Life With The Elderly

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I have two elderly family members. One is 96 and the other 92. The differences in their health is astounding.  The 96 yr old  has always cooked and eaten quite healthily and exercised every day.  The 92 yr old ate well until about 10 years ago when his wife died.

Having never learned to cook, his meals were largely supplied by family members who brought meals to his house, placed them in his freezer expecting him to re-warm them when he was ready to eat. Unfortunately,  he also was supplied, by well-meaning relatives, with copious amounts of cookies. His primary food intake became, not the prepared meals, but coffee and cookies. Multiple times each day. Coffee and cookies.

The 96 Year Old Still Making Her Own Decisions

A few years back the 96 yr old made the decision to move into an assisted living facility and at the same time made the decision to give up driving. That this decision was made on her own was huge and made the relocation much easier for her (and her adult children).

Being a very social person, she adjusted well to assisted living. She takes part in planned activities at the facility as well as several groups sponsored by her church. She eats all her meals in the communal dining room so maintains her balanced diet. She continues her daily exercise and takes only one medication. Her doctors tell her regularly, “whatever you’re doing, just keep doing it.”

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The 92 yr old we’ll just call him Mr. Coffee and Cookies, has, over the past 3 or 4 years, begun to show deteriorating health. I fear the changes have been brought on largely by his insufficient nutrition.  While I’m not aware of any official diagnosis, it is obvious that he is beginning to experience memory problems. While his long term memory is still quite good, his short term memory often fails him.

He is still one of my favorite storytellers of all time. He just recently relocated to an assisted living facility where he will, once again, have balanced meals offered to him on a regular basis. Whether this will slow or stop the progression of memory loss remains to be seen. Lifestyle changes make such a difference!!

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