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Jewish World Review August 3, 2004 /16 Menachem-Av, 5764

Jan L. Warner & Jan Collins

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Consumer Reports

Brother's reaction to Mom's death angers siblings | Q: When our mother became critically ill, I called my brother and sister to let them know that her time appeared short. My sister traveled more than 600 miles to be with Mom in the hospital when she died. But my brother did not come to the hospital and even objected to visiting an open casket reception at the funeral home. This has caused a family rift, mainly because my sister and I believe it's the children's obligation to come to the hospital when their parent is dying. It's unforgivable that my brother did not have the decency to show his last respects to our mother even though he was always the favorite. My husband says I am being too harsh, but I have not been able to deal with my grief. A: While we don't know if there is quite a "right" or "wrong" answer here, it's obvious

that your brother has chosen to handle his grief differently than you and your sister. You may feel that, as the child nearest in proximity to your mother, you have had to deal with this major loss on your own without the full support of your family. Some people — possibly your brother — may be concerned about their own mortality and do not want to be reminded of death or the dying process in any situation. Grief is an agonizing human experience through which people come to grips with their loss and the resultant changes in their lives. Therefore, it should not be surprising that the grieving process is a very personal, emotional time that may take a number of different forms and may last for days or even years before the bereaved person comes to terms with the death.

For some, seeing the body and participating in the funeral helps people come to terms with the loss. For others, such as your brother, acceptance may present itself in another form. Sorrow gives way to anger, which, in turn, may sometimes be directed at the deceased person. Guilt and depression are two other prevalent conditions that affect bereaved persons after the death of a loved one. Funerals are ritualistic and symbolic activities that provide a time and place for family and friends to express their feelings about their loved one. Some people, however, don't buy into this method of grieving.

Each of us reacts differently to stressful times like these. Experts say that major decisions should not be made until one year after the death. We suggest that you withhold your judgment on the manner in which your brother grieves for your mother for the same period of time.

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We recently wrote about the rising cost of prescription drugs, how some seniors are actually reducing medication doses to afford them, and how (according to a study) doing so may impact your future health.

Here's how one reader said she and her mother cut down the problem:

"My mother, age 98, had only her savings, Social Security, and a $157 pension from a big company to pay all her expenses. I reduced her prescription cost by having her doctor double the concentration (100 mg became 200 mg), and then we split the pill. The cost was about half. My mother-in-law is 99 years of age, uses this approach, and even gets free prescriptions from the manufacturer with her name on them through her doctor. All you have to do is look around and help yourself."

CAUTION: Never make any changes in your medication dosage without first discussing it with your doctor.

Though popular among seniors and, according to some studies, in nursing homes, pill-splitting does pose its own problems.

Not all medications — time-release capsules, for example — can be split. Also, because of the very design of a pill (its shape and thickness) it may be impossible to evenly divide a dosage.

In fact, a study by the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Asheville, N.C., of prescription drug users between the ages of 50 and 79 found that patients' tablet-splitting resulted in dosage deviations between 9 percent and 37 percent from those intended. And those who accurately split pills were able to do so with mostly flat, round tablets.

Such deviations in dosage, just like cutting your medication, can negatively impact your health.

Again, before you consider pill-splitting, make sure you discuss this with your physician.

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JAN L. WARNER received his A.B. and J.D. degrees from the University of South Carolina and earned a Master of Legal Letters (L.L.M.) in Taxation from the Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a frequent lecturer at legal education and public information programs throughout the United States. His articles have been published in national and state legal publications. Jan Collins began co-authoring Flying SoloŽ in 1989. She has more than 27 years of experience as a journalist, writer, and editor. To comment or ask a question, please click here.


Unwisely reducing drug dosages
Why is my sick husband frantic at sundown?
Are Dad's living expenses tax-deductible?
Recovering confidence after a fall
How do I plan my estate?
My parents need a caring lawyer
Can banks reject powers of attorney?
Tech innovations help parents remain home
Looking back for a healthy future
Alzheimer's-stricken Mom is destroying marriage
A cautionary tale of quick-fix mortgages
Why can dad's new wife control his life?
Sister's early death sparks family estate war
Poor financial planning leaves Dad cash-strapped
How do I protect my parents from falling?

Bad 'Will' makes seniors prey
Bankrupt seniors now the debt generation
How can we help ease Dad's depression?
Compensating sister for Mom's care; purchasing life insurance policies from terminally ill individuals
My aunt profited from grandpa's weak will; foreclosing against senior is best
Pay employer taxes for caregivers?
Help Mom organize her finances
Where can seniors get the best health info?
How do we stop our mooching daughter?
Can you stop a double-dealing lawyer?; caregiver red flags
How the government bilks seniors
Dad's new wife took the inheritance
Parents' trustee choice a hidden blessing
Finding the money for home care
Elderly mom is sweet on a hunky aide
'Ziva' gets the scoop on nation's nursing homes
Care decisions for 'elder orphans'
Seeking help for dementia victims
Read admission-package 'agreements'; booting a patient once Medicaid kicks in
Can the kids block our cash flow?; childless couple agonizes over whether to use
powers of attorney or a living trust to manage our assets

Control your assets from the grave
Slacker son will blow his fortune; lawyer's role in "estate-planning"
Mom remarried and spent my inheritance; doesn't want daughter-in-law to receive anything from estate
Can we stop our brother from swindling us?
What Gifting Will Disqualify You From Medicaid
The 'magic' language for a power of attorney agreement
Is care insurance a healthy choice?
Is there protection against Medicaid costs?
Long-term care insurance comes up short
HIPAA -- too much privacy?; nursing home doc could care less
Private pay nursing home residents pay more
Separated families should use care managers
What Makes Up a Caregiving Team?
Who is the client, parents or children?:

© 2003, Jan Warner