Ep. 253 – How To Keep Your Mobility in Retirement


In this Episode of the Secure Your Retirement Podcast, Radon and Murs speak with Mercedes Fernandez about keeping mobility in retirement. Mercedes is the founder of Movement, lead Geriatric Physiotherapist, a certified senior fitness instructor, and an authorized CPR/First Aid responder.

Listen in to learn the most common mobility issues in older adults and the good habits you can develop to reduce them as you age. You will also learn how maintaining movement with simple stretches and following the right instructions with mobility aids and exercise can diminish pain and prolong your mobility ability.

In this episode, find out:

●     Mercedes describes her work in the study of human body movement and her focus on older adults.

●     Most common mobility issues in older adults and good habits you can develop to reduce them.

●     Simple stretches you can do anywhere to diminish most of the pain you don’t even realize you have.

●     How lack of instructions on how to use a mobility aid or exercise can be a fall or health hazard.

●     The importance of maintaining movement as you age to prolong your mobility ability.

●     How to access Mercedes, the demographic she works with, and her treatment process.

Tweetable Quotes:

●     “Stretching is overlooked, but if we all learned how to stretch, we could diminish a lot of the pain that we do not even realize we’re having.”– Mercedes Fernandez

●     “The best prevention and maintenance we can have is to keep moving and incorporate some type of stretching.”– Mercedes Fernandez

Get in Touch with Mercedes:

●     Website: https://mouvement.info/

●     Free Gift: https://mouvement.ck.page/mobility


If you are in or nearing retirement and you want to gain clarity on what questions you should be asking, learn what the biggest retirement myths are, and identify what you can do to achieve peace of mind for your retirement, get started today by requesting our complimentary video course, Four Steps to Secure Your Retirement!

To access the course, simply visit POMWealth.net/podcast.

Here’s the full transcript:

Radon Stancil: Welcome everyone to Secure Your Retirement podcast. One of the things Murs and I try to do on this platform is to really help people as they are planning for and living throughout retirement in a couple of different ways. Obviously, a lot of times we’re talking about the financial plan part of things, how to manage money, how to deal with all those things. But one of the objectives we’ve had since we started the podcast, is to have episodes that are really around lifestyle. Meaning how do I live, literally live in retirement, and be able to navigate all kinds of things as far as I’ve got to change as I get older or I am in retirement longer. And so today we’re very happy and excited to have with us a special guest, Mercedes Fernandez. Today she’s with us from California, but she lives in Belgium, which is exciting. So thank you so much, Mercedes, for coming on and chatting with us today.


Mercedes Fernandez: Thank you both for having me. I’m very excited, very excited actually, to have this conversation with you.


Radon Stancil: Great. So I was telling you Mercedes, that most of our listeners and clients, I would say typically are 55 years of age and older. They’re planning for and wanting to go into retirement. Many of our clients say, hey, I’m going to retire at 65. I’ve got 10 years that I just want to travel and do things. But I would say that a lot of our clients are very conscious about wanting to be healthy, making sure that they can have as much of an active role in retirement. And I know that you help clients in this topic of mobility. So I’m just going to ask you first, could you tell us a little bit of your background, just so our listeners know who they’re talking with and who they’re listening to and how that ties into this concept of mobility?


Mercedes Fernandez: Yes, absolutely. Again, my name is Mercedes and I’m a geriatric kinesiologist, and kinesiology is a really big word. It really is just a fancy term for study of human body movement. So physical therapy, physiotherapy, personal trainer, all-encompassing that field. And so what I’ve been doing is, I grew up with my grandfather and I had a really, really strong bond with him. So as I got into school, went to higher education, I started working with a special population, and that’s essentially how I evolved into this niche of geriatric physiotherapy, kinesiology, working specifically with older adults just because what I was seeing was, we focus a lot on kids. We focus on the modern middle-aged generation, youth, young, healthy, but I was seeing that we were actually really overlooking our older adults, our elderly or senior citizens, and it just really broke my heart. And while I was taking care of my grandfather as he was aging, I put two and two together.


And so my mission, I believe my purpose on the planet, is really to help older adults stay mobile if they’ve had an injury, an accident, very common hospitalization. I’m sure maybe both of you have experienced perhaps an injury or a strained muscle, even just a sickness, if anyone got COVID, really being out for a couple of weeks can be very detrimental, but you’re losing your freedom as well, and you’re feeling achy and all these things. But when you witness an older adult go through that or you have experienced something where you lose your mobility, it can feel really, I don’t know if detrimental is the right word. I just myself have been through a pretty gnarly injury. So I really just have this passion to help people stay mobile, to regain if there has been some kind of step back, to keep that.


Murs Tariq: Yeah, great. Mercedes, thanks for that overview. And that makes me question, so I’m in my mid-thirties, Radon’s in his early fifties. When I get an injury, I don’t worry about it too much. I feel like I’ll bounce right back a week or so later. And I don’t, unless it’s something major, my body does a good job of being able to heal itself, right? That’s just someone, because they’re a little bit younger. Radon probably says, well, it’s not just one week for me. Maybe it’s two weeks for me, but I kind of bounce back. But now once you get up into your late, early sixties, late sixties, seventies, eighties, the clientele that you’re working with, it’s a different story. I imagine there’s a lot more work that goes into it. There’s a lot of habits I believe that you would have to set up to relearn or do something like that. So what are some of the more common mobility issues, I guess, that you’re working with or that you see and maybe things that can be avoided just by having good habits around, I don’t know, stretching or walking daily or things like that?


Mercedes Fernandez: The most common I see is a lot of either neck pain or upper shoulder trapezius pain or lower back pain. And this is typically common because of some bad habits that have been picked up, whether they’re using a walker or cane or they’ve just have old shoes that they love to live in or a couch. Things that we often overlook. But the common injuries, I would say the most are, because you mentioned stretching is actually one of my favorite things that’s also overlooked. And sure, maybe perhaps some who are listening have heard of Stretch Lab. That’s a really big thing now. It’s really hot, it’s trendy, and I’m really happy it came about because the less we stretch, the tighter our muscles get.


Stretching is something that is designed, again, we’re not really taught it either, unless you go to kinesiology school or physical therapy and et cetera, et cetera. But because there’s the tightness in the shoulders, we call it kyphosis, but it’s hunched back. That’s the more common term is you’re rounding in the shoulders. So that’s where you get this neck pain. People are looking down, we’re staring at our screens more. So the most common injuries would be around that and to help it, I would definitely suggest some stretching, opening that up.


And then the lower back pain is also really, really common. I feel it, and I don’t know if you two have ever felt some lower back pain, and that’s a whole other, that’s a big conversation we can dive into. But those, yeah, the lower back pain is, it’s a big caveat.


Radon Stancil: It’s interesting you brought up Stretch Labs. So I have lower back pain that I deal with as well as knee pain. And so I went to Stretch Lab not even going for the purpose of that. And they said, “You probably are going to see your knees feel better, maybe your lower back feel better, from the stretching.” And it was amazing. So amazing that I actually have bought other little devices to help me stretch. And I stretch every day, and it is just amazing how much that helps with lower back and knee pain for me. So I want to talk to you a little bit about that. I mean, in your scenario, are you teaching people how to do simple stretches at home? Maybe they don’t want to go to a Stretch Lab or go have somebody else help them. They just want to do that. Do you have techniques that you can actually help individuals write at their home, learn how to stretch?


Mercedes Fernandez: Yes. Yes. And I have YouTube videos on that. And then for me, what I really enjoy is that there’s a lot of simple stretches that we can do anywhere really, whether that’s waiting in the car or watching TV on the couch, maybe that’s even standing at the kitchen counter. I definitely do provide that. And I actually love to do that because like I said, stretching is overlooked, but if we all learn how to stretch, we can really diminish a lot of the pain that we are not even really realizing we’re having.


Radon Stancil: So you talk about this idea of mobility and then we were talking before we started this, that sometimes that I like this topic about we get something to help us. Maybe we are having a scenario where maybe we start to get a little in a position where we maybe feel we need a little assistance, whether that be a cane, a walker, simple things, or maybe even just the type of shoes that we wear. But you talked about the fact that sometimes people get these and they don’t know how to use them correctly. Maybe it looks like you can use it correctly and you see it on TV or you see a friend and you think, oh, that’s how hard can it be? It’s a cane or whatever. But using it incorrectly, what could that do?


Mercedes Fernandez: Yes, that it goes back to what we just talked about, that kyphosis, the rounding of the shoulders, the lower back pain. Not only does that compromise the posture, because most of the time, and I encourage everyone who’s listening, and you too as well, the next time you go out to the grocery store or out in the community and you happen to see someone with a walker, just notice how they’re reaching for it. Most of the time, if not 100% of the time, it’s too low. So what happens there is because someone’s reaching down, they’re hunching forward, and then the walker is actually being pushed too far forward, so their feet are following behind, and then they start to drag their feet, and it’s a recipe for an accident. It’s a recipe for a fall.


If there’s wheels on the walker, no one tells you which terrains to use. I really get a lot with my clients of, well, I have a two-story house, or I live in an apartment that doesn’t have an elevator. What do you do when you need a walker, but you have stairs and there’s no accessibility ramp? Well, that’s a really big fall hazard because they end up trying to drag the walker up or they bring it down, and that can cause a tumble. So there’s little things. It’s not always mechanical, but it’s that lack of instruction. And unfortunately, a lot of the … Order a walker on Amazon, it doesn’t come with, okay, here’s how you set it up and here’s how you use it. These are things you need to look for. And so that’s where I’m coming in to help just bring that awareness.


Murs Tariq: Right. Yeah, I mean, to me it’s just like any type of exercise. If you walk into a gym and you just get on a machine without knowing how to properly operate that machine or lifting free weights or doing something like that, you could really hurt yourself. Whereas some of these mobility aids, they’re designed to help you get through whatever you’re getting through, but they’re still a tool that you really have to learn and use properly. And also it needs to be, I would think, somewhat catered to your metrics as far as how tall you are and those things like that. So that makes perfect sense, but I can see how it can be overlooked.


You mentioned the house and fall hazards and stuff. What are you seeing in the house that create issues and things that people could be thinking about, about how their house is set up? Maybe even as simple as maybe don’t keep your pots and pans on the very bottom drawer, maybe make it more accessible. I don’t know. What do you see?


Mercedes Fernandez: Definitely. That’s a great point actually. I was just telling my parents, I’m in town visiting them and just rearranging the house to see like, okay, well, we can’t reach the trash cans on top of the stove on top of the, what is it called? The stove fan?


Radon Stancil: The exhaust fan.


Murs Tariq: Exhaust fan.


Mercedes Fernandez: Yeah, the exhaust fan. Thank you. It’s hard for my mom to reach now. So little things like that. Oftentimes, clutter is a really big thing. As we age, we get sentimental. There’s a lot of things that we might not want to throw away. There’s things that we kind of forget about. So things that I see often is narrow hallways. And then if a mobility device gets introduced, is it accessible? Is the hallway open enough? Are the doors big enough? Do the doors open out? Do they open in? Are they heavy? Are they weighted? The stairs is a really big one that I see often. And then rugs, rugs and carpet, especially bathroom rugs. Those are really something to keep an alert on.


And then do you have any grab bars. The grab bars, most of the time they need to be installed, but in the bathroom area, the shower area, is there anything that you can grab onto that is sturdy, that’s not going to pop off the wall in any case that you get dizzy, you lose balance, there’s a fall. So I often see that the houses are usually not set up for some kind of mobility precaution.


Radon Stancil: So okay, we talked about the fact that some of our folks that might be listening might be entering that phase. And then we’ve got a lot of folks that are listening that maybe saying, “Hey, look, I’m not that bad right now. I’m younger. I’m 55, I’m 60, I’m 65. I’m getting around really good. I don’t have a problem with balance. I don’t have a problem with those things. Maybe I got some lower back problem. Maybe I got some knee problems.” But could you tell … I guess say it this way, could you explain the benefit of what we could do now that might help us to prolong the ability of mobility so that we don’t get into that situation? Yeah, it is probably going to happen eventually, but maybe we can prolong it and we maybe get a few more years before we get to that point. Are there things we could do now to help us avoid that or prolong it?


Mercedes Fernandez: Yes. Excellent question. And I would say that my favorite answer, I wouldn’t say answer, but what I can attest to, is just keep moving. Murs, it sounds like you are a very active, man, and so you both know, just keep walking, keep moving. The more sedentary we are, the more back pain, the less muscles we have, the more aches we have. That tightness comes from not moving. So you’re sitting on a plane for 10 hours, you get up and you’re like, oh, I haven’t moved my legs for 10 hours, 10 plus hours, depending. For me, it’s a ten-hour flight. And that tightness really starts to add up, which is why the stretching is so important. So the best prevention that we can have, the maintenance we can have, is to keep moving, incorporate some kind of stretching. It doesn’t have to be a Stretch Lab, it doesn’t have to be facilitated stretching.


You can do a range of motion exercises at home, but the best medicine is movement, in my opinion. So whether that’s walking, it doesn’t have to be lifting a bunch of weights. It really just can be as simple as practicing reaching up over the stove again and keeping those arms going up and down, side-to-side. Neck mobility is really important. And yeah, I would say just little exercises. And my favorite to say this last part is it doesn’t matter where we are, whether we’re at the grocery store, we’re at home, we’re in bed, is as long as we’re moving. So just moving with our feet, wiggling our toes, doing some toe raises, lifting up on our toes, kind of going up and down.


Squeezing the bum actually is really great for the lower back. So you can do that at the grocery store. No one can see you if you’re waiting in a long line, just squeezing your stomach, squeezing your bottom, kind of gripping the toes in the shoe. These little things are going to help integrate a habit of momentum of movement, and that’s going to help prolong the sedentary, because once you start to stop moving, it’s harder for you to start a regimen.


Murs Tariq: Gotcha. Yeah, as you were saying, every one of those, I just started doing them. Just because I could.


Mercedes Fernandez: You were sitting here, right?


Murs Tariq: I can still do that one. I can still do that one. I’m pretty happy.


So let’s talk a little bit about your process. And so someone wants to work with you. I’m sure you have a bit of a conversation with them, and then you go down a process, eventually come up with some type of regimen. So tell us a little bit about that for everyone listening.


Mercedes Fernandez: Yes, so you can access me everything that I do on my website. There’s resources there, but essentially everything is personalized. It’s customized. I’ve been doing this for over 10 years, and I work specifically with a special population. So I’ve worked with strokes, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, mostly for, it’s more of a gentle customization exercise plan, health plan you would say. I don’t do anything, any medicine or medical, I can’t prescribe that. But essentially we meet, we go over what are your needs, what is it that any chronic conditions you have, what are your goals? And so again, everyone is really different, but essentially it’s personalized and we either do some kind of exercise virtually or we do stretching. I also work primarily with caregivers as well. So if you are a child of someone of an aging parent and need some help with resources in your area or just need to vent it out, I can assist in that as well.


Radon Stancil: So what is the best way, if somebody’s listening to this and they either for themselves or for somebody they know, think, hey, I would like to get some more information on this. I’d like to understand how you work and maybe get a chance to chat with you. Tell us the process. What’s the best way to do that?


Mercedes Fernandez: Yes. Best way is to definitely ping me on the website. All of that goes directly to me, so I have a chat. It’s at the website, which we will probably go through at the end, but the direct chat is direct to me or a contact form. And everything is pretty automated. So if you decide you just want to go for it, you can book an appointment there, and then we get that scheduled. But I’m always available to chat. I guess that’s the best way to say it. But yeah, just through the website, mouvement.info and I speak both Spanish and English. So for me, it’s really just a matter of who needs help and how can I assist in the best way, because this population is truly special and we need it. I think as you both know, baby boomers, it’s not even just baby boomers. We’re each aging every day, and we really need to be prepared for it. So not only for ourselves, but our loved ones.


Radon Stancil: And the way you spell your website’s a little bit different, I guess, than what it might sound like. Is there a reason why we, by the way, you spelled it that way?


Mercedes Fernandez: Yes. So it’s mouvement in the French way. It’s the spelling in the French. I’m currently learning French as well, being in Belgium is a French speaking. But I wanted to differentiate in the way I think that the way certain things in French are spelled is really beautiful, and so there’s a U in it. But essentially movement is universal, whether it’s in English and Spanish or French. It’s still the same word if you really break it down.


Radon Stancil: All right, so I’m going to say this. If you are listening to us on the podcast or you are listening to us on the website, we’ll have it in the notes and it’ll all be there so you can do it. But just so that we can have it real clear, you need to say now the name of the website in French.


Radon Stancil: Okay.


Mercedes Fernandez: Yes, I’m getting there. Actually just had my French class today. But yes, it’s mouvement. M-O-U-V-E-M-E-N-T.I-N-F-O. So .info.


Murs Tariq: Very good. Well, Mercedes, thank you so much for being on with us, spending some time with us to educate about what you do and what the aging population needs help with. So we’ll have all your information in our show notes, and we appreciate your time today.


Mercedes Fernandez: Thank you both as well, and I very much appreciate what you both are doing too. So it’s been a pleasure for being on here. Thank you.