What Are We Going To Do With Dad?

Jerald Winakur

The article “What Are We Going to Do with Dad?” by Dr. Jerald Winakur in a very personal account documents his experience with the the decline of his dad and the reversal of roles between father and son. Dr. Winakur explores the challenges and dilemmas that families face when caring for elderly parents. As a physician who specializes in geriatric care, reflects on his own experiences caring for his father, who suffered from dementia. He suggests that many families are unprepared for the emotional and practical challenges that come with caregiving, and that society needs to do more to support families in this role.

The quality of care for elderly patients can vary widely depending on the setting. He suggests that nursing homes and other institutional settings may not always provide the best care, and that families should be involved in the care of their loved ones as much as possible.

As a geriatrician, he shares his personal experience of caring for his own father and the emotional toll it took on him and his family. He comments on the lack of support and resources available to families in this situation and the need for society to recognize and address the issue. He says, “My only sibling, an architect, asks me every time we are together or speak on the phone, “What are we going to do with Dad?” He expects me, as his older brother and a physician specialized in geriatrics and a long-term care medical director, to have a definitive answer. However, I do not have a pat solution for our father or anyone else’s father, even though he asks out of fear and frustration.”

One significant comment that Dr. Winakur makes is that the traditional notion of the nuclear family, with each generation caring for the one before it, is no longer feasible in today’s society. With families often spread out across the country and both parents working full-time, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for adult children to take on the responsibility of caring for their aging parents.

Another significant comment is that the burden of caring for elderly parents falls disproportionately on women. Women are more likely to be caregivers for their parents, and they often have to juggle this responsibility with their own careers and family responsibilities.

Also the financial implications of caring for elderly parents. Many families are faced with the difficult decision of whether to put their parents in a nursing home or assisted living facility, which can be very expensive. This can have significant financial consequences for both the parents and the children.

There’s a need for alternative solutions, such as government-funded nursing homes, and he suggests that families should consider planning for their own care needs as they age. The article emphasizes the importance of having conversations about end-of-life care and making arrangements for long-term care before it becomes necessary.

Overall, the article is a thoughtful, heartfelt reflection on the challenges of caregiving and the need for society to do more to support families in this role. Dr. Winakur’s personal experiences and insights as a geriatric care physician lend credibility to his arguments, and his suggestions for improving the situation are worth considering. Also, Dr. Winakur was one of our first interviews after launching our radio show, The Healthy Aging Show. While almost 20 years have passed, the issues discussed are as relevant now as they were in 2005. Since this article, Dr. Winakur has written several books.

What Are We Going To Do With Dad? Jerald Winakur https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/opinions/2005/08/07/what-are-we-going-to-do-with-dad/af7a5450-f554-4388-b4d4-7234d4be680e/

Books by Dr. Winakur

Memory Lessons: A Doctor’s Story; recounts his personal struggles with his ageing father while drawing upon his broad experience as a physician to shed new light on the social and medical challenges of ageing.

Human Voices Wake Us; Patients and physicians are adrift in this era of rapidly changing medical paradigms. Perhaps it has always been so, though it seems that lately the dissatisfaction on both sides has intensified.

Doctors today are struggling: debt, divorce, substance abuse, burnout, suicide. They succeed or fail on professional treadmills; patient encounters measured out with coffee spoons. The doctor patient relationship is crumbling. Bureaucratic and corporate masters make their never-ending arguments of insidious intent. The overwhelming questions: Now where to turn? How do physicians― and their patients―avoid being crushed by the demands of science, of perfection, of expectations? How do we recover the awe we once felt in this world in which we expend our life force every day? How can we find joy once more?

Human Voices Wake Us is a plea, a prayer, a path for caregivers and patients, for all of us who struggle in difficult circumstances for understanding, enlightenment, and healing. This book is a treatise on the importance of self-reflection, attentiveness to our own inner voice and needs, as well as to those who are struggling with illness, age, infirmity, and loss. It is a call to nurture our idealism: that solid foundation grounding empathic responsiveness and our own humanity.

MEDITATIONS ON GERIATRIC MEDICINE – Monthly Newsletter Contributor – https://www.caringfortheages.com/action/doSearch?ContribAuthorRaw=Winakur%2C+Jerald