The following article was submitted by Holland Home and appeared in the Grand Rapids Press Health Section on Sunday, March 10.
Bob Bode, a resident at Holland Home’s independent retirement living complex, Raybrook Estates, is living proof we don’t have to accept disability as an inevitable component of aging.
Bob walks the halls of Raybrook Estates six days a week — a trip just shy of a mile and which takes him 30 minutes.
He also exercises for 25 minutes, six days per week, on the NuStep — a recumbent cross trainer available in Raybrook’s William C. Buiten Wellness Centre.
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, he participates in a half-hour senior exercise class on the campus, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays, he takes a balance and stability class.
Bode will turn 91 in March of this year.
Not about genes
In 1998, the MacArthur Foundation commissioned a study to determine just how and why we age. The study revealed that, contrary to popular belief, the biggest impact on how we age comes not from our genes and heredity but from our lifestyle. A full 70 percent of the aging process is determined by the choices we make.
It is possible to live long, without significant disability, if we maintain our physical and mental skills, reduce our risk for disease and stay productive and engaged with life.
Most age-related changes can be reversed or halted by positive changes in environment and diet, exercise, stress management, medication and other lifestyle choices.
In other words, “use it or lose it.”
After the study was released, the Mayo Clinic, University of Michigan and other experts on aging used the findings to create Masterpiece Living — a program that addresses the components of successful aging.
Holland Home has made Masterpiece Living available free to residents on their Breton Woods and Raybrook campuses.
“At Holland Home, we have a strong commitment to wellness for our residents. Masterpiece Living allows us to offer them a cutting-edge program that is guaranteed to help them live better, longer,” said David Claus, president and CEO of Holland Home. “Masterpiece Living is based on four core beliefs that include staying physically and mentally active; maintaining social engagement; adhering to the belief that age does not have to be limiting; and finding ways to make a difference to others and to the community.”
Masterpiece Living has been in place for three years on Holland Home’s Breton Woods campus.
“The results have been exciting,” said Amanda Baushke, director of Masterpiece Living. “We took measurements of our residents’ medical and lifestyle risk factors in 2009 and again in 2011. Our residents have seen a significant drop in both factors.”
Some of the results have been quite impressive. The percentage of residents with high triglycerides dropped from 15 percent of those studied in 2009 to less than 1 percent in 2011. Tobacco use declined from 8 percent in 2009 to barely 1 percent in 2011. The percentage of participants engaging in a regular exercise program went up 20 percent, while those practicing safety measures such as using sunscreen, wearing a seatbelt and installing fire and smoke alarms, increased by almost 20 percent as well.
Recovering from a fall
Two years ago, Bode had a bad fall that required physical therapy. Determined to regain his strength, Bode joined the Masterpiece Living program when it was introduced on the Raybrook Campus eight months ago. The program encourages walking, and Bode received a pedometer to track his steps. Since starting the program, he has increased his speed and, even though he uses a walker, he is “keeping up with the Joneses.”
On a recent trip to Colorado, Bode’s daughter gifted him with a half-hour ride in a Piper Cub. Not content to just sit back and enjoy the scenery, Bode took over the controls for almost half the flight. The instructor said not only was Bode the oldest student he’d ever had, Bode also outperformed all his younger students.
Bode plans to continue his fitness regimen as long as he can. His advice: “Make it part of your routine.”
“Everyone can benefit from applying the principles of Masterpiece Living,” Baushke said. “Regular exercise, both physical and mental, and staying involved with friends and the greater community all contribute to living better, longer. And most of important of all — don’t use age as an excuse to limit yourself.”