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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN  / A Loved One's Lament /   Editorial List

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A Loved One's Lament

There are many reasons that I am excited to be able to travel the country talking with family caregivers at conferences and seminars.  After all, what better company is there to have on a regular basis?  Of course,  there is also a selfish reason.  Not to give away any trade secrets, but at every event, I  can always find the theme for my next weekly newsletter in my interactions with the attendees. Does this make writing this column easier? Sure, but I like to think of it as my being able to share the words of the true caregiving experts with you - your fellow caregiver.  That what makes this particular column so perplexing to write. 

I visited with my new friends at the Heart of Texas Area Agency on Aging in Waco last week to speak at their annual conference,  and what big hearts they do have.  Thanks to Gary Luft, Pam McKown and a dedicated staff at the area agency for packing the house with motivated caregivers and dedicated experts.  The topics were flying across the room during the Q and A session: Driving, Medication Management, Respite were all covered.  Frankly, I could write five columns out of the session. 

I was however, most taken with a gentleman sitting in the back of the room. He was wizened from years of hard work out in the sun, first in the military and then on his farm.  He raised his hand to ask a series of questions, culminating with the fact that he needed help in convincing his wife to take her depression medication.  Before anyone on the panel could answer, the lady sitting next to him wanted to say a few words. She was his wife and had some compelling reasons for not taking the medication. She was also supported by her physicians in her decision, due to an extremely compromised liver. 

After the session, I sat with her as her husband went off for their lunch.  We talked about other methods of dealing with depression, including exercise and support groups.   It turns out that the only thing making her depressed, was her husband.  She cannot drive due to her medical condition and he has refused her request to drive her to the gym or into town for a support group she wanted to attend.  After the meeting with her doctors where they discussed the medication challenges, he told her that they needed to find new doctors.  She seemed quite in control of what she needed to do, but according to her, is stopped by him at every turn. She said that she had already planned to have a friend take her to the support group, no matter what he had to say.  This was a real eye-opener for me.  I always have erred on the side of the family caregiver and am usually right in doing so.  In this case, I think it is a care recipient in need of advice and wisdom of other family caregivers to help her from becoming as depressed as her husband seems to think she is already.

My advice for a care recipient


Gary Barg

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