“Being active makes you more alert …”
A pioneer in health care in the northern plains, skilled neurosurgeon Richard (Dick) Olafson, MD, came to Touchmark for the Full Life of overall wellness in his retirement.
Dick, who was born in and raised in Drayton and raised in Bowesmont, Minto, and New England, North Dakota, went on to study medicine at the University of North Dakota and the University of Pennsylvania. His four decades in neurological medicine were sparked by a life-changing experience with a local surgeon when Dick was just a young man in college, and his father sought an expert in North Dakota for a cerebral aneurysm.
“It was that experience of my father being treated by Dr. Lee Christoferson that encouraged me to go into neurological surgery in the Fargo area,” says Dick.
As it would turn out, Lee would continue to play an important role in Dick’s career. Together they continued building the Neurologic Associates, a Fargo office group of physicians in neurosciences, and the Neuropsychiatric Institute at the University of North Dakota. Dick and Lee were among the first doctors to bring neuroscience to patients in the Upper Midwest.
“I was very busy in my career, very active!” In addition to his practice, Dick held positions as the Associate Dean for Veteran Affairs, Associate of Clinical Affairs, and the Assistant Dean of Southeast Area Health Education Center at the Fargo campus of the University of North Dakota.
When he officially retired in 1998, he knew the importance of maintaining an active lifestyle for his health.
A family fitness affair
Dick had been a member of the Touchmark Health & Fitness Club for at least three years before coming to the community as a resident, where he says he never gets tired of the variety of opportunities to be active.
“My wife Ann was very physically active. She helped organize tennis programs in the community. I still run into people, even at Touchmark, who knew her. They say, ‘You’re the Olafson from the Olafson tennis family!’”
Dick and his wife raised their children to love sports, too. While they no longer live in North Dakota, they maintain the family tradition and are raising Dick’s grandchildren as competitive athletes.
“All these things have encouraged me to stay active. I try to work out six to seven days a week using the treadmill, recumbent bike, and weights.” If he can’t make it to the Health & Fitness Club, he does “a fair amount of walking around Touchmark.”
A well-researched home
When he decided he was ready to move, he carefully considered his options. Though he already knew much about Touchmark, he knew the decision would be an important one, and it deserved some research.
“My mother lived at Waterford at Harwood Groves before it became Touchmark, and she had a very positive experience. Still, I looked at half a dozen places or more. I found Touchmark has the lightest, most airy, and best community feel of all the communities I could have moved into.”
Dick is taking advantage of the friendly atmosphere and frequent events to meet new neighbors. “Touchmark has excellent programs to keep one active and involved in the community!”
With many years of golf and tennis beginning to catch up with him, Dick says he has found the right combination of community and independence at Touchmark. “I was also having some slowdowns from athletic injuries, so having more people close to me to associate with was important to me.”
Exercise for health and happiness
Dick’s career in neuroscience has kept him seeking enriching experiences and creating fond memories. He says he can be impatient at times, a byproduct of his professional goals, but that keeps him focused on the Full Life.
“I find that if I don’t stay active, I don’t have the energy I need. Being active makes you more alert and focused on yourself and your surroundings. Exercise makes you a more active member of your community.”