This was hard to write… But I really hope it makes a difference to someone.
My nan was amazing; kind, caring, and she had a wicked sense of humour.
I saw her go into a nursing home at the very young age of 58 due to mental health issues.
Over the next few years she gradually lost the ability to walk, mainly through simple lack of exercise.
She could walk fine when she went in. Then she started to need a zimmer frame. Soon she was struggling with that. And then dementia struck.
For the last few years of her life, she was stuck in her chair, unable to move around by herself. In the end, even struggling to feed herself as dementia really took hold.
I loved seeing my nan, but I always dreaded going to the nursing home. This post isn’t about nursing homes themselves – that’s another topic – I just hated seeing my nan in there. The food was poor quality, and there was no incentive or encouragement to exercise. Occasionally they patted a balloon around the room. But most of the time she was just sitting there, day after day.
Poor nutrition and a lack of exercise – we all know the problems that causes. But I saw in my nan just how much it accelerated the speed at which her health declined. Her body had nothing to fight back with.
She didn’t have a lot of choice or control over the situation.
But most of us do.
Seeing my nan go through that made me very aware of how precious life is and how lucky we are to be healthy.
It also made me realise how important it is to do everything we can to protect and make the most of that.
The sooner we start to protect it, the greater chance we have of living a better, longer, healthier, disease-free life.
If we’re not where we want to be, we need to make changes now. Not at some point in the future when we hope that life will have quietened down. There will never be a perfect time.
We need to look after our amazing bodies. Eat better. Move more. Put the effort in every day. Realise that if we are “too busy” there are other less important things that we need to change or drop. Something has to give.
Nothing is more important than being healthy to enjoy life with loved ones. Prioritising that now could very likely add years to a happy future with kids and grandkids too.
We never know what the future holds. We could get ill or hit by a bus anyway. But what if we don’t?
What if we keep waiting for a better / quieter / easier time to look after ourselves and create the life we want, and then one day we find out we left it too late?
We can grow older and put off getting healthy year after year. Allow our body to slip into decline. Open ourselves up to the increased risk of all sorts of debilitating diseases that our family will then have to watch us suffer with.
Or we can start doing something now. Eating better. Moving more. Drinking less. Finding ways to enjoy a healthier lifestyle.
I wished I could have gone into my nan’s nursing home and taken them all through some kind of basic exercise class. Encouraged them out into the fresh air. Changed their nutrition.
By that stage it’s so difficult to reverse the damage.
But so many of us can steer ourselves away from that future scenario if we decide to do something about it now.
Yes it takes discipline and hard work at times.
But it should still be an enjoyable experience.
Everyone can build a healthy lifestyle that they love.
You don’t need to go on a strict diet, cut out all the foods you love, or flog yourself at the gym every day.
You just need to make gradual, sustainable changes.
Take it one step at a time. Remember you never need to be perfect.
Just be on a constant journey of gradual self-improvement and life-improvement.
I think about my nan a lot.
Life really wasn’t fair to her. This year she would have been 79 years old. She deserved a much happier, healthier, longer life than what she ended up with.
But she was such an awesome human being that if even one person decided to make a change after hearing her story, and ended up with a better future because of it, she’d be a very happy lady.