Aging Well in the Gorge March 23rd 2022

 Senior Living March 23rd, 2022

“There are only four kinds of people in this world: Those who have been caregivers, those who currently are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.” Rosalynn Carter

What has been your experience? Caring for a spouse 24/7? Caring for your mother living in another state? Taking care of your grandchild? It can be tremendously rewarding but also extremely challenging - especially emotionally: a mix of exhaustion, guilt, and resentment while balancing your caregiving with everything else in your life.

To maintain your health and well-being, the “Powerful Tools for Caregivers” class offers a variety of tools and ideas. The class is being offered virtually using ZOOM so you won’t have to leave your home which is difficult for many caregivers. The class meets from 1 pm – 2:30 pm every week for six weeks starting Tuesday, April 12th. Registration is required and the deadline is March 28th. To register, go online to https://www.powerfultoolsforcaregivers.org/; scroll down to “Find an Upcoming Caregiver Class” and follow the directions to where you can click on the April 12th class. There is a $30 requested donation to pay for the book: Caregiver Helpbook: Powerful Tools for Caregivers. If you have any questions, call Britta Willson at (541) 256-4623 at Greater Oregon Behavioral Health, Inc. (GOBHI).

In the class, you will find support and share ideas. But if the class doesn’t fit your schedule, you can go online to the same website and scroll down to the bottom where you can purchase the Caregiver Helpbook.

Whether you were, are, or will be a caregiver, here are a few of the many “how’s” you’ll learn so you can take care of yourself whenever you are caring for someone else.

1. Take responsibility for your own health and well-being and learn how to manage your self-care.

2. Have realistic expectations. Wanting to be a good caregiver can create unrealistic expectations which can lead to a feeling of failure resentment and guilt.

3. Focus on what you can do and cannot do. Seek solutions for what you can change.

4. Communicate effectively with others: family members, friends, healthcare professionals, and the person you are caring for.

5. Listen to your emotions. Don’t deny your feelings or strike out at others. You are in control.

6. Get help when you need it. Know when to ask for help and where to find it. Without waiting till the last moment.

7. Set goals and work towards them.

If you are caring for someone and trying to “do it all”, I would encourage you to register for the class or purchase the book. “Powerful Tools for Caregivers” offers ways to maintain your health by reducing stress, improving self-confidence, better communicating feelings, increasing your ability to make tough decisions, and locating helpful resources. To take care of someone special, you need to take care of yourself.

Since I wrote about brain health last week, I thought I would follow up with a brain tease that was past my IQ level. See if you can do any better. And this time I’m going to make you work a little harder by spelling the answer backward.

There are six eggs in the basket. Six people each take one of the eggs. How can it be that one egg is left in the basket?

.ti edisni llits gge tsal eht htiw teksab eht koot nosrep tsal ehT

The best-selling fiction writer of all time who wrote 66 detective novels between 1921 and 1973 and sold over two billion copies was Agatha Christie. I received answers from Doug Nelson, Donna Mollett, Jeannie Pesicka, Mike McFarlane, Katherine Schlick Noe, Rose Schulz, Julie Carter, Lana Tepfer, and Jayne Guidinger this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket.

Among the most popular spaghetti westerns of the 1960s was the “Dollars Trilogy" beginning with the low-budget A Fistful of Dollars directed by the Italian filmmaker Sergio Leone. For this week’s Remember When” question, who was the star in his first leading role and who was paid only $15000? Email your answer to mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, call 541-296-4788, or send it with "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" soundtrack which included the theme song by Hugo Montenegro which became a hit single in 1968.

Well, it’s been another week, trying to take it sloooooow. Until we meet again, don’t pick a fight with a grizzly bear holding a shotgun.

 

Living Well in the Gorge March 16th 2022

For some reason, the brain thinks it’s the most important organ in our body. No other organ must have a special week. There’s not a Kidney Awareness Week, or Liver Awareness Week. But there is Brain Awareness Week which this year is March 14th through March 18th.

Brain Awareness Week was founded by the Dana Foundation to better understand our brains through brain science research so as older adults we can continue to enjoy our later years. Another independent leader in understanding the brain is SharpBrains whose focus is tracking health and performance applications of brain research. As with the Dana Foundation, their website offers fascinating information about the brain including a list of ten lifestyle activities to help maintain and improve your brain health – which my brain is selfishly telling me to share with you. It is an abbreviated version - since we all have things to do and people to meet.

1. Better understand your brain. “It will serve you well to appreciate your brain’s beauty as a living and constantly-developing dense forest with billions of neurons and synapses”. If you want to imagine you’re back in school, Dana Foundation has lessons about the brain for grades K-12.  

2. Eat well. The “brain only weighs 2% of body mass but consumes over 20% of the oxygen and nutrients we intake.”

3. Exercise. “Things that exercise your body can also help sharpen your brain”. And anything is always better than nothing.

4. Be positive. “Stress and anxiety, no matter whether induced by external events or by your own thoughts, actually kills neurons and prevents the creation of new ones. You can think of chronic stress as the opposite of exercise: it prevents the creation of new neurons.” So now I can stress about being too stressed!

5. Engage in Mental Challenges. “The point of having a brain is precisely to learn and to adapt to challenging new environments. Challenge your brain often with fundamentally new activities”. 

6. Aim high. “The brain keeps developing, no matter your age, and it reflects what you do with it.”

7. Explore and travel. “Adapting to new locations forces you to pay more attention to your environment. Make new decisions, use your brain.” So getting lost is a good thing?

8. Think for yourself. “Make your own decisions, and mistakes. And learn from them. That way, you are training your brain, not your neighbor’s”.

9. Develop and maintain stimulating friendships. “We are social animals and need social interaction”. 

10. Laugh loud and often, “especially to cognitively complex humor, full of twists and surprises”. Did you hear about the man who put on a clean pair of socks every day of the week? By Friday he could hardly get his shoes on. Okay, that may not count as complex humor.

In a nutshell, to keep your brain happy, practice the four components of good brain health: physical exercise, a balanced diet, stress management, and brain exercise.

Did you remember to turn back your clocks on Sunday? Before phones and clocks that automatically change the time, you could tell who hadn’t adjusted their clocks by who arrived at church an hour late.

The name of the two-dimensional sports game that simulates table tennis introduced in 1972 (That’s fifty years ago or worse yet a half a century ago!) and became the first successful video arcade game was not Ping but Pong. I received answers from Dennis Morgan, Jeannie Pesicka, Rhonda Spies, Donna Mollett, Rebecca Abrams, Keith and Marlene Clymer, Gene Uczen, Rose Schulz, Dave Lutgens, Doug Nelson, and Lana Tepfer this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And those who I know I missed last week were Linda Frizzell and Maria Kollas.

During my grade school days, I enjoyed reading the Hardy Boys mysteries but never heard of this prolific mystery writer. For this week’s ”Remember When” question, who was the best-selling fiction writer of all time who wrote sixty-six detective novels between 1921 and 1973 and sold over two billion copies? Email your answer to mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, call 541-296-4788, or send with two tickets on the Orient Express.

Well, it’s been another week, checking my pillbox to know what day it is. Until we meet again, just because you are wandering, doesn’t mean you are lost – as I often tell myself.

“If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple of payments.” Steven Wright

Aging Well in the Gorge March 9th 2020

 Today there are practically unlimited forms of entertainment. (Remember when you adjusted the rabbit ears on top of the TV set to watch your favorite show on one of the three network stations. Ah, the simpler days.) You can enjoy a night of bingo, listen to music in a local pub, or go out to dinner with friends, pull weeds in your garden? 

And now with the Internet, you can play one of the hundreds of online games which are an increasingly popular form of entertainment among older adults. Nearly half of all older Americans play games online and the majority are women. The creators of Bejeweled, an incredibly popular mobile game that you may be familiar with, found that 47% of their estimated 150 million players worldwide were over the age of 50.

There are many types of online games you can play on your computer, tablet, and smartphone: puzzle, strategy, adventure, board, card, and sports games. Both Apple and Google have a game store where you can purchase hundreds of them.

You can also elevate your game by purchasing one of the popular video game consoles such as PlayStation, Xbox, or Nintendo Switch which range in price from $300 to $1000. Or better yet, ask your kids to buy you one so you can play with them online. They may be impressed you’re interested in gaming - and a little confused!

But why would I want to play video games? I always thought they were a non-productive use of my time – although I can spend ninety minutes in front of my big screen TV watching streamed British mysteries every night!

Because video games can actually be good for you. Really! And there are several reasons.

Depending on the game, research has shown video games can improve reaction time, attention, and short-term memory in older adults.

By playing video games you can exercise your creative and problem-solving skills in an elaborate alternative world while competing against rival players or working collaboratively with teammates by building, exploring, and sharing.

Multi-player games can provide a way to stay connected with family and friends and across generations - although you might not want to disclose your age. Young gamers don’t like to be beaten by grandma!

Video games can be an escape. Family caregivers have found gaming to be a way to address stress, avoid isolation and stay connected.

And they give you the freedom to participate in activities you could not normally do. Even if you’re confined to a wheelchair, you can still compete on the PGA Tour or fly a commercial jet.  

I’m not a “gamer”. I don’t own a PlayStation or Xbox console and never had an interest in playing video games. And as with any new activity, I know they can be complicated and challenging. But I’ve also learned online games can be a beneficial use of your time - as well as fun.

One caution. Online games are designed to keep you playing, and I may add spending. If your screen time is keeping you away from healthier activities such as exercise or socialization, then you may be doing more harm than good.

If you play video games, email me how often you play and what is your favorite online game.

In 1956 the country where the USSR sent troops to suppress the popular uprising was Hungary. I received answers from Doug Nelson, Barbara Cadwell, Gene Uczen, Dave Lutgens, Sam Bilyeu, Lana Tepfer, Tiiu Vahtel, and Steven Nybroten this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket.

In 1972 the video arcade game industry began with the introduction of the first successful commercial arcade video game. For this week’s “Remember When“ question, what was the name of the two-dimensional sports game that simulates table tennis by moving paddles to hit the ball back and forth. Email your answer to mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, call 541-296-4788, or send it with an original Atari Video Computer System with a game cartridge.

Well, it’s been another week, trying not to rush when I no longer need to. Until we meet again, a Danish proverb says “The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man be perfected without trials” but I must admit - there are days I would gladly trade a little less perfection for a few less trials.

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.” Robert Frost

Aging Well in the Gorge March 2nd 2022

 Here’s the question for the week. What do communities need so, if we want, we can stay in our homes – a place familiar and secure? Safe neighborhoods? Accessible sidewalks? Places to connect with friends? Adequate public services? Maybe even fast and reliable Internet service?

For many, staying in their home means being able to continue getting from one place to another: to shop, to attend church, to see the doctor. Most of us still drive but one day we may decide to turn in our car keys or worse yet someone will tell us, and then what do we do to stay engaged and connected?

In the Gorge. the local public transportation providers are working together to help. Through the Gorge Translink Alliance, they have developed a seamless network of transportation services within the Gorge area while linking those services to Portland and Vancouver, Washington.

The alliance includes all five public transportation providers in the Gorge: Columbia Area Transit in Hood River County (541-386-4202); The Link in Wasco County (541-296-7595); Sherman County Community Transit (541-565-3553); Skamania County Public Transit (509-427-3990); and Mt. Adams Transportation Services in the Goldendale area (509-773-3060) or the White Salmon area (509-493-4662).

They provide both Dial-a-Ride services that pick you up at your home and take you wherever you need to go within their service area and sometimes between counties; and fixed-route services that run regularly on a set route and schedule.

To make your trips simpler and more affordable, you can now purchase a GOrge Pass for unlimited rides on all Gorge fixed routes including to Portland. The cost is $40 through December 31, 2022. If you have questions, you can call 833-3GO-PASS (833-346-7277), email (info@gorgepass.com), or visit their website at https://gorgepass.com/.

One of the greatest unmet needs has been medical rides to Portland to access medical services or visit loved ones who are receiving medical care. Responding to that need, CAT now offers on Tuesdays and Thursdays a first-come-first-serve reservation-only shuttle service from the Gorge to five medical facilities in the Portland Metro area for $20 each way. To learn more and whether this service will work for you, call CAT at 541-386-4202 or The Link at 541-296-7595. And sorry the fares are not covered by the GOrge Pass.

Through the Gorge public transportation providers, there are accessible and affordable options for older adults to get around in their communities and stay engaged and connected. For more information about these transportation options, call your local public transportation provider or visit Gorge Translink at https://gorgetranslink.com - Your Gateway To Getting Around The Gorge!

You must take time to read this month’s “Through the Eyes of an Elder”: a beautiful and touching story by Daera Dobbs of life after the loss of her husband.

The name of the German Shepard and star of the television series that ran on ABC from 1954 through 1959 was Rin Tin Tin. I received correct answers from Steven Woolpert, Dave Hanson, Judy Hanson, Donna Mollett, Margo Dameier, Elaine Kirby, Rose Schulz, Barbara Cadwell, Linda Frizzell, Jess Birge, Lana Tepfer, Gene Uczen, Doug Nelson, Julie Carter, Joe and Terry Wiederhold, and the winner of a quilt raffle ticket is Dennis Morgan who watched The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin every Saturday morning and still remembers the main characters: Lt. Rip Masters, Sgt. Biff O'Hara and Rusty stationed at Fort Apache. And I would have bet fifty cents (which is as much as I bet when it comes to my memory) that I included Steven Woolpert last week, but my mind played tricks again.

Reflecting the news of this last week, I have a geo-political question from the cold war. The invasion of Ukraine reminded me of when I was in the sixth grade and assigned to help a young boy learn English who was one of the 200,000 refugees who fled this eastern European country. For this “Remember When” question in 1956 what country did the USSR send troops to suppress the popular uprising against Soviet domination? Email your answer to mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, call 541-296-4788, or send with the November 1st, 1956 Universal-International newsreel that reported on the situation.

Well, it’s been another week, trying to find my new rhythm. Until we meet again, enjoy the last weeks of spring.

“For the unlearned, old age is winter; for the learned, it is the season of the harvest.” Hasidic saying

Aging Well in the Gorge February 23rd 2022

 For fourteen years I have been writing this column, and I found this 2009 column worth sharing again. I want to thank to Dick Lafever who helped me and many others to better understand what it means to forgive.

As we age, we all gain different insights: it’s okay to slow down, and that “this too shall pass”. Hugh Downs, the TV personality you may remember, shared with Connie Goldman and Phillip Berman for their book “The Ageless Spirit” one of the most valuable insights he has learned: he didn't have to hate anybody. "When I was very young, I had a lot of hatreds that came from fears. Now there's nobody to fear, and therefore there's nobody I hate. That's a great freedom, because hate, as somebody said, is a weapon you wield by the blade, and it just cuts you up. But if you don't fear, you don't hate. There's a great liberty in (that).”

For Hugh Downs hatred came from fear, but it can also grow from anger or feeling injured. And as with our fears, we can let go of our sense of injury or anger by forgiving. Forgiving can free us from our self-absorption with past injustices and because we are no longer shackled to the past, we can move forward to a brighter and more positive future. And the beauty of forgiving is that it’s about you and not the other. It is within your power to forgive. It is within your power to just let go.

There is a time to forgive, to heal, to move on, but when and how is unique to each individual and may take time to travel the road towards forgiveness. It is a personal choice, a heartfelt choice to forgive and let go without any consideration of the forgiven. It is unconditional and without reciprocity. And as it is important, it is not easy. A Gallup poll found that 94% of the folks sampled said it was important to forgive, but 85% said they needed some outside help to be able to forgive.

In many ways, forgiveness is misunderstood. It is not about minimizing the hurts and wrongs which are real and painful. It is not about forgetting, but we need not let the offense dominate our lives. It is not about condoning or excusing the act, although there may come a time when the reasons are better understood. It is not the same as reconciliation for the offender does need to be a part of our future. And forgiveness is not a sign of either weakness or saintliness, but an expression of human strength.

We carry with us conscious and unconscious hurts that bond us to the past; unable to enjoy and explore the future with passion and love. And although it is extremely difficult and may take time, forgiveness can set us free. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said, "without forgiveness there is no future".

The name of Beatle’s twelfth and final studio album released on May 8th, 1970, almost a month after they broke up, was Let It Be. I received correct answers from Rose Schulz, Doug Nelson, Rebecca Abrams, Kim Birge, and Gene Uczen this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And last week, Diana Weston’s answer seems to have disappeared in the cloud somewhere between here and there.

Seeing the picture of Commander, President Biden’s new German Shepard puppy, reminded me of this TV star who he and his kin starred in twenty-three movies and were featured in film, radio, and television including a television series named after him that ran on ABC from 1954 through 1959. For this week’s “Remember When” questions, what was the name of this dog who was found in a bombed-out dog kennel during WWI and was named after the finger puppets given to American soldiers by French children? Email your answer to mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, call 541-296-4788, or mail it with a case of Ken-L Ration.

Well, it’s been another week, trying to stay on the bright side of the street. Until we meet again, take your shoes off, sit back and relax. As the Old Farmer from Fossil said, “Most of the stuff people worry about ain't never gonna happen anyway”.

"Learning to ignore things is one of the great paths to inner peace." Robert J. Sawyer

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