Validation at the Laundromat

Who would have guessed I could get a well-needed validation at the laundromat? I don’t have my own washer and dryer in my own home and that has drawbacks… which can also be blessings.

This morning in the laundromat or washateria, (a word which my husband once disallowed as a 50 point Scrabble word, using all my tiles on a triple point square. Then we traveled together down south and he saw the word.. but I digress).washateria

Sometimes I start doubting myself. I think there’s evidence people are aging pretty darned well. It seems most olders I talk to lately think they’re doing fine physically, and that’s going to continue indefinitely. They’re in touch with their health, they say. Maybe I underestimate the need for people to reassess their conscious movement abilities. Maybe most people have healthier habits than I think.

When I present or teach lately I get the feeling that most olders think doing fine now is all they need in order to age capably. But I know we have to choose to maintain our health in order to actually maintain our health. Very few people do so simply by luck. I get a lot of nodding heads looking like they agree with me. And I see a lot of people not heeding what is changing, or different, year to year.

My first validation at the laundromat 

came from a story of a son-in-law in his early fifties who had “lap-band” surgery to help him lose weight. After the surgery he was required, for a time, to keep to a liquid diet. He couldn’t help himself, so he helped himself to some french fries. He started to have internal leakage and faced more medical intervention. I can just see him nodding his head during the pre-surgical counseling, “Sure, I know, I know…”

The great success of bariatric surgeries results from the lifestyle changes people implement in order to get and stay healthy after having the surgery.

On the other hand, I have a friend my age, who has been morbidly obese for some time. She had shared with me, last year, that she intended to have bariatric surgery and to turn her life around. I just got a note from her that she has done just that. She continues to turn her life around, taking great joy in every improvement in mobility, flexibility and confidence.

The other validation at the laundromat

came from a husband in his late sixties. His wife fell during a dizzy spell and required surgery for her injuries. Her blood pressure is so inconsistent that she must remain in a wheelchair, as any exertion makes her dizzy and prone to another fall. She can’t even use a walker. She had warnings, did nothing to improve her situation, and now may be incapable of ever fully recovering from that fall.

It’s hard to get healthy if you haven’t practiced getting healthy.

As Ashton Applewhite says in“This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism, “Age denial keeps many people from making lifestyle changes that pay off in the long run.”

This statement runs through my mind as I see people nodding in agreement and still not deciding to do anything because they feel fine now.

Then I watched this video by Mike Vacanti, and I realized I’m not the only one who notices this disconnect. Younger and older people should all have fitness goals, though we have different reasons for getting fit and maintaining fitness.

Our very function is at stake. Even if we feel fine and able now, we need to check ourselves from time to time and see what we are capable of. We can choose a little discomfort now to become or keep able-bodied. That choice can save us from the worse frustrations that come from not being able to adapt to challenges as we age. That current discomfort may also help us recover from the accidents that will challenge many of us.

I’ll listen to some of these stories, but there are too many of them.

I guess that was my third validation at the laundromat.

Hearing some of these stories can help develop my compassion, but there’s a fine line between compassion and enabling drama and incessant “organ recitals.” I gently extricated myself from the conversations, finished folding my laundry, acknowledged my gratitude that I am on my right path, and came home to write this blog. What a great gift from the laundromat.

 


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