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Weighty thoughts

Posted: August 19, 2011 - 9:08am

The other day, I was sitting on the bank of the Kenai River, patiently waiting for a salmon to contemplate my bait, when I got to thinking about weighty matters.

Having been overweight, I know that carrying a lot of extra weight can make you lose your sense of balance. A good sense of balance is important to me, and to anyone who enjoys being active, whether indoors or out. When I was younger and more fit, I hiked, danced, roller skated and water skied. However, when my 6-foot, 2-inch frame exceeded 250 pounds, I began lurching and losing my balance. Doing most anything outdoors became hazardous.

Carrying all that excess poundage, I often fell while walking on slippery or uneven ground. When I fell, I fell hard. Getting in and out of boats was risky. Falling overboard advanced from a possibility to a probability. When I had to get on my knees to do something, it was all I could do to get up. I would run out of breath while tying my shoes, let alone while carrying five gallons of gas to a boat.

Like most overweight people, I’d been gaining about a pound per year. At age 70, I weighed almost 270 pounds — at least 70 pounds overweight. Wearing that much fat, I was a prime candidate for cancer, diabetes and heart disease. I finally acknowledged that I had to do something about it.

Over the course of about 18 months, I lost 60 pounds. I’ve managed to keep it off, and am holding at 210 pounds. What worked for me wasn’t some fad diet or quick fix, but simply eating less and exercising more. Having been a food addict all my life, it wasn’t easy, but the results have been worth the effort.

Several things motivated me to start “eating healthy” and to change my lifestyle to a less sedentary one. The reality that I’d been living a risky lifestyle and neglecting my health really hit me when my wife, Janet, died of cancer in 2008. It made me realize how vulnerable I was in my obese condition. One serious fall or illness could’ve put me in the hospital and wiped out our savings.

I’ve never enjoyed the ambiance of emergency rooms, the pain, the misery, the crying babies, but I could see those in my future. I watched my father become a slave to prescription drugs, at one time taking 19 different drugs per day. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life depending on drugs to control my cholesterol and blood pressure.

I wanted a woman in my life, another good reason to be trim, healthy and good-looking, or at least as good-looking as possible.

I didn’t want to be a burden to others, or to be cared for by strangers. Having witnessed what goes on in nursing homes first-hand, I wanted to spend the rest of my life in my own home, if at all possible.

Even with all that motivation, it took me 70 years to see the light. I hope others see it sooner. Keeping fit is the mature, responsible thing to do for those you love and for those who love you. What’s more, it helps you to live longer and to enjoy life while it lasts.

Les Palmer can be reached at lpalmer@alaska.net.

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Carver
1195
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Carver 08/19/11 - 12:15 pm
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Nursing homes . . .

"Having witnessed what goes on in nursing homes first-hand, . . '
*********************

I too, having worked as a Hospice Chaplain for a number of years and currently doing some volunteer work at our local nursing home, have witnessed first-hand what "goes on" in nursing homes.

Overwhelmingly what "goes on" in nursing homes with residents and caregivers alike is people dealing with some very tough issues. Nursing home staff and caregivers really do care; residents are living, to the best of their abilities, fulfilled lives within a caring community.

Yes, bad things can and perhaps do happen, but to generally disparage and depreciate nursing home care is a great disservice to nursing home staff, caregivers, and residents alike and to our society's efforts to deal with end-of-life questions.

Our local nursing home here in Soldotna, Heritage Place, exemplifies all that might be wished for in a nursing home. Don't take anyone's word for it. Visit Heritage Place, ask to be shown around, talk to the residents, and, better yet, become a volunteer.

jimbob
74
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jimbob 08/19/11 - 02:31 pm
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Good Advice

Mr. Palmer gives good advice and I will try to apply that to my self. As to (as another poster on this page quotes) what "goes on" in nursing homes Mr. Palmer is right on the money. Any sane person would want to spend their life at home with a good quality of life until the end rather than in a nursing home. For someone to comment on Palmer's article and say that he is disparaging and depriciating nursing homes is completely twisting what Mr. Palmer expressed. No one is taking away from good employees in nursing homes, but if you ask anyone of them if they would like to live at home until they die or helplessly live in a facility somewhere, what do you think they would say? Thanks for a good article, Mr. Palmer.

Carver
1195
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Carver 08/19/11 - 02:56 pm
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"Any sane person would want

"Any sane person would want to spend their life at home with a good quality of life until the end rather than in a nursing home."
*******************

Couldn't agree more, but that's not the point. The point is that what "goes on" in a nursing home is a lot of good people doing the best they can with circumstances they might wish were different.

That's all . .

drudge
3
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drudge 08/19/11 - 03:30 pm
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@jimbob

If you honestly believe that our elderly are neglected, abused, or otherwise mistreated in every nursing home, you need to come back to reality.

Yes, abuse happens. It is not common. Don't let irrational fear and sensationalist media corrupt your vision of the world around you.

Heritage Place has a dedicated, caring staff. I know some of them personally, and I can't imagine that if they didn't honestly care about the residents' quality of life that they would remain working in that situation for very long.

jimbob
74
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jimbob 08/19/11 - 08:44 pm
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Twisting and Turning

Another poster apparently cant read too well and has singled me out as believing that I think our elderly are being "neglected, abused, or otherwise mistreated in every nursing home". Kindly re read ( if you are able) and find that lanquage in my post if you can. That untruthful statement can not be imparted to me, and it is dishonest for you to try to do so. Further keep your advise as it applies to me to yourself ( ie: "Dont let irrational fear------ around you"). My point is simple, so simple a cave man could understand, that Mr. Palmer wrote a good article about taking care of one's health and that it is a much better to live ones life at home than in an institution. Period.

Carver
1195
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Carver 08/20/11 - 06:32 am
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". . a good article about

". . a good article about taking care of one's health . . it is a much better to live ones life at home than in an institution."
*******************

Agreed, jimbob, the article is commendable for its advocacy of physical fitness. We should all follow its advice in that respect. However, to imagine that simple, physical fitness, especially as a last-ditch effort after a lifetime of physical unfitness, is some sort of guarantee of endless independence or of a hassle-free exit is, well . . hopelessly naive.

And certainly all of us would rather live out our lives at home rather than in an institution . . no argument there. But for those of us who will need more care than a home environment can provide, long-term nursing care in the context of a caring community is a blessed option.

spwright
1376
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spwright 08/21/11 - 07:14 pm
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Thank You Les Palmer 8/21/11

Sun. 8/21/11
Les Palmer, I have been following your writings for years & years but seldom If ever have I made a comment.

What you just described as a "Weighty Thoughts" hits the nail on the head for me. Your comments are a Motivation for Me.

Yes there are many many Old Fart GrandFathers that are
obese & overweight but try to Deny that to be a Fact.
I'm one of those Ole Fart GrandFathers.

Right now I'm recovering from recent Knee Surgery & it is a real struggle.
To be honest, I look forward to being able to Walk My Dog again or simply walk on the treadmill with out Pain.
Gettin a Lil' bit better w/ each passing day.

Thanks for being Honest with your fellow GrandFathers Les.
cuz there are many of us in the same boat.

SPW "Airborne"

drudge
3
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drudge 08/22/11 - 08:26 am
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Re: Twisting and Turning

@jimbob, You ask me to "find the lanquage [sic]", so here it is:

Original quote -- 'Having witnessed what goes on in nursing homes first-hand [...]' -- This is an allusion to the mistreatment of the elderly in nursing homes.

Your quote -- 'As to [...] what "goes on" in nursing homes Mr. Palmer is right on the money. Any sane person would want to spend their life at home with a good quality of life until the end rather than in a nursing home. [...] or helplessly live in a facility somewhere [...]' -- Implying you completely understand Mr. Palmer's allusion, without context or explanation. Implying that anybody who lives in a nursing home is not sane. Implying that nursing homes do not offer a good quality of life. Implying that those who are helpless in a nursing home would somehow not be helpless outside of the home.

It's easy to accuse somebody of twisting your words when you're merely nodding in agreement -- You haven't actually said anything.

Carver
1195
Points
Carver 08/22/11 - 10:42 am
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". . Palmer's allusion, . .

". . Palmer's allusion, . . Implying that nursing homes do not offer a good quality of life. . ."
*************************

Well-noted, and I agree. While the article did well to promote physical fitness among the elderly, it should have stopped there without casting aspersions on nursing homes, nursing home care, and nursing home residency.

People in nursing homes read newspapers too.

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