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    entwyf's Avatar
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    Comfort at the end of life: how to help with stress and pain

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    My eighty-eight year old mother has congestive heart failure for a variety of reasons. After a recent visit with her and the rest of my family, I am now convinced that if she lives to see her eighty-ninth birthday in October, it will be a miracle indeed.

    I am now trying to figure suggestions I can offer my sister (with whom my mother lives and whom my mother trusts as a health advisor) that can improve my mother's quality of life, help ease her stress and pain, and allow her to approach the end of her life less anxiously.

    I am mostly concerned about nutrition and exercise.

    For years, Momma has dutifully done what the doctor has told her about cholesterol, calories, fat: RUN AWAY FROM THEM!

    So, basically, she has avoided real food, though she eats desserts with gusto. Her rationale is that she has "been good" with the rest of her diet.

    This drives me a little nuts. My sister's view, is of course, why not let her have what makes her happy? And mostly, at this point, I agree. But she gets some kind of wild dessert every evening because my sister's partner is a chef. Momma is in many ways being killed with kindness.

    She needs to eat more of things she is paranoid about and much less of things she loves. Chocolate pudding with avocado is the only thing I can think of that might be of some benefit.

    Because of various meds she takes, she has problems with fatigue. She really doesn't do a lot at home at this point except go up and down a short flight of stairs or back and forth to the mailbox. She's now using a cane.

    I understand that--according to a study done a few years ago--lack of mobility is a sign of health on a major downhill slide.

    Inability To Complete Quarter-Mile Walk Is Significant Predictor - UPMC, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

    However, there have to be some simple things Momma could do standing or sitting that would, I don't know, keep her from feeling less congealed and inflexible.

    My sister said she probably would do some sort of movement if her doctor wrote her a prescription. So if there is anything she could do that a doctor might be willing to prescribe, I would certainly suggest it to my sister.

    Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

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    Besides diet and exercise interventions, consider hypnotherapy for her frame of mind.

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    namelesswonder is online now Senior Member
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    First, I would evaluate what makes her happy or would make her happy. I would construct food or exercise constraints around that. There's no point in forcing her to do something that makes her unhappy, doctor's orders or no, especially when you feel you are working with a limited time span.
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    Quote Originally Posted by entwyf View Post
    So, basically, she has avoided real food, though she eats desserts with gusto. Her rationale is that she has "been good" with the rest of her diet.

    This drives me a little nuts. My sister's view, is of course, why not let her have what makes her happy? And mostly, at this point, I agree.
    Yeah it drives us paleo people nuts.

    One of my grandmas just turned 90, we visited her for mother's day this week. She asked me to run out and get her a Whopper with cheese!!! LOL, odd request given that she led a fairly clean healthy life. I think that's crazy, but she don't care. Probably at that point she is ready to go and just wants to have fun. Who are we to say no. And heck a Whopper probably isn't much worse than what they feed people at the nursing home.

    My other grandma just died today, 92!

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    Quote Originally Posted by entwyf View Post
    My eighty-eight year old mother has congestive heart failure for a variety of reasons. After a recent visit with her and the rest of my family, I am now convinced that if she lives to see her eighty-ninth birthday in October, it will be a miracle indeed.

    I am now trying to figure suggestions I can offer my sister (with whom my mother lives and whom my mother trusts as a health advisor) that can improve my mother's quality of life, help ease her stress and pain, and allow her to approach the end of her life less anxiously.

    I am mostly concerned about nutrition and exercise.
    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.

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    stormcrow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by entwyf View Post
    I am now trying to figure suggestions I can offer my sister (with whom my mother lives and whom my mother trusts as a health advisor) that can improve my mother's quality of life, help ease her stress and pain, and allow her to approach the end of her life less anxiously.
    At this point will changing her diet really accomplish anything? If she has only months to live let her enjoy them by eating what she wants. That's the way to ease her stress and make her less anxious.

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    Instead of hounding an 89 year old about diet and exercise, how about just spending time with her doing things she enjoys, be it making a dessert, watching TV or talking about the old days. Paleo is not a magic bullet that can overnight change an illness. 89 is a good long run for human.

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    Yeah, I would let her do whatever she wants, and focus on the time you have with her.

    Exercise isn't the greatest at that point, because the dirty little secret there is, exercise isn't actually good for you. It's your bodies response to the stresses of exercise that provide the benefit. An 89 year old's body might not have much of a positive response to stress, if any.
    Disclaimer: I eat 'meat and vegetables' ala Primal, although I don't agree with the carb curve. I like Perfect Health Diet and WAPF Lactofermentation a lot.

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    If the doctors confirm that she has 6 months or less to live, insist she get hospice care. It makes a huge difference.
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    You could take her to a good gerontologist who is willing to check for nutrient deficiencies. They are quite common in the elderly as digestion becomes poor as we age. Also, many local YMCA or Physcial therapy departments have balance classes for elderly that focus on building strength and balance. They are very gentle and designed for frail people. Plus they are a very good social outlet which is VERY important for the elderly.

    You can also focus on making her foods that she loves that have a lot of nutrients. I never tell my dad what NOT to eat, but I always make him a big batch of chicken soup with homemade stock, add bone marrow to the gravy on his potatoes, get real butter and sea salt for the house, etc. Anything I can do to increase the nutrients in his food.

    Good luck. Remember that adults have the right to make bad decisions about their lives. Make sure that she feels loved and cared for every day.
    Last edited by jammies; 05-15-2013 at 09:16 PM.
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