Aging Well in the Gorge September 16th 2020

Hopefully, the smoke is now just a bad memory and we can start preparing for the 2020 flu season - and as with everything else this year it will be different. Because of COVID-19 it will be even more important to get your seasonal flu shot this year. It could help avoid a nightmare scenario: hospitals full treating both those suffering from severe effects of the flu and a second wave of COVID-19 patients.

In past years we only needed to know the differences between the common cold and the more serious seasonal flu which kills tens of thousands of people each year in the U.S. But this year there is COVID-19 which has many similarities with the seasonal flu. Both are contagious respiratory illnesses, (but caused by different viruses); and both are spread between people who are in close contact (within about 6 feet) and mainly by droplets made when people cough, sneeze, or talk.

What is going to make this season difficult is they also share common symptoms: fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue (tiredness), sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle pain or body aches, headaches - while COVID-19 might also include change in or loss of taste or smell. So, if you exhibit any of these symptoms how do you know if you have a bad cold, the flu or COVID-19? And what should you do?

This year if you experience any of the symptoms even if you think it is just a cold or the flu, STAY HOME and call your health care provider so they can decide the necessary next steps and treatment. It is particularly important because COVID-19 is more contagious among certain age groups; may be contagious for a longer period, and can quickly and easily spread to a lot of people more than the flu can.

We don’t know if this year’s flu vaccine will match the strains that will circulate in the U.S., but early indications from the Southern Hemisphere, which goes through its flu season during our summer, are encouraging. And because people are practicing social distancing, wearing masks and getting vaccinated for the flu in greater numbers, this year’s global flu levels are lower than expected.

As we wait for more effective treatments and a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19, we can do our part by getting a flu shot to protect ourselves and others, as well as continuing to scrub our hands, keep six feet apart and wear a mask. By following these practices, we can reduce the spread of both COVID-19 and the flu. And if we do, we could have an unexpectedly low level of flu cases and deaths in the United States which may help lessen the burden on hospitals and medical staffs during this COVID-19 pandemic.

To prepare for this flu season, Thursday September 23rd from 10:00 – 1:00 under the tent at the Center, Rite-Aid will be offering their annual flu shot clinic. You can call the Center to make a reservation or if you’re the spontaneous type or maybe a procrastinator, you can just drop by.

In Welcome Back, Kotter (1975-1979) Vinnie Barbarino played by John Travolta in his first starring role, was one of the Sweathogs in Mr. Kotter's remedial class. For this week’s “Remember When” question, when he was annoyed and couldn’t think of a good come back, what was his favorite insult? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a thirty foot rubber hose.

C.W. McCall, was best remembered for his 1976 #1 hit “Convoy” which told the story of rebellious truckers including "Rubber Duck", "Pig Pen", "Sodbuster” and “Chicken Coop” driving their rigs cross country. I received correct answers from Kathie Alley, Barbara Cadwell, Dave Lutgens, Rhonda Spies, Kim Birge, Rusti Starr (who I missed last week), Sandra Fritz and Jim Ayres who is this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket and as an old trucker still has a Cobra 25LDT CB radio.

Well, it’s been another week, seeing if I can keep from losing my hearing aid when taking off my face mask. Until we meet again, everyone has a story to tell if you just take the time to listen.

“I don’t have many regrets. What’s done is done — you just move on, keep busy, be kind to people, and try not to hold a grudge.” Eulah Schardt, one of the stars of the 2018 documentary Lives Well Lived

Aging Well in the Gorge September 9th 2020

Have you written something and later you could not find it on your computer? Did I forget to save it or accidentally delete it, filed it under the wrong name or in the wrong folder? I don’t know how, but that’s what happened when writing this week’s column. And what is so frustrating is that it was absolutely brilliant: witty, perceptive and concise

- at least that’s what I remember!

Oh, well. I guess I’ll just have to get straight to the problem many of us older adults who have hearing loss are facing (no pun intended) these days: how face masks make it difficult to hear.  

We know we should wear face masks for the safety of others and ourselves, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s found face masks make it even more difficult to understand what someone is saying. I can’t see their lips move or their facial expressions; and the masks muffles what is being said.

That’s not a good thing. Finding it difficult to understand what someone is saying can make you feel more isolated even when you are with others. And if you can’t understand your health care provider, it can compromise the quality of your health care. (Another advantage of virtual visits is you don’t need to wear a face mask!)  

So when wearing a face mask, it is even more important to remember how to talk with someone who has hearing loss. Here’s the short list.

1.) Face the hearing-impaired person directly and avoid speaking from another room. 2.) Try to reduce background noises. 3.) Start the conversation by getting the person’s attention to give that person a chance to focus. 4.) Speak clearly, slowly, distinctly, but naturally, without shouting or exaggerating mouth movements. 5.) If what you're saying is not understood, rephrase the information and add supporting details. 6.) Remember which ear hears the best so you know where to position yourself.

There are also different types of technology that can help, each with their own pros and cons: handheld amplification devices called pocket talkers, speech-detection apps such as Google Live Transcribe, or a sound-amplifying app to turn up the volume of the speech around you.

Since the need to wear face masks will probably be here for some time, you can learn more about communicating while wearing a mask at “When Face Masks Interfere with Your Hearing” by Stacey Colino on the AARP website.

It’s human nature that when a situation seems to be improving, we drop our guard. But like all good boxers, tired and in the last rounds, we need to keep our guard up: wearing face masks, maintaining social distancing, and scrubbing our hands for twenty seconds. Catching COVID-19 is not my greatest fear, but unknowingly infecting someone else is.

The Center has scheduled its third and probably last “Parking Lot Concert” on Thursday, September 17th from 6:30 to 8:00 - when the evenings are still nice and comfortable - hopefully. Hardshell Harmony will be performing: an entertaining bluegrass band you may remember if you attended past Senior Picnics at the Wasco County Fair.

The country western singer/songwriter known as “Gentleman Jim” was Jim Reeves. I received correct answers from Rhonda Spies, Lana Tepfer, Jess Birge, Dave Lutgens, Diana Weston, Barbara Cadwell, and Dick LaFever this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And last week I again missed someone and this time it was Jim Donnelly.

Growing up I seldom listened to country music unless the country song made it on the pop charts as this song did. William Dale Fries Jr., known as C.W. McCall, is best remembered for his 1976 #1 hit which came at the peak of the CB fad. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the song that used CB chatter between "Rubber Duck", "Pig Pen", and "Sodbuster” to tell the story of rebellious truckers driving their rigs cross-country? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with vintage Cobra 29LTD chrome CB radio.

Well, it’s been another week, seeing if my own skin still fits. Until we meet again, as the Old Farmer from Fossil once said, “Most of the stuff people worry about ain't never gonna happen anyway”.

“And keep a sense of humor. It doesn’t mean you have to tell jokes. If you can’t think of anything else, when you’re my age, take off your clothes and walk in front of a mirror. I guarantee you’ll get a laugh.”  Art Linkletter

Aging Well in the Gorge September 2nd 2020

How are you coping? A study from the think tank AgeWave and investment company Edward Jones, surveyed 9,000 people in the U.S. and Canada across five generations and guess who is doing the best? Older adults!  

When asked how well they were coping with the impacts of COVID-19, 39% of the Silent Generation (ages 75+) and 33% of boomers (56-74) surveyed said “very well,” which decreased to 29% for Generation X (40-55), 26% for millennials (24-39) and 31% for Gen Z (18-23). And on the other side of the coin, 24% of the millennials and Gen Zers answered “not well,” compared to 15% of Gen X, 12% of the boomers and just 5% of the Silent Generation surveyed.

Why is that? Not because we are living the life of Riley - although some of us may be, but because most of us no longer have kids at home, worry about losing our job or how to care for our family while working from home. And we have Social Security and Medicare to lean on during these difficult times.

But not all older adults are doing well. If you know someone who is struggling with the isolation caused by COVID-19, there are resources that can help.

If someone feels lonely and wants to talk to someone, they can call Circles of Care at 541-397-0724; or the Oregon Warmline at 1-800-698-2392 to speak with a trained peer. And if someone is concerned their health and well-being might be declining because of loneliness/isolation, they can call Oregon Senior Peer Outreach at 1-833-736-4676 or visit their website at

Throughout our lives we have learned how to deal with adversity and to focus on the silver lining. But if you do find life overwhelming, there are available resources. We know this too shall pass - and although at times it may be hard to imagine, there are good times ahead.

As we continue to navigate through this pandemic, I  want to acknowledge the incredible work the public health departments are doing to reduce the spread of the virus - particularly the two I’m familiar with: the North Central Public Health District and the Hood River County Health Department. They are skilled professionals, living in our communities, working seven days a week doing what needs to be done: contact tracing, supporting those who are quarantined and keeping the public informed. Thank-you!

AgePlus in partnership with organizations working with older adults in the Gorge, has received a grant from the Oregon Health Authority to reach out and support older adults during this pandemic. To help with this important work, we are looking for volunteers willing to call older adults – a perfect opportunity for anyone who doesn’t want to leave their house. If you would like to help, call the Center at 541-296-4788 or email me at

If you passed over the column “Through the Eyes of an Elder” in today’s paper go back and check it out. Once a month you will learn about important matters from the perspective of older adults in our communities. This month Britta Willson writes about Age-Friendly Communities - and it is worth reading.

On a beautiful Wednesday night, Nehemiah Brown performed at the Center, singing standards from the 50’s and 60’s including several songs from this popular singer. For this week’s “Remember When” question, who was the country western singer/songwriter known as “Gentleman Jim” that recorded hits including “He’ll Have to Go”, “Four Walls” and the “Blue Side of Lonesome”? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a recording of the Louisiana Hayride – a radio and television country music show broadcast from Shreveport, Louisiana.

The comic strip first published in 1950, created by Mort Walker and featuring an army private and his superior officer, Sergeant Snorkel was “Beatle Bailey”. I received correct answers from Bob Sallee, Diane Weston, Ken Olsson, Lana Tepfer, Carol Earl, Dave Lutgens, Tiiu Vahtel, Jess Birge, Sandy Haechrel, Laura Starrett and this week’s winner of quilt raffle ticket Florence Harty who has the book "The Best of Beetle Bailey” signed by Mort Walker.

Well, it’s been another week, looking forward to more brisk morning walks. Until we meet again, don’t let pride keep you from asking for help.

“I’m sixty-five and I guess that puts me in with the geriatrics. But if there were fifteen months in every year, I’d only be forty-eight. That’s the trouble with us: We number everything.” James Thurber

Aging Well in the Gorge August 26th 2020

Once in a while Friday arrives and I wonder, “What am I going to write about for next week?” This last Friday was one of those times - until I received a call from Kimberly Herman, the public affairs officer for Social Security in Oregon. She asked me to share with you the best way to reach a Social Security representative by phone now that the local office is closed because of COVID-19.

While most business with the Social Security Administration (SSA) can be done online, if you did want to call your local Social Security office that’s closed, you were told to call the 800 number for SSA - and hope your cell phone battery is charged because it can take several hours to finally talk to someone.

SSA understands that is not acceptable and have made some changes. Now if you want to speak to a representative you can call the local office number on weekdays between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. You can find the number online using the Social Security Office Locator. But to save you time, the number for The Dalles office is 1-877-405-3526. And again, don’t call the 800 number if you want a quick response.

There is one exception. Although the Social Security offices are closed to walk-in visitors, you may be able to schedule an appointment for limited, critical issues if they cannot help you by phone or conduct your business online.

If you are comfortable going online, SSA has information about all their services at There you can find your latest statement, request a replacement Social Security Card or Medicare Card, change your address, set up or change direct deposit, print proof of benefits or your 1099, and review your earnings history. (I’ve forgotten how little I earned forty years ago!).

And while I’m writing about Social Security, this is a good time to remind you about the Medicare “NEVERS” that help protect you from Medicare fraud

Medicare will NEVER contact you for your Medicare Number or other personal information unless you’ve given them permission in advance; NEVER call you to sell you anything; NEVER promise you things if you give them a Medicare Number; NEVER visit you at your home; and Medicare will NEVER enroll you over the phone unless you called first.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Social Security Administration remains committed to providing uninterrupted benefits and vital services you rely on. Whether you go online or call your local Social Security Office, they want to make it easy for you to get the help you need.

Thanks to everyone who bought one of the almost five hundred masks sold at the Center’s Facemask Sale last Friday and Saturday. But if you missed it, you can still purchase a new and improved mask with behind the ear adjustable elastic straps for adults and children for $5. You can find them at The Dalles Farmer’s Market on Saturdays from 9:00 – 1:00 or call the Center to schedule a time to pick one up.

It was Michael who rowed the boat ashore in the African-American spiritual recorded by the Highwayman which reached number one in 1960. I received correct answers from Barbara Cadwell, Sandy Haechrel, Diana Weston, Tina Castanares, Rhonda Spies, Betsy Ayers, Beverly McKinney, Susan Donnelly, Rose Schulz and Keith Clymer this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone, because last week I missed Susan Ronning and Sandy Haechrel.

When you were a child, your father may have read you the Sunday comics which probably included this comic strip that took place on the fictional army post Camp Swampy. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the comic strip first published in 1950, created by Mort Walker and featured an army private who was often the subject of verbal and physical chastising from his superior officer, Sergeant Snorkel? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with the directions to Camp Crowder, the inspiration for Camp Swampy, where Mort Walker had once been stationed while in the Army.

Well, it’s been another week, trying to just get on with it. Until we meet again, there is always time to make new memories.

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not a mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” Washington Irving

Aging Well in the Gorge August 19th 2020

As we know, this too shall pass. And when we finally get pass the COVID-19 pandemic with widespread access to vaccines and home administered tests, what will the new normal look like - particularly for us adults over 60 who are the most vulnerable? How do you imagine you will receive health care, travel, shop - and how will the new normal affect your relationships with others?

Bruce Horovitz interviewed geriatric medical doctors, aging experts, futurists and industry specialists for his August 3rd article “What Seniors Can Expect as Their New Normal in a Post-Vaccine World” for Kaiser Health News (, the nation’s leading nonprofit newsroom focused on health and health policy.

According to those experts, here are some predictions of how the new normal might look - particularly for older adults.

To decrease the number of visits to the doctor’s office, one in three visits will be virtual using telemedicine; pharmacies will do more vaccinations; and most intriguing is the possibility that in a few years there will be special devices at home to analyze urine and fecal samples. Oh boy!

More people will avoid flying. Trips less than 800 miles will likely become road trips, and there will be less foreign travel. And when flying, older adults who can afford it will be looking for more room by flying business class, or for a couple paying for three seats so no one is between them. Hotels will market medical care such as advertising a doctor on-site or nearby. And disinfecting will be a marketing tool by having employees visibly wiping everything numerous times. And if you decide to take a cruise, they will require proof of vaccination for both passengers and cruise employees.

Because you know and trust the owners, local eateries will be more popular. Safety and cleanliness will be a selling point - even hiring employees just to wipe down tables, chairs and all high-touch points. And public restrooms will increasingly convert to no-touch toilets, urinals, sinks and entrances/exits.

More older adults will move in with their families instead of assisted living; home delivery of almost everything will become the norm for older Americans; and in-person shopping will become much less common, 

And most distressing, because of the fear of covid-19 and other contagious diseases, more older folks will disengage, becoming more isolated with higher incidences of depression.

How many of these predictions do you think will come true for us older adults in the Gorge? Do you think you will be doing things differently? Less flying, less eating out? Or will you go back to the pre-pandemic normal? I know I will be doing things differently, but for how long, I’m not sure. I guess, time will tell – or whatever my kids tell me I should do!

On Wednesday, August 26th from 7:00 – 8:30, Nehemiah Brown will be performing for the Center’s second Parking Lot Concert. There is no charge, but donations will be appreciated to support the Center during these difficult times. Come early and find a parking spot or bring your lawn chair while keeping six feet from non-family members. And I can’t forget a big thank-you to Cherry Heights Living which is sponsoring the concert.

Quick reminder: Mask Sale & Benefit at the Center this Friday, August 21st and Saturday the 22nd from 10am - 4pm. Adult and children’s masks in multiple prints and in various sizes for $5.

A “doobie” is a euphemism for a marijuana cigarette also called a reefer or joint. I received correct answers from Barbara Cadwell, Jess Birge, Jerry Phillips, Dave Lutgens, Julie Carter and University of Oregon grad Carol Earl who is this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And I don’t know how I could, but I did miss Lana Tepfer from last week.

This African-American spiritual from the civil war was recorded by many artists from Pete Seeger to Harry Belafonte. But in 1960 the recording by the folk band The Highwaymen reached number-one for three weeks. For this week’s “Remember Question”, who rowed the boat ashore? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a picture of the Jordan River.

Well, it’s been another week, watching all the trains, boats and planes moving through the Gorge. Until we meet again, as Jorge Barragan said on Facebook, one of life’s joys is being surrounded by your grandchildren.

“You’ve got to have something to eat and a little love in your life. Everything goes smack back to that.” Billie Holiday

Aging well in the Gorge August 12th 2020


Your kids have left home and you’re thinking your 2500 sq. ft. house is better suited for a young family with kids instead of a couple of seventy-year oldies. Or you now want to live someplace where getting under the sink is no longer your responsibility but the landlord’s. Or you are tired of eating the same breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day and would like to move to a retirement community where they provide a variety of meals – and they taste good!

So, it’s time to think about moving. But to move you’ll have to get rid of much of your accumulated stuff - which for most of us is hard to do. But why?

You may find it difficult because of the reasons we keep things. They are useful. But will they still be useful after you move? If you don’t see yourself having a garden, you won’t need all the garden equipment. Or they can symbolize something important to you: your old vinyl records; your daughter’s fifth-grade hand-drawn pictures; or your dad’s fold up rocking chair which you still keep even though the seat is ripped. It takes courage to surrender these things and decide to move forward in your life.

Now that you’ve made the difficult decision of what to get rid of, you then must decide how - which isn’t easy either. Does anyone you know want anything - your kids usually don’t. Should you have a yard sale which is hard work? Can some things be donated? Or should it just be trashed – which seems wasteful because you’re sure someone will want those VHS movies, right?”

It is always easier to do nothing than something especially when there are difficult personal decisions to make. But there is a reward. By getting rid of many of your possessions, you often find a sense of relief and freedom. But don’t wait. Do it while you still can. We won’t always be spring chickens!

If you have driven by the Center you may have asked yourself, “What is that tent for? Several weeks ago, Mitzi Stansbury suggested the Center set up a tent for small groups of twelve or less to meet safely in the shade - except during those 100+ days. She, like many of us, is missing meeting with friends in person, and by meeting outside with six-foot social distancing it can be done safely. If you want to schedule a time for your small group to meet, call the Center and you’ll be put on the schedule. The only conflict now is Debra Lutje’s strength yoga class at 9:15 on Friday mornings. And it wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for Matt Larsen and Discover Rentals who donated the tent.   

Also, under the tent, the Center is having a Mask Sale & Benefit on August 21st and 22nd from 10am - 4pm. There will be adult masks, and also children’s masks in multiple prints and in various sizes for $5. This will be an easy way to purchase another mask for yourself or one for your grandchild before school starts.

The name of the reality series broadcast live on NBC television from 1952 to 1961 and was created by Ralph Edwards who fooled Laurel and Hardy to make their only television appearance was This is Your Life. I received correct answers from Barbara Cadwell, Jerry Phillips, Kim Birge, Dave Lutgens, Rhonda Spies, Patty Burnett, Shirley (who I lost her last name), and Keith Bassham from Hood River - this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And last week I missed Jerry Phillips and Clare Zumwalt.

You may not want to answer this question but if you do, I’m not going to make any assumptions about your social behavior during your younger days. In 1970 a rock band from San Jose named themselves the Doobie Brothers which they intended to be temporary because they thought it was dumb, but instead has lasted for their five decade career. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what is a “doobie”? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a bottle of patchouli oil.

Well, it’s been another week, trying to keep my socks on. Until we meet again, nothing takes you back to feeling like a fifteen-year-old than finding a pimple on your nose. Those darn masks!


“Honestly, sometimes I get really fed up of my subconscious – it’s like it’s got a mind of it’s own.” Alexei Sayle

Aging Well in the Gorge August 5th 2020

Is there anything certain these days? I mean besides death and taxes. It feels like the pandemic has turned the world upside down and inside out - elevating the uncertainty and unpredictability in a world that has always been uncertain, whether it is our own safety or the national partisan posturing. (Okay, maybe we can be certain about the latter.)

But can’t there be a little certainty in our lives? Just a steady rock we can climb on so we can feel safe, secure and can experience a sense of calm when we become overwhelmed with all the current confusion?

Uncertainty is a natural and unavoidable part of life that can change quickly and unpredictably. And because of this uncertainty, you may find yourself always assuming the worse of all the endless what-ifs. What if that mole on my arm is cancerous? What if that slight pain in my chest is more than indigestion? What if my forgetfulness isn’t normal?

Spending time worrying about the what-ifs robs us of the enjoyment in the present, saps our energy, and keeps us up way too many nights leaving us feeling stressed, anxious, and powerless over the direction of our lives.

But uncertainty isn’t always a bad thing. Surprises can be something to enjoy: surprise birthday parties, an invitation to dinner with friends, or an unexpected bouquet of roses from your spouse. (If I surprised my wife with flowers, she would be wondering what I did wrong!)

Okay, now you may be thinking, “I’ve been around the block plenty of times, so you don’t need you to tell me that life is uncertain. But you haven’t explained how I can find some certainty - because trust me, these days I don’t always see uncertainty as a pleasant surprise but something to fear.”

Well, there are two ways you can start to find some certainty. First, focus on what you can control. Chronic worrying about what you can’t control doesn’t give you any more control over those events.

What can you control? How about creating a daily routine and sticking to it? Do you make time to walk, to relax, to get plenty of sleep and to eat healthy? And when you go outside, do you wear your facemask and wash your hands when you return? Those actions you can control. And by creating dependable routines, you can move from ineffective worrying about what may or may not happen to feel a sense of control over your life and well-being.

Second, focus on the present. One of the surest ways to avoid worrying about the future and all the possible bad things that could happen is to focus on the here and now. Instead of trying to predict what might happen, (we’re actually very poor fortune-tellers!), switch your attention to what’s happening right now. Enjoy the pleasures of the present.

You may be like many others where these uncertain times can leave you feeling uncomfortable about the future, can magnify your problems, and even paralyze you from addressing a problem. But even though certainty is elusive, by focusing on what you can control and living in the present, you may be able to find that safe haven of certainty that can help you cope with the unpredictable changes - because, as we know, life will always find a way of surprising you.

“Well here’s another nice mess you've gotten me into!" was the catchphrase used by the comedy duo Stan Laurel playing the childlike friend of the pompous bully Oliver Hardy. I received answers from Jeanne Pesicka, Barbara Cadwell, Jess Birge, Rhonda Spies, Dave Lutgens, Tim Annala, Jim Donnelly, Steve Chance, Gary VanOrman, and this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket, Cindy Winfield.

Speaking of Laurel and Hardy, they made their only American television appearance on December 1st, 1954 when they were surprised and interviewed by Ralph Edwards. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of this reality series broadcast live on NBC television from 1952 to 1961? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a recorded episode of Truth or Consequences, also created by Ralph Edwards.

Well, it’s been another week, trying to be cool. Until we meet again, I have reached that time during the summer when I’m really looking forward to autumn.

“I learned to give not because I have a lot, but I know how it feels to have nothing.” Anonymous


Aging Well in the Gorge July 28th 2020

I never thought cognitive tests would be such a headline story, but here we are. One benefit though is this interest can encourage us to think more about what we can do to keep our brain healthy and strong as we age.

There are five basic things you can do for brain health. Exercise daily - even 15 to 20 minutes a day can make a difference. Eat well – avoid Adeline Knorr’s five S’s: Sugar, Salt, Seconds, Soda and Shortening.” Sleep well - seven to nine hours a night is best.
Minimize stress - learn ways to cope with anxiety or tension. Stay socially connected – especially during this pandemic. And stimulate your brain - learn something new: a hobby, language, or card game.

You can also try these nine Neurobic exercises. Neurobic exercises shake up the “same old same old” by making you perform tasks that have been, essentially, automated by your brain. If you interested in learning more about Neurobic exercises plus the scientific rationale, google “Weird Brain Exercises That Help You Get Smarter” by Lawrence C. Katz, PhD, and Manning Rubin.

1.) Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand - the hand you wouldn’t normally use. Or you can practice writing with your non-dominant hand. If you’re like me, it can’t look much worse than your normal handwriting.

2.) Shower with your eyes closed. Use your tactile senses to adjust the temperature by locating the taps solely by feel. Then wash with your eyes shut. But use common sense to avoid injury.

3.) Switch around your morning activities. Get dressed after breakfast or walk the dog on a new route. But make sure you get dressed before you walk the dog!

4.) Turn familiar objects upside down (literally). Turn pictures of your family, your desk clock or calendar upside down. But explain yourself. You don’t want folks to think you’re nuts.

5.) Switch seats at the table - if your spouse will allow it. Switching seat changes your view of the room and even how you reach for the salt and pepper.

6.) Make a new connection with your nose. Keep an extract of your favorite scent near your bed for a week. Smell it when you first wake up, and then again as you bathe and dress.

7.) Open the car window. Remember when there was no air conditioning and as you drove down the road you’d feel the fresh air blowing in your face? Roll down the window again and try to identify new smells and sounds on your drive.

8.) Play with spare change. Place a bunch of coins in your pocket during a walk and identify them when you stop at a corner. But don’t forget to cross.

9.) Play “10 Things”. Choose an ordinary object and demonstrate 10 different “things” the object might be. If you get stuck imagine yourself as a child.

These Neurobic exercises will challenge your brain to prevent memory loss and sharpen your mind. If you want to learn more about brain health visit the AARP Staying Sharp website where you‘ll find a brain health assessment plus articles, games and recipes to help keep your brain fit.

The name of the voice actor responsible for most of the Looney Tunes characters was Mel Blanc who changed the spelling of his name when he was 16, from "Blank" to "Blanc", because a teacher told him he would amount to nothing and be like his name, a "blank". I received correct answers from Steven Woolpert, Clair Zumwalt, Carol Earl, Lana Tepfer, Jerry Phillips, Dave Lutgens, Barbara Cadwell, Kim Birge, Jim Tindall and this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket, Joan Silver whose husband was a distant cousin of Mel Blanc.
“Well here’s another nice mess you've gotten me into!" was the catchphrase used by the comedy duo that was well known during the 30’s and 40’s for their slapstick comedy. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was their names? And for bonus points which one was always getting into a nice mess? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a membership to the “The Sons of the Desert” society.

Well, it’s been another week, looking for the blind curves down the road. Until we meet again, as it’s often said, “If you expect everything to remain the same, you will be sorely disappointed.

“In show business, the key word is honesty. Once you’ve learned to fake that, the rest is easy.” George Burns

The Dalles Meals-on-Wheels daily menus. If you would like to pick up a meal at noon, call 541-298-8333 before 10:00.

Thursday (30) Oven Baked Chicken
Friday (31) Turkey and Dressing with Gravy
Monday (3) Lip-smacking good!
Tuesday (4) Scrumptiously delectable!
Wednesday (5) Mouthwatering tasty!

Aging Well in the Gorge July 22nd 2020

Do you have to write notes for details you know you are going to forget? Or put a package by the door to remind yourself to take it with you? Or have a pill box so you know you’ve taken your medications - which I’ve found doesn’t always help? And now you’re afraid to mention your forgetfulness to your health care provider because she may say you have early stage dementia - and your life will be over! Or is that just me?

For 31% of older adults, dementia is their number one fear. But if you are concerned about your memory loss, talk to your doctor because there are many causes besides dementia: a new prescription, a urinary tract infection, or depression. But if you are diagnosed with early stage dementia, it is not the end of the world because there are things you can do. (Even if you’re just forgetful from time to time, keep reading. These suggestions are good for anyone.)

Remember you are still you! Even though you may have problems with memory, concentration and planning, enjoy the things you can still do.

Stay socially active. Keep in touch with others and engage in social activities with friends which is good for your confidence and mental wellbeing. Join a local dementia-friendly support group, (when they can start meeting again) where you can share experiences and learn tips from others who are living with dementia.

Look after your health – both physical and mental health. You know the routine: eat healthy, drink plenty of fluids, exercise regularly and get enough sleep. But also schedule regular dental, vison, and hearing check-ups; and if you feel depressed, which is common with dementia, talk to your health care provider.

Learn ways to cope. Have a regular routine, schedule activities for when you feel better (mornings? afternoons?), put your keys in a regular spot, keep a list of helpful numbers by the phone, use a pill box, and put your regular bills in one place so you don't forget to pay them. (Thanks goodness my wife pays our bills!)

Plan for the future. You may be able to live at home, continuing to enjoy doing the things you have always done. But there will be a time when you may need additional support with daily activities.

Tell people about your dementia – when you are ready. You may be afraid of how they will react. But by example, you can help people be aware of and understand dementia, so that you and others with dementia can continue to live in the way you want and in the community you choose.

If you are ever diagnosed with dementia don’t let it keep you from enjoying the rest of your life. Everyone experiences dementia differently and with the right help and support many people can, and do, live well with dementia for many years. To learn more, the Oregon Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association Is a valuable resource.

Also from a local perspective, in this paper’s August installment of “Through the Eyes of an Elder”, Britta Willson, manager of Providence Hood River’s Volunteers in Action and a trained gerontologist, will share her thoughts and those of others about “Dementia-Friendly” communities.

The name of the animated comedy series that brought us Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Porky Pig was Looney Tunes. I received correct answers from Jim Donnelly, Lana Tepfer, Mike Ballinger, Tiiu Vahtel, Julie Carter, Sally Crisp, and Molly Fauth - this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And Dave Lutgens reminded me that I forgot to mention him last week. I knew there was someone!

We all remember Bugs Bunny’s, “What’s up Doc?” or Porky Pig’s “That’s all Folks!”. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the voice actor, responsible for most of the Looney Tunes characters, who attended Lincoln High School in Portland before beginning his career at the age of 19 in 1927 on KGW and then working for KEX in 1933? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it on the back of a blank sheet of paper.

Well, it’s been another week, missing the hugs and handshakes. Until we meet again, as Bugs Bunny once said, “Don’t take life too seriously. You’ll never get out alive!”

“I think there's so much good in the worst of us, and so many of the worst of us get the best of us, that the rest of us aren't even worth talking about.” Gracie Allen

Aging Well in the Gorge July 15th 2020

If you’re like me, you’re finally getting use to wearing a face mask whenever you go out in public. But this is The Dalles and you know during the rest of July and August there will be many hot over ninety-degree days. But it’s a dry heat, right?

You may already struggle with foggy glasses and chafed ears but now with the heat there is the potential for hot and sweaty face masks. So, what do you do? Andy Markowitz in his June 25th AARP article “Sweaty Face Mask? 5 Tips to Keep Cool While Covered Up” offers suggestion of how to stay comfortable wearing your face mask - while protecting others.

1. Choose the right fabric. A light, breathable material like cotton will likely keep your face cooler than medical and N95 masks made from synthetic materials. A two-layer cotton mask comes close to matching a surgical mask's efficiency in stopping potentially infectious droplets from coughs and sneezes. Lighter, softer cotton coverings can also help you avoid chafing, heat rash or inflaming a skin condition. Take the time to feel the material against your skin so it feels good as well as looks good.

2. Keep it dry. Cotton traps less air and moisture than standard medical and industrial masks, and it's more absorbent. But if it gets damp due to breathing and sweating, it can be less effective in filtering respiratory particles, as well as being uncomfortable and abrasive to your skin.

3. Time trips to beat the heat. In The Dalles who doesn’t - unless you’re headed to the river! You can also use an umbrella to shade yourself on sunny days.

4. Skip the makeup. Because sweat cannot evaporate with a mask on, perspiration mixed with makeup or oily skin care products can clog the pores and contribute to what has been dubbed “maskne,” a combination of mask and acne. But creams with dimethicone are a good moisturizer and creates a protection between your skin and the mask.

5. Bring a spare. If your mask does get damp and dirty, switch it with another. But try to follow the CDC recommendations when changing masks.

To keep the coronavirus from spreading, wearing a mask is small price to pay. And fortunately, in the summer we don’t have many sticky high humidity days. But when we do, we want our mask to be an effective barrier – and also comfortable.

I have been told that talking about dying won’t kill you - and can actually be life-affirming. You can join a conversation about death and dying at a Death Café where people come together to eat cake, drink tea and discuss death. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 it will be held through ZOOM and not in person. (Sorry, no cake this time.)

The objective of a Death Café is “to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives”. It is a group directed discussion of death in a relaxed and safe environment with no agenda, objectives or themes. It is not a grief support or counselling session.

You can join the conversation on the last Wednesday of every month from 7:00 – 8:30 starting July 29th. Registration will be limited to 10 people. Email  brittany.willson@providence to register. The Death Café is offered to the community by Providence Volunteers In Action and AgePlus Circles of Care.

The first Beatles motion picture, a 1964 musical comedy directed by Richard Lester, was A Hard Day’s Night. I received correct answers from Jess Birge, Barbara Cadwell, Rhonda Spies and I have a nagging feeling I am missing someone - or was that a feeling from last week? Well, anyway this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket is Jerry Phillips.

Warner Bros. produced an animated comedy series from 1930 to 1969 during the golden age of American animation. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of this animated series that brought us Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, Tweety and Sylvester, and the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with the Academy Award winning animated short “For Scent-imental Reasons” starring Pepe Le Pew.

Well, it’s been another week, learning to smile with my eyes. Until we meet again, don’t jump to conclusions because you might not make it to the other side.

“It’s no longer a question of staying healthy. It’s a question of finding a sickness you like.” Jackie Wilson

Aging Well in the Gorge July 8th 2020

Raise your hand if you have completed the 2020 Census? Good. Now, how many of you have forgotten about the 2020 Census because of COVID-19? If you are in the latter group, you have plenty of company. So far Oregon Gorge counties have a self-response rate significantly below Oregon’s average of 64.2%.

But you still have time to respond - before someone comes knocking on your door.

The Census questionnaires were mailed back in April. If you haven’t responded yet - and can still find it among all your papers on the dining room table - please complete the questionnaire and mail it back. You can also complete the online questionnaire at www.my2020census. Or if you prefer, you can call 844-330-2020 and complete the questionnaire by phone.

Even though the collection process has been interrupted due to COVID-19, the U.S. Census Bureau has announced it is now on track to conduct multiple follow-up activities over the next several months aimed at ensuring a complete and accurate count. Starting in mid-July, the Census Bureau will begin interviewing households that have yet to respond to the 2020 Census. All census takers will be trained on social distancing protocols and will be issued personal protective equipment (PPE).

If you have already completed the 2020 census questionnaire, there is a chance you may receive a follow-up call to validate the information you provided when you completed the census questionnaire.

The Census is constitutionally mandated to count every person living in the United States to determine representation in Congress. But over the years, more questions have been added to help determine how to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding for critical programs and services; as well as helping lawmakers, business owners, and many others to make critical decisions.

You can help shape the future of your communities by responding today.

Now that July 4th has flown by, we know there are many ninety-degree days ahead. And during those hot days of summer, don’t forget to stay hydrated. As we age, our bodies change (which I am reminded often) becoming less sensitive to heat and the feeling of thirst, making all of us more vulnerable to summer’s heat and humidity. In addition, certain medical conditions, such as heart disease, and medications commonly taken by older adults —water pills, allergy and sinus medications, and antidepressants—further increase the risk.

But according to The American Geriatrics Society’s Foundation for Health in Aging (FHIA), there are precautions we can take to prevent the harmful effects of dehydration. There are the obvious - but often ignored: turn on the air conditioner or go somewhere with air conditioning; when outdoors wear a hat and lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing; use SPF 30 or higher sunscreen; avoid strenuous activity; and my favorite - take a cool shower or bath.  

But what you may not know is that more frequent drinking of smaller quantities is better than less frequent drinking of larger quantities. (If you aren’t sure if you are drinking enough fluids – how should I say this politely? - check your urine. If it is the color of lemonade that’s good. If it is the color of apple cider you may need to drink more liquids.) And if you’re worried about the heat, have someone check on you once or twice a day during the heat waves.

This television sitcom that ran from 1972 through 1977 and starred comedian Red Foxx was Sanford and Son. I received correct answers from Jim and Sue Donnelly, Jess Birge (who noted that Redd Foxx’s given name was John Sanford), Lana Tepfer, Rhonda Spies, Dave Lutgens, Jerry Phillips, Barbara Cadwell and Susan Ronning this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket.

Between 1964 and 1970, the Beatles appeared in five major motion pictures, beginning with this 1964 musical comedy directed by Richard Lester during the height of Beatlemania. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of their first film described as "comic fantasia with music; an enormous commercial success with the director trying every cinematic gag in the book"? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with a DVD of their last film Let It Be (1970).

Well, it’s been another week, wondering “have I written about that before?” Until we meet again, take time to celebrate - even the small things.

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

Aging Well in the Gorge July 1st 2020

“What gives my life meaning and purpose?” or more simply “Why am I here?” are questions we ask ourselves as we age.
We learned from The Dalles Blue Zones project that people who know their life purpose live longer, better lives. But finding your purpose is easier when you have your whole life in front of you. But what if you figure you have maybe fifteen, ten or five more years left. How do we find meaning and purpose, so when the going gets tough we keep going?

“Finding Meaning and Purpose in Old Age” by Ana Cocarla addresses how we as older adults can find and maintain our sense of meaning and purpose, because as she points out older adults are happier, but there are two things that tend to decrease as we age. You guessed it, a sense of meaning and purpose.

Meaning and purpose are not the same. Meaning is related to the significance of our lives; and our purpose reflects our goals and having something to live for. For example, loving your children gives meaning to your life, while your purpose might be raising them to reach their full potential.

There are several reasons why the sense of meaning and purpose can often be lost or more difficult to attain: the “empty nest” syndrome – now that the children have left home, the meaning and purpose they provided is difficult to replace; we have accomplished our life goals and feel it’s too late to set new ones; we may not have the energy we once had; or we have a illness or disability so we no longer can do those things we loved.

But you can still find meaning and purpose. It may just happen: having to care for a loved one. But more often you have to create opportunities in order to feel purposeful.

To find meaning and purpose, attitude makes a tremendous difference: focusing on the positive aspects of life; learning to accept others as they are; and finding ways to grow, learn and adapt. You can also try the following. Practice being present in the moment. Create new routines that are more fulfilling. Try things you’ve always wanted to do. Find ways to support your grandkids - because you know their parents need all the help they can get! Look for or create opportunities to contribute. Adopt a pet or take care of your garden. Travel if your situation allows. And study and practice your faith which can be a key source of meaning and purpose in your life.

In the years we have left, we all have something to offer. And in our own way, each of us can find the answer to the question, “Why am I here?”.

The name of the music historian who hosted his own radio program that played novelty songs by Spike Jones, Stan Freberg and of course Weird Al Yankovic was Dr. Demento. I received correct answers from Barbara Cadwell; Kenny Olsson who corresponded with him for a short time and found him to be one of the nicest people in show business; and Jonathan Carr who when as a freshman at Reed College in 1962, attended a keg party (remember those?) where Barry Hansen (Dr. Demento) curated the playlist with his stacks of 45’s including "The Bird (is the Word)". Because it was a difficult question, all three win a quilt raffle ticket.

This television sitcom ran from 1972 through 1977 and was NBC’s answer to All in the Family and starred comedian Red Foxx known for his raunchy nightclub acts during the 1950s and 1960s. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of this sitcom? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with the album Funky Tales from a Dirty Old Junkman.

Before I go, here are the answers to last week’s brainteasers. I hope you enjoyed the challenge. 1) Both weigh a pound; 2) A dozen; 3) Only one; 4) All twelve months have 28 days; 5) Nine - each brother has the same sister; 6) 59 days; 7) ONE WORD; 8) Four - broke, fried, and ate the same two eggs.

Well, it’s been another week, trying to keep my head from blowing off. Until we meet again, I’ve recently learned one of the benefits of getting older is your children start buying you gifts!

 “Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” (Christopher Robin to Pooh – A.A.Milne)

Aging Well in the Gorge June 24th 2020

You may be playing it safe staying home and caring for your garden or overdosing on TV and Netflix. But what are you doing for your brain health as we weather this pandemic?

According to the Virginia Spine Institute, there are five things you can do to maintain and maybe even improve your brain health – and what the heck, you have the time!

Try to Maintain a Daily Routine. Maintaining a routine can limit stress. And during this pandemic, it can be your chance to develop a new and healthier routine: healthy breakfast, morning walk, afternoon meal, and then some time with hobbies that keep your brain working. Habit is a great motivator.

Exercise. Exercise can help maintain our physical as well as our mental health. Take an early morning walk - before it gets too hot. Or start with some easy and simple exercises at home: three legs lifts and gradually build up to more. Something is better than nothing. And which is the best exercise? The one you enjoy doing.

Get in Touch with Your Creative Side. How about creating a collage from your family pictures? Knitting? Working in your shop? Or pull those dusty cookbooks off the shelf or check out OSU’s FOOD HERO website and experiment with the recipes. Can you really add spinach to a fruit smoothie - and it will still taste good?

Stay Socially Engaged. I enjoy video calls because I can see who I’m talking to. But there is nothing wrong with the old fashion way: picking up the phone and dialing – and you don’t have to look “presentable”!

Put Time into Hobbies that Stimulate your Brain. Finish that James Patterson novel, work on puzzles or play cards online with friends using various apps including Trickster. Or check out the puzzles and games online at Sharpbrains and AARP’s Staying Sharp.

Speaking of stimulating your grey cells, try these eight brainteasers/riddles that I have enjoyed. And trying to solve a brainteaser is just as good for your brain as finding the answer - although not as satisfying. (The answers are posted under the Tab "Brainteasers Answers".

1. Which is heavier? A pound of feathers or a pound of rocks?

2. How many three cent stamps are in a dozen?

3. On my way to St. Ives, I met a man with seven wives. Each wife had seven sacks, each sack had seven cats, and each cat had seven kits. Kits, cats, sacks and wives.

How many were going to St. Ives?

4. In a year, there are 12 months. Seven months have 31 days. How many months have 28 days?

5. A family has two parents and six sons. Each of the sons has one sister. How many people are in the family?

6. The water level in a reservoir is low but doubles every day. It takes 60 days to fill the reservoir. How long does it take for the reservoir to become half full?

7. Rearrange the letters: "nor do we" to make one word?

8. I have six eggs. I break two, I fried two, and I ate two. How many eggs are left?

One of the most widely recognized tobacco advertising campaigns before they were banned on television and radio in 1971 was “WINSTON Tastes Good Like a Cigarette Should”. I received answers from Lucile Stephens, Sandy Haechrel, Deloris Schrader, Dave Lutgens, Tiiu Vahtel, Lana Tepfer, Jess Birge, Barbara Cadwell, and Tina Castanares who asked which cigarette was “a silly millimeter longer”? But this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket is Judith Morgan.  


While my wife and I were sitting around the breakfast table we thought of this radio show which had a cult following but I never listened to because, well let’s say, it was a little demented. The show played novelty songs from the likes of Spike Jones, Stan Freberg and of course Weird Al Yankovic whose career he helped launch. What was the name this trained music historian used when hosting the show? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with a picture of the 1963 graduating class from Reed College.


Well, it’s been another week, making lemonade. Until we meet again, there times you want to be special, but when you get back your chest x-ray it’s nice just to be normal.


“Trust that little voice in your head that says “Wouldn’t it be interesting if…” And then do it.” Duane Michals, Photographer


Follow by Email

Blog Archive