March 19, 2013
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Life can be broadly defined by three stages: the years preparing for work and family, when you were told what you had to do; followed by years of working and raising a family, when you did what you thought you should do. And now, this third chapter when you are no longer working, or at least working less, and watching your grandchildren grow, a time to do what you have always wanted to do, no longer constrained by time or self-imposed limitations.
Don’t you wish the American legal system was simple, understandable, and inexpensive? But doesn’t it seem like the laws are becoming even more complex, and in the name of clarity and fairness more ambiguous and contradictory, to the point where you just want to scream “I give up!”
Staying socially engaged provides many benefits for your overall health and wellbeing: new relationships, feelings of accomplishment from learning new skills, the knowledge and information gained from others, and mental stimulation.
I hope you have dug out of the snow by the time you read this. But as I was shoveling snow — for the third time — my mind wondered back to the days of childhood when snow was a gift from the heavens. It provided children with a chance to build snow caves, play Capture the Flag, and drink hot chocolate with marshmallows instead of going to school.
Maybe it’s the weeks without seeing the sun or the chilly days cooped up inside, but it is easy to get down during these cold grey days of winter.
There are many organizations in the Mid-Columbia supporting older adults, but there are very few whose only mission is the health and wellbeing of older adults. One of those organizations is the Area Agency on Aging (AAA) operated under the Mid-Columbia Council of Governments serving a five county region: Wheeler, Gilliam, Sherman, Wasco and Hood River counties.
We have all learned that physical activity is important.. But we have also learned - if it is all work and no play, it is no fun and we probably won’t continue for very long.
Life can be so serious. When we were younger we were focused on pursuing a career, raising a family, and for many putting their lives at risk serving our nation in Germany, Korea or Vietnam.
The free 2014 Passport to Happiness Calendar is now available and if you don’t receive one in the mail in the next week, you can stop by the Center or OSU Extension office at CGCC and pick one up. And thanks to the suggestions from many folks, the 2014 calendar has a few changes to make it even better than 2013.
During this season of peace and good will, it is often a good time to reflect on how we are all far from perfect and complete and to paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt “in need of both love and charity.”
I know you’ve been around the ice block a few times, so you have heard how to stay safe in cold weather. But maybe just a few reminders might help to keep you upright and avoid falling — one of the major dangers during the cold and slippery winter months.
Don’t you sometimes just wish things were different? There are days when it is a struggle just to keep moving and your head above water. And when that happens it is easy to focus on what we don’t have (and during this season we are bombarded with all the material things we don’t have) instead of what we do — and get stuck riding a downward spiral into the sticky goop of self-pity.
It’s the beginning of the holiday season when we enjoy the company of family and also gain seven pounds before the start of the New Year.
I don’t want to run as fast as I once did, or even look as ruggedly handsome — when all the girls I asked were too intimidated by my good looks to go out with me. (Wasn’t it Mark Twain who said when you’re young, you remember anything, whether it happened or not, but when you’re older, you only remember the latter. But I do vividly remember the lack of dates.
After retiring, many folks spend their extra time volunteering - which provides the flexibility to travel and engage in other personal pursuits, while making meaningful contributions such as mentoring young children, serving on church councils or delivering Meals-on-Wheels, the unselfish work of volunteers is the backbone of strong, healthy communities.
Whether it is painting a sunset illuminating the Columbia Gorge, writing a poem expressing the indescribable joys of grandchildren, or creating a walking stick with a hand carved handle attached to a discarded monopod, these are all creative acts: fashioning something unique and personal out of the ordinary.
November is a couple of steps away. And if you live in the Northern Wasco County Parks and Recreation District, you know November is more than falling leaves and cooler temperatures. It is your chance to vote on the proposed pool bond which will replace the current pool - first built in 1938 and substantially rebuilt in 1990-91.
Loneliness has been described as “when one door is closed, but the ‘other one’ has yet to open.” Or “an ‘inner worm’ that gnaws at the heart.” It can visit at any time in our lives. But circumstances and events we encounter as we get older make it easier to be more withdrawn, alone and less likely to be involved in social activities and organizations: the loss of a life partner or difficulties with our hearing, seeing or walking.
Last week I discussed one option for thousands of older Americans who want to stay in their homes, and are “house rich but income poor,” and that is the reverse mortgage.
If you are struggling to pay your bills as the cost of living constantly increases — and yet you have paid off your house, which you purchased 40 years ago for $35,000 and is now worth four times that much, you are one of thousands of American older adults who are income poor but “house” rich.
This Friday night from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., Meals-on-Wheels and the Mid-Columbia Senor Center invite you to their 3rd Annual Baby Back Rib Dinner sponsored by The Springs at Mill Creek. With the financial support of the Springs and with several other small and large donations, all the expenses for the dinner are covered, so every penny from every ticket sold goes directly to Meals-on-Wheels and Senior Center — split evenly.
Falls can be more than an inconvenience. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries. And according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) one out of three adults aged 65 or older falls each
Gary Grossman at BiCoastal Media reminded me that “Brevity is the soul of Clarity” (I wonder what he was trying to tell me?). But that is good advice — particularly this week when there is so much to mention.
Because of the Labor Day Weekend, I had fewer days to collect my thoughts for this column, so I decided to kick the ball down the field until next week and instead share with you some sagely advise I found called the “Prayer of an Anonymous Abbess.” (But I do it with some reservation. I have this notion in the back of my head that I have shared it before. But then I shouldn’t be too overly concerned — there’s a lot of stuff I’ve discovered in the back of my head that should be ignored!)
Because we live in a society that reflects the cultural values of independence, youthfulness, and productivity, often the elderly are either negatively portrayed as frail, decrepit and burdensome “old” folks — ignored, stored away and forgotten. Or on the opposite extreme “super seniors” accomplishing age defying feats of strength and daring.
You see them advertised in magazines and on television: vitamin supplements, exercise contraptions or plastic surgery – products that will turn back the hands of time.
As I am trying to stay cool in my air conditioned bedroom like a kangaroo rat in its desert burrow; with my laptop computer sitting appropriately on my lap, I am wondering what to write about this week. And then, like a sweaty palm slapping me across my face, it hits me: the dangers of overexposure to summer heat!
Do you ever miss the “good ole days” when the Lone Ranger could dispense justice without fanfare or press conferences — and the local citizens had to ask, “Who was that masked man?”
Automobiles have changed over the years, from push button transmissions, metal dash boards, and cigarette lighters to computerized engines, backup cameras and remote car keys (so you can lock your car from your living room and accidently set off the car alarm as you fumble with your car keys!) And so have traffic rules, driving conditions, and, although I hate to admit it, so have we.
Several weeks ago I highlighted the public transportation options available in the Mid-Columbia area (for a reminder you can go to www.gorgetranslink.com).
Ah, grandchildren. For many, grandchildren have been the joy of their lives. For my parents, who retired between Florida and the mountains of North Carolina, they never visited me after my wife and I moved to Oregon. (I guess 18-plus years raising me was enough!) But once my son Andrew was born, it didn’t take them long to say goodbye Ashville, N.C., and hello The Dalles — living in our small basement apartment and inviting Andrew downstairs every afternoon for Sesame Street. You could tell who they were interest in seeing!
As we move closer to summer and the temperatures rise, it’s the time when door-to-door salespeople start hitting the sidewalks.
How do you travel to the store, your church or to visit friends? Do you ride a bike or a four wheel electric scooter? Or do you careen around town on a Vespa like Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn in the movie “Roman Holiday?”
Do you expect you will ever need long term care services? And knowing that Medicare does not cover long term care, are you prepared to pay for it, i.e. long term care insurance or personal assets?
I’m trying to hold back the slow, methodical footsteps of time. I do all the right things: I wear a pedometer so I know when I reach my 10,000 steps a day; I keep mentally stimulated playing brain games and learning new languages; I now eat whole grains and a variety of fruits and vegetables; and I try to stay socially active by dating numerous women. (No Rita, I am just kidding!).
Now that the Mid-Columbia Senior Center has completed its Spring Membership Drive, I would like to thank everyone who either renewed their membership or became a member for the first time. We surpassed 300 members, the largest number in the last several years, and it is all because of you! The 2013 Membership Campaign will conclude in July, before the center’s annual membership meeting, and the goal is still four hundred members.
How are you doing financially? Are you able to live comfortably; able to take vacations to faraway places? Or are you just getting by — barely able to meet your basic needs: housing, food, clothing, transportation and medical?
Were you ever called a “Fraidy Cat?” Unable to go to sleep without a night light? Or teased because you were too scared to watch Godzilla? Young imaginations can run wild!
For over 26 years the Mid-Columbia Senior Center has played an important role supporting older adults in the region by providing opportunities to explore, connect and contribute.
As we age, our natural social support system diminishes: friends and loved ones move or pass away and there are fewer opportunities to make new friends. And without this web of caring friends and family, when there is an emergency or crisis, there are fewer places to turn to for assistance.