Sri joined Companion Health just before his 80th birthday with the goal of improving his health and consolidating his care under one doctor’s supervision. An engineer for more than 50 years, whose resume included working with NASA, he is inquisitive and analytical and knew the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle for optimizing longevity.
Ten years ago, his wife was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Sri took on the role of her caretaker, a role that undoubtedly comes with exponential responsibilities. Supervising her many doctor appointments, managing her care and caretakers at home, running the household, etc. had taken a toll on his health. Like so many caregivers, he had to learn to put his own oxygen mask on first. To compound matters even further, Covid had isolated him from some of the activities that had offered him respite from his caretaking role. Working with Dr Jorge, along with a health coach for support and accountability, Sri set some goals and worked on a plan to improve his nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress management.
A food log turned out to be a helpful tool for Sri in assessing, and then improving, his nutrition and hydration. Knowing his propensity for data, this was instrumental in helping him understand how things were and how he could change. It also gave his health coach data with which to keep him accountable. This was coupled with Dr. Jorge’s analysis of his gut, with data derived from both a GI test as well as a food sensitivity test. Armed with this knowledge and support from his care team at Companion Health, Sri increased his intake of vegetables and fruit and cut out most of his unnecessary carbs and sweets. He finally began to lose unwanted extra pounds! As Sri shared with us, “I broke a barrier and focused on good nutrition and eating more mindfully.”
Stress was also an area that needed focus, as it is for many. In Sri’s case, hiring a second caregiver during the day for his wife was a game-changer. It meant more hands on deck with the many tasks related to her care, and did not leave him in a challenging situation should a caregiver cancel. It also gave him the additional support he needed to put some more focus on his own health.
Movement has always been important to Sri, and over the years, he consistently enjoyed a practice of yoga, pilates and strength training. Covid had prevented him from the structure and motivational benefits of enjoying these activities at the gym with others, and he was eager to return to his group classes. He started back to yoga classes once a week, working up to three times, and then added the gym on the weekend for strength training. Over the summer, he began a routine of evening walks for a mile or two with his caregivers and his wife in her wheelchair, so everyone benefited from fresh air. Pilates twice a week and Dr. Jorge’s referral to physical therapy allowed Sri to address some recurring alignment issues and double down on his strength and balance.
Sri has admittedly had a history of anxiety around sleep. In recent years, he had gotten into the habit of staying up until 12 or 1 a.m., well after his wife went to bed and the caregivers left. At the end of the day, he was simply not getting enough sleep. We began by supporting him with suggestions for a more peaceful bedtime ritual: Earlier bedtime, no screens in bed, and ending the day with breathwork and prayer. We encouraged him to turn the TV off at least an hour before bed if possible—he obliged, in full agreement that the news was not helping him settle. Next on the list: giving up a habit of snacks and/or a nightcap which was also interfering with the quality of his sleep. Little by little, he has had success moving his bedtime back to between 10 and 11 p.m., and turning screens off and trying audiobooks and podcasts before bed instead of the news.
As with all caregivers, some days (and nights) are better than others. Intention setting and improved routines have made a marked difference in his health and stress level. He wants to be the best he can be to be there for his wife and family for years to come. As Sri says, “you handle what you are dealt with in life, and how you deal with it tells a lot about what kind of person you are.” Sri, we are proud of the way you are dealing with things, and you should be, too!