I helped out at the Ostomy booth at the UCI healthfair last weekend and met this terrific woman who runs Home Care Assistance. Its for people (mostly seniors) who need extra help with daily things like cooking, groooming, running errands and plain old companionship. There lots of these type of agencies in Orange County but what makes this one different is that client care manager, Sandy Rasque, focuses on maintaining a healthy lifestyle and eating. Her staff provides healthy meals that includes fresh vegetables, fruits and even smoothies.
Have you ever stayed in the hospital and been offered Ensure to either gain weight or keep the weight on? I have when I was getting chemo/radiation treatment. Anyone who has been through this knows that eating is a real problem. Everything tastes awful, so doctors suggest Ensure. Now don't get me wrong they mean well. Ensure has protein and calories but mostly from sugar, and studies show that cancer loves sugar. Why give it what it wants? And in my case, the Ensure was way too sweet.
So when I was in the hospital my family brought me smoothies from Jamba Juice. Yes, they have sugar too but at least it is somewhat healthier than Ensure.
When I got home we bought a juicer and a blender so we could make our own fresh green smoothies. Before long I was throwing everything in but the kitchen sink. My smoothies must have contained at least 600 calories, all from fresh fruits and veggies, along with soy milk andd yogurt.
Well, Sandy figured this out and wanted her seniors to have a healtheir alternative. Her motto is "Changing the way the world ages". She teaches her staff how to cook healthy meals, including how to make delicious, healthy smoothies (with real fruit and veggies) and serve them to their clients. They also will shop for the food that they will be serving.
This is one of the books sitting on her table at the health fair.
I was so impressed with Sandy's fresh approach to caregiving that I wanted to tell others about her and her agency. I briefly worked for another home care agency a few years ago and what a disappointment that was. It was clear to me that they were all about their 'bottom line', not the clients or their employees for that matter. They paid low wages, expected their employees to drive sometimes 30 + miles to an assignment and only stay 3 hours. Seniors ate (in my opinion) substandard meals. The food was usually processed, fast food, purchased by the senior or family member and prepared by the caregiver. There was no suggestion to eat healthier by anyone. The caregivers I met didn't look too healthy themselves either.
I know of group homes that run the same way, maybe even worse when it comes to healthy meals. I used to work in an adult day program and my clients used to tell me what they ate at home. I also saw the junk food they brought to the program. Nothing healthy in those lunch boxes. How can one expect to have a healthy mind when its fed junk?
Recent studies show that the majority of people with autism have intestinal problems and the correlation is processed food containing GMOs. (You didn't think I was going to talk about health without bringing up the health problems caused by GMOs, did you?)
I think feeding seniors, the mentally ill andd even us, healthy fresh foods will give us a better chance of living a longer healthy life. What fun is it to live longer but to do so being sick? I know thats not for me.
I am hopeful that Sandy's approach to senior care will catch on with other agencies and hospitals for that matter. Everyday more and more health care providers are understanding the connection between good health and eating healthy food. I see new patients all the time in the cancer center who tell me their doctor tells them "no sugar" and thats a step in the right direction.
Sandy was making and giving out samples of one her smoothie recipes at the fair and I thought I would share it with you:
Blueberry Banana Smoothie:
1 ripe banana
3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 cup nonfat yogurt
3/4 cup lowfat milk or almond milk
1/2 cup crushed ice
Throw in blender, puree and serve!