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Seniors explore ways of slowing down the aging process by remaining active

Published: Friday, Oct. 5 2012 6:40 p.m. MDT

Jeannie Barnish, left, and Patty Hadley stretch after taking an Enhanced Fitness class sponsored by the Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation at the Utah Aging Expo at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Sam Galloway wants to remarry. The 69-year-old said he wants someone who can keep up with him.

"I've been exercising for years. I'm a member of the Silver Sneakers program at the South Jordan Aquatics Center," the senior said, proudly. He also attends multiple aerobics classes on a weekly basis, including cardio and Zumba "to keep healthy."

He's lost 40 pounds in the past two years and said he feels "younger than ever."

"It's not that hard. If you go and watch, it is easy to catch on," Galloway said. "And I love to dance."

But life as an aging man hasn't always been easy. Galloway's wife died six years ago.

"It was hard at first, but I realized after a little while that life goes on, that you have to get up and keep going," he said.

It wasn't long before he joined LDSPlanet, an online dating site, "to meet people."

In July, the bishop of Galloway's Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ward introduced him to another 69-year-old widow, Beverly Parry, who, Galloway said, "looks young for her age."

The two go to concerts and movies and on other dates together, but "getting up early and staying up late" is sometimes difficult for Parry, as "it is harder when you're older," she said.

"I worry about getting sick and about immobility," Parry said. "And I don't like losing my friends (to death)." She's still working, providing home health care and light housekeeping to clients, but she is looking forward to retirement.

"Seniors are interested in the same things that all of us are," said Sarah Brenna, director of Salt Lake County Aging Services. The department put on its 13th annual Senior Expo Thursday and Friday, bringing together those who provide services to the aging population.

Many attendees left with goody bags full of candy and trinkets, as well as pamphlets of information pertaining to getting older. The event provided a venue for numerous health screenings, as well as entertainment and an introduction to products that might help the aging population, such as health care insurance options, planning for the end of life, easy access bathtubs and tools to make life easier when physical impairments might stand in the way.

"We want to keep people independent, healthy and socially engaged in their communities for as long as possible," Brenna said.

As the baby boomer population ages, she said much of the attention on aging is turning to their children, who end up providing the majority of the care for their parents while still caring for their own families at home.

One of the biggest fears they face, Brenna said, is similar to the top worries of the aging, and that is where and how to find resources available to them.

Concern about driving

Grant and Emily Warner, of Rose Park, ended up winning a recent battle, after their kids decided it might not be good for their mother to continue driving.

"She was driving in a way they didn't like," Grant Warner, 71, said. "She gets a little agitated with people telling her what to do while driving and they were telling her to do this and that, but she ended up doing that and then this. They thought she might be a danger to herself."

While the couple sometimes worries about their cognitive health — remembering names and details about people — they feel like they're doing what they can to stay abreast of the issues surrounding getting older.

The Warners' children called the Division of Motor Vehicles and insisted their 63-year-old mother take a new driving test, which she ultimately passed.

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