How to Stay Sane while You’re “Safer at Home”

Posted in #AgeWell

Written by Annie Laskey, Events Director, Pasadena Senior Center

How to Mark TimeIsolation can be very depressing, as those who are homebound know. Now nearly all of us are homebound due to the global health crisis, and it is hard. As members of the Pasadena Senior Center, we enjoy activities, socializing with friends, and learning new things. As the Events Director at PSC, my job is to throw parties, host concerts and lectures, run the Pasadena Senior Games, and program all sorts of interactive social, cultural, and educational events. None of that allowed in person now!

I am 56, so I am not in the high-risk category, but I live with my dad who turned 92 in January. He’s hale and hearty (and yes, still drives at night!), but I can’t risk bringing Covid19 home to him, so I’m working from home and practicing social isolation.

As I adjust to this new condition (no parties?! no ballroom dancing?! no high-fives at the Coffee Bar?!), I don’t want to go stir crazy, get too depressed, or annoy Dad so much he throws me out. I’m trying to be creative about coping. Here are 3 things I’m doing to try stay sane for the next 30 days.

1. Know which day it is. In 2009 I went to Turkey, visiting Istanbul and traveling the coast from Troy to Ephesus. At our hotel in Izmir, the elevators had rugs with the day of the week on them. When you got in the elevator and looked down at your feet (which is what we all do in elevators), you saw “Sunday” or “Monday.” Since I don’t have days-of-the-week rugs at home, I’ve decided to write the day and date on the chalkboard in the hallway by our phone. It is surprisingly comforting to me to pass by and know it is “Thursday, March 26.”

2. Use something you love to count the days. I’m a jewelry nut and have a huge collection of earrings. I’ve put 30 of them on a special earring rack and am going to wear a different pair each day. With luck, by the time I’ve worked through my rack of earrings, our informal lockdown will be (nearly) over. What do you have 30 of? If not earrings, maybe scarves? Shoes? Socks? Ties? Coffee cups? Salt & Pepper shakers (yes, I know people who collect those!)? Or maybe your pet has 30 different outfits. Be creative.

3. Dress for Dinner. Friends who have always worked from home and savvy retirees know the truth of this: put on “real” clothes at least once a day (ok, you can have weekends off to stay in your pajamas for 48 hours). I’ve always enjoyed dressing up, and so does Dad, but it does take something extra to go to that trouble when you aren’t going anywhere and aren’t having guests. However, it’s not only good for morale, but it’s also a great excuse to reacquaint yourself with your favorite special things.

Good luck everyone! Keep me posted on how you are doing, I’ll be online – if I’m not dressing for dinner.

Every Bit of Celebration You Can Create is a Good Thing

Posted in #AgeWell

Written by Annie Laskey, Events Director, Pasadena Senior Center

How to Mark TimeYou’ve now been sheltering in place for two weeks now, maybe more. You’re following all the Covid-19 protocols: washing your hands, wiping down contaminated surfaces, staying 6 feet away from everyone, coughing into your sleeve. With luck, you’ve even scored that 24-pack of dearer-than-gold toilet paper. What now?

Have a Dinner Party!

Making a nice dinner with fancy trappings can be easier than you think. I gave a formal dinner last Friday, just Dad and I. Take it from a party planner forced into social isolation: every bit of celebration you can create is a good thing. Here are some tips on hosting your own private party.

1. Setting the Table. Have a tablecloth or linen napkins? Now is the time to use them. Got special china or crystal that you only get out for holidays? Get it out now! And most important: light the candles. Eating alone off paper plates on a card table can be elegant as long as you eat by candlelight. My mother hated to cook, so we seldom had fancy food. But we would routinely set the table and lit candles even if dinner was hot dogs.

2. Menu. I’ve always been a believer in looking for recipes to match what I’ve got on hand rather than shopping for ingredients I don’t have. Here’s my menu from Friday:

Starter: Soup. Basic recipe: sauté vegetables, add seasoning, simmer in liquid, puree, eat. I used Kabocha (Japanese Pumpkin) and potato, seasoning with garlic, cinnamon, and ginger. We garnished our soup with a drizzle of Bourbon (a trick I learned dining at the Drake Hotel in Chicago). It adds instant festivity to winter squash soups.

Main course: Spaghetti with Canned Tuna. This has been a staple of mine for years – adapted from a recipe in a 1980s pasta cookbook. Heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a frying pan. Add drained tuna (approximately one can per person served), along with chopped garlic, chili flakes or paprika, salt and pepper. Sauté on medium low heat so it warms but doesn’t brown. Just before serving, add juice of one lemon. Toss with spaghetti and a little olive oil or butter. Add sautéed chopped vegetables if you like.

Dessert: Pecan Pie. I chose that because it’s Dad’s favorite and I had all the ingredients. Really, anything from fruit to cheese to sweets works fine. Just something to round out the meal, along with a cup of coffee, tea, or dessert wine.

3. Dress and Drink. Someone once told me the secret of a successful party is that the invite lets the guests “know what they will be wearing, and what they will be drinking.” If you’re hosting a Hawaiian Luau, the guests know to dress tropical and that they will be drinking something with pineapple in it. For a formal dinner, tuxedos, long gowns, sparking jewelry and sparkling wine are traditional. Tux not back from the cleaners? No long gowns in the closet? Improvise. Just make sure you have real shoes on, and not just your fuzzy slippers.

Most of all – have fun!

Playing for Fitness Gold

Posted in #AgeWell

Written by Liz McHale


“It is like winning the lottery. Every once in a while a door opens for you.”  That’s how David Marchant feels about the Pasadena Senior Games.  The bronze medal winner says the games were the entry he needed to move into a new stage in his life.

When he competed, David didn’t think of himself as a contender. He had struggled with his weight in his teens and twenties, but he managed to lose almost 120 pounds.

#AgeWell Socially

Posted in #AgeWell

Written by Liz McHale

Placeholder-Image-320x200You may have seen it in a headline, or read it in an online column. Maybe your doctor even wrote it on a prescription pad.   You need to connect with people to stay healthy.  Research shows that loneliness and being isolated socially can shorten a person’s life by close to 15 years.  It can be as bad for you as being obese or smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

While losing weight and quitting smoking are challenging, making and keeping those social connections can be even harder.  Our built-in network of family and friends can unravel as time goes by.  Children often move away to build their careers and families.  As they age, some of our friends move. Others pass away. After a while, there’s no one around to hang out with or to lend a hand when we need help.


Posted in Messages from Akila

Written by Akila Gibbs


Loneliness. It’s a feeling all humans have experienced at one time or another.  I’ve been doing a lot of reading recently about this feeling, and how destructive it can be on our health if left unchecked. According to former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and others, loneliness has been estimated to shorten a person’s life by 15 years, equivalent in impact to being obese or smoking 15 cigarettes per day. 


Posted in #AgeWell

Written by Alzheimer's Association

Senior Fitness Exercises 300x240During our Alzheimer's Association International Conference® 2019 last week, leading scientists from more than 50 countries reported on new research studies, including causes, risk factors, diagnosis, treatment and prevention. This exchange of knowledge cultivates progress and innovation, and it may lead to vital answers to important scientific questions about Alzheimer's disease. Here are a few of the incredible highlights we've seen:

  • Adopting multiple healthy lifestyle factors provides maximum memory benefit and may even counteract genetic risk. Evidence is building that

Aging Well Mentally

Posted in #AgeWell

Ask anyone who is getting older what they wish for in coming years, and most would include staying mentally sharp and maintaining control of their lives. From crossword puzzles to Tai Chi, many activities offer the promise of keeping an aging brain at its best. Now scientists are finding that music works to exercise the brain, as well as helping to improve mood and to reduce stress.

Music therapist Alaina Hogue explains, “I think music is different in that it triggers and lights up so many portions of the brain, and this is something that has been proven by neuroscientists. I think it really accesses your ability to age well mentally, in a different way.” Hogue is one of two music therapists who teach the Pasadena Senior Center’s Music for Wellness class.

Co-teacher Juliana Frias, also a music therapist, adds, “Music is one of those things that supports individuals in aging well because it encourages participation.” For some, participation might mean challenging their brains by learning to play an instrument. Others, like class member Julia Collins, like to use their own voices. “I just love singing,” she explains. “Singing is really important for my soul.” Collins says music is fun, and she looks forward to the class on Mondays because it gives her a reason and a place to sing with people.

The class also gives participants a chance to be creative. Frias says every week they do improvisation, song-making, taking turns playing an instrument as well as singing. The class also plays games such as musical jeopardy and music bingo.

The songs involved in the games and other exercises are particularly important for those whose who are interested in memory help. Frias says listening to, or recalling lyrics involves the brain’s language centers. Hogue agrees, “It is different as far as you are able to keep those musical memories longer than you are other memories.”

Listening to your favorite music can also improve your mood. Class member Shirley Chow Rausch says, “The music, melody, the lyrics and the message that’s given help me to feel good, and I really enjoy it.” She’s been in the Music for Wellness class for three years. Frias says music also helps relieve the stress that older adults and their caregivers often experience.

Both teachers agree that you don’t have to be involved in a class to experience the benefits of music. “It’s never too late. Going to a concert and experiencing live music and actively listening is a great way to exercise the brain. When you are actively listening, you are processing more in the brain.”

The Music for Wellness class is just one of the many opportunities the Center offers to help members age well mentally. There are also classes and clubs that involve dancing and exercise, as well as writing and socializing. Researchers find they all help keep the brain active and engaged.

Pasadena's Quiet Crisis

Posted in Messages from Akila

Written by Akila Gibbs

Akila 2019An historic shift is taking place in our country, and Pasadena has landed in the middle of it. Our community, like so many others, is facing dramatic growth in its older population as members of the baby-boom generation turn 65 in unprecedented numbers.

This year, our retiree population will grow faster than the population of young people. And next year will see the same, and the year after that.

In fact, the historic makeup of Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley insures we will see a demographic shift that is more dramatic than in many urban areas.

And we are not ready.

Where is PSC?


Need directions to get to the Center? Here's transportation and parking information.

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Contact Us

Phone: (626) 795-4331
Fax: (626) 577-4235
Lunch Reservations: (626) 685-6751

Pasadena Senior Center
85 East Holly Street
Pasadena, CA 91103
Nonprofit I.D. #95-2085393