Aging Well in the Gorge September 26th 2017

Seeing a doctor today is not the same as back in the Dr. Welby days – which is not surprising with new medical treatments, increased focus on health outcomes, more doctors retiring than graduating, and longer life spans so there are more of us older folks.

Today communication with your doctor is no longer a one-way street: the doctor giving directions and you following them. Now it is more a partnership, working as a team so you receive the best possible medical care to keep you healthy.

But good communication is critically important and is particularly true for older adults. We often have more serious health conditions and treatments to discuss, affecting more aspects of our lives. If your doctor doesn’t know what you are experiencing, how is she going to treat you effectively. And if you don’t understand the how’s, what’s and why’s of your diagnosis and treatment, how are you going to implement the doctor’s orders.  

But how do you make the most of an appointment with your doctor?

In an earlier column, I’ve explained how to prepare for your doctor’s appointment: prioritize a list of your concerns, plan to update your doctor of any health changes, take pertinent information with you such a list of your medications, and consider bringing another set of ears.

But how best can you use the time with your doctor? Here are a few tips provided by the National Institute on Aging.

1.) Be honest. Don’t just say what you want the doctor to hear - that you have been exercising even when you haven’t. Tell it like it is so she will have accurate information for her diagnosis and treatment.
2.) Decide which three or four questions you’ll ask and state them at the beginning of the appointment so they aren’t overlooked.
3.) Stick to the point. I always enjoy the friendly small-town chats. But keep it short and get to the reason you are there by briefly stating your symptoms, when they started, how often they happen and if they are getting worse or better.
4.) Share your feelings about the visit. Tell your doctor if you feel rushed, worried, or uncomfortable. If you are confused, ask your doctor to clarify. If you are worried about your condition, and would like to talk more ask her for more time or schedule another appointment.

Remember the doctor patient relationship is more a partnership these days, and it is important that you ask questions and stay informed about your medical care. And even though the best doctors may not have all the answers to your questions, they still may be able to help you find more information or refer you to a specialist. But if a doctor keeps brushing off your questions and symptoms as simply a part of aging, you might want to look for another doctor.

You can learn more by picking up a copy of the National Institute on Aging’s “A Guide for Older People – Talking with Your Doctor” at the Center or you can go to their website

I know many of you are not carrying around your daily planner - so that you won’t forget, here is your last-minute reminder. Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 27th at 1:00, Kerry Cobb, executive director of the Columbia Center for the Arts, will be discussing the “Life and Art of Five Famous Female Artists”.

I didn’t receive any correct answers last week although several folks thought it was Burma Shave - known for its rhyming road signs. But the name of the shaving cream popular with soldiers during WWII and packaged in a distinctive red, white and blue stripes design mimicking a barber’s pole was Barbasol.

Billboard magazine ranks this American popular music pianist as the top selling piano recording artist in history with 18 gold and platinum albums to his credit.  For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the professional name of this entertainer who in 1955 recorded "Autumn Leaves", the only piano instrumental to reach #1 on Billboard's popular music chart, as well as “Born Free” in 1966? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or drop it off with the name of the founder of Rhode Island.

Well, it’s been another week, enjoying the cool mornings. Until we meet again, a complaint is just a wish in disguise.  

“If you keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, it’s just possible you haven’t grasped the situation.” Jean Kerr, writer

Aging Well in the Gorge September 19th 2017

This last week has felt like too many long nights in a smoky bar that you just want to forget. Each morning I would wake up and wonder, “Will I be able to see the Klickitats today?” (And who would have thought the air quality would be so bad it would close school.) But after these weeks of smoky air, I am at least better informed and prepared.

For instance, I now know the type of mask to purchase (N95 respirator mask) and that it needs to fit properly to be effective. (Breathing through the mask requires greater effort and may feel uncomfortable. But if you find it easy to breathe with the mask on, you are probably breathing the unfiltered air entering around the edges of the mask.)  I now know I can go to the website to find the latest air quality index for The Dalles (or any other major city in the world) to confirm that the air quality is as bad as I think it is. And I now know that the North Central Public Health District can lend portable air purifiers which were recently set up at the Center.

But enough of these lessons learned. Hopefully this week’s anticipated rain will end this year’s fire season and cleanse the air of the unhealthy smoke that has lingered around too long. And we can put on our sweaters and coats and enjoy a sunny autumn before winter comes.  

I’ve been hearing that Pickleball (which combines elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis) is the rage in town - as well as across the country. Tim McGlothlin has been promoting the sport - and paid the price when he forgot he wasn’t the young man he once was. But a little encounter with the bleachers hasn’t stopped him from leading several CGCC Community Education Pickleball classes at the Readiness Center starting September 28th and continuing for 12 weeks. The beginning Pickleball class is from 5:00 – 7:00 on Thursday nights. And on the same nights there are also two sessions of Competitive Pickleball for intermediate and advanced players: 3:00 – 5:00 or 7:00 – 9:00. The total cost is $44 for either class. You can find more information on page 24 in the CGCC Fall Class Schedule that you received in the mail. You can register online or call CGCC at 541-506-6011.

Besides pickleball, there are other Community Education classes you may find worthwhile including Medicare 101 from 1:00 – 3:00 on October 10th, or Social Security 101 from 1:00 – 3:00 on November 8th - which are both free. Or even Beginning Photography which teaches how to use a smartphone or other inexpensive camera to take great pictures. This 10-week class starts on September 27th and costs $69.

For several years, the Center has scheduled northwest vocalist and crowd favorite Nehemiah Brown to perform two Friday nights a year. But this time we have scheduled Nehemiah to perform this Friday, September 22nd from 11:30 to 1:30 during the Meals-on-Wheel noon dinner. There is no admission charge for the performance; we only ask that you buy the dinner for a suggested donation of $3.75 for anyone 60 an older or $5.50 for everyone else. Nehemiah’s performance is sponsored by The Dalles Health and Rehabilitation Center that provides a continuum of care bridging the gap between hospital and home whether it is short-term rehabilitation or long-term care.

In 1958 the American vocal group that recorded the number one hit “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” was the Platters. (I receive correct answers from Sandy Haechrel and this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket, Betsy Ayres.)

While browsing through the online version of my hometown newspaper, the Indianapolis Star, I came across an article about one of Indy’s own who invented a shaving cream used by millions. It was first sold as a white cream that came in tubes and during WWII was a staple item in post exchanges and military ration kits. What was the name of this shaving cream that gave you a “smooth, cool, clean, shave with no rubbing, no lather, no brush and no hot water”? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or drop it off with a recording by “Singin’ Sam”.

Well, it’s been another week, wandering and wondering. Until we meet again, as my dad always said, “Tomorrow is another day”.

“Some days you’re a bug. Somedays you’re a windshield.” Price Cobb, race car driver

Aging Well in the Gorge September 12th 2017

Improving your brain’s performance is a hot topic these days. And you probably have heard various recommendations to improve your memory from drinking a glass of red wine to watching your grandkids (as long as you don’t do it every day!)  

But at the top of every list is the recommendation to give your brain a daily workout. Last week I shared some Brain Teasers to test your out-of-the-box thinking. But this week’s assignment will test your working memory: the ability to keep information stored for a short period while using the information. But they aren’t easy. And you may find them frustrating because you must really concentrate. So get that glass of wine, send the grandkids home, and see if you can master these mental tests.

1. Say the days of the week back­wards, then in alphabetical order. 2. Say the months of the year in alphabetical order. Now back­wards, in reverse alphabetical order. 3. Find the sum of your date of birth, mm/dd/yyyy. 4. Name two objects for every letter in your first name. Work up to five objects, trying to use different items each time. 5. Look around wherever you are and, within two minutes, try to find 5 red things that will fit in your pockets, and 5 blue objects that are too big to fit.

And as I promised, here are the answers to last week’s brain teasers.

1.) Which word in the dictionary is spelled incorrectly? Answer: Incorrectly. 2.) A girl who was just learning to drive went down a one-way street in the wrong direction, but didn’t break the law. How is that possible? Answer: She was walking. 3. Imagine you are in a dark room. How do you get out? Answer: Stop imagining. 3.) Mom and Dad have four daughters, and each daughter has one brother. How many people are in the family? Answer: Seven. 4) While some months have just 30 days, others have 31 days. How many months have 28 days? Answer: All twelve months. 5) How many times can you subtract 5 from 25? Answer: Just once.

Have you wanted to learn more about the how, when and where of public transportation options in The Dalles? For the Center’s Wednesday 11:00 Lecture on September 20th, a representative from LINK will discuss public transportation options including the door-to-door service in The Dalles and the fixed route service to and from Portland.

If you enjoy the creative arts, the Center will be hosting two presentations provided by the Columbia Center for the Arts (CCA). The first is “Five Famous Female Artists” – a visual presentation covering the life and art of five famous female artists and will be held on September 27th at 1:00.

The second is a One-Act Plays Table Reading - a table read of several humorous one-act plays written specifically for older adults and will be held on October 11th at 1:00. This one is limited to 6-8 people, so you will need to call the Center to reserve your place. Both presentations will be led by Kerry Cobb, Executive Director of CCA.

The Beach Boy album released in 1966 and ranked by Rolling Stone magazine as the second greatest album of all time was Pet Sounds. (The winner of a free quilt raffle ticket is Sandy Haechrel.)

This last week, when I felt like I was sitting on the wrong side of a campfire, you may have been thinking of the song “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” - a show tune written by American composer Jerome Kern and lyricist Otto Harbach for their 1933 musical Roberta. Since then it has been recorded by many artists including Paul Whiteman, Irene Dunn, and Nat King Cole. But the most remembered recording was released in 1958 when the song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 music chart. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the American vocal group that recorded “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” in 1958? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with a 3M Cool Flow N95 respirator mask.

Well, it’s been another week, wishing and hoping. Until we meet again, “be the person your dog thinks you are”.

“If you hear of someone speaking ill of you, instead of trying to defend yourself, you should say, “He obviously does not know me very well, since there are so many other faults he could have mentioned.” Epictetus, philosopher

Aging Well in the Gorge September 5th 2017

At our age, its common to worry when you can’t remember a name or you can’t find that word on the tip of your tongue. When that happens, I often ask myself, is this just normal for my age? Or am I in the early stages of dementia? And then the more I worry, the more I seem to forget!

To relieve my anxiety, I found an article by Dr. Mike Davis who gives the following three examples demonstrating the distinctions between normal memory loss and dementia.1.) Misplacing keys is normal; forgetting what they are for is dementia. 2.) Forgetting a person's name is normal; but not remembering knowing the person is not. 3.) Forgetting to turn into a familiar street is normal; becoming easily disoriented or lost in familiar places for hours is not.”

Good. I don’t need to worry. I often misplace my keys, but I do know what they are for. I seem to have a harder time remembering names, but they eventually come to me. And when I’m in a hurry, there are times I do turn down the wrong street, but so far, I’ve always found my way home.

But then I read the next sentence. “These lines are distinct for most of us, BUT in early dementia patients, it can be tricky to tell.”

Now what the heck does that mean, tricky to tell?  Could my forgetfulness seem normal, but because of some subtle signs, I could unknowingly be in the early stages of dementia? Should I still be worrying?

It does give me pause. But there is one sign that gives me hope. I figure as long as I can spell Alzheimer’s without looking it up, I’m okay.

If you want to learn more about brain health, join the Brain Fitness Club which returns at 1:00 on September 18th showing the online video series: How to Improve Your Brain Health.

In this series renowned neuroscientist, Dr. Wendy Suzuki, will show how the brain and memory works through a mix of personal stories and solid brain science. There will also be simple, specific activities to make your brain stronger and potentially even make your life better.

But why wait till then. Here are a few brain teasers to rattle your noggin’. I’ll share the answers next week.

1.) Which word in the dictionary is spelled incorrectly? 2.) A girl who was just learning to drive went down a one-way street in the wrong direction, but didn’t break the law. How is that possible? 3. Imagine you are in a dark room. How do you get out? 3.) Mom and Dad have four daughters, and each daughter has one brother. How many people are in the family? 4) While some months have just 30 days, others have 31 days. How many months have 28 days? 5) How many times can you subtract 5 from 25?

And remember when challenging your brain, it is not so much getting the correct answer, as it is the effort you put into trying to solve the problems. 

The name of the college Mike, Mark, Zonker, and B.D attended was Waldon College which was modeled after Yale - the school Gary Trudeau attended from 1966 through 1970. (I received correct entries from Bob and Sandy Haechrel who both win one half of a quilt raffle ticket.)

During my high school days in Indianapolis, I remember buying the Beach Boy’s “I Get Around” and dreaming I had a surf board on the top of my “Woodie” and was headed to the sandy ocean beaches – even though there wasn’t an ocean wave within a thousand miles. Today, Brian Wilson the genius behind the Beach Boys, at the age of 75 is on a world tour recreating on stage the sounds from their acclaimed eleventh studio album which included the hit “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”. For this week’s “Remember When” question what was the name of this Beach Boy album released in 1966 and ranked by Rolling Stone magazine as the second greatest album of all time? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with a picture of goats being fed at the San Diego Zoo.

Well, it’s been another week, thinking that I think I can. Until we meet again, find time to add a little spark to your daily routine.

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.” Robert Frost


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