On August 9, 2023

Senior Scene: August is the Sunday of summer


With all the rain and terrible flooding that we have had, it seems that August just might be the best of summer 2023. Many of our fellow Vermonters need our help and our prayers. If we all do what we can, it will certainly ease the burden of those suffering. I recently experienced a broken refrigerator and all the inconvenience that it brought. I ended up buying a new one and then, before it was even delivered, my washing machine broke. However, I have not lost my home and everything in it that was dear to me. It doesn’t take a lot to get the proper perspective on things.

If you are around during August, there are some choices for the senior group. Aside from our normal Wednesday lunches at the Lookout, book group and discussion groups, we have some new offerings.

Several years ago I tried in vain to find a Tai Chi instructor. Just recently a contact was suggested and he is willing to give the senior group a free demonstration that may lead to classes on a regular basis. The value of Tai Cci to our health and well being cannot be emphasized enough. It is an intellectual art that challenges the mind as well as the body. Tai chi is practiced slowly and evenly, in circular patterns. It induces an external tranquility and an internal intensity that is not found in any other martial art. Tai chi is also a healing art because of the reputation for alleviating many ailments. It improves circulation, lowers blood pressure, increases balance and strength, and reduces stress by relaxing the nervous system. 

Our free demo will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 9 starting at 1 p.m. The location is the old Grange Hall on River Road. Stephen Finkel will be the instructor and there will be the opportunity to arrange regular classes for a fee.

Also on Wednesday, Aug. 9, our new Fire Chief Paul Ginther, will be joining us for lunch. Ginther is a full-time employee of our town and it is to our advantage to become familiar with him and the operations of our fire department operations. Please bring any questions you may have and also be prepared to offer our new chief a big welcome and a big thank you for taking the time to meet with us.

Our discussion group centered around “Thoughts on Aging” is still going strong and all thoughts or contributions are welcomed and respected. After all, this aging thing is different for all of us. After meeting several times I can assure you that if you are concerned about something, someone else is too and together we come up with ideas on how to move forward. Some problems are never solved but forward motion is the goal. We have discussed planning for our later years, relationships with adult children and how we have survived this far. We always veer off subject and solve a problem or two. This month we will start out exploring a shrinking world. One way of looking at the process of aging is to see it as a journey toward a smaller world or maybe a journey into simplicity.                                                                                  

We will meet again on Wednesday, Aug. 17 at 1 p.m. at the library.

The weather has dampened some of the Thursday Night Concerts at the Sherburne Memorial Library so we are hoping that August brings clear skies. We are planning a “hot dog” night, to be held just before the concert on Thursday, Aug. 17. Just in case, the rain date for this event will be Thursday, Aug.24. We will meet on the front porch of the library at 5 p.m. and have hot dogs with all the trimmings, chips and potato salad. Please bring a drink, a chair and a sweater. After eating we will go around back and listen to some good music. The Shananagans, an Irish/American Folk Group, will be preforming that night for our listening pleasure. If all of the above were not enough for a perfect evening, there will be one more surprise: A friend of the senior group and the library, who is studying to be a pastry chef will provide a scrumptious dessert for us to enjoy that night. You will need to let me know if you can join us by Monday, Aug. 14, so that we will have plenty of hot dogs, salad etc. Please note: this event does not take the place of our summer picnic that will be held a little later this year. More information on that will come later.

Movies are a mainstay at the Sherburne Library every Monday at 1 p.m. The library gets the latest and greatest releases and also shows some old favorites. If you have a request for one of your favorites, ask and the staff will do the best they can. The Monday Movies for August are as follows:

Monday, Aug. 7: “Chevalier”

Monday, Aug. 14: “Asteroid City”

Monday, Aug. 21: “Hostiles”

Monday, Aug. 28: “A Stranger In The Kingdom”

Book Club is Wednesday, Aug. 30 at 1 p.m. and the choice for this month is “A Stranger In The Kingdom” by Howard Frank Mosher. Yes, in case you noticed, that is the title of the movie on Monday, Aug. 28. In Kingdom County, Vermont, the town’s new minister is a Black man. This in itself is an unsettling fact for some of the locals. When a French Canadian woman takes refuge in his parsonage…..and is subsequently murdered…..suspicion immediately falls on the clergyman. While his 13-year-old son struggles in the shadow of the accusations, and his older son, a lawyer, fights to defend him, a father finds himself on trial more for who he is than for what he might have done. Copies are available at the library.

If you have visiting friends or grandchildren, please check out the library for fun things to do. There is a family camp-out on Aug. 11. Bring a tent, sleeping bags, etc. There will be smores and a peek at the Perseid meteor showers. The telescopes will be out around 11 p.m. Also every Tuesday afternoon there are volunteer hours devoted to preparing for the Fairy Tale Festival.

Health & wellness

I try to keep current with articles on health and well being for seniors and always share whatever I learn with all of you. This month a study released by CNN included suggestions for adding another 24 years onto our lifespan. The study suggests adding these eight healthy lifestyles by age 40.

Now since most of us are over age 60 all is not lost. The study suggests adding these eight changes to your life will add years at any age. So prolonging your life by any amount of time — even if you are older and maybe have a chronic disease such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke or cancer — is possible. What are these magical healthy habits? I have listed them below according to their importance as stated in the study.


Don’t become addicted to opioids

Don’t smoke

Reduce stress

Eat a healthy diet

Don’t drink too much

Sleep well

Foster positive social relationships

The actual study looked at the lifestyle choices of 720,000 military veterans between the ages of 40-99. All were part of the Million Veteran Program, a longitudinal study designed to study the health and wellness of veterans. As the additional healthy lifestyle habits were added so did the benefit of a longer life. Both men and women saw benefits. Sounds like it’s worth a try!

I also was made aware of a miracle “medicine” that can relieve many physical and emotional problems: Hugging! It can make you live longer, protect you against illness, cure depression and stress, strengthen family relationships and maybe even let you sleep better without pills. Hugging breathes fresh life into a tired body and makes you feel younger and more vibrant. Hug your spouse, hug your children, hug your friends, hug your relatives. Hugging is a marvelous way to improve the quality of your life and furthermore inflation does not affect a good hug!

Small changes

Moving right along we are on week 37 in our “52 Small Changes For The Mind” by Brett Blumenthal. This has obviously been a commitment and I hope at least some of our group are seeing the benefits that small changes can make. Here we go starting with week 37 and going through week 40.

Week 37: Get out of town

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness. Broad wholesome charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime,” said Mark Twain.

It probably comes as no surprise that getting away can provide stress relief. It’s also good for anti-aging. Our brain is forced to reorganize and create new neural pathways to accommodate these new experiences. Then there’s the fact that travel engages all the senses. Why not plan a trip? Even just a weekend away will do the trick.

Week 38: Take a whiff

“Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains,” said Diane Ackerman.

Aromatherapy is the science of using scent to help effect change in our mood, cognitive function, stress levels and overall health. There are many essential oils and all have some effect. It is worth doing the research.

Week 39: Face fears

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek,” said Joseph Campbell.

Although many things can keep us from attaining happiness, fear can maintain a grip on us that can seem downright unshakable. There is healthy fear and unhealthy fear. Healthy fear keeps us safe. Unhealthy fear is debilitating and keeps us stuck and limits our experiences. We need to recognize our personal fears and try to confront them even if we need help doing this.

Week 40: Practice de-stressing rituals

“We are what we repeatedly do,” said Aristotle.

Any activity we engage in can become stressful. We can create de-stressing rituals that give us a reprieve from day to day pressures. Rituals can create a positive mindset and lower our general stress levels throughout the day.

Remember, I can only give you a short overview of each week’s suggestion. Incorporating these small changes in our life can only make it better.

In conclusion, here are some parting words: Reach out to each other and always be grateful. Love who you can. Help where you can and give what you can.

“Gray hair has more body” and “If you were getting younger instead of older, everyone would hate you,” were a few of this week’s reminders from a book called “1,003 Great Things About Getting Older” by Lisa Birnbach, Ann Hodgman, Patricia Marx, David Owen.

Gerrie Russell is a leading member of Killington Active Seniors and this column is rendered from her monthly newsletter. She can be reached at: grussell40@yahoo.com.

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