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)


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