Teaching grans to fight illness

Katlego Moeng

Katlego Moeng

Sixty-five-year-old Girlie Mazibuko knew very little about arthritis - until she was encouraged to enter for yesterday's 5km fast walk in Soweto.

She was among more than 500 grannies who walked and talked through the streets of Mofolo and White City Jabavu to highlight the problems of arthritis among the elderly.

The event was organised to encourage exercise and healthy living among the elderly.

The ages of the old ladies ranged from 60 to elderly Rozetha Alberto, who is 97. She is from Klipspruit and said that at least she knew about arthritis and other sicknesses that attack the elderly and that she exercised properly.

"I wake up every morning and do stretch exercises and I do a lot of walking," said an energetic Alberto.

"I used to go to Wits for exercises but since I met Sister Joyce, I work with her and she teaches me a lot," Alberto added.

Joyce Ncala, who organised the event, is a former rheumatology nurse at Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital, but since 2001 has been running 13 support groups in Soweto to educate the elderly about arthritis and healthy living.

"The knowledge levels about arthritis among our people in Soweto is basically zero, even nurses are ignorant about it," she said.

Emily Moletsane, 60, of White City Jabavu, confirmed Ncala's sentiments.

"I have a paining knee," she said, pointing to her right leg.

"My heels and fingers also hurt," she continued, but said that she did not know anything about arthritis.

"This is the first time I am learning about this arthritis. I used to exercise in my youth, so I think I better start," she said.

A representative of Curves Gym, Shona Bell, also came to the walk and encouraged the elderly women to be active and to exercise.