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Posted: September 20, 2004

Practical Caregiving

Does Doc Know His Own Best Medicine?
Plus . . . Jean's Soft Shoulder

Frustration and stress are a large part of being a family caregiver. Francine needs to know how to get her father -- a doctor --  to cooperate by going for a haelth checkup. Alice is facing the meaning of life as well as the frustrations of being a family caregiver for both parents. What can they do?

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Dear Jean :

I have a problem with my father. Since he's a doctor, he won't listen to anybody about health problems and doesn't want to go to the doctor for a check up. He's having fatigue and high blood pressure. He won't listen to me about eating the right food and exercising. Please give me some advice on how to get them help. Good day and God bless you.

Francine L., Jackson, Mississippi

Dear Francine :

Even though you are an adult, it is very hard for a father to accept his ?little girl's? opinion. In his eyes you are still the little girl he knew many years ago. I had that problem too. It wasn't until Dad had several strokes and was living more in the past than the present that he completely accepted my opinion about what should be done.

For some reason, we humans don't want to face things that are happening as we grow older. We don't want it to happen to us. We tend to deny the fact that our body is not functioning the way it always has, and getting a physical makes us face that possibility. When we face that fact we also face the fact that our lives might be coming close to an end, even though it may be years away yet.

Why don't you call his doctor (or your doctor) and ask for advice? They deal with people like your father every day. Is there a relative, friend or someone your father respects that could talk with him about getting a check-up? They will probably have more influence than you. Just explain the situation and ask for their help in getting your father to the doctor. You might also need to ask their help to get your father to take his medicine or go into the hospital for tests.

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Dear Jean :

It's nice to know you are here when I need someone to talk too. I have been a caretaker for two aging parents for the last three years. Sometimes the stress becomes unbearable. My mother has Alzheimer's (HORRIBLE DISEASE) and my father has heart problems and is losing his eyesight ? he's already blind in one eye. Trying to keep their meds schedules is no easy task.

Thanks for letting me vent a little this morning. It felt good and certainly is better than crying.

I am finding it harder and harder to face each day. Do you ever wonder if anyone's life really matters? Like if Lincoln or Kennedy weren't born -- so what? History would be different, that's all.

Sometimes it gets me down, but having people caring (like you) helps immensely.

Alice D., Tulsa, Oklahoma

Dear Alice :

Write any time you want. I've been there and sometimes just talking to someone who understands helps tremendously. And you're right -- it is better than crying. We all have the same feelings you are experiencing when we are caring for our loved ones, so you don't need to worry about you feelings. They are normal!

There may be some simple answers: Why don't you make a list of when your mother and father should get each of their medicines? Make separate lists for each day of the week, or put them in a day-by-day table form. When you give the medicine, check it off. Make sure you keep a pencil or pen with the list. This works very well. One time I forgot to check it off when I gave a medicine, but I remembered that I gave it an hour later so I marked it off then. Try not to do that because most of the time you won't remember! This is the only way I could make sure I gave the right medicine at the right time to each of my parents.

Mom had Alzheimer's disease and I agree: it is a horrible disease. I'll sure be glad when they find a cure for it. Dad lost his sight in one eye but the other one was fine. My daughter had heart problems when she was born and open-heart surgery when she was 3 1/2. Now she is living a normal life. I know how frightening these diseases are to live with. Just take one day at a time and try not to worry about what might happen in the future ? because it may not happen. Face each problem as it presents itself.

You can write me anytime you want. That's one of the reasons I'm here. I want to help others with their family caregiving. If you can find a support group, please talk to them also. If the stress and frustration become too much, contact a counselor right away. There is nothing wrong with talking to someone about the problems and frustrations of caregiving and how it affects you. In fact, it will help.

Yes, Alice , I have thought about whether a life matters. I have decided that it may not matter to the whole world and it may not be in the history books, but to the people we know, our family, friends, other people we ?accidentally? meet, etc., it does matter quite a lot and it affects people in future generations. The movie shown every Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life, with James Stewart is a poignant depiction of what life would be like if one person had never been born. It shows how important one person's life is to other people.

In your case, try to remember all the people you have interacted with since you were born (a tough task, I know). You might find that the movie shows only a small portion of the people influenced by your own life. When I was 11 or 12, a new family moved to town for a couple of months. The girl who was my age became my friend. When they moved away, she gave me a card and present and told me how much my friendship meant to her. She said that she normally couldn't make friends since they moved so often.

I'll never know how much our encounter affected the rest of her life, but I feel sure that it did affect it in a positive way ? and it made me feel good.

© 2004 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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