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Active Life S P E C I A L S U P P L E M E N T TO T H E G L O B E


Retiree makes a ‘racquet’ at national level Racquetball champ Kern makes the most of life at all levels By Jane Turpin Moore The Globe WINDOM — Page Kern may have retired a few years ago, but she remains totally on the ball. Think twice before betting your hand/eye coordination against hers — unless you have extremely deep pockets. And don’t be fooled by Kern’s modest demeanor and self-deprecating sense of humor: She is a formidable racquetball competitor who won her two most recent titles this January at the 31st annual U.S. Women’s Senior/Masters Racquetball Association (WSMRA) tournament in St. Louis, Mo. A native of the “booming metropolis” of Jeffers, as Kern jestingly characterizes her hometown, this energetic 63-year-old regularly dominates not only racquetball contenders in her own age group but also those many years her junior. “Give me anything with a fun ball to chase, hit or throw and I’ll do it,” said Kern, a natural athlete who has pursued her varied youthful interests in music and sports throughout her adult life. “And while there isn’t much call for old pudgy

volleyball setters or basketball point guards,” she joked, “racquetball is not only great exercise but it’s also social. “I’ve been able to travel around the U.S. and even outside the country enjoying friends and racquetball.” Most weeks, Kern can be found on the racquetball court at the Windom Arena from Monday through Thursday. “And if there’s a weekend tournament, then I’m probably playing every day,” said Kern. “I also try to get some walking in and I like to kayak in the summer. I live about a mile and half outside of Windom and am very close to Cottonwood Lake and Summit Lake — so I have options.” A 1974 graduate of the former Storden-Jeffers Consolidated Schools (now Red Rock Central), Kern grew up as the “most mature” in a family of five Duroe kids. “I’m old enough that I had very little of the high school athletic experiences kids today are blessed with, but I had enough backyard and pickup games so I could step in,” she recalled. Upon matriculating at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, S.D.,

Special to The Globe

Page Kern is a star in the world of racquetball. Among many other achievements, she won first place in two divisions at the U.S. Women’s Seniors Racquetball tournament in St. Louis, Mo., competing there from Jan. 16-19.

Kern immediately took advantage of the new sports opportunities for women and became a standout three-sport athlete, competing in volleyball, basketball and softball. “I was in the first group of women athletic scholarship recipients at Augie,” she explained, noting her athletic scholarship kicked in during her sophomore or junior year. Her alma mater further recognized her sports prowess by naming her to the Augustana Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993. As a physical education major with minors in music and coaching, Kern initially taught physical education for two years in Luverne. A family career switch took her to Windom, and Kern has been rooted there ever since. “I worked for Aid Association for Lutherans — now Thrivent Financial — for over 35 years, and I retired about three years ago,” said Kern. Besides being a highly decorated racquetball player, Kern is a competent, well-trained trumpeter who frequently lends her skills to services at Windom’s American Lutheran Church. She relishes playing with

a small ensemble of other experienced brass musicians there. “And Fairmont has a wonderful community band, so five weeks each summer I drive over there with a few friends,” she said. “We run through the music, play a concert and come back all in one day.” Kern is also a leader within her church; she recently completed a two-year stint as the congregational president. “I enjoyed it,” she affirmed. “It gave me good insight as to how fortunate we are to have the number of people we do who volunteer and give their time. “For anybody who can volunteer for things, it’s very important that they do.” As with her music training, Kern traces her racquetball origins to Augustana. “I learned to play racquetball as a freshman there,” she said. “College was a wonderful time, and Augie had a nice small campus so you knew a lot of people. “I spent a lot of time running between the gymnasium and the humanities building.”


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H2 Saturday, February 1, 2020

The Globe

Health perks of pets: Seniors get physical, mental benefits from companion animals By Marie T. Johnson mtjohnson@ dlnewspapers.com Donna Zimmerman made an unexpected new friend as she moved into her room at Ecumen in Detroit Lakes late last summer: Mort, a big, chummy, black-andwhite cat. Mort greeted Zimmerman and her family at the door of the senior housing center on move-in day and proceeded to rub up against their legs and meow for scratches while they unloaded and unpacked boxes. Then, apparently tired from watching them do all that hard work, he made himself comfy and fell asleep, right on Zimmerman’s bed. She didn’t mind it one bit. “I’ve always loved cats,” Zimmerman said with a smile Monday. Having Mort there that first day felt “just like a personal reception” for her. Cats remind Zimmerman of her late husband and the life they spent together on their farm. He was a cat-lover, too, she fondly recalled, and they always had at least one fine feline running around the farm. Cats bring back good memories for her. They provide entertainment. They’re a source of comfort. The same can be said for a lot of the residents at Ecumen — and the whole senior population in general. Research has shown that seniors benefit

Love is one of the most important health tonics we have, and pets are one of nature’s best sources of love. KARIN HAUGRUD, Land of the Dancing Sky Area Agency on Aging from the companionship and affection of pets in many ways A quick Google search for “the health benefits of pets for seniors” pulls up 466 million results. Commonly cited benefits address both mental and physical health: Animals can help reduce stress, for example, as well as lower blood pressure. They’re also shown to lead to increased social interaction and physical activity. Karin Haugrud, of the Fergus Falls-based Land of the Dancing Sky Area Agency on Aging, recently submitted information on this topic to the Tribune. “Doctors, social workers and other health care professionals believe companion animals are important in helping many people lead healthy, happy lives, especially elderly people,” Haugrud stated. “Many researchers are finding that the most serious disease for older persons is not cancer or heart disease — it’s loneliness. Love is one of the most important health tonics we have, and pets

Marie Johnson / Tribune

Zodiak, the live-in cat at Ecumen in Detroit Lakes, poses for a photo in one of his favorite play areas just outside The Madison independent living center as resident Donna Zimmerman admires him from across the room. are one of nature’s best sources of love.” In addition to supplying companionship and affection, animals can also supply a sense of security and protection, she added. Pets make people laugh and divert their minds away from troubles. They also tend to broaden a person’s circle of friends and, through play and walks, encourage better health through exercise. Some pet programs at nursing homes are credited with enabling patients to reach out beyond their own pain and isolation and start

caring about the world around them again. “What we know, industry-wide, is that pets offer a little bit more comfort to our residents,” said Danielle Olson, executive director of Ecumen. “A lot of people had pets when they were at home, and that’s one of the things they miss when they come here.” Ecumen welcomes visiting pets, and is a part-time home to Mort, who lives with an Ecumen employee but sometimes visits the campus during the day, and a full-time home to Zodiak, a live-

in cat. Since Ecumen’s multiple buildings are all connected, the cats are able to wander from place to place, visiting whomever they want, whenever they want. “He might be at the nursing home for a short period of time, then to adult day services, then he might go over to one of the apartment buildings, and then he makes his way back,” Olson said of Zodiak. “His job is to provide comfort to those who like him.” Ecumen adopted Zodiak from the Marshmallow Foundation animal shelter

in the fall of 2018. Since then, several residents have volunteered to help take care of him, feeding him and cleaning his litter box. Some try to lure him to their rooms for extra cuddle time by leaving little treats, water and toys outside their doors. “Sometimes taking a little bit of ownership is something our residents appreciate,” Olson said. She described Zodiak as “a very fun personality of a cat” who “really brings a lot of smiles and joy to people.”

PETS: Page H4

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The Globe

RETIREE From Page H1

Earlier in her life, Kern participated in a local women’s softball league (“That fizzled out,” she noted) and also played slow-pitch softball for some time with friends in a 40+ league at Mankato. “A couple of years ago I decided to play again in the church softball league, but I wanted to stay healthy for the masters [racquetball] so I stopped,” she laughed. Kern’s strategy paid

off; she has won the over-55 doubles division at the WSMRA national tournament three times (twice with playing partner Ann Fingerhood of St. Louis). “You can play in both an age division and a skill division, and I’ve partnered in the Open A division [the highest masters level] with Lori Southwick of Eden Prairie and won in that division four times,” explained Kern. Kern is even officially sponsored by HEAD Sports; honestly, she’s the real deal.

But Kern isn’t one to brag about her success. Instead, she is more wont to pass it on in the form of teaching and sharing the sport with others. “I’ve helped start a junior racquetball program in Windom that’s gone over very well,” she said. “We had 33 kids [from first-graders through high school seniors] in the last session, and another four-week session will start Feb. 10. “I like to keep the court busy, and racquetball is fantastic for promoting hand/eye coordination and

Saturday, February 1, 2020 H3

large muscle movement,” Kern continued. “Racquetball is both aerobic and anaerobic, and it forces you to make strategic, quick decisions. If you’re involved in other sports, racquetball is a great cross trainer.” Kern is also quick to point out that, once a court is secured, racquetball can be a fairly inexpensive sport. “All you need is a ball, a racquet, protective eyewear and a decent pair of tennis shoes,” she listed. “And it is extremely popular in Mexico, South American and Central America; in fact, in Bolivia, it’s the most popular sport next to soccer.

“The Number One female player in the world is Mexican, and she’s a goddess there,” Kern shared. “She has all kinds of corporate sponsorships and will be a flag bearer in the upcoming Olympics.” While Kern hasn’t yet achieved Olympic status, she does have a number of cherished fans: her spouse Dana Wallace, two children (son Tucker is a librarian in the Windom schools, and daughter, Mesa, is a special education instructor in Harrisburg, S.D.), two grandchildren and three cats. “I do a lot of ballpitching for my grandson and granddaughter,” she said.

True to form, Kern always has another goal ahead of her instead of resting on her laurels. “I need to get back to doing some weightlifting, especially as an aging adult,” mentioned Kern. “Everything I read says that would be good for me, that I need to be doing more weightlifting than moving the fork from the plate.” But a recent Facebook meme (a little girl licking the remnants of her ice cream from the bottom of a bowl) resonated with Kern, who is determined to keep making the most of her life. “Find something you enjoy,” encouraged Kern, “and try to make life fun.”

HEART CARE. OUR CARE. CARDIAC CARE CAN BE ESPECIALLY CRITICAL – and if a cardiac event happens, the chances of survival are much better if there is a treatment center

Racquetball is both aerobic and anaerobic, and it forces you to make strategic, quick decisions. If you’re involved in other sports, racquetball is a great cross trainer.

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PAGE KERN, Racquetball Champ


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H4 Saturday, February 1, 2020

The Globe

Modifications can make driving safer for seniors Metro Creative Graphics Driving provides an almost unrivaled level of independence. The ability to travel beyond a neighborhood or even one’s hometown without a chaperone is probably what excites new drivers so much and makes them eager to get their licenses and cars. Senior drivers also may define their independence by their ability to drive. Few things diminish senior dignity and independence faster than losing the ability to drive. Despite popular misconceptions, seniors are some of the safest drivers around. The experts at Hartford Auto Insurance indicate that the number of accidents involving older drivers actually decreases as age increases. It’s the risk factors like medical conditions, medication usage and reduced physical function that increase the risk for accidents and injuries involving older drivers. Thanks to technology and some other well-designed devices, seniors may be able to continue driving longer than the aging drivers of years past. The AAA Foundation for

with the movement of the steering wheel. ► Pedal extenders: Extenders help short drivers reach the pedals while maintaining a safe distance from the steering wheel and potential airbag deployment. ► Hand controls: Whether one has sensory

changes in the feet from surgery or a medical condition, adaptive hand controls can move the “pedals” up to the steering column. ► Blind spot warning and other sensors: Today’s cars can be equipped with any number of sensors that can detect oncoming traffic, cars to the left or right of the vehicle, items or cars behind the vehicle when reversing, and even if the vehicle has drifted out of the lane. These are all great safety features for any driver, but may be especially helpful to seniors. ► Parking assist: Parking assist technology can steer the vehicle into a space with little input from the driver. ► Voice control: Avoiding distractions and keeping hands on the wheel is enhanced by voice controls, which can be set up to do things like turn on the radio or adjust climate control. ► Convex mirrors: Special mirrors increase the field of vision. Seniors have many tools available to make driving safer and more comfortable, which can prolong their years behind the wheel.

means to take care of an animal, both physically and financially. ► Think about which kind of pet would be best for you. Animal care professionals often Things seniors should advise seniors to consider adopting an adult dog or consider before cat. An older animal may getting a pet be a better fit for your ► Caring for an animal lifestyle than a puppy or takes dedication. Be sure kitten. ► Don’t take a pet you have the time and

because someone else feels you should have one. ► Don’t let wellmeaning but overly protective friends or relatives convince you that you should not have a pet. You know better then anyone else what you want and what your abilities are. Info from the Land of the Dancing Sky Area Agency on Aging

Few things diminish senior dignity and independence faster than losing the ability to drive. Traffic Safety, a nonprofit research and education association, says roughly 90 percent of seniors don’t take advantage of simple, often inexpensive features that can greatly improve safety and extend their time behind the wheel. Here are some considerations.


who have had a visit from one of the cats,” Olson From Page H2 said. “They’ve said the cat While he’s independent went in and crawled into and likes to wander all their bed with them and over at his own pace, he really provided a lot of seems to have a good peace and comfort. That’s sense of where he’s most come up a number of times wanted — and needed, in the last few months. she said. And Mort is the The cat senses that there’s same way. a change and provides “We’ve had a lot of comfort to the family and people at the end of life the residents.”

► Cushions and seat pads: Cushions do more than just alleviate hip and back pain while sitting. Cushions and pads can raise drivers up and improve their line of sight over the dashboard. Swivel pads can make it easier to enter and exit the car as well.

► Adaptive cruise control: This feature can adjust speed automatically to maintain a consistent space between vehicles. ► Adaptive headlights: These headlights, also known as steerable headlights, can improve visibility by changing the direction of the light beam

Health benefits of pets for seniors

► Eased anxiety and pain ► Longer life Compiled from various sources, including agingcare. com

► Better relaxation ► Lower blood pressure ► Less chance of depression and loneliness ► Increased physical activity ► Increased social interaction ► Improved memory recall


Metro Creative Graphics



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Active Life: Winter 2020  

Active Life contains stories and information about local seniors living their best lives! It also has tips for staying active in the winter...

Active Life: Winter 2020  

Active Life contains stories and information about local seniors living their best lives! It also has tips for staying active in the winter...