What does 10 or 20 years into the future look like to you?
Well over 10 years ago I picked up a magazine and saw a group of older athletes competing and felt a twinge of envy. I looked in the mirror and thought to myself how can I do what they do, I’m too old to start now.
I reflected on a time when my mother was visiting. I heard a very faint “help” come from the guest bathroom. I went in and Mom was stuck in the bathtub and could not get up. She had not fallen or had injured herself; she just had no strength to maneuver in the tub and pull herself up. It was embarrassing for her and shocking to me. I was shocked because I saw the real issue that losing your strength and agility had on everyday activities. At that moment, I knew I didn’t want to be like mom, I wanted to be a strong and agile older athlete.
Can you change your mindset?
How do we change our mindset from I can’t, I’m too old, to I can start today to change?
Dan Heath introduced the concept of Upstream in his book by the same name. He talks about starting at the beginning and how to fix what is causing the problem or issue upstream instead of trying to fix the problem once it has happened. He begins the book with a very poignant parable about children drowning in a river and how one person stopped the children from drowning. The link to that parable and read by Dan Heath is provided below in the reference.
Can you apply upstream thinking in your life?
Putting the concept of upstream thinking into practice today is possible. I think of the number one killer for older people. That is an injury due to a fall. If we put our upstream (prevention) hat on we can find several reasons that a fall can happen. It could be a trip hazard on the floor. A visual issue ranging from low light, or bifocal glasses, to other medical eye conditions. Don’t forget poor strength and balance.
Medicine today is great at fixing the fracture, but that is downstream. Just like gathering lots of rescuers to help the drowning children. That’s too late in the game.
Wait! Save reading the parable until the end.
Upstream thinking for fall prevention
1. Environment. Check your environment before you trip and possibly injure yourself. Is your environment where you live clutter free? Do you have sturdy chairs to sit in? Are there area rugs where a toe could catch? Nightlights where you need them (hallways, bathroom, etc).
2. Footwear. Sturdy shoes or slip-on slippers. Those slip on’s might be comfier, but could they trip you up.
3. Medications. Are you on any medications that could make you feel lightheaded or drowsy? Do you take a sleeping aid and then get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom?
4. Alcohol. Does that one glass of wine or martini turn into two?
5. Vision. Do you wear progressive eyeglasses that cause objects on the floor to distort? Do you have other medical issues with your vision?
6. Strength and Balance. How easy or difficult is it for you to rise from a chair (or bathtub), can you stand on one leg? Do you have hip or knee problems? How flexible are your ankles?
What is your UPSTREAM plan?
What are the things you want to do over the next ten to twenty years? Playing with grandchildren, golfing, or just feeling healthy.
I want to travel again. If you have traveled, you know that it has its challenges. Heavy suitcases, stairs, long lines at security, waiting, sitting, lifting items above your head, cobble stones, and more.
Planning upstream for travel is key to a successful trip. If you don’t have your health, strength and stamina, travel will be difficult. By being pro-active and working on lifting, balance, endurance, strength is necessary to get out on the road.
What a bonus it will be when you feel good enough to take in the sights and enjoy your travel.
Need some help?
If you’re feeling like you need a little more assistance to help you get upstream. Please reach out, I’d love to hear from you and maybe even help you get upstream instead of picking up the pieces downstream. It’s up to you, but don’t wait. Each moment counts.
Happy with the way things are?
If you are happy with inactivity and picture yourself as a very old person sitting in a chair in the hallway, that is certainly your choice. But don’t kid yourself and think that It’s OK to wait until tomorrow or next week or next month. Honesty, you won’t be any different, because you won’t do anything different. If you don’t start something TODAY, I predict that this time next year you will have made no changes and may even be worse off. It’s your choice.
Ready to make a change?
My choice is that I want to be like Hurricane Hawkins and running at 104 years of age. Hopefully there will be one person cheering my willingness to give it a try and push the limits. If you want to join me, and start thinking upstream TODAY, book a call now and let’s get moving. I’m here to help you.
The Drowning Children Parable as told by Dan Heath