Aging Well in the Gorge January 26th 2016

Sometimes we think our plate is full with our own day-to-day responsibilities and health demands, but what if you have two plates to manage? That is the case with an estimated 40 million unpaid caregivers who provide annually over 37 billion hours of care because of a loved one’s debilitating disease, chronic health conditions or simple frailty. And if you haven’t been a caregiver, the majority of us will be one at some point in our lives.

Because the AARP recognizes how caring for a loved one can impact a person; and how important support and acts of kindness are to these caregivers, the AARP is hosting a contest through March 15th to help promote random acts of kindness for caregivers. AARP is encouraging folks to identify a caregiver they know and surprise them with a random act of kindness: preparing a meal, picking up the groceries, or doing that odd job - anything to show your appreciation and to make their life a little bit easier. You can find more details at

If you are caregiver, “Powerful Tools for Caregivers” is being offered from 9:30 to noon on Thursdays for six weeks starting March 3rd. The program is designed to help family caregivers take care of themselves while caring for a relative or friend.  Class size is limited and registration is required. The class is sponsored by the Area Agency on Aging and will be held in the Mid-Columbia Council of Governments’ Board Room at 1113 Kelly Ave., The Dalles. To register call 541-298-4101 ext. 219. The cost is a suggested donation of $20, but is not required in order to attend class.

Also the PBS documentary Caring for Mom and Dad that shows the realities and challenges of caregiving, will be shown at the 11:00 Tuesday Lecture on February 2nd at the Center.  

The AARP Tax Aide Program provides free tax assistance to low and moderate income taxpayers, with special attention to folks sixty and older. It starts February 5th at the Center, and will continue through April 15th on Fridays from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm and Saturdays from 9:00 am to 1:00. It is first come, first serve, and as you can imagine, it’s pretty busy the first several weeks. If you have questions about what documentation to bring, call the Center at 541-296-4788.

A couple of quick reminders - since I know we all need them.

To identify near-term solutions for better transit options in the Gorge, the Oregon Department of Transportation has initiated a Columbia River Gorge Transit Study. You are invited to complete a short online survey before January 31st about Gorge travel. You can find the survey on the Center’s website under the tab “Gorge Transit Survey”.

The Original Courthouse Regional History Forum starts on February 6th at 1:30 with Robert Boyd’s program on Rev. Henry K.W. Perkins: Forgotten Wascopam Missionary. 

You still have time to apply for the OSU Extension’s Master Gardener classes starting on Wednesday, February 17th from 9:00-4:00, but applications are due on January 27th. Contact Machelle Sager at 541-296-5494.

At the Center on February 2nd starting at 6:30 PM, Andre, K.C. and Tom will be performing for your dancing and listening pleasure. Everyone is welcome and donations are always appreciated.

As promised, the answers for last week’s quiz. 1. D) 5; 2. B) False: 3. A) 5%; 4.  A) True; 5. D) As a school reward for good behavior; 6. D) All of the above; 7. F) All of the above; 8. C) Jack Leasch; 9. C) Supportive and respectful because we share the same mission of promoting healthy aging.

Archie Andrews’ best friend in the popular comic book series Archie is Jughead. (The winner of a free quilt raffle ticket is Virginia McClain.)

This week’s “Remember When” question takes us back to our grade school days. Cursive writing has been on the decline ever since the invention of the ball point pen. (I remember when I only could use a fountain pen in class.) But back in the days when teachers still taught cursive writing instead of “keyboard skills”, what was the name of the writing method that taught students to adopt a uniform system of cursive writing with rhythmic motions? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a writing worksheet from your elementary school days.

Well, it’s been another week hoping I’m not repeating myself. Until we meet again, try to make your random acts of kindness not so random.

“Nothing is more important than the helping hand of a neighbor.” Farmer’s Wisdom

Aging Well in the Gorge January 19th 2015

The Mid-Columbia Senior Center is in the middle of its 2016 Membership Drive and more than half way towards the goal of 450 members. Individual and business memberships provide over 15% of the Center’s operating budget so the membership drive is a big deal for the sustainability of the Center. But during the membership drive, folks often ask, “What do I get for being a member?” Well, honestly there are very few tangible benefits. Whether you are a member or not, you can participate in all the Center activities – the Center is not a private club. But then why join? Because without its members, the Center would not be the valuable resource it is - helping older adults live healthy and meaningful lives.

But whether you are a member or not yet a member, here is a short quiz to test your knowledge of the Center, although there is much more to know and experience. (The answers will be in next week’s column or on the Center’s website.)

1. The Center has how many movement and exercise classes? A) 2, B) 3, C) 4. D) 5, E) None – old folks just stay home and watch TV.
2. Because the Center was built with a federal grant only individuals over 62 can use the facility.
A) True; B) False
3. What percentage of the Center budget comes from public funds? A) 5%; B) 15%; C) 30%; D) 100% - because seniors are entitled to it.
4) The initial concept for the Center included two levels, but because construction costs exceeded the available funding, the basement was not included. A) True; B) False.
5) Once a year, Colonel Wright students walk to the Center to play bingo because: A) They need the exercise; B) They like the smell of old people; C) We want them to get hooked on playing Bingo; D) As a school reward for good behavior.
6) In supporting older adults, the Center provides space at no or little cost for: A) Medicare Counseling (SHIBA), B) AARP Tax Aide, C) AARP Smart Driving Classes; D) All of the above
7) To give back to the community, the Center provides space at no cost to: A) Opportunity Connections for their Annual Meeting; B) ARC Friendship Club; C) 4-H Leatherworking Club, D) Boy Scout Troop #365; F) All of the above.
8) The Center has a close relationship with the City of The Dalles because the City donated the land and also wrote the federal grant for the Center. Who was the city planner that wrote the grant? A) Scott Keillor; B) Dan Durow; C) Jack Leasch; D) Daffy Duck.
9) The relationship between Meals-on-Wheels and the Center is: A) None, because we are the same organization with the same board; B) Difficult because you can’t imagine how hard it is to share the same space; C) Supportive and respectful because we share the same mission of promoting healthy aging; D) We’re in love!

You’ll notice several changes to this year’s “Go Red for Women’s Heart Health” event. Instead of a two day event, it has been combined into one day on Saturday, February 6th from 10:00 - 1:00. You’ll still find the Heart Health Expo including Health Screenings, Stretching Stations, Chair Massage and more, plus a soup and bread lunch ($3 cash) at the Heart Health CafĂ©; as well as the Heart Truth 3k/5k/10k Walk/Run starting at 10:00. It will be held at Kiwanis Pocket Park on Klindt Drive.  At the 11:00 Tuesday Lecture on January 26th, Linda Stahl, from Planetree Health Resource Center, will explain more about the “New and Improved” Go Red event.

At the Center on January 6th starting at 6:30 PM, the band Country Road will be performing for your dancing and listening pleasure. Everyone is welcome and donations are always appreciated.

The only sisters to win Oscars for Best Actress were Olivia de Havilland - To Each His Own (1946) and Joan Fontaine - Rebecca (1940). (The winner of a free quilt raffle ticket is Betsy Ayers.)

This week’s “Remember When” question is about a popular comic book series. Who was the lazy, skinny, quirky, but clever best friend of Archie Andrews? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a copy of Archie #1 published in 1942.

Well, it’s been another week waiting for the sun to come home. Until we meet again, there’s nothing wrong with trying a little tenderness.

“My memory isn’t gone. It’s just on vacation, but I expect it back soon.” Andre Lemoreaux

Aging Well in the Gorge January 12th 2016

“Pride goeth before a fall”. That familiar proverb came to mind while attending a Special Olympics swim meet. At the end of the meet, I needed to climb down from the top of the concrete bleachers, but couldn’t reach the aisle. As I was awkwardly climbing around and between folks sitting in the rows below me, with nothing to hang on except a couple of shoulders, one of my young assistant coaches, kindly offered her hand to help steady me. But I immediately thought, “No, I can do this. Does she think I’m old and clumsy?”

But then remembering when I missed a step and broke my hip several years ago; and feeling the stiffness in my knees, I realized I shouldn’t let my pride keep me from admitting to myself that it’s risky climbing down rows of bleachers; and it would be more embarrassing landing on top of someone - or worse yet, falling and breaking my other hip. That could ruin a nice day.

So being the wiser, I took her arm, which did help as I climbed down the last several rows, and thanked her for her assistance.

You’ve heard the tips to prevent falls: know the effects of your medications; improve your strength, balance, and flexibility through exercise; remove hazards in your house such as loose rugs and electrical cords; use assistive devices such grab bars for the showers and handrails on BOTH sides of the stairs; and wear sensible shoes. (Does anyone wear high heels anymore?)

But often overlooked is attitude: too proud for our own good. I still want to be the young, strong, muscular specimen of maleness that I once was. (Isn’t it great how our memories can reconstruct the past?) But that was then and this is now. And now at my age, I have finally accepted that it is often best to avoid certain risks, accept the help when offered and appreciate that someone cares - because you don’t want to let “pride goeth before a fall” – literally.

Mahjong is a game of skill and strategy that originated in China, and is similar to the card game rummy except it uses tiles instead of cards. At the Center on Fridays at 1:00, you can find folks playing Mahjong led by Corliss Marsh - our expert in residence. But there has been a growing interest in the game and if you are interested in learning how to play, there will be a Mahjong Beginner’s Day at the Center on January 29th starting at 1:00 PM. The cost is $1.00.

There will not be a Tuesday Lecture at the Center next week because of the AARP Smart Driver’s class being held at the same time. So instead you can sign up for the Smart Driver’s class, held on January 18th and 19th from 8:45 – 12:05, by calling the Center.

If Southern Fried Chicken reminds you of summer picnics, you can have a piece of summer in the middle of winter, by attending the Center’s Southern Fried Chicken Dinner sponsored by Griffith Motors from 4:30 to 7:00 on Friday, February 5th. The menu includes Southern Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, biscuit and dessert. The tickets are $15 which you can purchase at the Center or at the door while tickets last. All proceeds will benefit the Center.

At the Center on January 19th starting at 6:30 PM, the Simcoe Boys will be performing for your dancing and listening pleasure. Everyone is welcome and donations are always appreciated.

The comedic actor and impersonator who played Corporal Randolph Agarn on F Troop was Larry Storch. (The winners of a free quilt raffle ticket are Dennis and Mary Davis.)

This week’s “Remember When” question is about two actresses who were sisters born in Tokyo to English parents. The elder sister starred in Gone with the Wind and eight movies with Errol Flynn including the Adventures of Robin Hood; and the younger sister starred in Rebecca and Suspicion both directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Who were these two sisters, the only siblings to have won lead acting Academy Awards?  Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a picture of the two sisters - before they stopped talking to each other.

Well, it’s been another week looking in the mirror and all too often asking myself “Whoa. Have I looked like that all day?” Until we meet again, don’t stop believing in yourself.

“The pride of youth is strength and beauty, the pride of old age is discretion.” Democritus

Aging Well in the Gorge January 5th 2016

Have you forgotten a hair appointment or couldn’t remember whether or not you took your medications? These situations can be embarrassing - or worse, life threatening. These are examples of one of the most critical types of memory: prospective memory - the ability to remember to remember.

Prospective memory is a form of memory that involves remembering to perform a planned action sometime in the future. Remembering involves retrieving information from long term memory facilitated by cues: a song, a face, or an object. The difficulty with prospective memory is there are often no cues to remind you to remember.

The best strategy is to create your own cues. They can be physical cues: writing a reminder note, using a pillbox or setting a timer. (Although I have found a timer will remind me to do something, if I can only remember what that something is.) Often I use my car keys as a physical cue. I place them next to the item I want to remember, knowing I won’t get out of the driveway without my keys – and what I need to take with me.

Or you can create an imaginary cue. The most effective are wild and crazy images that are related to what you are trying to remember. For example, if you need to remember to turn off the lights when you leave, imagine the doorknob as a hot lightbulb.

Another suggestion is when you do remember, do it! We are more easily distracted as we age and more likely to forget what we were doing or need to do. When you remember to take your medications, don’t wait till after you take out the trash.

Prospective memory, the ability to remember to remember, becomes more difficult as we age. But by knowing the challenges, we can adapt so we don’t forget important tasks. To learn more, I’ll be discussing prospective memory at the Center’s 11:00 Tuesday Lecture on January 12th.
You always wanted to send emails to friends, or check-in with family on Facebook or even Skype with your grandkids. So this Christmas you finally broke down and bought yourself a new laptop computer or the latest tablet. But now you have to figure out how to operate the darn thing - and whatever happened to instruction manuals!

There are several resources available to help you get up and running. At the Center, there is the iPad User’s Group that meets at 1:00 on the first Wednesday of every month; plus computer/tablet help on Wednesday mornings at 9:00.

In addition, The Dalles/Wasco County Library offers classes covering Computer Basics, Email or Microsoft Word on Fridays at 9:00; drop-in help on Saturdays at 10:00 and 2:00; and by appointment, one-on-one help with software issues and tech skills. For more information call 541-296-2815 or stop by the check-out desk.

But the best advice is just to play around on your device. Discover what works and what doesn’t. If you feel more comfortable with a manual (even though they now seem like a relic of the past) you can usually find an electronic manual online. And as the last result, Google your question. Most every time you’ll find an answer - although I won’t promise you’ll understand it!

At the Center on January 12th starting at 6:30 PM, Andre, KC and Tom will be performing for your dancing and listening pleasure. Everyone is welcome and donations are always appreciated.

The name of the educational television series, hosted by Walter Cronkite, where CBS correspondents would report on the dramatic reenactment of historical events was You Are There. (The winner of a free quilt raffle ticket is Don McAllister, who said he watched it every week.)

Whenever I meet anyone named Judy, I imagine Cary Grant saying “Judy, Judy, Judy”. But when I was on the Coffeebreak with Al Wynn last month, I learned that Cary Grant never actually said those words. They were first spoken during a nightclub performance by a comedic actor who was impersonating Cary Grant when Judy Garland walk in. For this week’s “Remember When” question, who was this actor who also played Corporal Randolph Agarn on F Troop? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a picture of the actor with Forrest Tucker and Ken Berry.

Well, it’s been another week waiting to see what the weather brings next. Until we meet again, stay warm - inside and out.

“Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.” Unattributed


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