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Column: You’re just as good as you say you were

‘The older I get, the better I was. No fear.” T-shirt worn by a gray-haired/bearded man in a Spokane cafe.

BE A CHAMPION: The population is aging in such a way that within the next couple of years, people 65 and older will outnumber children 5 and younger, according to a United Nations world population report.

To commemorate this demographic milestone, perhaps some of those 60-something folks could commit to working with younger people. Communities in Schools of Spokane County is looking for mentors of all ages to participate in the Champions Mentoring Program, a pilot project that will match community members with students who are at risk for academic failure.

Eight schools are involved: Regal, Stevens, Roosevelt and Grant elementary schools, Garry and Chase middle schools, and North Central and Rogers high schools.

Mentors can help students one-on-one or in group settings, and the commitment is one hour a week until June 2013.

For more information, contact Sherry L. Barrett, executive director of Communities in School, at (509) 413-1436 or email

HEALTHY, HAPPY, DEAD: This mantra has been circulating in the New Age sphere for years now. You are supposed to chant this each night before you go to bed. It expresses the hope that you will live a full, vital and happy life into old age and then one day die in your sleep or drop over dead doing something you love.

Isn’t this an almost universal hope? Have you ever met anyone who hoped to waste away into older age, dependent on others? The Journal of Aging Research recently reported on a study of older men and women who live in Finland. One conclusion: “Men were more likely than women to transition from ‘successful’ to death, without transitioning to a state of sickness first.”

Translation: Men are more likely to be healthy, happy, dead.

ART AND MIND: Women and men with early-onset Alzheimer’s, as well as older people in the early and middle stages of Alzheimer’s, are connecting with one another, and with the essence of themselves, through an innovative program at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle.

Participants look at art pieces in the gallery, talk about the art with each other, and then do their own artwork.

“Care partners have noted that participants with dementia come away from the program more focused and less anxious, often with renewed energy,” writes Abby Rhinehart, Humanities Washington program coordinator.

Here’s one idea I hope flies to museums and galleries across the country, including ours in the Inland Northwest.

SAFE AND COOL: Larry Blanchard took issue with a Feb. 18 Boomer U column item about research that showed older motorcycle riders have more serious accidents compared with younger riders, especially more head injuries.

Blanchard said in an email: “As a 75 year old who has been riding since 14, I don’t doubt that old equals brittle. I know I no longer feel the need to do wheelies or see how fast I can do zero to 60 in a 35 mph zone.

“I belong to a vintage motorcycle group (which applies to most of the riders as well as the bikes), and in the last several years, the only accident I recall involved a young lady in her 20s.”

Blanchard sent a link to a study that showed that most single-vehicle motorcycle accidents happened to riders – of all ages – who were on their first or second ride on a new motorcycle.

GROOVY: Boomers and their parents can collect a lot of useful information in one place Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Corbin Senior Activity Center in north Spokane.

The Movin’ and Groovin’ Fair will feature booths with experts on senior living, wills, financial options, health care and funeral arrangements. Avista and SNAP will sponsor seminars on energy saving. Lots of freebies, too, including free health checks and massages. For more information, call (509) 327-1584, ext. 10, or go to

TUNE-OUT: “The happiest people watch less than one hour of television a day, according to a study of 40,000 people who took National Geographic’s True Happiness Test. Source: AARP: The Magazine

THIS WEEK, A SAMPLING: Struggle for Worker Rights: 100+ Years and Counting. Rally on Tuesday, 6 p.m., Local No. 44 Union Hall, 3915 E. Main Ave., Spokane, (509) 590-1385.

Hula Dancing. Once-a-week course over the next four weeks, beginning Wednesday, 5:30 p.m. Southside Senior Activity Center, 3151 E 27th Ave., Spokane, (509) 625-6200 or (509) 535-0803.

For more activities, go to