For over a year now I have been working with older adults as a fitness Instructor mostly between 60 and nearly 90years. Teaching these classes brings a different feeling and fulfillment from the other mainstream classes I teach. I have been humbled at the level of commitment seen in them towards health and wellness. One of the larger classes I teach has senior adults with all kinds of health issues such as partial blindness, limited mobility, arthritis, cardiac problems, limited hearing yet they do not allow such to limit their involvement in the physical activity. Exercising for them has become a lifestyle. It’s no more about self image, maintaining a particular dress size or a tool for self acceptance.
Another time I was invited to have a one off exercise session with a group of blind people. Initially I was petrified. Teaching blind people exercise, appeared to be a bridge too far! How do I communicate since they can’t see me? I had never done or seen it done before. However, I took up the challenge, did my research and taught the class! I saw among this blind group life, hope, determination, focus and strength. With verbal descriptions only, I taught a 45minutes exercise class which they thoroughly enjoyed.
What is the point of all these?
Working with these groups of senior citizens is helping me to prioritize things that are important and meaningful in life. I refuse to give attention to things that distract and dissipate.
I have also learnt that:
- You can live a healthy life regardless of any physical, mental or psychological limitation
- You have to love yourself enough to treat yourself right
- The consequences of what you postpone will eventually catch up with you
- Limitation is all about perception and it starts with the mind
My mind goes to a lady in particular who suffered from a stroke at age 60 and is going through recovery. Except she goes on holiday she does not miss any class and always attends with a smiling face. She is usually not able to participate in all the exercises due to limited mobility but her effort and determination is commendable. There are also people among them who are perfectly healthy and are also committed to regular physical activity.
Bringing it home now especially for those over 50years, ageing is real, with all its biological and psychological changes. What I have learnt over the years about ageing and its effects on people, I now see it in people I work with. Neglecting your health and fitness for whatever seemingly cogent reason exposes you to the possibility of suffering avoidable health issues in latter life.
Ageing is a great wake up call. There is no miracle in getting old, except that you get great and not so great dividends for investments made over the years!