Friday, October 30, 2009

Properly Estimating Older Friends and Colleagues

I learned, or perhaps relearned, something important today in relation to an older friend. He had been gaining weight and declining in his ambulatory status during the past 6 months or so. Yesterday I urged him not to walk to an overgrown area where I was walking because I felt that there were too many opportunities to trip and fall. However, today he chose to go there with me. He plodded a bit more than I, and he kept to the trails a little more, but he never seemed to be at risk for a fall.

There are lessons in at least two directions for this. One of course is that I was correct to look out for his welfare. The opposing lesson was that I should not legislate him away from taking a small risk. My friend is not frail. He can fall in a reasonable place and not get injured. And continuing to do the things that are important to him is very important in his continued viability in many dimensions. I have been thinking about continued challenge and exercise as one ages, and it appears to be even more important than I had thought. This is but one small example.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Strength of Vigorous Aging

A friend of ours is a vigorous 88 and regularly plays tennis. She fell on her bicycle this August. She was going uphill, and those of us in the rolling hills of Massachusetts know how brutal that can be even for a college student. During the process her bike went slower and slower, and then she allowed the front wheel to turn and down she went. No ambulance. She got back up on her bicycle and proceeded home, a little hurt and a little shaken. We brought her some Arniflora, left over from fixing our child's pains when learning Tai Kwon Do. Our friend was sipping on an early cocktail when we came by. Some conversation and then we were off to our commitment. It is very good to have confirmed that not all falls, even from bicycles on the hard pavement of the street, are life threatening. They often do not even land a person under the care of a physician.