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The Dr. Ruth Interview  (Page 3 of 4)

An Interview with Dr. Ruth


Dr. Ruth: Absolutely. Thatís a very important point. By being able to say that, it letís somebody bear that disease with some happiness.

Gary Barg: You bring up another point and itís the stereotype of who does and doesnít get AIDS. Isnít it true that seniors are one of the fastest growing populations contracting AIDS because they donít think it will affect them.

Dr. Ruth: Because they think that nothing can happen to them and young people think that AIDS is not a problem anymore because there is medication. They have not seen what people like myself haveóso many AIDS patients die. So they think they can have indiscriminate sex and nothing will happen. And in the case of the older population, nobody talks to them about sexually transmitted diseasesónot just AIDS, but also herpes and other STDs, because they think, ďThat canít happen to me at this stage in life.Ē

Gary Barg: We always say that the caregiver is the manager of services, the CEO of Caring for My Loved One, Inc. What advice do you have for the caregivers who now have to deal with doctors and care managers and therapists and in-home aides? How do you get them to maintain control of their loved oneís care team?

Dr. Ruth: First of all, not to be angry at the professionals. Thatís my first advice. Not to get angry at the nurses and the physicians because itís not their fault that they didnít get training. Instead, take the initiative of talking about your issues.

Gary Barg: Right. Bring them the education they need to help you and your loved one.

Dr. Ruth: Exactly. Not easy. I donít want ever to minimize the difficulty of saying, ďWe have to talk about this.Ē

Gary Barg: You have a chapter called ďYou Have a Life, Too.Ē What I love about that is the first step is to believe you are deserving of help. Why do I need to believe that?

Dr. Ruth: I say that so people who were married for 40 years shouldnít feel bad now that they are getting help from an outside source. I know that these are feelings that could sabotage their own ability to continue with their life. If they walk around feeling guilty, the help they are getting is not useful. I canít take away, and you canít take away, any of those feelings of guilt; but you and I can say this is something that you in your work and that I with my acquaintances know is happening. So you are not alone.

Gary Barg: Youíre not alone. And, guess what? You deserve that help, so ask for it.

Dr. Ruth: Put it this way. You have an obligation to ask for the help in order to be able to continue giving the care. Do you like that? Gary Barg: I really think it creates that professionalization of family. The first step is to believe that you deserve to get the help and the second step is not to isolate yourself. And it doesnít have to do with you; it has to do with the role you play in the care of your loved one.


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