Walking, Zumba and yoga: How Yvonne Ellison keeps herself young

At 82, Yvonne Ellison does more physical activity than many people half her age. The Wauchope resident shares her secrets for staying healthy and vibrant.

Moving across the country and establishing a new life in an unknown town can be unsettling at any age. But not for 82-year-old Yvonne Ellison, who relocated to Wauchope, NSW from Darwin in January 2023 to be close to her family.

“I’ve been blessed with the skill to accept things,” she explains. “And I can see all the wonderful things that can happen in my life. The people are lovely here and the weather is beautiful.”

Three of Yvonne’s four children live in New South Wales and she has between 20 and 30 grandchildren. “I’ve lost count!” she laughs. “I have great-grandchildren as well. It’s lovely to spend time with them. But then it’s nice to say, ‘Well, I’m off now!’”

A helping hand when she needs it

When Aspire4Life Home Support Assessor Keiren Freeman assessed Yvonne’s needs, she found that the vibrant 82-year-old needed very little assistance with daily living. “I do my own housework and cooking,” says Yvonne. “My daughter comes once a month to clean the windows and bathroom thoroughly, but I do the rest.”

During her assessment, Keiren identified one key area Yvonne needed support in: transportation to and from appointments. While Yvonne still drives around Wauchope, longer distances have become challenging.

“I didn’t want to ask my children to take time off work to take me to appointments, so I was pleased when I found out about Linked Community Services [through Aspire4Life],” says Yvonne. “They pick me up and take me to my appointment, and then I ring them when I’m done and they take me home. It’s the most wonderful thing because I can keep driving around town and use the transport service when I need it. I can maintain my independence.”

Getting involved in the community

Yvonne has already made ties in the Wauchope community through the Omnicare Seniors Hub. Featuring a wide variety of onsite activities and outings, the Hub received funding from the Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants Program to help seniors build social connections and a sense of belonging.

“There’s a bit of everything for everyone at Omnicare and I absolutely love it,” says Yvonne. “Yesterday, we had a presentation on the universe and it was so interesting. Today, they’re running a bus from Wauchope to Port Macquarie so people can go shopping in preparation for a fete we’re having. There’s always something interesting happening.”

Yvonne loves the Hub’s exercise classes and walks the most. “I do chair yoga, tai chi, line dancing and Zumba,” she says. “I go on a five-kilometre walk with the Hub about twice a week and then we come back and have a nice cup of tea. We also do a circuit where we use a machine for our arms and legs, then we sit on a ball and bounce up and down, and then we do weights with dumbbells.”

Keeping her body and mind active

In addition to the impressive range of exercise classes Yvonne participates in, she follows her own workout regimen five days a week. “When I get up in the morning, I do light tai chi for about 10 minutes,” she explains. “Then I get on my treadmill and walk three kilometres. After that, when the pool is open, I swim for about 20 minutes. But the pool is closed now, so I’ve been doing breathing exercises and a little bit of work on the rowing machine.”

Yvonne also keeps her mind active by reading. “I like to learn something new when I’m reading a book,” she says. “At the moment, I’m reading Stop Thinking, Start Living. It’s for people with depression. I don’t have depression, but it’s taught me how to think and to just leave it there. Go and put it under a gumtree and start living.”

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