Learning to Walk Again

When it comes to deciding where to spend my later years, I stated my preference in my last post for “aging in place,” as opposed to moving into a continuing care facility. I also promised to give you an example in this post of the advantages of this decision, assuming a person is presently healthy enough to do so.

You may wonder how much change there really is in deciding to age in place. The truth is that there can be monumental change if a person is willing to make it.

I am short, about 5’3”, to be precise. The result in my case has been that I now shuffle more than I walk. It was recommended by the good people who now oversee my aging in place (“Friends Life Care”) that I do some physical therapy to correct what is professionally called “gait dysfunction.”

What this means for someone like me, who is not only short but left-handed, is that years of walking primarily on my left leg has forced that leg to bear so much of my weight that walking itself has become painful. Through exercising I am now trying to transfer to my right leg some of the burden my left leg has instinctively been carrying for so many years As a result my right leg, which has always had way too little to do, is finally beginning to carry some share of my walking.

Physical therapy has taught me to become aware of this imbalance and try to correct it. The result so far is that I have lengthened my step somewhat. I have also learned to wheel both my left and right hands around by my sides as, if you notice, most people naturally do. So my gait is, slowly to be sure, stretching out. The trick is to exercise vigorously enough to overcome my shuffle but not so vigorously as to aggravate the pain that still resides in my left leg, which has been working too hard for so many years.

I would like to thank Kate Roberts of Friends Life Care in Plymouth Meeting, PA for suggesting Physical Therapy for me and Genworth Long Term Care Insurance Company for getting in touch with me through partnering with Friends Life Care. The physical therapy is not part of the “Home Health Care” provided by Genworth to beneficiaries whose health keeps them at home. It is paid for by medicare and my supplemental insurance. It is also typical of the benefits available when one chooses to “age in place.”

Published by ronwendlingoutlookcom

My life has had three phases: one as a Jesuit seminarian, recorded in my 2015 memoir (Unsuitable Treasure: An Ex-Jesuit Makes Peace with the Past, Oak Tree Press); another as a college teacher and scholar of 19th century British Literature, best recorded in Coleridge's Progress to Christianity: Experience and Authority in Religious Faith (Associated University Presses, 1995); and finally my current phase as a retiree given to social media posts and photo commentary on my travels with my wife, Mary.

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