March 19, 2013
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When I start writing this column, I usually have a particular topic in mind, in this case the diversity among older adults. But sometimes my thoughts just don’t come together —they need more time to incubate.
Do you remember when a visit to the doctor was for an easily diagnosed and treated ailment, such as measles, ear aches and sore throats? The visit was not for complex health issues, such as broken hips, knee replacements, urinary infections, fainting spells or heart problems? Life is so much more exciting these days!
Last week I shared twenty tips I’ve learned over the last eight years about aging well. I hope you found them useful, but I imagine some of you might have thought they were just a bunch of hooey. (Does anyone use the word “hooey” anymore besides myself and Dick Cheney?)
This is the seventh year I have had the opportunity to wish all of you a Happy New Year. When I started writing this column, I had no idea what the next eight years would bring, but over those years attending state and national conferences, listening to the Mid-Columbia Senior Center’s Tuesday lectures, preparing for this column, and particularly listening to the amazing “elders” at the center, I have learned more than I ever could have imagined.
I’m not fond of these winter doldrums in The Dalles: grey overcast skies with a few days of sunshine, just to tease us that better days are ahead. And although I may not like them, I find these gloomy days are necessary, because without them I wouldn’t really appreciate the warm T-shirt days with blue skies. And isn’t that the way it is in our daily lives? All the challenges and difficulties, the missteps and losses, remind us not to take for granted the simple joys and comforts we can experience every precious day.
With Thanksgiving becoming another shopping holiday — Black Friday morphing into Black Thursday — I have begun to appreciate the perspective that comes from having lived these many years.
I have come to realize that it isn’t my memory I should be worrying about. I haven’t forgotten my social security number or the combination to my locker.
You receive a call from your grandson. He is in trouble in a foreign country and he needs your help, now! He sounds desperate and you want to help, so you send him a Western Union money order. And you never hear from him again or see your money.
I usually try to avoid being too focused on the Mid-Columbia Senior Center, but this week is going to be an exception because of these opportunities: Wednesday, Sept. 18: Passport to Happiness event from 1-2:30 p.m. Lauren Kraemer, OSU Extension Family and Community Health specialist, will demonstrate several healthy dishes.
Because of Labor Day, I had less time to write this week’s column, so I decided to keep it simple and include a pop quiz for some mental stimulation.
How many times have I heard that folks don’t come to the Mid-Columbia Senior Center because it is just for old people — as if there is something wrong with being older.
Have you had to move from a place that was your home for many years? Rita and I are considering selling our house where we have lived 28 years. The children have moved away, and it is just too darn big. (My perfect size for a house is one small enough, I only needed to plug in the vacuum cleaner once.)
I was reading an online post from a young person asking if, at the age of 30, she still had time to make something of her life. When I read it I wanted to say to her, “WHAT ARE YOU THINKING! It is never too late. At the age of 60, 70, 80 or even 90!”
When you listen to an old favorite song, smell a certain perfume or browse through a picture album, are long-forgotten images and emotions triggered? That is nostalgia.
Do we always have to act our age? Do we really have to stop dressing up for Halloween, or drawing with watercolors and crayons? Or telling corny jokes we have all heard several times before (but still find amusing)? If you are 92, should you really climb under the house when your wife is afraid she will have to call 911 to pull you out? (I don’t think you really want to be the opening segment on the Channel 6 news: “Stubborn Geezer in over his head.”)
I came across this quote by Mitch Abom, journalist and writer best known for “Tuesdays with Morrie.” “It’s funny. I met a man once who did a lot of mountain climbing. I asked him which was harder, ascending or descending? He said without a doubt descending, because ascending you were so focused on reaching the top, you avoided mistakes. The backside of a mountain is a fight against human nature,” he said. “You have to care as much about yourself on the way down as you did on the way up.”
It is said that if you are over 65 and need a conversation starter, bring up the subject of medications.
Today it is a little bit of this and a little bit of that: something that just might tickle your fancy. So let’s start by getting our hands dirty with a little bit of gardening news.
Over the last six years since I turned 60, I have found getting older is a series of adventures: never knowing what to expect next.
How many times do you hear of new products or research findings that will help you live longer? Take this pill or that, eat less fat and more fiber, hit the gym, and lift those weights, etc. But many folks ignore these reports because they believe when their time is up, there ain’t nothing you can do about it. So why change old habits? Que Sera, Sera, whatever will be, will be.
Being active in your community is both good for the community and good for your health and well-being.
We are all learning how to navigate this digital age, with its email addresses, numerous passwords, Facebook friends, and online banking.
It could be learning how to stitch, playing a ukulele, trying your hand at poetry, or, since you always doodled as a child, learning how to draw.
Is it beginning to feel like spring? We are getting closer with the first day of spring, or the vernal equinox as they say in the more educated circles, arriving March 20. And just like flowers sprouting in the gardens, and ants climbing on the kitchen counters, the Mid-Columbia Senior Center is busy with activities.
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.