What I Learned at the Aging Conference
Last weekend we were packing up to drive to the New York Chapter American College of Sports Medicine conference on aging. It was early and cold. At the corner where we parked, an elder woman waited at the bus stop. She stood straight as a penguin; her things hung over her walker. We were late getting on the highway. I had to get to the conference to give my lecture. I was already going to miss the first lecture given by an expert on metabolic changes of aging. This was an important conference where we would learn important ways to help older people.
She was standing alone. I thought that if she had family she would not be standing alone at a bus stop early in the morning. There was no telling where she needed to go. I wouldn't get all my required continuing education credits if I did not attend all of the meeting. We had to drive all the way to New York, and at this rate I was not even going to be on time for my own lecture. The answer was simple. We opened the door and asked her, "Where can we take you?"
We bundled her into the truck, and asked her name. "Dottie!" she said, pointing to a mole on her forehead. My husband held out his big hand and said, "I'm Paul." Dottie looked at Paul, nearly seven-feet tall, squashed in his seat with his long legs bowed around the steering wheel and his hair brushing the ceiling. She sang, "Tall Paul, he's my all…" and Paul replied, "Annette Funicello," recognizing the old song and singing it along with her. Dottie was on her way to religious services across town. We enjoyed lively conversation with her all the way there. We passed a Greek restaurant. Dottie said, "You won't believe this but I used to belly dance there." My own Grandmother studied belly dancing into her 90's so I believed Dottie. I said, "Belly dancing is good for the hips." Dottie winked, "Belly dancin' is good for lots of things."
We dropped Dottie off at her destination and made sure she had her hat and scarf and gloves and some of our food and a hug. We gave her our number and said, "We won't be passing by in time to take you back home. Call us to go somewhere else sometime."
We met heavy traffic getting to the Lincoln tunnel. I won't get all my continuing education credits from the conference that was supposed to teach us about how to help old people. In posts coming soon I will tell about the lecture I gave on improving musculoskeletal health for older people. Although it is a common misconception to think that ruinous losses of bone density, strength, balance, and flexibility are unavoidable with aging, it is not the case, and at any age, even advanced years, you can still get stronger, faster, more flexible, and better balance through easy daily activity. You can also improve the most important aspect of helping aging people - by helping.
Photo By J Pod
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