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PT and the Greater Good

Quantity vs. Quality of Life

Published September 24, 2014 5:43 PM by Dean Metz

Just recently a friend of mine celebrated a significant birthday. I celebrated the same one a year ago. Something about turning this age propelled us both to contemplate the future in a different way than younger "landmark" birthdays had done. What to do with the time that is left? This article takes an interesting look at someone's choice to make dramatic changes once he turns 75. Those changes are probably not what you would expect and not ones his doctor will probably approve of.

Leonard Cohen, the musician, just turned 80. To celebrate, he resumed smoking. Not what a public health advocate likes to hear. But what if I've got it all wrong? For many years, we've worked at extending the expected life spans of individuals. Are we really prolonging life, or simply prolonging death?

There is a quote by Hunter S. Thompson bouncing around social media: "Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!'" Everyone seems to like the sentiment, but how many will really practice it?

Another piece by a younger person cautions us to live life to the fullest no matter what our age, as hers finished much too soon. I've also just read an article in Cruising World magazine about a couple in their 90s who still sail their 38-foot cutter internationally. Stories like that make me question the gentleman in the first article who wishes to pass on at 75.

This is a long way of saying I support the APTA guideline (never thought I'd type that!) of "Don't prescribe under-dosed strength training programs for older adults. Instead, match the frequency, intensity, and duration of exercise to the individual's abilities and goals."

As a younger therapist, I assumed older patients couldn't tolerate a real strengthening program. Now I have people in their mid-90s playing footie or while standing on an unstable platform playing catch. They're having fun and learning skills that will empower them to take the bus, sail the world, or come skidding in sideways... and it will be their choice, not mine.

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1 comments

There is no way Dean that I'm giving up anything at 75.  I saw that article and thought, can I have your extra 15 years?  Since I parents had good years until 90, abet with some health problems, I show for that too.  And 15 years is a log time to do many terrific things.  I look at all the things I've done in the last 15 years.  Sure at 75 to 90 your not going to do things as quickly.  But your also don't need to be in a hurry.  Right now, facing 60, I'm discovering I want to do the physical exercise it will take to keep me able to do things at 85.  It's just finding the time.

Beth Haskell, CPC September 25, 2014 1:53 PM
New York NY

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About this Blog


    Dean Metz
    Occupation: Staff Development Specialist
    Setting: New York, NY – Newcastle Upon Tyne, Great Britain
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