Caregivers Beware

I have shared before that my husband, Rick, has Parkinson’s Disease, likely due to exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. Thankfully, he is doing well, but we both know changes are coming. Better to anticipate than live in denial. Hence, we moved from a house full of stairs to a ranch-style on one floor. No hills. Plenty of nice sidewalks on the flat.

A friend whose husband also suffers from PD, invited me to a Caregivers’ Support Group, headed by a hospital psychologist. The group meets bimonthly. Everyone was friendly and welcoming. We each shared why we were there. Most are caring for loved ones who are seriously ill, dying of cancer, in the throes of Alzheimer’s, or caring for mentally disabled adult children. Several who have lost loved ones continue to come in order to encourage and give support to others. One is a retired pastor in his eighties who lost his wife to cancer several years ago. One gentleman lost his partner to PD.

Each member of the group is suffering under the weight of caring for one or more loved ones. Some have outside help. Others are walking this difficult road alone. Attendees talked about the grueling daily chores, disintegrating relationships, no life to call their own, the financial burden. The despair, and in some cases, anger, was palpable. They need hope, but the conversations focused on despair.

Still a newcomer, I received a pleasant letter from our leader (sent out to everyone in the group) about Health Care Directive Day. She encouraged everyone to write their HCDs, and watch the video provided in the body of the letter. I followed her instructions, wondering at the odd prickle of alarm at the back of my neck. A smiling doctor presented choices people can make, one of which was assisted suicide. Everything he said was cloaked in words of compassion and caring, but the subtle message came through loud and clear: if you really care, help your loved one make the wise decision. Make death easy for them.

Satan is a cunning enemy. He knows how to prey upon our weaknesses and vulnerabilities. What better place to promote doctor (or caregiver?) assisted suicide than among desperate, hurting people struggling mentally, physically, emotionally and financially? Stressed people can be easily swayed by a “professional” counselor who sees nothing wrong with an “easy” death option. The rationale? Assisted suicide ends the suffering of two people. The patient and the caregiver. My body runs cold, thinking about it.

I pray all caregiver support groups aren’t like this one.

As with abortion, pro-euthanasia advocates speak of “quality of life” while planning to take it.