I may be strange. When others like to kick their legs up to relax, I demur. I have good reason: wheelchair-bound with legs that don’t hardly raise six inches without help, kicking is out, as well as kung foo or using a foot-rest to relax.
Besides, I don’t want to kick back. I eschew binge watching Netflix, lounging in a recliner. I abrogate staring stupidly at the flat-screen while highlights of NFL Red Zone escapades fly by. No. I have to be doing something.
The ALF I live in tries to give residents something to do. And they do a pretty good job. Residents may take our bus shopping or for rides to see the leaves fall in Fall or see Christmas decorations in Winter. There’s soft exercise, too, even ball throwing. But the relaxing and recreation is primarily bored – oops, board – games. Bingo is big but it’s a game played on cards – my point: Players are in situ and in loco. (Except when someone wins and jumps up.)
My peculiarity is that I crave activity, either mental or physical, and I crave it non situ and non-loco. When I lived in my home, I got away by running, swimming, biking. I went to the theatre, movies, and concerts. I went to coffee houses and had engaging and stimulating discussions. I took writing courses (I hope it’s apparent in my blogs), and took courses at the community college. Of course, writing is a mental and physical activity – with my disabled hand, it’s a one finger exercise - I write a monthly blog for AARP.
It’s no wonder that I feel stuck in the ALF, however nice it may be.
The good news is that, despite being disabled and in a wheelchair, I can do all the things I once did – except running, swimming, and biking; well not quite; I can use a stationary bike at the fitness club I go to. I can be non situ and non-loco by using the county-wide transportation system for seniors and the disabled. It’s my passage into the world I once inhabited.
Wheelchair vans driven by retired volunteers – the old helping the old - take me to medical appointments and to classes that I audit at the nearby university. Other volunteers take me by car to my fitness club, populated mostly by septuagenarians and octogenarians, with some nonagenarians in the mix. (Aging doesn’t mean napping or sitting still.) Old friends drive me to auditions and rehearsals at the theatre company I belong to. They take me to movies, out-to-lunch; we go to coffee shops for camaraderie. All active. All doing.
So am I strange to abandon my ALF to Get Away? No. It’s called LIVING.
Dick Weinman is an AARP Oregon volunteer and our Assisted Living Guru.