Care for Caregivers

August 19, 2008 3:13:51 PM PDT
A unique medical study doesn't look at just the patient ... But the person taking care of them.Louise Jolliff is the ultimate caregiver. For 40 years, she has taken care of her son, Jerry. He has cerebral palsy. And for the last five years, she has been caring for her husband wade. He has cancer.

Wade Jolliff, Prostate cancer patient: "Without her, I think I would probably not make it, but with her, I can do anything."

Louise Jolliff, Caregiver: "Care giving is very hard because everybody says, 'You've gotta take care of yourself.' That sounds very good, but it's very difficult to do."

More than 50 million Americans are caregivers. Their help saves the health care system more than three-hundred billion dollars a year. That's why a new clinical trial focuses on educating the caregiver. Study Manager Darlene Johnson is passionate about this research, because she is a tongue cancer survivor. Her husband was her caregiver.

Darlene Johnson: "I went home and told him about the study, and he said, 'Ah, man. I wish I had something like that when you were going through this,' because he felt very insecure himself."

For the study, caregivers will have one-on-one time with a nurse and receive this home care guide book. Some of the advice: take time to rest -- devote at least 30 minutes a day to yourself. Be open in your conversations with the patient -- talk about life and death. Watch for signs of depression, and let the sick person make as many decisions as possible.

Darlene Johnson: "I think this training will be invaluable."

Louise Jolliff: "Whatever you don't understand, you can ask a lot of questions."

Louise also does one thing to get her through the day.

Louise Jolliff: "I do a lot of praying, and that gives me strength."

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