Mavis' story: Strength and Balance

Mavis falls class attendee

Mavis Adenekan speaks about her experience of the Strength and Balance classes and explains the positive impact they have had on her life.

Mavis, 74 years old, says: “I began having difficulties bending my knees – I had to hold on to chairs for support when I was standing up. Then last summer my knees gave up and I had to start using a stick. It was a slippery slope from there, because I started to develop back problems from walking differently. I even changed my sofa, because the old sofa was too low for me to get up from, and I thought I was going to have to move out of my flat, because of all the stairs.

“Last year I moved to a GP in Lambeth and I was referred to the Strength and Balance classes. I’ve been attending since last September.

“When I first attended the class I took the walking stick with me, but the classes have now given me the confidence and strength I need – I don’t use my stick anymore!”

Mavis, a former primary school teacher, went on to say: “Most importantly, the class instructor makes you aware that your movements naturally change as you get older, and that it doesn’t mean you can’t keep doing things for yourself.

“Everyone is getting older and going to need more support, but the exercises help to delay it and build muscle strength.

“The classes made me conscious that I had started shuffling, instead of walking properly. Now I know I must pick my feet up when I walk, so I don’t fall over again. And if I do fall, they’ve taught me how to get myself up, so I don’t have to lie there waiting for help.

“I laugh with my friend about ‘when did we start shuffling and need help to stand up?’. I thought it was just part of the process of getting old, but it’s in your mind. If others and you keep telling yourself that you are old and need support, you believe it.

“Recently I went walking in Yorkshire, at one point there was a tough descent and in the past I might have fallen down, but because I’m more confident and can process situations better, I managed to make it to the bottom.

“I knew I had to be careful, because I’m older, but I knew I could do it! If I hadn’t gone to the classes I would have just sat in the car.

“I’m getting older, but I’ve found strength through the classes to prevent injuries.”