When Natalie Waterman moved into Orchard Cove nine months ago, she was recovering from a broken hip and not walking easily. Since her arrival, things have changed. She’s exercising at least three times a week, enjoying aerobics, swimming and even Zumba.
“It’s very fun and I’ve seen a great improvement,” says Waterman. “At first, I couldn’t even do the full aerobics class.”
Waterman has been working to improve her health and physical fitness – goals she set for herself in an individual plan under the Vitality 360 program. With ongoing coaching and help from an interdisciplinary team of senior wellness experts, Waterman has made amazing strides in her physical fitness at the age of 86.
But it’s not only a physical transformation. Waterman’s overall focus has shifted when it comes to aging. While she no longer works the long hours that once consumed her life, she is now busy volunteering and exploring new interests. “It’s the things we can do, not what we can’t do,” she says.
In a world where seniors are expected to slow down, this kind of thinking can make an important difference in leading a full and satisfying life as you age.
For Mel Frankel, life hasn’t slowed down, but instead created time revisit old passions. He recently revitalized his work as an artist, thanks to the urging of new friends. “When I came here at 79, I didn’t think I’d paint much more,” he says. “I only had one painting to display outside my door. People wanted to see more and I started to think it could happen.”
In addition to completing new paintings, Frankel has played a leadership role in creating the new Resident Art Gallery to display the talent of fellow artists. He has also been focused on pursuing new interests that can fit into his lifestyle, joining the Orchard Cove choral group, which was established because of the high interest level of residents. “It’s my most enjoyable hour here,” Frankel says of the new hobby. “You don’t have to be the best singer. It’s just happiness.”
Vitality Coach Susan Flashner Fineman says it is refreshing when seniors are able to discover new goals and focus on what they can achieve. “In life, we can’t always do what we want,” she says. “There are always restrictions and reasons why not to do something. When you’re younger, it can be work or family obligations. It’s wonderful when seniors can relate back to dreams and hopes they still want to achieve, even if it’s an adaptation of them.”
Whether it’s getting in shape, pursuing new interests, or revisiting old dreams, seniors feel more confident when they are following a path full of potential. “There’s always a sense of empowerment that wants to be maintained,” Flashner Fineman says. “And with new goals, it’s possible.”
Waterman has experienced that empowerment first hand, resulting in a new take on aging. “Chronologically, we may be old, but that’s it,” she says.