Older Adult Class Helps Retired Teacher ‘Take Charge’

Carol Wojtalik

By Dana Bright

For over four years now, Older Adult Programs at Rush has offered “Take Charge of Your Health,” an educational workshop for adults and older adults living with ongoing, chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma and high blood pressure.

During six weekly interactive sessions with trained facilitators, participants come together with others going through similar experiences to learn skills and information aimed at helping them become more confident and in control of managing their health conditions and overall health as a whole. Every so often, we have a participant who shows such enthusiasm for the program and comfort with the material that we ask her/him to go on to become a trained workshop facilitator.

Several years ago, we had the great fortune to meet such a person, Carol Wojtalik. The program had a significant impact on Carol’s life as a participant, and she has gone on to become one of our most active, dedicated facilitators. We recently asked Carol to reflect back on her experience.

Here’s her story:

Where do I begin? I had just retired from a 35-year teaching career and was waiting for an epiphany. It came in an unusual form. I received a letter from Rush Generations inviting me to participate in a program called “Take Charge of Your Health.” My primary care doctor had suggested that I would be interested. Needless to say, my curiosity for learning made me sign up for the program. Continue reading

Exercise Tips for Older Adults

By Diane Genaze

I recently talked to Rush Generations, a newsletter for older adults in the Rush community, about ways to exercise at home without a gym membership or special equipment. The resulting article lists some great ways to get good exercise with supplies you have around your home –- or with no supplies at all.

Sometimes, though, getting out of the house or using simple, inexpensive equipment can add fun and variety to your exercise routine. As many of us embark on New Year’s resolutions to form healthier habits, I thought it might be a good time to share some suggestions about these kinds of activities, too.

Older adults should always consult a physician before beginning any new activity and should tailor any exercise program to their specific needs. (Exercise I might recommend for someone without arthritis, for example, might inflame the joints of someone who does have that condition.) That said, the following activities can be good places to start for many older adults:

Tai chi — a system of gentle exercise and stretching that originated in ancient China — can be an excellent option for almost anyone who has an intact musculoskeletal system. Instructional videos can help you get started, as can group classes, which are generally offered at gyms, community centers and martial arts centers.

Swimming is great, if you can get into it. The water, with its buoyancy, eliminates stress on your joints, so for people with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, swimming can be an excellent form of exercise that addresses the heart and lungs. If you do laps, it’s a wonderful aerobic workout. Continue reading