Ageing Gracefully with a Walking Group
Image courtesy of M.I.L.K
A few days ago, I sat next to a delightful elderly woman on the bus. The bus picked her up in Levin to take her to visit her grandchildren in Hastings. Her family don't like her driving long distances with her poor eyesight so she now gets the bus.
She was the most inspiring lady. We had a great little chat sitting in the front row overlooking the Manawatu region. She continued to tell me that she is 90 years old and still lives in her own home and does everything herself. All her own cooking and cleaning and even drives anywhere that's under 2 hours away! The only thing she doesn’t do now is mow the lawns. Well, I think that's pretty okay. She still preserves and bakes and has grown her own vegetables for as long as she can remember. She has lived in the same house since 1924 (I think that was correct - at this stage I was in awe) and was married for 60 years to a joiner.
The most inspiring thing for me was that she is part of a weekly walking group that walk every Wednesday morning for an hour. They travel all around the region, even going as far as Foxton to walk along the beach. The group has divided Levin into four sections that they walk as a route and each week someone takes care of washing the tea cups and bringing them back the following week. There is even a 92-year old with a walking cane who still takes part but just walks at her own pace with someone beside her as a chatting partner. The cost of the walking group is just $10 per year. My new friend aptly said "now you can't argue with that can you dear?". You certainly can't.
The walking group not only encourages these older adults to be active which helps them to stay fit and healthy but it's also the social interaction that's important. As we age, our sense of taste and smell decline so for some, food isn't as pleasurable as it once was. This means eating can be an issue for some older adults and this can then lead to reduced appetite, weight loss and under nourishment. The pure act of being social and getting out and about encourages older adults to enjoy their food in the company of others. Often walking groups are coupled with a morning tea or lunch and sharing food with one another which further adds to the benefits of taking part in these kinds of activities. Going by how much energy this lovely lady had, walking group is certainly working for her!
Even though I think she is just amazing (and I told her many times!), to her it was just normal and what she had done all her life. She had lived a very humble, healthy life off the land and nothing had changed as she grew older (apart from now sharing the lawn mower).
I only hope I'm as motivated, fit and healthy when I'm 90. I would be one very happy lady.