Over the Moon, instead of over the hill
MANY seniors are feeling isolated and disconnected from their families, neighbours and community in general.
That's why Wendy Ragg started up the Over the Moon Club on the northern Gold Coast nine months ago.
She says members encourage each other and have formed a local community network to help out in all sorts of ways - when sick, or needing a lift after day surgery or to the airport, minding gardens and animals, listening when someone is grieving and making time for people with problems, caring and sharing.
"Between us, we have 3000 years of life experience," Wendy says.
"My reason for starting with this idea was that I could see the need for it.
"There is quite a lot of support for the disabled people in the aged community and those living with family, but not much encouragement for people working on keeping themselves healthy, physically and mentally, from the community or the people's families or governments a lot of the time.
"We do not want to be helpless or pitied, we want to be independent and useful but, because many of us are on our own, sometimes we need a bit of help - which is freely given from the other members of our group.
"We would like to be respected and appreciated for our experience, empathy and compassion we could add to the community mix."
"Kindness changes everything" is a fitting motto that club members try to live by.
"It can be life-changing. We have seen it many times over and I have received such lovely emails confirming that the simple act of kindness and empathy and giving people a sense of inclusion and connection is all it takes to change a life from one of misery to one of joy," Wendy said.
"It's not about budgets and more drugs and Medicare blowouts, it's about caring for each other. We are all volunteers.
"Our members are really inspirational and enjoying their good health and new social lives.
"Exercising is wonderful for the body and the mind and developing friendships and reversing ageing.
"It is amazing how quickly one can start feeling a whole lot better and refreshed enough and with the self-confidence to deal with the challenges of ageing without having to go to the doctor all of the time or becoming tiresome to family and friends.
"When the body is working well, depression can lift and many of the aches and pains go away with more flexible muscles and good blood circulation taking their place.
"We don't feel a bit self-conscious if we can't do some exercises; we just do our best and keep trying to improve.
"We keep to small numbers in our classes, about eight people, so everyone is looked after and does not get hurt. We have excellent qualified teachers who understand the older body's limitations and, best of all, we have fun."
Club members go for regular walks to exercise, enjoy the outdoors, and to get to know each other.
"After all of our classes, we have coffee in the nearby coffee shops. We also have regular social gatherings in halls, people's homes, live theatre, parks and restaurants," Wendy said.
"It is a really lovely feeling to have all these friends of similar ages and interesting life stories to tell.
"Our oldest very active member is 84. She does two gym workouts a week of an hour each and keeps up with people nearly 20 years younger.
"She is also one of our regular walkers around the lake at Oxenford, which is 4km. She and her husband are renovating a house themselves - cementing, tiling and all the works."
Robyn Leonhart joined the club when it started - her husband had died and she had no family close-by apart from her 100-year-old mum.
"I do the gym work on Tuesdays and Fridays, the walk around the lake on Tuesday night and Saturday morning," she said.
"The club's very friendly - we have social occasions - and the fact that we can exercise well into our dotage, I think that's a wonderful thing."
Anyone interested in joining the Over the Moon Club, call Wendy on 0412 656 124.
SEG140518yvonovermoon1 Over the Moon Club members aged between 68 and 84 years work out at the gym.