Food & Fitness After 50: Lessons from a Nurse on Healthy Aging

Carol became a nurse because she was always “fascinated with illness and disease.” She laughs as she says this, realizing it may sound odd to those not in a medical profession. But, she loves being a nurse because she likes the holistic approach. “Nurses treat the whole person. Doctors treat the arthritis or the heart disease, but nurses care for the well-being of people and want to make them feel better. Sometimes, just listening to a patient goes a long way to making them feel better.” In her nursing career she has done everything from bedside, hospital-based nursing to home health to teaching high school students to be certified nursing assistants. Today, she is an independent nursing contractor with activities as varied as teaching CPR to firefighters to working at flu clinics to provide immunizations.

Carol and BRTAbout ten years ago, she found another career she never planned on….as a dog breeder. While attending a dog training class with her German Shepherd puppy, she saw a “fluffy, hairy dog” and fell in love and said she had to have one. The fluffy, hairy dog turned out to be a Black Russian Terrier and she got a male and female and learned the technique of artificial insemination (“a combination of doing research and applying my nursing skills”) to produce a litter of nine pups. She has also trained dogs for “protection.” Running dogs through obstacle courses is one of her favorite activities. “Obstacle training bonds owner and dog by building trust and discipline. It is hard work and keeps both the dog and the handler in good shape, and it is done outdoors, which is another plus for me.” Carol training BRT

Carol’s path to healthy aging, now that she is in her mid-50s, includes being active every day. “I vary my activities…dog walking and training and going to the gym keep me moving.” Being a nurse has taught her the benefit of preventative health. “You can pay for your health up front by getting screened for disease, joining a gym, and buying healthy foods, or pay later when disease and illness sets in.” She advises everyone to get regular dental check ups and vision checks, as well as vaccines for the flu, pneumonia and shingles. “We should all know our blood pressure, blood lipids, and blood sugar to help us keep them in check with food and fitness.”

She also eats well, but forgives herself when she eats something unhealthy. “It is OK to eat some unhealthy foods once in a while and don’t beat yourself up when it happens.” She eats well for herself, but also to set a good example for her three daughters. “When they were growing up I was careful to be a role model for my girls as mom’s have a big influence on a young girl’s body image and risk for eating disorders.

Lastly, Carol pays attention to her mental health. “Reading a good book or watching a favorite television show helps me relax and de-stress.” Being well is just as important at eating well and moving well.

Final advice from the nurse is “stay active and keep moving, because you will lose it if you don’t use it!”