Senior Wellness

About two months ago, I received a call from my medical group – which usually means I’ve missed an appointment, screwed up an insurance claim or forgotten to pay a bill.   This call was none-of-the-above.     My doctor had recommended me for a Senior Wellness Seminar.   Me.  Hardly sixty-five.   But it was more than a seminar… it offered FREE medical testing on four of the medical conditions that most affect seniors, a presentation on the topics, and a one-on-one consultation with a nurse-practitioner.   The conditions were diabetes, lung function, blood circulation in the legs and depression.

Several years ago, my morning blood sugar started showing up in the high pre-diabetes range, which prompted a period of blood sugar self-testing and dietary modification.    It turns out that I have a fairly common tendency toward high blood sugar in the morning, especially if I snack on carbs in the evening but it settles back into healthy ranges as the day goes on.   My doctor ordered a HbA1c test, which measures your average blood sugar over a period of about three months.  It came back in the normal range, so he recommended I watch my carbs and have periodic tests, but nothing more.   But part of feeling older is that there’s ALWAYS something else going on, in my case an inflamed nerve in my back that sometimes gives me a tingling in my feet.    Bad combination.     My Mom died from kidney failure due to diabetes but not before the resulting poor circulation in her legs led to several amputations.  In spite of my doctor’s confidence that my tingles were due to nerve inflammation, I wondered.   So today, I attended my first Senior Wellness Seminar.

When I arrived at 8:32 am for the 8:30 seminar, it was already in session.  For my tardiness, I received a stern look from the nurse practitioner and was placed at the end of the list for the personal consultation.     The attendees were mostly couples and I’d guess they were all at least ten years older than I am … but they may have said the same about me.    I’m always astonished how, regardless of age, when we are dropped back into a classroom situation we revert to those high school homeroomers.    I immediately became the smart ass in the back of the room, thinking I know all this, what a waste of my time. To my left, one old guy … I suppose, in this setting, saying old is redundant … kept bobbing his head in agreement and smiling, showing the somewhat cute RN how much he was enjoying her presentation.   Another repeatedly asked questions to which he clearly knew the answers (because he embellished the RN’s answers almost before she could finish).    As the seminar turned to eating right for pre-diabetes, a fellow on my right that had a triple bypass two months ago insisted on sharing the ways he’d begun eating right … and lost sixteen pounds.    He tsk-tsked those of us who admitted to still eating ice cream or even non-fat yogurt.   Converts are the worst, whether they’re religious or dietary.

I spoke up once when the discussion hit a little too close to home.   After the RN talked about depression, the head bobber said that the way to avoid depression was to be adaptable to whatever happened.    I waited … I really did … for the nurse to respond but when she didn’t, I pointed out that if someone is truly depressed, they can’t be adaptable.   They need medical and psychological help.   The notion that you are depressed because you not adaptable … strong … focused … enough only drives those who are truly depressed deeper.   If you don’t know this and are dealing with a depressed person, read When Someone You Love is Depressed.

So, what did I learn?    I learned that my lungs are normal and that my fasting blood sugar was a little high … time to start watching the carbs and ask the doc about another HbA1c test.   I found out I wasn’t depressed (I must be adaptable).   And I found out that the practitioner didn’t get a good reading on my blood circulation in my legs so I should talk to my doctor to see if he wants to repeat it.    I learned that most of the people who attend Senior Wellness Seminars do so because they are well educated about health issues but they also go just to talk.     I realized that when it comes to health, especially as we get older, being reminded of things we already know can be helpful.   I saw again that nothing brings out the Inner Curmudgeon like being in a room with a flock of them.    And I learned … or relearned … that I love Old Couples who’ve weathered the storms together and still look at each other with love in their eyes.    I’m proud to join them.

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3 Comments on “Senior Wellness”

  1. terri Says:

    I admire you for attending the seminar. I think most would feel they were too busy to bother with it. And I totally agree with your assessment on depression. I have some experience to prove you’re right, and generally think I have a fairly adaptable personality. But depression doesn’t care.

  2. As the former Senior Moderator of a Depression Forum with over 600,000 members, I commend you on standing up for people with clinical depression, and insisting that we have a medical condition, not an attitude problem.
    The stigma that people with depression still face in this supposedly more enlightened age is still staggering. Thank you for doing your part to eradicate that stigma.
    My blog on depression is
    My humorous blog is

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