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

“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

Like what you see? Click here to subscribe and get Fresh Living in your in-box every day!

More from Beliefnet and our partners
previous posts

This is the post in which we say goodbye.  We’re both leaving our respective jobs at Beliefnet, and so it’s time to step away from the blog. So, this is the post in which we say goodbye…by saying thank you.  Thank you to you, the readers, for clicking and visiting and sharing the myriad ways […]

Are you a frustrated dreamer? I know I am. I often wake up with fragments of scenes echoing in my mind that seem really meaningful–but then I leap out of bed, start my morning routine, and in seconds they’re gone. I want to linger in that realm and tap into the guidance and insight rising […]

Because I lack an engineering degree and don’t understand why we can’t just stop this thing NOW with a 10-ton wad of gum or giant boulder or massive Q-tip, I’ll share more spiritual wisdom from elders. This is from the beautiful, amazing International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers–they each represent a continent and a native […]

“Worry is a prayer for something you don’t want.” – Sharon Gannon I love that. The other day someone expressed concern about my excessive worrying habit, and I’ve been contemplating on it ever since. Doing my best to actually contemplate, rather than worry. I’ve been on a renewed Gilmore Girls binge lately and last night as Lorelai, […]