That's for me - that's what I need
by Shireen Shahawy, Consultant to Partnership for Healthy Aging
Frances Cargill's heart is "in the mountains of North Carolina." That's the first thing she'll tell you when you ask her about where she lives. She lived for some years away from the state, but she was always anxious to return to her beloved mountains. She moved to Franklin, North Carolina, when she retired at age 65 and lives a short mile away from where her mother was born. She'll tell you she has her "mother's roots."
Frances's story reads like that of a pioneer. Mostly because she is so open to trying new things and, more importantly, teaching herself new things. Before she married and started her family, she worked as a medical secretary for her cousin, a cardiologist. When he urged her to learn about medical record keeping, she dug right in. He gave her three books on the topic and she taught herself how to build a medical records library to meet his needs. Later in life, she taught herself to play the dulcimer, and she continues to play to this day.
Frances had never attended an event at the Macon County Senior Center in Franklin. She had played at the Center with her dulcimer group, but had been there only as a performer, never as a participant. That changed this year.
Shortly after Christmas, Frances fell a couple of times and became concerned. When she noticed an advertisement for the Matter of Balance class starting up at the Center, she decided the class was just what she needed. She convinced a close friend, who had also suffered a fall, to attend with her. She knows they both gained something valuable from the class, in addition to making new friends. She reports that she still does the home exercises on a regular basis and feels like the practice has given her even more control. Now she knows what to do if she feels like she might fall and that gives her a great sense of security. The exercises do double duty, keeping her limber for other passions. She is a weaver and the shoulder exercises keep her more comfortable when she spends time at her loom. Most importantly, she highly recommends the class to any older person, whether they've fallen or not.
Currently Frances is back to trying new things. When A Matter of Balance concluded, the Senior Center added Zumba (a dance fitness program) to their offerings. No, she had never heard of Zumba, but there she is - learning something new and already planning ahead for the next new exercise adventure.
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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.