Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Health secrets vs. support and solutions

One of the biggest difficulties of caring for aging parents is trying to deal with the myths and "old wive's tales" of earlier generations. In the past health issues, especially mental health issues were simply not shared. In my situation, I developed depression and was incapable of dealing with my reality. No one around me at work could understand. I had pressure from my boss to perform, with little sympathy for me as I cared for a palliative father and mother.

In my case, I wanted information. All the time. My mother did not. Nor did she care for sharing information, or in seeking it from her doctors. In this day and age, you are wise to ask your doctor questions in order to make the best decision at the time. Even dad did not know how ill mom was when she was having chemotherapy. This seemed profoundly unfair to me and to him. When she signed dad up for radiation treatment shortly thereafter, none of us knew what to expect. Dad was incapable of getting or retaining info from his oncologists. No one went with him to appointments, since mom was so ill.

You can read, in this excerpt, that Mom had it in her mind that she wanted chemo, despite not talking to any of us, nor getting information on treatement goals, options, complications and expected outcomes based on her age, health at the time, and physical condition.

There are questions to ask your oncologist. The impact of chemo on the entire family is incredible. All must be prepared.

It was grossly unfair to mom's friends, too, who would have liked to understand her health situation. They wanted to help her, they wanted to understand what she was going through, and yet her best friends were not told. I have found that many people feel this difficult. Patients seem to resent pity, but friends and family want truth and reality.

Get help, but reach out, too. Be available to friends and family. Offer solace. Concrete things you can do for them.

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