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Seniors at Bethany rehab step out to get well

(Kyle Bursaw — kbursaw@shawmedia.com)
Restorative Nurse Tatia Dugger helps Jim Rodgers walk around the inside of the Bethany Health Care and Rehabilitation Center during a group walking session Wednesday, part of a weeklong event dedicated to promoting active aging.

DeKALB – Two years ago, Jim Rogers fell in his daughter’s bedroom and broke his neck. Since then, Rogers has been at the Bethany Health Care and Rehabilitation Center, trying to get his balance back.

“They say when you break your neck, you die,” Rogers said. “So I guess I’m a living corpse.”

The Bethany staff described Rogers as being very active for a 91-year-old, which is why he was nominated – and honored – as one of the national ambassadors for this year’s WALK! with Aegis Therapies, a weeklong program dedicated to helping seniors like Rogers stay active as they get older.

“It encourages and restores seniors to the point where they can still have independence,” said Jen Babos, the center’s admissions and marketing coordinator.

“It encourages exercise and activity amongst all the residents.”

All this week at 10 a.m., about 25 to 50 patients at the rehabilitation center walk its halls for exercise.

Rehabilitation program coordinator Natalie Wagner said the number of walkers fluctuates each day.

If one of the patients does not feel like walking that morning, or is unable to, then the center’s staff counts other activities the patient is involved in.

After each walk, the staff engage patients in activities that are supposed to address other aspects of well-being. For instance, on Wednesday, Rogers and other patients meditated with help of the staff.

Rogers, a World War II veteran, stays active by participating in a lot of the events the rehabilitation center holds – from playing games to going on outings.

His shining moment came earlier this year when the center participated in a March of Dimes/March for Babies event. Rogers walked the most of all of the patients at the center. Babos said Rogers walked 15,500 feet – almost three miles.

“He’s definitely a role model for our other residents who are involved,” Babos said. “He actually motivated other residents to keep going.”

Brenda Campbell was another patient who joined Rogers in a 650-foot walk around the center. Campbell was living a normal life until four weeks ago when she experienced a sudden onset of tremors. Now, she shakes almost constantly, even when she walks. She said it might be Parkinson’s disease, but Wagner said doctors still don’t know yet.

Like Rogers, Campbell said she walks in an effort to get better.

“I lost all of the abilities I used to have,” Campbell said.

“Now I’m trying to build up my strength so I can do all of the things I used to be able to do, and trying to be able to get that done again.”


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