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The Dr. Ruth Interview (Page 1 of 4)
An Interview with Dr. Ruth
Westheimer is world renowned for her
work as a sex therapist, media
personality and author. Best known as
Dr. Ruth, The New York Times described
her as a ďSorbonne-trained psychologist
who became a kind of cultural icon in
the 1980s. She ushered in the new age of
freer, franker talk about sex on radio
and television.Ē Who better to talk
about the needs of the Alzheimerís
caregiver than Dr. Ruth in her trademark
forthright and honest manner? Dr. Ruth
sat down with Editor-in-Chief Gary Barg
for a frank discussion about some of
their issues. The wisdom shared by Dr.
Ruth can be applied to all family
caregivers everywhere. As she says, ďA
lesson taught with humor is a lesson
Iím very happy that we get a chance to
talk about your book, Dr. Ruthís
Guide for Alzheimerís Caregivers. I knew I
was going to like it when I started
reading and the first chapter is titled,
ďHow to Help Yourself.Ē Why do you think
thatís specifically important for
Iíll tell you why Ė because itís not
like when somebody has an operation.
Thereís a hospital stay, then thereís
recovery, and then people can go on with
their life. Thatís not the case here
because this is such a horrible disease.
And itís such a hopeless disease. So I
decided I know how to do training of
professionals from my years at Planned
Parenthood and I said thatís what I have
to use right now. Just to tell people
that they must Ė without feeling bad and
without feeling guilty Ė they must do
something for themselves.
Thereís a lovely segment in the book.
You talk about scheduling happiness. How
do we do that?
We decide that there is a moment that we
have to be selfish. You have an
obligation to go out. You have an
obligation to meet some friends, to go
to a movie, to do something. You have to
make arrangements to get some help and
to go to the opera or to go to a
concert. And then not to sit there
guiltily, but to sit there and say,
ďThis is for my survival. I can give
better care when I have done something
for myself.Ē Thatís really what Iím
talking aboutóthe scheduling of
happiness. When you donít feel that you
did something that took away from the
care and then you come back, you are
If you donít care for yourself, how can
you possibly care for the person who
needs your help?
I know itís something you donít normally
talk about, but letís talk about sex.