The Practical, Important Foundations for Aging Well

4 Fundamentals

Thursday I went to the Woman’s Club to take unneeded items for their thrift shop. As mentioned before, the women are of a certain age + (many in their 80’s and a few in their 90’s). Grist for the mill of a blogger on aging. Milly (85) had just arrived to lead the choral group practice. She looked great and I remarked accordingly. Her response, “I try to be a moving target–that way nothing bad can catch up with me.”

1. Become a moving target. Keep busy. Sr. Advisor M puts it another way: “moving keeps everything oiled up-physically and mentally.”  She reminds me that I came back Easter Sunday to a car that hadn’t been driven in a month and wouldn’t start. If one doesn’t keep moving, is he or she ultimately unable to start? Is a couch potato more vulnerable to bad stuff than a moving target?

Sr. Advisor R reached the age of 98 1/2 with her health in tact by making a concerted effort to be smart about the way she lives her life.  She values mobility. She walks a lot. And that–for her–necessitates doing exercises before getting out of bed each morning. “When you’re old you can’t do enough to get the blood moving after you’ve been sleeping all night,” she says.

R. goes through a series of gentle exercises. They are done lying down, exercising toes, ankles, and finally her arms and her hands (gently opening and closing her fists–not a tight fist).

Her last exercise, taught to her by Johnny Bulla when he was in his 80’s, involves legs and is done standing up, with hands on the bathroom sink for balance.  (He was a runner up in the British Open decades ago).

I have purposely omitted specifics because I believe it’s important to consult with a doctor before attempting any exercises when people are old….OK, I gave specifics for R’s hand exercise because I wanted an example of the ease of R’s exercises and it seems benign…but who knows? It could be problematical for someone. Check with a doctor before even trying that and see if (s)he can suggest additional gentle, easy exercises to get the “blood flowing” early in the morning. 

The goal, after all, is not to create additional problems, but to help parents (and ourselves) age well by being able to remain a “moving target.”

to be continued tomorrow…..