Never too old to get active
While adult education improves the mind and is good socially, exercise keeps you in good shape and reduces depression, writes JOANNE HUNT
‘I WANT to keep older people away from the likes of me for as long as possible,” jokes Dr Tadhg Crowley.
A GP at Ayrfield Medical Practice in Kilkenny, the first place to take part in The Irish Times/Pfizer Healthcare healthy towns project, Crowley has plenty of tips to keep older people out of his surgery.
He encourages those close to retirement to plan ahead. “If you are out working five days a week, you need to plan to keep getting out by getting involved in local activities,” he says.
“Some people can become more socially isolated because they are not in the workplace.”
He cautions that this can become a vicious circle where the less you go out, the less you feel like going out.
“Sometimes you have to fight a little bit to keep yourself motivated,” he says. Adult education can be a great social outlet and it keeps the brain ticking over. “There are hundreds of evening classes in towns all over the country from pottery to whatever you want. You’re never too old to learn.”
He says regular exercise not only keeps your muscles and bones in good condition, staving off falls, but can also reduce incidences of depression.
“A hundred yard walk, whatever you can manage . . . that creates endorphins, a natural high the body produces that can counteract depression.”
With yoga for older people kicking off in his surgery in the coming weeks, he says it’s never too late to take part.
“Going to the doctor is important but it’s only one aspect of health whatever age you are,” he says. “I want people to focus on what they can do for themselves.”
Babs Murphy and nine of her friends from the Sacred Heart Active Retirement Association in Waterford are just back from a week in Torremolinos.
“Some of them love the beach or they lie at the pool half the day and another crowd then, we’d go off shopping. We’d all meet at night for dinner and have a little drink after.”
With 20 members, all women aged 60-78, the idea for the club come about when former president Mary McAleese visited to celebrate the 50th anniversary of St John’s Park, the housing estate in or near where the women live.
Murphy, chief organiser of the Spain trip and secretary and a founding member of the club, loves their weekly get-togethers in the nearby Butler Community Centre. “It’s the company definitely. I’m on my own, my husband died nine years ago and it’s the company.”
Monday meet-ups range from exercises to line dancing to the very popular meditation session. “There’s music in the background and you hear the birds whistling and she’s talking you through it. You close your eyes and sit back in the chair. It’s absolutely beautiful. A lot of the women say they feel great after it.”