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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN  / The Partnership of a Lifetime /  Editorial List

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The Partnership of a Lifetime

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Lately, I have been hearing from a lot of caregivers about dealing with their loved ones medical professionals. It doesnít matter if you live in a bustling metropolis or in scenic rural community; this seems to be an issue of great importance to all of us. In response, Iíd like to share the following email from a reader also dealing with this issue:

Dear Gary,

It seems that as my relatives have reached the stages in lives where their health has become an issue and caregiving has been needed, I increasingly find that those providing the day-to-day care are not given information or respect by the "professionals" in the medical community.  As one who has found through unhappy experience that these people don't know everything, I tend to read extensively and look for as much helpful information as I can. 

My dad is dealing with rheumatoid arthritis, stroke "recovery" and prostate cancer. I do not know all of the medications he is on. The doctors seemed to feel no compunction about scolding our brother that my dad was losing weight and muscle mass. What bothers me about the doctors, then, is that this is done without really knowing what he does eat, without scolding my dad for his finicky tastes, no discussion of the need for exercise to prevent loss of muscle mass. 

And here's the kicker:  when I ask my brother (who accompanies my dad to the doctor and has primary responsibility for the backbreaking task of caring for him, which he discharges selflessly) if he asked the doctor any practical questions about how to do this any better, he tells me he is afraid to alienate the doctor for fear of reprisal.  This fear is not unfounded.  In our one-horse town any such question is actually treated as some sort of challenge of their authority.   It would certainly be in the best interest of their patients if the caregivers are treated like a part of a team and armed with the most comprehensive information they can use and if their practical questions are answered.  If they have no answers why do they need to pretend that the questions are inappropriate?  

LB

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