Never Too Old
At 95, Edna Mossestad drinks her coffee strong -- eight cups a day. She lives independently with her little dog Cookie. And in summer she still gardens, growing beautiful flowers in Thief River Falls, Minn.
But four years ago, Edna’s active life lost its bloom. She suffered mysterious burning pain in her right foot. At times she wondered if she’d make it back from her mailbox 200 feet away. The pain disrupted her sleep, too.
A thorough exam and tests led to the diagnosis: Peripheral Arterial Disease. PAD occurs when plaque buildup causes arteries to harden and narrow, reducing blood flow to the limbs. When PAD develops in the legs, restricted blood flow can’t keep up with the demand.
Dr. Heinrichs referred Edna to Dr. Corey Teigen, interventional radiologist at Sanford Health in Fargo. In many cases, Dr. Teigen is able to perform a minimally invasive procedure that improves circulation and brings rapid relief.
Says Sharon: “We went to Fargo hoping a stent could be placed in the artery and the problem would be solved, but it turned out Mom’s blockage wasn’t appropriate for a stent. Dr. Teigen suggested an alternative for pain relief.”
He recommended Edna walk one mile a day, but not on a treadmill. A stationary surface is safer for elderly people with possible balance issues. “I thought it was worth a try,” says Sharon. “Mother’s reaction was ‘If that’s what it takes, that’s what I’ll do.’”
Sharon, a retired social worker and nursing home administrator from Thief River Falls, stepped up. She wanted to do everything possible to help her mother succeed. They were instructed to start slowly with short distances, gradually building to one mile a day five days a week.
First they tried walking on sidewalks.
“The unevenness was a problem. Plus we got stones in our shoes,” says Sharon. Both women swear by penny-loafers. Sharon has two pairs -- brown and black; Edna has black.
Next they tried the Ralph Engelstad Arena. Sharon chuckles when she recalls the result.
“There’s a good-sized drop from the upper-level walking track down to the center floor,” says Sharon. “Looking down really bothered my mother.”
Finally they decided to check out the Sanford Thief River Falls Wellness Center. It came highly recommended by Sharon’s 81-year-old husband, Bill, who’d been exercising there for a year.
“The staff was wonderful!” says Sharon. “When we explained what we needed, they got busy measuring hallways. They’re a great bunch -- so encouraging and willing to help.”
The staff designed a safe, short route that required 24 times around for one mile. Edna and Sharon began with three slow rounds, building up to one mile within two months. “We were so proud when we reached that goal!” says Sharon.
Developing a routine
In their four years of walking one mile a day, Sharon and Edna have developed a routine they both like:
Within a year, Edna experienced benefits:
Though her goal was to help her mother, Sharon has experienced important health benefits, too:
“If I can keep my mom active, that’s good for her -- and good for me, too. We really do enjoy our walking!” says Sharon.
If you’re ready to start a walking program, first check with your doctor. Then consider two great tips from Sharon:
“You might think you can’t walk because you ache, but that’s exactly why you should walk,” says Sharon. “I was surprised at the improvements in my mom and myself.”
Let Edna and Sharon inspire you! Even if you’re younger than 95, call your nearest Sanford Wellness Center.
Posted Date: December 2012