What I learned from my Grandmother:
My mother’s mother, Naomi Johnson, was one of the sweetest and most charasmatic women you could hope to meet. Obviously, I got most of my personality from my dad’s side of the family.
She was always there for me growing up, handy with a piece of gum or lipgloss from her purse; always up to go out for an ice cream; and she loved to play cards and go shopping. I loved spending time with her. I think I only once ever saw her angry or irritable.
When I was going through a difficult transition after college, she let me stay at her house until I figured out which way I was going. That was 10 years ago and I only saw her once after that. It became too painful for me to visit her.
What went wrong: her health. When I was staying with her she had already started to lose her memory. She would forget within a matter of minutes where I told her I was going or what my plans were for that day. I had to write down everything important on a white board so she could see it and know what was going on.
I moved back to Austin 3 months later. I learned through phone calls and letters from relatives what was happening with Naomi and her health situation. She was forced to move out of her home and into a “care facility.” She did NOT want this for herself. This move resulted in a deep depression and more medication.
Her memory worsened. Eventually she couldn’t even remember her own children or why she wasn’t in her own home. When she passed away last March, I was sad, but also relieved for her because I know how much she was suffering.
Alzeimer’s is a common dis-ease. But I think – like most dis-eases associated with aging – it can be prevented or at least mitigated.
The #1 thing that my grandmother didn’t do very well for her health was eat nutritious food. She had a sweet tooth (which I unfortunately DID inherit) and especially in her last few years did not cook. No matter how religiously you follow what your MD recommends (regular testing, medication, etc.), if you don’t eat well, you won’t age well.
She also didn’t exercise. In her 70s she had a bout of colon cancer and after she “recovered”, she refused to walk even the shortest of distances. The lack of movement did not help her deteriorating condition.
Seeing her ill health affect my family has made my belief in wellness care even stronger. There are things we have control over in regards to our health. If we don’t take control, and take responsibility for what we put on the dinner table and how we address health problems, then we lose the privilege of controlling our destiny. Someone else will take over and we won’t like it. And it will make our loved ones very sad.
Ignoring the small signs of bad health: weight gain, fatigue, headaches, or allergies,… are not in themselves going to kill us, but if they are not addressed they will lead to the bigger things that can kill us… heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and alzeimer’s.
Do you know someone who has been putting their health on the back-burner much to the despair of those around them? Forward this article to them and hopefully we can inspire them to get it together and get healthy!