Exercising In the Retirement Home (Or the Groan Age)

All the exercise classes I attend here in the retirement home are beneficial, I’m sure, but along the way I keep bumping into unexpected obstacles. Take this week for instance. The instructor who conducts the chair exercise class introduced a new routine last week. She brought along strips of tough rubber which we used to exercise with. We pulled them, we stretched them, we twisted them and used them in every possible way as an aid to making our muscles work. Result? I’ve had problems brushing my teeth all week. I hope to get back to full brushing movements by the end of the week when my bicep and deltoid muscles return to normal.

Today was our third Feldenkrais session and we are getting used to the twisting exercises which are designed to separate our hips from our spines. These exercises are relatively easy, all performed while lying flat on thin foam rubber mattresses. The main problem arises when we have to get up at the end of the session. It’s an hysterical sight watching about thirty 80-year olds trying get onto their feet, unassisted and with nothing to hang onto. The cacophony of groans accompanied by helpless laughter made the session really worthwhile. I wouldn’t be surprised to find a few flounders still on their backs and kicking helplessly in the hall right now!

But there is a serious side to it all. I heard a 90 year old woman telling someone that a few years ago she had fallen in the corridor of the retirement center and people had to call for assistance from nurses at the frail-care center to get her back onto her feet, luckily with no damage. She immediately started attending exercise classes and today, she can lie down on the floor and get back onto her feet unassisted. At 90 that’s quite a feat.

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