Active Aging

Activity adds shine to golden years

By Alec Sills-Trausch 

To Grandview Terrace resident Nancy Paauwe, age really is “just a number.” 

 The 84-year-old former teacher from Michigan spent much of her life hiking and biking, and today she continues to live an active lifestyle. In fact, her philosophy is simple: “Keep moving.” 

That philosophy is also the theme surrounding this year’s Active Aging Week. Kicking off Sept. 23 and running through Sept. 29, Active Aging Week challenges the idea that older adults cannot live as full of lives as their younger counterparts. 

The annual celebration, now in its 15th year, highlights “the capabilities of older adults” and supports their efforts to lead active, healthy lives.

Five years ago, when Nancy moved to Grandview Terrace, she started participating in exercise classes. She credits these life enrichment classes with giving her more energy.

One of Nancy’s biggest motivators is Katherine McDonnell, the fitness coordinator at Grandview Terrace and an ACE-certified health coach.

“Katherine has helped me so much,” Nancy says. 

Nancy used to have difficulty getting up and out of chairs, so Katherine “recommended that I practice getting up and down from a chair 12 to 15 times a day.” 

“I just kept working on it,” she says. And today, she finds it much easier. 

Katherine, who coordinates group exercises and Masterpiece Living ® physical health programming and offers one-on-one exercise, behavioral or nutritional consultations for Grandview Terrace residents, said the most popular classes are the group exercise classes. 

 “We have seated chair yoga, Tai Chi, a variety of seated or combination seated and standing aerobics classes and strength conditioning,” she says. “We also have a stretch class and aquatic exercise classes.” 

These classes allow residents to stay active and fit, which helps them maintain their independence. As people age, muscles begin to decline so it is important to head off that decline as much as possible.  

“It’s imperative to stay active for general function,” Katherine says. “Getting up and down out of a chair, being able to put something away on a shelf, unload the dishwasher, push open a door or pour a bottle of wine are all examples of this.”

Katherine credits Nancy not only with staying active but taking that to the next level, even in her mid-80s.

“She was willing to find out how much work it took to improve an already active lifestyle,” Katherine says. 

And the admiration is mutual, with Nancy crediting Katherine for challenging her with new initiatives to strive toward each month. 

On a good week, she’ll do nine classes, including posture and balance, yoga, Tai Chi and chair exercises with weights and bands. 

“I really try to keep exercise as a priority,” she says. “I don’t want to become one of these people who just sits in a chair. I just want to be able to move around as long as I can.”

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