Before I started clinical at a nursing home, my only real experience with the elderly, were people who are out and about and very active. My grandparents are very active. My grandfather is still working at 80 years old! They travel, they go boating, they do all kinds of things, and they’re very healthy. They take care of themselves, exercise, eat well, and maintain an overall sense of well-being.
When I started clinical, and saw people YOUNGER than my grandparents in advanced stages of aging, disease, and just overall bad health, I was shocked. Now granted, sometimes you can take care of yourself very well, but a disease can destroy that regardless of what you do such as dementia and Multiple Sclerosis. However, I saw residents there whose bad health could have been totally prevented if they just took care of themselves.
For example, Diabetes is a horrible disease if not kept under control. While I understand that sometimes in some cases, it cannot be controlled no matter what you do, in most cases it can be. I saw residents with missing limbs due to Diabetes. They didn’t eat well, take care of themselves, or monitor their blood sugar like they’re supposed to (by the way, I will never forget the smell of gangrene). Or there are the people who had to have triple bypass surgery to survive, and they still eat like they did before the surgery and don’t exercise. Just overall bad health because they didn’t take care of themselves as they aged.
It made me realize that my health is important TODAY, not tomorrow, not a year from now, but today. Because it’ll add up eventually if you don’t. If I take care of myself, I could be like my grandfather at 80 years old. If I don’t, I could be in a nursing home. It’s really surreal to see the two different ways your life could end up depending on whether or not you take care of yourself.
I’ve been taking care of myself, but I still break where I eat Chicago Style Popcorn or a bag of potato chips or get McDonald’s. I haven’t been keeping up my exercise regime because there’s been a lot going on in my life, so I have to get back into it. But this made me realize, I have to stick to it for it to be successful. So I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. I have to take care of myself both physically and mentally in order to live a healthy life, and only I can do that. So I’m going to do less Facebooking, less watching TV, and more activities like reading, playing the keyboard, going for walks, and stuff like that. Once I get a job, and we stabilize, I plan on once a month doing something adventurous. Like rocking climbing, or jumping out of a plane, stuff like that.
I always knew that life isn’t meant to be spent on the couch. Life is short, and you never know if tomorrow will come. But I got caught up in the things that dominate your life, jobs that cause stress and fatigue so all you want to do is grab McDonald’s and crash on the couch. Something always comes up, car breaks down, pipe breaks, and it just seems overwhelming so you just want to do nothing. Now, I’m just going to go with the flow. Car breaks down, okay, get it fixed. Moaning and complaining about it won’t solve anything. House falls apart, well, put it back together again. But I’ll be less stressed about it because I’ll be active and mentally primed to face these things. Rather than just collapsing at every little thing that happens, I’ll just go with the flow. Things happen, and they’re out of your control, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take control of the situation. I know I’ve said this many times before, but I think a person can always keep growing and improving themselves. So I’m turning over another new leaf. I’m going to take care of my mental health so I can focus on my physical health. The two go hand in hand, and it’s important to make sure you look at both instead of just one aspect of your well being.