Is Patty's Story Your Story?

Consider Patty whose doctor looks her over and says she is in good health for her age. But rushing off to the next patient, the doctor does not see Patty use her hands to help her rise from her chair (declining strength and balance).

Patty knows walking is good for her but she does not get out to walk as much as before. That's because she has developed a fear of falling. Staying indoors where the floors are flat seems like the better thing to do.

Some years ago, without thinking much about it, Patty sat down to get into her underwear. Before that first-time event, she got dressed standing up, stepping into her underwear one leg at a time. When she took that seat on that life-changing day, Patty did not realize she was compensating for her loss of strength and balance. She simply found an easier way to get dressed and went with the flow.

Now feeling her aches and pains, Patty joins others her age in joking about "getting old." She uses phrases like "senior moments," "feeling my age" and "I'm too old for that." Without realizing it, Patty has come to believe the myths of aging apply to her; and that is very sad. It's sad because it doesn't have to be that way.

When she was born, Patty received her functional abilities on the "use it or lose it" plan. When she unknowingly started compensating for the functional decline that naturally occurs as we age, Patty opted into the "lose it" plan by default. Had she known that the "use it" (and keep it) plan was also available to her, things might have been different.

But she did not know and the "lose it" plan continued unchecked. That plan is highly effective because it is self-reinforcing. The more function Patty lost, the more she compensated, and the more she compensated, the more function she lost.

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