Aging Well in the Gorge September 1st 2021

 How many of you are still working a paid job? Working as a volunteer? Or working as an unpaid caregiver for a loved one? And how many of you are gardening, painting, exercising, or doing other activities you don’t consider work?

Our ideas about age and work are changing. With advances in public health and medicine, we are living longer and can work beyond the traditional retirement age of 65. Older adults 65+ are spending more time on the job than their peers in previous years: four million in 2000 and by 2016 nine million older workers were employed full or part-time.

Reasons for this change in attitude are many. People can now work longer because of advances in health care and technology. Some folks need the extra income because a serious illness depleted their retirement savings, or their pension was inadequate. Others work to remain cognitively healthy. And then there are those who enjoy working and want to continue contributing in the workplace.

For an employer, hiring older workers is not without its challenges: chronic health conditions, disabilities such as hearing loss, and physical safety concerns. But there are many more advantages.

Older workers are generally more satisfied, loyal, reliable, and have more favorable job attitudes than younger workers. Older workers are less likely to exhibit undesirable behaviors such as aggression, on-the-job substance use, tardiness, and absenteeism. In addition, older adults are often looking for part-time work; and health insurance is not necessary because of Medicare.

After the traditional retirement age, there are many ways to enjoy the rest of our years: retiring and spending time with friends and family, volunteering at a favorite non-profit, or continuing to work. Labor Day is a time to celebrate and honor the contributions older adults have made to the health of our communities through their labors.

Communication is often difficult especially between parents and their adult children. In this month’s “Through the Eyes of an Elder” Bill Noonan describes the challenges of these complicated conversations and offers four “guardrails” to reach an understanding that is beneficial to everyone. It is another must-read!  

With the high number of COVID cases in the Gorge, you may want to take a COVID-19 test even if you are vaccinated. FREE COVID-19 tests are now available through the Hood River Health Department and North Central Public Health District. The test is a nasal self-swab test and results will be available within 3 – 5 business days. You can register and select your appointment time, or you can just walk in. To make an appointment log on to www.doineedavocid19 test.com. (Okay, I’m not the smartest cookie in the cookie jar. It took me a while to realize the site address spells out “do I need a covid19 test”!) When you register, you will be asked to complete a self-assessment and choose a location, date, and time. The next available dates are Thursday, September 2nd from 2:00 – 6:00 at the River of Life Assembly Church in Hood River and Sunday, September 4th from 10:00 – 1:00 at the North Central Public Health District office in The Dalles.

The name of the children’s show created by Bob Keeshan who played the title character was Captain Kangaroo. I received correct answers from Jeanne Pesicka, Emmett Sampson, Susan Ellis, Billie Maxwell, Steven Woolpert, Lana Tepfer, Dave Lutgens, Margo Dameier, Glenna Mahurin, Doug Nelson, Sandy Haechrel, Kim Birge, and Gene Uczen this week’s winner of a free quilt raffle ticket.

In the ’40s and ’50s, a single company would be the sole sponsor of popular television shows: Kraft Music Hall, Gillette Cavalcade of Sports, The Lucky Strike Program starring Jack Benny, and a variety show hosted by a popular vocalist at the time. For this week’s “Remember When” question, who was this singer/actress who every week during her show sang "See the U.S.A. in Your Chevrolet"? E-mail your answer to mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, call 541-296-4788 or send it with a picture of her and Burt Reynolds in 1972.

Well, it’s been another week looking for my missing hearing aid – again! Until we meet again, remember the lessons learned from the mistakes forgotten.

"Learning to ignore things is one of the great paths to inner peace." (Robert J. Sawyer), or as the old farmer from Fossil once said, “Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.”

Aging Well in the Gorge August 25th 2021

 We’ve been around the block a few times - even as the blocks seem to keep getting longer. We have learned to accept the blessing and burdens of life while embracing our age. And since the days when we thought we knew it all, we’ve learned many lessons. If you were asked to share those lessons, what advice would you give?

I received an email, one of those that circulate in the Internet world, with what I thought was good advice about aging. I can’t list all of them and I have condensed the ones I have but tell me what you think of the advice this writer shares.

  • Stop worrying about the financial situation of your children and grandchildren, and don’t feel bad spending your money on yourself. The responsibility is now theirs to earn their own money.
  • Keep a healthy life, without great physical effort. Do moderate exercise like walking every day, eat well and get your sleep.
  • Don’t stress over the little things. You’ve already overcome so much in your life. You have good memories and bad ones, but the important thing is the present. Don’t let the past drag you down and don’t let the future frighten you. Feel good in the now.
  • Always stay up-to-date. Keeping in touch with what is going on and with the people you know is important at any age.
  • Respect the younger generation and their opinions. They may not have the same ideals as you, but they are the future and will take the world in their direction. Give advice, not criticism, and try to remind them that yesterday’s wisdom still applies today
  • Some people embrace their golden years, while others become bitter and surly. Life is too short to waste your days on the latter. Spend your time with positive, cheerful people, it’ll rub off on you and your days will seem that much better.
  • Don’t abandon your hobbies. If you don’t have any, make new ones. Find something you like and spend some real time having fun with it.
  • Even if you don’t feel like it, try to accept invitations: Baptisms, graduations, birthdays, weddings. Try to go. Get out of the house, meet people you haven’t seen in a while, experience something new - or something old.
  • Pain and discomfort go hand in hand with getting older. Try not to dwell on them but accept them as a part of the cycle of life we’re all going through.
  • If you’ve been offended by someone – forgive them. If you’ve offended someone – apologize. Don’t drag around resentment with you. It only serves to make you sad and bitter.
  • If you have a strong belief, savor it. But don’t waste your time trying to convince others. Live your faith and set an example.
  • Laugh a lot. Laugh at everything. Find the humor in your situation.

I had to keep it short but if you want to read the full list uncondensed, go to  www.midcolumbiseniorcenter.com and click on the tab: ADVICE TO LIVE BY.

The children who watched from the on-stage bleachers in the pioneering children’s show Howdy Doody were called the “peanut gallery.” I received correct answers from Jeanne Pesicka, Susan Ellis, Gene Uczen, Doug Nelson, Lana Tepfer, Tina Castanares, Dave Lutgens, and Jack Lorts, this week’s winner of a free raffle ticket. Last week I missed Keith Clymer.

Moving from Howdy Doody to another morning children’s show, the first actor to play the baggy pants horn honking Clarabell the Clown on Howdy Doody was Bob Keeshan who created and played the title character in another children’s TV show. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of this children’s show that aired from 1955 through 1984 and revolved around life in the "Treasure House" where the captain would tell stories, meet guests, and indulge in silly stunts. E-mail your answer to mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, call 541-296-4788 or drop it off while wearing a blue coat with large pockets.

Well, it’s been another week enjoying the ride even with the random bumps and bruises. Until we meet again, I realized while driving that a benefit of age is I don’t feel I must drive fast to impress my peers. I can go as unhurried as I want!

 “Everywhere is within walking distance - if you have the time.” Steven Wright

Aging Well in the Gorge August 18th, 2021

Do you feel like you’ve been singing the same old song and now your voice is getting hoarse? With the new Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus, we seem to be turning back the hands of time to a place we didn’t want to go again. But here we are. The positive cases of COVID-19 are increasing, hospitals beds are getting critically low, care facilities are limiting outside visitors, and once again we need to wear masks indoors in public places.

It’s frustrating and confusing because everything keeps changing - what we should and should not do. It feels like a moving target. But this virus is new and is continuously being studied with decisions made on the best science at the time. And then new variants such as the Delta variant show up and change the whole equation.

The good news is because the most vulnerable are highly vaccinated the number of deaths is significantly lower. But being vaccinated doesn’t protect you 100%. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or if you were in close contact with someone with COVID-19, you should get tested regardless of whether you’ve been vaccinated or not. Home testing kits are available at most pharmacies for around $20 and Walgreen’s offers drive through testing, but appointments are limited. Check with your insurance company firt.

Most people who get COVID-19 have mild or moderate symptoms and can recover. But we need to keeping singing that familiar chorus: wear a mask, keep socially distanced, and get vaccinated. And if we sing loud enough, hopefully, this latest surge will soon subside.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the serious problem of older adults being financially abused. To reduce the risk, older adults should make sure their financial affairs are in order - and as we all know that is not always easy.  

One program that can help reduce the risk of financial abuse while promoting independent living is the Money Management Program offered by CAPECO - the Area Agency on Aging serving older adults in Sherman, Wasco, and Hood River Counties. (In Washington, supports for older adults are provided through the counties: Klickitat Senior Services (509) 773-3757 or Skamania Senior Services (509) 427-3990.)

CAPECO Money Management Program provides Representative Payee services to help individuals maintain independence, obtain financial security, and prevent financial abuse. The program is certified and approved by the Social Security Administration and the Veterans Administration.

When you are enrolled in the program, an individualized budget is prepared. All bills and bank accounts are handled by this program with assistance from the participant. The benefit is that the Representative Payees will ensure that basic expenses and necessary payments are given priority – and not the bail money to the fake grandson in Arizona.

The CAPECO Money Management Program is personalized, confidential, and safe, and is available to low-income adults. If you know someone who has difficulty managing their finances, call 541-276-1926 to learn more about this valuable program.

Archie’s best friend was the easy-going but lazy and slightly nonconformist friend Forsythe Pendleton Jones III more commonly known as Jughead. I received correct answers from Jeanne Pesicka, Susan Ellis, Emmett Sampson, Sam Bilyeu, Glenna McCarger, Gene Uczen, Dave Lutgens, Jim Tindall, Margo Dameier, Richard Shaw, Doug Nelson, and Gloria Krantz, this week’s winner of a free raffle ticket. Last week I only missed Doug Nelson – unless someone tells me otherwise.

Let’s go back to childhood memories of watching Saturday morning TV. You may remember Howdy Doody, a pioneer in children's television, broadcast on NBC from 1947 until 1960, and one of the first TV shows to include audience participation. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what were the children called who watched from the on-stage bleachers? E-mail your answer to mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, call 541-296-4788 or drop it off with a replica of the puppet Phineas T. Bluster: mayor of Doodyville.

Well, it’s been another week enjoying “those hazy, crazy days of summer”. Until we meet again, remember what your teachers always told you, “Pay attention!”

“No matter how one may think himself accomplished, when he sets out to learn a new language, science, or the bicycle, he has entered a new realm as truly as if he were a child newly born into the world.” Francis Willard author of “How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle”

Aging Well in the Gorge August 11th 2021

 When you arrive back home after visiting your health care provider, do you ever ask yourself “Now what did she mean?” I may not be the sharpest bulb in the drawer, but I am literate and can read, write, and comprehend most things, but health literacy is difficult. Health Literacy defined by the Health and Human Services (HHS) Healthy People 2030 Initiative is “the ability to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others”.

Today, I can find the notes and visit summaries of all my medical visits on MyChart so finding the information is the easiest part. But to understand and use the information is the challenge.

Your primary care provider’s responsibility is to help you understand and use the information so you can better manage your health. But it is also your responsibility to be an active participant in your health care. To do that here are several suggestions you can use when speaking with your primary care provider.

1.) Ask questions. And make sure you get the answers to those questions. “Why are you ordering this test? Why are you prescribing this medication? What side effects can it cause?

2.) Be your own pharmacist. Bring your medicines with you including your over-the-counter and prescription medicines, supplements, vitamins, and herbal medicines to make sure there are no drug interactions. Medline Plus is an excellent resource to better understand the medications you are taking.

3.) Tell the truth. This can be tough. You don’t want to give the impression you are slacking: not exercising or flossing, or worse yet not taking your medications. If you want the most accurate diagnosis and treatment you need to say it like it is.

4.) Bring someone with you. When it is more than my annual checkups, I bring my wife so there is another set of ears - and a better memory.

5.) Know your medical history. The more you know about your health history the better you can participate in your own health decisions.

6.) Tell them if you have a disability that may make communication more difficult. If it is hearing loss, remind them that talking louder helps, but talking clearly and facing you works better.

7.) Don't walk away in the dark. Your health care provider wants to help you make the best health care decisions, so make sure you understand what your provider said. You can ask clarifying questions such as "Let me see if I understand this".

With the advances in health care, information is more available but also more complicated and confusing even to the most educated people. Today it is important to not only know how to find your medical information but to also understand and use that information to better manage your health. 

The series of signs which usually consisted of six consecutive small signs creating a short catchy verse advertised Burma Shave. (If you want to read all 600 Burma Shave jingles you can find them on the Internet at http://burma-shave.org/jingles/.) I received correct answers from Clare Zumwalt, Jay Gasperson, Billie Maxwell, Jeanne Pesicka, Al Winans, Susan Ellis, Norma Simpson, Linda Frizzell, Patty Burnet, Barbara Cadwell, Richard Shaw, Dave Lutgens, Margo Dameier, Pat Kelly, Gene Uczen, Keith Clymer, Lana Tepfer, and Glenna Mahurin this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. Last week I missed Sam Bilyeu, Jeanne Pesicka, Susan Ellis and Ron Nelson.

Last week it was highway literature but this week it is the fine literature of my youth. Well sort of. Archie Comics published comic books featuring stories of five high school friends: Archie, Reggie, Veronica, Betty, and Archie’s best friend the easy-going but lazy and slightly nonconformist friend Forsythe Pendleton Jones III. What was the nickname for Archie’s best friend? E-mail your answer to mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, call 541-296-4788 or write it on the inside cover of a 1941 Riverdale High School Yearbook.

Well, that is the end of another box of cereal – and I still haven’t found the prize! Until we meet again, before you start making a big fuss consider what Vic Gold said. “The squeaking wheel doesn’t always get the grease. Sometimes it gets replaced!”

“If you keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, it’s just possible you haven’t grasped the situation.” Jean Kerr, writer

Aging Well in the Gorge August 4th, 2021

You’ve been caring for your elderly mom for years making sure her bills are paid and taking her to her doctor’s appointments. But recently you were laid off from your job and bills are piling up. You’re desperate and you think your mom won’t care. And besides, it will be your inheritance anyway, so you take her money as a “loan”.

This may not be a typical example, but elder financial abuse has become a serious problem nationwide. (In Oregon the average loss to a victim is nearly seventeen thousand dollars.) But what is typical is that the victims of financial abuse are more often women than men by nearly a 2:1 margin, and the highest percentage of perpetrators are family members and others that are in a close relationship with the victim.

Elder financial abuse occurs when someone steals money or other things of value from an older person such as stealing an elder’s valuables, using the elder’s cash or credit cards, or taking control of an elder’s power of attorney. The long-term consequences can be devastating. To stop the financial abuse, look for these red flags: significant withdrawals from accounts; unpaid bills or lack of medical care; unnecessary services, goods, or subscriptions; and financial activity the elder couldn't have done.

Any older adult is at risk of financial abuse. But those who are particularly vulnerable are isolated older adults who do not have a trusted person checking on them, who have dementia which limits their ability to make decisions, think clearly, and care for themselves; and those older adults who have found a “New Best Friend” who tries to befriend them and take their money when there is not a trusted friend or family member close by.

But why would anyone take financial advantage of a vulnerable older adult? The perpetrator may feel that the elderly person’s belongings are rightfully theirs through inheritance; the elder will use all their savings and leave nothing for the family, or the abuser wants to keep other family members from inheriting the elderly person’s assets. (I’m the only one who has been caring for mom!) And then there are family members who just feel their mom doesn’t need the money - and they do.

We all want to be trusting of others, but we should also be aware of the consequences when we trust someone who we feel is looking after our best interests – but aren’t.                                                         

If you suspect possible financial abuse in Oregon call the local Aging and People with Disabilities office or call Oregon’s toll-free hotline: 1-855-503-SAFE (7233). In Washington contact Washington Adult Protective Services in your community or call 1-866-363-4276.

In today’s Gorge News you’ll find this month’s “Through the Eyes of an Elder” a monthly column where older adults share thoughts and experiences we don’t often hear. This month’s writer is Joel Kabakov who shares his story about aging and the natural wonders of the Gorge.

The name of the television variety show starring Buck Owens and Roy Clark featuring country music and humor was Hee Haw. I received correct answers from Barbara Cadwell, Gene Uczen, Richard Shaw, Pat Still, Dave Lutgens, Doug Nelson, Rhonda Spies, Jess Birge, Keith Clymer, Joan Chantler, Stephen Woolpert, and this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket, Super Duck Mike Kilkenny. Last week I missed Jay Waterbury, Judy and Dave, and Gene Uczen.

This week’s “Remember When” question is from the category - highway literature. From 1925 until 1963 these series of signs were popular along America’s expanding roadway system and usually consisted of six consecutive small signs creating a short catchy verse advertising a particular product. One example was “Listen Birds/ These signs cost money/ So sit a spell/ But don’t get funny”. What was the name of the product advertised on these roadside billboards? E-mail your answer to mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, call 541-296-4788 or leave it inside a case of Vintage Gillette Safety Shaving Razors. 

Well, it’s been another week trying to find the energy to do what needs to be done. Until we meet again, it’s been said that it’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up - but getting up sure takes a lot longer these days!

“The past is a good place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.” Author Unknown

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