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Archive for the ‘aging parents’ Category

Guys, you know you want to…live as long as possible that is. From the moment we realize we’re not invincible (wait, you have realized you’re mortal, right? It usually happens around the age of 30), we start making attempts to extend our lives.

First we do all we can to stay young. We exercise. We get cool haircuts. We take sideways glances at GQ magazine in the bookstore, looking for ways to dress with style. Admit it, we let a little vanity slip in and we actually think that 50-ish guy in the Corvette convertible doesn’t look bad (except for the double chin and flabby ear lobes).

Next, we turn to late night infomercials and the Web to help us extend our lives. We admire Chuck Norris and his exercise contraption. We go online and search for the magic bullet of health.

There’s good news, my friends. A recent story in The New York Times focused on a study that shows how men can live past 90 and maintain good health along the way – versus simply relying on good genes and good luck.

Here are the five steps researchers found to help men live into our 90s:

  1. Abstain from smoking
  2. Maintain a healthy weight
  3. Control blood pressure
  4. Exercise regularly
  5. Avoid diabetes

Sounds rather easy, don’t you think? AND it makes perfect sense. If you smoke, are fat, have high blood pressure and don’t exercise, you’ll likely get diabetes. And if you get diabetes you’re going to face all kinds of chronic health conditions, which will ultimately kill you.

But if you kick the smoking habit, drop a few pounds, exercise, keep the blood pressure within a normal range, and exercise three days a week you’re going to fend off all kinds of diseases including diabetes, heart disease, various forms of cancer, and more.

We all want to live. But living long and living well are the keys to life people! The last thing I want is to be a 75-year-old, size 42 waist, oxygen dependent, insulin pumping, red-faced bag of bones.

The good news is that I’m already abiding by the five steps that will help me get to 90 and beyond.

Meet me in another 38 years for a game of checkers?

-end-

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Like the old oak tree that’s lived a long and healthy life, my Mom turns 87 on Sunday. Since she and Dad divorced in 1984, Mom has lived “down home,” not far from where she grew up as a kid. She’s been surrounded by her brothers and sisters in her senior years. Family means the  most to her and it’s what she needed most of all.

Since my kids were born, we’ve always managed to see Grandma at least once a year even though 700 miles separate us.  I wish it could have been more frequently, but it’s just not been so. My two teenagers know Grandma but they really don’t know her.

In recent years, Mom’s health has steadily declined from the inside out. Small strokes led to clumsy falls and broken bones. Her speech became only thoughts in her mind – unable to spill out coherently. She lost the use of her right arm and other faculties. Things we take for granted became humiliating disabilities to her.

But her heart keeps beating loudly and her will to live each day remains strong.  Like that oak tree, she has shaded and protected her family for the bulk of her life. Her hardest admission with age has been recognizing that she can no longer “do” for those she loves.

In October, Mom will be admitted to a nursing home and my aunt, who has lived with Mom for the past 12 years, fears for the worst. The youngest sister of the siblings, my aunt is 76 and shouldn’t be caring for a woman prone to falling down and who is unable to feed herself. But she has steadfastly been there, refusing to relinquish her concern and desire to take care of her big sister for as long as possible, just as my Mom took care of her little sis back in the 1930s.

That, my friends, is what family is all about. And though my aunt has cried and agonized over this decision that is in all rights overdue, she is doing what is best for my Mom at this late phase in her life.

When I see Mom on her birthday this weekend, I’ll present the usual flowers and birthday card. I’ll open it and read it to her and we’ll smile as her mind slowly pushes the words “Thank you” and “I love you” through her vocal cords. I’ll spend a day or two with her, helping her eat and making her comfortable…doing for her.

She’s touched all of our lives in countless ways, including the unending love she gives us all.

-end-

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