“Aiding Her Dying Husband, a Geriatrician Learns the Emotional and Physical Toll of Caregiving” – Kaiser Health News

geriatrician and toll of caregiving

Dr. Rebecca Elon’s life took an unexpected turn in 2013 when she noticed personality changes and judgment lapses in her husband, Dr. William Henry Adler III. He was eventually diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia with motor neuron disease and died in February. (Dr. Kris Kuhn)

by Judith Graham

“The loss of a husband. The death of a sister. Taking in an elderly mother with dementia.

“This has been a year like none other for Dr. Rebecca Elon, who has dedicated her professional life to helping older adults.

“It’s taught her what families go through when caring for someone with serious illness as nothing has before. ‘Reading about caregiving of this kind was one thing. Experiencing it was entirely different,’ she told me.

“Were it not for the challenges she’s faced during the coronavirus pandemic, Elon might not have learned firsthand how exhausting end-of-life care can be, physically and emotionally — something she understood only abstractly previously as a geriatrician.

“And she might not have been struck by what she called the deepest lesson of this pandemic: that caregiving is a manifestation of love and that love means being present with someone even when suffering seems overwhelming.

“All these experiences have been ‘a gift, in a way: They’ve truly changed me,’ said Elon …

Continue reading this article in its entirety at KHN, click here.

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