As a service of the Area Agencies on Aging, this site provides education and resources for caregivers of older adults.

You are a caregiver if you are a relative or friend who helps someone age 60 and older with physical care, emotional support, daily activities, managing medications, doctor visits, shopping, legal issues or financial matters.

Step Out With SeniorsBy Mary Andrews

A few evenings ago, as I sat on the sofa with the newspaper, I caught a glimpse of a reflection in the living room window, but did not pay much attention to it. It continued to nag at me because there was something vaguely familiar about it. Puzzled, I lowered the paper to really look at the reflection.

“Who is that woman?” I thought, and was amazed because it was my mother! Amazed, you see, because my mother lives in Seattle. Finally, it dawned on me that the reflection was of me! When did I start to acquire wrinkles? When did I stop looking 40? I certainly did not feel as old as I appeared in my reflection.

Today most of us in our 60’s and 70’s etc., unless we have become disabled or have a chronic illness really do not feel as old as we expected we would at this time in our lives. Do you remember when you were young, looking at seniors in church, at family gatherings, at the theatre or in the store and saying to yourself that you would never get THAT old? I do.

Today’s seniors have a zest for life. We are going back to school, taking adventure vacations, getting connected to the internet, trying out new hobbies or picking up one we used to enjoy years ago. We are volunteering at schools, senior centers and hospitals and at political events. We are trying our wings in local theatre and choral groups. We are making quilts, rocking horses and small treasure chests, learning to paint and starting new businesses. We are swimming at the local pool, joining hiking and Volksmarch groups and even trying out inline skates. We are learning that, finally, we have time to pay attention to our own health, exercise and spiritual needs. We are enjoying a very active time in our lives called RETIREMENT.

It used to be thought that men and women got all the exercise they needed working at their jobs, in their yards, and, for most women, raising a family. When the retirement years came, we seniors were supposed to “rest” from our labors. Some did just that, and, little by little, their joints stiffened up and “Arthur-itis, Ben-Gay, Charlie-horse, and Bruce-itis” became their constant companions. As I have watched some people around me lose their ability to “get up and get out” and have seen their lives become more and more restricted, I vowed that would not happen to me.

For the past 19 years I have been involved in the field of health and fitness, gradually developing a focus on women and men who, like me, are seniors. I have come to believe that hardly any of us fit the old stereotype of what it means to be a “senior” – tottering around with a cane, saying “Eh” when someone asks us a question, dependent on someone else to care for us and manage our finances. Now it is true that some of our elderly in their late 80’s experience difficulties like these and I do not mean to make light of them. However once we retire, those problems are 20 – 25 years away, if they occur at all, making our 60’s, 70’s and even our 80’s wonderful, exciting, challenging, opportunity-filled, stimulating years with untold adventures waiting in the wings for us.

We need to keep ourselves healthy and fit so we can take advantage of all the new opportunities. There are so many small, fairly easy things we can do to keep our bodies limber and functioning at optimal health the way we want them to. There are lots of things, too, that we can do to keep our brains active. We can all make the choice to sit in our easy chairs and wait till we die, or we can change our attitude and make retirement “our time”, living life to the fullest and giving our children and grandchildren excellent role models for their own senior years.

So, seniors, let’s stand a little taller, lift up our chests, pull back our shoulders and —————–step out!

Author’s Email address: