All this Olympic coverage has me feeling a bit like a blob. Granted, there’s at least 30+ years between most Olympians and me, but when you consider I watch the games while flopped on the couch, my dog sprawled beside me, sharing a bowl of buttered popcorn … I don’t think 30 years is the point.
Hey, I too was once an obsessed runner, rode my bike to work, used a rowing machine, kept a racquet and softball glove in my car (oh wait, I still do that) and maintain the throw from 3rd to 1st base. Recently, I even bought an athletic hoola hoop, hoping to achieve “rock-hard abs” … or not.
The point is (yes, there is a point and yes, it is obvious) as we age, it is even more important to find time or make time for physical activity. And as caregivers (or as someone requiring care) it is critical to remember this and easy to forget. We get busy. We get tired. We get frustrated.
Yet, physical activity keeps the blood flowing to the brain, to the heart, to the extremities. It helps us sleep well, lowers a person’s chances of developing Alzheimer’s and depression. When done safely and appropriately, aerobic fitness activities help reduce brain cell loss in the elderly and may improve memory and mental ability. Overall, it makes us feel good!
When Mom stayed at our house, she loved to lie on the couch and watch reruns of ‘Everyone Loves Raymond’ and I’ll admit there were times when all I wanted was a half hour (or more) to myself. Like ‘Sesame Street’ and ‘Zoom’, the TV becomes an option.
When we were growing up, Mom was a tomboy. She taught me how to throw a baseball (NOT like a girl), how to whistle through my teeth. She instigated water fights (once with the garden hose in the kitchen) and it used to make me mad when the neighborhood kids would knock on the door after supper and ask, “Can your mother come out and play?”
The last many years of her life, she was still a tomboy, determined to do things for herself. She’d get feisty if you tried to assist her while walking or getting in or out of the car, “Whaddya think I’m old or something?” She’d often put up her fists and could still give you a ‘good one’!
When at my house, she promised to always use her walker. Once when she wanted to watch ‘Raymond’ and I was in another room, she attempted to carry her walker down the stairs herself … rather than calling out for assistance.
As well, when our dad (at 77) lost the use of his entire right side to stroke, you would often find him throughout the day, using his good left arm to lift his right arm over his head for a 20 count. When he’d see you watching, he’d suck in his stomach and push out his chest. For as long as he was able, he one-armed/one-legged himself around in his wheelchair and maneuvered his own transfers. And right up to his last days, he could still beat me in a thumb wrestle. He was amazing and an inspiration to many.
I write all this as young Olympians celebrate their passions in London and beyond. As we applaud them and their commitment, I invite you to read this article from ‘A Place for Mom’ about 5 incredible senior athletes – http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/5-amazing-elderly-athletes/. Then … let’s all go for a nice, long walk.