Aging Well July 30th 2013

You see them advertised in magazines and on television: vitamin supplements, exercise contraptions or plastic surgery – products that will turn back the hands of time.

 These misleading claims about the benefits of anti-aging products or services have been described by Colin Milner, CEO of the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) as ‘graywashing” - reinforcing the idea that age-related changes in physical appearance are undesirable and should be removed.

 But besides being deceptive, “graywashing“ also strengthens the stereotypes that show older adults through a lens of decline and diminished value; and that old age is “bad” characterized by illness, decline and a strain on social services and economies worldwide.

 But on the other end of the stereotype continuum, you often hear reports about “Super Seniors” reflecting old age as “good” and who exhibit our cultural values of independence, youthfulness, and productivity. (Such as the late Jack LaLanne who was still doing his two hour workout at the age of 95.)

 But let’s get real. Neither is the whole picture. As much as some advertisers would like you to believe, there is no such thing as anti-aging. We start aging from the day we are born and although there are actions we can take to maintain a healthy lifestyle, there isn’t a Shangri-La or Fountain of Youth to hold back the forces of time forever.

 But we can avoid internalizing these self-limiting stereotypes while maintaining a balanced and realistic view of aging - reflecting the challenges and burdens of getting older, while also embracing the opportunities and blessings.

You don’t have to be eternally blonde, or skydive with George W.H. Bush at the age of 80 and 85! or be free of physical challenges - to be engaged in life, resilient and capable of living a life of meaning and purpose.

Every single day I meet people with real stories and life experiences; who possess diverse interests, talents, opinions and yes, physical challenges; that include a few saints, several curmudgeons, but no Jack LaLanne “Super Seniors”.

Just authentic people who are showing me how to age with grace, dignity and humility while facing their fair share of daily challenges. (And no matter what anyone says I still think grey is “hot”! But then it may just be my age.)

 When you turn 65, whether you are retired, still working or receiving Social Security, you need to understand your Medicare options. (You have only seven months to enroll: three months before the month you turn 65, the month you turn 65 and three months after you turn 65.) And now during anytime of the year, if you have questions, which most people do, you can call Shirley Ludlow, your local SHIBA (Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance) coordinator at the Area Agency on Aging (541-298-4101), to set up an appointment with one of the trained SHIBA volunteers. Or you can call the Center directly and they will connect you with one of the volunteers that take appointments at the Center.

 Tonight playing at the Center is Truman who is filling in for the previously scheduled Sugar Daddies. (We will try to reschedule the Sugar Daddies for later in the year.) And next Tuesday on August 7th we start back at the top of the batting order with the Strawberry Mountain Band. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00 and everyone is invited. A suggested donation of $2.00 per person or $3.00 a couple is always appreciated. 

Patrick Macnee, the sophisticated English secret agent John Steed, and Diana Rigg, his talented assistant with “man appeal” starred in the British series “The Avengers”. (And the winner of a free August 16th Saturday Breakfast is Marcia Lacock.)

This week’s “Remember When” question is about a duplicating devise often found in schools, libraries and churches that printed multiple copies of images in a light purple ink, but fell victim to the Xerox copier in the 1970’s. (I particularly remember in grade school wanting to smell the sweet chemical aroma of the damp newly produced copies.) What was the name of this machine that was easy to use, inexpensive to purchase and produced many pop quizzes for young school children? Mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or send it with a box of two ply spirit masters.

 Well, it has been another week trying to keep the right perspective in a three dimensional world. Until we meet again, keep your head up, your feet moving and your hands waving to the crowd.

“You can't help getting older, but you don't have to get old.” George Burns

Aging Well July 23rd 2013

Did you hear the one about the three retirees, each with a hearing loss, who were playing golf one fine March day? One remarked to the other, "Windy, isn't it?" "No," the second man replied, "it's Thursday..." And the third man chimed in, "So am I. Let's have a beer."

 I enjoy sharing jokes about the challenges we face as we get older (especially ones I can relate to) because humor can be a way to accept and adapt to what life throws our way so we can then move on. But do these jokes perpetuate the negative stereotypes of aging we often find in our society - reinforcing inaccurate perceptions about getting older: the loss of mobility and function - and eventually our independence? Or even worse perpetuating stereotypes we internalize so we fear and avoid preparing for old age believing it will inevitably be a time of decline, lost dreams and lack of purpose?

 To change the way we think about aging, the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) has introduced the “Changing the Way We Age Campaign”. They are working with professionals in the aging fields to reject the limiting negative views of aging while encouraging a more positive and realistic vision of aging – thus creating a society that “recognizes, respects and responds to the potential of older adults”.

 In future columns I will discuss several themes of the campaign. But one that resonated with me is how society tends to focus on chronological age - associating an age with a variety of problems, instead of focusing on the problem itself. As ICAA points out “the problem is the problem; not the age”. When I discuss with my wife the chronic health conditions we have encountered (specifically, how she is tired of having to repeat everything she says – but she just needs to E-N-U-N-C-I-A-T-E!), she reminds me that raising two kids was not a piece of cake either. And I won’t even mention the struggles of junior high school!

Every period of our lives has its problems and rewards – they are just different problems and granted now we have to sometimes look harder for the rewards. But no matter our chronological age, the goal is to live as well as possible with humor, strength, and grace through all the ages in our unique and wonderful lives.

 The Center offers several opportunities to learn more about new technologies: every Wednesday between 9:00 and 10:00, there is a computer help lab to answer your basic computer questions; and from 1:00 – 2:30 there is an iPad support group on the first Wednesdays of each month and a Kindle support group on the fourth Wednesdays. Both are informal – asking questions and learning from each other. But recently someone asked about the Android operating system (developed by Google) found on the majority of smart phones and many tablets. If you are interested in learning more about the Android operating system, email me or call the Center and I will work to set up a time for an Android Support Group.

 Next Tuesday (the fifth Tuesday in July) the “Sugar Daddies” will be handing out musical treats all night long. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00 and everyone is invited. A suggested donation of $2.00 per person or $3.00 a couple is appreciated to feed the musicians and keep the lights on.

 The espionage thriller that ran from 1965 to 1968 on NBC starring Robert Culp and the first African-American actor in a lead role, Bill Cosby, as globetrotting tennis bums/secret agents was “I Spy”. (And this week’s winner of a free Saturday Breakfast on August 17th is Sandy Goforth.) I promised one more “Remember When” question about secret agents, but this week we’ll trade in the tennis shoes for a Derby hat and an umbrella.

What was the name of the first British series to be aired on prime time U.S. television in 1965 starring Patrick Macnee as the sophisticated English secret agent John Steed and Diana Rigg as his talented assistant Emma Peel? (Her name evolved from the writers wanting a character with “man appeal” which was shortened to m appeal and evolved into Emma Peel.) Mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or send it with the June 10th 1967 issue of TV Guide featuring a four-page photospread on Diana Rigg's new "Emmapeeler" outfits.

Well, it has been another week trying to stay on track without getting railroaded. Until we meet again, don’t hold a grudge while everyone else is out dancing.

 "Too many people, when they get old, think that they have to live by the calendar." John Glenn

Aging Well July 16 2013

When you have misplaced your Tuesday Chronicle - or it is under the cat box, (hey, that’s one thing you can’t do with the digital edition!); and you have a question about the Center, you can always go to the Center’s website at The site is updated weekly and includes the Center’s activity calendar, weekly (and during the summer bi-weekly) newsletter, music and lecture schedules; and for your entertainment - a short video related to the week’s “Remember When” question. But to make the site more useful, you can also find the Wasco County Resource Guide for Older Adults (which you can also find in the back of your Passport to Happiness Calendar); a list of volunteer opportunities and links to the latest Scams Alerts that have come across my desk.

And recently I have included a list of events for active older adults that have been culled from the Chamber’s Community Calendar, press releases and media outlets, but arranged for your convenience by  category: history and culture; exercise and movement; arts and literature; theater, dance and film; and social dances and music. 

The website is the Center’s effort to be a resource for you that is easily accessible and relevant. But there is always room for improvement. If you have any suggestions for what should be added to the website or how to improve it, please email me. I would appreciate any thoughts you have.

If you want to go back in history to 1890 or 1921 and find out who arrived at the Umatilla House on December 20th, 1890; or how the fighters were preparing for the July 3rd 1921 Dempsey- Carpentier Heavyweight fight; or the price of a 1921 Studebaker from the Dalles Garage Co. (it was $1335), it is as easy as singing the University of Oregon fight song. Susan Buce, the marketing director of the Discovery Center, informed me that the University of Oregon has finally scanned The Dalles Chronicle archives from 1864-1921 and  has made them available online. You can view the archives at for The Dalles Daily Chronicle and for The Dalles Weekly Chronicle. But be careful. You can spend hours reliving the days of yesteryear.

It’s Fort Dalles Days Rodeo Weekend and the Center will be hosting its annual Cowboy Breakfast sponsored by Flagstone Senior Living where they offer a several levels of care: Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care. The menu includes traditional Hotcakes, scrambled eggs, your choice of sausage or bacon, fruit and your favorite morning beverage. And in order to give you plenty of time to prepare for the 10:00 parade, breakfast will be served from 7:30 until 9:30. The cost is $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for children - with a $1.00 off for Center members.

This will also be your last chance to purchase raffle tickets ($1.00 apiece) for the one-of-a-kind quilt that has stitched into it fifteen local historical pictures. The drawing will be held at 9:00 AM during the Cowboy Breakfast. 

Before you put the salmon on the grill and the yellow jackets come flying, playing tonight at the Center is “Truman”. And next week “The Good Times” will lay down some hot licks to keep you cool in the summer heat. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00 and you can be home before dark. Everyone is invited with a suggested donation of $2.00 per person and $3.00 a couple.

Dan Rowan and Dick Martin were the duo that hosted Laugh-in from 1968-1972 which also starred Ruth Buzzi playing the dowdy spinster who was often harrassed on the park bench by the lecherous Arte Johnson. (And this week’s winner is Jim Ayers.) But for the next two weeks let’s stick with television, but shifting to spy thrillers.

This espionage thriller ran from 1965 to 1968 on NBC and broke ground as the first American television drama starring an African-American actor in a lead role. What was the name of the television series that starred two tennis bums/secret agents - Robert Culp as the international tennis player Kelly Robinson, and Bill Crosby as his trainer Alexander Scott?  Mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or send it with sweatshirts from Temple University and the University of Washington.

Well, it has been another week trying to swing from branch to branch without slipping. Until we meet again, as Jim Holston reminded me “It doesn’t get any better than this”.

"Never take someone for granted. Hold every person close to your heart because you might wake up one day and realize that you've lost a diamond while you were too busy collecting stones."

Aging Well July 9 2013

One of my favorite quotes is from comedian Emo Phillips who said “I used to think that the brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. Then I realized who was telling me this.”

 That wonderful organ is the focus for this month’s Passport to Happiness event at the Center on Wednesday July 17th from 3:00 – 4:30 PM where you are invited to learn more about maintaining and improving your Cognitive Health.

 Because as we age, we all want to stay physically fit. But over the last decade with new brain research and a greater awareness of the debilitating effects of cognitive decline, we are increasing becoming more aware and concerned about our cognitive health - particularly our memory.

 We all experience those memory blips: the name forgotten, the word lost; the keys left in the parked car – with the motor running! - little missteps that we wouldn't even think about before, but now in our twilight years become a greater concern.

 But there is good news. Research is showing that as we grow older, we may not be as mentally quick, but because of life experiences and the continued growth of the executive functions in the brain, older brains make more accurate decisions than younger brains. For example our nation is led by thirty-two US Senators and ninety-five US Representatives over the age of 65. Okay, that may not be the best example of cognitive functioning. But you get the point.

 Over the last five years I have written about memory and brain functioning. So how about a pop quiz? Can you remember the six components of achieving a healthy brain? (While you are writing down your answers, do you remember when you were younger using “thingamajig” or “whatchamacallit” - as place holders for objects you couldn't remember? Looking back, I realize “tip of the tongue” memory lapses are nothing new with age.)

 Okay time is up. The six components of a healthy brain lifestyle are: physical exercise - 25% of blood flow from each heartbeat goes to your brain; mental stimulation – participating in activities that are novel and complex; socialization – enjoying the company of friends; nutrition - eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and filling your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables; stress reduction through meditation or prayer; and a good night’s sleep.

 Did you know all six? In which areas do you do well? And which ones do you need to work on?

 Because of brain plasticity, your brain is continually changing. And at any age you can make intentional choices to keep your brain healthy and wise - which is as important as keeping yourself physically fit.

 If you are looking for a way to securely shred your documents, you now have one more option. Besides calling Gorge Security Shred at 541-490-7078 to make an appointment, or meeting them at the Center every Friday between noon and 1:00, the Center now has a secure container provided by Gorge Security Shred so you can conveniently drop off at the Center any documents (under twenty pounds) you want shredded. The cost is a suggested donation of forty cents per pound.

 Since this month’s focus is Cognitive Health, I’m again mixing up the music announcement to challenge your grey matter (with apologies to the political satire assemble “Capital Steps” and their “Lirty Dies”). Before you swick the flitch and the lights go out, taying plonight at the Center is “Martin and Friends”. And “Truman” will be terforming on Puesday the 16thth starting at 7:00 PM. Duggested sonations are two pollars per derson and three collars per douple to keep the fusicians med and the swoors flept.

 The live variety show that aired on television during the fifties featuring Imogene Coca and Sid Caesar is “The Show of Shows”. (And the winner is Pat Davenport.)

Sticking with television for another week, this fast paced comedy series aired from 1968 through 1972 and featured such recurring sketches as “The Mod, Mod World” and “The Flying Fickle Finger of Fate Award”. And made famous such catchphrases as “Sock it to me” and “Here come da judge” Who were the comedy team that hosted this series? And if that is too easy, who was the actress that appeared in every season and portrayed her most famous character - the dowdy spinster Gladys Ormphby? Mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or send it with Edith Ann’s oversized rocking chair.

 Well, it has been another week throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks. Until we meet again, you can’t really appreciate the silence without the noise.

Aging Well July 2nd 2013

As I am trying to stay cool in my air conditioned bedroom like a kangaroo rat in its desert burrow; with my laptop computer sitting appropriately on my lap, I am wondering what to write about this week.  And then like a sweaty palm slapping me across my face, it hits me - the dangers of overexposure to summer heat!

Because as we age, our bodies change (which I am reminded everyday) becoming less sensitive to heat and the feeling of thirst, making us older adults more vulnerable to summer’s heat and humidity. In addition, certain medical conditions, such as heart disease, and medications commonly taken by older adults —water pills, allergy and sinus medications, and antidepressants—further increase the risk.

But according to The American Geriatrics Society’s Foundation for Health in Aging (FHIA), there are precautions we can take to prevent the harmful effects of dehydration and heat illness - particularly when the temperatures reach ninety degrees. There are the obvious: turn on the air conditioner or go somewhere with air conditioning; when outdoors wear a hat and lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing; use SPF 30 or higher sunscreen; avoid strenuous activity; and my favorite - take a cool shower or bath.  

But what you may not know is avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages; and frequent drinking of smaller quantities is better than less frequent drinking of larger quantities. (If you aren’t sure if you are drinking enough fluids – how should I say this politely? - check your urine: light yellow urine is usually a sign you are drinking enough, while darker urine may signal that more liquid is needed.) And in many situations, it is a good idea during these heat waves to have someone check in on you twice a day.

It may not be 128 degrees as it was in Death Valley, but the heat can still be unbearable and dangerous. Stay cool, slow down and drink plenty of water. In six months, we can start complaining about how cold it is.

We are already half way through 2013, and since a Center membership is for the calendar year, the Center is offering “a once in a life time opportunity” for new members to join the Center at half the regular price. During the month of July, individual memberships are $20 instead of $35 and a membership for a couple is only $30 instead of $60. If you have never been a member, this is your chance to join and help support the Center. Memberships provide almost 15% of the Center’s revenue.

Meals-on-Wheels will be closed on the 4th and 5th, but extra meals will be delivered for the long weekend. The Center will be closed on Thursday but will be open on Friday although many of the classes and activities will be cancelled. But there will be Bingo on Saturday the 6th starting at 6:00 PM. And if there are over sixty folks playing that night, someone in the crowd is guaranteed to win $1000.

And if that is not enough to get you out of the heat, on July 11th Meals-on-Wheels will have their big Bingo Bash starting at 6:00 with free hamburgers between 4:30 and 6:30. There will be a guaranteed $1000 give-a-way plus several other special prizes including free one night stays at Wildhorse and Spirit Mountain. For this special event minimum buy-in is $20.00.

And before the toast is buttered and the coffee’s made, playing tonight at the Center is “Strawberry Mountain Band”. And “Martin and Friends” will be performing next Tuesday on the 9th starting at 7:00 PM. All ages are welcome and suggested donations are $2 per person and $3 per couple to keep the musicians fed and the lights on.

Robert Young and Jane Wyatt, as his wife, starred in the hit comedy “Father Knows Best”. (And this week’s winner is Sandy Haechrel.) But that was a little too easy, so this week’s “Remember When” question should be a little more challenging. What was the name of the 90 minute live variety show ranked #30 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows; starred Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner and Howard Morris and aired from February 25, 1950 to June 5, 1954? Mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or send it with a kinescope copy of the comedy sketch “From Here to Obscurity”.

Well, it has been another week looking for shade in all the cool places. Until we meet again, here’s a quote to share with your grandkids, “Listen to your elder’s advice not because they are always right, but because they have more experiences of being wrong.”


Follow by Email

Blog Archive