From Staying Optimistic as a Caregiver to Dealing With Changes in Elder Relationships-Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2005

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“Suzanne Gelb Image”

”’Dear Readers:”’


”’For the next few months, I’ll be devoting one column per month to issues of interest to Seniors. If you have a concern about an elder issue, please write me at”’ mailto:DrGelbSays@Hawaii

”How Can a Caregiver Stay Optimistic?”

Dear Dr. Gelb:

I care for my 78-year-old mother who lives with us. Her health is declining. It’s hard to stay optimistic because the future looks bleak. Other family members deal with her decline by not talking about it. I attend a support group, but the effects are short lived. How can I stay positive?


Dr. Gelb Says . . .

Dear Depressing:

You’re facing a reality that many people shy away from — the responsibility of caring for an aging parent. It appears that you are willing to face this challenge, but are unsure of how to cope.

A key factor is to have no expectations about what your mother can do. If you expect her to do certain things, then you will probably feel miserable. This is because her failure to meet your expectations could trigger judgment and anger in you. This type of frustration can cause caregivers to be abusive.

Be loving and kind. Allow her to do what she can — if she tries and does poorly, then you finish the job. If she cannot do something at all, then you step in and do it — be that combing her hair, brushing her teeth, bathing her, or helping her distinguish between hand cream and toothpaste.

”Can I Get My Man Back?”

Dear Dr. Gelb:

Three months ago, my 64-year-old husband realized he was impotent. He was very embarrassed and has become distant and stopped being affectionate. He drinks and golfs more, and stays out late with his friends. I miss him. How can I get my man back?

Still In Love

Dr. Gelb Says . . .

Dear In Love:

There can be various explanations, physiological and/or psychological, for an impotency problem. That said, it takes two to create a loving relationship and there are many creative ways for couples to enjoy each other and share physical pleasure.

Without meaning to shift any more responsibility to you, consider making a little extra effort to be affectionate with your husband. Showing this interest might cause him to realize that he has more to share with you than he thought. Who knows, you may even find that there’s a man in there who you never experienced before.

Of course, consult your health-care provider about your concerns.

”’Suzanne J. Gelb, Ph.D., J.D. authors this weekly column, Dr. Gelb Says, which answers questions about daily living and behavior issues. Extra articles and additional Q & As may occasionally be posted in response to specially requested topics. Dr. Gelb is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Honolulu. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Human Services. Dr. Gelb is also a published author of a book on Overcoming Addictions and a book on Relationships.”’

”’This column is intended for entertainment use only and is not intended for the purpose of psychological diagnosis, treatment or personalized advice. For more about the column’s purpose, see”’ “An Online Intro to Dr. Gelb Says”

”’Email your questions to More information on Dr. Gelb’s services and related resources available at”’