Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 11th 2013 Contents I couldn t do this in Scotland.
in a hammock on a patio, my dog
resting peacefully beside me, birds
chirping loudly but carefully avoid-
ing the watchful eye of the cat who
lounges on my lap as I write. I am
thankful to return to the warmth and easy tropical
breeze of home. Trinidad does have its perks.
Yet the cold was no deterrent to the numerous
cyclists, hikers, and backpackers who littered the
roads of the Scottish countryside. This is not sur-
prising. Having grown up in such weather, they are
very much used to it. But what was pleasantly shock-
ing was the age of these active people. With full
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Friday, October 11, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
heads of grey hair and wrinkled skin
as rugged as some of the terrain
they traversed, they were easily in
their seventies. They pedaled the
undulating hills with the pleasure
and ease of a Sunday afternoon
drive, waving to each other as they
crossed paths. Others, some alone, some in groups,
were hiking the stark, savage mountain paths on the
Isle of Skye. Others traversed the hills of the Highlands,
left smooth and rounded by the sandpaper-like forces
of ice sheets that once blanketed the region.
Watching them I heard my father s voice echoing,
"Age is but a number! You are as old as you feel!"
While some discretion should be used in interpreting
his firm belief, there is truth in his statement.
In Trinidad old age seems to be a death sentence.
"She ole so she shouldn t do dat."
"My days for dat done!"
And my personal favourite, "I too ole for dis oui!"
If someone is retired, the Trini expectation is that
they should be slowing down, take a rest after lunch,
and not work too hard around the house because
you could "hut up yuh back or twis up yuh knee
and fall dong."
Why should it be like that? Why not speed up
after retirement instead of slowing down? After all
there is more leisure time in retirement, time to take
care of our bodies and minds. I am not saying that
we must become extreme athletes in our later years.
Invariably, there is age-related degeneration in our
bodies such as arthritis, which is sometimes accom-
panied by pain. But this does not mean we should
become less active. Quite the opposite, an active
lifestyle is one of the best methods for combating
age-related changes in our bodies.
While these degenerative changes may not allow
us to hike El Tucuche or play football or jog around
the Savannah, there are other less aggressive ways
to stay active. I suspect that is why so many elderly
people were riding their bikes in Scotland. Cycling
is much easier on the joints than is jogging. But in
Trinidad, where can elderly people safely cycle? Apart
from the potholes and bumpy roads with canals on
either side, crazed, disrespectful and selfish motorists
abound and the stress they cause will surely accelerate
the ageing process for elderly cyclists, if not end their
lives with reckless driving.
Walking seems to be a more feasible option for
the elderly in Trinidad. People in the English Lakes
District, easily in their seventies and eighties, were
out walking with their well-behaved, groomed dogs,
some of which seemed just as old as their masters.
Yet they were out for exercise. However, Trinidadians
first have to get over this upsetting and cruel belief
that a dog should be locked up or chained, its sole
purpose to be used as a watch. A dog is a pet, needing
love and exercise, just as we do, and is a fabulous
way to help an elderly person stay active.
There were even some senior citizens walking their
dogs despite the fact that they used a walking stick.
In Coniston, people with canes were almost as com-
mon as those without. A trip to historical Stirling
Castle near Edinburgh seemed to be a common event
for many persons with disabilities. People in wheel-
chairs, with walkers and canes abounded. It was so
pleasing to see that people did not let their age or
disabilities hamper them from experiencing life s
pleasures. I am cautiously delighted to see amphibious
wheelchairs being introduced at Maracas so that dif-
ferently-abled people can enjoy the beach. Now let s
see if they would be maintained!
The elderly should not be sentenced to a life of
rest and immobility, as if waiting on their number
to call. There is still so much of life to enjoy, so much
movement and activity to be had. While ageing may
not allow us to do what we once did, it is certainly
not a death sentence. "An early morning walk is a
blessing for the whole day!"
Carla Rauseo, DPT, CSCS is a Doctor of Physical
Therapy and Certified Strength and Condition-
ing Specialist at Total Rehabilitation Centre Ltd
in El Socorro.
The cold was no deterrent
to the numerous cyclists,
hikers, and backpackers
who littered the roads of
the Scottish countryside.
A Scottish lesson in ageing well
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