Caring for Aging Parents
Recently, I was very touched and moved by a sincere letter written by Dr. Nick Delgado about how he turned his Dad around and made the final days of his Dad’s life a pleasure for himself, for his Dad and for the rest of the family. This was particularly poignant to me as I have had two similar voyages with my Dad, victim of congestive heart failure at 88, and with my late husband a fitness icon cut down too young by a stroke. Dr. Delgado and many colleagues have studied and have found solutions for many many aging adults to minimize or relieve entirely the debilitating effects of aging, weakness, memory loss, Alzheimer’s, lack of sexual energy, inability to perform and others. More importantly for those of us who fill the role as primary caregiver is to maintain cognitive function.
Does this scene sound familiar? The telephone rings, and you recognize the caller ID as Mom. But the conversation is totally weird. She doesn’t call you by your name. She is talking about something that happened to you as if you were someone else. You explain who you are and that you no longer live in the same state. She snaps back to the present, but the conversation continues to bother you for the rest of the day. The doctors just say it is heredity, her advanced age, etc. Make a visit and take the time to go over her medications. What you will find will shock and amaze you. What passes for the onset of Dementia or Alzheimer’s in many cases is often a reaction or side effect of a prescription medication. The most common culprits are pain medications or an anesthetic. When an older patient complains of nausea, pain, dizziness, short time memory loss, or a host of other common complaints, they are often given yet another prescription. All of these so-called miracle drugs carry a host of toxic side effects. The bedroom tables and medicine cabinets of many older adults may contain 20+ strong prescription drugs, each one with a long list of side effects.
Another totally frightening episode is an early morning call from your stepmother who is at the emergency room. You are told your Dad has had a serious heart attack. He may not survive surgery. This is not his first, and even though you know he is a fighter and is basically strong, you are a wreck until you get to the hospital which is 3 states away. The doctor tells you that if he survives, his life must be totally different, no more road trips, no more strenuous exercise, not a lot of excitement, and not a lot of visitors. Stop, get a grip on your emotions, and calmly let Dad know that the heart is a muscle, and muscles can be strengthened. Life as he knows it is NOT over, and he will have help from you. Don’t start canceling future celebrations, vacations together, etc.
Step one. Have a conversation with your parent and his significant other if there is one, even if the significant other is not your blood relative. Together, you will need to consult with an up to date anti-aging doctor and other specialists. We must remember that some doctors seem to think they have a partnership with God and they are senior partner. Proceed carefully. The ultimate outcome is up to you.
Step 2. Your parent must understand It is no longer true that aging must be a slow decline into nothingness with exorbitant medical bills, extended stays in hospitals and nursing homes, total dependency on you or another sibling, and loss of life either at home with a loving family that remembers what used to be or lingering in a hospice facility with strangers for caregivers. All these unpleasant diseases associated with aging for years can be history.
If you are reading this, you must be one of the Boomers of a few years ago who are seniors themselves now. As they have always done, since they appeared on this planet, the Boomers are rewriting the customs, laws, and stereotypes that have been in place since the turn of the Century. “The Grandparents of today are Sharper, Sprier, and Better Off Financially than at any time in history” (U. S. A. Today) For well over 40 years, they have been looking for the modern version of the Fountain of Youth. The fact is that it has been found in a variety of forms by Dr. Nick Delgado, Nathan Pritikin, Dr. Terry Grossman, David Kekich and a long list of research experts and medical specialists who have been unlocking the secret of aging for the rest of us.
Read, listen, and apply what you can for yourself and your aging parent. We are all aging. The alternative is death, but as a fitness icon used to say and write it on his photos and magazine, “Aging is inevitable; growing old is optional.”
Step three. If your parent seems to be weakening and losing the ability to do simple daily tasks, and slipping away from reality, you must become proactive. The tools you will need will come from different specialties and disciplines, nutrition, exercise, meditation, stress management, hormone replacement, and more. The 50, 60, and even 70 year olds find themselves ironically caught between generations. Older adults themselves, they still have children who need their help raising grandchildren. This requires even more stamina than would be considered normal.
The Boomers have another catch all nickname, “the sandwich generation.” Step four: Study, go to some conferences and arm yourself with knowledge and some good supplements and hormones. There are several Anti-Aging Conferences who welcome the lay person. Take a look at the American Academy of Antiaging Medicine (A4M), International Anti-Ageing Systems, the Immortals, and more. Dr. Nick Delgado’s book “Simply Healthy” covers almost everything you need. The ultimate success of making the final years of a parent’s life enjoyable, healthy, and truly golden for all involved depends on the combined efforts of you, their significant other, and an anti-aging doctor that both of you trust to work with you. There are books, videos, and anti-aging doctors to consult. “Simply Healthy” by Dr. Nick Delgado explains in easy to understand language the plant-based oil free diet (based on the Esserstyn diet). It isn’t just the elderly individual who is already suffering, who can be helped to regain strength, memory, and a zest for life. This diet is good for all individuals regardless of age. By starting early in life, young adults can avoid ever having to recover from the debilitating effects of old age disease.
At some point if we are fortunate enough to have our parents, we become the parents. Daily activities need to be monitored, especially any medications administered. Most of the reasons for medication, such as blood pressure, memory decline, adult onset diabetes, weight gain, lack of interest in sex, or inability to perform, can be controlled and in most cases eliminated with a plant-based oil free diet, some natural hormone therapy, and stress management. One of the gurus of health, Jack LaLanne used to say, “If man made it, don’t eat it.” Another favorite saying was, “Eat as close to nature as possible.” The numbers of plant-based oil free physicians are
Step 5. Take care to get a thorough test of hormones including Thyroid, Estrogen, Testosterone, Cortisol and others. We are living in an environment that contributes heavily to the ingestion of Estrogen including chemicals. We are literally in a sea of Estrogen. For those with a very high Estradiol level, Estrogen blockers will need to be prescribed and taken. It is complicated, but it can be controlled. In some cases, mellowing the Estrogen with Progesterone and Testosterone works for women.
Men need to be checked for too much Estrogen and not enough good Testosterone. For way too long, Testosterone was considered poison. The false thinking of those in the field actually believed that it caused cancer. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Older men need to block the Estrogen and increase the free Testosterone. EstroBlok, LivDetox, and AdrenalDMG need to be prescribed in the proper doses and monitored by an Anti-Aging Doctor. Most of these remedies are relatively inexpensive and painless to use. Estrogen and Testosterone can now be administered by inserting a pellet the size of a grain of rice once every 3 ½ or 4 ½ months. See an anti-aging specialist for testing and prescriptions.
Step 6: If your parent does not live with you, you have a complicated task. Find an assisted living facility, a retirement community, or other type of group living that is clean, orderly, and concerned about the residents’ needs, and you must make sure that your parent will have access to the latest in hormones and supplements to retain all their stamina, memory, and joy of life. If possible, find a facility that encourages, or at least permits, the seniors to enjoy the companionship of a significant other in their lives. If health remains good, there is no such thing as “too old” for romance. Encourage your parent, if he/she is a widow or widower, to seek out and enjoy the company of a member of the opposite sex. Read “Smart, Strong, and Healthy at a 100” by David Kekich.
Step Seven: Don’t become a part of the problem. Sometimes, the adult children become a part of the problem. Don’t be selfish and think only of your feelings. Your single parent is not betraying the missing parent. A close relationship is an essential part of life. This person can become your best ally if you work with them towards keeping your parent healthy and active. Since this is the individual who will be there all the time and will be the one most likely to know if something is wrong.
If you are caring for a critically ill spouse, it is imperative that you do not become a problem, too. Protect your health, remembering to keep check on yourself too. This can be a long journey, and one all of us will take. It can be devastating physically, emotionally, and financially. Being prepared is yours and their best chance at having many pleasurable experiences to remember. A saga of pain and suffering is not inevitable.
An icon of the fitness movement used to say, “Aging is inevitable. Growing old is optional.” Make it your quest to make that true for your parents, your spouse and yourself.
For information on the steps mentioned here and the supplements needed, visit: http://www.nickdelgado.com