When is Life worth Living?

agnespuffinMay 6, 2006

Yes, as Chelone says. there is more to life than food. But if the main enjoyment in life is the pleasure of eating yummy food, what kind of life is left if that pleasure is taked away? I can tell you from the viewpoint of myself and other elderly friends, mere life with is not worth much. There has to be more. Very few of the elderly will get obese with snacks and junk food. To the contrary, many will need high calorie suppliments just to maintain weight.

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Enjoying the outdoors?

It's important to have interests BESIDES food, and it's critical to our well-being that we exercise our minds and our creativity every day that we live.

And the fact is, people become obese because they eat too much, exercise too little. High fat, high calorie "snacks" and no exercise are what make FAT people (and we are growing a bountiful crop of fat little kids the same way!). If you substitute an activity or interest every time you "feel like snack" you'll be ahead of the game. Most people over eat when they're bored or unhappy. Deal with the boredom by using your mind, deal with the unhappiness by keeping yourself busy with something more than raising your hand to your mouth.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 1:20PM
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Reading? You are assuming that eyesight is still good. Needlework? Eyes again and arthritic fingers can't grasp needles. Outdoors? Heat dehydrates quickly and cold can be devestating. Walking with a cane or with a walker is the pits. Especially when there's worry about falling. Play games? Sure, all that is needed is someone else in the same condition to play with. Obesity is the absolute last problem that the aged have to worry about.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 2:59PM
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Have some more peanuts... if it makes you happy and works for you, go for it.

You asked, I answered.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 3:03PM
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Chelone, trust me, when someone gets old and sick, the body is failing and the days are hard. It's not a lack of other interests. When every movement is painful, activities are difficult. It seems to me that it is compassion to try and make the last years as pleasurable as possible. To deny the pleasure to them seems to me to be the act of someone with little understanding. A sweet or salty snack can be the high point of another dreadful dreary day.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 3:19PM
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My mother is nearly 80. She's had major cancer surgery (urostomy) and suffered a major stroke in '04. She had to learn to WALK again! she now uses a cane and walks more stooped than she did before. When she is tired she drags her left foot noticeably. But she manages a full flight of stairs several times daily because our kitchen and living quarters are on the SECOND floor. She walks outdoors every single day, regardless of heat or cold. (Spare me that "justification" about heat and cold). We live in Maine.

If eyesight is poor see the optician, or buy the magnified lights that will aid you. If your hearing bad, get hearing aids! I see nothing but excuses here...

As I said, if it works for you... go for it!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 3:19PM
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Your mother is truly blessed to be able to get around as she does. I am sure that she knows how lucky she is. There are others, even younger, that are not as fortunate. She can still climb stairs, others have a lot of pain just getting out of a chair. And not all visual or hearing problems can be helped. But you knew that, didn't you? Constant pain is an unpleasant companion if the loved one is still mentally alert.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 3:43PM
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Chelone, it just occured to me that you thought I was talking about myself. No, I am about your mother's age and my husband is even older. I drive my own car, do my own shopping and am a long, long way from be cared for. And a long, long way from being obese. But I do see what's happening to others. I am talking about those poor souls that have passed the time when life is a pleasure. It seems to me that compassion demands that we try to make life as happy as possible for them. Anything less not the act of a caring person.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 4:04PM
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Wow, Agnes.! I feel really sorry for you. I see in what you've written a search for justification... you won't find it from me. If eyesight is poor, see the optician... buy a quality magnifying light... arthritis? see the rheumatologist... . But deal with it and lay off the pity party. Find a NEW interest! If food works for you, stick with it.

But who, exactly, do you think you're talkin' to? Mum has LIVED IN MY HOME for 3 years now! I watched her weather major cancer surgery (urostomy) and then I watched her deal with a stroke. She had to learn to WALK again. She spent close to 3 mos. in rehabilitation and nursing homes... and every medical person who dealt with her made sure she knew how much EASIER her weight made her recovery. Fat people in her position rarely leave the rehab. facilities, Agnes.. I watch her struggle every single day of every single week, trying to figure out what day it is to know what compartment to open on her pill boxes... I watch her faithfully pull out the instructions for hooking up to the nighttime urinary collection jug and perform each one carefully... I watch her perform the reverse every single morning of every single day. I have no patience for self-serving whining. I'm too busy with my own life and required chore list.

Mum was a very bright, very creative, very literate woman (a librarian) before the stroke. Perhaps her keen mind and good sense of humor enabled her to look beyond food at a time when she really needed to. I honestly can't say... but I can say that if she was a fat, whiney old blob there would be no way she could have recovered, let alone remain in our household.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 4:04PM
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Do you understand that some of the elderly have lost their eyesight completely? The optician can't help. Do you understand constant pain? Or the balance problems that make walking impossible? Or pressure sores from sitting or lying because independent movement is impossible? Or perhaps, getting enough oxygen because of lung problems? Your mother is extremely fortunate that her health is as good as it is. The list of health problems for someone her age can be very long.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 4:29PM
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I have to say that nothing made my mother's life worth living for her in the last few years. After my father died in 99, Mother was miserable. You might cheer her up for a few moments, and she did find commfort in going to Mass every day, but she ached for Dad so very much that nothing made life worth living.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2006 at 12:33AM
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Helene!! It's good to hear from you. I had wondered how you were doing. It's so sad when a life like your mother's ends, but we all know that you did all you could to make those last months bearable for her. The bond of love between husband and wife seems to be so strong in some that when it's broken, it is as if the life force bleeds away from the one left behind.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2006 at 9:49AM
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There's no easy answer to the quality of life versus length of life debate. Food is one of Daddy's last pleasures, along with walking outside. Reading was his great pleasure, but Alzheimer's has robbed him of that. He also can't follow TV shows, and conversations are hard for him. But he tries so hard! If food makes your mom happy and it's not going to seriously jeapordize her health, go for it. My dad is scrawny, so we're all happy when he eats anything.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 12:16AM
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Hi Chelone,
That was a nice pic of your mom, and from reading past posts of yours, she looks much like what I thought she would. She looks like a fiesty lil' lady! It's good that she still gets around, indoors and out. My mother (passed in '99 at 68) was much the same way, made herself get out and keep active by gardening and puttering around. Also, I am from Maine, near the Brunswick area. Where are you at? I live in PA now. You needn't explain the weather up there! I know it well, and don't miss the "wintahs". Wish her well!
Emma in PA

    Bookmark   May 22, 2006 at 7:32PM
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Agnes, I think you asked some very valid questions and I believe your question can only be answered by those who have reached that point in their lives who still have the mental capacity to ponder it.

JMHO, but the quality of life is more important than the quantity. As I watched my Dad go downhill from cancer, I saw how his quality of life slipped slowly away from him daily. He was plagued either due to aging and/or cancer with eating problems & naseau, weight loss, walking, sleeping, incontinence, severe neuropathy in his extremites, falls, fractures, hearing/seeing problems, etc etc. Small pleasures like watching TV,reading, doing word puzzles, cutting his own food were taken away from him. He needed help with toileting & bathing while still trying to keep his dignity. Every morning, I would help him to a sitting position, put his warm socks & slippers on him and hand him heavy duty Pain pills BEFORE he could even get out of bed. I watched him go from a walker to a wheelchair. I won't even go into his hospitalizations & chemo. And through all of it he kept a sense of humor, but being so dependant on others made him very sad. Not being able to enjoy the things he used to do or to help out made him feel like he had nothing to contribute. (his feelings, not mine)

I was able to care for him and my mother in my home and never regreted it for one second. My Dad passed last October from a massive heart attack at home. As much as I miss him, I thank God for taking him swiftly and before the cancer reduced him to an excruciating painful death.

I am still caregiving for my mother with Alzheimers. I will do my best for her, too, but she has lost so much of her "personality" already, it's been like a slow greiving. I guess that's why they call it the longest goodbye.

While there are others here that think there is a "fix" for everything and may feel like what you've talked about is "whining" (and they are entitled to their opinion) sometimes I just think you have to really walk in the suffering person's shoes to truly understand.

For those sick or elderly who don't even have anyone to care for them, it just breaks my heart. There are just some people who are fighters out there and then there are just some people who are realists who accept and embrace the truth about the importance of the quality of their lives and their own mortality. JMHO

Blessings~~ katclaws

    Bookmark   May 28, 2006 at 12:00AM
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Kat...you are so right. I could have written that....my situation and feelings were identical in most respects. Dementia is really a long, sad goodby, as the personality fades away and you can only remember and love the person as you always have. For PB and the others I have to say "There is not always a fix" in the purest definition of the word, but love makes many things easier to bear. Life is worth living when you, the person, think it is.....however that may be.
Con cariño, Derry

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 12:53PM
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Good to see you posting Derry. I can remember those last months that you had your mother. You did everything you could to make those days easier for her. I think that has to be the answer, to make things easier.

I remember when my mother was dying. Death was just a few hours away. Anyone with a lick of sense could see that. The doctor that was on call was giving her nurse a good dressing down because she wasn't feeding her. I told him that in my opinion trying to get food down her in her condition would be a struggle and would interfer with her attempts to breathe. I doubted if she could even swallow. He huffed and puffed and stomped out of the room!! She died only a couple of hours later. That was one doctor that I couldn't recommend to anyone.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 3:58PM
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Hello everyone, just wanted to say Hi. Hope you all remember me. I took care of my dad at home until he passed away from cancer and it was very traumatic. I can say we did have some good talks and I have loving memories of him, when he was sick and well, When he became bedridden I would sit and talk or sing to him and sometimes he felt like talking, later when he wasn't able I'd still sing and talk to him. people would tell me he doesn't know what you are doing, but I feel like in my heart he did know.
All during this time my mom was in the first stages of alzheimers and she didn't even realize most of the time what was going on.
I took care of her at home until the dr forced my brother and me to put her in a nh. Which to this day I totally regret and wish I could bring her back home.
I have had several strokes and thanks to therapy and lots of hard work I am able to live by myself now and am doing pretty well. Sorry I got so carried away...lol can you tell I get lonely. Just wanted to let everyone know I'm still lurking about . God Bless you all

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 4:40PM
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I admire you all for taking care of your loved ones. My husband has Alzheimer's and I have been taking care of him 24/7 for 4 years with no help from anyone and it is beginning to affect my health. I have had my first stress related health problem and my doctor as much as told me my health was going down the toilet and that I had better do something about it before it was to late. I love my husband, but he is going to have to go to a care home. I am going to make sure he has a complete physical and if he is well I will admit him. I can't handle the Sundowners any longer. After I admit him I will take a vacation, then begin daily trips to the care home. I have done the research and know where I will put him. It breaks my heart, but my life is as important as his. He doesn't know me, when I leave the room and come back he thinks I am someone new. Very sad.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2006 at 8:41PM
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Jonesy, that is really very sad. But you are doing the right thing. If you destroyed your health, not only would he still have to go to a nursing home, but someone would have to care for you. If you have children, you know who that would be. This is one of those times when you know you are doing the best for all concerned.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2006 at 9:34PM
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Agnes, thank you for your supporting words. Sometimes I vow I will never speak of personal things again because of the negative comments I recieve. My sister knows what I am going through, but when she asks about my husband's condition and I tell her, she says, "Oh, then you will be able to care for him for years." When I do admit him to a home I will not tell anyone including his family. I had a friend tell me of her relative that lost her husband, people who never came to see him when he was alive came to his funeral and she told them, "I don't want you here, you didn't come and see him when he was well, don't bother now." That is how I feel, I couldn't do that, but it is how I feel.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2006 at 10:29PM
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harryshoe zone6 eastern Pennsylvania

Mom's in a nursing home. I try to visit her each weekend. She can only move one arm. Can't see to read. Can't hear well enough to watch TV or carry on a conversation. Often when I visit, she dosen't know I'm in the room until I touch her. Her only pleasure is food. I bring her bread pudding, cheesecake, etc. and it makes her happy. I talked to her dietician and she agrees that at her age and condition there is no reason to deny her this pleasure.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2006 at 10:43AM
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Sometimes I wander when is life worth living when all aroung me the people I love are passing away or leaving and moving away.
I have just moved to Quebec city from Ont.and I'm not sure if I like it that much,but my husband wanted to be close to our daught and our two grandkids,don't get me wrong I love the, but it doesn't feel right for me here, there is something missing and I can't put my finger on it.
I miss having time to myself and doing my things by myself,like going and just sitting in the park,having a little place of my own where I can think things out.But like I said it was my DH decition to move here and since he is sick I understand it,but do I have to do all he want's if I'm not happy.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 11:20AM
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