Saturday, January 01, 2011

Enjoying Old Age and Senility

When my sister started her search for the right place for our parents, she came across a senior citizens home which promised "the right to fall" instead of strapping the residents into their beds and chairs.  They made the environment as safe as possible, but they also tried to preserve the residents' dignity.

When my father was living with us, the doctor said that there was no reason why he shouldn't have cake a few times a day, since he had no diabetes nor overweight problem.  I was told to give him his favorite foods.  At the place my sister found for them in Arizona they gave them potatoes with every meal.  I was surprised, because it's high glycemic.  I had given my father more rice, especially the low carb basmati variety.  Afterwards I discussed it with my neighbor who was his doctor here.  I thought that it was strange that they served so much potatoes and no rice.  She said that constipation is harder to deal with when it comes to the very elderly than diabetes which can be controlled with more insulin.

I just found this article in the New York Times about a nursing home for those with Alzheimer’s, Beatitudes nursing home.  They don't fight with the patients.  They let them eat what they want and when they want and play like kids.  It makes sense.

When my father was living with us, I let him pace us.  My entire life slowed down.  In some ways I'm having trouble, even six months after bringing him to Arizona, getting back on track and doing what I had planned on doing before he moved in with us.

The elderly and those younger with Alzheimer’s and other neurological impairments are like babies and young kids.  I'm the mother of five, and each of my kids was different.  When you have a baby you must be flexible.  I breast-fed by demand.  It was the easiest way, most efficient and trains a child from day one to only eat when hungry.  I think that is an important thing to prevent later food problems, overweight and anorexia.  At Beatitudes they give the elderly that same power, demand feeding. 

Experts say that the elderly and infants need similar care.  I guess it's true, though it's hard to see once strong, independent people suddenly infantile.

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