Healthy Aging

Keo, 86: How I Learned to Accept and Embrace Using a Cane

Meet Keo Capestany. He’s one of the 2022 Senior Planet Sponsored Athletes, and he’ll be posting updates on his health & wellness journey through the rest of this year. At age 86, Keo preaches “the gospel of pumping iron.” Today, Keo is sharing a personal story to show that even an octogenarian weightlifter can use a little assistance to stay balanced and steady.

I am 86 years old. Many people have told me that I look younger, which makes me very happy! While I can still drive, I prefer to use public transportation as much as possible. In the past, despite riding buses and the light rail several times a week, I was rarely offered the seats reserved for seniors — a regrettable downside of my “youthful” appearance. Five years ago, other people’s behavior toward me unexpectedly changed…

Using a Cane

Around that time, I had two serious falls. Fortunately, since my bones were sturdier than my common sense, the falls hurt only my dignity. I did not reveal the first accident to my wife, but I couldn’t hide the second one from her because she witnessed it. I surrendered to her persistent insistence and, very reluctantly, I started using a cane.

A man with a plan…

In my profession as a court interpreter, I am well-known to the security staff at several courthouses. In order to hide my “shameful” cane use from them, I purchased a folding one that I could conceal in my backpack. I thought this was a brilliant stratagem!

The first time that I executed my plan, as I approached the venerable edifice, I hid behind some bushes, folded the damning instrument, and deposited it in the backpack. With it securely out of sight, I entered the temple of justice. However… the keen vision of the security x-ray machine detected my deceit.  The cane features a pistol grip that on the screen looked like a menacing gun! To my public humiliation, the security guard called over an officer who searched my bag and ordered the offending object out. I then had to demonstrate its non-lethal functions to his suspicious satisfaction.

Physical and moral support

Despite that initial inconvenience, after a few weeks of cane use, I became aware that besides my cane being a potent reminder to pay attention to hazards like curbs and irregularities on sidewalks, it has also generated wonderful side effects. Now, transit vehicles kneel to facilitate my boarding and exiting, and I am consistently offered seating for my riding comfort. When I approach building entrances, doors are held open for my convenience, and cars stop firmly as I enter crosswalks.

“Prevention is the best medicine.”

This is a friendly admonition to my fellow elders: waiting until you absolutely need to start using a cane is very silly. Prevention is the best medicine. Don’t be afraid to start benefiting from the stability (and perks!) that come with using a cane.

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12 responses to “Keo, 86: How I Learned to Accept and Embrace Using a Cane

  1. When my 92-year-old father’s balance, coordination and strength began deteriorating, we encouraged him to use a walker.
    “Those are for old people!” he retorted
    Thankfully, a few months later he began using a cane without complaint because it was distinguished-looking.

  2. My mother-in-law stopped taking walks outside her home when her doctor recommended use of a cane. This led to a sedentary lifestyle which further led to mobility problems and loss of quality of life. We all need fresh air, sunshine, enjoying nature and being socially active. Thanks Keo, for sharing this inspiring and uplifting story.

  3. Carry this one step further. When my mobility became very compromised, I started using my lawn tractor to get around our large property. That meant that I stopped walking and started putting on weight. I purchased a walker….with 4 wheels and got back into the good habit of walking….instead of riding. Some people commented that ‘ you are making yourself look old ‘. I disagree….I am trying to slow that process down.

  4. Yes! I’ve found using a cane very beneficial too. I initially got mine after elective foot surgery then found it handy when I fell a few months ago & now use it whenever I think I’m going to be on a crowded bus since I always get a seat when I have it. Plus, it’s the first time ever that buses actually wait for me. Usually, they take great pleasure in slamming the doors in my face after I’ve run panting for them.

  5. My husband chose a distinctive cane and then re-stained it and wrapped the grip with a simple leatherwork wrap. He doesn’t normally work with leather but followed a technique he found on YouTube. He ended up getting comments on it wherever he goes, which eased his transition to using a cane. It’s heavy and bulky, but it works for him.

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