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”.


Follow by Email

Blog Archive