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Comfort at the end of life: how to help with stress and pain

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  • #16
    Thanks for responses.

    Helping my mother to have comfort and pleasure in her life . . . that's certainly of paramount importance. Hounding her about diet and exercise would be cruel.

    At my mother's age, and considering the damage to her body that has been an issue for quite a few years (even when she was much "healthier"), there's nothing that's going to suddenly make things better. However, I can't help feeling that it's wrong to essentially give her poison because poison is what makes her happy.

    I mean, if I said to someone, "It would make me happy to have a wee bit of arsenic after dinner every night," and if someone gave me what I wanted . . . I'd be in bad shape if it didn't kill me outright, and someone would be in trouble with the law.

    My experience with the Primal way of life is that it has relieved for me many of the issues that are currently making my mother's life not very pleasurable. Not having the amount of fatigue she has, not having the inflammation she has, being able to breathe more easily and sleep better . . . those would be good things.

    Unfortunately, I live five hundred miles from the rest of my family, so making the most of the time I have left with my mother means offering what support I can from a distance.

    There is, at this point, no talk of anything like hospice. She's not anywhere near the point of needing just to be watched and made comfortable while she struggles to the end. But I anticipate getting a call anytime telling me the fragile support system of drugs and doctor visits has started to collapse.

    Thanks again for responses to my post. It's a fine example of the great support MDA offers.

    Edith
    Last edited by entwyf; 05-17-2013, 05:13 AM.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by Paleobird View Post
      Let her do whatever she wants. Really. At this point it is all about enjoying the time she has and you are probably right that it is rather limited. Nothing that you do to her diet or exercise is going to change that and imposing anything on her (dietary or exercise) is just not worth the stress it will cause.

      That said, if it is something she wants to do, great. You might get her to do some light walking just to keep the circulation flowing. You could have her caregiver focus on higher fat, lower sugar desserts such as flan or cheesecake and maybe sneak some extra "evil" fat in via things like melted butter or coconut oil in the mashed potatoes.

      Be with her as much as you possibly can. That will help the most.

      I say all of this as someone whose father passed away of CHD last year at the age of 87.

      Hugs.
      this. end of discussion.

      would you really consider taking her "wild desserts" away from her in an attempt to squeeze a few extra days/weeks/months of life out of her for your own selfish reasons? take a step back and think about it. you'd be doing her a disservice. you're truly not going to make any difference, except maybe upsetting her. if she wants whiskey and ice cream for breakfast tomorrow, then you better run to the store and get it for her. that's how you can help

      as for exercise. do whatever she can do. walk with her. maybe get her in to tai chi or chair/senior yoga. how about water exercise?.

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      • #18
        You don't need to wait until the end to get hospice. My housemate was involved in hospice for many years so I know about all the benefits.
        Ancestral Health Info - My blog about Primal and the general ancestral health movement. Site just remodeled using HTML5/CSS3 instead of Wordpress.

        My MDA Friday success story - Stubborn Senior's Testimonial

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        • #19
          I would not like to take anything from my mother that makes her happy. What I want to do, but cannot do because I live five hundred miles away, is (at the very least) convince someone that changes **of some sort** in her diet could (at the very least) make her more comfortable.

          It would not be a bad thing for her to have less inflammation, less confusion, better sleep, better breathing.

          I just heard from my sister that, after a week in the hospital (because the doctor wanted to get rid of fluid that made her legs swell and made it hard for her to breathe), Momma is back home but confused. No wonder. She was given a large dose of diuretic; her potassium level went down as the swelling in her ankles went down; her heartbeat spiked at one point at 136 . . .

          She basically, for the sake of less swollen ankles, got a punch to both body and brain. No wonder she's out of whack . . .

          Why does getting old and having one's body come to a halt have to be one hard blow after another? Why can't there be some freaking way for the medical profession to support bodily functions in a thoughtful, integrated way instead of throwing things at symptoms, one after the other?

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          • #20
            because humans are mortal and are comprised of inevitably declining systems increasingly stressed by multiple, networked failures and compounded structural weaknesses
            "Ah, those endless forests, and their horror-haunted gloom! For what eternities have I wandered through them, a timid, hunted creature, starting at the least sound, frightened of my own shadow, keyed-up, ever alert and vigilant, ready on the instant to dash away in mad flight for my life. For I was the prey of all manner of fierce life that dwelt in the forest, and it was in ecstasies of fear that I fled before the hunting monsters."

            Jack london, "Before Adam"

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            • #21
              Originally posted by entwyf View Post
              I would not like to take anything from my mother that makes her happy. What I want to do, but cannot do because I live five hundred miles away, is (at the very least) convince someone that changes **of some sort** in her diet could (at the very least) make her more comfortable.

              It would not be a bad thing for her to have less inflammation, less confusion, better sleep, better breathing.
              Back in December we took wheat out of my father's diet (having read Wheat Belly) and noticed an immediate improvement in his cognitive abilities. He's 93, has a pacemaker and was diagnosed with Alzheimer's 3 years ago. Until then he was steadily declining and all the information we had was that this was a one way journey. At that time all I cared about was that each moment of his day was as enjoyable for him as I could make it. I was giving him anything he fancied and would eat, because after all, if you can't enjoy yourself at 93 when you have Alzheimer's, then when can you? So, chocolate, biscuits, cake etc and all the low fat stuff my mother had bought was thrown out.

              We took him off wheat because he had already done that for himself many years ago when his hip was deteriorating, before it was replaced. He's now about 80% primal and we've replaced the chocolate and biscuits etc with cheese and apple slices (he can only chew with his front teeth) and breakfast is bacon and egg, not toast, but he still has baked beans and potatoes.

              But ... despite being 93, he's actually very healthy. He's never carried much fat and his pacemaker is literally to set the pace for his heart, the muscle itself is fine. And the alzheimer's medication is his only prescription medication, he has no blood pressure or other meds. 5 years ago he was towing a caravan across Europe for half the year, doing the cooking, the shopping and the gardening. Apart from the Alzheimer's there's no reason he shouldn't go on for another 10 years. If he had been physically failing as well, then I'm not sure I would have been so keen to try. Also, if he had been upset by my removing the sandwiches, toast, biscuits, hot cross buns, cake, sausages, beer, fish and chips (!!) etc and more recently, chocolate, then it wouldn't have been worth the upset to him. With the Alzheimer's he's not actually aware of what he's missing - just what I'm giving him, and he's happy with bacon and egg, and cheese and apple, and (hard) cider and smoked sausage and beans, roast chicken etc.

              Originally posted by entwyf View Post
              I just heard from my sister that, after a week in the hospital (because the doctor wanted to get rid of fluid that made her legs swell and made it hard for her to breathe), Momma is back home but confused. No wonder. She was given a large dose of diuretic; her potassium level went down as the swelling in her ankles went down; her heartbeat spiked at one point at 136 . . .

              She basically, for the sake of less swollen ankles, got a punch to both body and brain. No wonder she's out of whack . . .

              Why does getting old and having one's body come to a halt have to be one hard blow after another? Why can't there be some freaking way for the medical profession to support bodily functions in a thoughtful, integrated way instead of throwing things at symptoms, one after the other?
              We had investigations started into why my father appeared to be bleeding into his underwear. When it reached the point at which they were talking a colonoscopy - at 92 with Alzheimer's? We declined and explained to his GP that we would not agree to anything that threatened his mental quality of life, such as the sedatives they suggested using for the colonoscopy, which would have worked directly against his Alzheimer's meds. Let alone the 2 days of clearing his gut out!! (It has turned out to be haemarrhoids in the end.) In his condition, any hospitalisation is likely to precipitate a major downturn in his mental state.

              It does appear that doctors can only cope with one symptom as a time. Why they can't consider the overall impact of treatment I don't know, but it appears to be up to families to watch out for our loved ones best interests as best we can.

              I'm so sorry that your mother is suffering. I'm not sure that at this point you'd see much impact from any changes you could make. Apart from being 80% primal, I also have my father on high dose vit D3, vit K, vit B12, phosphatidylserine supplements and cooking with coconut oil. I have complete control of his diet. In 6 months we've seen small but significant (to us) improvements in his mental abilities.

              But physically, he doesn't appear to have recovered any ground. At the moment, exercise is far too much of an effort and it's all he can do to walk to and get in and out of the car or move around the house. If he continues to improve mentally then I think he'll be happy to go for longer walks and maybe his physical form will improve, but I suspect we're months or another year away from physical improvement - assuming he doesn't keel over with a stroke before then!

              Whether, given her physical condition, introducing primal foods or removing processed foods would improve any of her conditions is debatable. Cutting them slightly probaby wouldn't make much difference. People who are in better health can go through withdrawal and cravings for weeks by removing grains and sugar which is additional stress on the body. I'd say that though her favourite/comfort foods may well be the things that made her sick, at this point they may well also be what is giving her any enjoyment in her life. And of course, unless she is deemed to have lost mental capacity, well, much as it hurts us to watch others making themselves sick, it is their choice.

              I'm so sorry you're in this position, entwyf. It's very very hard to see someone failing and not to be able to do anything. I think all you can do is to keep her as happy as she can be from moment to moment and if this means unhealthy eating, there's probably nothing you can do about it, but I'm not sure it would make much difference either.
              Me, My Father and The Alzheimer's - http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread84213.html

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              • #22
                I think there are two sides to the coin.

                On the one hand, there's nothing wrong with wanting your mother to have less inflammation/etc in her final years. but on the other hand, you have to have her involvement AND that of her support network (which is not you, because you are so far away).

                If your sister, on the other hand, had suddenly decided that wheat was out (for example), and she was in charge of mom's meals, and mom wanted all kinds of sweets all day long (ie, cookies), then GF cookies could be made and perhaps she would see some health improvement.

                but at the end of the day, if you try to drive this train from 500 miles away, it's going to end in a lot of frustration and anger for you and your family. People will take thing personally, get angry, and so on.

                I also can understand that you feel frustrated -- frustrated that you want to help and can't, frustrated that people likely won't listen to you, and frustrated that your mom is deteriorating.

                I get that. For years I struggled to change my family's eating patterns and habits. I started to recognize the emotional eating patterns, the negative relationships with foods, and of course, the unhealthy foods that they eat. And, you might even say, food addictions.

                Anyway, end of the day, no amount of me talking or mentioning it was going to change a thing. Nothing has. Seriously. It's shocking. And yes, i know that a lot of the things that I do, that I would mention in the past, would have made their daily lives better as well as their long-term health.

                But you know what this talk was doing? frustrating them, frustrating me, and everyone would end up angry and not enjoying each other. Food, like politics, is not discussed.

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                • #23
                  How do doctors really know how much time a person has? Only the universe, cosmos, and our great creator whoever she may be, really have the true knowing of each person's expiration date.

                  Here is some research on congestive heart failure.

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