Aging Well in the Gorge March 20th 2018

Yeah, it’s finally spring! I know I’m supposed to appreciate the special beauty of winter, but I just can’t help feeling relieved when spring finally returns. But there is one downside. With the arrival of spring, my wife has this Pavlovian response to clean the house. Usually I have resisted, but this year it’s going to be different. For some reason, I feel it is time to “declutter” my stuff while I still have the energy and mobility.

But maybe the real reason is I read a special report called “Want to declutter your life? Here’s How” on the Next Avenue website which has inspired me to think, “Maybe I can do this.”

In the report, Heidi Raschke describes her “decluttering boot camp” - reading four books about decluttering in four weeks and applying them to her own life. From each of the books, she discovered decluttering tips of which I have listed a few of them below. And if you want to learn more, check out the four books or go online to

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. 1. Tidying “in one go” doesn’t mean one weekend — it’s a six-month endeavor. 2. Once an object has done its job, it’s time to let it go. 3. There’s no one-size-fits-all perfect amount of stuff. 4. Surround yourself only with objects that spark joy and get rid of the rest (which scares me because I’m afraid my wife will look at me, won’t see any “joy” and then toss me like an old musty book!)

Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind and Soul by Ruth Soukup. 1. Say no to consumer culture. 2. Focus on making your home warm and welcoming rather than picture-perfect.

The Joy of Less by Francine Jay. 1. Getting rid of big items, such as furniture, is a great way to kick-start your decluttering. 2. Go room by room with bags and boxes, sorting everything into trash, treasure and transfer piles. 3. Create limits for everything you own. Then when something new comes in, something else goes out. 4. Clutter becomes invisible. Leave your house, and when you return look at it with fresh eyes. Note how you feel and decide if you like what you see.

The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker. 1. There is no right amount of stuff; “unneeded” is in the eye of the beholder. 2. Admit you own too many clothes. 3. Focus on quality, not quantity. 4. By reducing what you have, it can free you from acquiring and managing stuff, so you have more time to purse what you really care about.

But most importantly, which everyone overlooks, make sure you have a good friend who lives a cluttered life, so when you need that item you threw away, you know who to call!

I don’t think anyone in their right mind would say health insurance is simple. It’s not. So before you turn 65, you should learn the when’s, what’s and how’s of enrolling in Medicare. A good place to start is the Medicare 101 class which will be held on Tuesday, April 10th from 9:00 – 1:00 at The Dalles CGCC campus. To register call 541-308-8211 or go online at

Frank Sinatra recorded JFK’s presidential campaign song which was written to the tune of the 1959 hit single “High Hopes”. (I thought I would stump everyone, but I received correct answers from Jim Ayers, Dave Lutgens, Laura Albrecht and the winner of a quilt raffle ticket, Jody Cochenour.)

This western themed American television series ran from 1951 through 1954 with reruns continuing though 1966 on Saturday mornings. The lead character was an Arizona rancher and aircraft pilot who lived with his niece Penny on the Flying Crown Ranch, and assisted Sheriff Mitch. For this week’s “Remember When” question what was the name of this pilot who would fly “out of the clear blue western skies” in his Cessna 310B? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or drop it off with a Signalscope which included a glow-in-the-dark signaling device, whistle, magnifying glass, and private code.

Well, it’s been another week, pulled in so many directions I often feel six inches taller and 3 inches wider. Until we meet again, don’t always take the easy way out.

“I make the most of all that comes and the least of all that goes.” Sara Teasdale

Aging Well in the Gorge - March 13th 2018

Have you found you are just not interested in most of your parent’s stuff? And neither are your children.

Times change, and styles and tastes change accordingly. (I’m still waiting for my suede coat with the big lapels to come back into style.) For example, these days depression era furniture has little value, while quality mid-century modern furniture is popular.

Also our lifestyles have evolved. My wife and I are trying to downsize and we don’t need any more stuff. And my children? Because of the high cost of housing where they live, they have adapted to living in a small space - and shopping at Ikea is their new norm. (A visit to my daughter usually means at least an afternoon of “bonding” by assembling Ikea furniture.) And when was the last time you used your fine china or silverware?  Even for Thanksgiving dinner, the “good stuff” is seldom brought out.

Recently, I read “Sorry. No One Wants Your Parent’s Stuff” by Richard Eisenberg on the website Next Avenue. He offers the following tips on how to help “unfurnish” your parent’s place – and possibly yours as well.

1. Get started while your parents are around. Learn the stories behind their stuff. It can make a difference whether you want to keep it or not. 2. If you are trying to sell the items, give yourself plenty of time to find buyers. 3. Do an online search to see whether there’s a market for your parents’ furniture, china or crystal. 4. Get the jewelry appraised. There may be a treasure in your mother’s jewelry box. 5. Look for a nearby consignment shop or a person who liquidates estates. 6. See if someone locally could use what you inherited. 7. Download the free “Rightsizing and Relocation Guide” from the National Association of Senior Move Managers which can be found on their website. 8. And finally be prepared to be disappointed. That prized set of china your parents bought when they were newlyweds may not be worth much at all.

One of my frustrations is that children get to have all the fun. They can play with Legos, read comic books and color in coloring books. Well, I don’t have any Legos, but you can join Kerry Cobb, director of the Columbia Center for the Arts, for her class on coloring. This is your chance to create, socialize, and enjoy the meditative relaxation of coloring by coloring pages from stunningly beautiful coloring books created by adults for adults. The class will be held on Wednesday, March 28th from 1:00 – 2:30 at the Center.  

The next Blue Zones Purpose Workshop will be held Monday, March 19th at the Center from 5:30 – 7:30. The Purpose Workshop will help you identify your strengths and talents, so you can make a difference where you live and work - and by doing so, “add years to your life and life in your years”.

The Center was the location for this year’s MCMC Health Foundation’s Tradition of Compassion Awards. And seeing all the amazing individuals and businesses recognized for their good work, strengthens my pride in this community. But more importantly, their recognition can inspire us to continue doing what we can to make our communities a stronger and healthier place to live.

In 1962, Marilyn Monroe sang a sultry “Happy Birthday” to John F. Kennedy for his 45th birthday. (I’ve found one advantage of NOT being charismatic or good looking - there are fewer temptations!) I received correct answers from Susan Ortega, Kim Birge, Louise Wooderson, Ed Anghilante, Jim Ayers, Sharon Hull and this week’s winner of a free quilt raffle ticket, Sam Bilyeu.

But some thought last week’s JFK question was too easy, so for this week’s “Remember When” question I’m raising it a few notches.

Hubert Humphrey ran against John F. Kennedy in the 1960 Democratic presidential primary. But he found it frustrating because of Kennedy’s many glamorous friends including Frank Sinatra who recorded Kennedy’s presidential campaign song written to the tune of what 1959 hit single? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or drop it off with a DVD of the movie A Hole in the Head.

Well, it’s been another week hoping for the good to come and the bad to go. Until we meet again, take some time to decide what you really want.

“Confidence is the feeling you sometimes have before you fully understand the situation.” Anonymous

Aging Well in the Gorge March 6th 2018

What do most of us have in common? A pill box of assorted medications? We’re a little slower but smarter? A sense we’ve all been through this before? Well, yes. But what we also have in common is most of us have visited the Emergency Room at least once during the last ten years. In fact, nationally, the number of us “over 65’ers” account for more than 20 million ER visits annually.

But we all know returning home from ER doesn’t mean everything is hunky-dory. There can be serious consequences from an ER visit, and it is important to know how, as a family member or friend, we can provide support once they return home.

In the article “For Elder Health, Trips to the ER Are Often A Tipping Point” written by Judith Graham for the Kaiser Health News, Dr. Kevin Biese, chair of the American College of Emergency Physicians’ geriatric ER accreditation initiative, offers these suggestions.

Make sure your loved one’s medications are the same as in the hospital’s computer. And don’t leave without knowing if any medications have been stopped or changed and why.

Make sure your loved one is comfortable. The average time a patient spends in an emergency room in Oregon ranges from 88 to 238 minutes. Bring her eyeglasses or any hearing-aid devices that can help keep her engaged. If there are indications of pain, encourage her pain to be treated.

Know what happened in ER including what tests were done and what treatments were given. Before leaving know what diagnoses the staff reached and what kind of follow-up is being recommended.

Communicate effectively. When the nurse or doctor explains what to do when you return home, repeat back what you heard to make sure you understood correctly. And don’t be hesitant to ask any clarifying questions.

Follow through. Ask about the next steps. Who is going to communicate with her regular doctor about what happened in ER? And should a follow up appointment be scheduled, and who should make it and when?  

Finally, the days after visiting ER are critical. If you can’t stay with your loved one, continue to keep an eye on her. You may want to arrange for extra help even if it’s only for a few days. (You can have meals delivered by Meals-on-Wheels.) Check in frequently to make sure the plan of care from ER is working. Are her needs being met, is her pain being adequately controlled (without the risk of addiction) and is her mental condition normal?  

The skilled nurses and doctors in ER want to make sure your loved one is given excellent care. But the emergency room visit is not the end, but just the beginning. It is important that you are both the comforter and advocate, so your loved one receives the best possible care during and after the emergency room visit.

I am scheduling a series of art programs that would include activities offered by the Columbia Center for the Arts and as well as documentaries about artists and various art movements. If you want to be contacted about these future programs, send me your name, phone number and email address.

I have only four tickets left for the matinee performance of the brand-new production of The Sound of Music at the Keller Auditorium in Portland on March 11th. The ticket price is $75 including transportation. Call the Center to purchase your ticket.

I remember back during high school, before grading on the curve became the norm, I had to score 95% to earn and “A”, and 88% to earn a “B”. But this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket, Jim Ayers, (which will be raffled off at the Center’s Cherry Festival Breakfast) (Oops, I mean the quilt, not Jim!) remembers 92% would earn you an “A”.

For this week’s “Remember When” question, in 1962 Marilyn Monroe sang a sultry “Happy Birthday” to what world leader on his 45th birthday? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or drop it off with a Jean Louis designed dress made of sheer, flesh-colored marquisette fabric and embellished with over 2,500 hand-sewn crystals and 6,000 shimmering rhinestones.

Well, it’s been another week telling myself, “Focus! Focus!”. Until we meet again, even a blind pig can find an acorn once in a while.

“We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.” Ana├»s Nin

Aging in the Gorge February 27th 2018

The thought of losing your memory is scary and it’s not reassuring knowing that by 2025 7.1 million adults 65 and older will exhibit dementia with 60% of those individuals still living in their own homes and 1 in 7 living alone. (And every time I accidently put the cheese in the freezer, I wonder, am I going to be one of the 7.1 million?)

With this new reality, there is a growing national movement to create Dementia Friendly Communities: communities where more people understand dementia, where there is less fear of dementia, and people living with dementia are included and supported to live independently longer. This initiative offers guidance for every sector of the community from business and government to neighbors and friends.

Our community may not yet be ready to embrace this initiative, but there’re steps you can take to support people with dementia. Besides learning about the effects of dementia on individuals, families, and caregivers, you can treat people with dementia with dignity and respect by using the following ten dementia friendly communication skills. You can find more information at the Dementia Friendly America’s website -

1.Greet people warmly even if you think they do not remember you. If they seem confused, remind them who you are. 2. Slow your pace slightly and allow time for the person to process and respond. 3. Speak clearly and calmly, be patient and understanding. 4. Keep communication simple; ask one question at a time. 5. Listen with empathy and seek to understand the person’s reality or feelings. 6. Connect on an emotional level even if conversation topics shift or do not make sense to you. 7. Be aware of the person’s and your own body language: smile, make eye contact at eyelevel. 8. Enjoy spending time with the person in the present moment. 9. Offer hugs, hand holding as appropriate. 10. Avoid arguing with or embarrassing the person.

But doesn’t this advice apply to almost any interaction? I mean I wish my wife would slow down and speak clearly and calmly. (I can’t understand you!) And I’m sure she wishes I hadn’t embarrassed her by saying what I thought was a witty comment. (But the hugs and hand holding can make up for it all.)

Those with memory loss deserve to be treated with respect and dignity – not with pity.  And we can start by remembering to use these dementia friendly communication skills.

You’ll want to put this on your calendar! The Northern Wasco County Parks and Recreation is holding a “Under the Sea Dance” for folks 55 years young and up on Saturday, March 10th from 12:30 – 2:30 at the Civic Auditorium. Enjoy an under the sea adventure unlike any other – and without getting wet! There’ll be music, dancing, snacks, and activities creating memories you’ll never forget. The cost is $15 per person and you can purchase tickets online at or at the door.

The fourth and final program for the Original Courthouse Regional History Series is “Obsolete U.S. Currency: From the Half Cent to the $100,000 Bill”. Rodger Nichols reveals what pioneers carried as pocket change and will share stories of odd and unusual currency. He is also willing to do a free evaluation of three coins or bills per person after his program. Program begins at 1:30 pm at the 1859 courthouse, 410 West 2nd Place.
The American female figure skater who won a Gold Medal in the ladies singles at the 1968 Winter Olympics was Peggy Fleming.  (This week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket is the avid viewer of figure skating, Tiiu Vahtel.)

Now that the fun of the Winter Olympics is over, let’s get serious and talk about high school grades. Today to earn an A, you must answer 90% of the questions correctly, and for a B, 80%. But if my memory hasn’t failed me, it was harder during my high school days. For this week’s “Remember When” question, in high school what percentage of the questions did you have to answer correctly to earn an A; and a B? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or drop it off with your senior year high school report card.

Well, it’s been another week, deciding what to do about the weather. Until we meet again, nature is not always a kindhearted mother.

“Here is a rule I recommend. Never practice two vices at once.” Tallulah Bankhead


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