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Caregiving by Men:
A Husband's Perspective

By: Seth B. Goldsmith, Sc.D,. J.D.

(Page 5 of 5)

I do not wish to be morbid and my strongest wish is that we all live to the time we say in Yiddish, “biz hundert un tsvantsik” (you should be well till a 120). But just in case that does not work out, it is simply better to be prepared. When death occurs, the last thing in the world you want to be doing is rushing off to a mortuary and listening to a funeral director discuss the 20 options for caskets, liners, limos, services, etc. Take care of this rotten business at a more opportune time and then forget about it!


There is absolutely no value in pessimism. It brings both you and your loved one into an unhelpful and paralyzing place. Many of us who are faced with these enormous challenges have found it helpful to take concrete actions that indicate this commitment. For example, I have seen people buy new cars, take long postponed trips, purchase new houses and, in our own case, finally, after more than a decade of vacillation, build a huge and beautiful addition to our 100-year-old home.


A saying that came out of World War II and most recently applied to Hurricane Katrina was “there are no atheists in foxholes or hurricanes.” The obvious point is that when we are faced with deadly situations, we are likely to look for support or solace in a higher spiritual order. Rabbi Harold Kusher in his best selling book “Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People” addresses this question and concludes, as I understood him, that God’s role is not solving the problem, but being a source of comfort while we are going through our hard times. In my own case, this trust in a higher spiritual power provided a measure of solace, a focus for prayer and an avenue for my rage.

While life may not always be fair, the crisis generated by a serious illness does indeed provide the caregiver with extraordinary and very real opportunities to demonstrate love. The demonstration of love for another will provide a lifetime of rewards for everyone, but in order to maximize its benefits, the caregiver must learn how be effective for themselves and their loved one. My hope is that this article is a step (or perhaps ten steps) in that direction.


Seth B. Goldsmith is Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences where he taught health law, health policy and other courses. He served as the CEO of Miami Jewish Home and Hospital in the late 1990s and is presently Director of Extendicare, the company that owns and operates 440 nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the U.S. and Canada. He is an author and editor of 16 books and scores of articles including several award winning books such as Choosing a Nursing Home (Prentice Hall).  


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