caregiver.jpgThis is a question we’ve explored in some depth on Beliefnet (see below for links), and today The New York Times has an excellent article on a new focus on the issue by medical professionals.

The piece begins with an elderly patient with early signs of dementia.  When the doctor pulled the patient’s son aside after the exam and asked with concern, “You’re tired, aren’t you?” the son burst into tears, saying that no doctor had ever asked him that before.

It strikes me that there’s a deep chasm between the self-care-for-caregivers “industry” and the medical establishment.  In other words, there are myriad books, websites, support groups, and resources (like the ones we’ve produced) meant to help caregivers cope with both the physical stress and intense emotional strain that comes with caring for an ill loved one.  But doctors seem to operate outside of that sphere, caring–logically–for their patient only, not spending precious time on the well-being of the person who drove them to the appointment.

That might be changing, writes Dr. Pauline W. Chen in the Times, as doctors are starting to think of chronically ill and elderly patients as living in a more holistic “care” environment.  Have a read:

…Perhaps, it is also about how we define care, whether that care
is provided by family members and loved ones, or by doctors and other
clinicians.

“There is a moral task of caregiving, and that
involves just being there, being with that person and being committed,”
said Dr. Kleinman, of Harvard Medical School. “When there is nothing
that can be done, we have to be able to say, ‘Look, I’m with you in
this experience. Right through to the end of it.’ “

I’d love to hear your caregiving stories, how you cope, and how well you feel your doctors understand the big picture of the caregiving process.  Meanwhile, here are some of our offerings on how to get the support and comfort you need as a caregiver:

Depression Busters for Caregivers

Words of Support for Caregivers

How to Care for a Difficult Relative

How to Grow Spiritually Through Caregiving

Best Books for Caregivers

How to Care for an Alzheimer’s Parent

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