When you live to be 96, you must be doing something right. Gene recently celebrated his birthday at the Spokane Valley YMCA and attributes his good health to friendships, an active lifestyle, and weekly trips to IHOP and Taco Bell.
Gene joined the Valley Y when it first opened its doors, a little more than 19 years ago. Ever since then he has been a regular participant of active senior programs, keeping a strict schedule of visiting 3 times a week. “I’m a firm believer of the saying ‘move it or lose it’ I truly believe that. I’ll even set a timer when I’m at home to get up and walk around so I don’t sit on my butt for too long.”
Working with an instructor that understands his needs is really important for Gene and the other seniors in classes, “Mary Jo does a great job making sure everyone goes at their own pace. We help one another if we’re struggling, you’re never in it alone.”
After class is over Gene and a few classmates head to Taco Bell, and on Fridays take their usual trip to the nearby IHOP. “We have our own table there every week, we just get together and talk about what’s going on in the world, in our lives and share stories,” Gene says.
Connecting with others and building a strong sense of community at the YMCA is what Gene says helps to keep him going. The World War 2 veteran has seen many of his friends leave his side through the years but meeting new people and reminiscing with old friends is important to living a long, healthy life.
“It’s important to have friends to socialize with and the Y is the place to do that. Instead of being isolated, you get to meet people and build relationships that are really important. From the moment I come in the staff want to know how I’m doing.” Gene jokes, “I don’t have any issues talking to people, I’ll talk to anybody, but people here really listen and want to share in a relationship. That matters.”