I belong to a remarkable organization called The Transition Network, or
TTN (www.thetransitionnetwork.org), whose
website describes it as a resource for women “50 and forward, whose changing
life situations lead them to seek new connections, resources and
has 14 chapters around the country, but at this point only three chapters have
subgroups like the Caring Collaborative, which for many TTN
members is the most vital service the organization offers. The CC’s motto is
“Members Helping Members,” and its mission is described on its section of the TTN
Suppose you need to be picked up from the hospital after cataract surgery or a colonoscopy and your close friends and family members have such busy lives that you’re reluctant to ask any of them to do it. You can contact the Caring Collaborative coordinator to find a member who will be able to help you out, and you in your turn will be able to offer help at another time. This might include picking up a few groceries or a prescription for a sick member or becoming a “medical buddy” who will accompany a member on a doctor visit to be an extra pair of eyes and ears and to take notes while the patient is focusing on asking her questions and listening to the doctor.
I recently took part in this last function of the CC program in both roles, that of patient and that of “medical buddy.” When I needed to see a new retinal specialist to follow up my standard ophthalmologist appointment, a CC member came with me, asked a couple of questions I hadn’t thought of, and wrote down all the doctor’s explanations. (Fortunately, he reassured me that I didn’t need to do anything other than have regular check-ups.) When another member needed to see a much-in-demand orthopedic specialist, I did the same for her. Both of us appreciated having the “buddy’s” notes afterwards in reflecting on the doctors’ findings and recommendations.
Many people don’t think about asking someone to accompany them to a medical appointment, but I recommend the practice highly. If you have friends and families nearby who can help you out in this kind of situation, so much the better. If not, it’s quite likely that a neighbor or someone you may not know that well would be willing to help you out. And if you can’t find someone to go with you to the doctor’s office, you can do what I have sometimes done -- take along a tape recorder.
As we move on in life we need to be able to ask for help – and to be willing to give it. The CC’s motto can be morphed into “Neighbors Helping Neighbors,” “Friends Helping Friends,” or “All of Us Helping Each Other.”