Aging Well May 25th

In this column I try to share my perspectives on the opportunities and possibilities during this next chapter of our lives – thoughts I have gathered from reading, studying and most importantly from my conversations with the many active, engaged and caring folks I see daily. I have learned that getting “old” is not the end but the beginning of many new and exciting adventures, a chance to fulfill postponed dreams and a time of awakening and greater understanding. But I try not to be Pollyannish. As Joan Chittister points out in her book, “The Gift of Years”, life has both its blessings and burdens. And it is hard to ignore the burdens - the tread on these ole tires ain’t getting any thicker. But life is what you make of it, given the circumstances you are dealt. And I hope I can provide some worthwhile information and advice; encouragement and comfort to make these years the best years of your life.

One of the burdens of aging is an increased risk of falling. A fall can dramatically change a person's life: their sense of independence and vulnerability, their emotional and physical health and even their relationship to their children. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggests four actions you can take to reduce your risks of falling - besides the obvious like staying off twenty foot ladders. They are to begin a regular exercise program; have your health care provider review your medicines; have your vision checked; and make your home safer by removing small throw rugs, installing grab bars next to your toilet and in the tub or shower, and installing handrails on all staircases.

But to learn more from someone who really knows, Brandon Strizich, the director of MCMC’s mPower - which provides acute inpatient rehabilitation - will discuss the cost of falls and how to assess your risks at the Center’s Tuesday lecture on June 1st at 11:00. But please don’t trip over yourself as you rush to this informative presentation that will offer some real practical help.

For several years the Columbia Gorge Genealogical Society has been collecting donations to erect a common monument at the Pioneer Cemetery in The Dalles to honor all those buried there. Now that the goal has been reached, The Columbia Gorge Genealogical Society is inviting the community to the dedication of a memorial stone listing all two hundred forty three known burials. The dedication will take place on Memorial Day, May 31st with a Veteran's Ceremony by The Dalles Veterans of Foreign Wars at 10:15 and the dedication of the Memorial Stone at 11:00. After the ceremony there will be a gathering with refreshments at the Original Courthouse at 410 West 2nd Place. For any questions you can call Renee Briggs at 509-767-2316 or Sandy Bissett at 541-298-1240.

If you enjoy day trips and other adventures, check out the opportunities provided by Sherman County Community Transit. This summer they are offering several trips including Toppenish for a tour of the murals, Kahneeta Casino and Resort and the Pittock Mansion in Portland. But seating is limited. For more information call 541-565-3553. And to the west, Hood River County Community Education offers a variety of trips and tours including their popular monthly Mystery Trips. You can call them for more information at 541-386-2055.

Next Tuesday Night the popular Cherry Park Band will be back playing their good old, home grown country music. And tonight Hank Krum’s four piece band “The Jazz Generations” will be playing the best sounds from the past for your listening and dancing pleasure. The horns start blowing and the guitars start strumming at 7:00 and its all free although donations are appreciated.

Only Peggy Rice and Joann “pick me” Scott turned in the correct answers for last week’s head scratcher. It was “Pogo” the possum from Okefenokee Swamp created by Walt Kelly who said "We have met the enemy and he is us."? And since there were only two and I just can’t disappoint one or the other, they both win a free Saturday Breakfast at the Center on June 19th.

This week’s prizes are four notecards depicting a 1905 postcard of the “Dalles City” Sternwheeler at Rooster Rock. They were given to the Center by Clarence Mershon after his entertaining and informative presentation on the history of the Historic Columbia River Highway. For a chance to win one of the notecards, answer correctly the following question “What was the name of the engineer and landscape architect who was the primary designer of the Historic Columbia River Highway?” Email or call 541-296-4788.

That’s the end of the trail for another week. Until we meet again, as Pogo observed "Don't take life so serious, son, it ain't nohow permanent."

Aging Well May 18th

Is there someone in your life you worry about because they just seem to have lost interest in life - no longer doing the things they have always enjoyed? Or maybe over the last several weeks you have felt let down, depressed or hopeless and have felt little interest or pleasure in doing things?

But I can hear you say “Yeah, what do you expect? Getting old isn’t for the faint of heart. I am constantly losing my close friends, I can’t hear worth a bleep – I am constantly asking ‘what did you say?’; my kids have told me to move into assisted living so they don’t have to worry - as if my life is theirs; and this back, knee, hip pain - take your pick - ruins my mornings. And the pills - when do you say enough is enough!”

Granted in our later years we experience frustration, sadness, and grief, but left unattended they can lead to more serious levels of depression.
Sharon Johnson, OSU Associate Professor in Family and Community Health, discusses many aspects of later life depression in the online series Mastery of Aging ( designed by Oregon State University in partnership with AARP.

In the series she points out that depression is serious. It can cause rapid health deterioration, increase susceptibility to infections and illnesses and increase time to recover. And at the extreme end, can lead to suicide. But the good news is there are steps you can take.

First, find support: someone to talk to who will listen and validate your feelings. And if that isn’t possible or doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. Depression is treatable and in most cases can be resolved in a short period of time.

Second, participate in some form of aerobic exercise (long and slow) such as walking, swimming or something a little more exciting: dancing into the morning hours. It is suggested 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day will help.

Third, get involved. Structure your time to do something interesting and meaningful every day such as baking cookies, helping a neighbor, keeping a journal, volunteering for Meals-on-Wheels or having lunch with friends.
We naturally experience times of sadness. That’s life. But don't get stuck in your sadness. Find support and create structure in your life. As long as the sun rises in the morning, there is more to live.

This is the time I start to panic. The Center still has available eight tickets for the 2:00 matinee performance of Cirque Dreams: Illumination on Saturday May 29th. Call the Center to purchase your tickets.

The Northern Wasco County Parks and Recreation offers many opportunities to get you up and at ‘em. On the horizon is a Birding Hike on Sunday, May 23rd, 7:00 am (repeated on July 18th) but you need to pre-register. And the Sunup Walking Club is in full swing, meeting every Tuesday and Thursday at 9:00 am for the next several weeks - this week they meet at Klindt's Cove but you better call to make sure I have that correct. To register or for information call 541-296-9533.

At 11:00 am next Tuesday May 25th, the Tuesday before Memorial Day, the Center has scheduled Michal Kawka to speak about WW II. Michal is a native Pole who has recently moved to The Dalles and has an extensive knowledge of the Holocaust in Poland as well as other WW II history. It should be a fascinating presentation.
And I mustn't forget Tuesday night music. On the 25th, the Jazz Generations - the small band playing big band sounds - will be performing. And tonight all I need say is "Truman". The music starts at 7:00 and admission is free although donations are always appreciated.

Of the twelve responses to last week’s question, Mary “the mouse” Davis won a free Saturday breakfast for remembering the comedian "lonesome" George Gobel who starred in his own weekly show from 1954 – 1960. This week's "Remember When" question comes from the comic pages. What was the name of the central character of the long running (1948 - 1975) daily comic strip who described the human condition by saying "We have met the enemy and he is us."? Call 541-296-4788 or email

Well it’s time to take five. Until we meet again, in every life there are ups - and then there are days you feel like lonesome George when he asked, "Did you ever get the feeling that the world was a tuxedo and you were a pair of brown shoes?"

Aging Well May 11th

Do you ever fear you will become that friend or neighbor who can’t remember when - he told what - to who? I do. Many times when writing this column I can’t recall if I have previously shared the same story, repeated the same quote - or even if I am repeating this fear of repeating myself. Is it déjà vu all over again? (I wonder if Marilyn Ericksen, my able predecessor, or even Al Nelson, who was the originator of this column, had the same experience.) But my sanity returns when I remember who my audience is! How many times have you had to go through a stack of newspapers looking for an article with the date or time that you can’t seem to remember? But if I ever do repeat myself, which I am sure I will, and you have the steel trap memory to catch me, I will honor your achievement in this column - even though you will probably be shunned by your peers for not acting your age.

It is that time again, when once a month you can let someone else do the cooking and enjoy a tasty, lip smacking, jaw dropping mind-blowing breakfast. Every month the Center rotates the menu and this Saturday, May 15th, you can feast on Texas French Toast, scrambled eggs, sausage, fruit and the regular beverages. Breakfast is served from 8:00 – 9:30 and is only $5 for the general public and 4$ for Center members. And even though shirts and shoes are required, tips are not.

Now is a good time to get on board the “AARP Driver Safety” train with your conductor Dennis Davis. So far, there are only a few folks signed up for this month’s class on Monday and Tuesday (17th and 18th), making this your chance to get the special individual attention you deserve - unless you are the type that likes sit in the back of the class throwing spit wads and passing notes. The class is from 9 – 1 each day and the cost is only $14 ($12 for AARP members) for the materials.

Friday I attended the last performance for this year's community concert series and enjoyed the amazing voices and talent of Gaileca – and example of the excellent artists that Patti Blagg and the Community Concerts folks bring to town. By purchasing a ticket for the next season, you can enjoy a wide variety of talented performers - missing only the big names and the high ticket prices. Individual tickets are $60, but if you are of that Medicare age - 65 and over - the tickets are only $55 for the four shows. And if you purchase your tickets by May 15 you save another $5 - that is like getting a free Saturday breakfast. For more information you can call 541-298-4352 or 541-386-3055.

You just can’t beat live music. And while there are many opportunities to listen to live music like Community Concerts, there aren’t as many opportunities to dance. But every Tuesday night at the Center you can kick up your heals, take your partner in hand and dance till the morning sun or 9:00 PM whichever comes first. Next week the always popular Truman will be back playing his “Country Gold” and tonight it is the sweet sounds of the Notecrackers. This is one gig that everyone can afford – it’s free - but you can’t afford to miss. Music starts at 7:00 and everybody is welcome.

Thanks to Del Hendrickson, the speaker for the Center’s Tuesday lecture on May 18th at 11:00 am will be Clarence Mershon, sharing stories and facts of the Historic Columbia River Highway about which he has written several books. Del met Clarence at the Wasco Pioneer’s dinner in The Dalles three years ago and recently asked Clarence to speak here at the Center. He agreed and now you have a chance to learn more about the fascinating history of this treasure in our own backyard.

You may have already seen the ads for Cirque Dreams: Illumination at the Keller Auditorium. The Center still has twelve tickets left for the matinee performance at 2:00 on Saturday May 27th for only $60 including transportation. The show is described as a stage performance where “an international cast of world-class acrobats, athletes, musicians and one of a kind artists populate this imaginative, colorful metropolis and breathe life into over 100 inventive costumes, an original musical score, and magical sights that transform the landscape of a city into thrills and disbelief." Call the Center at 541-296-4788 to purchase your tickets.

The winning name chosen from last week’s nine entries was Joe Usatine who remembered that the Ford Mustang was first introduced at the New York World’s Fair in 1964. This week’s “Remember When” question goes back to an early star of American television which many of you may have forgotten. Who was the "lonesome" crew cut comedian married to “Spooky Old Alice” and starred in his own weekly show from 1954 – 1960? Call 541-296-4788 or email

That’s another wrap. Until we meet again, savor the past, enjoy the moment and believe in tomorrow.

“The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time.” Friedrich Nietzsche
Unfortunately, snake oil salesmen still exist. And according to the FBI, seniors are ideal targets for these scammers and aggressive marketers. Many in this age group were raised to be trusting and polite and feel it’s rude to be assertive (although I could name several folks that I wouldn’t want to mess with). And they learned to be frugal and have saved up a “nest egg” that these hucksters can tap. Many times these elderly victims don’t report the incident because they don’t know how or are too ashamed. And even if the scam is reported, they may be poor witnesses - unable to supply enough details to prosecute.

But the best defense is a good offense. Know the warning signs: the offer of free gifts - if it seems to be too good to be true it probably is - and the pressure to act "now". As a rule of thumb never make same day decisions. Give yourself enough time to consult with a trusted friend, your doctor or time to do your own research. But the most direct action is to just say “no”. And if they can’t take “no” for an answer, hang up or shut the door. You don’t owe them a thing.

It can happen in The Dalles. I am working with an individual who on March 10th was pressured into signing a contract for a home security system from Nationwide Security Solutions - which he didn’t need - and without knowing the total cost or monthly payments. With the help of Jay Waterbury, The Dalles Police Chief, we have referred the case to the Oregon Attorney General's office and are investigating what else we can do. (If you have had any experience with this outfit, I would be interested in hearing from you.) You can learn more about how to protect yourself at the Center’s Tuesday lecture on May 11th at 11:00 am when Ed Goodman from The Dalles City police will be the guest speaker.

Dan Durow spoke to the Meals-on-Wheels lunch crowd at the Center explaining how the construction of roundabouts in America has increased dramatically because they reduce accidents, increase traffic flow and are cost effective. Since the new roundabout in The Dalles is a single lane roundabout, you should find it easy to navigate if you remember a few simple rules. Slow down when approaching the roundabout - they are designed for 15-20 mph; yield to anyone in the roundabout - they have the right away; and use your turn signal when exiting the roundabout.

There is a small group of dedicated workers who for over twenty years spent every Monday raising funds for the Center by doing something they truly enjoy: quilting. And since they have just finished their latest quilt, the beautiful one that is currently hanging in the lobby needs to find a loving owner. You can possibly be that owner by buying a $5 raffle ticket - but you only have a few days left. The drawing will be held this Friday May 7th. And besides making quilts to raffle, the Quilters also do quilting for hire if you have a quilt you would like restored. I you enjoy quilting and friendly conversation, the Quilters meet every Monday from 10:00 – 3:00 in the basement. They are always looking for a few new needles to help.

The stage production of Cirque Dreams: Illumination is coming to Portland at the Keller Auditorium and the Center has reserved 22 seats for the 2:00 matinee performance on Saturday May 29th for only $60 including transportation. It is a stage performance where “an international cast of world-class acrobats, athletes, musicians and one of a kind artists populate this imaginative, colorful metropolis and breathe life into over 100 inventive costumes, an original musical score, and magical sights that transform the landscape of a city into thrills and disbelief." Call the Center at 541-296-4788 to purchase your tickets.

There is music and shaking every Tuesday night at the Center. Next Tuesday the Notecrackers will be back playing for your listening and dancing pleasure. And tonight the Strawberry Mountain Band will be playing for their first time at the Center. Though the notes start flowing at 7:00, the cost is nothing - but donations are welcome.

It’s been fun this last month hearing the many memories of favorite songs, TV shows, movies and cars, but this month its back to the regular format. What car was introduced to the public on April 17, 1964 at the New York World's Fair and created a whole new class of automobiles? (and the envy of every young man!) Call 541-296-4788 or email the answer to

Well that is another 24x7 and I am still waiting for spring. Until we meet again, remember - bad decisions may be hard to take but they make great stories.


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