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The Joan Lunden Interview (Page 2 of 3)

An Interview with Joan Lunden


Gary Barg: Well, it’s a challenge. That’s a place where a caregiver really can be a partner with the doctor, but we so often consider ourselves secondary to the decision makers. We shouldn’t because, as I always like to say, “You’re the CEO of Caring for Your Loved One, Inc.” You’re in charge.

Joan Lunden: Absolutely.

Gary Barg: You just have to know it.

Joan Lunden: And the CEO of your own health care. So often, a doctor says something and it falls on deaf ears because you don’t understand it completely. Doctors are human and they’re trying to get through things. They have their own kind of doctor speak that they think in and often they don’t put things in language that is well understood by the patient. So learn how to listen and then repeat after each thing they say: “So you want me to take this medicine morning and night” and “You want me to take it with food or without food?” I think this really helps you better understand what you should be doing to make the most of those doctor/patient conversations and actually how to pull that off, how to do it.

Gary Barg: One of the challenges of the family caregiver is that we take ourselves out of the circle of care. We don’t, as you said, go to the doctor, but our loved ones go to the doctor every single time they need it. We don’t eat right, but we make sure our loved ones get their nutrition. We don’t get any rest, but we make sure our loved one gets all the rest they need. And it’s no help to our loved one for us to fall apart.

Joan Lunden: They’ll make sure that their parent goes to the doctor. They’ll nag their husbands to death to go to the doctor. We’re wired, I think, just by nature to be caregivers. It makes us incredibly adept at being multi-taskers and rising to the challenge. Even if we’re sick at the time, we can just march right through that, but we are not so great at taking care of ourselves.

Gary Barg: And the funny thing is, that is the most important thing we can do.

Joan Lunden: Because you know, if you don’t take that time to take care of yourself, to go in for those yearly checkups, and to really make sure you keep track of your own numbers and you know what your health is, and you’re taking the adequate steps that the doctor told you to take, you’re not going to be your best for that loved one who needs you so much and for the rest of your family. And when you think of cholesterol, and we know what the diet is that America is eating, so it’s not hard to understand why somebody has high cholesterol. But I think that the numbers are sometimes hard for people to understand and they kind of zone out. When you look at some of the actual numbers, it’s amazing; about 71 million adults in this country report that they have been diagnosed  with high LDL cholesterol. That’s just kind of mind boggling and only half of that number, 34 million, report ever being treated for it. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease; but you add one more risk factor, which is not difficult in today’s day and age, and now you’re at serious risk for cardiovascular disease.


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