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George R. Simms, MD, presented The Impact of Health on Relationships: A Guide for the Perplexed, at the Reading Hospital, Willows Program Geriatric Conference to a mixed group of community professionals and retired elderly individuals. Dr. Simms, drawing on his years of providing primary care medicine to patients and families, and his personal experience, offered the group a perspective of aging that is based in the reality of the comprehensive impact of health decline while holding out the benefits of positive adaptation and adjustment. Specifically he presented a six point guide which provides an opportunity to respond to the inevitable changes associated with the physical and sometimes mental decline of a loved one.

Among the points made by Dr. Simms are the development of the following critical skills:

1. Learning to ask the right questions.

2. Learning to take responsibility for one's own response.

3. Learning the limits of the relationship.

4. Learning to be gentle.

5. Looking for the gift.

6. Finding wholeness in the midst of brokenness.

A number of participants raised personal issues associated the the care of a partner in declining health and asked for further explination. Dr. Simms responded with practical suggestions and support for reframing the problems in light of the approaches outlined above.

 

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