Recently I have been mixing with older people more often than I normally do. I think it is healthy for all age groups to mix with each other to share our views on life. After all we are all sharing this planet together and all contributing to it and all have different needs.
On one occasion a lady who is only a few months older than me was telling us about one of her grandsons making creative, funny movies using his camera. At a recent family get together each was asked to do their ‘party piece’. Hers was to sit on the floor with her legs stretched out in front of her and touch her toes. She said that she had always been able to do it because her arms were very long (I had never noticed!). For the film this was speeded up and played over and over which must have looked very funny. What struck me was that when I asked her to show us she immediately got down and sat on the floor without any hesitation. I was amazed. To me getting down on the floor these days is something to be avoided. If I have to do it I feel more like an old cow getting up and down (with a final ‘plomp’) than a human. I know my friend visits a gym a few times a week and does Pilates. I wonder if this is her secret particularly as she appears to have no sign of arthritis which is always my excuse!
I have been invited to speak to a group which advocates on behalf of health consumers in a few weeks. I had intended to advocate for the provision of fitness centres which include the special needs of older people and I will use this as an example of what could/should be available. When I suggested it some time ago to our chief minister she said that older people could use facilities provided by the private sector. I’m not sure where she thought pensioners would get the money from for this or how they would access them. A major consideration for the new health centres the government is providing is accessibility.
I hope I will be successful in convincing our local group of the benefits, and the ensuing reduced health costs, such a facility attached to the health centres would bring. They don’t need much in the way of equipment as they would largely be duplicating the equipment we would need to have at home. The use and value of weights in exercise, for example, all happened after we went through a health phase, if we ever did. Weights are cheap enough. When I had physiotherapy for my shoulder last year I was advised to use them in the form of rice packets! When they get a bit tatty you just eat the contents and buy more rice (weights!). All we need is to be taught how to use equipment such as this and to have the facility to keep an eye on our fitness.
How much brighter life would be if all older people had the opportunity to keep themselves as fit as possible. After a visit to a residential village for older people the other day my eye was caught by some movement not far away. It was some of the older residents using the tennis court. If such facilities are available they will be used.
Meanwhile I need to stop using my age (and arthritis!) as an excuse for my own lack of optimal fitness!