Many of the people I work with in the nursing home don’t seem to have much going on in their old age. They sit and stare into space or at the television screen until it is time for bed or their next meal. Whatever leisure activities they enjoyed in the past either cannot be completed in the nursing home setting or they have lost the interest or ability to participate.
I have worked with some elderly patients in their home as well and some of them are in the same position. They wait for the phone to ring, for their favorite game show or for a visitor to stop by. I want more in my old age! I want to be more like Mother Fran and other seniors who still know how to live life with a purpose.
Mother Fran may be 90 years young but she still has a spark! She still has interests that keep her involved and engaged in life. She enjoys puzzles and will frequently finish one and immediately start another. She does her puzzles on a wooden board and when she completes one, we slide it under the board and she starts another right on top of it. It is not uncommon for her to have 3 or 4 completed puzzles, one stacked upon the next. Cleaning them up is not an enviable task!
I bet she owns 50 adult coloring books and likes to start at the beginning and work her way thru each one. When she first started coloring she didn’t want anyone else to color in her books but she has lightened up and lets me play too. You will typically find colored pencils on the floor, under her chair and in the cushions.
Mother Fran also loves games. Last year it was Rumikubs, this year it is Canasta. I played more Canasta this summer than ever before in my life. She may be 90 but she is in amazing Canasta shape. She is a fierce competitor, employs strategies to win and hates to lose. She will ask you to play within 10 minutes of your arrival and is never the first one to throw in the towel.
For some activities she likes to multi-task. She will watch football or her favorite soap opera while working on a puzzle. She continues to play Bridge with a group of neighbors and doesn’t like to miss game night with her children.
Don’t dare call her on the phone during the Bucs game or Sunday Morning TV and don’t expect much more than a “high tuttz” if you walk in during a Canasta battle.
Mother Fran has one of those fitness trackers that she wears on her wrist. She walks around the house purposefully so she can meet her goal for the day. When you ask her if she wants to take a walk, she will gamely go put on her sneaks, grab her cane and head out the door. If you are lucky, she will wait for you before heading up the uneven, rocky driveway at the lake.
I think having leisure activities that engage the mind and body help keep us young. That old saying “if you don’t use it, you lose it” applies to both! Leisure activities like simple pleasures just make life better. I want to continue to choose health in my old age by living life, not watching it pass by.
As I age, I find myself thinking about ways to do so gracefully and slowly. Physically, I hope to continue kayaking, hiking, gardening and biking for the next 30 years or so.
Mentally, I hope to continue to share my adventures and my daily decisions that keep me on the path of health, wealth and happiness right here on My Little Blue Kayak. I am grateful I have Mother Fran for inspiration!