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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Study: People living longer, in better health

We aging baby boomers might not be such a big burden, after all, if some current trends noted in the elderly population continue.

A Harvard University study, recently reported about at HealthDayNews, studied data on 90,000 Medicare beneficiaries between 1991 and 2009. The good news: People are living longer and enjoying better health nearly up until the time of their deaths. The average time of acute sickness and disability is now limited to a year or two, rather than more than seven, as in some older generations.

Reasons? Recovery from heart attacks and strokes has improved, and men and women are much more aware of behaviors that contribute to longer and healthier lives, such as daily exercise.

PADDLE SWEYOLAKAN: Camp Sweyolakan on Lake Coeur d’Alene is beloved by many but especially by boomer-age women (and older) who attended in their childhoods when Sweyolakan was for Camp Fire girls only.

It’s still a wonderful camp on Mica Bay, and it’s great that boys and non-Camp Fire kids are welcome. The camp remains vital, in part, due to efforts by alumni women who knew Sweyolakan back in the day.

On Sept. 8, former Sweyolakan staffers and campers, now in their 60s, will lead a 104-mile shoreline paddle trip around Lake Coeur d’Alene. It should take between nine and 12 days.

Some of the paddlers will do the entire 104-mile trip; others will join for just a day or two. Featured in the “PaddleFest” will be the camp’s historic wooden war canoes; the first two in the fleet were purchased in 1924.

The effort is the brainchild of “The Goldens” – women who met at camp more than 50 years ago and have organized reunions and other fundraising events to support Sweyolakan. There is still room for paddlers interested in participating, Organizers are hopeful lake residents and nearby community members – and anyone else interested – will join the opening day flotilla Sept. 8.

For more information, go to or call (509) 747-6191.

NUDE SWIMMING: Yes, faithful readers, I am a bit obsessed with the bizarre practice in the early to mid-20th century wherein boys were required to swim nude in certain pools, such as YMCAs throughout the country and in some high schools.

It still makes no sense to me why this rule would be imposed only when boys swam alone. Though some defend the reasoning – fibers from swimsuits clogged filters (supposedly) and boys, unlike girls, weren’t expected to be modest – there remains an ick factor for me. And I’m still uncertain why more mothers, especially in the 1950s and 1960s, didn’t protest.

I’ve heard from several men required to swim nude as boys. And some let me use their name and comments.

Here’s one memory of the practice from John Ehrhardt of Spokane:

“I remember when I was about 10 years old, in 1958, going to the YMCA with my neighbor, who was a year older, for swimming lessons. We had never been there before, and we both brought trunks and towels.  We got ready in the locker room and were putting on our trunks when we were told to remove them and swim nude.

“The reason given was the fibers from the swimsuits clogged the filters. I don’t recall feeling overly embarrassed by it, but we both thought that was a weird reason because we lived by the Comstock pool and swam there nearly every day and had never heard of such a problem.

“I was frankly a bit relieved to read in the article that this was a national policy. Even then we were suspicious of the reason given, especially since the instructors were wearing trunks. I should emphasize that I never saw or heard about anything happening to anybody, but it has always struck me as a very strange requirement.”

HOUSING STATS: From the Administration on Aging: Among Americans, 65 and older, 65 percent own their homes free and clear. The median value of homes owned by older persons: $150,000. The median purchase price when they bought the homes: $55,000. Median year the homes were built: 1970.


• “Green Eggs and Scam” – a senior fraud and financial abuse workshop, Wednesday, 8 a.m. Good Samaritan Society, 17121 E. Eighth Ave., Spokane Valley, (509) 232-0529.

• Green Bluff day trip, Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; registration needed by today. Sinto Senior Activity Center, 1124 W. Sinto Ave., Spokane, (509) 327-2861.

• African Coffee Tasting Class, Saturday, 10 a.m., Roast House, 423 E. Cleveland Ave., Spokane, (509) 995-6500.

For more events and activities, go to