Patient Referral

94-year-old hospice patient leads fitness class

WMC Action News 5

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A 94-year-old hospice patient proves that you're never too old to have fun and stay healthy.

Beverly Howell is a resident at Riverdale Assisted Living, as well as a patient at Crossroads Hospice. Despite her age, she said she exercises every morning and she's sharing her enthusiasm for fitness with the other residents at Riverdale Assisted Living.

"She likes to walk around and move her legs especially," Crossroads Hospice therapist Teesha said.

Howell led her own special class to help impress the importance of fitness on her fellow residents. The experience was made possible through Crossroads Hospice Gift of a Day program, which allows patients to experience what their perfect day might be. Howell's perfect day involved leading a fitness class.

"I like them all," Howell said when asked what her favorite exercise is. "Legs, arms--I like legs."

Representatives for Riverdale Assisted Living said Friday's class came out of Howell's desire to spread her love for exercise.

"One of the things started with Zumba. We want to keep them up and engaged as much as possible, so we started with Zumba class with one of the hospice occupational therapists," Tonya Holland said. "So, she started with Zumba to keep them up and active, so this is how this came about--Zumba class. So we're going to have Zumba, kind of aerobics, along with the 'sit-ercise' exercises as well."

Holland clarified that "sit-ercise" is an exercise class that residents can do while sitting down.

Riverdale Assisted Living representatives said they stress the importance of physical activity as a part of daily life for the residents.

"We have 'sit-ercise,' we have nature walks. We try to keep them up and moving with all the faculties that we possibly can," Valerie Todd-Stafford said. "We don't want people just sitting around, you know, moping around. We try to keep our members as active and energetic as possible."

Todd-Stafford said the residents love the classes and the ability to get moving.

"It help with mood. It helps with their mobility to get them up and get them moving," he added. "They have something to look forward to."

Howell makes the fitness classes part of her daily routine.

"We have exercise here every morning, Monday through Friday, and I come to exercise," Howell said.

Before getting a healthy post-workout snack of fresh fruit, Howell had a message for people who don't like to exercise or make excuses.

"Oh honey, well, they're doing themselves harm," Howell said.

So what are you waiting for? Get moving!