To the point week of 11-4-10


IT SEEMS AS THOUGH everytime we turn around, there is a fundraising event for some illness or disease. People are wearing ribbons and walking or running or finding some way to raise money – all in hopes of eradicating a disease from the earth.

I greatly admire those who work for a cause greater than themselves, but as we flip our calendars to the month of November, the month draws attention to another group of dedicated people who struggle much of the time in the shadows, but who are also working for a cause greater than themselves.

November is “National Family Caregiver Month”.

The month seeks to highlight the important role that family caregivers provide in our society, and as our population begins to age, it’s a responsibility that we should all applaud.

Because it’s not an easy job.

My mom retired from her job to take on the responsibility of caring for her parents. My grandmother suffered from Alzheimer’s; while my grandfather had Parkinson’s Disease.

They had lived in the same house on the same farm for decades; and as their health deteriorated, they continued to insist that they remain on the farm. There would be no assisted living; no small home close to my parents; no apartment.

They were going to stay on the farm, and my mom – their only child – suddenly had the responsibility of caring from them.

Dr. James Dobson says that there is a point during our lives when the parent becomes the child and the child becomes the parent, and my mother found herself there.

Everyday she cooked meals and then drove them the 15 miles to the farm. She cleaned the house and did the dishes. She took on the responsibility of two households; and she gave up her retirement plans temporarily.

Because she saw a duty that was bigger than she was.

There were trips to the doctor and groceries to buy and other tasks to perform; and my mom - along with my dad – took them all on.

When it became apparent that my grandmother could no longer be cared for at home; the difficult decision was made for her to move to a nursing facility so that she could get the care she needed.

My mom didn’t take that decision lightly, and even after Grandma was settled, mom still faithfully took care of her father, who was still on the farm.

My grandmother passed away first, and that meant funeral plans to make and other responsibilities – all as my grandfather’s health continued to decline.

Information provided by LifeTime Resources shows that the responsibilities of being a caregiver can have detrimental effects on the health of the caregiver.

I have seen that firsthand, too.

I saw my mom battle through her own health concerns in order to continue to help care for my grandfather. She worried over every little issue and task, but kept everything moving forward.

There came a point where the Parkinson’s had effected my grandfather to the point that he could no longer be cared for at home, and again the difficult decision was made to relocate him to a nursing facility.

No longer charged with the daily duties of cooking and cleaning; my parents still never missed a day of visiting with my grandfather; and figured out different ways of getting him to their home for holidays and other events.

It was never easy, but it was a duty that she felt she needed to fulfill.

My grandfather passed away after valiantly fighting his disease, but his final years, months, and days were made better because of the selfless work that my mom did on behalf of her father.

Statistics say that there are currently 65 million people in our country caring for a loved one. If you know of someone, you might consider offering your help and assistance. Perhaps you can stay with the person while the caregiver goes out for a meal or to see a movie. Maybe you can clean their house or do some shopping for them.

Maybe what they need most is for someone to acknowledge the selfless work that they are doing, all out of love for their family member.

No matter what the reason, November is a great time to pay more attention to the plight of the family caregiver.


Every now and then, the subject of Switzerland County developing a football program comes up.

There are groups of parents and adults who believe that Switzerland County High School is big enough to support a football program; and – at different times – have worked to see that dream become a reality.

We have had younger teams of players travel to different places to play in “Little League” types of set ups; the YMCA has a very successful flag football program; and football on the college and professional stage has never been more popular.

With the possible availability of riverboat revenue sharing funds being provided by the School Endowment Corporation, it is possible that a team could be created, starting at the middle school level and working up to varsity competition.

But recent events on both levels should provide some seed for conversation should the issue ever come up for real.

As you will read in Mike Cooney’s “A Stone’s Throw” column on the next page; the game of football often results in injuries, some minor, some severe.

In recent weeks we have seen professional athletes be taken from games and then miss future games because of head trauma. We have seen studies where the effects of head trauma and concussion show up years later in athletes.

Professional teams have dozens of medical experts standing on the sidelines to treat injuries. They have the latest equipment at their disposal right at the stadium to diagnose injuries such as concussion.

If concussion is found, those athletes are missing weeks of practice and games as they recover. The problem is, “recovery” may be temporary, because the long-term effects may not show up until years later.

With high school programs, there aren’t dozens of doctors standing on the sidelines, and that might mean a young player might return to the game when he really shouldn’t.

If and when the Switzerland County School Board considers creating a high school football program; let’s hope that at the forefront of that discussion are the possible short-term and long-term medical issues that may arise. Doctors need to be heard and studies need to be read.

As much as I love sports and football, at the end of the day I believe that there is a very real situation that leads to the decision that having a football team here doesn’t not balance the potential health issues that will come from it.

Remember: there aren’t very many schools of our size around us who have football programs, which means you’re either going to have to travel lengthy distances to find opponents; or you’re going to have to play larger schools with bigger players, which puts our players at a greater risk.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t have a football program, because as far as I know the subject has not been brought up seriously, but the threat of brain trauma and injury is simply too large to ignore.


“Would knowing that Candidate X used to club baby seals impact your decision on whether or not to vote for him in the upcoming election?”

It’s two days after the election and my phone isn’t ringing. Is anyone else glad that you can eat your supper in peace? Another election is over, and I’m pretty happy about it.