Sunday, August 21, 2011

Family Medicine: People, Time and Money

"Any new stressors in your life?" I inquire of many patients, assessing the context in which their symptoms arose and persist.  Many make an expression or comment that seeks clarification, so I add, "Like people, time or money?"
Recently, many folks just respond, "All three."  Relationships with people are strained in their homes where someone may be out of a job and someone may be a caretaker for an ageing parent or grandparent while someone may be contending with the struggles of a teen or an adult child (who moved back in with two children and a dog after divorce and job loss).  There are too many people in their lives with too many problems for all to go well.  The multi-generational family is making a comeback, with unpredictable outcomes.

Time is working against my stressed patients.  There is not enough time for everything they have to do.  At work, many are doing more work due to budget cuts that result in others being terminated.  They have the added stress of learning new computer/business systems and certifications for their new skills.  Some don't have enough time with family or time in bed to get needed rest and sleep.

Most don't seem to have enough money.  They are trapped by the job loss or having to be present at a job that results in neck or back strain without the ability to afford to take time off to recover or get physical therapy.  Many want us to "drug" them so they can work while injured and in pain.  Lack of money adds to the home stress.  If one income is gone in the two earner family, stress and tension mounts with the bills.  Each shows the stress a different way, sometimes making the financial problems worse.

Several people in their twenties don't seem to mind moving back home with Mom and Dad, but Mom and Dad feel the stress, according to what we're seeing.  Mom and Dad often don't have the extra money to support the adult children.

How do they cope?  When asked they comment about "going shopping", "exercising", "prayer", "church", "TV", "friends", "family", "grandchildren", "eating junk food", "reading", "meditation", "pets", "political activity".

People, Time and Money.  Imagine your stressors and coping strategies.  People, Time and Money have a lot to do with both.  How do you cope in these interesting times?

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