On August 21st, Americans have an opportunity to celebrate the wisdom and achievements of their elders, as well as advocate for the rights of older people all over the world. Senior Citizens Day, which was originally celebrated on August 14th, the day that President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act in 1935, and officially recognized as a day of national importance by President Ronald Reagan in 1988, is truly a day to reflect on the life experiences of senior family and community members. It is also a day when we can, as United Nations Secretary Kofi Annan wrote in 2005, “empower them, so that they can participate fully in the economic, political and social lives of their societies.” After all, if we’re lucky, won’t we all be seniors?
Consider that in 1950 only 200 million people were over 60 years old. Fifty years later, that number tripled to 600 million senior citizens living on the planet. In the next decade, that number will again double to over 1 billion people worldwide that are over 60. That’s nine zeros.
It should go without saying that we need to start talking about how we as a world community will help our elders live and function in a thriving society. One solution to this problem could be an educational endeavor.
Last month at Oxford University, we presented research on somatic education among senior citizens. The aim of the study was to measure the physical and psychological effects, if any, that our Bones for Life® somatic education program has on those who practice it. We are proud to say that the study was selected for publication in the Journal of Functional Neurology, Rehabilitation, and Ergonomics, Volume 7. Once published, we will make links to the article available. You can read the abstract from our research on our website and watch the presentation I gave at Oxford here.
All of this is to say that we at Montgomery Somatics are trying to do our part to support and educate the elderly among us with our Bones for Life program. The fact is, all of us are one fall or cancer diagnosis away from waking up to a completely changed life. Whether it’s chronic illness, pain, or mobility issues that we are dealing with, how our bodies react to these changes can determine whether what comes next is merely an interruption or a downhill disaster trying to gain momentum.
It’s true—our bodies change as we age. But should aging lead to loss of balance, pain, or injury? What if we could significantly impact 40-plus years of poor posture and bad movement habits that have resulted in strains and changes in our physiology? What if there were a way to easily improve how we shift our weight between our feet when we walk? That is the goal, a goal that we see our clients meeting every day, of somatic education.
Somatic education like Bones for Life gives people access to information
Partially cognitive but mainly experiential—about their embodied habits. Somatic Movement Education is not based on a medical treatment or therapeutic intervention. It is not something that is done to you. Put simply, it is about learning your highly individualized movement habits. Somatic Movement Education invites examination, and a way of experiencing connection: understanding how a set of parts and subparts, when working together, perform a common function.
If you want to learn more about Bones for Life® or know someone who could benefit from somatic education, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are always happy to help our students, of any age, achieve total body awareness and improved function.
Carol is a physical therapist, a co-creator of Integral Human Gait theory, a certified Feldenkrais practitioner, and a Senior Trainer in Movement Intelligence. Focus, Align, Teach and Inspire! These qualities not only describe her work, but they also describe her presence. She is passionate when it comes to reconnecting learning with human function and health. Carol is in private practice at MontgomerySomatics.com in Columbus, Indiana.