Mr. Resourceful

I have had the honor and privilege of meeting some of the most amazing and interesting people in my life – whether it be at work or at play.  Here are some of my observations that I will share from time to time.  Don’t worry…names are changed to protect the shy, innocent and everyone else too.  This is just about real people surviving, growing and often inspiring others. Their challenges are significant.  How they respond is often amusing, sometimes even amazing.

Meet Mr. Resourceful…  He is 86 years old, a widower of many years and lives alone in a home he has known for over 55 years.  By the looks of things, it hasn’t been updated since he moved in.  It is small and always clean.  He has someone come in a couple days a week to help out with that. 

When I look at Mr. Resourceful he reminds me of Santa Claus.  His white hair and white beard certainly give this away. His stature does too.  He is tall and has a round belly that moves when he laughs.

 

Santa
Not Mr. Resourceful

 

He walks about 10-20 feet with his walker before having to sit and his standing tolerance is 7 seconds.  How do I know?  He counts this regularly.  When rising from his chair, he takes a bit of time to stand up though he never gets all the way straight.  Years of wear and tear on his knees, hips and spine have led to arthritis and other degenerative changes.  He is no longer a surgical candidate due to other medical issues.  He wants to stay in his home.

He uses a wheelchair for appointments and other outings.  He relies on others to pick him up at his home and drive him to where he needs to go.  There is always someone to help him get to where he needs to go.  You get what you give don’t you think?

He is sharp.  When asked when it was that he last took his medicine, he looks it up in his log he keeps on a daily basis.  “Why that was 6:30 this morning.  I took one.”  “When do you go to the doctor again?”  Out comes the log, “Next Friday, 1:00pm.  So-and-so is taking me.”  Impressive.

I call him Mr. Resourceful because nearly every piece of furniture in his home is placed for a reason.  His kitchen chair is on wheels so he can roll around in the kitchen and make a meal and transport items to different parts of the room.  His cabinets are stocked within reach with what he needs on a daily basis.  His chair is mostly parked at the kitchen table (the table is not on wheels thankfully) and is strategically located between the table and kitchen sink/counter.  You see, he pushes himself up to stand with a lot of arm support on these stable surfaces. 

He has an ottoman in his living room.  It is an old stool with a wrapped-up sleeping bag strapped to it.  It is just the right height and positioned just far enough from his chair so that he can stand between it and the chair and also rest his legs on it when seated.  How do I know this?  I started to move it one day.  “Don’t move that!  It’s right where I want it.”  I should have known, Mr. Resourceful.  “My apologies.”

I asked him if he was an engineer when he worked.  “I was an expediter.  Do you know what that is?”  I responded, “You did things fast?”  He replied, “I had to be efficient, too.”  Efficient he is.  This is how he is still in his home.

Mr. Resourceful is kind and giving.  He told me of overhearing a family at breakfast the other day in a local diner.  He enjoyed hearing the laughter of the children behind him and how they talked to each other during their meal.  He left before they did and anonymously paid the check. 

“I’ll keep living this way until I can’t,” he told me.  “I’m not done yet.”  I believe you Santa.  I believe in you.

To your health,

Nancy Alexander

Hey You!

Hey you!  … yes you!  You don’t have to feel this way.  You know what I’m talking about… thinking that you’re alone with the challenge you’re facing.  Chances are very good you’re not.  In fact, I’d be willing to bet there are many others who are or have been just where you are.  It’s not a great place to be.  I know, I’ve been there.  OK, I’ve been there a few times.  OK, I should get frequent flyer miles for all the times I’ve gone there.  You’ll get through it… and you’ll grow along the way, too.

Truth is, when we are challenged by someone, some situation or even ourselves, we have options.  We may not see them, but we do.  We get so wrapped up in how we should react that we forget to look outside of ourselves.  We just see what we know and what we know how to do… and we keep seeing it over and over again.

For example, when I was caring for my father with dementia I took pride in handling the challenge myself.  “I got this”, “ I can do it… I don’t need any help.”  I adored my father and it was my turn to take care of him.  This was how I could and should honor him.  If I couldn’t do it, it meant failure.  Oh, how the mind can play with us.

I did it until I couldn’t.  You know it when it hits you.  I was exhausted, sad, mad, and desperate.  Poor choices come from this mindset.

I reached out.  I reached out to physicians, nurses, aides, social workers, local organizations, support groups, friends.  It was then that the cavalry arrived.  With the help of others, we found a way to keep my dad happy, engaged, safe and otherwise healthy as long as possible.  The same went for me.  It was a win-win and a valuable learning experience.

Dad with his favorite nurses

I am in another challenge now and my very first thought was, “I got this”, “I know what to do.”  I quickly recognized the error in my reaction and righted the ship.  You can’t know everything.  You only know what you know.  So simple…  So I’m reaching out.  This blog is actually part of it.  It is enormously helpful.

So, do you get the point?  You are not alone.  Challenges will come and go.  You will have challenges come at you your whole life.  Look at them as not an obstacle, but an opportunity.  Nothing is a failure if it is a building block of your growth.  Your perspective means everything.  What do you see?

To your health,

Nancy Alexander

Want to be Inspired?

krisKris Thorsness

by Nancy Alexander

Meet Kris Thorsness of Victor, NY.  If you want to be inspired, get to know Kris.  She is 56 and she’ll be the first to tell you that you have a choice to live or die… “You have a choice every day,” says Kris.  Let me tell you, she lives.

At 24, she won Olympic Gold as a rower in the 1984 Olympics.  I love looking at her medal.  If only it could talk and tell you everything she went through to achieve that goal.  She is modest.  “The training was a lot, it was very focused, but it was simple,” Kris says.  “I didn’t have time for anything else.  It’s all I did.”

You might wonder where does one go after winning Olympic Gold, arguable the pinnacle of all sports achievement, at the age of 24.  You set a new goal, then another new goal, and then another.  “If you’re not pushing yourself, you’re stagnating,” says Kris.  “It’s all about perspective.”  Right after the Olympics she focused on getting her law degree.  She took a few years off from rowing but then got back into it.  Just this past March, she was appointed to the Board of Directors for US Rowing.

Enter another new goal at age 50… playing ice hockey.  “I was speaking to a rowing friend in Wisconsin on the phone and asked her what she was up to.  She said she was playing hockey on a women’s team.”  “Well that’s pretty cool,” Kris thought.  “I’d like to try that.”  That day she called a local rink and inquired about any learn to skate programs.  She last skated in 6th grade and now was setting her mind on playing hockey.  This lady goes for it.  Call it luck or call it serendipity, that night this rink was starting a program to learn to play hockey.  “But I don’t have any equipment,” said Kris to the man on the phone.  He responded, “Well, we have a pro shop.”

The rest is history.  She bought all her gear that day including skates and she was on the ice that night learning how to play hockey.  She now plays on the Canandaigua Ladies women’s ice hockey team and is about to start her 5th year.  She’s good too.  She plays defense and by the way, don’t mess with her goalieJ

“I’ve heard sitting is the new smoking,” says Kris.  She believes this.  She’s had her share of injuries along the way as well as a heart attack.  She is smart and taking care of herself.  “I’m older, I get sore and I take longer to recover,” she added.  “That doesn’t mean I don’t push myself.”  “You have to keep pushing… that is how I’ve achieved my goals,” says Kris.  She added, “Sitting is the new smoking… especially after 50… especially after 50.”

Welcome to AgingWell50 – the official blog of the Aging Well Academy and Achieve More Physical Therapy, PLLC. This is a forum about and for active adults who want the ability and the confidence to lead a long and healthy life. My name is Nancy Alexander and I am a physical therapist, certified strength and conditioning specialist and certified ACE senior fitness specialist. Are you ready to make these the best years of your life?

 

My inspiration is my father who lived into his 90’s, played ice hockey well into his 60’s and gave everything he did 100%.  My passion is helping you live the life you want.  Join me on this adventure!  Feel free to comment here on your experiences and ask questions.  I will do my best to answer them in a way that is meaningful to you.  In the meantime, KEEP MOVING… it’s the best thing you can do for yourself.

In good health,

Nancy Alexander, PT, CSCS, Certified ACE Senior Fitness Specialist

Owner, Achieve More Physical Therapy, PLLC

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