Veterans. Attention! There is going to be a WW II Europe Tour Auction for History to help a group of high school students raise money to fund their trip to Europe so they can learn more about WW II: up close and personal. And for all veterans the Spaghetti Dinner with Salad, Bread, and Dessert is FREE! For the rest of us tickets are $20 per family and $5 single. The dinner and auction will be held on November 15th at 6:00 PM at The Dalles Middle School Commons. You can buy tickets at the door or contact June 980-4409 or Jeisse 340-0842.

Winter is slowly approaching which means it's time for the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP). The program is managed by the Mid-Columbia Community Action Program (CAP) and is designed to supplement winter heating costs for all low-income households. The eligibility requirements are a maximum annual income of $20,228 for one in the household or $26,451 for two in the household.

Many of you may have already received your application in the mail from CAP which you need to fill out and return by November 30th. If you need help, contact The Dalles office. If you know of someone who has not received an application and may meet the guidelines, have them stop by the CAP office at 312 E 4th Street or call 298-5131.

There is good news. Jim Slusher, the CAP Executive Director, thinks there will be enough energy assistance available to help all of those in need. But the bad news is with the cost of heating increasing it won’t buy as much energy as last year.

CAP also manages three discount programs for Seniors: the PUD Senior Discount program and the City of The Dalles Water and Sewer Discount Program which both provide a 10% or 35% discount; The Dalles Disposal Discount Program which offers a $3 a month discount and provides for anyone over 85 free garbage service. You do have to meet income guidelines to qualify which are the same as the energy assistance program.

The third and last Holiday Card Making class will be held at the Center on Thursday Nov. 20th from 2:30 – 4:00 in time to create your original and creative hand-made cards for the holidays. Joyce Browne will again be the guide for this card making adventure and the only cost is for the materials. You can sign up at the Center's front desk or call the Center at 296-4788.

Friends and relatives are coming for the holidays and your home is a mess. You don’t know where to start or what to keep or what to toss. What can you do? Attend this month’s Healthy Aging presentation by Fern Wilcox on how to “Declutter Your Life” on Thursday November 13th from 1:00 – 2:30 at the Center. Learn how to determine if you have a problem with clutter (I don’t think I am the only one) and identify ways to eliminate it. But most importantly it will motivate you to get started. Don’t miss this class. It could change your life - or at least straighten up your house!

And the music never ends! Next Tuesday the 18th, the ever popular Truman Boler will be playing his gold standards for your listening and dancing pleasure. Tonight you will be able to enjoy the sounds of The Notecrackers. Funs starts at 7:00 and admission is free although donations are gladly accepted.

Well it has been an exciting and historic week. We shall see what the future holds. Until we meet again, as my father always said "tomorrow is another day".

Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime,
Therefore, we are saved by hope.
Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history;
Therefore, we are saved by faith.
Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone.
Therefore, we are saved by love.
No virtuous act is quite a virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as from our own;
Therefore, we are saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.

Reinhold Niebuhr

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”.

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.”

Senior Living October 21 2008

Think back when you were young. There was energy and enthusiasm; the future was a banquet of choices and opportunities, so many things to do and so little time to do them. And "Yet, knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back." Robert Frost describes the dilemma we all face in life where one choice precludes so many others. And for various reasons: pursuing a career, raising a family, or just making ends meet, we gallop down one road not expecting to ever revisit those missed opportunities again.

But in her book "Secrets of Becoming a Late Bloomer" Connie Goldman discusses how rediscovering an interest or passion we had early in life, a road now overgrown and hidden from view, we can again experience the excitement and enthusiasm of our youth and be involved, creative and aware through the next chapter of our lives.

To help rediscover these forgotten interests, write down every activity in your life that has brought you great pleasure and satisfaction and what you particularly liked about them. You may also want to make a list of things you wanted to do but never had the time to do. Use these lists to help identify those pleasurable activities you may now want to pursue. Spend some time contemplating them; don’t rush. And during this exploration, be open to new possibilities. Give yourself permission to stretch and grow by trusting in yourself and your own curiosity. And don’t worry about looking foolish, inept or not acting your age. As we age there is less pressure to draw within the lines; we can create our own pictures. Then share them with a close supportive friend or loved one who knows you well and who you can trust to be honest. Get their advice and support. You may need their gentle encouragment to get you moving on a new road of self-discovery.

You may discover now is the time to write, to paint, to entertain, to educate or to heal. We all know many people who in their 50's, 60's or 70's have rediscovered a purpose whether it is local history, grief counseling, dance or ministry that has given them new energy, a new drive and an enthusiasm for life. Growth and change continues until we die. We can decide to live an active life but we can also decide how to live an active life full of passion and purpose. Our most satisfying discoveries may still be ahead of us.

Saturday night someone will be leaving the Senior Center with a smile on their face. The big prize for Saturday Night Bingo has grown to $425 and sixty numbers will be called for the winning blackout. Which means in layman’s terms, it is all but certain that someone will drive home with $425 in their pocket. Bring your lucky pennies; wear you lucky socks. It may just be your night! The Center appreciates all the folks who come out and play because the proceeds from Saturday Night Bingo helps support the Senior Center and its mission: “promoting healthy aging by sharing and caring”. And don’t forget Meals-on-Wheels Halloween Bingo night on Thursday October 30th. Doors open at 4:30 and Bingo starts at 6:00.

The Senior Center’s Young at Heart Serenaders practice the first two Wednesdays of each month from 10:30 – 11:30. The last two Wednesdays of the month they go out into the community and sing at retirement or care centers. They particularly enjoy singing in the Atrium at MCMC where the music floats up to the second and third floors that open up on the atrium. A sample of their fall music is “Autumn Leaves”, “The impossible Dream” and “This is the Army, Mr Jones”. Rehearsals are open to everyone. If you enjoy singing you will enjoy singing with the Young at Heart Serenaders.

At the Next Chapter Lecture Series on Tuesday October 28th at 11:00 am, you will learn "How to Assess and Prevent Accidents around your Home" presented by Visiting Health Services. One area that will be covered is fall prevention and how to identify ways to make your home fall proof.

But to avoid falls, you may also want to ask your doctor about your risk of falling and then modify your activities to reduce those risks. And since balance, flexibility and strength can also reduce the risk of falling and improve your chances of recovering if you do fall, it is good to participate in some kind of physical activity whether it is walking, water aerobics or a Tai Chi class. Falls are a major cause of injury and death among seniors, but falls are preventable and these are some steps you can take to help reduce your chances of falling.

"The Jazz Generations" are playing again on October 28th at the Senior Center’s Tuesday Night Music and Dance They have played all over the Northwest as well as in Las Vegas. Come down and enjoy an evening of dancing and fine music. And tonight don’t miss "Hardshell Harmony" a popular local bluegrass band playing for your listening pleasure. And Boyd Jacobsen already has the talent lined up for November with Mike Tenney and Dave Warren playing "music you remember from the days you'll never forget" on November 4th and the Notecrackers, Truman Boler and The Jazz Generations on the following consecutive Tuesdays.

Well that is it for another week. Until we meet again, "When the student is ready, the teacher appears."

Senior Living October 15 2008

Because there is so much to cover this week, I thought I would skip my wanderings about vegetables, many happy returns and the joys of grand parenting till another week. Stay tuned.

Thanks to Occupational Health Services of MCMC you will be able to get your Flu Shots on October 15th and 16th from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm in the Senior Center's basement. Make sure you have a copy of your Medicare or insurance card, since they will be billed. Otherwise the cost is $20. If you have any questions call Suzanne Cross at 296-7811 or the Senior Center at 296-4788.

This Thursday the 16th from 1:30 - 3:00 at the Center, Fern Wilcox will present "A Good Night's Sleep" the second in a her once-a-month series on Healthy Aging. Are there secrets to getting a good night's sleep? How much sleep do we need as we get older? Are naps a good thing? Fern will help us understand how to get the most from this nightly activity so critical to our health: sleep.

There was tremendous interest in seeing the “Singing Christmas Tree” in Portland, so I have reserved twenty tickets – 10 seats in the first balcony and 10 seats on the Orchestra Floor - for the 1:30 matinee performance on Sunday November 30th. The tickets including transportation will be $65 and you can pay for them at the Center. Enjoy a nice Thanksgiving with family and then start the Christmas season with a wonderful performance of the “Singing Christmas Tree”. For more information call the Center at 296-4788.

“Hospice: It's about Life!” is the topic for The Next Chapter Lecture Series. Pat Case of Hospice of the Gorge describes the value of this presentation. "People often think the worst when they hear the word 'hospice.' Let’s face it, no one really wants to think about it or talk about it… dying, that is. But according to Gretchen Hagen, Executive Director for Hospice of The Gorge, hospice is as much about living as it is about dying. While hospice specializes in providing end-of-life care, Hagen says the focus of hospice care is on helping people live life to the fullest extent possible for the rest of their lives. 'I was a hospice nurse for many years, and I’ve seen some amazing examples of how people’s lives changed for the better when they came onto hospice care. Our focus, you see, is on helping people find hope, even in the process of dying. Hospice helps people relax and we help them be free of pain … so they can actually enjoy life. And once that happens, their lives are immediately enriched. I’ve seen time and time again, how hospice has helped people have end-of-life journeys of discovery, love, and sometimes, yes, even joy.' Gretchen Hagen will be sharing her views about hospice care and the stories of patients she has known, in a presentation at the Mid Columbia Senior Center, on Tuesday, October 21 at 11:00. All are welcome to attend.

If you think you can't play golf or tennis because your body moves like the Tin Man before he got the grease, but you can still imagine yourself as Jack Nicklaus or Billie Jean King, you are the person we want to join us every Friday morning starting at 10:00 in the Center’s basement to learn to play the Wii sports games. I am asking, because last Friday I was the only person present and it is hard to explain how playing Wii Golf (which is fun) by yourself (which isn’t so much fun) is part of my many responsibilities as director. (Someone has to learn how to play the games in order to teach others, right?) During the cold and snowy months, the Wii games are great opportunity to keep moving although granted not as fast as the real game – which may be a good thing.

Tuesday Night Music on the 21st will feature “Hardshell Harmony” returning to play excellent bluegrass music. They are a popular band in town and you will really enjoy their bluegrass pickings. And tonight you can listen to Truman’s Country Gold sponsored by Heart of Gold Caregivers. Music starts at 7:00 and everyone is welcome. Admission is free but donations are gladly accepted.

It is that time of the month for our monthly Senior Center breakfast. This month's menu includes hotcakes, bacon and fruit with special seasonal toppings for the hotcakes. Breakfast is from 8:00 – 10:00 and is $5 for the general public and $4 for members. Enjoy a leisurely morning with good food and good friends. "Food always tastes better when someone else cooks it."

If you are interested in receiving information about the Center and healthy aging, please send me your e-mail address. Currently I have only 34 people on my group list for receiving the weekly Center newsletter and I would like to grow that list to 300. It would keep you in the know and save the Center plenty on postage. And I promise I will not sell your name to the nearest Viagra dealer or sub-prime mortgage lender (although I don't think we need to worry about them any more, just the consequences) or a national singles club (unless you want me to).

That is it for another week and what a week it was. Until the next time, while enduring these unsettling economic times, stay calm, enjoy the moment and think small. “The future ain’t what it use to be.” -Yogi Berra

Senior Living October 7

When I use to attend the Senior Advisory Council meetings as a county commissioner, I would always hear personal stories about how difficult it was to pay for prescription drugs that were medically necesary but unaffordable. Fortunately, in 2003 in a difficult and close vote, the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act was passed. And even though it was controversial, flawed and expensive, it was at least the first step in ensuring that everyone with Medicare, regardless of income, health status, or prescription drug usage, will have access to prescription drug coverage. This new coverage known as Medicare Part D began on January 1, 2006. But most importantly every year between November 15 and December 31 those who are eligible have the chance to enroll in the drug plan of their choice or change to a different drug plan.

Because of this opportunity to change plans, drug plan sponsors will start promoting their drug plans for the coming year during the months of October and November. If you currently have Medicare drug coverage, you will receive in the mail your plan’s “Annual Notice of Change.” This document can seem confusing and many seniors just ignore it. But it is extremely important! Be sure to read it carefully to see what changes will be made to your plan for the coming year and compare this coverage with other plans available in your area. (There are 55 stand alone plans to choose from.) If you decide to keep the same drug plan, you can continue your coverage without doing anything. But you may have many questions as you decide whether to keep or change your drug plan. Jean Hockman at the Area Agency on Aging (298-4101) is trained to answer those questions.

But she will need help to answer the many questions seniors will be asking. The state of Oregon recognizes this need, and will be providing a two day training on October 28th and 29th for anyone who would like to become a Medicare volunteer. This is an opportunity to fill a real need by providing unbiased and reliable information to seniors particularly about Medicare Part D during the enrollment period between November 15 and December 31. (The class is also a great way to learn more about the Medicare system.) You can register for the medicare volunteer training class by calling the Center at 296-4788.

The Senior Center is looking for business and individual sponsors to help financially support the Tuesday Night Music program, so the Center can continue to schedule quality musicians to entertain folks of all ages. An example of the quality is Truman Boler, the always popular one-man-band, who will be playing at the Center next Tuesday the 14th. The Center would like to thank our first sponsor, Heart of Gold Caregivers, for sponsoring Truman. Heart of Gold Caregivers provides caregivers in The Dalles as well as Hood River who are insured, bonded and trained so seniors can live in their homes longer. For more information you can contact them at 541-387-0207. Tonight the Notecrackers are playing which is a week earlier than usual. The music always starts at 7:00 and everybody is welcome. Admission is free and donations are truly appreciated.

For the next presentation of the Next Chapter Lecture Series, we are going to switch tracks and look at a fascinating piece of Wasco County history. Jerry Tanquist local railroad historian will present "The Deschutes River Railroad Race" a historical slide show of the race between two railroad companies competing to build the first rail line between the Columbia River and Bend, OR. Jerry’s last presentation on the Great Sourthern Railroad was well received and I expect this one will be just as informative and entertaining.

A quick reminder about the AARP Driver Safety Class on October 20 and 21. Dick Frost who coordinates the volunteers in the area and teaches the class in Hood River dropped by and reminded me that you can save up to 15% on your insurance rates by taking the class. (You will need to talk to your own insurance carrier to find out the exact savings.) To receive the discount you will need to take the class once every three years if you are between 55 and 69 and once every two years if you are 70 or over. But besides the financial advantage, you can learn more about the traffic laws that have changed over the last several years. Call the Center at 296-4788 to sign up for the class. It can save you some cash and possibly your life.

The Nu-2-U shop is celebrating Bette Dahlberg’s return from her trip to South Dakota by having a $1 a bag sale on Friday the 10th during their regular hours from 10:00 – 1:30. While the inflation is increasing and financial giants are staggering, you can still find a very good deal at the Nu-2-U shop. Stop by and say hi. Bette and Martha will be looking for you.

Well it has been busy around the Center. Which is good. Sunday night was the last stop for the Fellowship of Churches Progressive Dinner with Rob and Shirley Bagge providing the fine entertainment. It was a huge success and everyone is looking forward to next year. Monday morning representatives of the local ARC met at the Center to plan for their Halloween Party from 7:00 – 10:00 on the 24th. On Tuesday the “Yes, You Can Draw!” class starts for a six week run and we are working on the final details for a trip to Portland to see “The Singing Christmas Tree”. Which is all good. The Center feels alive and busy as we navigate into the autumn months. So until we meet again, keep warm, keep busy and keep your hands clean.

“Take care of all your memories. For you cannot relive them.” Bob Dylan

Senior Living September 30

As older adults we are constantly kidding and joking about those “senior moments”: where did I park the car? Where did I put the check book? Did I put my pants on before I left the house? But for me it is frustrating when I can't remember what I have written this past year. Have I mentioned this idea before? Have I already used that funny George Burns quote? (That is why this column should only be read by folks with a memory like TDWHS’s Mr. Jupe: the short, top-notch principal with the funny accent. He told me he really liked the Senior Center's new banner, but when pressed he couldn't remember what it said. He had to admit he was in his mid-50's on the path towards that day when, and I quote Mr. Jupe, "You get a feeling, you just don’t know what it is.")

But as we age, doesn’t it feel more difficult or impossible to recall new information or learn new skills? But I wonder if we have just forgotten how difficult it was to learn new ideas when we were younger. I am learning the solving techniques for Sudoku puzzles, and it is not easy. I have to keep going back to reread the instructions and examples. But if I think back to my younger days, it was hard to remember the rules for playing the popular board game Risk (and forget calculus). We may just have an elevated notion of how much easier it was to learn when we were younger. I feel we are capable of learning much more than we give ourselves credit. Learning something new has always been hard work so don’t stop. Give it a shot. It never was easy.

One form of memory loss we currently have little control over is Alzheimers. To raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer care, support and research, Flagstone Assisted Living invites you to participate in the 2008 Association Memory Walk® to be held this coming Saturday starting at 10:00 at Third and Lincoln (St. Peter’s Landmark Church). Local participants include the Oregon Veteran’s Home, Columbia Basin Care Facility, Mill Creek Point, Evergreen Health and Rehabilitation Center, Cherry Heights Retirement Communityand Mid-Columbia Senior Center. This is an opportunity to support the nation's largest Alzheimers event and help find a solution to this crippling and tragic disease that has affected so many in the Gorge.

“Yes, You can draw!” is a new drawing class at the Senior Center for those who think they can’t, starting next Tuesday the 7th from 2:15 - 4:15 for six weeks. Nancy Russell who will be teaching the drawing class has taught beginning drawing classes at PCC before she moved to The Dalles. Here is a chance to explore the world of drawing in a supportive and low stress environment.

Why not make a habit of attending the weekly Next Chapter Lecture Series at the Senior Center every Tuesday at 11:00 AM? There is always something new to learn and last Tuesday Tracy Dugick a dietitian with MCMC offered several useful tips about eating for good health. Eat fruit instead of drinking juice: less calories and more filing; shred your cheese instead of slicing it: you get the taste without as much fat; don't eat one big meal: all your meals should be about the same size; don't eat till you feel full: save that feeling for Thanksgiving; try smart snacking: have available small healthy snacks to eat when your body tells you to; use smaller plates and bowls to fight the national trend of "portion distortion"; order the smaller servings off the "senior" menu: good for your health and your budget.

Next Tuesday, October 7th, at 11:00 AM you will have another opportunity to hear Dr. PK Swartz discuss “Advanced Directives and Organ Donations - What to do so you can make your own decisions". This is a repeat of his excellent and informative presentation from last winter that you won’t want to miss.

Next Tuesday the 7th the Notecrackers will be performing. We are very fortunate to have them play the Senior Center on a regular basis. And tonight we are glad to welcome back the Sugar Daddies to play their swingy jazz sound. Tuesday is your dance night at the Senior Center with a variety of musicical styles to enjoy. Everybody is welcome and admission is free but we really appreciate you donations. And if Tuesday doesn't work or once a week isn’t enough, don't forget music at the Cherry Park Grange and square dance lessons at the Civic Auditorium.

I am writing this column while twenty women are in Portland watching "Menopause: The Musical" in Portland. Not one man, including myself, had the guts to go. But then there are times when it is just best to let the women be by themselves. We are now determining if there is enough interest to reserve tickets for the "Singing Christmas Tree" in Portland. I am looking at either the 2:30 matinee on Sunday, November 30th or Saturday, December 6th. I believe we can keep the price for a ticket and transportation at or below $65. If you are interested in seeing this Portland tradition, call the senior center to add your name to the list.

Fellowship of Churches is sponsoring a progressive dinner on Sunday October 5th, $4 for adults and $2 for children plus one food item at each stop. It is a way to get to know members from other congregations while benefitting local hunger relief. The dinner will start with an appetizer at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 1805 Minnesota, at 5:00 PM, then soup and salad at Gateway, vegetable and main course at St. Peter’s with help from Zion Lutheran and concluding at the Senior Center with Dessert prepared by the Congregational Church and some fine gospel music provided by the Bagges.

Well, that’s a wrap. Until we meet again, keep hope alive for the greatest sin is cynism.

Overheard at the Senior Center, “When you don't have any aches and pains, you are probably in a casket with someone over you giving your eulogy.”

Senior Living September 23

I don't consider myself dumb (at least not often) but after attending an excellent workshop on Medicare I am going to have to get a lot smarter in the next four years. The workshop was presented by Oregon's Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA) to help explain the Medicare system. There are over 47 million people enrolled and because everyone's situation is different, Medicare can seem complicated and confusing.

There are three basic parts to Medicare. Part A covers inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing care, home health care and hospice care and there is no premium. Part B is optional with a monthly premium of 96.40 (the premium will not increase in 2009 and the deductible will remain at $135) and covers doctor's services and outpatient care, diagnostic tests, some therapies and durable medical equipment. Part D covers prescription drugs and you pay a premium depending on your insurance provider. You are eligible when you turn age 65 (you don’t have to be retired) and there is a seven month enrollment period starting three months before you turn 65.

A few things to remember. When you get close to turning 65, you will receive information about enrolling in Medicare. It is important so make sure you read it. Never buy an insurance product without investigating it first. There are many unscrupulous salepeople who see you as an easy target. (I personally never buy anything over the phone or from a door-to-door salesperson.) If you are considering buying a private insurance plan, talk to your doctor to make sure they will accept it. If you have any questions, talk to someone you trust or call Jean Hockman at the Area Agency on Aging (298-4101). Jean has been trained about the ins and outs of Medicare and if she doesn't know the answers she knows where to find them. For your convenience, Jean will be at the Senior Center every other Tuesday from 12:30 to 1:30 to answer questions.

In collaboration with Visiting Health Services, the Senior Center is expanding its Loan Closet to offer basic medical equipment including ambulatory devices such as wheelchairs, walkers, and canes and bathroom equipment such as handrails for toilets and bathtubs and commodes. Medicare pays for many types of medical equipment, but will generally not pay for most equipment used in bathrooms. And although Medicare will pay for the first ambulatory devise, they will not pay for the second. With Joyce Browne and Debbie Kelly's help, we have weeded out the old and unsafe equipment and are looking for donations of good clean used bathroom equipment as well as any wheelchairs with the foot rests. With your help the Senior Center we will be able to lend medical equipment that Medicare won’t pay for or seniors can’t afford.

The Wasco County Historical Society has an exciting tour planned for Saturday, October 4th that combines the past with the present. You are invited to visit the Young Life Wildhorse Canyon Camp, a non-denominational Christian camp for adolescents located outside Antelope. It was formerly the Big Muddy Ranch; then became Rancho Rajneesh in the 1980's. As an additional treat, Dan Durow will be your trip narrator and share his harrowing experiences with the Rajneeshees when he was the young and handsome Wasco County Planning Director. The 30 passenger bus will depart from the upper parking lot of the Wasco County/The Dalles Library at 9:00 am and return approximately 5:00 pm. The cost is $15 per person and will include lunch in the ranch's cafeteria. To register call 541-478-3429 and send a check to WCHS in care of Jan Leininger at 1550 Morgensen Road, Mosier, Oregon 97040.

We still have five seats left to see the 2:00 pm matinee performance for “Menopause: The Musical” this coming Sunday the 28th. The bus will leave the Senior Center at 11:30 and will return by 6:30 with a short stop on the way back in Cascade Locks. Find a friend and enjoy this entertaining and inspiring musical. You will soon be singing some of the old tunes but with new lyrics including "Stayin Awake" and "My Husband Sleeps Tonight".

The last hike of the year is scheduled for Monday, Sept 29th leaving the Senior Center at 9:30. It is a moderate 4-mile round trip walk following the beautiful Cold Springs Creek to powerful Tamanawis Falls. If you can walk from the Senior Center to Sorosis Park, this is the outing for you. This hike was scheduled last month but was changed when the access to the falls was closed because of a fire in the area. Join Skip and Janet one more time to see this beautiful falls upclose and personal. The Senior Center wants to thank Skip and Janet for leading these hikes and you learn more about exploring the scenic vistas in our own backyard in Skip’s regular Sunday column in The Dalles Chronicle.

Truman Boler is coming back to the Senior Center Tuesday (30th) to play for your dancing and listening pleasure. We should have another good crowd. And tonight don’t miss “The Jazz Generations”. Admission is free and all ages are welcome!

If you have retirement investments or have been watching the stock market gyrations, you may be interested in Tuesday’s (the 30th) Next Chapter Lecture presentation "How to Invest during Bad Economic Times" presented by Heather Runyon and Tara Donivan of Edward Jones. These are not financial times for the weak hearted, but hopefully we won’t revisit the economic conditions of the mid-80’s when so many people were leaving The Dalles you couldn’t find a U-Haul to rent. But when it comes to the stock market, maybe we should take Will Rogers’ advice: "Don't gamble; take all your savings and buy some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don't go up, don't buy it.”

Well that is it again. Time marches on; a new season, a new chapter. Until the next time, to paraphrase Stephen Sondheim, “beauty is in that which changes”.

Senior Living September 16 2008

Do you know at least one person who has fallen within the last year? Hopefully not, but because our abilities and circumstances change as we age, we are at greater risk of falling resulting in broken hips, head injuries or even death. According to the Fall Prevention Center for Excellence "more than 40% of people hospitalized from hip fractures do not return home and are not capable of living independently again and 25% of those who have fallen pass away each year". But most falls are preventable and there are things you can do.

The first step is to talk with your doctor or health care worker. During your next visit ask what your risks are and what you can do to reduce them. For example, certain medications can cause dizzyness in older adults. I know of several folks who have had serious falls after starting a new medication. Know the side affects and be prepared.

The second step is to improve your balance, flexibility and strength. This can both reduce your risk of falling and also improve the chances of recovering if you do fall. We aren’t as spry as we once were. (I don’t sit down on the floor anymore because I can’t waste the hour and a half it takes to get back up.) So get moving whether it is as simple as walking, taking a water aerobics class or participating in one of the many exercise classes at the Senior Center. Tai Chi is particularly good for improving balance and there are two Tai Chi classes starting September 23rd: a class taught by Corliss Marsh on Tuesdays, 1:00 pm at the Senior Center (call 296-4788) and a class on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1:00 pm offered by MCMC at their Celilo Center (call the Center for Mind and Body at 296-7414).

The third step is too access your home to identify ways to make it fall proof particularly in the bathroom and on the steps. In the bathroom, you can install grab bars in the shower or tub, create a place to sit, and add non-slip surfaces. For the steps, you can add handrails, provide better lighting, and add contrast between steps. By making changes to the home environment a person can feel safer and decrease the risk of falling.

You can learn more about fall prevention and other ways to make your home safe at the Next Chapter Lecture on "How to Assess and Prevent Accidents around your Home" presented by Visiting Health Services on Tuesday (23) at 11:00 am at the Senior Center.

One of the characteristics of The Dalles that sets it apart from other Oregon cities is its history. This weekend you can learn and experience the history of our fine city by attending the many events at museums and historical sites throughout the city during "Historic The Dalles Days". The celebration begins Thursday, September 18, when the popular “Cascade Singers” offer a free "Old Favorites" public concert in St. Peter’s Landmark. The music starts at 7:30 and will feature folk songs, hymns, spirituals, camp songs, patriotic music and sing-along favorites.

One of the Friday events is a Tribute to Veterans, POWs and MIAs in the Civic Auditorium from 1:00 – 2:00. And Saturday there are all kinds of events to remember the “good old days”: wagon rides, free tours, music, and demonstrations at The Fort Dalles Museum from 11:00 – 4:00, a “Three Courthouses” presentation in the Original Wasco County Courthouse at 1:30 pm, the Port of The Dalles 75th Anniversary reception at Klindt’s Annex (formal ceremony at noon), a tour of D-21 School District Archive Museum at The Dalles Wahtonka High School main campus from 9:00 – 2:00 (entrance at 10th and Court Street) and many more.

Then on Saturday evening from 6:00 - 10:00 pm you can really get into the spirit by dressing up in your 1800’s finest and attending the 1858 Costume Ball and Dinner at the Discovery Center. There will be horse-drawn carriage valet parking and music performed by the High Strung String Quartet. The cost for this evening of memories is only $25 per person, and you can add an optional candlelight buffet dinner for only $12, served until 8 p.m.

Our regular cook Bonnie Lobdell will be gone this month but we are going to try to do her proud. The menu for this Saturday is Biscuits and Gravy with sausage and fruit along with the regular beverages.The Boy Scout Troop #395 will be back from their summer adventures to help serve and bus tables. Marilyn Erickson will be collecting money at the door and if you haven’t seen her for a while you can catch up on the latest going on's. Come down, visit with friends and neighbors and let someone else do the cooking because "Food always tastes better when somebody else makes it".

The Jazz Generations will be performing next Tuesday (23rd) at the Senior Center playing their Big Band sounds. Bring a dance partner and enjoy an evening of fine music and dancing the way it use to be. And tonight our home grown Victor Johnson and friends will be performing. Music starts at 7:00 and everyone is welcome. Admission is free but donations are always welcome.

A quick reminder about the new activities starting this week at the Senior Center. The Book Club starts Wednesday (17th) 7:00 pm discussing “Aristotle and an Aardvark go to Washington: Understanding Political Doublespeak through Philosophy and Jokes”. As the prophetic Will Rogers once said,"Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke". Also get a jump on the holiday season by making Holiday Cards with Joyce Browne on Thursday 18th at 2:30. And on Friday at 10:00 learn to play games on the Nintendo Wii starting with Tennis. To register call the Senior Center at 296-4788.

That is it again. Until the next time, keep moving.

“Things ain't what they used to be and never were.” Will Rogers

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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