Never settle – There’s more to life, at any age

Every day, every time I step inside the doors of elder care, I must dig down deep and find what works. My manta begins, “don’t settle for being old, fat, sick, and nearly dead” – there is a better way of life. Let’s do this!

There is a viscous cycle between food and medicine. The more a person is fed the “wrong” foods, the more medicine they will need to correct the consequences. Smothered in gravy … you’ll be back on that cholesterol medicine before long.  Taste that salt-rich soup … before long you’ll need a medicine to address swelling in your legs, since you’re moving about mostly in that wheelchair. White-flour bread and pile of pasta … before long, you’ll gain back the weight you lost, and then some. Simple carbs will do the trick. And, what about those cookies and snack-cakes? They look so small and innocent … and sugar-laden. Think about it all; don’t make it your daily diet … or you’ll be back on that sliding-scale insulin.

The more your loved one is fed the wrong foods, the more medicines will be needed, plain and simple. Furthermore, he (or she) will have less energy and require more assistance, and gradually move less. Oh, and if you hurry along that 85-year-old, it will lead to frustration … greater dependence and more helplessness.

Every day, I step into these obstacles of recovery. I remind my father that “pampering” isn’t progress. I use my tough-love stance … don’t let anyone rush you or do for you what you can do yourself. “Don’t become helpless, you must use it or lose it!” I say, with firm conviction. I remind him that he is in the driver’s seat – many choices are still his to make. Every day, I come equipped with “clean” food, to help him along toward the goal of leaving this place. I remind him that he doesn’t have to be “fat, sick, and nearly dead.” He can be alive, well, and on the move! It’s never too late, even at 85.

There are many things well done by these “rehabilitation” institutions. We count our blessings on a daily basis. The medical team takes our concerns to heart and works to remove the no-longer needed medications. The therapy team has the bar set high for physical and occupational goals … no slacking, even for an 85-year old.  Let’s not forget the CNA’s who do all the loving-dirty work, seriously.  Dietary adjusts what they can and admits what they can’t provide. So, we hired a wellness coach to teach them and us. Seeds are being planted. Indeed, we must play a part in the care-team to meet with success.  We make up for the gaps and navigate through roots of misinformation. Foods that are not nutrient-rich will be medication-driving, period.

The signs are there. It is time to fulfill my father’s dream. Five years ago, he packed up what he could fit in suitcases from their home and came to Florida. It was mom’s dream to live here … so he did, riding out their last chapter as she lived with Alzheimer’s disease. He always said, “if your mother goes first, I want to go back to New York.” Sadly, she did … after 64 years of marriage. Dad is physically challenged but he’s got more living to do. He is learning new ways to eat better and he’s moving better as a result. His medications have been more than cut in half. He is losing weight. He is on the move.

Take notes. Step inside the doors of elder care. Thankfully, there is a growing list of nursing homes, assisted living, and other senior facilities offering vegan meal options … that means vegetable-nutrient-rich diets are a standard.  It is time for a reboot. Advocate for change … your turn is coming.

Today’s drink along with other nutrient-rich items: watermelon-pineapple-ginger juice … a simple hydrating splurge. And, check out the movie Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, it is a must-see. You can watch it here:

Joe Cross (Fat Sick and Nearly Dead) from Philip McKernan on Vimeo.

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