MEMBER PROFILE: Linda & Dave Moriarity

Wellness Center Members Linda and David Moriarty are well aware of how life can change in an instant.  They are also well aware of being grateful for what one can do, rather than what one cannot.

In 2002, David Moriarty suffered a stroke that was so serious he was given last rites in the hospital.  Today, he and Linda attend the Wellness Center three days a week, followed by their beloved ritual of lunch or bagels at Dunkin Donuts.

“When we first arrived, he was in a wheel chair and the only thing he could do (with his speech) was sing ‘Happy Birthday’,” Linda said.  “This place is absolutely wonderful.”

David is now a faithful attendee at the ABCs class taught by Dan Romero on Mondays, and he is also in a special group for adult fitness in the rehab room on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  He does a routine on the fitness machines as well, and that’s what Linda does while Dave is in his other classes. She’s also a fan of the Tuesday-Thursday Zumba Gold class, the first chance she’s had to enroll in one of the Wellness classes since David’s stroke.

The road back from the effects of David’s stroke has not been an easy one.  Initially it was two weeks in the hospital, followed by six weeks in a rehab facility and then at-home physical, occupational and speech therapy.

“Those therapists led us here and we’ve been here ever since,” Linda explains. At first, they worked on the machines together so that Linda could see what the therapists had Dave doing.  Next, Linda became his helper and coach with the machines.  Now, she explains, it’s best if they both can do a little bit of their own thing.  Otherwise, she’s his constant caregiver.

That role got tricky when Linda herself broke her foot in October of 2011. Suddenly, she couldn’t do many of the things she normally did for Dave. 

“I called here and we got so much help right away. Dana (Marangi) lined up the help Dave needed and even found drivers to get him to the Wellness Center because I couldn’t drive at first,” Linda says. “She found us home care, help with the laundry. They came to my rescue.  I just get tears in my eyes when I think about how much this place means to us.”

Dave says the ABCs class really helps him stretch out his left side and he gets his cardio workout using the fitness machines.  He usually has a sore hamstring and his muscle tone is “high”—one effect of the stroke. His muscles can go rigid if he doesn’t get enough stretching. Though his wheelchair is long gone, he wears a brace on his left leg because his foot drops.  All the exercise helps keep things limber and stable.

One day while she was helping Dave on the fitness floor, Linda says Joan Ahern came out and “recruited” her to try this new Zumba Gold class going on in the group exercise room at that time. “She pretty much forced me into the class with Sheilla and I’ve been doing it ever since. I just love it.  It’s good for me and Sheilla is excellent. I’ve met more new people in there,” she says.

Both Linda and Dave had been active before the stroke, and before Dave had retired from his job at General Electric in Cincinnati.  Dave was quite a good golfer, a trait he’s apparently passed on to one of his three sons. The two have four children, all of whom enjoy visiting them with the grandkids at their home on Lake Monomonac in Rindge.  Linda, at age 70, says she’s been physically active consistently over the last 30 years. Both of them have good numbers—their blood pressure, their cholesterol, and Linda credits their exercise routine for that.  “I think exercise and a social life are the keys to longevity,” she says.

In fact, she thinks the social aspect of attending the Wellness Center has been a key factor in Dave’s speech improvement, as well has providing them with a lot of new friends.  Dave’s speech is slow, but Linda says chatting with fellow members has really brought him along.

“This place really has become our social life and we can’t wait to get here on some days and to see certain people.  Otherwise, we can be in danger of just sitting around at our house,” Linda said.

She can’t say enough good things about the staff either.  “The people here are fantastic. They’re knowledgeable and friendly. You’re not a number here. They know you by your name.”

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