Food has the power to impact our lives both emotionally and physically and create bonds among people. When Sweetgreen published a series of photos under the title “School Lunches Around the World,” the collection elicited a range of reactions. Although the photos are, according to Sweetgreen, “not intended to be exact representations of school lunches, but instead, are meant to portray different types of foods found in cafeterias around the world,” they nevertheless raise several questions regarding the quality and nutritional value of cafeteria food and the impact of that food on the wellness of children. A child, who is hungry and malnourished, will most likely perform at a suboptimal level compared to a child who is well fed and healthy. At the other end of the spectrum, children who are obese can also have health complications that may affect their well-being beyond their school years. These concerns continue to stir a melting pot of discussions that go beyond figuring out the types of food and how many calories we consume.
Long-term care involves a lot of long-term planning. Seeing my grandparents who have dementia, among other illnesses, makes me realize why it is crucial to plan for long-term care as early as possible and while we are still healthy. Needless to say, there are plenty of emotional and financial costs involved when caring for the elderly. For those of us who have not yet reached that stage in our lives, this is a good time to think about potential strategies so that when the time comes, hopefully we can feel less stressed about the situation.
What is long-term care (LTC)?
Most people probably associate long-term care with nursing homes, but that is not the complete picture. It is helpful to think of long-term care as the support that a person needs in order to perform his/her activities of daily living (ADLs) during his/her later years [More on ADLs here]. This can mean receiving care at one’s own home or living in a nursing home or assisted living.
Anyone who has cared for a family member with dementia can tell you how challenging and emotionally draining it is. My family has been taking care of my grandparents for a few months now and it has been a transformative experience. It is an understatement to say that our situation is revelatory of hidden emotions and personal weaknesses.
Many times my grandparents cannot recall names of family members and even events that occurred just a few minutes ago. This leads to a cycle of repeated questions and repeated answers. Dementia is a condition that does not just affect a person’s memory; it alters a lot of the person’s typical behavior and cognitive functions. My grandparents exhibit unusual behaviors and make comments that can be hurtful, but not necessarily intentional. Still, it is very difficult to discern what is true and what is false or what is part of their condition and what is part of their true selves.