Perspectives on Aging: Raúl Sanchez
Raúl Sanchez was born in Mexico and has resided in Seattle since 1995. With two books of poetry in English under his name, in 2021 when he was selected as the poet laureate of the City of Redmond. Raúl also dedicates his time as a volunteer in schools and juvenile detention centers, sharing his love for poetry and helping young people express their emotions through writing.
What does aging mean to you?
I have noticed how cognitive, auditory, and joint issues change with aging. It all wears out in the end, including the mind. I forget things sometimes. I think of something, go to look for it, and by the time I go down one flight of stairs to the next, I forget and must go back to see what it was.
I relate aging to having knowledge about something that young people don’t necessarily have.
At school, I give them this example: with my left hand down here and my right hand up here, I say, “You are here” (moving his left hand) “and I am here” (moving his right hand). I have traveled all this distance and more and, along this journey, I have had successes and failures, and perhaps my experience may help them as they develop into their adult lives.
What is required to age healthily?
Participating in the community, establishing routines, like joining a group for any activity, even if they are not physical, like playing dominoes, playing cards, going for walks. Walking is the most important. Older people need to go for walks because it is a low impact activity. I enjoy walking at a steady pace. Sometimes I go out with my wife and the dogs. On my own, I can walk twice as much when I have more time because it helps with my cardiovascular system. It is important to have a routine for eating, sleeping, watching TV, reading, and enjoying the company of others. I rarely stay awake past 11:30 at night. By 10:00 at night, I feel tired and go to sleep. I have also heard of some places where they have activities, like reading or manual work. I’ve also heard that there are also groups where they are encouraged to write to stimulate their memory and not forget about their family.
Has your experience as an immigrant influenced your perspective on aging?
Yes, culturally, it has. I have thought about how my life would be like if I were still living in Mexico at this age, I might not be alive anymore. Because culturally, the image of the Mexican man is prevalent in the culture. Therefore, the habits associated with a typical “Macho Man” are not the best in terms of good healthy habits. But actually, they are detrimental and the cause of sudden dead or heart attacks. Adding salt to the abundance of greasy foodstuffs. Mexican food is delicious but comes with a lot of fat and carbohydrates.
Contributor Priscilla Carmiol-Rodriguez is a PhD in Nursing Science student at the University of Washington and a de Tornyay Center for Healthy Aging Pre-doctoral Scholar. Carmiol-Rodriguez’s research interests include sleep and health inequities.