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Partnership for Healthy Aging

It makes you think

by Shireen Shahawy, Consultant to Partnership for Healthy Aging

Betty Robertson of Bedford Heights, Ohio, is proud of each and every one of her eighty-seven years, and she's happy to share that with you.  When Bill Starkey, Coordinator of Senior Services at the Jimmy Dimora Community Center, decided to introduce a Matter of Balance class to local seniors, Betty thought it sounded like a good idea to join the new group.  And her doctor agreed.

The MOB group totaled 15 people, and they fast became like family.  They shared coffee, tea and special snacks together... while they learned key strategies to help them stay sure-footed and safer in their own homes.  Betty likens the group to a team where each person looks out for the next.  The group was so at ease with each other that discussions on bringing them back to mentor Starkey's next class have taken place.  Betty is quite sure they could teach the next group a number of helpful hints.

Betty worked for thirty years in the meat department in her hometown grocery store.  She spent a lot of time on her feet, and knows she has arthritis as a result. She saw the class as a way to learn how to take even better care of herself, and to help alleviate some of her arthritis pain. Betty also exercises in the pool twice a week.

Betty likes the fact that she lives independently and takes care of her own home and garden.  She happily shared some of the tips she keeps with her every day.  She always sits upright in her chair, and takes every opportunity to do the seated exercises the group learned in the class.  She works her toes, her shoulders and makes a point of crossing her legs at the ankle instead of the knee (this helps with circulation issues).

Becky said that the class has really helped her think about her health.  She pays attention to how she walks, how she holds her shoulders and how she sits - spine to the back of the chair, if you please. 

Becky ended our interview with a simple thought: 

"Anyone can benefit from this class. Anyone. Young or old - take the class.  You will learn from it."


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A Matter of Balance is an award-winning program designed to manage falls and increase activity levels. The program consists of eight 2-hour sessions. Participants learn to set realistic goals to increase activity, change their environment to reduce fall risk factors, and learn simple exercises to increase strength and balance.



110 Free Street | Portland, Maine 04101 | (207) 661-7001