Aging Well October 27

Social isolation can be deadly. The report, “Aging in the Shadows” commissioned by the United Neighborhood Houses of New York, states “If seniors are to avoid institutionalization or hospitalization, they require the social, emotional and physical support of others”.

We all need someone to talk with, to share stories with and to provide a friendly touch. Someone to be there. When you live alone or your mobility is limited, these simple necessities are not always available.

There are many community resources available to prevent social isolation: meals-on-wheels, caregiver support, volunteering opportunities, and gathering places such as the Center. But for many, these supports aren’t enough or possible. To address this need, the Area Agency on Aging has started a Friendly Visitors program, initially serving only Wasco County residents, but hopefully expanding to the rest of AAA service area including Sherman, Gilliam and Wheeler counties. Friendly Visitors will provide companionship and develop relationships through weekly visits with seniors complementing the supports they already receive.

Marilyn Buchanan, who recently returned to The Dalles, has been hired as the Volunteer Coordinator and she is looking for volunteers. If you are interested call Friendly Visitors at 541-298-4101 or toll free at 888-316-1362.

The Center’s terrific “booking agent” (who does not want to be mentioned by name, but Gaby knows who he is) has lined up another month of great Tuesday Night music starting off next week with the popular Truman Boler. Then performing on the following Tuesdays will be the Cherry Park Group, Sugar Daddies and then the Center's fourth Tuesday regulars, the Jazz Generations, who are also playing tonight. Music starts at 7:00 and the fun is open to everyone and anyone. Admission is free, but donations are guaranteed to bring you good luck.

A quick reminder. The Medicare presentation at the Center on Wednesday the 28th at 11:00 is a chance to find answers for many of your Medicare questions. And don’t forget, if your Medicare Advantage plan is leaving the state, you need to enroll in a new plan by December 31st.

And most importantly, don't forget Betty Harlan’s Halloween Retirement Potluck Party this Wednesday at the Center starting at 6:30 pm. She started with Meals-on-Wheels in 1975 and has been an important part of Meals-on-Wheels ever since. Betty will be moving to Bend to be closer to her daughter but she has promised to make regular visits to The Dalles. She is a generous soul and we are a much better community because of her. And be careful if she has her camera – and now her new video camera – in hand. She likes to catch you in the most embarrassing situations.

It took a real Elvis Presley fan to know last week’s “Remember When” question. Fortunately for Tom Sofie, he lives with one, his wife Nancy, who knew Elvis's first #1 hit was Heartbreak Hotel. This week the question is about the singer that some consider the first true “teen idol”, Frank Sinatra. During the 1940’s, he was followed by overzealous adolescent girl fans. What were those screaming fans called? If you know the answer, call the Center at 296-4788 or email the Center at

And lastly, there are times when you feel like broadcasting to the world an accomplishment so great you expect a presidential medal; so unbelievable even your greatest enemy will respect you. What was the awe inspiring feat? I successfully programmed both a universal TV remote and a TV remote to play a DVD player, all without the help of a twelve year old. No need for a “good job” when you see me. My own personal satisfaction is all the recognition I need.

So until we meet again, take a chance; challenge yourself - only if by programming the TV remote, because as George Eliot said "It's never too late to become what you might have been."

"Why is it that our memory is good enough to retain the least triviality that happens to us, and yet not good enough to recollect how often we have told it to the same person?" Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Aging Well October 20

Medicare can be a complex labyrinth to navigate. And with the addition of Medicare Advantage Plans - Medicare coverage through private insurance companies - Medicare recipients have more choices but also another level of complexity and uncertainty.

The Medicare Advantage plans are popular in Oregon where 41% of the folks eligible for Medicare are enrolled in them (the highest percentage in the country). Although there are benefits to Medicare Advantage plans, unlike government programs, private insurance companies can decide not to continue covering certain geographic areas. Unfortunately, but not surprising, several plans are leaving Oregon at the end of this year and will not be renewing beneficiaries’ policies. What is unexpected is the estimated percentage of Medicare Advantage recipients needing to find a new plan: Wasco County 39%, Sherman County, 70%, and Hood River County, 43%.

The enrollment period for the Medicare Advantage plans starts November 15th, so if your insurer is leaving or there are any changes in your Medicare Advantage plan you should have received a letter by now. But Jean Hockman, the Medicare specialist at the Area Agency on Aging, is concerned many folks have not read the correspondence from their insurer and are unaware that their Medicare insurance plan is leaving. If your plan is leaving, you must sign up for a new plan before the end of December to insure continuous coverage. That isn't much time and the decisions aren’t simple. (What plans does your doctor accept? What does the plan cover? And what is the cost?)

To answer your questions and provide more information, there will be a presentation at the Center on October 28th at 11:00 to explain changes in the Medicare Advantage plans and what your options are. You can also call the Area Agency on Aging at 541-298-4101 on Wednesdays - their Medicare help day.

Klea Espy, manager of the Habitat's Restore Store in the old liquor building on 6th street, dropped by the Center for breakfast on Saturday and mentioned she is desperately - as in capital D desperately - seeking volunteers. She needs folks for the two shifts 10-1 and 1-4 on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. She would prefer men; about 6 foot tall, broad shouldered, and chiseled jaw with masculine good looks. But she will take anyone who knows his or her way around a hardware store or a workshop (or anyone who is breathing - she is Desperate!).

Tonight at the Center, the Sugar Daddies, a popular three piece band, will be performing. And next Tuesday on the 27th the Jazz Generations will be back playing for your dancing and listening pleasure. These are talented performers and at many places, you would have to buy a $7 glass of wine to listen to them. But at the Center it’s all free with donations appreciated. The dancing starts at 7:00 pm and everyone is welcome. And next Sunday is the Center’s turn to host the Jammers from 2:00 – 5:00.

Melodi Johnson, Breast Care Coordinator/Clinical Research Nurse at Celilo, will be the speaker for the Center’s Next Chapter Lecture Series on Tuesday the 27th at 11:00. She will speak on breast health for women of all ages - providing information that will be helpful for mothers, daughters, spouses, etc. Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, every woman is encouraged to come!

The answer to last week's “Remember When” question was "I Want to Hold Your Hand", the Beatles first #1 hit in America. The first correct answer was from a child of the 60's herself, Sandy Haechrel. This week's question goes back another decade to a musical icon of the 50's. What was Elvis Presley's first number one hit that stayed at the top of the pop charts for 8 weeks and was the best selling single in 1956?

That is enough of the alphabet soup for one week. Until we meet again, here’s a comment I overheard at the Center that many of us can relate to, “My head writes checks, my body can't cash".

Aging Well October 13

Do you really want to stay young? Or let me put in another way. Do you really want to relive middle school? But although staying forever young may not be our goal, we do want to live independently; we do want to see our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren grow and set out on their own paths. And we do want to live caring and meaningful lives, so who we are and what we do matters.

The other day Jan Holt gave me a list of eleven simple rules that although they are titled “How to Stay Young”, are more about achieving those things we do want; about how to live well. Here they are for your consideration - plus my own short observations on each one.

1. Keep learning - see the world with virgin eyes,
2. Enjoy the simple things - as in the Shaker song, “Tis the gift to be simple”,
3. Laugh often, long and loud. - its contagious,
4. The tears happen - the ones we love won't live forever,
5. Keep only cheerful friends - leave the rest alone,
6. Surround yourself with what you love. - not with what others say you should have,
7. Cherish your health - don't take it for granted,
8. Don’t' take guilt trips - life happens,
9. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity - stay current,
10. Forgive now those who made you cry. You might not get a second chance - forgiveness shall set you free,
11. Try everything twice - except Brussels sprouts

This Saturday is the third Saturday of the month which means it is your chance to skip your normal breakfast and enjoy a fine delicious meal of biscuits and gravy, sausage, and scrambled eggs, as well as fruit and your favorite beverage. The cost is only $5.00 and $4.00 for Center members. The breakfast is open to the whole community and all ages, so bring your family and friends. The food starts flowing at 8:00 and we don't turn off the spigot until 9:30. And as Jack always said," Breakfast always tastes better when someone else cooks it".

Next Chapter Lecture on Tuesday October 20th at 11:00 will feature Roger Luedtke discussing the Portland Classical Chinese Gardens in Portland. The Gardens are described as "an authentically built cultural heritage garden and living museum of Chinese trees and flora". Roger is an avid supporter of the Gardens and his informative presentation of pictures and commentary will be the next best thing to being there.

Because of the talented musicians, Tuesday Night music is the Center’s most popular activity. And the next two weeks are no exception. The always popular and danceable Truman Boler's one man “Country Gold” is playing tonight. And next Tuesday on the 20th, The Sugar Daddies will be back with Mark Womble leading on keyboard and vocals. Dancing starts at 7:00 and everybody is welcome. There is no charge although donations are appreciated.

Last week’s question was a trick one, but you can’t fool Sandy Haechrel who had the first correct answer. Most of us remember William Bendix playing the role of Lester A Riley on both radio and TV, but when the show moved to television in 1949 the first actor to play the role was Jackie Gleason before his “Honeymooners” fame in the 50’s.

This week’s question celebrates the recent release of the re-mastered catalogue of recordings by the Beatles who one critic described as “not able to carry a tune across the Atlantic”. Although the Beatles had several earlier hits in England, what was the Beatles first single (and #1 song) released in America? Email your guess to or call 296-4788.

That’s it for another week. Until we meet again, as the Beatles once sang, “Let it be”. Or as the philosopher farmer from Fossil would say, “Don't interfere with something' that ain't bothering you none.”

Aging Well October 6

When was the last time you smelled the sweet odor of sweat-soaked socks and gym shorts? Or stayed up late cramming your cranium with facts about some class subject that you really had no interest in? Been there, done that. Thankfully we can pass those experiences on to younger souls.

But though we may not want to revisit those glory days, we do lose something when we don’t challenge ourselves. Gene D. Cohen, M.D., Ph.D., the first director of the Center on Aging, Health & Humanities at George Washington University suggests we need to sweat more both physically and mentally - more mental push-ups and trips around the track - by trying something different. And while exploring new activities, enjoy the experience and satisfaction of learning to do something better without worrying about being good.

On Tuesday, October 13th from 5 – 7 PM, and help our own local curmudgeon, travel guide and literary connoisseur, Phil Klindt, celebrate the 140th Birthday of Klindt’s Booksellers, the oldest continually operated bookstore in Oregon. There will be regional authors, food, music, wine and history at the bookstore to celebrate this anniversary.

Steve Hudson is back teaching line dancing but couldn't resist the big beautiful dance floor at the Eagles. So if you enjoy line dancing or want to learn how, check out the Eagles on Thursday nights. And if Square Dancing is more your thing, Bill and Neva are starting lessons this Thursday, October 8th at the Civic from 7 - 9. For more information about the square dancing call 541-296-1570 or 509-493-1827. And Neva, I promise one of these days I will find my way to the Civic and practice what I preach. But I seem to have more "want to do" than I have "time to do". (Maybe the two-step in November?)

And I mustn’t forget to mention Tuesday Night music. Hardshell Harmony - bluegrass music at its best - is playing tonight and next week on the 13th Truman Boler will be playing his crowd pleasing Country Gold. Everybody is welcome! Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.

Now is the time to buy your tickets to see and enjoy Portland’s own Singing Christmas Tree at the 1:30 matinee performance on Sunday November 29th. This annual tradition was a big hit last year so we have decided to try an encore performance. The cost is only $65 or $60, depending on the seat locations, and includes comfortable worry-free transportation. But don’t tarry. There are only twenty two seats available. Call the Center 296-4788 to reserve your seat for this afternoon musical delight.

Every third Monday and Tuesday of the month from 9:00 – 1:00, Dennis Davis teaches the AARP Driver Safety class to help folks review the rules of the road and good driving practices. Because the class has been shown to improve your driving skills, many insurance companies give a discount if you complete the class. The cost is only $14 and $12 for AARP members and covers the cost of the materials (Dennis volunteers his time). Call the Center to reserve your seat in the next class on October 19 and 20th.

Bob Thouvenel was the first to correctly answer last week’s “Remember When” question (he was getting tired of Ron Sutherland winning all the time). “Cool Hand Luke” was the movie where the Captain and Luke played by Paul Newman spoke the memorable line “What we've got here is a failure to communicate". This week’s “Remember When” question is about a life of prosperity and contentment. What actor played the bumbling and gullible Chester A. Riley in the first season of “The Life of Riley” on NBC in October 1949?

Until we meet again, get that sweat pouring, warm up the old brain cells and get down and dirty. But please for all the rest of us, don’t forget the deodorant!

"Now and then it is good to pause in our pursuit of happiness, and just be happy." Appollinaire (French Poet)


Blog Archive