I'm tired of being an old lady

Jul 20 2016 Published by under Uncategorized

I am not tired of being me, of being over 60, of being where I am in life. I am not tired of how I look (though, of course, I could stand to lose a few pounds, but that has been true of me for the last 40 years, really). I would not trade where I am now for youth.

What I am tired of is the condescension and patronizing attitudes of younger people, particularly younger men. My almost-MRU has put in a new "wellness center", including a state-of-the-art gym. With a Pool!. I have been using it. They have a "wellness portal" that we are encouraged to use, with the usual information, misinformation and buzz words for fitness. I did sports in high school and college, when it wasn't easy for girls/women. Up until an injury, I ran 10-30 miles a week. I was a lifeguard, and did local Master's Swimming (but not well). When I logged on to The Portal, I found my account tagged with a note:

Your personal data indicate that you are a high risk individual. We will need a doctor's clearance before you can use our facility.

WTF? What is the data? That I am old, and "slightly overweight for your height". (I hate BMI, because I am (slightly) muscular and have always been high, but that's another rant). Really? Fucking really?

There is a form to fill out for a health insurance co-payment reduction. It requires a doctors signature, and you guessed it, available through the Wellness Portal. I couldn't find the form online, the contact info was out of date, so I emailed the Wellness Portal Liason (I kidd thee not, that's the title). I explained that the only form was out of date (ie contact info), couldn't be read (a bad scan of a bad scan), and not particularly useful to give to my physician (too many irrelevant pages for her). The email I got back was awful. The email was full of implications that I couldn't use the website (everyone agrees its beautiful, but useless, kinda like the people who work there), that perhaps if I looked harder, or worked harder, it wouldn't be such a problem for me. Oh, and I should stop complaining and just use the damn form that they provide (which is buried in six layers of menus). All this said, of course, in the most business/polite language. If I spoke that way to students, I would be having a meeting with my chair and dean to answer a myriad of student complaints.

I am not in a good place to be told to work harder. I'm in the middle of challenging experiments (live large animals), and everybody, EVERYBODY in my group is exhausted.  It's a new version of our model, we've learned a lot. This is the first day in about 10 that I've been able to sleep past 5:30 am.  I (and others in the group) have come in to care for animals at 4:30a more than one day, and stayed till afternoon to work on the problems we're having. Let me add, though, that the group is incredible, working hard, and I am totally thankful for the marvelous people on this project. I'm not complaining about the work. It is my choice. But, I'm not in a good place to be told to work harder by anyone.

Older, not-glossy-magazine-pretty, women are invisible in our society. There are studies that show the intersection between age and gender (let alone race) is enough to sink course evaluations. The most frequent comment is that I am not sufficiently nurturing to be a good teacher. Indeed, I'm not nurturing. I'm pissed off and angry.



10 responses so far

  • PaleoGould says:

    I know a thing or two about website design, and those portals are user interface disaster zones. And rule 101 of user interface design is, if the user complains, you designed it wrong.
    The narratives we tell about older people (women especially) in our society are awful, especially wrt to technology and health. And using a web portal to indicate someone is "at risk" is bad practice. I am sorry that person cannot see past the end of their well toned nose.
    Basically, the entire corporate wellness is a bastardised cash in of attempts to get people more engaged with their health. I view it as a cynical way to get a reduction in my health insurance, and treat it accordingly.

  • becca says:

    I'm gonna guess those shiny new fitness places are hell to insure, and they can only get the rate they do if they use demographic info to filter out most older people. At least, that's how I got over being told I was too old for adult gymnastics (they could only insure people to age 25. In a college town, that is an "adult" class). Also, I'd bet good money that 98% of the time someone your age with your BMI runs into a problem at a health facility, it's a man who tried to play basketball/soccer/tennis/insert bouncy sport here with younger men who blew out his knees.

    BUT, if I'd just dealt with that malarkey, I'd be sorely tempted to request the supervisor of the "Wellness Portal Liason" and mutter darkly (but professionally! oh-so-professionally!!!) about "customer service".

  • B. Kiddo says:

    And marvelous. You forgot marvelous. Pissed off, angry, strong and marvelous.

    And damned right about crappy web design, scanned forms, and ageism.

  • I agree 100% with becca. And I feel your pain. ProdigalU did a web upgrade recently, and they had to add quicklinks to the homepage because no one could find anything in their new beautiful "intuitive" design.

    IT folks tend to act like women are morons and anyone over 35 is a luddite. I am sorry this is happening to you.

  • Sam says:

    Yep, we really should be increasing the activation energy needed for people to go to the gym. [/sarcasm]

  • Zuska says:

    Old crones are just supposed to go off into the woods and die, if they can't trap enough lost young children to ward off starvation. It is patently unfair to go to the gym and attempt to sap the life force of beautiful young people in their natural environment. This is why the young people must build gym defense systems out of Wellness Portals and poorly scanned out of date forms.

    I am about to deal with one of these Wellness Portals at the gentle urging of Mr. Z's health insurance - we will lower our insurance rates! be healthier! all is good! - and I am sooooo looking forward to it.

  • chall says:

    oh goodie to know it's not just my work/wellness portal..... and I am apparently old too, at the age of "above 35" which seems to be a cut off value for a lot of the wellness ticks and balances they add in.

    I wish you the best of luck dealing with this and hope you get access to the gym! working out has been my best way of dealing with angry feelings (and not getting into trouble at work natch natch)

  • […] see me. I didn't even have to hear the words. I heard the tone. She is angry. She is pissed. She is an invisible older woman who is doing generally very good […]

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