Keo, 86: How I Learned to Accept and Embrace Using a Cane

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Meet Keo Capestany. He’s one of the 2022 Senior Planet Sponsored Athletes, and he’ll be posting updates on his health & wellness journey through the rest of this year. At age 86, Keo preaches “the gospel of pumping iron.” Today, Keo is sharing a personal story to show that even an octogenarian weightlifter can use a little assistance to stay balanced and steady.

I am 86 years old. Many people have told me that I look younger, which makes me very happy! While I can still drive, I prefer to use public transportation as much as possible. In the past, despite riding buses and the light rail several times a week, I was rarely offered the seats reserved for seniors — a regrettable downside of my “youthful” appearance. Five years ago, other people’s behavior toward me unexpectedly changed…

Using a Cane

Around that time, I had two serious falls. Fortunately, since my bones were sturdier than my common sense, the falls hurt only my dignity. I did not reveal the first accident to my wife, but I couldn’t hide the second one from her because she witnessed it. I surrendered to her persistent insistence and, very reluctantly, I started using a cane.

A man with a plan…

In my profession as a court interpreter, I am well-known to the security staff at several courthouses. In order to hide my “shameful” cane use from them, I purchased a folding one that I could conceal in my backpack. I thought this was a brilliant stratagem!

The first time that I executed my plan, as I approached the venerable edifice, I hid behind some bushes, folded the damning instrument, and deposited it in the backpack. With it securely out of sight, I entered the temple of justice. However… the keen vision of the security x-ray machine detected my deceit.  The cane features a pistol grip that on the screen looked like a menacing gun! To my public humiliation, the security guard called over an officer who searched my bag and ordered the offending object out. I then had to demonstrate its non-lethal functions to his suspicious satisfaction.

Physical and moral support

Despite that initial inconvenience, after a few weeks of cane use, I became aware that besides my cane being a potent reminder to pay attention to hazards like curbs and irregularities on sidewalks, it has also generated wonderful side effects. Now, transit vehicles kneel to facilitate my boarding and exiting, and I am consistently offered seating for my riding comfort. When I approach building entrances, doors are held open for my convenience, and cars stop firmly as I enter crosswalks.

“Prevention is the best medicine.”

This is a friendly admonition to my fellow elders: waiting until you absolutely need to start using a cane is very silly. Prevention is the best medicine. Don’t be afraid to start benefiting from the stability (and perks!) that come with using a cane.

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