Aging Well June 24th 2014

Summer and reunions go hand in hand - from high school class reunions to family reunions. And last week, my family and I flew back to Indianapolis for my Aunt Janet’s 90th birthday and a chance to visit the extended McKay clan. An added bonus was also seeing my Aunt Mo who will turn 100 next January. A retired PE teacher, she still pedals on her stationary bike every day. And she told me, “Age is just a number and my number is unlisted.”

It was also a chance to visit with my brother and sister and their families. And what’s better at a family reunion than dragging out the old slide projector (the ones with the slide carousel that always had at least one picture upside down), and subjecting our spouses and children to pictures of when we were so cute and adorable - dressed up cowboy gear or a birthday dress; and later how slim and attractive we were lounging around the pool. Of course, the audience, which could not escape, probably had other thoughts!
But we didn’t care. Because those old family pictures brought back memories and feelings long forgotten in our busy day-to-day lives: memories of childhood friends, tent camping along the shores of Higgins Lake in Michigan, and listening to Sid Collins announcing the thrill of the Indianapolis 500 on WIBC radio.

And whenever the McKay clan gets together, its family tradition to play the Midwest card game of Euchre. A game we always played while camping - after dark on warm summer nights, illuminated by a gas Coleman Lantern.
My sister-in-law, who isn’t fond of this McKay tradition, described Euchre as “A game invented by a bunch of drunk Germans not playing with a full deck”.  But if there are any sober Midwesterners who would like to play Euchre or anyone who would like to learn, call the Center and we’ll set a time to play a few hands.  
Although there isn’t Euchre at the Center – at least not yet, you can play Pinochle on Thursdays at 1:00 and Friday nights at 6:00. And if you haven’t played Pinochle in a while, come early on Friday nights and Gala Hill will give you a quick review of the rules. Also on Fridays starting at 1:00, there is Mahjong, a Chinese game which reminds me of rummy using tiles instead of cards. And there is Bunco at the Center on the third Tuesdays of the month starting at 1:00.
The Center is hosting its annual summer rummage sale downstairs from 9:00 – 3:00 on Thursday (26th) and Friday (27th); and on Saturday (28th) from 9:00 – 12:00 when everything that’s left will be sold by the bag. There’s plenty of good stuff including some furniture at basement prices. And just down the street at 1324 W 10th, the Center’s good friend Barb Pashek is having her “giving it up” sale on Friday and Saturday from 9:00 – 4:00 PM with antiques, shop items and her “ever famous” miscellaneous. You might even find a few antique bowling ball pins. 

The Strawberry Mountain Band will be playing their crowd pleasing country music at the Center on Tuesday, July 1st. Doors open at 6:00 and music starts at 7:00. All ages are welcome and donations are appreciated.

The answer to last week’s “Remember When” question is Spike Jones and the City Slickers Band who once toured in the 50’s as the “The Musical Depreciation Revue”. (The winner of a free July Cowboy Breakfast is Pat Davenport.)

While in Indianapolis (or Naptown as we use to call my hometown), I drove by the neighborhood grade school I attended from 1953 through 1960. One of my most vivid memories was the excitement of listening to the World Series during class.

I can’t remember the names of the teams, but during that span the New York Yankees were in five of the seven World Series - winning three. For this week’s “Remember When” question, who was the coach of the New York Yankees from 1949 until he was fired in 1960 after which he remarked he had been fired for turning 70 and “he wouldn’t do that again”. E-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or mail it with a number 37 New York Yankees baseball jersey.  

Well, it’s been another week wondering how many times do I have to do it wrong, before I get it right. Until we meet again, every day is a chance to make new memories.

“Family life is a bit like a runny peach pie – not perfect but who’s complaining?” Robert Brault

Aging Well June 17th 2014

I’ve found that after I’ve asked someone to repeat themselves – for the third time, they just shake their head with that look that says “Oh, never mind. It’s not really that important – even though your house is on fire!” Or when someone asks me a question, I often just silently nod, with a goofy smile, hoping they aren't asking something I could easily answer - if I could just understand them! Ah, the trials and tribulations of living with hearing loss.

But I’m only one of nearly 36 million Americans who have some degree of hearing loss of which 35%  are older than 64. And as I have learned, hearing loss is more than trying to understand conversations. It can lead to frustration, anger, name-calling – and that’s just my wife’s reaction when I can't understand her. 

Hearing loss is a serious chronic condition with significant health risks effecting a person’s emotional, social and cognitive well being. According to the Better Hearing Institute, studies have linked untreated hearing loss to: irritability, negativism and anger; fatigue, tension, stress and depression; avoidance or withdrawal from social situations; social rejection and loneliness; reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety; impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks; reduced job performance and earning power; diminished psychological and overall health. That’s quite a list.

But many people who are aware their hearing has deteriorated, are reluctant to seek help for many different reasons: embarrassment, sign of weakness or they feel they can get by without any help. Unfortunately, too many folks wait years before getting treatment.

If you suspect you have a hearing loss, don't wait. First step, check with your health care provider. It could be something easily treatable: wax in the ear canals or an ear infection. But if is something more complicated, such as sudden hearing loss, you will probably need to see a Ear, Nose and Throat specialist or an audiologist to arrange for a hearing test to determine the degree of hearing loss and what options you have - such as hearing aids.
You can learn more including types and causes of hearing loss; different treatments; and the latest trends in hearing aid technology, at the 11:00 Tuesday Lecture on June 24th when Jim Petrusich, audiologist at MCMC, will be the speaker. It should be a fascinating and informative presentation on an important topic that affects many of us. 

The Center does not offer computer classes, but it does provide computer help every Wednesday from 9:00 -10:00 (or call for an appointment) for those who are stuck or need help with the basics. Bring your laptop or iPad, or even your iPhone, with you.  But I know many folks who aren't interested in learning about computers or the Internet. And yet, more and more information is now provided online. If you are looking for information or forms - for example the Elderly Rental Assistance Program Form (90R), call the Center and we will do our best to find the information online and print it for you. 

At the Center this Saturday the 21st is your monthly chance to let someone else do the breakfast cooking. The menu includes Biscuits and Gravy with scrambled eggs and sausage plus fruit and coffee served from 8:00 to 9:30 - all for $5.00. Thanks to Leanne Curtis and the employes of The Dalles Health and Rehabilitation Center for sponsoring the breakfast. 

Truman will be playing his “Country Gold” at the Center on Tuesday, June 24th. Doors open at 6:00 and music starts at 7:00. All ages are welcome and donations are appreciated. 
One of the most popular American actors in the 50’s, winner of an Academy Award for his role in Stalag 17, and best man at Ronald and Nancy Reagan’s wedding was William Holden. (The winner of a free Saturday Breakfast is Joann Scott.)
During the 1940s and early ‘50s, a big band toured under the name “The Musical Depreciation Revue”. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the American musician who led this band that was known for their irreverent arrangements of popular songs often using gunshots, whistles, cowbells, and outlandish vocals? E-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or mail it with a 1942 recording of the City Slickers performing “Der Feuhrer’s Face”. 
Well, its been another week trying to keep the beat without forgetting the lyrics. Until we meet again, don’t try to build a suspension bridge over a river that doesn't exist. 
“I dream of a better tomorrow, where chickens can cross the road and not be questioned about their motives.” Anonymous

Aging Well June 10th 2014

I came across this quote by Mitch Abom, journalist and writer best known for “Tuesdays with Morrie”. “It’s funny. I met a man once who did a lot of mountain climbing. I asked him which was harder, ascending or descending? He said without a doubt descending, because ascending you were so focused on reaching the top, you avoided mistakes. The backside of a mountain is a fight against human nature,” he said. “You have to care as much about yourself on the way down as you did on the way up.”

Isn’t that the way life is? You think the first half of your life should be the most difficult: school, careers, family and kids. But it’s really the second half that is the greater challenge: after you have reached the pinnocle of your life, trying to reimagine the rest of your life as you experience personal loss and body malfunctions. (Soon I’m going to be taking bets on which of my body parts will fail me next. And in the meantime I’m hoping above all hope my wife doesn’t treat me like an old jalopy and trade me in for a more dependable model!). 

But just as this second act demands greater attention and care, it is worth it. The view can be
 breathe taking and there is so much more to experience - as you discover new mountains to climb.

Thanks to everyone who has responded to the recent mailer and contributed to the Center’s Elevator Fund - from the twenty five hundred dollar check to the twenty dollar bills. Every donation and dollar counts. We are over half way to the goal of raising $104,000 which will be used as the local match when applying for large foundation grants.

The total cost of adding an elevator is estimated by Design Structures to be $312,000. And some folks have asked, “Isn’t that pretty expensive for an elevator?” Well, yes and no. It is a lot for just an elevator, but to accommodate the new elevator without losing space while also enclosing the outside stairs, the most cost effective solution is to expand out the front of the building. Fortunately, the roof line already extends out, so all that is needed is to frame in the front of the Center that is covered. The elevator will be inside near the northwest corner of the building adjacent to the stairs. The Nu-2-U shop, lounge and receptionist area will be reconfigured and a men’s/women’s handicap restroom will be added. We hired Chris Haffner, a local architectural engineer, to make sure all the pieces fit together and we meet all the building codes and accessibility requirements.

With your continued support, we hope to conclude the fundraising campaign by next fall so we can apply for grants to complete this vital addition to the Center.

There is still time to register for the June 16th and 17th AARP Smart Driver Safety Class led by award winning instructor Dennis Davis. The updated curriculum incorporates new understandings about the aging, or should I say “maturing brain”, and how it affects our driving abilities. The class is both informative and entertaining - and cookies are included. The class is on the third Monday and following Tuesday from 9:00 – 12:00 of most every month. The cost is $20.00 or $15.00 for AARP members. Call the Center to sign up.

“For the Good Times” will be playing their good time music at the Center on Tuesday June 17th. Music starts at 7:00, and donations for the Center and the band are appreciated.

Many folks remembered Adams Blackjack, the world’s first flavored chewing gum. (And what Jerry Phillips described as almost as tasty “as the fresh tar when The Dalles was in the process of paving streets after WWII”.) But the winner of a free Saturday Breakfast is Patty Geiger.

This week “Remember When” goes back to Hollywood. Who was one of the most popular American actors in the 50’s, and starred in Sunset Boulevard, Picnic and Stalag 17 for which he won an Academy Award? E-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or mail it with a picture of this actor as best man at Ronald and Nancy Reagan’s wedding in 1952.

Well, it has been another week trying to keep the car on the road while driving from the backseat. Until we meet again, there is no point in getting discouraged - it just doesn’t get you anywhere.

"Listen, if you start worrying about the people in the stands, before too long you are up in the stands with them." Tommy Lasorda Baseball Manager

AGING WELL June 3rd 2014

It is already a new month; summer is upon us and we’ll soon be complaining about the heat - having forgotten our wish for hotter days during the past cold winter months. And it is time to turn another page on your Passport to Happiness calendar to June and the month’s focus on Cardiovascular Health.

An important component of Cardiovascular Health is treating and most importantly preventing high blood pressure - which is considered a reading of 140/90 or higher. High blood pressure can cause serious problems such as strokeheart failureheart attack and kidney failure. And because it usually has no symptoms it is often referred to as the "silent killer". The Center for Disease Control estimates that 31% of Americans have high blood pressure and 2 out of 3 adults over 65.  

One approach to reducing high blood pressure, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, is by following the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet which over time can reduce your systolic blood pressure by seven to twelve points. That can make a significant difference in your health risks. The DASH diet is a lifelong approach to healthy eating that encourages eating vegetables, fruit and low-fat dairy foods; and moderate amounts of whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts.
The DASH diet also includes reducing the use of sodium. But what are the recommended levels of sodium for a day? In a typical day you might consume around 3,500 mg of sodium. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests keeping your daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg a day.  And the American Heart Association recommends no more than 1,500 mg for all adults. If you aren't sure what sodium level is right for you, talk to your medical provider. 

As you make your food choices, you may want to know the Top Ten sources of sodium for folks 71+ years old. They are: breads and rolls; cold cuts and cured meats; soups; meat and mixed dishes; sandwiches; biscuits, muffins, quick breads; pasta mixed dishes; poultry; cheese; and pizza.

If you want to stick to a low-sodium diet, check the Nutrition Facts label and as a rule of thumb avoid anything that has more than 5% sodium per serving. And fortunately, you can retrain your taste buds to appreciate and enjoy good food with less sodium and live a healthier life. Although I do miss that Friday night Digiorno Pizza.

For the Tuesday Lecture on June 10th, I will further discuss the DASH diet and ways to reduce you sodium use. Bring your success stories of ways you have discovered to reduce your sodium intake.

And for the rest of June, before the Lecture series takes a break during July and August, there won’t be a Lecture on the 17th (there just isn’t any room with the Zumba Gold class led by Marsha Morrison downstairs and the AARP Smart Driver Class upstairs on the third Tuesdays). And on the 24th, Jim Petrusich, local audiologists at MCMC, will discuss the whats, whens and whys of hearing loss.

Martin and Friends will be playing at the Center on Tuesday June 10th. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00 and everyone is welcome.

The answer to last week’s “Remember When” question is a Beanie or Freshman Cap as Bill Van Nice remembers them being called. (But the winner of a Saturday Breakfast has got to be Don McAllister who still has his green beanie he wore as a freshman at Gonzaga University.)
This week's Remember When” question is about a unique chewing gum with a colorful history.

In 1869, after buying a ton of chicle from exiled former Mexican president Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, Thomas Adams boiled a small batch of the chicle in his kitchen creating chewing gum which he later started producing. Then in 1884, he began adding licorice flavoring creating the first flavored gum in the U.S. What was the name of this gum that sold well into the 1970's? E-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or drop it off with five shares of Mondel─ôz International, Inc. an American multinational confectionery, food and beverage conglomerate.

Well, it has been another week trying to remember which came first the chicken or – the - uh – pig? donkey? The whatchamacallit!  Until we meet again, keep walking and try to stay on the sunny side of the street.

“It's possible to own too much. A man with one watch knows what time it is; a man with two watches is never quite sure." Lee Segall


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