As we age, we all begin to have physical difficulties to contend with.
In No Spring Chicken, Francine Falk-Allen—a polio survivor who knows a thing or two about living with a disability—offers her own take on how to navigate the complications aging brings with equanimity (and a sense of humor). The handbook is divided into three sections: Part I is a jaunt through accessible travel pleasures and pitfalls in several parts of the world; Part II addresses the adaptation people who love a handicapped or aging person could make in order to have a lighter, more mutually rewarding relationship with him or her, as well as advice for physically challenged and aging persons themselves regarding self-care, exercise, pain management, healthcare, and more; and Part III discusses the challenges, rewards and logistics of engaging with groups of people who share similar issues.
Accessible and wryly funny, No Spring Chicken is a fun and informative guide to living your best and longest life—whatever your physical challenges, and whatever your age.
Read on for an interview with Francine Falk-Allen.
Q: What is No Spring Chicken about?
A: No Spring Chicken addresses what we all face eventually: aging and the physical difficulties that can ensue.
I’m a polio survivor who knows a thing or two about living with a disability, and offer my take on how to navigate the complications aging brings with equanimity (and a sense of humor). Part I is a jaunt through accessible travel pleasures and pitfalls; Part II addresses the adaptations caregivers can make for a mutually rewarding relationship with their loved ones, plus advice for physically challenged and aging persons themselves regarding exercise, diet, pain management, mobility, care tips and more; and Part III discusses the rewards of engaging with support groups sharing similar issues, with a little activism and advocacy for good measure.
I’m told it’s accessible and wryly funny, and is a fun and informative guide to living your best and longest life―whatever your physical challenges, and whatever your age.
Q: What do you hope readers take away from your book?
A: I hope they take away that there is almost always something we can do to improve at least one aspect of our condition, if not many, and to keep functioning as best we can in order to enjoy whatever opportunities present themselves to us.
Q: As family members age, what should we keep in mind?
A: That they are the same people they have always been with the same needs and desires, and they want to keep participating in life to the extent possible. Also, generally, aging people could use a little or even a lot of assistance, but most of us hate to ask, and only ask when it’s a dire necessity. There are exceptions of course, but most people I know prefer to be as independent as possible. So chipping in more than you used to without an air of “You should have asked me for help” or “Mom, you aren’t keeping your house clean enough anymore” is likely to be appreciated.
Q: What adaptations should we make for our loved ones?
A: Ask what is most needed rather than assuming we know. Remember that walking can become more difficult and think about what you can do to make this accommodation. For instance, renting a mobility scooter for family outings or vacations can allow Grandma or Mom to participate fully. A friend surprised me with this on a vacation in Hawaii and it made all the difference; I had a much better time since I could not walk the long distance to the beach or even to the pool in the complex, and it was helpful when we went shopping as well.
Q: What are some of your favorite self-care tips?
A: I do a little yoga and core strengthening every single morning, and I do pool therapy a few days a week. Stretching and keeping up what strength you have is important in order to stay mobile. I also avoid eating large amounts of simple carbohydrates (basically, white foods!) but I do try to eat a large amount of vegetables! It’s important to keep weight down, or to at least not become obese, to avoid or keep in check joint pain, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. And of course all that helps just to assist yourself in feeling great so that you have a positive attitude. Also, I rest regularly, and sometimes take a little nap, and get at least six or seven hours sleep every night. I think meals or tea dates with friends, reading good books, watching inspiring movies and spending time outdoors are also great ways to reduce stress and increase a feeling of peace and well being.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: I truly hope people will buy and enjoy No Spring Chicken, or ask for it at their local library, and suggest it to their friends and family. If they do, it’s helpful to the success of any book, especially for someone who is not a celebrity author, to leave a very good rating or review on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble or Walmart’s book review pages. Do remember that anything less than four or five stars is considered poor, though, by the algorithms that run those sites.
Even if people don’t read either of my books (my first book was Not a Poster Child: Living Well with a Disability—A Memoir, about growing up with a disability and navigating the world as a women with a disability), I hope that everyone who has physical difficulty is finding ways to keep on enjoying life! That’s what I’m intending to do. Later this year, we’re hoping to visit someplace like Hawaii or New Mexico, where there is a high number of vaccinated people and a low incidence of the Covid-19 virus. Happy trails to all!
Purchase your copy of No Spring Chicken here.
Francine Falk-Allen was born in Los Angeles and has lived nearly all of her life in Northern California. A former art major with a BA in managerial accounting who ran her own business for thirty-three years, she has always craved creative outlets. This has taken the form of singing and recording with various groups, painting, and writing songs, poetry, and essays, some of which have been published. Falk-Allen facilitates Polio Survivors of Marin County and Just Write Marin County (a Meetup writing group), and is a volunteer member of the San Rafael City ADA Accessibility Committee. Her first book, Not a Poster Child: Living Well with a Disability: A Memoir has been included on several national outlet’ss’ lists of best books of 2018, including Kirkus Reviews, BuzzFeed, and PopSugar, and received a gold medal from Living Now Book Awards for Inspiring Memoir – Female and a silver medal from Sarton Women’s Book Awards for memoir. She was also named one of “25 Women Making a Difference in 2019” by Conversations Magazine. She loves the outdoors, gardening, pool exercise, her sweet, peculiar old cat, spending time with her husband and good friends, strong British tea, and a little champagne now and then. Francine lives in San Rafael, California.