Connie Mason Michaelis, Lifestyle Consultant at The Piper Assisted Living and Memory Support
In my last article I shared about a recent incident that earned me a ride in an ambulance. During that ride and in the ER, I heard the following statement several times: “Elderly woman has fallen down a flight of stairs.” I asked myself, “Is that me? Surely, they are talking about someone else!” I never think of myself as “elderly!” You read headlines in the paper about an elderly person being the driver of a car involved in an accident. Why don’t they ever say a forty-year-old was the driver? The adjective “elderly” is full of implications. That day my name got modified by an adjective that, according to Webster, means old, frail, and with diminished abilities. But that is not who I am. I was dressed for a golf outing and excited to enjoy the beautiful day with friends. Being excited and in a hurry, I had a misstep and found myself falling down stairs. I fell that day because I was excited, in a hurry, and not paying attention, which can happen at any age. I don’t think it had a darn thing to do with being 70 years old.
We often use labels to define other people. According to some, my age made it perfectly reasonable that I would fall. It’s as if there needs to be no other investigation for the cause. There is a certain acceptance that growing old means a diminished life. As you probably know, I’m not fond of that view. The important lesson to learn is that we need to be mindful in every moment. We need to slow down and pay attention to our environment. I’m taking this opportunity to learn that lesson, and I accept the challenge to slow down and be present. I love and often use the title “Elder,” but I’m not fond of elderly as an adjective. Since this fall, I’m focused on choosing to be present and living a vibrant and mindful life every day! Give us a call at The Piper – 913.400.7006 – where we are practicing mindfulness.
P.S. Just yesterday a total stranger asked me why I was wearing a boot on my leg. I told her I fell down a flight of stairs and fractured my fibula. She said she had done the exact same thing a year ago. She fell at school, and she’s 18 years old…my point exactly!