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Caregivers are advocates

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It is often difficult to allow a person to come into our inner most private lives and do things for us that we have done for ourselves all of our adult lives. And this becomes especially true when that person is a child we raised to adulthood. Although one might think different, the situation is still we are now depending on this person to do all, when we wanted so much more for them than to be a burden.

Accepting the help of a caregiver often creates a state of grieving. And there are stages of grieving this loss of abilities, just as the loss of a person we loved dearly in our life. Many times things seem to be approached differently by the professionals, they concern is to fix it which sometimes cannot be fix. Many medical professionals see this as a failure. Therefore they must fix or at least reduce the burden. Very few people embrace change in a positive way, and for those who are now ill and giving up their most personal life, this is especially true.

We try in our culture to fix everything, if the person is depressed the physician will give antidepressants. If the person is angry, the physician will provide mood altering medications or increase the antidepressants. If the person is in pain, we give drugs to relieve this. But who are we helping?

As this continues the person is now trying to work through not just the illness (even when the illness is terminal) and also come to terms with their own mortality. This is a task unequaled by none, and when there is so much pharmacology involved they cannot. We have for years in this country looked at any discomfort, physical or mental, and 'fixed it' with a pill. This cannot be fixed with a pill, but we don't easily offer counseling and situational processing.

People need to have time to think. Many times if we could or would just give them a little time to get their thoughts together; they would not want or need a pharmacological fix. As the caregiver for someone, we can help by realizing the difficult situation they are trying to work through. Don't treat them like children or feel sorry for them due to a terminal illness; rather allow them to work through all the emotions with clarity and grace. We can be the sounding board.

The most professional, caring, loving thing that can be done is to make sure the person knows we are there for them, but allow for them to acknowledge the situation they are in. This can be one of the most difficult things ever done by patient and caregiver alike, however truly the most loving. This does not mean to withhold medication, allowing a person to be in pain; rather just the opposite. Always wanting people to be comfortable, however at the same time able to think and work through life issues.

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