Aging Well October 29th 2013

November is a couple of steps away. And if you live in the Northern Wasco County Parks and Recreation District, you know November is more than falling leaves and cooler temperatures. It is your chance to vote on the proposed pool bond which will replace the current pool - first built in 1938 and substantially rebuilt in 1990-91.

 And if common voting patterns hold true, those of us 65 and older will vote at the highest rate of any age group. According to a Census Bureau report, the turnout rate in the 2012 national election for adults 65 and over rose to 71.9% from 70.3% in 2008. In comparison, the rates among 18-to 24-year olds actually fell to 41.2% from 48.5% in 2008

 There are many reasons given for why older adults 65+ vote at such higher rates.Some suggest it is basically self-interest: protecting government benefits such as Social Security and Medicare. But more recent analysis suggests several other reasons.

 Older adults generally have more time to vote (although that is not as much an issue with mail-in ballots), and believe voting is their civic duty (How often have you heard “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain”.). But the key factor may be older adults are less mobile. They stay in one place longer and consequently are more connected to the local issues and candidates

 But what about measure 33-80 to build a new pool in The Dalles? There is no question that the pool structure needs to be replaced. (You can find pictures and a video on The Dalles Public Pool and Splash Park Facebook page.) But do you replace a ‘38 Chevy with another ’38 Chevy? Or do you buy something affordable, but with newer features that will save money and provide a better driving experience. (I personally don’t want to go back to the days without power steering and air conditioning!)

 That is why I am voting for the new pool. The new pool is affordable (just over $5.00 a month for a house accessed at $175,000); and will include several practical improvements that will increase the use of the pool including a moveable bulkhead and a water slide. Plus a new Parks and Rec office will be built at the pool to eliminate the cost of renting office space, and provide better oversight of the pool and the adjacent skate park.

 I may be a little biased. I coached the summer swim team for several years and my two children swam. But that experience has also shown me how important swimming is - especially in a community that sits along the Columbia River.

I encourage you to thoughtfully consider this bond measure - because I know you are going to vote. It is our civic duty.

 Last week I said I would step it up a notch. So this week’s music announcement for the Center is backwards - by letter this time. And then before you give your brain a rest, try counting backwards from one hundred – by 3’s and then 7’s.

.elbuod a rof 3$ ro elgnis a rof 2$ si noitanod detseggus eht dna 00:7 ta strats cisum ,00:6 ta nepo srood ehT .yojne ot lla rof gnicnad dna cisum thgiN yadseuT fo htnom rehtona rof ffo gnidael “dnaB niatnuoM yrrebwartS” eht htiw redro gnittab eht fo pot eht ta ffo trats lliw retneC eht ,rebmevoN fo ht5 eht no yadseuT txeN

The often controversial author of the satirical comic strip Lil’ Abner, featuring the Yokums from Dogpatch, was Al Capp. (And this week’s winner of a free Saturday Breakfast on November 16th is Charlotte Adkisson.)

 But this is Halloween week, with the spooks and goblins visiting the neighborhoods on Thursday. And even if you may not have been around in 1938, most of us have heard about the excitement generated by the Mercury Theater’s Halloween radio broadcast that simulated news bulletins of a Martian invasion at Grover’s Mill, New Jersey. The episode was directed and narrated by Orson Welles, but who was the author of the science fiction novel it was adapted from.

E-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or mail it with the original radio script for “The War of the Worlds” sold in 1988 for $143,000.

 Well, it has been another week trying to catch the lost thought before it escapes the room. Until we meet again, “Live life as long as you live”. “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.” Unknown

Aging Well October 22nd 2013

Loneliness has been described as “when one door is closed, but the ‘other one’ has yet to open”. Or “an ‘inner worm’ that gnaws at the heart”. It can visit at any time in our lives. But circumstances and events we encounter as we get older: the loss of a life partner or difficulties with our hearing, seeing or walking, create incentives that make it easier to be more withdrawn, alone and less likely to be involved in social activities and organizations.

But we are social beings - meant to be with others. And although it may feel more comfortable just talking to ourselves (at least that person knows us), research has found that social engagement is better for both our physical and mental health. (Maybe because there is someone there to kick us out of our funk and encourage us to keep moving; or be that cheerleader who believes in us when we start losing confidence in ourselves.)

But if you are one of many who doesn’t find socializing easy or natural; and who reacts to a large group of strangers (meaning two or more) the same as a dentist’s drill, you might find these suggestions helpful.

First, social encounters can be tricky, but don’t interpret them as rejection or hostility - and then blame yourself. Focus on the positive and not on what you may have thought went wrong. 
Second, it may be easier to meet new friends while attending a class or lecture - something you can talk about with others instead of having to start a conversation from scratch.

And last, but most important, give it a chance. Whether attending Meals-on-Wheels lunch or a church service for the first time, most groups have established social relationships built over time. And although they are open to new friendships, don’t expect them to welcome you like the prodigal son. Give yourself time to establish your own relationships. And as a rule of thumb, try it for at least six times before you decide that it doesn’t work for you.

Life has much to offer during all stages of our lives. But you have to keep your eyes open and your antennas up. Get out, engage in conversations and develop new friendships. And then because you have the emotional connections with others, when the grandkids are gone and you are alone, you can enjoy the peaceful solitude that provides comfort and offers a time for reflection.

Ten percent of all health care spending comes from fraud and abuse; while Medicare and Medicaid loses $65 billion each year to criminals. Those are just a few figures highlighting the importance of catching and preventing healthcare fraud and abuse. The next Tuesday lecture will present a Webinar produced by AARP called “Protect Yourself from Healthcare Scams and Frauds”. The presentation starts at 11:00 at the Center and is open to everyone.

Here is another opportunity to confuse your brain with what it doesn’t expect: the Center’s music announcement for October 29th - from back to front. (But be forewarned, next week I will step it up a notch.)

.couple a for $3.00 or person per $2.00 is donation suggested the and PM 7:00 at starts music,  PM 6:00 at open Doors .enjoyment dancing and listening your  for favorites pleasing crowd playing be will “Boys Dufur The” the ,October of 29th the on night Tuesday next Center the At

The brand of O-gauge model trains popular in the 50’s was made by Lionel - which Bill Van Nice remembers Bill Schonley, Portland Trail Blazer Radio Announcer, using to nickname Lionel Hollins "The Train”. (And this week’s winner of a free Saturday Breakfast on November 16th is Jerry Phillips.)

For this week’s “Remember When” question, who wrote the satirical comic strip described by John Updike as “a comic strip with fire in its belly and a brain in its head” that ran for 43 years from 1934 to 1977 featuring the Yokum clan of hillbillies; as well as colorful characters Marryin’ Sam, Moonbeam McSwine and Senator Jack S Phogbound? E-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or mail it with an original copy of “The Life and Times of a Shmoo” published in 1948.

Well, it has been another week with my nose pressed to the glass looking to see all that can be seen. Until we meet again, as the old cowboy Mike once said, “Never ask a barber if you need a haircut.”

“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It's the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.” Lois Lowry

Aging Well October 15 2013

Last week I discussed one option for thousand older Americans who want to stay in their homes, and are “house” rich but income poor: a reverse mortgage.  But income may not be the only reason someone feels they can no longer live independently in their own home.  
Another reason may be the inability to handle all the necessary daily living activities and personal care needs. But fortunately there are many resources available including in-home care agencies such as Hearts of Gold Caregivers who have trained staff to provide assistance to meet your individual needs. Or you can personally hire a private care giver who is generally less expensive than in home agencies. But you should be aware, in many cases when you hire someone, you are responsible for paying unemployment taxes. (For more information, contact The Dalles Employment Department at (541) 296-5435.)
You can learn more about personal care services at this month’s Passport to Happiness Event on Wednesday October 16th starting at 3:00 PM at the Center.

Whether we are ready or not, we live in a digital age where information is at your fingertips - or at least at your nearest computer, tablet or smartphone. And medicine is no exception. (When is the last time you saw a paper patient chart when visiting your medical provider?) But this transition to digital records has also given hospitals the ability to give you more control over your health and wellness by making your medical records available on line: your doctor appointments, test results, immunization records and your prescribed medications. To access your MCMC medical records online, go to your provider's office and they will get you set up in the MCMC system and give you your Activation Code which you can use to activate your account online at myMCMC.

Or you can attend the Tuesday Lecture on October 22nd in the basement of the Center. Alison Adams and Susan Pincock from MCMC will explain the benefits of myMCMC as well as assist you in setting up your own Activation Code.

Once again it is that time for the Center’s Saturday Breakfast - and once again sponsored by Wasco County’s own county treasurer Chad Krause. This month the menu includes hotcakes with blueberries, scrambled eggs and your choice of bacon or sausage as well as fruit and your favorite morning beverage – all for only $5.00 per person. And as Jack always said, “Breakfast always tastes better when someone else cooks it!”

Sometimes it seems like the whole world is moving backwards. So in the spirit of the times, see how well you can cope by reading this week’s music announcement.
Four for $3.00 or leg per $1.00 is donation suggested the and PM 7:00 at starts music,  PM 6:00 at open doors The .arms your in partner your with music the to moving than there is exercise better what And .to dance and listen to classics western country playing be will “Times Good the For” ,Center the at night Tuesday Next

The 1958 horror/science fiction movie classic that starred Steve McQueen and depicted a growing amoeba-like alien from outer space that terrorized the small community was “The Blob”. (And the winner of a free breakfast on October 19th is Don McAllister.)

You may think of the “Remember When” questions as a fun and easy - or sometimes challenging - trivia contest or even at test of your long term memory (which I hope is operating on all eight cylinders – or at least seven!). But I hope it is more: reminding you of events or experiences hidden away in your vast reservoir of memories: the screaming fans at the 1965 Beatles concert in Portland, the pain of Merthiolate when your mother painted your scrapes orange after one of your falls, or the sound of a model electric train whistling through tunnels and over bridges on a piece of old plywood set up in the garage.

That last memory is the subject for this week’s “Remember When” question. What was the name of the brand of O-gauge model trains which in the 1950’s outsold its closest competitor American Flyer nearly 2:1 until the HO scale model trains became popular in 1956? E-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or mail it with a paper train set, made out of heavy cardstock, sold in 1943 (by the same company) when the US government restricted the use of various materials during WWII.

Well, it has been another week trying to keep my mouth shut and my eyes open. Until we meet again, it was the wise cowboy who said “When your head is in the bear's mouth, it is not the time to be smacking him on the nose”.

Aging Well October 8th 2013

If you are struggling to pay your bills - as the cost of living constantly increases, and yet you have paid off your house - which you purchased for $35,000 forty years ago and is now worth four times that much, you are one of thousands of American older adults who are income poor but “house” rich. To help older adults in this kind of situation, reverse mortgages, also known as Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs), were created to allow homeowners aged 62+ to convert a portion of their home equity into cash while they continue to live at home for as long as they want.

According to the National Council on Aging, reverse mortgages can be a useful financial tool for older homeowners and have become increasingly popular in recent years - but they’re not for everyone. And because there are unscrupulous people and companies that sometimes use reverse mortgages to exploit consumers, counseling is critical in providing unbiased information to equip the borrower with the knowledge needed to make an informed choice.

There is more information on the National Council on Aging’s (NCOA) Home Equity Advisor website, (  including other  options for saving money and remaining in your home, as well as additional questions and answers about reverse mortgages.

In addition, at the Center’s Tuesday Lecture on October 15th at the 11:00, Jim Bishop, from Westcorp Mortgage, will discuss the pros and cons of reverse mortgages to help you can better understand whether a reverse mortgage is a good option for you.

Thanks to everyone who attended the Back Rib Dinner fundraiser to support Meals-on Wheels and the Senior Center. Once again the attendance was great, the ribs were excellent and Hardshell Harmony entertained everyone with their “foot tapping, knee slapping, good time” music. Thanks to all the volunteers, businesses that donated to the silent auction, and especially The Springs at Mill Creek which with their sponsorship made it all possible.

But the success of the dinner is just one example of how so many folks support the numerous local civic groups that make our communities so healthy and strong. And you can find out what else is going on at The Dalles Chamber of Commerce’s “Community Calendar” website including other great fundraisers such as the “Book Lover’s Ball” at the Sunshine Mill on Friday the 11th and The Dalles Art Association’s “Art-a-ritaville Auction” on Saturday November 2nd.

Last month I mentioned to reduce your risk of falling, you should try activities that improve your strength, flexibility, and balance. To help you better understand the importance of balance, there will be a Balance and Falls Awareness Event at The Dalles Fitness and Court Club on October 30th from 9:30 – 11:00 presented by the therapists at Gorge Spine and Sports Medicine. There will be tests for postural alignment, functional reach, standing balance, and the ability to go from sitting to standing to walking. For more information call 541-386-9511.

On Tuesday nights, the Center pulls up the carpet and pushes back the tables, so you can dance and listen to some fine local talent - which on the 15th will be Truman playing his County Gold. And whether you come as a single, couple or as an entire family, everyone is welcome. The doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00 and the suggested donation is $2.00 per person.

Many remembered “Easy Rider” - the 1969 film starring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson that depicted the societal tensions of the 1960’s as two bikers travelled through the American southwest and south. (And the randomly selecterd winner of a free breakfast on October 19th is Sandy Haechrel.) But for this week’s “Remember When” question, I’ll stick with movies but change to brand new genre: science fiction movies of the 50’s.

If you were like me when you were younger, you were scared silly by the science fiction thrillers of the time: Godzilla, The Fly, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. What was the name of this 1958 horror/science fiction movie classic that was Steve McQueen’s debut as a leading man and depicted a growing amoeba-like alien from outer space that terrorized the small community of Downingtown, Pennsylvania. E-mail your answers to, call 541-296-4788 or mail with a 45 of the title song (which has the same name as the movie) written by Burt Bacharach and Mack David. 

Well, it has been another week trying to avoid turning on the heat in a drafty house. Until we meet again, don’t waste your time looking in a dark room for a black cat - when there isn’t one.

Aging Well October 1st 2013

This Friday night from 4:30 – 7:30 Meals-on-Wheels and the Mid-Columbia Senor Center invite you to their 3rd Annual Baby Back Rib Dinner sponsored by their neighbors to the west - The Springs at Mill Creek. With their support and with several other small and large donations, all the expenses are covered, so every penny from every ticket sold goes directly to the Meals-on-Wheels and the Senior Center - split evenly. For only $15 per person you can enjoy a great meal, music by local bluegrass favorites “Hard Shell Harmony and help support Meals-on-Wheels and the Senior Center.

 And for the second year there will be a silent auction - but bigger and better. There will be many fantastic items generously donated by local businesses plus some special ones: a Trailblazer pennant signed by all the players, and for football fans there are two tickets to the OSU-Washington football game on November 23rd including a tailgate party. And with both Washington (4-0) and OSU (4-1) off to great starts, it should be a pivotal game.

 The Open Enrollment Period for Medicare, when you have the opportunity to review and make changes to your health coverage, occurs once again between October 15th and December 7th. In the meantime, you should be receiving in the mail your Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) from your current plan. Because the plan can change how they cover your care each year, take time to review it, even if you are satisfied with your current Medicare coverage. Check to see if there are any changes in the plan’s provider network, the drugs that are covered and increases in the costs for the coverage.

 But don’t confuse the Medicare Enrollment Period with the enrollment period for the new Health Insurance Marketplaces or Exchanges (in Oregon called Cover Oregon) created by the Affordable Care Act. If you are enrolled in Medicare, the Marketplaces do not affect you. But the Affordable Care Act does create several new benefits for Medicare enrollees: the percentage you pay for drugs in the “donut hole” is gradually reduced; and Medicare now covers certain preventive services, mammograms or colonoscopies, without charging you for the Part B coinsurance or deductible.

 Unlike Trix cereal, vaccines are not just for kids – or silly rabbits. Each year thousands of older adults die or have serious complications from vaccine preventable diseases. Consequently, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends older adults receive the following vaccines: Shingles, Pneumococcal, Influenza (flu), and Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis (Tdap). At the Center’s 11:00 Tuesday lecture on October 8th Jenny Tran, a pharmacist at Rite-Aid, will explain and answer any questions about these “Vaccines for Older Adults”.

 And since the Flu season is unpredictable and can start as early as October, Jenny Tran will also be offering Flu Shots at the Center before and during lunch on Thursday October 10th.

 Dennis Davis, the volunteer instructor for the AARP Driver Safety Class, wants me to remind everyone that the Driver Safety Class is offered EVERY month on the third Monday and Tuesday. (The next class is from 9:00 – 12:00 on October 21 and 22nd.) The cost is $12 for AARP members and $14 for non-members. You can sign up by calling the Center.

Three quick reminders in chronological order: Tuesday, October 1st starting at 7:00 PM, The Strawberry Mountain Band will be performing; the monthly iPad Users Group will meet on Wednesday the 2nd at 1:00 to discuss the new iOS 7.0 operating system; and Sandy Haechrel, AARP Money Management volunteer, will be at the Center on Thursday Oct 3rd at 1:30 to help anyone balance their checkbooks or answer simple financial questions.

 Last week’s “Remember When” question was a tough one but the controversial cartoonist who created such countercultural characters as “Fritz the Cat” and “Mr. Natural” was Robert Crumb or more widely known as R. Crumb. (And the winner and only entry was Bill Van Nice.)

 Sticking with a counterculture theme of the ‘60’s, what was the name of the third highest grossing film of 1969, starring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson that depicted many of the societal tensions of the 1960’s as two bikers travelled through the American southwest and south? E-mail your answers to, call 541-296-4788 or deliver it to the Center while riding the “Captain America” Harley Davidson specially designed and built for the movie.

 Well, it has been another week waiting to sink my teeth into some Baby Back Ribs. Until we meet again, remember the advice of Robert Heinlein “Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig”.


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