Older people can be fit and healthy, contrary to 100th day of school

Letters to the Editor

To the editor:

The 100th day of school is supposed to be a fun celebration of becoming 100 days smarter.

This year in addition to a project consisting of 100 items, my girls were asked to dress up as 100-year-olds. This gave me
pause. I am a physical therapist who specializes in geriatrics and works daily to bust myths of aging and keep older adults active
and independent.

That morning I spray painted their hair gray and helped them dress up in “grandma” clothes and glasses, accessorizing with necklaces and of course, hot pink lipstick. I felt comfortable with this representation of aging because it’s normal to have graying
hair and experience changes in your vision as you age.

Next, my girls asked to have canes, to which I gave a firm “no,” trying to gently educate them that most older adults do not need canes to walk around. My oldest daughter, who is 7, then began walking around bent over, holding her low back, limping and talking in her “granny voice”! I was horrified.

Where did she learn these negative stereotypes of aging? She is still so young, yet is already taking in these preconceived negative
ideas of aging and letting them guide her perception of what it means to get old. We need to change this conversation.

First, we need to acknowledge ageism exists and realize the impact it has on perceptions of aging. The next step is to educate
yourself on what “normal” aging really is. Only then can you stop prejudice against your future self.

Dr. Beth Templin, PT
Oakville

Editor’s note: Dr. Templin is the owner of HouseFit, which specializes in physical therapy for older adults.