Aging Well in the Gorge - September 23rd 2020

I guess I was too optimistic last week thinking the smoke would fade away by then. But this Saturday morning, I can see the Klickitats out my office window dressed in its velvety shades of brown instead of straining to see their faint gray outline. And now I can put away my KN95 mask (You know it’s unhealthy when you feel you need to wear a mask inside your house!), return to my cloth mask and start walking again. 

But during those hazardous air quality days (the second time in three years!), I was glad I signed up for the Emergency Notification System in Wasco County to receive the air quality alerts and notice of the free distribution of KN95 masks in Wasco County by the North Central Public Health District. If you haven’t already, you should consider going online and signing up for your county’s Emergency Notification System: Citizens Alert in Wasco and Hood River Counties, Frontier Regional Alert in Sherman County and Code Red in Klickitat County. 

By signing up, it enables the Emergency Response Agencies to quickly provide you with critical information for a variety of situations such as severe weather, wildfires, floods, evacuations and other important community messages. 

When a message is issued about a potential safety hazard or concern, messages will be sent to all standard voice and text communication devices that you have registered including landline phones, cell phones and more. If you don’t confirm receipt of the message, the system will try to reach your second contact number or email. The system will continue trying to contact you until it receives a confirmation from you. 

If you have a traditional landline you have automatically been included in the system, but there are several reasons why you should still register. By registering you can list other devices such as your cell phone; update your personal information; how you want to be notified such as by text or email; and identify any special needs you may have including whether you are hearing or visually impaired, diabetic, use a wheelchair or oxygen tank or are power-dependent. All information you provide will not be shared with any vendor or other organizations and will be used for emergency purposes only. 

Finally, if you can’t go online or need assistance, you can call one of the following agencies depending on where you live: Wasco County Communications Manager at 541-506-2760, Klickitat County Emergency Management (509) 773-0582, or the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office (541) 386-2098 - and I don’t know for sure who to call in Sherman County, but if you live there you probably do. 

Since I have space for only a few more words, I thought I would add one short joke as we enter the flu and cold season. 

“It’s just a cold,” the doctor said. “And as you know there’s no cure for that. You’ll just have to wait it out for a few days.” 
“But it’s making me miserable. There must be something I can do.” 
“Well, you could go home and take a hot bath. Then open all the windows and stand for a while in the cold air.” 
“But wouldn’t I get pneumonia? 
“You might. But for that we have a cure.” 

In Welcome Back, Kotter (1975-1979) Vinnie Barbarino’s favorite insult was “Up your nose with a rubber hose!” I received correct answers from Rhonda Spies, Barbara Cadwell, Tina Castanares and Lana Tepfer this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. 

On a ZOOM video conference call (which are popular these days) when someone joins the call you see their face pop up with the other participants arranged in a grid which reminds me of the opening credits for this television show that aired from September 26, 1969, to March 8, 1974 on ABC. For this week’s “Remember When” question what was the name of the sitcom that revolves around a large, blended family with six children and considered one of the last of the old-style family sitcoms? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with a recording of the theme song sung by the Peppermint Trolley Company. 

Well, it’s been another week, trying to be real about what I can and can’t do. Until we meet again, take a moment to wonder “What can I learn today?” 

“Optimist: someone who isn’t sure whether life is a tragedy or a comedy but is tickled silly just to be in the play.” ~ Robert Brault 

The Dalles Meals-on-Wheels daily menus. If you would like to pick up a meal at noon, call 541-298-8333 before 10:30. 
Thursday (9/24) Sloppy Joes 
Friday (9/25) Meatloaf with Macaroni and Cheese 
Monday (9/28) Stroganoff over Rice 
Tuesday (9/29) Hungarian Goulash 
Wednesday (9/30) Roast Beef with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

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


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