Saturday, May 17, 2014

Another Generation or So

It only took one generation of 'fat acceptance' for a significant percentage of us to become morbidly obese. I saw this coming when I was a child and the first fat acceptance crusaders started getting press. Lots of press. The more I think about it the more I realize that they would not fail to get press. Who pays for the news shows to go on the air? Lots and lots of companies who sell food.

Right now, I'm working at a nursing home out in central Florida. We have a door to our rehab gym that is 42 inches wide. None of our residents are in a wheelchair that won't fit through that door. However, there are several residents that are in wheelchairs that are too narrow for them. They need to sit in chairs that are wider, up to 46 inches wide.

Think about that for a minute. Over a yard across. Well over a yard, not some piddling inch or two.
These are people who require hydraulic lifts to get into and out of bed. When they are in bed, two staff members assist them in rolling over to have their diapers changed. Often, since staff is limited, they don't get changed very frequently. Twice a day? Perhaps three times. If these people need to be put into a special chair, they are out of luck. They don't make special chairs in ultra wide sizes. So they sit in chairs that don't fit, and they aren't cleaned frequently, and there is no choice. We are following every law about caring for these people. We are not neglectful. We are not negligent. If no other option is available, we have picked the best option out of what is available.

If they weighed two hundred pounds less, they might still be up and walking around. TWO HUNDRED pounds? Well, yes, these are people that are 5 foot 3 inches tall and over three hundred and fifty pounds. They have heart disease, diabetes, kidney failure, and are on dialysis. They haven't walked or even stood on their own in many years. They have bad knees, bad hips, and very weak arms and legs. They can feed themselves, though. In fact, the high point of their day is mealtime. Can we feed them less? We can try. If a person doesn't walk, doesn't stand, and doesn't move their own body to roll over, they don't burn up many calories. One slice of cake, one soda, even a couple of graham crackers will wipe out a weeks worth of low calorie meals.

That woman who crusaded for fat acceptance now lives in a nursing home. Her quality of life is as good as the staff can make it, but it isn't much. When you age with extra weight, you don't age well.

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