Aging Well in the Gorge April 26th 2016

Okay, this is for the guys. You’ve been married for thirty years - or more; and you have bought your loved one fresh flowers, sweet chocolates; taken her to the movies or made her breakfast in bed, and now you want to spice things up with something really special, but not too kinky, that will show how much you really care. But you have run out of ideas.

Well, I have a solution that I promise will surprise her. Take her to your favorite pharmacy for a Shingles date! I did and you can’t imagine how much my wife enjoyed it.

Why, it is something she has always wanted. We have been talking about getting our shingles vaccine for years but never seemed to make the time. But finally two weeks ago, after I checked with our Medicare plans and I made sure the vaccinations were available, I took her out for a night at the pharmacy for our shingles shots.

Now every time she hears of someone enduring the misery of shingles, she’ll thank me and give me a big kiss. And that’s an expression of true love - don’t you think?

It was a great Cherry Festival Weekend albeit a little windy, but what do we expect in The Dalles. Thanks to everyone who attended the Center’s Cherry Festival Pancake Breakfast and to this year’s sponsor Cherry Heights Living. Also thanks to Lisa and her talented crew at The Dalles Chamber of Commerce for giving the Center the opportunity to host the King Bing and Queen Anne coronation, recognizing this year’s recipients, Dennis and Shannon Morgan, for their valuable contribution to the community. It was great fun and we are already thinking of ways to make next year’s coronation bigger and better.

I ran into Cal McDermid, the Fort Dalles Museum Director, downtown on Saturday and he mentioned that the Fort Dalles Museum is looking for volunteers. Because the museum is open seven days a week through October, they need plenty of volunteers for landscaping, office work, greeting visitors or helping with special events. If you have the time, they will provide the training. Call them at 296-4547 or go to their website at

The Center is now offering Strength Yoga taught by Debra Lutje. While sitting and standing with the assistance of a chair, participants will do range of motion exercises, abdominal crunches, free weights, isometric exercises and chair yoga. It is a good all-purpose class that loosens joints, strengthens muscles and connects your mind & body. No matter your fitness level you will be able to do this class! The class meets every Wednesday and Friday at 9:15 downstairs at the Center. The cost is only $3.00 for each class.

There is one last Saturday night of “Second Chance Bingo” at the Center on April 30th. And then to start the month of May with a bang, Saturday Night Bingo will host a Bingo Bonanza on May 7th with a free Pulled Pork Sandwich dinner for all players served between 4:30 and 5:30. There will be new games and payouts with a minimum buy-in of $15. Come and enjoy America’s favorite pastime - BINGO!!

Every Tuesday night at the Center there is live music for your dancing and listening enjoyment. This coming Tuesday, May 3rd, Andre, K.C. and Tom will be playing. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00, and everyone is welcome. Donations are appreciated.

Looks like I stumped everyone last week with “Heathkit” - the brand name of the popular kits to build your own electronic devices. But this week we’ll see if anyone knows the artist who Ron Sutherland remembers singing the hit song "Somethin' Else". 

For this week’s “Remember When” question who was the sharply dressed young American musician/songwriter who epitomized the 50’s rebel rocker and recorded "Twenty Flight Rock", and "Summertime Blues", before he died in 1960 at the age of 21 when the taxi he was riding in crashed while on tour in England? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail your answer with a DVD of the 1956 musical comedy The Girl Can't Help It.

Well, it’s been another week checking the mail and finding only credit card offers. Until we meet again, as my dad often told me, “Pass away shallow water and let the deep see row.”

“The single story creates stereotypes. And the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make the one story become the only story.” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Aging Well in the Gorge April 19th 2016

Are you offended when you hear jokes about how older folks are forgetful, unwilling to change, out of date, and slow? Or do you feel, “Relax, it’s just a joke?
How do you feel when someone says you look younger than your age? Is it a compliment - or do you feel it shows a disdain towards old age?
Or how do you feel about Oregon judges having to resign after they turn 75?
And how would you feel if your doctor explained your medical condition is just old age?

Many advocates for older adults believe these situations are all too common examples of ageism, a term coined in 1969 by Robert Butler, noted gerontologist who I have mentioned before, to describe a form of discrimination and prejudice, particularly experienced by older adults.

But most of us older adults are mentally and physically active regardless of age (78.2% of households that include someone in their 80’s still own their own homes!); and with a great deal to contribute. But societal norms that see us and old age as inferior, a stage of decline can create obstacles and barriers robbing us of financial income, independence, and dignity - negatively impacting the quality of our lives.

Worse than societal ageism is when we internalize the ageist stereotypes and start losing confidence in ourselves; start depending on others more than necessary, and stop taking the initiative and responsibility for our own lives - to our own detriment.

Ageism occurs at many levels: institutional, interpersonal and individual; and it is complex. We know all too well that generally speaking we do slow down, our reflexes aren’t as quick and we may not be as mentally sharp recalling information. So what is the difference between ageism and biological reality?

At the Tuesday Lecture on April 25th, I will lead a discussion about the meaning and ramifications of ageism; and what we can do to refute the prejudicial attitudes hurting older adults as they age. And I invite you to come and share your own personal experiences of any ageist attitudes and behaviors you have encountered.

Like most of the town, the Center we will be bustling with activity on Saturday starting at 7:30 AM with the Cherry Festival Breakfast sponsored by the Center’s neighbor - Cherry Heights Living. The menu includes pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon and fruit as well as the regular beverages. The cost is $6.00 for the general public, $5.00 for members and $3.00 for children under twelve. And this year some pomp and circumstance has been added with the Coronation of King Bing and Queen Anne at 8:30 A.M. Then don’t forget come back for Saturday Night Bingo starting at 6:00 PM when over $1100 will be paid out in cash prizes.

I’ve mentioned that the Center’s Nu-2-U Shop volunteers have been busy restocking the NU-2-U Shop with quality used spring apparel at the best prices in town. But because the Nu-2-U space is limited, there are plenty of good clothes they just can’t fit on the racks. To clear the extra clothes out, there will be a 1-Day Bag Sale at the Center from 8:00 – 2:00 on Saturday, April 30th.

The Center has received several generous donations of decent operating motorized wheelchairs plus several more that just need new batteries. If you are interested in purchasing a motorized wheelchair at a very reasonable cost, give the Center a call.
Enjoy music and dance at the Center on Tuesday Night, April 26th when Country Road will be playing. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00, and everyone is welcome. Donations are appreciated.

The country artist who made famous the Bakersfield Sound, recorded the #1 hit “Act Naturally”, and was cohost of Hee Haw was Buck Owens. (The winner of a quilt raffle ticket is Sue Ortega.)

This week’s “Remember When” Question is about a brand of products that were influential in shaping two generations of ham radio operators and electronic hobbyists. What was the name of the kits that provided all the necessary parts with clear instructions to build your own electronic devices - from ham radios to even a Thomas electronic organ? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail your answer with a HW-101 HF transceiver known as "Hot Water One-Oh-One".

Well, it’s been another week watching nature reawaken. Until we meet again, keep a smile on your face and change in your pocket.

“Old age puts more wrinkles in our minds than on our faces.” Michel de Montaigne 

Aging Well in the Gorge April 12th 2016

Do you find it’s more challenging to drive these days? I do and I’ll give you my most recent example.

I’m headed east on Ninth street and stop at Union to turn left. There is a large truck parked to my left on Union obstructing my view. I quickly look to my right and see nothing coming. I look back to my left - looking around the pickup; watching for any clues of oncoming traffic. I see none, and am about ready to pull out, but now I can’t recall if I had seen any traffic to my right! I take another quick look to my right – again see nothing. Look back to my left - still trying to see around the pickup. There’s nothing and now’s my chance to go. But maybe a car has turned onto Union since I last looked. So I look again to my right. Now the car behind me is honking, while I’m whiplashing my head back and forth as if I’m at a tennis match.

I know I‘m not the only one whose had such an experience - which gives me a little comfort. But for many of us, as we age, our reaction times, reflexes and recall are slower.

But the National Institute on Aging offers several suggestions, so we can adapt and keep driving safely.
1) Leave more space between you and the car in front of you – if only cars wouldn’t keep pulling in front of me!
2) Start braking early when you need to stop. I go one step further. Whenever I see red braking lights in front of me, I immediately take my foot off the gas pedal.
3.) Avoid problem situations such as high traffic areas, left turns or as in my wife’s case, she avoids narrow residential streets.
4.) Drive in the right-hand lane where traffic moves slower so you have more time to make safe driving decisions. Let the NASCAR wannabes drive in the left lanes.
5.) And when in doubt, don’t go out. Stay home when the weather is bad. There is nothing that turns your knuckles whiter than driving through the Gorge on a windy, pouring-down, rainy night.

You can learn more about driving safely as well as getting up to speed on the new Oregon driver laws by attending an AARP Smart Driver class at the Center. The next class will be held from 8:45 am to 12:05 pm on April 18th and 19th. The cost is $20 or $15 for AARP members. Call (541) 296-4788 to sign up.

Meet friends and enjoy the best pizza while supporting the good work of the Columbia Gorge Habitat for Humanity at their Annual Pizza Feed at Spooky’s from 4:30 – 7:30 on Wednesday, April 13th. The cost is $12.00 for ages 14 and over, $7.00 for ages 7-13 and $4.00 for ages 6 & under. And this year there’ll be a raffle for some big prizes donated by local Habitat supporters.

The sun is staying up later, so you might as well to - which gives you time to enjoy Tuesday Night Music at the Center on April 12th when Martin and Friends will be playing. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00, and everyone is welcome. Donations are appreciated.

Until the mid-60’s women’s basketball players couldn’t go past mid-court so there were three players on each half of the court composing six players on a team. (The winner of a quilt raffle ticket are Jim Heitkemper and Ron Sutherland.)

Country singer and songwriter Merle Haggard, who died on April 6th, was one of the most successful performers of the “Bakersfield Sound” - a honky-tonk style that was in response to the slick Nashville sound which was gaining popularity in the 50’s. But he wasn’t the only one.

For this week’s “Remember When’ question, who was the country artist that settled in Bakersfield, California in 1951, who recorded the #1 hit “Act Naturally” in 1963, and who chose his own nickname from the name of their family goat. (Because it sounded better than Alvis.). Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or stop by the office and shout out a loud “Heeeee Haw”.

Well, it’s been another week realizing once again, I don’t know as much I thought. Until we meet again, take time to “take it easy”.

“Optimist: Someone who figures that taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it's a cha-cha.” Robert Brault

Aging Well in the Gorge April 5th 2016

Americans are living longer. One hundred years ago, average life expectancy for both women and men was 52 years; fifty years ago, when we were young pups, it was 70.3 years; and today it is the highest ever at 78.8 years.

But what does this mean for society, our institutions and for us? Robert Butler, the late physician and gerontologist, described the ramifications of these demographic changes in his book The Longevity Revolution.  He points out that as a society we are still operating with many of the same social policies and institutions that were developed to address the demographic landscape of fifty to a hundred years ago.

One way this is illustrated is how society has defined three different stages of human development: childhood, adolescence and adulthood. We are expected to act a certain way during these life stages and if not the aberrant behavior is named - such as the Peter Pan syndrome used to identify an adult who never wants to grow up.

Now with this longevity revolution underway, several leaders in the field of aging are suggesting there now needs to be another stage in life to reflect longer life expectancy and additional life experiences.

Bill Thomas, geriatrician and international authority on geriatric medicine, is one of those leaders. He calls for reimagining the lifecycle, to include a stage of life called “Elderhood”, which forgoes the values and attitudes of adulthood which are focused on youthful behavior and activities; and instead reflects the ongoing strengths, abilities and wisdom of the growing older population. A stage of life when it’s okay to take life a little bit slower, to take time to reflect and share the wisdom gained over the years; to engage in those unfulfilled pursuits; and to connect more with loved ones and the community you live in. A stage of life “that can be rich, real, deep and meaningful” beyond adulthood - when you can really live.   

Whether or not you have grown into “Elderhood”, you have an opportunity to share your stories and life wisdom at the Center through the Oral History Project created by students from the Wahtonka Community School. Students will interview you about your life experiences on Tuesdays at 1:00. With your permission, the conversations are recorded and archived at the community school’s library. There has been very positive feedback from the folks who have already been interviewed; and from the students who have learned life lessons from the rich history they have heard. To share your story, call the Center at 541-296-4788.

I know, Bingo is “just to keep grandma off the streets”, but playing bingo is fun for all ages. And during the month of April, the Center’s Saturday Night Bingo, will be even more exciting with a second chance on all games except the early birds and the 50/50 game. During the evening you will have thirty chances to win cash prizes totaling over $1100. And on April 9th the payout for a blackout in 55 numbers is an additional $850. Games start at 6:00.
Housing is one of the necessities of life. At 11:00 on April 12th, Dave Peters, from the Housing Resource Center, will be discussing the housing options available to older adults including home repair loans and foreclosure counseling.

For the Center’s Tuesday Night Music on April 12th, Martin and Friends will be playing for your listening and dancing enjoyment. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00, and everyone is welcome. Donations are appreciated.

The actor who played the colorful sidekick in TV westerns including forty-four starring Roy Rogers was Gabby Hayes. (The winner of a quilt raffle ticket is Jerry Phillips who saw Gabby as the Grand Marshall of the Cheyenne Frontier Days parade in 1947.)

The OSU Women’s Basketball team’s incredible season reminded me how women’s basketball has changed since the 50’s. At that time women’s basketball players couldn’t go past mid-court and couldn’t dribble more than three bounces – it would be too strenuous! For this week’s “Remember When” question, instead of five players, how many players were on a side in women’s basketball during the 50’s? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a picture of Carol Menken, OSU basketball star from 1979 – 1981.

Well, it’s been another week trying to remember the lessons I’ve learned. Until we meet again, although you can’t ignore the everyday difficulties, don’t let them govern your life.

“The more you know yourself, the more patience you have for what you see in others.” Erik Erikson


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