The Seniors’ Situation Room Edition 4 by Dawn Ford

CFN – One day I happened to meet a lady I had known for years. We spoke of many things, but then the conversation turned to serious matters such as how hard some seniors were finding it making ends meet. She herself shared with me that she had a prescription for glasses in her purse for the past six months. She had not been able to buy the much needed glasses. I knew at that time that some seniors lived below the poverty line, but I was shocked that someone could not get a pair of glasses. Lucky for her, a friend heard about the problem and bought the glasses for her.

Another lady I know thought she probably needed glasses, but did not see her optometrist because she knew she couldn’t stretch her money that far to buy a pair of glasses. One day she was walking on Second Street near the Court House, looking down at the sidewalk as she walked to make sure she didn’t fall on an uneven part of the cement. Suddenly, she walked into a lamp post and was falling out onto the busy road. A passerby grabbed her in time and broke her fall. I can’t imagine the untold misery this lady might have had befall her and the big dollars in medical and hospital costs to our health system. Maybe even long-term care costs as well ….all for the lack of money to buy a pair of glasses.

Eye glasses are not a device that is covered for seniors, even partially by our health system. Like hearing aids, you are mostly on your own to pay for them. Again, seniors just do without. I know a lady right now who needs both and, unless there has been a miracle I don’t know about, she is still going without as best she can. Must be hard to play cards when you can’t hear well or maybe not see very well either…not so much fun. We have wonderful seniors’ clubs in Cornwall with lots of activities which are very healthy for seniors, but not having the devices they need may keep some of our seniors at home.

I realize that our Social Services has had bad news this week with the two million dollar cut to our city. But we need to let our MP and MPP know that we are concerned and that there should be funding available for hearing aids and glasses for our seniors who need them. These devices make a big difference in their quality of life, which impacts greatly on their health.

Hearing aids are a blessing for those who have them. I hear a lot of stories about people not wearing them, putting them in their purse or drawer or pocket. I have had an audiologist for years and he has helped me over every and any bump along the way. Whenever I am experiencing any problem, I go and see him about it. Sometimes the problem was solved with just cleaning the aids or a slight adjustment of the volume. The audiologists are there for us if we are having any problems. You are not bothering them. Believe me, they care about you and care about whatever the problem is you may be having. Taking care of your aids and making sure their clients are happy is all part of the business. Working with your audiologist on any problems is one good way to hear better.

We re-cycle some of our hearing aids and glasses to the Third World. I don’t have any problem with that because the poverty of the Third World is so overwhelming and widespread. I read somewhere that it could take a whole year’s salary in a country such as India to be able to pay for a new hearing aid. We need to help them but I wondered if we could save a few for our senors in need. I approached my optometrist and audiologist about it but it seemed not to be feasible as a large stock is needed. I wonder then how the Third World can do it. There is a doctor in Ottawa who is apparently re-cycling used eye-glasses to help the needy. I guess he is able to get a good stock in a bigger city.

Having practiced Tai Chi for years I thought learning Yoga would be a snap. Not true. It is not that it is so strenuous but rather that muscles , tendons and ligaments have to go ways they haven’t ever had to go before ; not mine in my life-time anyway. I say I practice “Yoga-sort-of”…because if you saw me do it you might say, “sort of”.

My first lesson was very interesting and I believe only because of the graciousness of the instructress Lisa was I not kicked out. I have a dry sense of humor which can be problematic at times and grossly misunderstood at others and besides that, a rather playful five year old inner child. Together it is not always a great combination ….like in church where you are not suppose to laugh or in a very tranquil and serene Yoga class.

Lisa has created a wonderful peaceful atmosphere for her classes. There is a little gong that sounds here and there, some music in the background which I can’t really hear well with my hearing loss but it is a calming and relaxing setting. We are standing on mats which are cushiony and soft. All is well and I was really looking forward to the exercises. Lisa explains that any newcomer should do only what they can and to just relax and enjoy the class. She introduces some warm-up stances. I was doing pretty well until she said to put one foot at an angle to the other one. It was manageable but then we had to turn our hips in another direction and slowly raise our arms upward in whatever direction was left. I pulled it off at this point pretty well. No lol’s….just inward snickers I had to stifle .But then I started to feel like an aging pretzel. I didn’t know where I was for a moment. Was I still a person? I looked around and everyone , looking like pretzels also, were all stoic. No smiles even. ..acting like mature adults. I could do that. I am a nurse. I have worked in the ER .I had to give needles to crying children. I can be stoic. I was starting to think that Lisa knew I was having a giggle-stuff but she just kept on in her calm voice instructing us on the next move as soon as we unraveled ourselves from the pretzel hold.It went very well after that. I admit to having to stifle more inner snickers but after all I hadn’t done this stuff before and I was being patient with myself as in good mental health practice. I don’t think it showed too much although I was thinking that she probably wanted to say to me: “Okay ,Dawn. Please leave the room until you can promise to return without snickering and while you are out there please write out one hundred times: ‘ I will not laugh in Yoga class’ “. I had to do stuff like that in school a bit so I think I still can pick up the vibes easily.

But then came the big move I was totally unprepared for. Lisa told us to lay flat on the floor with our arms stretched out to the sides. Well. I haven’t been down on the floor flatly for a long time, maybe never. You certainly can’t do that with a dog around or he will lick your face and a cat will get on your stomach and declare that he owns you: you are his forever. Flat on the floor. Oh boy. I looked around and everyone is getting down. With careful clever creative maneuvers , and some help from gravity, I finally somehow got down as elegantly as I could and stretched out my arms to the sides But then the magic happened. It was wonderful. I felt as if I had lost ten pounds physically and emotionally. It was heaven. I wanted to stay there for a week. Then the gum in my mouth started to get near my throat tickling it and I’m thinking, “How did she die?”,which caused a few inner chuckles but I controlled them. I was so relaxed. Just as I am floating somewhere in blissful outer space Lisa said,’Okay ,get up’. Is she crazy? I laughed right out loud and said: ‘I just got down”.

I’m dead. I’m out. I’m abashed. Word will get around Cornwall at every Yoga Center. The signs on the Yoga Center doors will read:’ Everyone Welcome except Dawn Ford, Big, Big Baby’. I’m barred and banned for life. I’ll have to take up Square Dancing.

With head down in ashamed mode, I peeked at Lisa who is elegantly in Yoga Posture. Her spine is straight. Her shoulders are down, back and relaxed. Her head is erect like a princess. She is calm and smiles at me. She didn’t blink an eye. She is cool. She is a professional. She has dealt with big, big babies before. I look around and everyone is getting up .I am going to have to do this without a crane. Gravity is not on my side this time. Again, with clever careful creative maneuvering I somehow got up. I am as surprised as probably everyone else that I did it but I did. I assumed yoga posture immediately. My spine is straight, my shoulders relaxed and head up like a princess .., well maybe not a princess but close enough. All is well. I am still in the class. I continue as well as possible with barely a snicker with all the rest of moves Lisa gives us.

The class was soon finished and as we left this very gracious lady Lisa smiled at us, including me. She said that she hoped to see us again. Did she mean me also??? I think she did. She is that nice.

I have had more lessons. I have transcended my immature behavior of thinking funny thoughts and silly self-talk. Yes, I admit there are inner giggles, chuckles and snickers from time to time but I manage to stifle them ….and no lols. I do feel like an lol from time to time I admit but I am better at controlling it and being like everyone else: mature and stoic. It is progress, I think. I have been in “Grow Up” therapy since the big lol outburst and my counselor tells me that I am progressing or something like that. I think that my inner child is about eight years old now. I’m doin’ good.

One of the two main things I remember so far is the wonderful Yoga Posture of straight spine, relaxed shoulders and erect head. Whenever I start slouching, I assume Yoga Posture and I feel elegant again. I wish I had known about it before because it could have stopped any double chin from hinting at happening. The other one, of course is lying flat on the floor, arms stretched out to the sides. Well, not really on the floor..for now, I am doing it on my bed at home but the wonderful light feeling is the same. You might like to try it. It is heaven on earth. And if you don’t giggle, they will let you into a Yoga class, I bet .If not, you can come to Square Dancing with me. You can laugh there all you want.

Yoga is a wonderful set of exercises and I am hoping to learn much more because I have read that the health benefits are enormous. Like Tai Chi, there apparently is also Arm Chair/Wheel Chair Yoga and Senior /Gentle Yoga as well as other forms. I heard that there is also “Hot Yoga’ but I’m afraid to ask what that is. Hope to see you at a Yoga class.

Here are some wonderful people I was privileged to have on my path lately:

Kelly Dempster was very kind to help a lady who was ill and needed help grooming her cat. Kelly came to the lady’s house with a cage to take the cat to her salon, Four Paws, but the cat flew under the bed and they decided to let the cat be for awhile. As it turned out, by the next day the cat who was ill and his mistress both landed in hospitals. Kelly was very kind to lend her cage until she needed it herself the following week. Although Kelly runs a business, she did not charge for anything including her time. Thanks Kelly for being a good neighbor. Kudos.

One Thursday evening I was at Mac’s at the corner of Marlborough and Second Streets. There is a clerk in the store who is always so friendly and nice to all the customers. This particular night it was very busy in the store and at the gas pumps. There was a man in front of me and about six people behind me in line. The man spilled a large container of hot coffee all over the counter and it was dripping all over the place where there were many items in it’s path. The clerk grabbed some cloths, told the man to get another coffee and very calmly started cleaning up with some help from the rest of us in line. He was just as nice doing all that as he was before it happened, smiling and chatting with the customers as he mopped up. No ranting or raving….just calm and pleasant. I think he would be a great PM. If a leader of another country was threatening war, he would put his arm around the leader’s shoulders and say: “Let’s go down to Louie’s bar and have a few drinks and talk” I bet there would not be a war. Or better still, maybe I should marry him. He is cool. I hope his boss gives him a raise. Kudos.

When some of the residents at Beek Lindsey Seniors’ Residence heard about the Agape Center needing groceries, they immediately started collecting food. Thanks to Pat Marchand, Ernie Appleton, Bob Kaitz and many others who are helping to make these food baskets happen. Kudos.

I leave you with this joke I heard to-day: A new Pastor in town approached a young child on the street and asked him where the Post Office was. The lad told the Pastor that it was two blocks down the street and turn to the right. The Pastor thanked the boy saying, “If you come to church on Sunday I will show you how to get to heaven.” The little guy laughed and said, “I don’t think so. You don’t even know where the Post Office is.”

Have a good week, Dawn


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