Aging: Physical Debility

This is hard for everyone.  No one escapes the decrease of bodily health and strength as age sets in. It’s difficult to accept, difficult to realize we actually are those slow-moving, little old people that we used to think we never would be! Here are a couple of things that I hope will make you smile:

I absolutely love this old lady.  I’ve posted this video before, and it tickles me every single time.  And what I like about the little old guy in the picture?  Look at his right foot.  He’s still moving!  That’s how I want it to be!

So, to get serious.  Debility is the physical weakness, loss of muscle, softness, that comes with serious illness or old age, or both. Arthritis creates debility. So do any number of other conditions that can creep up on us while we’re not looking. It is upsetting when you need to ask for help in doing what used to be simple tasks. Opening jars, lifting things down from a cupboard, even passing a heavy dish along to the person next to you at dinner, can all become tasks that you never used to think about and now you can barely accomplish without  a helping hand.

No one ever wants to be helpless.  My husband is by no means helpless, but it bugs him to death that he is no longer the strong pillar of support for me that he used to be.  Losing strength is losing independence. I was born on Independence Day. It probably should have been my middle name.  I value my independence perhaps too much, never wanting anyone to do for me what I feel I should be able to do myself.

The day is coming, and I know that it is, when I’m going to have to learn to graciously accept that helping hand, and to be thankful for it.

There are, however, things we can all do to delay the onset of old-age debility, and to slow down the progress of it.

Exercise.  Yes, I know, you were dreading that word. However, it is the prime factor is delaying and decreasing debility. Exercise helps keep your bones strong, your muscles toned, and your agility in its best possible shape. It even helps to  improve balance, which is a problem for many older folks.  I believe that the statistics are that one in every three older people will fall in a 24-hour period.

You don’t have to be a body builder.  Walking is your first, best choice for exercise.  If you hold low-weight dumbells while you walk, that’s even better. Weather is bad?  Walk inside. There are walking videos especially for improving age-related debility.  It will increase your back strenght, abdomen tone, and arms and legs. And it’s pretty painless.

Water exercise is fabulous if you can find a place that offers it.  Most YMCA’s offer water aerobics for seniors.  It’s great for arthritic people because it takes the weight off the sore joints, and most of all it gets you moving.

What you eat is important.  Bone loss contributes to debility, so talk with your doctor or a nutritionist about how to keep calcium in your bones.  You need protein, carbs, and fats for energy, strength and over-all health.  Because there are so many of us in this Baby Boomer age category, the study and practice of geriatric medicine is booming. There is lots of good information online, at your doctor’s office, at the library. There are senior citizen centers in most communities that provide some activity, including dancing, that will help you get moving. There are walking clubs, and yoga centers, and classes especially for those trying to either maintain or regain some strength.  If you are in generally good health but are starting to see weakness setting in, you have no reason whatsoever to just allow debility to overtake you.

I know two women who are in their early 90’s.  They are both still active. The get up every day, get dressed, go out and do things. One is still driving! They reach out to others and stay as busy and involved as they can. They are happy by nature, and they are a joy to be around. So much of our enjoyment of life as we age centers on our own attitudes.

I want my grandchildren to enjoy seeing me coming.  I don’t want them to sigh, knowing they will hear nothing but a litany of complaints about my aching this and hurting that. I want to be a part of their lives that they will remember with pleasure, not a sick old woman who casts a pall of blah over everything all the time.

Aging is inevitable. Misery is not. Take steps to be the best that you can be, as long as you can.