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Two older adults stand on a beach beside their bicycles
Dr. Irene Turpie’s recommendations for healthy aging include staying active, year-round. (stock photo)
June 17, 2022

HHS doctor encourages older adults to stay active, connected and safe

In celebration of Seniors Month in June, the Regional Geriatric Program Central invited Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) geriatric specialist Dr. Irene Turpie to share recommendations for healthy aging.

Turpie also happens to be an older adult, and shares her thoughts as both a doctor and peer to fellow seniors in a 10-minute video produced by the Regional Geriatric Program. She’s introduced by Dr. Alexandra Papaioannou, the Regional Geriatric Program’s chair and executive director of the GERAS Centre for Aging Research at HHS.

The theme for Seniors Month 2022 is how to stay active, connected and safe. Turpie breaks down each category, sharing her thoughts and suggestions for each.

Dr. Irene Turpie

Dr. Irene Turpie

Staying safe and active

“I’m very fortunate because I live very close to a park,” says Turpie, who walks every day, even in winter, because the park’s pathways are cleared of snow. “I can walk my dog safely in the winter.”

She encourages older adults who don’t have cleared sidewalks or pathways near their homes to advocate for such spaces. “Too often sidewalks are icy and difficult to walk on,” says Turpie. “It’s something we should all be asking for – to have a safe place to walk.”

Her suggestions for staying active also include GERAS dance classes. GERAS has partnered with the YMCA to offer this fun 12-week program. It’s designed for older adults who may have early cognitive or mobility impairments. Turpie’s other suggestions include swimming or golfing. “There are all kinds of things available for us if we can find them.”

Staying connected

Staying connected with others was especially challenging during the pandemic, says Turpie. “We’ve learned how to socialize on Zoom but it’s not the same as sitting and talking to someone.”

During the pandemic, Turpie noticed groups of people visiting with each other outdoors while socially distancing. “I thought that was such a healthy way to socialize during the pandemic. I suspect lots of people will continue to do that as we go on.”

Turpie also shares that one of her role models is Queen Elizabeth. “She’s 96-years-old and really still almost doing a day’s work every day,” says Turpie, noting the Queen’s lifelong habits of exercising regularly and eating moderately. “She has just plodded on and given us all a terrific example for healthy aging.”

The Regional Geriatric Program Central is affiliated with McMaster University and hosted by Hamilton Health Sciences. Dr. Irene Turpie is a member of the Regional Geriatric Program Central’s council. During the pandemic, she administered immunizations and returned to work at HHS Hamilton General Hospital to support geriatric consult services. She also continues to teach at McMaster University.