As we approach Mothers Day in the UK, my thoughts naturally move towards my own Mother. She will be 84 this year and 5 years ago she underwent surgery for a replacement hip. My Mother has always been a fit and healthy person, she tends a very big garden, and walks most places, but I was concerned that the operation would restrict her life style.
Well I need not have worried. Five years later she is as active as she has ever been and her mind is as sharp as a razor. She refers to her ‘old folk’ that she looks after, as a volunteer at a local home, many of whom are 10-15 years younger than her.
Then I look at other elder people of a similar or even younger age and I see many different states of health. It is very evident that all people do not age in the same way, and that some will need assistance long before others. But should we ‘write someone off’ because they have ailments in their latter years?
What we should be doing is creating environments and opportunities that allow everyone to be able to do what they value throughout their lives. Being free of illness or infirmity is not a requirement for a good life. Many older people have at least one health condition that, with medication and care, can have little influence on their wellbeing.
This is referred to as Healthy Aging.
Healthy Aging is defined by the World Health Organisation as:
the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables wellbeing in older age
They further define Functional Ability as:
having the capabilities that enable all people to be and do what they have reason to value. This includes a person’s ability to:- meet their basic needs; to learn, grow and make decisions; to be mobile; to build and maintain relationships; and to contribute to society.
So with this in mind, never think that because you, or someone you know has an illness or disability that they cannot take an active role in society. I always remember the old saying
“With Age Comes Wisdom”
We must not let this wisdom go to waste. It is important that you involve everyone in what you are doing. Even if you are planning a local walk but have some members of your community who cannot walk very far, if at all. Invite them to join the committee and get involved by organising tea and cakes at the end of the walk, or fund-raisers.
Everyone needs a purpose for life (see my previous blog) and each and every one of us has a responsibility to help facilitate this. A few years ago, a good friend of mine, who was wheelchair bound, used to assist me on my map reading courses. He would do the bulk of the classroom training, whilst I dealt with the outdoor practical sessions. We both had abilities and used them to achieve our goal.
Remember you do not have to be active to be involved in an outdoor pursuit. Many events require organisers, marshalls, time keepers or medal hander-outers. Everyone can be involved in a physical pursuit just not necessarily all in the same way.
So as we approach Mothers Day, don’t just give her a card and some daffodils, give her a purpose for life regardless of her health and abilities.
Now all I have to do is try and keep pace with her!