Aging Well February 24th

In many ways we are what we remember. Mark Twain wrote, "Without memory we vanish - we cease to exist - our past is wiped out..."

It is scary: the fear of not being conscious of whom we are, starting with the gradual decline in remembering simple tasks – where did I park my car? We see the affects all around us - loved ones and friends who are just a shadow of their former selves and it tears at our hearts. And we ask ourselves, is that our future?
But Mark Twain continues, "...and yet we pay little attention to it except when it fails us- we do precious little to exercise it, to nurture it, to build it, to protect it." Is there anything we can do to prevent or at least slow down the gradual deterioration of our memory? Or is it too late and as Satchel Paige once said, "If I knew I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself." To find out, my wife and I attended an OHSU Brain Awareness lecture in Portland on "Aging Brain Plasticity: It's Never Too Late to Learn or Improve" featuring Carl Cortman, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Brain Aging and Dementia at UC Irvine. (I really wonder how well my brain does function because I took her to this lecture instead of "Brain Chemistry for Lovers "Where the Art of Song meets the Science of Love".)

I will skip the hippocampus and anti-amyloid therapies (I just mention those to give the impression I know what I am talking about.) and instead I will save you $25 and summarize in one word the main point of Dr. Cortman’s presentation: exercise. That's it. Even though we live in a knowledge based society and our thinking skills are more important, we are less active which ironically contributes to our cognitive decline. One reason exercise is beneficial, particularly aerobic exercise, is because it increases the level of a chemical in the brain named BDNF - Dr. Cortman describes BDNF as brain fertilizer - which encourages neurons to form new synapses and strengthen existing ones. He described research that shows exercising three times a week can reduce the risk of dementia by 32% which rivals some medicines in their effectiveness. Exercise is good for your heart and there is now research to show it is also good for your brain.

If you want more information, go to the OHSU Brain Awareness web site at, or Sharp Brains at They are both excellent resources on brain development and brain health. And in future columns I will address the three other pillars of brain health: balanced diet, stress management, and brain exercise.

There is an incredible amount of health information available on the Internet, but where can you find information that is accurate, understandable and easily accessible? The fine folks from the Planetree Health Resource Center will answer that question when they present "One Stop Shopping for Health Information on the Internet" on Monday March 2th at 1:00 in the Center's basement computer lab. There is space for only ten people. You can sign up at the Center by calling 296-4788.

And for the final flourish, Jerry Tanquist will speak about Wasco County’s role in how the Union Pacific Railroad came to be this Saturday at 1:30 in the upstairs courtroom of the 1859 Courthouse behind the Chamber of Commerce; Jim Bishop and Mike Kilkenney will discuss the latest changes in Reverse Mortgages at the Center on Tuesday at 11:00 AM and tonight at 7:00 pm at the Center the Olde Tymers will be playing country western for your dancing and listening pleasure.

Well that is enough for my little brain to convey in one week. Until we meet again, keep smiling, keep thinking and keep moving.

“The more you use your brain, the more brain you will have to use.” George Dorsey - WWII veteran

Aging Well February 17

The one thing in life that doesn’t change is change. And whether it is the price of gas or the space for this column, nothing remains the same. I am extremely fortunate - and the envy of many - to have the opportunity to write a weekly column sharing information that will help us all age well. But with the Chronicle making positive changes to meet the challenges in the newspaper business, I need to reduce the length of this column. So in the next several weeks I will rethink the column’s purpose and content to make the best of this opportunity. If you have any suggestions or thoughts you can call, write or e-mail me or just stop me in the store. And although as I am writing this column today it feels like I am trying to squeeze into an old pair of pants to look good for the forty year high school reunion, I will try to follow Thomas Jefferson’s advice “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”

The Next Chapter Lecture on the 24th at 11:00 will feature Duane Francis CEO and President of the Mid-Columbia Medical Center. Duane will discuss the exciting changes occurring at MCMC and the future of the health care industry. It is a changing landscape with many challenges ahead. One illustrative example: every year in the US, 33,000 doctors are retiring and only 8,000 are graduating from medical schools.
The Great Decision group will meet again on Wednesday February 25th to discuss “U.S. and the Rising Powers”. Great Decisions is a national program of the Foreign Policy Association to help the public better understand important foreign policy issues facing the U.S. Twenty-eight folks attended the first meeting which was used to get acquainted and organized. Thanks to Dorothy Rooper for urging me to reestablish the series and to Ken Farner for facilitating the first meeting. You can still sign up by calling the center or e-mailing me. With the changes in American leadership there seems to be an increased interest in global issues.
There is plenty of history in The Dalles and Wasco County to get your brain synapses snapping. A reservoir of local historical information can be found on the Internet at You can find picture puzzles of historical sites and learn more about the Oregon Territorial Express Stagecoach Mail Run arriving in The Dalles in September.

The Theater Company of The Dalles presents the popular and entertaining comedy “The Odd Couple” starting Feb 19, at 7:30 at the CGCC Little Theater in Building 2. Adults $12, students and seniors $10. More information at
In Hood River, the Cast presents another comedy “The Foreigner”, continuing through February 28th including a special 2:00 matinee on the 22nd. The setting is a rural fishing lodge in Georgia where Charlie - Froggy’s shy friend - is introduced as being from a foreign country unable to speak English. Charlie hears more than he should creating fun filled misadventures. Adults $15, seniors and students $12.
Thanks to Mill Creek Point, the Center’s lounge – or you could say living room - is more comfortable and inviting with the addition of four used but good condition stuffed chairs. Because of Mill Creek Point’s major expansion, the chairs were no longer needed, but were exactly what we have been searching for. The Center appreciates their generosity.

For the Center’s Tuesday Night Music and Dance on the 24th, the Olde Tymers will return to play “music from the days when gas was 22 cents a gallon”. Enjoy a night out on the town with fine music and good friends. The music starts at 7:00 and admission is free although donations are gladly accepted. Everybody is welcome.
And a last minute addition, The Center's NU-2-U Shop is having a $1 a Bag Sale this Thursday from 10:00 - 2:00 to make room for spring items. Come by and check it out.

That’s another week. Until we meet again, “brevity is the soul of wit”.

Aging Well February 11th

As we age, we all gain different insights. Some we share: how the same things your kids did that made you so mad seem so cute when your grandkids do them; some we keep to ourselves: how many times we have to get up in the middle of the night – and it’s not to check whether the doors are locked.

Hugh Downs, TV personality, shared with Connie Goldman and Phillip Berman for their book “The Ageless Spirit” one of the most valuable insights he has learned: "he didn't have to hate anybody". "When I was very young, I had a lot of hatreds that came from fears. Now there's nobody to fear, and therefore there's nobody I hate. That's a great freedom, because hate, as somebody said, is a weapon you wield by the blade, and it just cuts you up. But if you don't fear, you don't hate. There's a great liberty in (that)."

For Hugh Downs hatred came from fear, but it can also grow from anger or feeling injured. And as with our fears, we can let go of our sense of injury or anger by forgiving. And it too can set us free.

Forgiving can free us from our self absorption with past injustices and because we are no longer shackled to the past, we can move forward to a brighter and more positive future. And the beauty of forgiving is that it is about you and not the other. It is within your power to forgive. It is within your power to just let go.

There is a time to forgive, to heal, to move on, but when and how is unique to each individual and may take time to travel the road towards forgiveness. It is a personal choice, a heartfelt choice to forgive and let go without any consideration of the forgiven. It is unconditional and without reciprocity. And as it is important, it is not easy. A Gallup poll found that 94% of the folks sampled said it was important to forgive, but 85% said they needed some outside help to be able to forgive.

Who has touched your soul like a hot iron that you have found so hard to forgive? A trusted friend, a loved one, a business partner, yourself, God?

As part of the Healthy Aging series, this coming Thursday at 1:00, Fern Wilcox from Wasco County Extension will discuss “To forgive or not to forgive: That is the Question”. You will learn that forgiveness is not forgetting, not condoning, not reconciliation nor self-sacrifice and not a clear-cut, one time decision, while gaining a better understanding of what forgiveness is. You will learn steps to forgiveness that may help you along this difficult personal journey. Maybe Thomas S. Szasz’s was on to something when he said “The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.”

This Saturday - which is Oregon’s 150th birthday - starting at 1:30 The Original Courthouse Regional History Forum features John Lundell celebrating the Oregon statehood sesquicentennial with a presentation on Wasco County’s “Three Courthouses: From Statehood to Oregon's 150th Birthday” (And since Wasco County celebrated its own sesquicentennial five years ago, contrary to the rest of the state, we can all correctly pronounce “sesquicentennial”. Right?)

Providing another opportunity to get out and dance, Steve Hudson is offering Line Dancing at the Center on Friday nights from 6:00 - 8:30. One advantage of Line Dancing is you don’t have to have a partner. You can leave your stuck-in-the-sofa spouse - who can dance but won’t - at home and still have a good time. Or if you are unattached you don’t have to feel uncomfortable walking in the door alone. Come down by yourself or with a friend and dance the night away. The night is open to all ages and there is a suggested donation of $3 for a single, $5 for a couple and $6 for a family.
When Dave Warren and Gordon Macleod approached me about hosting a “Jam and Dance” at the Center on every fourth Sunday from 2 - 5 pm, I thought “why not?” Just bring your guitar, bass, accordion or bassoon and come join the sing around. In addition to the fourth Sundays, The Dallesport Jammers will be playing at the Center on the fifth Sundays. You can also find them playing around the area on the first, second and third Sundays and I’ve been told many times where, but at times I seem to resemble the quote, “Everyone has photographic memories. Some just don’t have any film.”
If you also like to perform solo or just like to listen, Jim Pryts, manager of Cherry Heights Retirement Community and guitar strummer is hosting an “Open Mic Showcase” every 2nd Saturday (the 14th of this month) where acoustic musicians, songwriters, singers, poets and bassoon players can showcase their talents. Call 541-296-6880 to sign up or to find more information.

And there has been a last minute music change. Tonight “The Jazz Generations” will be filling in for the originally scheduled Notecrackers and will also be playing next Tuesday the 17th. We hope to see the Notecrackers back next month. Admission is free but donations are appreciated. Dancing starts at 7:00 and everyone is invited.

Next Tuesday the 17th at 11:00 Dr. PK Swartz will share his story and pictures of his adventure to Antarctica “the coldest, highest, windiest, driest, and iciest continent on earth" in 1960-1961as part of the U. S. Navy's Operation Deep Freeze. is a fascinating account of creating a livable environment under very difficult circumstances while doing valuable scientific research.

There is more, but there is neither time nor space. So until we meet again, to speak the truth you may need to hold your tongue.

“Forgiveness is the answer to the child's dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is again made clean.” Dag Hammarskj√∂ld
And a different perspective from the curmudgeon, Oscar Wilde “Always forgive your enemies - nothing annoys them so much.”

Wednesday (11) Taco Casserole
Thursday (12) Valentine Party - BBQ or Plain Pork Roast
Friday (13) Sweethearts Salisbury Steak with Hearty mashed potatoes
Monday (16) Beef Stroganoff over noodles
Tuesday (17) BIRTHDAY DINNER!! Turkey and Dressing

Senior Center Activity Schedule:
Wednesday (11): Seniorcise 9:15; Computer Basics 10:30; “Young at Heart” Serenaders 10:30; Pool 1:00; Strong Women 2:00
Thursday (12): Yoga 9:30; Tap and Clogging 10:00; Wii Bowling Practice 1:00 – 2:00; Pinochle 1:00 – 3:00; MOW Bingo 6:00
Friday (13): Seniorcise 9:15; Learn the Wii 10:00; Pool 1:00; Wii Bowling Practice 1:00 – 2:00; Bridge 1:00; AARP Tax Aide 3:00 - 6:00
Saturday (14): Coffee and Cribbage 9:00; AARP Tax Aide 9:00 - 1:00; MCSC Bingo 6:00 PM
Monday (16): AARP Driver Safety 9:00; Seniorcise 9:15; Quilters 10:00; Computer Basics 10:00; Strong Women 2:00; Wii Bowling Night 6:30
Tuesday (17): AARP Driver Safety 9:00; Yoga 9:30; Next Chapter Lecture Series "Operation Deep Freeze – Antarctica 1960-1961" 11:00; “Yes, You Can Draw!” 2:15; Music “Jazz Generations” 7:00

Aging Well February 4th

There are times when you have a thought to share or story to tell but the words just don't ring right. This seems to be one of those times, but fortunately there is much to share from history to taxes to music.

History is all around us: Fort Dalles Museum, Celilo, Rock Fort, Balch Hotel, and the Rorick House are just a few of the many historic places in Wasco County. We are a county with a proud history to appreciate and celebrate. (What other local newspaper has a feature like Roger Nichol's Sunday challenge to identify local historical photographs?) The Original Courthouse Regional History Forum Series is an opportunity to learn more about our colorful and rich history. The series starts Saturday February 7th at 1:30 pm in the upstairs courtroom of the 1859 Courthouse located at 410 W 2nd Street behind the Chamber of Commerce. The first topic will be the fascinating story of Orlando Humason, devoted pioneer and the "Father of Wasco County" presented by local art teacher Sonja Little who has created a fresh retelling of Orlando's story.

I was close but not quite right on the times for the free AARP Tax Aide Program starting this Friday in the basement of the Center. The actual hours are 3:00 - 6:00 on Fridays and 9:00 - 1:00 on Saturdays. For the first several weeks, the lines are long (first come, first serve), but you will have plenty of time as the program continues through April 11th. Every year there are changes in the tax laws and the AARP volunteers are trained and tested to make sure they are up to speed. To help prepare you for your visit with the AARP tax aide volunteer or with your own tax preparer, here are three of Jim's Tantalizing Tax Tips.

"1. When visiting your tax preparer, you should know the amount of the Stimulus Payment you received or were credited for in 2008. This figure may affect both your 2008 federal and state returns. 2. Persons who paid property taxes in 2008 should bring a record of the amount paid. This will be used in itemizing deductions or will be a calculated deduction in addition to the standard deduction. 3. Taxpayers over age 62 who may owe Oregon Tax should bring a record of their medical expenses for 2008. In many cases preparers can use the standard deduction for federal and itemize deductions for Oregon only."

Next Tuesday, as part of the Center's Next Chapter Lecture Series, Gregory Keilman local chiropractor will be discussing "How to Stay Young the First 100 Years". I imagine none of us really want to live forever - forever is an awfully long time- but we do want to live a healthy and productive life as long as possible. Dr. Keilman will help us understand what we can do to make that happen. The lectures are every Tuesday and start at 11:00 AM.

At the Center on Tuesday February 10th the Notecrackers will be back performing vintage music for you dancing pleasure. They have been performing and entertaining folks at the Center for over four years and we really appreciate their support. And performing tonight will be the Cherry Park Band, formerly known as Harold and Friends, who always draw a good crowd. The music starts at 7:00; admission is free - there is never a cover charge - but donations are appreciated. All ages are welcome.

There are many opportunities to sway, glide or stumble to the music in the Gorge: square dancing, tango lessons, tap and clogging and belly dancing (which I think I will skip. It is hard enough to get my feet moving in the right direction, let alone my stomach). Every Friday the Cherry Park Grange, located at Lambert and Old Dufur Road, hosts an evening of line dancing. It is open to singles and couples of all ages. Lessons start at 6 pm, followed by open dancing until 9 p.m. Cost is $3 per person, $5 per couple or $6 for the whole family, but admission is free for first-time visitors. Call (541) 993-3540 for more information.

And remember, dancing is good for the body and soul. So don’t feel shy or embarrassed to get up and have a good time. As the Japanese Proverb states, “We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.”

The Center has been invited to participate in the national “Go Red for Women Day” this Friday February 6th. As part of this special day calling attention to heart disease among women, the Mid-Columbia Medical Center, Planetree Health Resources Center and Wasco-Sherman Public Health Department are sponsoring a Heart Walk at 1:00 and a free Health Expo at the Civic Auditorium from 11am till 2 pm. Besides free health screenings, heart healthy food samples and recipes, raffle drawings, an Oasis from Stress there will be interactive exhibits and that is where the Center will be involved. At the Center we have found Wii bowling and the other Wii games a great way to get out of your seat, get moving and have fun. Several of us from the Center will be at the Civic demonstrating and teaching you how to play this #1 video game. And we promise, guaranteed or your money back, you will be so good from our expert instruction; you will want to challenge – and beat - your grandkids. For more information contact Go Red coordinators Michelle Spatz and Linda Stahl at 298-8444.

Well there was much to share so I didn't have time to ponder the imponderables. I will have to leave that heavy lifting for another day. But let me leave you with a few more words from Carl Kramer, the sage of the senior center, “To live long, take small steps and keep your eyes open”. So watch your step and if I don't see you between now and then, we’ll meet again next week. Same time, same place.

“History is merely a list of surprises. It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again.” Kurt Vonnegut, author and Hoosier

Aging Well January 28th

Senior Living January 27th 2008

I found that birthdays sure generate mixed emotions when you have passed the magical age of sixty. It can be a nice excuse to take your wife out to Cousins for dinner (although I shouldn’t need an excuse) or buy that new technological gadget. But it is also a time when you look ahead and the horizon seems a little closer than the day before. You play the game of feigning non-interest and embarrassment while appreciating the well wishes from friends and acquaintances (and even a special voice message from a good friend singing happy birthday). But why? Is it again an expression of denial, trying to ignore the inevitable, a reminder that we aren't built to be here on this earth forever.

I imagine my friends in their eighties and nineties are just smiling at my ambivalence and gyrations. I imagine they are thinking “these boomers need to just get over it” and appreciate what you do have (or as the Frenchman thought when an attractive young woman passed by "if only I was eighty again"). Carl Kramer about to celebrate his 101st birthday in March keeps it in perspective by saying as long you can get your boots on and your feet touch the floor it is a good day. Amen.

We are fortunate to live at a time when the average life expectancy in the U.S. is 78, up 30 years since 1900 and up 10 years since 1950, according to the Census Bureau. There is even new terminology used by the professionals on aging calling those younger than 80 the "young old," and those younger than 65 as the "near old. But the real benefit of aging is “been there, done that and learned from it," said David Reuben, head of geriatric medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles. And because of the experience that comes with age, some professionals such as orchestra conductors and diplomats peak in their 60s and 70s. A recent example is George Mitchell who was just appointed by President Obama to be his special envoy to the Middle East and was born in 1933 (I give you his year of birth so you have to do the mental math. And remember it is 2009!) One of the swimmers I coach asked me how old I was, but not wanting to scare her and say sixty-one, I just answered "Old enough to appreciate each day”. It is just as Mark Twain once said "Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."

We are also fortunate to have the Transportation Network (formerly known as LINK) providing door to door rides in The Dalles area including Mosier. To reserve a ride you need to call 296-7595 and make your reservation by 3:00 for a ride the next business day, but you should try to make your request as early as possible. There is limited capacity so they cannot guarantee a ride every time, but they will do their best to accommodate every request. The fares range from $1.50 to $5.00 one way and you will need exact change. The Transportation Network service hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 - 5:00 PM excluding most holidays.

The Network also provides a weekly ride into Portland. Every Thursday morning the bus leaves the The Dalles Transportation Center at 7:30, stops at the Gateway Max Station at 9:10, OHSU at 9:45 and Clackamas Town Center at 10:30. For the return trip it retraces its steps and leaves Clackamas Town Center at 2:15, OHSU at 3:00, Gateway Max Station at 3:30 and arrives back in The Dalles at 5:10.Cost is $8 one way and there are no reservations so it is first come, first seat.

On February 3rd, Tuesday Night Music and Dance will host Harold and Friends starting at 7:00 pm. When I recently talked to Harold they were considering changing the name of the band to The Cherry Park Band. So whether it is Harold and Friends or the Cherry Park Band you will find gifted musicians playing great music for your listening and dancing pleasure. And playing tonight will be the Jazz Generations, which like a fine wine gets better with age. The music starts at 7:00 and admission is free although donations are gladly accepted. And not just anybody, but everybody is welcome.

The Next Chapter Lecture Series will present Thomas Koelker of Heart of Gold Caregivers to speak on the topic of "Selecting an In-home Caregiver". Today there are many options for care and one many seniors choose is hiring an in-home caregiver. But what should you be looking for to make the right choice? Find out at the Center’s next lecture on Tuesday February 3rd at 11:00 AM.
Lyn and Jann Dalton wanted me to announce they have added some new games and larger payouts to the Saturday Night Bingo lineup. As the weather starts getting friendlier, we are seeing more new folks out experiencing this American pastime. And if you are busy on Saturday nights there is always Meals-on-Wheels Bingo on Thursday Night. Doors open by 4:30 and games start at 6:00.

When Fern Wilcox discussed this mode of expression that is good for the body, mind and spirit called laughter, she shared one fact suggesting we may be taking life a little too seriously: children laugh 400 times a day while adults laugh only 25 times a day. I know children don't have all the responsibilities and commitments and their humor includes farting and belching, but we have late night comedians, the comic pages and ourselves. As adults we should set a goal of laughing at least 200 times a day, make up the difference with 200 smiles and count it good.

So until we meet again, put a grin on your face, a bounce in your step and a little love in your heart.

I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, And that enables you to laugh at life's realities.
- Dr. Seuss


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