I am very fortunate to have both of my grandmothers still living. One grandmother is 85 and the other is 98. Both are very sharp with all of their cognitive function and it seems like they remember every one of my escapades as a child! It is wonderful to talk to them about family and friends, ancestors that passed before I was born, and family patterns. It is also interesting to ask them about current events in their day and what it was like to be introduced to things like airplanes, TV’s , and the first Catholic and African-American Presidents. I am so happy that they can still share their knowledge and thoughts with us.
It is a bit more difficult to see their physical health ailing them. I have noticed that both of my grandmothers have had problems with nutritional status as they have gotten older. They both have had really low values for vitamin D and iron stores. This is a common issue for many elderly patients. In fact, because the patient is older many doctors don’t consider the slipping of some basic values to be important. I have a different opinion; I think it is extremely important have a copy of your medical records, like your blood work from all your doctors' appointments and when you get new blood work ask your doctor to go over the changes since your last test. In this way you can see a trend if your lab values change or have a steady decline over a period of years. It empowers you to be aware of your status before you end up being in really poor condition “all of a sudden”. One of my grandmothers had to be moved into a rehabilitation facility because of a recent fall. When I was able to talk to the doctors she told me her vitamin D level was 9. Normal values are between 35-80 ng/mL and new medical research suggests the normal values really need to be updated to 50 ng/mL not 35 ng/mL. I was shocked and sadden to hear her levels at 9 ng/mL. I wondered “how did they get so low? Why wasn’t someone checking them?” Now that she needs the extra immune and bone health support she is not getting it because her vitamin D levels are so low. This is makes all her healing processes happen more slowly.