Yesterday I took daughter Kelly to Wal-Mart to buy a new dvd player since hers had broken. (In case you weren't aware, an emergency of the first order!)
So we started talking about weight, and health, and exercise--not for the first time by any means. Most of our residents struggle at least some with weight issues, and it poses a real predicament for us. On the one hand, as adults they should have a significant degree of choice in this most basic human activity. On the other, we're charged with exercising judgement and care when they can't (or don't want to) over things that impact their long-term health.
I recall a former case manager, Stephanie, who visited a diabetic camper who'd had to leave camp early because we couldn't control her blood sugar. Stephanie has the world's softest heart, and she drove a considerable distance once the session was over to check on the lady, who weighed about 300 pounds and lived alone in a small apartment. When Stephanie returned she said, "Judy, it just broke my heart. Her whole house is crammed with candy and cookies. Nobody's helping her control this disease."
During followup, she learned the camper did not have a guardian, and that her service coordinator had determined that they had no right to intervene. The camper's right to choose the food she put in her mouth trumped the agency's duty to ensure her long-term health and well-being. They did all the right things--training sessions, counseling, and education--and didn't feel they had any options to do more.
But we're not giving up. We're planning a major assault on fat and flab here at the Ranch, for everybody, not just the Ranchers. We're writing grant proposals and talking to Weight Watchers and personal trainers. We're investigating every nook and cranny of the Ranch and our activities to log where the extra calories come from, and determining how to limit them.
There has to be a way, and we have to find it. People with Down syndrome are at high risk for diabetes and Alzheimer's, both of which can be influenced by proper diet and exercise, as can most disorders affecting the human condition.
I'll be reporting on our progress. Wish us luck.
Food images courtesy of Google Images