Saturday, November 23, 2013

Elderly Father-In-Law Refuses To Eat Heart-Healthy

Dear Tazi:

I have an elderly father-in-law with a heart condition. I love the man dearly and would hate to see him pass but at the same time want him to enjoy the years he has left. "Pop" lives with my husband and me, so I pretty much control the menu and can balance his dietary needs; it's his dietary wants that make life a bit difficult.

Pop loves butter. And cheese. And wine. There pretty much is not a saturated fat out there that Pop does not love to indulge in, usually with a glass of dark red wine. I understand that a glass of red wine a day is considered heart healthy, so I am not overly worried about that, but Pop loves to sprinkle his pasta with Parmesan cheese; his bread with gobs of butter; and of course he puts cream - not half and half or heaven forbid, milk, - in his coffee when he is done with dinner.

I try to control what Pop puts into his body, but he tells me to leave him alone - if he dies, he will die happy. I try to tell him that those of us left behind would appreciate it if he didn't try to rush his way into a dirt nap (as Pop calls death) but he refuses to listen. Due to HIPAA laws I cannot discuss this matter with his physician, since my husband and I do not have medical power of attorney over Pop. Do you have any snappy arguments that will make a sassy old-timer listen?

His Daughter (In Law)

Dear His Daughter (In Law):

It sounds like you have a wonderful relationship with your father-in-law, and I am happy to hear he has someone like you to care for him and see that he does not neglect his health. An argument that I find successful in dealing with people who refuse to moderate their diet in consideration of health conditions is this: There are worse things than dying from a massive heart attack or a major stroke; you could live through a massive heart attack or a major stroke. Do you have any idea of poor your quality of life will be if that happens?

As cruel as this response sounds, it is the unvarnished truth; to live through a major, debilitating stroke is considered by many to be a fate worse than death - one your Pop does not seem to be considering. Is there a reason he is so adamant about ignoring his health? Does he suffer from depression? Is he widowed and missing his wife? An appointment with a gerontologist may be just what your Pop needs to help him navigate the years ahead....however many or few he is granted!


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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