Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Balance Workshop might help alleviate a concern

A brief update is included at the end of this story . . .

Wednesday will be a different kind of day for me.  In fact, the next eight Wednesdays could be interesting.  I really have precious little of knowledge about what's going to be happening during these Wednesdays because I'm going to be attending a workshop like I've never attended before.

I'm going to learn how to maintain my balance.  At least that's the goal of the workshop.  I've been told, too, it's a full class of other folk that are or are approaching my longevity on Earth.  What I really don't know is what is going to happen at this workshop as I've never even heard of a balance workshop until now.

This all began for me in early March when I went to my personal care physician for my annual checkup.  I have had an annual physical exam for many years, but the non-doctors now determining Medicare decided that once a person hits a certain age such physicals are more or less a waste of time.  After all, keeping us in our upper 70s or even higher, is a very costly expense for the government. 

It's all part of President Obama's "reform" the our health care system.  I still remember when before Obama was president, a candidate commented that folk our age should just be given a pill.  It was never clear to me if that pill was to slow down any pain or illness or it was meant to mean to help end a life.

Anyway, now under the Affordable Health Care, we seniors do not get a paid annual physical exam each year.  Now to be fair and honest, most doctors had to rely on some technicality to get Medicare to pay for the physical.  Most easily could as most of us do have some condition that requires a full exam.

My doctor tries to obey the rules and regulations and I support him for that.  So now I get a "wellness conversation" with the doctor.  Of course, if something major develops from that conversation, the doctor can treat me or refer me to a specialist.  The wellness thing is completely compensated by Medicare.  That's what the government means when it tells us there is no cost to us. 

It was in early March when I had my "wellness conversation."  The conversation started out when a multipage questionnaire was sent to me by my doctor's office.  It was packed with questions about various aspects of my health and mental condition.  I thought some of the questions, frankly, were just a little too invasive and I handled them accordingly.  Since I've been going to the same doctor for many, many years, he already had the records of just about everything, including major illnesses, operations, medications, etc., that are or have been in my past.

My PCP is part of what I consider to be the best medical team in Maine and they all share all the information about me.

However, there was a full page of questions about balance, which I understand we older folk seem to develop as we approach the "other end."  Fair enough.  I honestly don't recall ever discussing balance with my doctors before other that to mention almost in passing that I occasionally lose mine.  I had to admit that my concern has been increasing in recent years as it doesn't take much for me to almost fall.  In fact, I have fallen down a few times in recent years and one of those falls resulted in the heart member of my team to suggest I consider giving up driving.  I listened to him and no longer drive a car.

I have fallen a few times in my own home.  And, like that advertisement we see frequently on the TV, there have been times when I couldn't get up without help.  I'm also concerned that my falling could lead to my breaking something, like a hip, or a back, or an arm, leg, or just about anything else that could break.  For the first time, as a result of that wellness form, I did have a serious talk with my doctor.

He suggested I attend a workshop held frequently by the Southern Maine Agency on Aging which is located in my home town of Scarborough.  When I got home from my visit with the doctor, I called the Agency to inquire about the balance workshops.  The young lady with whom I spoke was extremely pleasant and helpful so I enrolled in a balance workshop.

It begins Wednesday.  I understand it includes some discussions, lectures, and exercises.  The exercises are designed to be done at home and should strengthen my joints and muscles so that I can stand more easily and can control that balance issue.

I won't know until after the first class just what I'm getting myself into, but it'll be shortly after it when I decide if, indeed, the balance workshop is for me or perhaps might not fit my needs.  I'd be surprised if somewhere before it ends, if I do stick it out, I'll be hearing about those life alert devices we see advertised on the TV.


Update:  I did attend the first session of the Balance Workshop held by the Southern Maine Agency on Aging.  Nervously I entered the workshop room and instantly a very personable and friendly member of the staff greeted me.  After a couple of friendly words, others began to arrive and she met then equally as friendly.

The Workshop was more than I had anticipated.  The first session was devoted to what I would call a normal first session.  There were the introductions, the meeting of  other participants, and a full discussion of what we each expected.  And I did learn that those of us who are just a little up in age have that fear of falling in common.  Once we understood all of us were in the same state of nervousness, we settled down and the meeting grew from there.

I had wondered if I felt this group thing would accomplishment anything for me.  It most certainly did.  I actually left at the end of the very, actually too fast, two hours.  The first thing I told my wife who now drives me around was that I was very happy and satisfied and now truly wanted to continue in these sessions. 

I'll have just one more decision when we get to week 7.  That'll be on the last Wednesday of May so I'll have to decide on Balance or Retired Group lunch.  Right now, I think I'll be missing my second lunch session.

Stay tuned.  I'll periodically pass along what I'm learning about balance and falling as the Workshop wends its way through these eight weeks.


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