Growing old gracefully

JUST BE - Bernadette Sembrano (The Philippine Star) - June 15, 2014 - 12:00am

My Mama Elaine coined that title for this article while we were at St. Luke’s The Fort having her checked by a geriatrician. Mama is 68 years old, and still quite vibrant for her age. Mama is someone who refuses to retire. Sitting pretty — I know she wants that — but truthfully, it’s not in her personality to just sit around and do nothing. She likes going around, walking, and I’m glad she’s finding satisfaction now that she’s doing her share in public service. That makes me really proud of Mama Elaine — that she remains active even in her late 60s. Frankly, I sometimes forget that Mama is a senior citizen until she was checked by a geriatrician.

I listened as Mama enumerated her medication for all sorts of conditions — diabetes, hypertension, etc. — to the doctor. She was a human pharmacy. Maintenance medicines are taken as simply part of growing old. Still, it’s something that I can’t just easily accept. 

Many a time I’ve mentioned how we were raised — I had no concept whatsoever of a healthy lifestyle — no physical activity, and definitely, our family was never conscious about having a healthy diet. We should be more careful given my family’s medical history — both parents’ sides have diabetes, hypertension, arthritis and cancer. Frankly, I didn’t really care before until I started hosting Salamat Dok. People tease me that I’m addicted to exercise, but can you blame me? The doctors I interview and the patients that I regularly encounter in Lingkod Kapamilya opened my eyes to the realities of health care, and how many of the debilitating diseases like diabetes are actually preventable by having the proper lifestyle — physical activity and eating right.  

I have to give it to Mama Elaine for having a positive attitude to her medical condition. She would even munch on some steak while telling me, “Life is short. Enjoy.”  

Cardiologist Dr. Tony Leachon would advise otherwise. Given the increasing number of those dying with cardiovascular diseases, he advised Mama Elaine to eat less salt, less sugar, less fat and have more exercise. It’s an advice that encompasses all ages. 

We, health advocates, all sound like a broken record but do heed the healthy food plate — 1/4 carbs, 1/2 fruits and vegetables and 1/4 protein. Take note: Statistics shows that people suffering from lifestyle diseases are getting even younger. As such, they might not even get old. I’m reminded of the “pampabata jokes” — the crispy pata won’t make you grow old because you will die young.

It’s always best to take care of your health while you’re young, but it’s never too late to do something about it when you’re old. 

For the grannies, do exercise. Tai chi or simple walking is good for you. Stay active and socialize. 

Eat better. Good food need not always be sinful. Good food is what is it is — good.

Good health is just a fraction of growing old gracefully, but it is a significant part of it. Another is having a good disposition, some healthy sense of humor in your golden years. Lastly, having a happy and content heart knowing that you have loved deeply and been loved in return. 

To our parents, Mama Elaine and Papa Nick — we love you both, and my in-laws Mommy Clemy and Papa Boy — mwah, mwah! Belated Happy Mother’s Day, and Happy Father’s Day!

(E-mail me at bsaguinaldo@yahoo.com.ph.)

BELATED HAPPY DR. TONY LEACHON HAPPY FATHER LINGKOD KAPAMILYA MAMA MAMA ELAINE MAMA ELAINE AND PAPA NICK MOMMY CLEMY AND PAPA BOY MY MAMA ELAINE
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