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

Published: Sunday, Aug. 30 2015 12:13 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) 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.

Christina Van Rye, Xaidee Baum and Susan Nichols participate in 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) Christina Van Rye, Xaidee Baum and Susan Nichols participate in 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)

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.

The Huntsman Cancer Institute's Colon Educational Cancer Exhibit invites people to walk through a giant colon at the Utah Aging Expo at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News) The Huntsman Cancer Institute's Colon Educational Cancer Exhibit invites people to walk through a giant colon at the Utah Aging Expo at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

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.

The Huntsman Cancer Institute's Colon Educational Cancer Exhibit invites people to walk through a giant colon at the Utah Aging Expo at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012.   (Laura Seitz, Deseret News) The Huntsman Cancer Institute's Colon Educational Cancer Exhibit invites people to walk through a giant colon at the Utah Aging Expo at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

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.

The Utah Aging Expo at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012.   (Laura Seitz, Deseret News) The Utah Aging Expo at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

"I try to have a sense of humor about it," Emily Warner said.

The two keep busy with volunteering, working puzzles, handiwork projects and computer games at home.

Keeping the mind and body active, Brenna said, is important for individuals who are getting older and finding themselves with less that is necessary to do.

Staying positive

"My outlook on life is that this is it and it is perfect," said Jeannie Barnish. She suffers from a variety of health problems, but doesn't let it get her down. "I pay attention to my body and I respect my body's limitations."

The eclectic 65-year-old exercises daily, on the treadmill, outside and at one of 10 different fitness classes offered by Salt Lake County Aging Services throughout the valley. It's all an effort to be healthy enough to enjoy her other hobbies, which include gardening, camping, traveling and sitting on the patio with her husband and the neighbors at night.

The Utah Aging Expo at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012.   (Laura Seitz, Deseret News) The Utah Aging Expo at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

The exercise classes, she said, do more than help her be healthy, however. She gains strength and balance, but also builds camaraderie with people her age and makes a lot of new friends.

"I'm not afraid of growing older," she said. "I have no complaints about life. But I have to work hard to be that way. I just think it is better to be happy than to complain all the time."

Brenna said that for the most part, the aging generations want to be a part of their communities and be involved with others.

A variety of free services provided by the department help the elderly, which is sometimes a more vulnerable population, to accomplish whatever might be on their bucket list.

"It should be their choice as much as possible," she said. "Any one of us, if asked, would want to stay in our own homes and be as independent as possible."

Jeannie Barnish, left, and Patty Hadley congratulate one another 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) Jeannie Barnish, left, and Patty Hadley congratulate one another 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)

Grant Warner spends a lot of time stocking shelves at the LDS bishops' storehouse, and Galloway still serves members of his church and works weekly at his local LDS temple.

It's something that gives their lives meaning and purpose, "which is important for someone my age," Galloway said. He stays up until midnight most nights and is awake early every day.

"No matter what I might be feeling, I still get up every day," he said. "I have to keep moving."

E-mail: wleonard@desnews.com, Twitter: wendyleonards

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