Written by Jill Sauro
I am not so sure now, how true the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is. After witnessing my grandmother, at 93 and a half years old, make a few small lifestyle changes that had a hugely positive impact on her health, I now say, “you can teach an old dog new tricks!”
Her husband of 72 years passed peacefully in his sleep, beside her, in the bed they shared at their Florida residence, this past September 26th. You would think the loss would have negative effects on her health, but she took her health into her own hands, with the help of family, and decided to stay strong and “do what I’m supposed to do,” resulting in positive effects! She had been known to resist any type of movement for most of her years and would not blink twice at eating pasta for every meal! With all eyes on her now, and her own yearning to stay strong and live to 100, she began to listen to suggestions made by her family.
She began moving daily, and was open to eating more raw foods, such as cucumbers, olives, carrots, avocados, watermelon, and bananas, and increased her daily intake of water. She had bloodwork done for a three month check up on October 22nd, followed by a face to face with her doctor a week later. As usual, her cholesterol and triglycerides were sky high and her thyroid had dipped well below normal. Her sugar remained stable in the pre-diabetic range and her vitamin D was at the low end of normal. We discussed weaning her off one of her meds, a medicine that is traditionally used for insomnia, but prescribed to her about five years ago for one of its side effects of reducing pain. We agreed to weaning her off over a seven-week period. What I witnessed over this seven-week period is worth writing about! She began sleeping better! Go figure! She had been known to wake up every night for a snack of granola with cream and play games on her iPad, sometimes up to three hours during the night. So, the bowl of nightly granola went out the window, along with the cream, and more restorative sleep entered. She began expressing her feelings about missing her husband. She became more alert and engaged in each day and excited about doing exercises and getting outside for a wheelchair ride. I, being her caretaker and granddaughter, did not realize how dull this medicine was making her until taking her off it. She has been completely off it since the end of 2020, and we are now weaning her from another medicine, traditionally used as an anti-depressant, but prescribed to her for its side effect of reducing pain also. She will be left with just two daily pills, one for low thyroid and one for high blood pressure.
Within the time of weaning her from the insomnia drug to right now, not only did she stop her nightly addiction, but she began eating less and less of her bowl of hot cereal in the morning that she would douse with cream! She opted for fresh cut watermelon instead and sometimes passed up food altogether until much later in the day. Intermittent fasting anyone?! On top of this, she was more open to eating brown rice or white rice, instead of always pasta, pasta, pasta! Enter, three-month checkup number two, on January 28th. Her cholesterol and triglycerides dropped significantly, her thyroid was perfectly in range, her vitamin D now on the high side of normal and her blood sugars still stable in the pre-diabetc range. So, what is your excuse now?! If this sharp and old-school Italian matriarch can do it, so can you! Her doctor was amazed and excited, as were all of us family and her! She continues to stay motivated and determined to reach 100! I often look at her and say, “I can’t believe you’re almost 94! You seem so young.” Her response is always, “I don’t feel 93. If you do not think you are old, then you’re not old!” It is awesome to see the tripod of HOW, movement, nutrition, and attitude and relationships, play out so beautifully in a being that is almost 94 years old. It is never too late!
Jill Sauro believes in an integrative approach to wellness, that strengthens and heals the body, mind, heart, and soul. She is passionate about her work and takes a compassionate approach to helping people heal themselves. Jill has been a team member of HOW for several years. She has talked at HOW retreats and writes articles regularly.
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