Tuesday, September 08, 2009

And the Challenges Go On .. Part 6

The weather has been great lately. It's much cooler in the morning and evening, and hot enough in the daytime to dry laundry hung outside. If the waves were not rough like this, I could have spent hours on the beach, fishing or possibly sketching the scenery. But the ocean is stormy because of a distant typhoon, and I've been wanting to wash mom's car but unable to decide when to do that. It's amazing what the salty air and wave spray can do to your car windows. :(

It seems that we human are not the only ones that are feeling active now because of the good weather. In the past week, I killed at least one baby centipede a day in my room. It's strange that I saw almost none in July and August -- when it was hot and humid -- and now they're suddenly wanting my attention. Good thing that all I saw was only babies. By the time they grow up, it will be too cold for them to come out.
... Wait... How fast do they grow???

Mom has been doing much better, though she still has the habit of avoiding to eat with us when she is upset. It happens about once a month, which is much better compared to how it was last May and June.

I know I've been saying, "I'll write about mom's issue in more details sometime soon," but as you see, I haven't done it yet. I did start it, but it is taking way longer than I had thought, because I'm trying to give enough background information as well as describing what mom said and did. :P But anyway, just in case some of you are concerned about the result of my mom's health check, here's a brief summary: The MRI scan showed absolutely no atrophy (shrinkage) of the brain, and the young doctor told her that her memory impairment was nothing but "age-appropriate forgetfulness."

Mom was really happy about this result, but I was happy and unhappy at the same time -- happy that it wasn't serious, but unhappy that I lost the chance to educate mom and dad about MCI and lure her into healthy eating and exercising in the name of "dementia prevention." Now when I tell her to do something to prevent dementia, her answer is, "No, the doctor said there was nothing wrong with me and all I needed to do was taking memos often so that I don't forget important things." Dad threw away the printout of "understanding MCI" which I had downloaded and given to him, and now he is less hesitant to argue with mom. Gee, thanks, Doc. (Grrrrrrr)

There's one thing I learned after moving into this house. (Well, I think I've learned more than one thing, and mostly in a hard way, but this is one of the biggest discoveries.) I used to think that the elderly people do not care for greasy food and love light-tasting food. In other words, I thought that they would welcome the dishes they have never had before as long as they taste light.

W - R - O - N - G.
Or at least, it doesn't apply to my parents.
They like the food familiar to them. Period.
And as far as it is familiar, strong taste or greasiness doesn't matter. Or actually they may prefer stronger taste as they get older because they loose their sense of taste with age.

I tried not to make a big deal out of this, but it has been really discouraging to see my parents obviously forcing themselves to eat what I cooked, saying, "Yeah, this is good. Really tasty." In the first couple of months here, I googled like crazy and tried out recipes for Japanese traditional dishes that were light, low in calories and said to be "old people's favorite." But soon I figured out that "I've never tasted something like this before" was not a compliment. And after hearing enough of "Country bumpkins like us are not used to eating something different... It upsets our stomach," I lost interest in exploring "old people's favorites."

Both my parents just want to eat THEIR favorite foods only. That's it.
The difference is that dad wants to look and sound health conscious, but mom doesn't. Dad doesn't stop eating food that is rich in sugar and/or purine, saying things like, "Oh, just a little bit only once in a while is OK." "You shouldn't be too compulsive about this," blah-blah-blah. And when he is with his friends, he keeps lecturing on healthy eating habit.

AH, when was the last time I truly enjoyed preparing a meal without worrying if it was too "different" or "foreign"?

Let's take a look at the bright side: My driving has improved. And now I can change tires.


K and S said...

yipes those centipedes would have me screaming! you really have many challenges and I am inspired at how you attack them "head on"...keep your spirits up and take care!

Anonymous said...

Obachan--it's sound like your parents care more about happiness then health--at their age, which is more important? Kudos to them! And, congratulations on your mom's new (better) prognosis. I wish you and your family well!

Diana Bachelor said...

Don't give up trying to introduce new tastes. The interaction will keep you all alert. Wishing you and your parents the very best.Your sharing put perspective on my family dynamics.

obachan said...

K & S;
Thank you. You never know how much I appreciate your support...!

Anonymous commenter;
I used to think that they have the right to choose enjoyment over staying healthy... until I realized that when they get sick, it's no one else but me who needs to take care of them.

Thank you. I guess my family issues and food are so closely connected that I cannot talk about one without the other. :)

Jen said...

Wow! your parents sound like MY parents!!! Maybe it's a inaka thing?! Gambatte ne! they have to know that you're just doing this for their own good! [at least your parents don't call you urusai!]

Cara said...

They sound a lot like my German in-laws! Maybe people have more in common than we usually think, despite gaps in culture and language.
My father-in-law will spend hours lecturing you about his healthy eating habits of eating one carrot in the morning, a light snack at lunch and maybe some soup in the evening. Regular exercise on the bike. (And yet he is overweight - why?)
He would never touch food he hasn't known all his life, he won't eat anything he dislikes but will spend many hours telling you why he hates garlic, fruits, several vegetables.
The difference might be that your parents seem very polite and caring. If I served him anything new and foreign, he'd be complaining for hours and would never allow me to forget my horrible fauxpas. Seriously, there are some relatives he refuses to speak to because they served him garlic soup two years ago.

Anonymous said...

Good luck Obachan! At least you can go out for a drive when you're frustrated.

emma in Kansai said...


Thanks for sharing the challenges,... and the joys.

Blessings to you and your family.

obachan said...

Perhaps parents in inaka are the same all over the world. :P

Yeah, there seems to be something universal about this.
The story about your FIL sounds so funny! Food-related resentment is very deep seated, isn't it?

Anonymous commenter;
Thank you. I should go walking instead of driving, because gas is expensive.

Emma in Kansai;
Thanks for your nice comment.

Anonymous said...

Obachan, i had the same problems trying to introdcue a healthier diet to my parents (dad has diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholestrol; mom has the latter two). I was only home visiting and right after I left, they switched back to their old diets. And after they got medication from their doctors, their diet worsened because they think they do not have to worry with medication. I am still to "nag" each time I call home. But I think your effort is admirable. Keep on trying....all good wishes.

obachan said...

I know! I know! That's exactly the way my dad is. He thinks that he'll be alright no matter what he eats because the medication protects him.
And I'm pretty sure that he won't change until he gets really sick and be hospitalized again.


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