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Supporting a family member
#1
Hi,

I'm hoping to gain some insight as to the best ways to support my father, who has high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pre-diabetic, etc. He has arrhythmia, and he had a pacemaker put in about ten years ago. I want to support him in living a healthier lifestyle, but I don't know how. For one thing, I live about 400 miles away and have a family of my own (I'm 31, my father is 64). My father owns his own business and thus has a very stressful lifestyle. My mother tries to cook healthy foods for him, but he is very stubborn and very attached to "his" foods, so she gives in and cooks what he likes. It's not super high-fat or anything, but cultural dishes (we're Chinese). I've tried to convince them to substitute brown rice (which I eat) for their daily white rice, but my father hates it. I've tried to encourage him to exercise, but he gets very easily winded.

I want my father to be comfortable and enjoy his life, but I also want him to be around for a long time! Does anyone have any advice about how I can support him in his efforts to become more healthy?

Thanks!
#2
I wanted to respond earlier but your post is a hard one to answer.

There is very little that you can do to change the behavior of someone else. I would love to change some people's behavior! The only steps that you can take are to make it clear that you love them and that their poor health really concerns you. I do not think convincing them of eating certain foods will work as well as passing along health information that might be relevant. You might also try to get both your mother and father to exercise more. Walking is fairly easy and they can start slowly. If you can recruit your mother too, the combined pressure might help.
#3
Would it be possible for you to take a trip to your parents sometime and attend a doctor's appointment with your dad? You could discuss with the doctors the best things your dad can do to help control and improve his health conditions. Then, you can have a talk with both parents and explain that you will do whatever you can to help even though you are not living nearby. Ask them what things you could do? Maybe you could create some meal plans with them and then your mom could cook those meals.
#4
I find that when someone doesn't want to make healthy changes, the best thing is to make changes by stealth. For example, regarding the brown rice. My husband also said he 'hated' brown rice, so when I cooked rice, I used about 5% brown rice, which I started off ahead of the white rice, and he never noticed the difference. Next time, I increased the amount of brown, and decreased the white.

This went on until we were at a half-and-half mixture, and he asked if I was buying a different type of rice, because it was nicer than usual! I came clean then, and ever since I've cooked this half-and-half mixture. I figured it's better to have some brown rice rather than none. If you get together with your mother, you may be able to do something similar for your father. I did the same with Cheddar cheese - I found the best tasting low fat Cheddar, and gradually made the change from full fat cheese. There are lots of ways to introduce healthy changes to his diet without him noticing.




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