Featured Stories


News briefs: September 2012

Fitness center renamed to honor personal trainer

Portland Parks & Recreation personal trainer Chuck Amato recently celebrated a remarkable milestone: He has helped his clients meet their fitness goals for 50 years.

In his honor, the parks department has renamed its fitness center at Matt Dishman Community Center after Amato, 70. The city dedicated the Chuck Amato Fitness Center on July 31.

Amato — who was featured in the January issue of Boom! Boomers & Beyond — has worked with Portland Parks & Recreation since 1962. His clients include many elderly and, in some cases, disabled people at Matt Dishman Community Center. A former Mr. Olympia, Amato has enhanced the quality of life for scores of people who have been affected by strokes, brain injuries and other ailments.

He also has pushed countless other fitness enthusiasts to maximize their health and wellness. Directly tied to Amato’s work and expertise, Matt Dishman Community Center created a new program, Post-Disability Fitness.

The Geezer Gallery moves into new digs

The Geezer Gallery, a nonprofit organization that showcases artwork by professional senior artists, is moving in September from Multnomah Village to McCormick Pier in Northwest Portland.

The gallery, which opened in 2010 at the Loaves & Fishes administration building on Southwest Capitol Highway, is setting up shop at 600 No. E on Northwest Naito Parkway. For more information, visit the gallery's website, www.geezergallery.com

Carnival benefits Parkinson’s Resources of Oregon

More than 100 guests attended the second annual Carnival Fundraiser for Parkinson’s Resources of Oregon event July 21. The event — sponsored by West Hills Village Senior Residence, West Hills Health & Rehabilitation Center, American Medical Response, Home Matters Caregiving, Infinity Rehab, and Signature Hospice, Home Health and Home Care — raised more than $2,000. All proceeds went to Parkinson’s Resources of Oregon.

Parkinson’s Resources of Oregon helps patients and caregivers manage the complex disease with helpful programs and services. The organization is dedicated to meeting the support needs of the Parkinson’s community of Oregon and southern Washington. For more information, visit www.parkinsonsresources.org.

Are you getting enough Vitamin D?

Oregon’s lack of sunlight might do worse than impact heating bils — it might be shortening lives.

In a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Oregon State University nutritional epidemiologist Ellen Smit pinpointed an association between low levels of vitamin D and earlier deaths among older adults.

Smit and colleagues examined data from more than 4,300 adults older than 60. They discovered that the most frail seniors also had the lowest blood levels of vitamin D. Those who were most frail tended to die earliest, as were those with the lowest vitamin D levels.

“Older adults need to be screened for vitamin D,” Smit says. “We know frailty and the (low) vitamin D levels came before the deaths.”

What Smits says she doesn’t know yet is whether the vulnerable seniors had low vitamin D levels before they became frail, or were frail before their vitamin D levels dropped. Vitamin D is necessary for muscle function and bone development.

Nationally, about seven in 10 Americans are thought to have insufficient vitamin D levels, and those numbers are largely believed to be higher in the Pacific Northwest, where the low angle of the sun makes it nearly impossible for people to produce enough vitamin D on their own through the fall and winter months.

Full spectrum lights and vitamin D supplements have become more common in recent years, but Smit says there is a lack of research determining whether vitamin D taken in pill form or gained through artificial lights is as useful to the body as vitamin D produced through sun exposure. Some foods such as fatty fish also provide a natural form of vitamin D.