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Plan for emotional health when you age

Sunday, March 17, 2013

My work brings me into very intimate contact with people who are in the last few years or even the last moments of their lives. I am almost always in their homes rather than in a facility. Sometimes I get to know their families well, also. I see how they have lived and what brought them to their current condition.

Before you think this is going to be a depressing blog post, I want to say that even on days like today, when I kept checking my favorite client to see if he was still breathing, I love my job. There is ALWAYS life in the room, somewhere. And there are also always love and hope in the room, somewhere. I think it is my job to (gently, so they don't realize I am the one doing it), help the clients and the families find the life, the love and the hope.

Many, many of my clients are tremendously bored and lonely. They lived active, people-oriented lives OUTSIDE their homes before they became disabled. They went bowling, or fishing or to the movies. It never occurred to them that one day they would be unable to drive or walk, that their best friends would die, that their children would be busy and that they would have no idea how to amuse themselves.

What can YOU learn to do NOW to keep yourself occupied, entertained, feeling useful and important, even if the day comes that you are completely reliant on someone like me to come to your home three days a week? It would be a good idea to have a major interest, say politics or music that is so general that even if your hands become arthritic, you can use your DragonSpeak software to "type" out letters to your congresscritters. Even if you can't see, you can play your piano by touch.

Pick something NOW and develop an interest so you do not become a lonely widow with nothing in her life but a television.

After my grandfather died, my grandmother built a third of her house by herself - out of very odd-looking recycled materials. She ran a museum. She wrote to congresscritters, chiding them for every promise they broke. She walked on the beach. She taught herself to paint in oils. I can't say that everyone loved her; probably a few people thought she was a wee bit odd. But I admired her tremendously. She had zip and drive and never felt sorry for herself long.

The interesting thing is that for so many years she was over-worked, underappreciated and poor. She easily could have (once she was alone and no one was watching her) sunk into an easy chair, put her feet up and gotten diabetes in front of a television. After all, she deserved it, right?

But she understood, as I hope that I can help all of my clients understand, that everyone deserves to be happy and to feel important. It does not matter how late we start. If life circumstances make it difficult for us to be happy and important in our thirties, forties and fifties, why shouldn't we put twice as much effort into being happy and important in our sixties, seventies and eighties?

This idea is not only for ourselves. Can you also gently nudge your husband or wife, your mother or father to explore some means to greater meaning? Only 10% of us will die quickly. The rest of us will have a slow decline. Let's make that time as pleasurable and peaceful as possible.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ITISABOUTME 3/17/2013 8:40PM

    I could not agree with you more. I work in an assisted living facility where the residents have their own apartments but have someone "on the floor" with them 24/7. So many of them either sit in their rooms and watch TV or sleep while a select few have many visitors, play cards, and bingo. Plus the few that are able to go out by themselves with the help of the senior bus that picks them up and takes them to various functions like the senior meal in town every Wednesday.

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KARRENLYNN 3/17/2013 5:24PM

    Great post! People don't think about what life could really be like as you get older. You brought up some things I didn't really think about before either, but after my father passed last July and now I'm watching my mom (the difference is night and day), I believe she's falling into those patterns even more than before that you talk about. But I can't make her change so all I can do is be there for her and take care that I don't fall into the patterns you mentilon.

Have a great day!

Karen emoticon

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CAPECODLIGHT 3/17/2013 3:50PM

    Great thought provoking blog.

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PHOENIX1949 3/17/2013 4:43AM

    emoticon emoticon

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ROXIGIRL 3/17/2013 3:05AM

    Thank you . Really enjoyed reading your blog.

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Interview where I must wear Spanx vs. essay where I can let it hang out?

Friday, March 15, 2013

I applied to two nursing schools, one that has a group interview, which the advisor described as a Miss America pageant ("Dress well, but don't be nervous," she said!) The other has a proctored essay. I've known for 6 weeks the interview would be on April 8th - it is the actual reason I decided to join Spark.

I just today received an invitation for a proctored essay at the other college on April 6th.

The feminist part of me wants to believe the school that takes the essays is a better school because it judges on brains, not beauty. Alas, it's not really true. I just want it to be true because it's only 20 minutes from my house. I'd be doing clinicals in a neighborhood where it would actually be reasonable for me to drive on a daily basis.

The group interview is at a college an hour away. It's frankly a better school. I was sort of hoping the decisions would be far enough apart so I would already have said yes to one before the other made an offer (if I were lucky enough to be accepted by both).

But I DID go try on skirts at a Goodwill to match my snazzy houndstooth jacket and I come very, very close to fitting perfectly in a brand new size 8. I actually have room in the waist. The liner is too tight in the thighs area. I think I can lose enough in the next 3 weeks to make that comfortable. If not, I'll run out and buy a Spanx or something. (If I were wearing pants there'd be NO WAY I could fit in an 8 yet, Spanx or no Spanx but that's another story.)

Spanx. Sheesh! Who named that? Not a feminist! Some man who is implying our rears are more spankable when they are squished into some extruded and molded rubber product that came off a Firestone tractor tire assembly line? (Imagine me snorting like a horse here... a behavior I will really have to learn to control before the group interview.)

At least I've now lost enough weight so I no longer need any steel belting under that molded, extruded rubber Spanx.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MARYELLEN301 3/18/2013 6:40PM

    Yes, Spanx does sound a bit off the wall but I bet it's a shortened form of Spandex. That's just a guess but it makes sense. (at least to me!) As far as the schools go, is there any way you can determine which has the higher rate of successful placements after graduation? Close is nice, especially with the price of gas now, but if in the long run you'll have a better chance of employment with the longer drive one, it may be worth it in the long run. Tough decision.

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HOBBESIS49 3/16/2013 1:55PM

    Once AGAIN,

Another Great Blog.. I love your thinking and how you share your journey.. Oh the grand interview process. How intimidating & exciting! Nursing school emoticon emoticon You'll get in I just know it!

I didn't come to Spark People for an interview but it was the confidence that I gained from SPARK PEOPLE that inspired me to go back to school. Be very proud of yourself. So pro-active!

Hmmmmm as what to wear .. 'SPANX'? What a Name! Good grief! Your not gonna believe this but Wikipedia says the company was founded by a woman! Sara Blakely does that make me feeling less offended .. I think not!

emoticon emoticon

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PROVERBS31JULIA 3/15/2013 3:41PM

    and what if you go to the group interview dressed up and they ask you how much Spanx you have on underneath?? I've never been in that position so I can't advise... but hope the weight comes off enough that you do look good for the big day. Maybe eat lots of celery, parsley, cucumber, watermelon pineapple a few days before to help pull out any extra water that happens to be lining your thighs as well???

Go for i!!

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AUNTIEANNE22 3/15/2013 9:18AM

  Having worked in several health care facilities(including a very prestigious teaching hospital) I'm actually happy that a nursing school looks at appearance. Some of the nurses in these facilities were morbidly obese. Hard to believe they are working in health care and have so little regard for their own health. I currently work as a home health aide and many of our younger LNAs and nurses are horribly overweight. I have had problems with my weight since junior high, but I would never let myself get that much out of control.
I would go for both interviews and go with the school which seems most honest to you.

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FEDGIRL4 3/15/2013 9:04AM

    Good luck, whichever one you choose.

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If I want to cheat, I can weigh myself upstairs...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Because upstairs, the floor is not level. If I point the scale facing north, I lose 3 pounds.

I thought about it because I spent too much time studying this weekend between work shifts to exercise much. But then I'd have to keep weighing myself on the same scale or I'd gain 3 pounds next week.

I did keep to a reasonable eating plan, though, so I sighed and used the downstairs scale, on the level downstairs bathroom floor. And yes, I still lost weight. Just a few tenths, but I lost weight. If I weighed myself upstairs, I would never have known.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HOBBESIS49 3/16/2013 1:40PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

Oh my goodness..those crazy scales ... that is so funny.. I like your blog it's so honest and fun.

I too happen to have two different scales that I use for weekly weigh in. One of the scales is of a digital newer design and I've found is very sensitive to an uneven floor. When I weigh myself I move that particular scale around to what I believe is a level surface (my house being built in 1920 this isn't always easy) and then I see if what I come up with is the same with the other scale.

I'm finding if I stick to weighing myself only on friday evening or saturday morning that I'm not so focused on weight but holistically more on healthy lifestyle changes with Spark people with the great benefit of weight loss & looking & feeling life with a renewed sense of vibrancy.

Thanx for your recent comment on my blog.

Keep up the good work! emoticon

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PHEBESS 3/13/2013 6:57PM

    LOL! Love the scales!

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MARYELLEN301 3/13/2013 11:29AM

    Loved your title! And I agree with Sherry (Capecodlight) about "dressing down" Back when I was doing Weight Watchers in the 70"s I used to take off my earrings before I weighed in! What we won't do for just a small bit of success! And those were the days when we has no tenths of a pound on the scales.Glad you register a loss of at least a few tenths!

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CAPECODLIGHT 3/12/2013 8:53PM

    You should see me at the doctor's when I weigh in. I wear as little as possible under the same premise as your upstairs scale... Glad you used the one downstairs - it's all relative.

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A muscle bound 82-year old commented on my weight loss plan today

Saturday, March 09, 2013

He (a former black belt) said he was impressed that I am sticking with it. He said he would like to design a plan for me (which I am sure would be very painful for me to follow) because it would be more efficient. But he's been watching me and he's never seen me without my trusty pedometer and my unsweetened ice tea, and he knows I am serious.

My husband, another former martial artist who still looks very fine at the age of 67, said something similar last week.

This is high praise coming from two hard working lifelong athletes.

My mother, however, sighs and says "Good luck" when I tell her I want to be a size smaller by mid April. I'll admit I've made a rather unimpressive start, but who's to say my progress needs to stay unimpressive? She did go with me on a walk recently, though, and she is now walking her dog farther than she used to, so maybe my walking is a bit contagious.

I feel a little like I am in love. Yesterday, while I was in the tutoring room, I looked down at my pedometer several times and saw a gigantic number (not really, but for a day I was sitting on my rear, it was). I was so happy, because for once I could see how POSSIBLE change really was for me.

This happiness, this sense of possibility, translated into my tutoring, too. I always love my job, but I was a little on FIRE as I explained immune system function and dysfunction to people. They must have thought I was bonkers.

It IS possible. I'm a month in. I no longer feel deprived when I go without my midnight snacks. Logging food has become second nature. Squeezing in exercise is becoming easier and I'm looking for more ways to do it. I have a couple weeks off school coming up and I will have to work a lot more, but I will also get some hiking in. I can do this.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BECKYSFRIEND 3/12/2013 9:14PM


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HOBBESIS49 3/11/2013 11:50PM

    I think in a way it is a love story as the weight of possibility changes every aspect of ones life. What a gift. Glad to know you've caught the Spark. I loved your blog.. Especially your enthusiasm & sense of humor.

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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PHEBESS 3/9/2013 6:28PM

    Good job!!!!!!

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CAPECODLIGHT 3/9/2013 4:45PM

    I loved your comment about being "in love". The euphoria you feel when you are firing on all cylinders and making progress toward your goals (with others noticing you) can't be beat, can it? be proud of yourself. You can do this and you ARE doing this!


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WEARINGTHIN 3/9/2013 1:50AM

    Just stay at it and persevere. You'll get it!! Glenn

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Sneaking in the exercise, I have lost 5 pounds

Friday, March 08, 2013

I wish I had lost 8 by now, because I am behind my goal, but it's a start. I actually gained two pounds last week (anniversary week plus two exams I wasn't ready for without really hitting the books meant I spent a lot of time on my rear) so that didn't help.

I am finding, however, that my need to sneak in a little exercise has made me a much nicer person... at least since I have a pedometer! Someone says they forgot something or need something and guess who pipes up that they'll get it? Yep, me! All those little jaunts down the hall or across the room are adding up. I logged over 6,000 steps at school yesterday while I was supposed to be sitting on my rear tutoring other students. And besides that, everyone thought I was a total sweetheart!


The other thing I am doing, although I don't think it has anything to do with weight loss, is a lot of squats, lunges and calf raises. I can sneak them in here and there when no one is in the room. Since I'm standing up, if I hear someone coming, I can very quickly go back to a perfectly normal position... not like if I were lying on the floor doing pushups. If someone came in and saw me attempting to do them, they'd probably run for the defibrillator!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PHEBESS 3/8/2013 10:21PM

    Sneaking in fitness is a great way to go!!!!! (Calf raises while standing in line are my standard!)

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ILOVEROSES 3/8/2013 8:12PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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CAPECODLIGHT 3/8/2013 4:10PM

    Five pounds is great! And, those squats, etc., are raising your metabolism, even if they don't burn that many calories - they turn your thermostat up, which burn more calories in the long run. Excellent idea to "sneak" in the exercise - great habits to develop.

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DLBROWN93 3/8/2013 11:50AM

    congratulations!!! emoticon

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