Sunday, June 22, 2014

CAN GRANDMA BEAT YOU UP? Strength is independence.

A recent medpage article (Seniors in Motion Stay in Motion) is still on my mind (which is why it is still in my crammed-full inbox.)  They were talking about a study using moderate exercise (not oiling the lawn mower, not a stroll next door to borrow a cup of something.)

At first, I thought it was a "duh" title for a "duh" study.  If I start the walk, I continue the walk.  (Despite the humidity.)  And I live smack in the middle of the kind of nature views that have proven over and over to be healing, and to get you home from the hospital a day earlier.  But walking is boring.  And starting something "moderate" is murder for us comfort lovers.  It interrupts alphabetizing the Iphone pictures or reading the new Michael Connolly.  

Also, in the article, Bruce A. Leff, MD, of the Johns Hopkins Geriatrics Center in Baltimore, mentioned reasons why some seniors don't move more.  It made me sad. And he's realistic:  he talks about scary and dangerous neighborhoods, about no transportation to the exercise center, and families who don't want seniors to exercise!  I imagine it goes like this:

Doctor: I recommend she do two sessions a week of moderate exercise to start.
Susie:  She'll fall down.  She already fell once.
Doctor:  If Alice doesn't get stronger, she'll fall again.
Susie:  Who's going to take care of her if she hurts herself?
Doctor:  Who's going to take care of her if she gets weaker?

In a way, I'm a lucky one.  My family didn't get upset when I fell.

Luck is not enough: 
A lumbar fusion survivor who's afraid to do yoga, who sits too much despite what the surgeon ordered, I also have arthritis.  
I can't pass the CDC 4-stage balance test.  
Walking is not enough.  I sit too much and my legs suffer from it.
And Tamoxifen makes me really, really tired at times.

Today, I talked to a neighbor who's moving to a new house.  His wife thinks she's a tennis widow--he told me he's 80; he and friends his age don't play singles.  And there's an Iron Man division for men in their 70s-last year they all finished.  A close friend my age did Tae Bo for years, and started walking four miles a day when she retired.  Age shouldn't make me into WeakMom.

So here's my plan:  
I put my laptop on the chest of drawers so I can work standing up at times.
The podiatrist and NP found me a rheumatologist.  I'll ask him what I can do safely and if  stronger muscles will cut down on fatigue. The medical oncologist is really happy about that plan.
I use the stairs at both libraries.
I will continue the search for shoes that will help my arthritic feet, but not look stupid.
I am sneaking the occasional workout from Strong Women Stay Young, which I've used before.  But you have to ask your doctor before you try it. The key here may be:  I write on the calendar that I did it, and I write if I skipped it.
I threw away the Rx for Diazepam and the backache went away anyway.

What about your plan?
If you're the mom (or pop) there is an excellent doctor somewhere who takes Medicare and will tell your family the dangers of falling if you don't exercise.
If there are stairs in your house, a person only needs one of them and a railing for step exercises. Your family can watch, if they're so worried.
Mom, give your heels to a teenager who doesn't take care of her feet anyway.
You can start with two-pound dumbbells from Target - they let me use them in rehab. But don't use them right after a lumpectomy.

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