By Pat Warner
Photos by Bob Dunham
Frank Furci used to be a long distance cyclist; about 10 years ago he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. “I exercise to strengthen my body, especially the muscles that support my joints, and to maintain independence. After being diagnosed, I took up Tai-Chi. Every morning I walk about a mile round trip from my home to the Pavilion to practice Tai-Chi for 30 minutes.” Frank is an Army Vietnam Veteran and retired attorney who lived in Hong Kong and saw Tai-Chi practiced among the elderly. “I recommend taking resident Sally Hardy’s Tai-Chi classes.”
Frank’s physician encourages his exercise regimen which includes fitness classes five days a week: two days of beginners’ classes and three days of advanced classes. He uses free weights and some machines and feels that he does more under the direction of Talina Hendrickson, our full-time Fitness Coordinator. Frank emphasizes, “Talina is the best thing we could ever have here.” Frank makes canes and walking sticks as a hobby, having made about 140 and gives these items gratis to residents. “I recommend that residents shouldn’t be embarrassed by starting out slowly as an individual’s tolerance level varies.”
Frank Furci regularly utilizes the Fitness Center for classes in addition to a regular Tai-Chi regimen.
Joan Furci is a retired educator whose father was a body builder. She walks around Lake Fountain, uses a yoga mat, and evenings she and Frank enjoy ten to fifteen minutes of Tai-Chi together. The couple have exercised all of their lives. Frank laughed because Joan’s father told him that his wife should limit her pasta intake and get plenty of exercise. “I am proud that Joan has maintained her trim figure!” Joan teaches weaving at JKV and uses small plastic frames made by Frank. “I believe that weaving stimulates cognitive thinking and encourages creativity.”
Joan Furci regularly utilizes the Fitness Center for classes in addition to a regular Tai-Chi regimen.
Roger Sims is 88 years old and retired in 1988 from the Michigan State Employment Service where he had worked as an employee counselor and a program auditor. In 1999, he had a three-way heart by-pass; he was asymptomatic prior to the attack and it was attributed to a lack of exercise although he had played golf, bowled, and walked up stairs where he worked. Post-surgery his doctor recommended an exercise program and Roger participated in Florida Hospital Celebration Health’s Cardiac Rehabilitation for about six months. He also had cardiac physical therapy for about a year and a half.
The Sims moved to Florida in 2001 and joined Dr. Phillip’s YMCA where their staff recommended an activity program. In 2006, Pat noticed that Roger’s left arm wasn’t swinging correctly and that he had a slightly shuffling gait, but none of the characteristic tremors of Parkinson’s disease. Pat had observed her mother who lived for 34 years post Parkinson’s diagnosis. She suspected that Roger had subtle signs and symptoms of the disease and relayed them to their primary doctor who sent Roger to a neurologist who confirmed the diagnosis. Pat’s astute observations were instrumental in determining Roger’s early diagnosis and treatment.
In 2007, the Sims moved to JKV where the pool and Fitness Center were deemed a definite plus. Roger had to meet with the Health Care Director and she recommended a Parkinson’s Exercise Group which Pat eventually led and which they both enjoyed until it disbanded due to a loss of members. Based on a physical therapist’s recommendation, a whole body exercise program was established for Roger. Currently, four times a week, without employing resistance, he uses both the treadmill and the NuStep machine for twelve to fourteen minutes. Pat shared that Talina has medical permission forms that residents may give to their physicians, who can then prescribe the type of physical activity needed.
Roger has benefited from speech therapy, physical therapy and an early diagnosis. He used a cane for a long while and now, because of balance issues, he uses a wheelie walker to prevent falls. Roger advises, “Maintain a positive attitude and keep moving.” To prove that he practices what he says, Roger has served as Nomination Chairman on the Residents’ Council, enjoys playing bridge three times a week, shooting pool, and playing poker. His neurologist has recommended that Roger be evaluated by a rehabilitation specialist.
Roger Sims uses the Fitness Center four times a week.
Pat Sims was a psychiatric social worker for 40 years prior to retiring in 2001. She is 81 years old and her osteoarthritis has progressed to Sjogren’s Induced Rheumatoid Arthritis. When she moved to JKV, Pat heard that water exercises were beneficial and began Aqua Aerobics. She exercises in the pool three times a week and has inherited a leadership role. Both Pat and Roger have prescriptions for their exercise activities. Pat is the Membership Chairwoman for FLiCRA, has served on the food committee, volunteers in the library and both she and Roger have programmed for Knox-TV. The couple have positive attitudes and can be seen enjoying the various social activities on and off campus.
Pat Sims participates in Aqua Aerobics three times a week.
Bob Wood is 83 years old, studied engineering in college and retired as the Operations Vice-President at Electronic Business Systems (EBS) which automated insurance agencies. He said, “I have a bad leg and osteoarthritis everywhere, and feel it is essential that I exercise. I maintain a positive attitude and force myself, but I don’t like doing it! I try to go to the Fitness Center twice a day; in the morning I lift weights and in the afternoon exercise on the NuStep machine using level ten resistance for 24 minutes. I am mainly motivated to burn calories to maintain a healthy weight. I got a three-wheel walker from the Aging Tree store which is very flexible, light weight and I can easily lift it into the car. I use it to prevent falling; however, I can’t sit on it. The Fitness Center is a value here and attendance has gone way up with the hiring of instructor Talina. I eat a nutritionally sound diet and stay away from refined sugars and salt.” Bob formerly programmed for Knox-TV, delivered FLiCRA bulletins, and currently shops for neighbors.
Bob tries to visit the fitness center at least twice a day to lift weights and use the NuStep.
Dot Wood was an elementary and high school librarian. Currently she selects books and maintains the bulletin boards in our library. “I have read plenty of health publications and all recommend more exercising and emphasize mobility. I am 84 years old and started water exercising when I came to JKV because I like the water and the camaraderie. I do Aqua Nuts three times a week, sometimes I lead it and try to exercise in the water six times a week. I feel that all of the water exercise classes are valuable although they have variations. The Aqua Nuts class is more strenuous and upbeat while the Aqua Aerobics class is designed more for arthritics. Water exercise is non-impact and takes the weight off my joints. I have occasional sore knees and back and sometimes work on the NuStep machine with Bob. We decide what level of resistance on the NuStep is best for us and work to avoid causing pain and discomfort.”
Dot Wood enjoys Aqua Aerobics three times per week.
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