What Seniors Fear More Than Death
Mary’s heart grew unbearably heavy as she watched the last box of her belongings being loaded onto the truck. No cardboard box could possibly hold the lifetime of memories wrapped up in the things she had collected over the years.
Now, all that was left of her life was the memories she carried in her heart, the small box of family photos, and the clothes she had stuffed into that old musty suitcase she had kept from her mother’s estate.
Despite her desire to be strong, a tear leaked out from her eye as the nurse wheeled her down the driveway for the very last time. Goodbye house that raised my children and kept my husband so busy. Goodbye couch and chairs that kept my family so comfortable. Goodbye you miserable old Buick, I never liked you anyway since the night you stranded me on the highway, alone, in the dark for more than two hours.
On the long drive to the nursing home, Mary regaled the nurse with colorful family stories she had collected over the years. Her husband had passed on several years before. Before Mary’s legs lost the strength to hold her any longer. She never had been one to exercise, or even take a walk from time to time. Her legs and bones grew weary from this neglect, and now she was unable to care for herself.
Shame really. Mary’s mind was fit-as-a-fiddle. She could remember back to her high school days when her husband Ed was courting her. They used to roller skate every Friday night down at the Eldridge Roller Rink over on 7th Ave. Ever since the time Ed wiped out on the far turn trying to impress her with some foolish move (as boys will!).
His face was red as a tomato she recalls, and she never let him forget that night. “Who else would marry such a clumsy clown!” she chided him. But through all the jokes back and forth, no love was ever stronger. They were meant to be together. And she was devastated when he left her forever.
Her biggest regret now, was that she never joined him on those long walks to the park once the children were grown and gone. Perhaps her legs would be stronger now she thought. And all the conversations that they missed out on. They sure loved to people watch. Ed used to enjoy seeing all the children, dogs and friendly faces while he sat under the willow in the shade down at Hillside Park. Mary preferred to sit on the porch at home and watch the neighbors go by. She regrets that now. Now that her legs are too weak to hold her.
Mary’s greatest fear now is for the future. She always enjoyed her independence, her freedom. But she can have none of that now. The home that held so many memories must be given up so that she can go to a facility that she can navigate in with her wheelchair. She must have help to get in and out. To do even the simplest things she requires help – which is so frustrating to someone who as always been as self-reliant as Mary.
From sheer neglect, she lost her legs strength, her mobility, and now her freedom and independence.
It is so important for seniors to retain their leg strength. So much of your quality of life depends on it. Fortunately, barring any serious disease or injury, almost everyone can maintain or increase their lower body fitness simply by walking.
One of the best things you can take with you, to insure you walk on a regular basis, is your digital camera. Having a camera with you reduces your boredom, gives you a mission, a purpose, and allows you to share your photo treasures with friends. When you head out, camera in hand, you’re excited about the next great photo you might find. You’re on a treasure hunt. You’re eager to get up and get out to take new photos.
Don’t lose your freedom, don’t lose your independence. Don’t have regrets like Mary. Decide now that you will add two to three weekly walks to your schedule. Just 30 minutes or so each time will do so much for your overall health. Go everyday if you like. It’s good for you! Take your camera with you and just imagine all the great photos you’ll have to share!
Think of your digital camera as the perfect, hand-held, total mind-body fitness machine!