Q: Don't you think it's time you gave long-overdue praise...

Coping/In Your Prime

January 29, 1993|By Bard Lindeman

Q: Don't you think it's time you gave long-overdue praise to those grandparents who are raising their grandchildren? Many of them are doing so at great sacrifice and deserve our support.

A: The Census Bureau reports that an estimated 3.3 million children currently are living with grandparents. This total represents 5 percent of all the children in the nation, but to my mind the shocking fact behind the underreported story is the root cause of this sociological phenomenon. Consider, the greatest number of these kids have been abused, because of the drug addiction of their parents. Too many of these homes then are further stressed by worry, fear, guilt, money troubles, legal complications and, of course, behavior problems. For your information, here are the names and addresses of groups ready to help grandparents:

ROCKing (Raising Our Children's Kids) in care of Mary Fron, P.O. Box 96, Niles, Mich. 49120 ([616]-683-9038); Grandparents Reaching Out, in care of Mildred Horn, 141 Glensummer Road, Holbrook, N.Y. 11741 ([516]-472-9728); Foundation for Grandparenting, P.O. Box 326, Cohasset, Mass. 02025; Grandparents Rights Organization, Suite 600, 555 S. Woodward Ave., Birmingham, Mich. 48009. If you write, enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

Q: You've avoided writing about Dr. Jack Kevorkian and his "assisted suicide" machines. Are you afraid of this controversial subject?

A: I'm unalterably opposed to Michigan's "Doctor Death." He plainly is the wrong man to head such a movement. I prefer the wisdom and words of Derek Humphrey, founder of the Hemlock Society, who says: "We are law reformers, not lawbreakers." Further, I hold to the view, widely expressed, that a pathologist is not the medical professional who should be making judgments about sick patients who have problems, yet are very much alive. If any lasting good is to come out of this mess, I hope that it is a far greater public awareness of, and appreciation for, the growing hospice movement.

Q: My girlfriend is about to turn 70 and has decided to get what she calls a "face peel." She wants to look younger, but is this procedure safe?

A: Chemical peeling is a surgical procedure that involves the application of a strong chemical agent that "frosts" the skin, causing it to blister and then peel off. The new layer of skin is usually smoother and less wrinkled. Note: This is a surgical procedure, and not risk-free. As a reporter in Miami, in the 1970s, I saw botched face peels and these women patients were badly scarred. It is the responsibility of the patient to question the plastic surgeon as to his or her rate of complications and, importantly, get referrals from satisfied patients. For your information, the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery maintains a weekday hot line: (800) 441-2737.

Q: My father complains of dizziness. Is this a condition caused by his age? He's 64 and retired.

A: According to the American College of Physicians, dizziness is treatable and not at all life-threatening. Moreover, dizziness is very common, resulting in some 8 million patient office visits last year. In a recent study, 28 percent of those complaining of dizziness said the condition disappeared within two weeks. Of those with persistent dizziness (lasting more than two weeks), researchers learned the most common cause was vertigo, a treatable condition often traced to a middle ear problem. The smallest number of complainers were bothered by a psychiatric disorder. My advice for your father is to get him into a supervised exercise program (walking, swimming) or persuade him to volunteer in a community outreach program. In summary, engage his heart -- and his head will clear.

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Prime Notes: William Golding wrote, "My yesterdays walk with me. They keep step, they are gray faces that peer over my shoulder." . . . Worth sending for: Interhostel Catalog of Spring 1993, which describes 15 international study/travel programs. Call (800) 733-9753. This interhostel is run by the University of New Hampshire. . . . Quotes we like (John Jerome): "All exercise, and all work for that matter, is a dance with fatigue: manipulation of it, experimentation of it and, finally, acceptance of it." . . . Cancer patient Marilyn Suzanne Miller wrote (the New York Times) that her surgeon told her, "In the 1950s, everyone had ulcers. Now it's breast cancer." Yet, Congress voted only $400 million to breast cancer research in 1992. AIDS, meanwhile, gets $1.2 billion! . . . Did I fail to report that Science magazine voted nitric oxide its "molecule of the year" for 1992? Thought you'd want to know.

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