Perspective on wellness and aging by interview
The interview date was October 30th, 2018. I interviewed one of my personal care service clients that I do home visits for. For client privacy, I will call him Mr. M. He just turned 100 years old. I asked my client if it was ok to interview him for my homework. He approved, and we took a picture together afterwards as well.
Mr. M lives with his son and son’s wife in the same house and is very close with his son. When I asked him, “How was your doctor visit?” he said that his doctor usually only visits for a few minutes and doesn’t really focus on his health status. Then, he told me that he remembered his doctor telling him to keep his mind sharp. Regarding his physical ability, Mr. M walks with his walker and cannot use stairs, using an elevator in his home to go between levels. Despite this limit in movement, he exercises every day by doing a series of movement tasks with several repetitions for each. He also uses light weights during his arm exercises. I recently shared a balance exercise with him that he is willing to add to his routine. Daily physical exercise is very important for someone of Mr. M’s age; he knows that if he does not use his muscles, he would not able to move the ways he wants to (Fundazioa).
I asked Mr. M what he typically has for lunch and dinner, since I am usually there for breakfast. He said that he likes to pick at some fruits and vegetables throughout day and has prepared meal for dinner such as chicken and cooked vegetables. He eats very small amount. After hearing about his eating habits, it became clear that his main meal each day is breakfast. I prepare breakfast for Mr. M in the mornings and make sure to include fruits, vegetables, and protein on his plate. He likes to drink orange juice with his pills and has a slice of toast for a snack. He enjoys bitter foods such as certain vegetables and coffee as well, which he drinks every morning. It appears that his taste buds still work very well and that enjoys eating his meals.
I asked Mr. M about his eyesight; he stated that his eye surgery on the left side was not successful. His eyesight is now dominated by his right eye, which he also has trouble seeing with. In addition, during his eye surgery, the anesthetic damaged parts of his urinary tract causing him to need a catheter. While his eyesight is not good, Mr. M says his hearing is doing well. I asked Mr. M how he sleeps at night. He told me that he did not sleep well the night before but that he catches up his sleep by taking naps.
I asked Mr. M what he enjoys doing during the day. He said that he enjoys talking with his family and friends on the phone. He told me that a minister just visited with him, and that they had a good conversation. When I asked him what some good things about being older are, Mr. M said that if you “have faculty, you can enjoy old age.” When I asked him what his legacy would be, Mr. M replied that he has three grandchildren and his legacy is to pass on the company he created.
Interviewing an older person was enjoyable for me because I could feel his enthusiasm when he shared stories from his past. Because Mr. M was so open with his experiences, I felt very comfortable talking with him. I find that he also tends to repeat stories he has already told me, but I still enjoy listening because he seems to be reliving the experience. My perception of older adults has not changed from this experience, but it has reinforced the feeling that they are willing to trust me with their personal lives. In addition, it seems that most older adults enjoy sharing stories from their past. With Mr. M, however, I was surprised by his ability to speak and converse at the age of 100. It is clearer to me know how different each older adult can be despite their chronological age.
I have been watching my client closely for any changes in his physical ability, mental ability, and emotion. After learning from my class and reading an article about relationships, I found that having a good relationship in older age is important for healthy living (Mineo). Mr. M has a good relationship with his son which I feel may have a great impact on his well-being. A surprising finding of those living past 90 years of age is that they have coffee regularly and have moderate levels of alcohol consumption (Kawas etal.). My client drinks coffee every morning, and he likes to drink a couple ounces of wine occasionally. I am not officially a wellness professional, but my well-being has started to sink in with my client. He asked me if I still exercised when I was out of town. I said yes, I was at a hotel, went to the gym, swam, and relaxed in the jacuzzi. Mr. M said that he felt left behind since I was doing exercises in the morning before visiting him to wake him up. He usually, sits on his chair right away for his coffee, but this time I found him doing light exercise while I was preparing his breakfast.
It is important to acquire trust from my clients so that they will share their thoughts with me so that I can give proper recommendations. By empathizing and better understanding older adults, I am better equipped to measure safety, think ahead, and refrain from pushing my clients too far from their comfort zone.
Having conversations with clients and asking certain questions helps me to understand my clients better. After giving the interview, I found out why Mr. M stopped his job and changed his life style after his wife died. As stated in the Liz Mineo article, relationships may be the key for healthy living for older people (Mineo). Mr. M said that he lost his drive to work when his wife died. He is now living with his son and enjoys having his daily company. Overall, I feel that his emotional needs are met by his family through meaningful conversations. He is taking care himself by doing physical exercise daily. Mentally, he uses his mind to help solve others’ issues. Since he was born in the Great Depression, he is used to only eating unprocessed natural foods, which is a healthy habit. His personality is very positive, and I believe he has an open mind and is always adjusting his lifestyle along the way.
Fundazioa. (2013). Study on 90-year-olds reveals the benefits of strength training. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130927092350.htm
Kawas, MD etal. (n.d.) The 90 + Study. Retrieved from http://www.mind.uci.edu/research-studies/90plus-study/
Liz Mineo. (2017). Good genes are nice, but joy is better. Retrieved from https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/04/over-nearly-80-years-harvard-study-has-been-showing-how-to-live-a-healthy-and-happy-life/