How Spruce Needles May Be Our Key to Aging in Place

By , March 2, 2013

One aspect of our “homestead” lifestyle that cannot be ignored is aging. Presumably we’ll want to live like this for the rest of our lives, which means growing old here—aging in place, to use the popular term. For this reason, we take steps to ensure that we will be able to continue to live like this until we die.

Of all the threats to a our independence as we age, perhaps the most common is falls. As aging bones become more brittle, falling becomes more serious. A broken bone in advanced years can completely change a person’s life, never for the better.

For this reason, I work to improve my balance. I figure that actively pursuing better balance now will pay off in my advanced years.

Balance is key to survival on the homestead. We have no sidewalks here; our terrain is rough, unyielding, and treacherous. We face the danger of falls or missteps every time we go out the door.

Our rocky beaches are particularly difficult to navigate. Even where the rocks aren’t slippery, it’s hard to keep one’s balance. I used to fall on our beach about once every month or so. It seems like I do it less often, but we’re coming out of winter, when I rarely walk on the icy beach.

I would fall more often had I not been taught some balancing exercises by an older friend when I was a kid. He worked at the local sawmill, walking floating log rafts. One day, while visiting, he taught me a few balance-building routines he’d learned. I’m still not sure why he did that—whether from concern for my well being, or simply the joy of passing along a recently learned activity. At any rate, it was fun, easy, and something I’ve done ever since.

I also practice balance every night and morning, because of spruce needles.

We have come to really hate spruce needles. The property and surrounding forest is covered with them. They get tracked into the house constantly. Try as we might, we can never clean them all up. They often fall into our pants. They’re as sharp as thorns, especially when dry.

As I change into bedclothes in the evening, and again when I change the next morning, I go through a “highwire” act, balancing on one foot while pulling on underwear, pants, and socks on one side, then switching to the other foot and repeating. It’s a comical process, but it keeps my feet clean (spruce needles in your shoes do not make for comfortable walking!) and it improves my balance. This daily routine may help keep my sense of balance well into my advanced years, hopefully for the rest of my life.

Ironically, if I accomplish this, I’ll have to give credit to the spruce needles.


2 Responses to “How Spruce Needles May Be Our Key to Aging in Place”

  1. Linn Hartman says:

    Too good to let go without a couple comments – I can relate to the one legged balancing act trying to get your pants on in the morning – when I do it without backing against the wall it is the start of a good day – Also as you get older the ground does not get any softer – believe me – take care

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    “The ground doesn’t get any softer . . .” Yep. Tested that truth far too many times for my own comfort, Linn!

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