Monday, May 19, 2014

A small joke to point out a bigger issue

When Jeffrey passed away he was very overweight and out of shape. His condition was part of the cause of his death, and he was often cautioned that if he did not do  something about it, he'd be in trouble.

As someone on the hefty side of the scale, I sympathized with his having to deal with all these admonishments. I find it hard to believe that there is a heavy person out there who, listening to someone tell them how fat they are, stops and says " golly, now that you mention it, I AM obese! Thanks for pointing that out - I'll get right on it."

Jeffrey knew he had a weight problem, and thought he was doing his best to get healthy. His reaction to criticisms about his health was to affirm that he was on top of the problem. I never chided him about his weight, but at the same time I was always honest, sometimes painfully so, whenever he asked me if I thought he weighed too much. It was my belief that his asking the question opened the door to accepting an honest answer when it might do some good, and I really believe that he took my frank response to heart, if only too little and too late.

The bigger problem, and here is one that aide agencies and other help organizations that encourage independent living for handicapped individuals must start to consider, is that even with the best advice and guidance, Jeffrey could not make good decisions about his diet and health. At what point should his personal freedom been taken away? If he lived in a group house where his meals were prepared and snacking somewhat moderated, he might be alive today.

My father was living on a diet of ice cream and cereal when we had to move him into assisted living. He did not enjoy the experience, and still has issues, but his overall health has improved from the healthy diet and lack of junk food (even if we do bring him more than his fair share of snacks.) The insurmountable gap is the leap from where he was to how he got there. I know Jeffrey was very proud of his ability to live by himself, and what it would have taken to get him into a similar setup. This also overlooks the incredible cost of providing this kind of care.

Everyone had an answer for what was best for Jeffrey, including himself. I guess the sum of the parts was not sufficient to meet the total of his needs.

No comments:

Post a Comment