Aging Well in the Gorge November 29th 2016

Have you ever looked forward to a holiday vacation with high expectations and a to-do list a mile long - and then it turns out nothing like you expected? That was my Thanksgiving this year and even though everything turned out fine, all those things I wanted to do were replaced by what I had to do. So this week, I’ll just keep it simple and share a few thoughts for this busy first week of December.

Several months ago, Fire Chief Bob Palmer spoke at the Center and explained how the Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue can help install smoke alarms in your home. But I have also learned from Marc Berry, there is another source: the American Red Cross. They have launched a national “Home Fire Preparedness Campaign” to reduce the number of fire deaths and injuries by 25% over the next five years for three sobering reasons.

1. Fire related deaths and injuries are highest in homes without smoke alarms. 
2. Last year the Red Cross responded to nearly two home fires each day in Oregon and SW Washington. 
3. More than 60% of fire deaths occur in homes without a working smoke alarm.

To have a free smoke alarm installed by a trained Red Cross volunteer, call 503-528-5783, send an email to or complete an online form at

It is life-or-death important to have working smoke alarms in your home, but it’s not always easy to install them. But now there are two places you can find help: Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue and the American Red Cross.

There is plenty to do this Saturday besides Christmas shopping, and here are two events I would recommend.

Habitat for Humanity’s annual Holiday Bazaar is Saturday, December 3rd from 10:00 – 2:00 in the UCC Church basement at the corner of 5th and Court Street. There will be vendors, and most important, at least for me, are the delicious baked goods and the soup and pie lunch.

Also, the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center is hosting their Holiday Open House and Community Appreciation Day on Saturday, from 12 to 5 p.m. There is free admission from 9:00 – 5:00 with music from 12:00 – 5:00 plus much more.

If you missed the Center’s Holiday Bazaar, you still have a chance to purchase a one-of-a-kind lap blanket for only $25 to $35. You can find them in the Nu-2-U Shop which is open from 10:00 – 3:00 Monday through Friday.

The AARP Smart Driver Class is an easy way to catch up on the current rules-of-the-road and save a few bucks on your car insurance. The class is usually held on the third Monday and Tuesday of every month, but for December the class is on the 12th and 13th. The cost for the class is $20 and $15 for AARP members. Call the Center to sign up.

Continuing the countdown of “40 Great Things about Growing Older”. # 7 - No more kids’ tuition to pay. (Unless you had to take out parent loans - which is a monthly reminder of your wonderful children even if they live thousands of miles away.)

The Center’s 11:00 Tuesday Lecture on December 3rd, will be on Healthy Aging - the subject of the second in a series of videotaped panel presentations from the 2016 Oregon Conference on Aging.

At the Center on Tuesday, December 6th, Andre, KC and Joe will be performing for your listening and dancing enjoyment. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 6:30 and donations are always appreciated.

The anchorman who ended the CBS Evening News with the words “And that's the way it is.” was Walter Cronkite. (This week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket each are Maxine Parker and Ed Anghilante.) 

Now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday have jump started the Christmas buying frenzy, this week’s “Remember When” question is about a toy many of us received for Christmas when we were just a kid in knickers. What is the name of the clown pictured on the front of a 46-inch-high inflatable punching bag with a sand filled base?  Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with a picture of Willard Scott when he played the part of this famous clown from 1959–1962 on WRC-TV in Washington D.C.

Well, it’s been another week, adding two and two and still coming up with twenty-two. Until we meet again, everyone looks better wearing a smile.

“Little by little one travels far.” A Spanish saying

Aging Well in the Gorge November 22nd 2016

It won’t be long before many of us are celebrating Thanksgiving by gathering around the dining room table with friends and family, sharing our blessings and stuffing ourselves with delicious home cooked culinary delights prepared by a kitchen saint. (And when we start imitating the animal kingdom by adding an extra layer of body fat to keep us warm during the long, cold winter months.)

But as we enter the winter holiday season, this is also a good time to slow down, take a deep breath, and just offer that simple prayer – “Thank-you”. Thank-you for the many blessings that are visible, but often out of focus as we are distracted by all the daily noise and our own self-absorption.  

Thankful for our friends and family who are still with us or the comforting memories of those we have lost. Thankful for the neighbors who keep an eye on us and offer help even when we think we can do it ourselves. And thankful that we can wake up and get out of bed each morning, and start moving – although it may take a while to loosen up the old joints.

But maybe we should also be thankful for our misfortunes that remind us not to take anything for granted and to cherish each day - one day at a time.  And then we can ask ourselves the question Charlie Brown posed "What if, today, we were grateful for everything?"

Thank-you to the good folks at the Salvation Army for once again taking on the monumental task of organizing the local tradition of the annual Community Thanksgiving Meal. As usual, it will be held at St. Mary’s Academy on Thursday from 12:00 – 3:00. But if you cannot leave the house and need to order a home delivered meal, you can call RaeAnne at 541-705-4656.

As you would expect the Center will be closed Thanksgiving Day and through the weekend. So, for all our loyal bingo players, you will look forward to seeing you on the first Thursday and Saturday in December.

Continuing the countdown of “40 Great Things about Growing Older”: #6 “It’s easier to forgive and forget”. Because why hold a grudge, when everyone else is out dancing.

Last month the Governor’s Commission on Senior Services (GCSS) held it’s one-day
Oregon Conference on Aging. The agenda included four panel sessions discussing the issues of Elder Justice; Long-Term Services and Supports; Healthy Aging; and Retirement Security – issues that will be discussed in the 2017 Oregon Legislative session.
For the Tuesday Lecture on November 29th, I will show the Long-Term Services and Supports panel discussion that includes leaders from Aging and Disability Resource Connection of Oregon, Community Connection of NE Oregon, Northwest Senior Disability Services, Governor’s Commission on Senior Services, Portland State University Institute on Aging and State Representative David Gomberg. As discussed in the book The Age of Dignity, long term services and supports are critical to the well-being and dignity of older adults and will be a much-discussed topic at the legislature this coming session.

Next Tuesday, November 29th, is the fifth Tuesday of the month and I thought I had a band lined up. But life happens and they can’t make it. Don’t worry though. There will be band, I’m just not sure who. But what I do know is that the doors open at 6:00, music and dancing starts at 6:30 and donations are appreciated.

Candid Camera, created and hosted by Alan Funt, was the NBC television show that filmed regular people in unusual situations, and then surprised them with “Smile, you’re on Candid Camera. (This week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket each are Pat Wilson, Maxine Parker, Sue Ortega Sandy Haechrel, Joann Scott, Delores Smith, Louise Wooderson, Ed Anghilante and Tina Castanares.)

Back in the days of the three major television stations, and social media was passing notes between friends, television news was respected and not just another form of entertainment. (Okay it might have been a little boring, but it was solid news). For this week’s “Remember When” question, what television newscaster ended his news program with the words “And that's the way it is.” Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with a copy of the first episode of The Twentieth Century.

Well, it’s been another week, trying to make it work without the instructions. Until we meet again, have a great Thanksgiving - and make sure you don’t spill the gravy.

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." William Arthur Ward

Aging Well in the Gorge November 15th 2016

What is your picture of a drug addict? A young man on a street corner shooting up heroin? But did you ever think it could it also be the 75-year-old grandmother addicted to OxyContin since recovering from back surgery? It may not be the picture you imagined, but the overuse of prescription painkillers can be just as harmful as heroin sold on the street.

I became aware of this, when Linda Griswold stopped by the Center to drop off flyers for last week’s talk: “When a Good Thing Goes Bad…Prescription Drug Misuse”. She told me that prescription drug misuse is not a problem just for young people - it can happen to older adults as well.

Which makes sense. As we age there are many legitimate reasons to use pain medications: back pain, fibromyalgia, arthritis, and major surgeries - increasing the risk of abusing opioid pain medications such as OxyContin and Percocet. These pain medications are particularly dangerous because they can create a physical dependence in as few as five days for someone taking several daily doses. And the longer the drug is taken, the stronger the dependence grows and the tolerance increases- creating a need for larger and larger doses. Which is not good.

Sadly, the addiction to prescription painkillers among older adults is growing. Between 2006 and 2012, hospital emergency rooms saw a 78 percent increase in the number of visits among older adults with misuse of prescription or illicit drugs - and nearly half of those visits were among adults 75 and older.

Family members, caregivers, all of us, need to be aware of the dangers of opioid medications: the addiction-related problems such as feeling more anxious or depressed; falling more often or seeming more confused at times or even disoriented; and the alternative non-drug treatments such as acupuncture, medical massage, hydrotherapy (soothing warm jets of water) and pool therapy which can all reduce pain.

But the take away is to remember that opioids are for short-term use: acute pain or when prescribed for a few days after major surgery. But NOT for chronic conditions. As many have learned, it can be deceptively easy to turn a good thing into something bad.

Doesn’t it feel as if Black Friday sales start earlier and earlier each year? So why not just throw away all those big stores ads, and visit the local craft fairs and holiday bazaars to purchase one-of-a-kind gifts for your family and friends – and maybe something for yourself.

This coming Saturday, November 19th, you can shop two bazaars with one stop: the St. Peter’s Altar Society’s Annual Bazaar (9:00 – 4:00) at St. Mary’s School, and right across 10th street at the Center’s Holiday Bazaar (9:00 – 3:00). There will be more vendors than you can shake a stick at (haven’t heard that expression for quite a while) including unique handmade lap blankets, pillows and pillow cases. On Saturday, make sure you don’t drive by without stopping.

Continuing the countdown of “40 Great Things about Growing Older”: #6 “Your kids finally see you were right – at least about some things.” Which doesn’t mean they are smart enough to think they can start telling you what to do! For the Center’s Tuesday Night Music on November 22nd, Country Road will be playing so you can throw your head back and kick up your heals, Doors open at 6:00, music and dancing starts at 6:30 and donations are appreciated. “

"Kids Say the Darndest Things” was a segment of Art Linkletter’s “House Party”. (This week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket each are Sandy Haechrel and Tina Castanares, And Betsy Ayers - just to show her I can remember how to spell her last name correctly.)

This NBC television show aired for its longest run from 1960 through 1967 and featured concealed cameras filming regular people in unusual situations. For this week’s “Remember When” question, complete this show’s famous catchphrase, “Smile, you’re on ______ ______”? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or deliver it to the Center with a copy of the episode that included former President Harry S. Truman.

Well, it’s been another week, trying to remember, did I just add three scoops or four? Until we meet again, as my old friend Sophocles once said, “Old age and the passage of time teach all things.”

“Worry is like a rockin' horse. It's something to do that gets you nowhere.” Old West Proverb

Aging Well in the Gorge November 8th 2016

This coming Friday is Veterans’ Day - a day set aside to honor those men and women who served our country. (In Oregon, one-fourth of veterans are 65 and older.) You can show your appreciation and support during the Veteran's Day Parade which will follow the usual parade route beginning at 11am - or you can still decorate a float with a patriotic theme and join the parade. Following the parade there will be a community potluck lunch at the Oregon Veterans Home. Bring either a hot dish, a large salad or dessert.  Plates, utensils and beverages will be provided. Thanks to the Mid-Columbia Veterans' Memorial Committee, VFW, VFW Auxiliary, the American Legion and The Dalles Chronicle for making it all possible.

Now if you want to do more, the local Veterans’ Services Office in The Dalles is looking for volunteers for the front desk to make sure our veterans receive the support they deserve. For more information, you can call Jean at 541-296-3478 or email her at

How are we as a community going to prepare for the elder boom in an aging America? Or on a more personal level, who is going to be caring for us as we grow older and need in-home care? Those are some of the vitally important questions presented in the book The Age of Dignity which will be discussed at the Center on Wednesday, November 16th from 10:00 – 12:00. And I still have a few books at the Center for anyone who would like to read it before the discussion group meets.

If you can’t make the discussion group at the Center, the library is also offering a discussion group on Tuesday, November 22 from 6:30 – 8:30 pm. This replaces the regular third Tuesday discussion of End-of-Life issues which will return on December 20th at the same time.

Tonight, you are probably thinking, “Boy, am I glad that’s over!” It’s been eighteen months, since Ted Cruz was the first to announce his candidacy for President in March of 2015, and now I feel all battered and bruised as if I’ve been the third person forced into the middle of a prizefight that lasted waaaay too long. Even so, I don’t think many of us would go back to the country’s early days when members of Congress chose the presidential nominees. Or would we?

After I wrote about one of the great things about growing older is that grey hair earns respect, Marilyn Ciranny sent me a page from the Salem Statesmen Journal newspaper of children’s answers to the question, “Why does hair turn gray?” I thought you might enjoy a few of the answers. From two second graders: “My hair turns gray if I get old or if rain clouds get stuck in my hair.” “I don’t know, but maybe when people get old their hair gets tired.”  From a fourth grader: “Hair turns gray because it’s nature’s hair dye.” And the last two from fifth graders: “Because you want to look like you have lots of wisdom.” And my favorite: “The reason why hair turns gray is because you look like silver, but don’t feel like gold.”

Tuesday Night Music at the Center is now starting at 6:30 during the winter months. And on November 15th, the Simcoe Boys will be playing for your dancing and listening enjoyment. Doors open at 6:00 and donations are always appreciated.

What would happen if you stepped on a crack? Why, you would break your mother’s back - although I learned from Betsy Ayres that “If you step on a line, you’ll give your father a hard time.” (This week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket each are Betsy Ayres, Lynda Peterson, Ed Anghilante, Maxine Parker, Helen Lynch, Marcia Lacock, Tina Castanares, and Virginia McClain – and I hope I didn’t miss anyone.)

Most everyone remembers Art Linkletter’s “Kids Say the Darndest Things”, right? But for this week’s “Remember When” question, those children interviews were a part of what daytime variety show that aired from 1952 through 1969? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or deliver it to the Center with the vintage board game of the same name.

Well, it’s been another week, proving once again there is no such thing as normal. Until we meet again, don’t let the sun catch you snoozing.

“The greatest problem about old age is the fear that it may go on too long.”  A. J. P. Taylor

Aging Well in the Gorge November 1st 2016

What do businessmen Warren Buffett and Bill Marriott; entertainers Paul Simon and Bob Dylan, Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Anthony Kennedy, plus fourteen US Senators including John McCain and Bernie Sanders have in common? They are all working past the age of 75.

And yet the Oregon Constitution requires all judges to retire at the end of the calendar year in which they turn 75.

We all know as we age we encounter common age-related physical changes. Our hearing and vision may get worse and there is the increasing probability of arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis.

Cognitively there may also be changes - both negative, the speed in which information is processed may decrease, and we may become more distracted; and positive, wisdom and creativity often continue and grow throughout our adult years.

But most importantly, we all age differently. As Elizabeth L. Glisky, University of Arizona professor at the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, states “Although there are clear generalities and common principles that can be demonstrated in cognitive aging, what is perhaps most compelling about age-related cognitive change is its variability. Cognitive decline is not inevitable. Some older adults retain excellent cognitive function well into their 70s and 80s and perform as well or better than younger adults.”

Ballot Measure #94 acknowledges this variability - and the research regarding age and cognitive functioning that has occurred since 1960 when Oregon voters passed the constitutional amendment requiring mandatory retirement for judges.

Age should not be a consideration for employment whether you are old or young. It should be competence and ability. Adults older than 75 can still be mentally sharp and can still contribute. And the wisdom and perspective of older adults is needed now more than ever.

Lisa Gambee, Wasco County Clerk, and her Chief Deputy, David McGaughey, spoke at the Center last Tuesday offering a fascinating look inside our local election process. But next Tuesday all the shouting will be over, thankfully, and to make sure your mail-in ballot arrives at the Courthouse by Tuesday, Lisa suggested you consider mailing it before Thursday (election day postmarks don’t count). You can also drop off your ballot at the Courthouse, or even more conveniently, Lisa and David will return to the Center on Friday between 11:30 and 12:30 with a ballot box to collect your ballots. (And contrary to the rumor circulating, you only need one stamp to mail in your ballot.)

Remember Tuesday Night Music at the Center is now starting at 6:30 during the winter months. And on November 8th, Martin and Friends will be playing their country favorites. Doors open at 6:00 and donations are always appreciated.

And speaking of time, we gain an hour next Sunday, November 6th when local Daylight Savings Time ends. Sunrise and sunset will be one hour earlier which means more light in the morning and less in the evening. So this Sunday at two o’clock in the morning, I expect you to wake up and change the time on all your clocks; and then go back to bed and savior that extra hour of sleep.

Continuing the countdown of “40 Great Things about Growing Older”: #5 “You have time for your favorite hobbies.” Because of family and careers, we usually didn’t have the time to pursue what seemed like selfish interests - whether it was quilting, writing a bestseller, painting, or restoring an old ’63 Buick Skylark convertible. But with fewer responsibilities and more time, these retirement years are a perfect time to discover new interests or rediscover the hobbies we enjoyed when we were younger. (Does anyone want to start a LEGO Club?)

Peter Lawford played Nick Charles in The Thin Man television series that aired on NBC from 1957–1959? (This week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket is Tina Castanares.)

While growing up, I learned a children’s rhyme that often forced me to zig-zag down the sidewalks where I lived. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what would happen if you stepped on a crack? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or deliver it to the Center with a portrait of your mother.

Well, it’s been another week, watching the river flow. Until we meet again, if you find a dog in the doorway, step over it.

“I love my age. Old enough to know better. Young enough not to care. Experienced enough to do it right.” Anonymous


Blog Archive