One of the residents in Mom’s facility fell last week and broke her arm. Her eye is horribly bruised, and she must now be helped with everything, including eating and drinking, at least until her arm heals.
Maria keeps forgetting she’s broken her arm. Her protestations that she can function lead to her knocking her coffee off the table. She also keeps trying unsuccessfully to rise from her chair, as she can’t put pressure on her arm to push herself upwards from a sitting position.
Maria’s accident happened while her family was visiting and had taken her on a walk around the facility. Now that my mom’s walking has also deteriorated, this is a fear I have, too—that she will fall down while I'm with her and I won’t be able to prevent her from hurting herself. I know one instance of my dad losing his balance and almost pulling Mom down with him when he accidentally stepped off the outside walkway. For the most part, though, we’ve been careful to hold on to Mom as we walk around, but she’s prone to dragging her feet along the floor instead of stepping and she can lose her balance in the process. Recently, I had to call over one of the staff to help me as Mom's legs wobbled and almost buckled. We eased her into a chair as fast as possible.
This is a woman who used to dance around the room when she was happy. I still remember the amazingly fluid jitterbug she and my dad performed at my son’s wedding. But that was almost six years ago.
It’s not like we ever leave the facility with her; but we do circle the hallways, some of them out of sight of the main room and the staff.
Are we sufficiently keyed in to Mom’s abilities and stamina? Do we truly know her physical limitations?
A fall for a frail elderly individual that breaks bones can often lead to a significant decline in their overall health; or it can precipitate other problems. I know that prolonged sitting also has its dangers—obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, deep-vein thrombosis, and metabolic syndrome.*
Most specifically, habitual sitting changes the legs muscles by tightening the hamstring and hip flexor, and stiffening the joints. It can lead to a change in gait and to unbalanced walking, and, unfortunately, to falling.
The medical staff wants to be proactive about this. They understand that family visits are essential to residents as it gets them more involved in physical activity, quickens their senses, engages them on so many levels. And yet there are inherent dangers in even the simplest and most loving actions.
I am anticipating a hands-on lecture or demonstration from the resident physiotherapist to not only speak about the frailties we might encounter, but to show us safe and effective exercises we might do with Mom to aid her movement.
It is very unlikely that Mom will ever regain the ability to walk upright with a normal gait. Our task is to keep on trying to strengthen her muscles at every opportunity so that she can participate as fully as possible in the activities of her care facility. Even getting her to stand up from her chair and give us a hug is an accomplishment, one that infuses joy into her moment and into ours.
In general, I choose not to eat meat during the week, preferring to enjoy it on Shabbat. On weekdays, I much prefer a dairy or vegan dinner option. Last night, however, we took our kids out to dinner to celebrate our youngest son's imminent induction to the IDF. Per his choice, we ate at BP Burger, a place that has won the coveted #1 position of the top ten restaurants in the Haifa area. And, yes, I had a delicious, amazing hamburger (topped with onion jam, onion-garlic aioli, vegetables and ketchup) and it was terrific! But given my druthers—and my budget—I would always be happier to cook a special meal at home. This week, I’m giving in to my inner carnivore in anticipation of the upcoming “nine milichdika days,” as my grandmother used to say. These are the nine days at the beginning of the Hebrew month of Av that lead up to the fast of Tisha B’av, which commemorates the destruction of the first Solomonic Temple and the second Temple on the same date though more than 600 years apart as well as other tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people throughout the generations. Religiously observant Jews don’t eat meat during these nine days in recognition of the calamitous events associated with this period. Here then, is a fabulous tofu dish that is perfect for the coming week.
Tofu Stir-fry with Mushrooms, Spinach and Basil
I managed to find an extremely tasty tofu block last week that had basil embedded in it. This definitely added to the taste of the tofu and the stir-fry. When I went shopping again this week, I couldn't find that product. My solution—adding extra fresh basil to the pan.
1 300 gr / 10 oz package tofu, cubed
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1½ cups spinach leaves
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large frying pan, sauté tofu cubes, making sure to brown each cube on at least two sides. Remove from pan. Sauté onion and garlic in oil, adding remaining vegetables when onion becomes translucent. Cook until mushrooms soften and spinach begins to wilt. Add spices. Return tofu to pan and reheat with remaining vegetables. Serve on a bed of rice.