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Seniors fighting fit

According to research by National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre just 38 percent of senior Australians meet the recommended level of physical activity.
Lorna Deverill says attending weekly gym classes has been her salvation.

This means Lorna Deverill, 87, is in the minority and she says that without weekly visits to the Villa Maria Catholic Homes (VMCH) Wellbeing Centre in Wantirna, she would most likely be in a wheelchair.

Mrs Deverill suffered serious health setbacks after being attacked by a feral cat 12 months ago. Infections affected her balance and mobility, leaving her housebound following her hospital stay.

“At first I couldn’t walk at all,” Mrs Deverill says. “I’d lost my confidence and didn’t want to leave the house.  I’ve always been a sporting girl and when you’ve played golf and tennis all your life and aren’t able to get around without help from a walking stick, it hits you hard.”

With her “life disappearing very rapidly”, Mrs Deverill sought help from the Wellbeing Centre.

“I’ve had a special association with VMCH for many years. My husband Harry, who was blind and later developed Alzheimer’s, was supported by their respite services and aged care residence before he passed away eight years ago.”

Mrs Deverill says attending weekly Community Gym classes, run by a qualified physiotherapist, for the past six months has been her ‘salvation’.

“They have helped me so much. Balance is my greatest focus and I’m improving on that. I’m also learning to walk steps again. If I hadn’t been doing these classes I would be in a wheelchair by now.”

VMCH Allied Health Operations Manager Jo-Ann Petersen said Ms Deverill was among around 150 people aged over 65 who attended the centre’s Rehabilitation Program each week.

“If you want to remain living at home and be as independent as possible, then your physical fitness plays a big part in that,” Ms Petersen says.

“Most of our clients have back, neck or shoulder problems, or they may have experienced a stroke, have arthritis or Parkinson’s disease. You’re never too old to start caring about your fitness. Everyone can improve, no matter what age.”

Ms Petersen says the centre also offered Allied Health services including podiatry, speech pathology, massage and dietetics.

Mrs Deverill says she planned to continue her weekly gym classes.

“I really couldn’t speak highly enough of the program and I’ll keep going for as long as I can.”

For more information about the VMCH Wellbeing Centre, call 1300 919 850 or visit


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