Aging Well in the Gorge November 28th 2018

You are probably reading this on the Wednesday after Thanksgiving. But to have more time to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday, I wrote this a week ago - before Thanksgiving. (which makes me feel as if I’m in two places at once – now and then!)

So to keep it simple, here is fun mental challenge I found circulating on the Internet which I don’t remember sharing before – which doesn’t mean I haven’t. (But if I did, you won’t remember the answers, right?)

There are only four questions, but you are going to have to think outside the proverbial box. And according to the mental health specialists who developed this test, if you miss all four, you should strongly consider scheduling an appointment with your favorite counselor. (I have mine scheduled for next month!)

1.The Giraffe Test - How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator? Stop and think about it and decide on your answer before you move on.

The correct answer: Open the refrigerator, put in the giraffe, and close the door. This question tests whether you tend to do simple things in an overly complicated way.

2. The Elephant Test - How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?

Did you say, Open the refrigerator, put in the elephant, and close the refrigerator? Wrong Answer.

Correct Answer: Open the refrigerator, take out the giraffe, put in the elephant and close the door. This tests your ability to think through the repercussions of your previous actions.

3. The Lion King Test - The Lion King is hosting an Animal Conference. All the animals attend ... except one. Which animal does not attend?

Correct Answer: The Elephant. The elephant is in the refrigerator. You just put him in there. This tests your memory.

Okay, this is your last chance before you have to pick up the phone to schedule your appointment. Think!

4. The Crocodile Test - There is a river you must cross but it is used by crocodiles, and you do not have a boat. How do you manage it?

Correct Answer: You jump into the river and swim across. Haven’t you been lis-ten-ing? All the crocodiles are attending the Animal Conference. This tests whether you learn quickly from your mistakes.

So how did you do? Are you still mentally on top of your game - or are you slipping a few strokes?  If you didn’t do so well, don’t worry. Maybe good mental health isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be!

On Saturday, December 8th, Habitat for Humanity will be holding their Annual Christmas Bazaar (with their famous selection of delicious soups), downstairs at the United Congregational Church from 10:00 – 2:00 PM. And if you are interested in displaying your crafts and wares, call Becky Bailey at 541-980-9015.

The Center has scheduled the always popular Nehemiah Brown to perform three more times thanks to The Dalles Health and Rehabilitation Center’s support. Nehemiah’s next performance will be a Christmas Concert on Tuesday, December 11th from 11:30 to 1:30 - before and after the noon lunch provided by Meals-on-Wheels. There is no charge, but you are welcome to enjoy lunch for a suggested donation of $4.00 for anyone 60 and over or $6.00 for anyone under 60.

The country singer who started playing honky-tonk, then moved to the smoother Nashville sound; and who recorded hits over three decades including “Release Me”, “For the Good Times” and “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me” was Ray Price. (Since I’m writing this column early, I’ll include the correct answers next week. But from last week, I did miss Cheryl Green who enjoyed dancing to the BeeGees on a Disco Dance Team.)

It’s time to change gears from television and music to movies. Let’s see if I can spark any memories from back in the day of drive-ins and opulent downtown movie theaters.

The 1950’s was a very successful decade for Disney Animation. For this week’s “Remember When” question, name two of the four Disney animated films that were among the top ten grossing films of the 1950’s – not the 30’s or 40’s. And for bonus points tell me your favorite. Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send your answer with a picture of Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank, California.

Well, it’s been another week pulling out the winter coats. Until we meet again, it always feels warmer when the sun is shining.

“I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.” Anna Quindlen, writer

Aging Well in the Gorge November 21st 2018

With Thanksgiving becoming another shopping holiday: Black Friday spreading into Black Thursday, and now stealing into most of November, I have begun to appreciate the perspective I have gained from having lived these many years: I don’t need the mad rush of finding the best deals of the pre-pre-holiday sales. And I certainly don’t need crowded stores, long lines and packed parking lots. The fact is I don’t really need any more “things” (although I do dream of the latest Apple products). Instead I’m trying to give away stuff – and there is plenty of it. Anyone looking for a treadmill? How about a 40-year old 10-speed Fuji bicycle?

Knowing that in a flash, my life could be tossed upside down, more “things” aren’t that necessary. As long as I have food in the cupboard, a roof over my head, friends, family and a wonderful and patient wife, I’m doing just fine. I hope you have found all you need and can appreciate all you have during this season of thanksgivings.

For someone who has recently or even not so recently lost a loved one, the holidays can be particularly difficult. You may be that someone, when memories of special times together around the holidays come flooding back, along with all the conflicting questions associated with grief: Shouldn’t I be over this? Am I going crazy? Why can’t I feel happy?

Or it may be someone you know who is experiencing the loss of a loved one; needing your support of listening and being open and present to their quiet and often silent sadness.

Whether it is you or a friend, it can help to find a supportive safe haven where you can share your feelings and maybe even a few tears; and realize you are not alone. It may be an informal group such as your church family or close friends. Or it may be one of several excellent grief support groups available in the Gorge.

A new grief support group is meeting at the Center on the first and third Thursdays at 10:30. At the next meeting on December 6th the focus will be “Coping with Loss on Days That Hold Special Meaning”. The support group is facilitated by Gwen Thomas, a bereavement counselor for Providence Hospice of the Gorge, and if you would like more information you can contact Gwen at 541-490-0525.

If you are in town on Thursday, the annual Community Thanksgiving Meal will be held once again at the St. Mary’s Academy from 12:00 – 3:00 PM. It is a chance to enjoy a nice Thanksgiving Dinner and see friends you may not have seen since last year. And a big thank-you to our local Salvation Army and the many volunteers who make it all possible.

When driving by the corner of 10th and Cherry Heights, I hope you have noticed the Center’s new message board (and if you haven’t, you may want to seriously think about giving up the car keys!) The Center’s board of directors had been considering installing a message board for several years. And thanks to Gary Patton’s determination and the tremendous help from Meadows Outdoor Advertising, the message board is now up and scrolling news from the Center.

The band created by the three Gibb brothers, Barry, Robin and Maurice, that recorded three of Billboard’s Top 20 hits of the 1970’s, all from the soundtrack for Saturday Night Fever, was the BeeGees. (I received correct answers from Jess Birge, Lana Tepfer, Susan Ortega and this week’s winner of a free quilt raffle ticket Cheri Brent.)

I have realized that never listening to country music when growing up has biased the music questions I ask. So, to make up for Pat Boone, Herman’s Hermits and the BeeGees, here is a question about a country singer whose career spanned three decades. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what singer was one of the stalwarts of 1950’s honky tonk music with hit songs such as "Talk To Your Heart" and "Release Me"; in the 1960’s experimented with the Nashville Sound, and in the 1970’s recorded several hits including "For the Good Times" and “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me”.  Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send your answer with a picture of cowboys from Cherokee County Texas.

Well, it’s been another week anticipating the excitement of the holidays. Until we meet again, make the best of the hard times and cherish the good times.

“An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day.” Irv Kupcinet

Aging Well in the Gorge November 14th 2018

Everyone has heard of Osteoporosis - a thinning and weakening of the bones. But have you heard of sarcopenia? According to MedlinePlus, the website for the U.S. National Library of Medicine, sarcopenia is the loss of muscle mass, strength and function affecting an estimated 13% to as many as half of all adults in their 80’s. And according to Dr. Jeremy D. Walston, geriatrician at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, “Sarcopenia is one of the most important causes of functional decline and loss of independence in older adults.”

Doesn’t sound good, does it. So, what can you do to help prevent or reduce the effects of sarcopenia?

The most obvious is physical activity - particularly resistance or strength training. Some research shows it is even possible to rebuild muscle strength at an advanced age (If you want to get started, the Center offers Strong Women and Strength Yoga: two classes that include strength training.)
But often forgotten is the importance of nutrition especially protein - the main constituent of healthy muscle tissue. Protein deficiency is a particular concern for older adults because they tend to take in fewer calories in general (I don’t eat as much as I used to – even pizza!) and older adults absorb protein less effectively.

Acccording to Dr. John E. Morley, geriatrician at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, to enhance muscle mass older adults require at least 0.54 grams of protein per pound of ideal body weight (what you should weigh) which is generally much more than what older adults typically consume.

For example, if you are a sedentary and your ideal weight is 150 pounds, you may need to eat as much as 81 grams (0.54 x 150) of protein daily. To give you an idea what that means, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter has 8 grams of protein; 1 cup of nonfat milk = 8.8 grams; 2 medium eggs =11.4 grams; one chicken drumstick = 2.2 grams; a half-cup of cottage cheese = 15 grams; and 3 ounces of turkey = 26.8 grams of protein. And if you’re getting your protein primarily from meat and cereal grains, it should be balanced with a diet high in fruits and vegetable in order to effectively treat sarcopenia.

To avoid the loss of independence associated with sarcopenia consider adding strength training to your exercise routine. Just as important, include in your diet enough protein to help build up your muscle mass so you can pick up both feet – and avoid those nasty falls. And before you start anything new it is always a good idea to check with your health care provider.

The holiday bazaars have begun. And the granddaddy of them all, the St. Peter’s 40th Annual Bazaar, will be held November 17th from 9:00 – 4:00 at the St. Mary’s Academy. And on the same day, across 10th Street, the Center will be holding its own Bazaar from 9:00 – 3:00. This is your chance to “double your pleasure” shopping two great bazaars at once.

The name of the clean-cut band that had four top-three hits in 1965 including “I’m Henery the Eighth I Am”, (spelled "Henery" but pronounced "'Enery" in the Cockney style normally used to sing it) was the Herman’s Hermits. I received correct answers from Lana Tepfer, Cherie Brent and Carol Earl this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And last week I missed Sharon Hull.)

Did anyone have time to listen to pop hits in the 70’s particularly during the Disco era? If you did, you might remember the answer to this week’s “Remember When” question. In 1955 these three brothers formed their first band in England called the Rattlesnakes. But they changed the band’s name, and by the end of the 1970’s their band had sold over 200 million records worldwide and recorded three of the Billboard’s Top 20 hits of the 1970’s. What was the name of this band most remembered for their hits from 1975 to 1979 that extended the disco craze? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send your answer with the movie starring John Travolta as Tony Manero, a working-class young man who spends his weekends dancing and drinking at a local Brooklyn discothèque.

Well, it’s been another week tiptoeing around life’s traps that get in my way. Until we meet again, keep searching for that balance between what is real and what is possible.

“It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little.” Sydney Smith, English Preacher

Aging Well in the Gorge November 7th 2018

A nice group has been gathering at the Center at 11:00 on Fridays to share thoughts about life from a sixty, seventy, eighty and even 90-year-old perspective. Called “Let’s Talk” the group has decided to keep meeting and you are welcome to join us. Next Friday the topic of our conversation will be what do we enjoy doing with our time. Traveling? Volunteering? Hobbies? Taking naps in the afternoon?

One topic we have already discussed is what we worry about. And what do you think the most common answer was? It was falling - which most everyone has experienced including myself. One take away from the discussion was the importance of paying attention - which isn’t easy for me. When I’m moving, I like to let my mind wonder which I find therapeutic and often helps me remember what I’ve forgotten. But that isn’t always a good idea if you want to remain vertical.

Paying attention can help you avoid those painful lessons learned, such as Lesson One: hold on the handrail when using the stairs, because the stairs is the last place you want to fall. Or Lesson Two: pick up your feet when walking to avoid the little stumble which can turn into a nasty fall and black and blue all over.

Whether you are driving, walking, climbing down the stairs - pay attention. It is your insurance plan to avoid any unnecessary unpleasantness. A vacation stay in the nearest hospital is not the ideal way to spend time away from home.

This year November 11th falls on a Sunday, so Veterans Day will be observed on Monday, November 12th. Consequently, on Monday the Center and Meals-on-Wheels will be closed, and the annual Veterans Parade will be held starting at 11:00. Also, if you haven’t checked it out already, Columbia Gorge Veterans Museum will be open on Monday from 10:00 – 3:00 PM.

And speaking of Veterans Day, I use to include an apostrophe in Veterans Day. But I’ve learned. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs website, the official spelling should NOT be possessive case with an apostrophe "because it is not a day that 'belongs' to veterans, it is a day for honoring all veterans.”

There is a wealth of information on the Internet – some amusing, some frightening; some informative and some brain numbing. But one gem I came across on the Next Avenue website was an article explaining the calming effects of - what do you think? Aromatherapy? Yoga? A nice soak in a hot tub? No. It’s therapy chickens! I never would have thought - maybe because I grew up in the city where the closest I came to farm animals was a yappy family dog. But apparently, if you are stressed out dealing with your latest ailment or your adult children telling you how to live, you should consider raising chickens.

And the Center can get your started. On display at the Center is a beautiful two-level Chicken Coop for which you can purchase a raffle ticket for $10 or three for $25. But here’s a better idea. Win the chicken coop for your adult children - so they can relax and stop bothering you!

The second-biggest charting artist of the late 1950s with thirty-eight top-40 hits, who hosted a variety television series from 1957 through 1960; and appeared in more than twelve Hollywood films was Pat Boone. (I received correct answers from Alice Mattox, Dale Roberts, Sherry Brent, Sandy Haechrel, Jess Birge, Bobetta Stewart, Carol Earl, Lana Tepfer and this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket, Michael Carrico - living in the Columbia River GorgeUs.)

I’m going to stick with music, but a decade later - during the “British Invasion”. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the band with the photogenic lead singer and a simple, non-threatening, and clean-cut image that in 1965 had four top-three hits including a recording of a British music hall song which the lead singer’s Irish grandfather use to sing. Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send your answer with a family picture of Mrs. Brown and her lovely daughter.

Well, it’s been another week wishing that as I grow older there would be at least one thing getting easier.  Until we meet again, keep moving even though at times it may seem like you’re going backwards.

“The soldier, above all others, prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.” General Douglas MacArthur


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