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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Thursday June 20th 2024

Ringing Rubber Bells!

Ringing Rubber Bells

By Robert Albee

There are many of us who are now looking back at age 65 and forward to the rest of our lives, however long that might be. We want to be productive and healthy and engaged with our families and communities. Each of us are different and based on the damage and partially-healed injuries we sustained in getting to our current age, we enter our elder years with a history of liabilities to address along with our current state of health and wellness. So at what point do we start becoming feeble and fearful of falling and breaking a hip which is often the beginning of the end for an elder. We often fall because we lose our balance or simply trip over something that is in our way.

To begin facing this issue, I enrolled to become a trainer in A Matter of Balance. MOB is an evidence-based program designed to enable participants to become much more aware of fall prevention strategies and engage in physical activities designed to strengthen our abilities to better balance. What I found, however, is that the program lacked any real strategy to reverse my problems that started at an earlier age. I need to get better, not just maintain my current sorry situation! So like anybody with an idea of how to improve on things, I developed a swimming pool- based program that enables me to strengthen my muscles and balance/ coordination without fear of falling down. If I do fall, I only get wetter!

In this quest, I learned that there is a whole lot of “equipment” out there designed for therapy that is unavailable locally for aqua-aerobics programs. The “good stuff” is reserved for therapists who make it available for those recovering from injuries but only get a chance to use it a few times before their insurance support runs out. So what if we had some of these pieces to use over and over and over again?

Allina Health to the rescue! A few months ago, through its Neighborhood Health Connection, Allina offered residents of Minnesota the opportunity to apply for a small support grant of $250 to do something healthy; to promote a good idea or something they could then share with others. So I applied, asking for funds to buy some of those “therapy” aids that I could use with a few friends and develop our own program to help us enhance our balance skills in the pool. We also asked for assistance by a physical therapist (from Allina) to observe our program and make suggestions for developing an even better program that could fit into the Phillips Community Center pool once it reopens. Just our luck, Allina agreed and offered the funding; I also got a matching grant to extend our purchases for additional aquatherapy equipment. So we”'re on our way!

In the midst of this work, we”'ve also gotten to know Clarice, who has attended her own pool workouts almost every day for the past 22 years. With a hip replacement and walking with a cane, she is very careful and will need a long time before she will again try our Wonder Board for balance, but is working for the first time with the foam bells albeit very lightweight ones. So she too is “ringing” rubber bells!

Consider this story an invitation! If you”'re interested in improving your balance regardless of your age and you have a membership in the YWCA, why not join up to do this together. I”'m not alone in this: the “we” is also Patricia Van Ert, who has been a partner in this little adventure from the very beginning. We have room for more folks if this idea intrigues you in any way. You can call me at 612.879.5029 and we can link up!

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