This week on Lake Effect, producer Stephanie Lecci is exploring issues surrounding death and dying in our culture. One of those issues is what it's like to care for someone who is in the final stages of his or her life. As difficult as it may be to make our own decisions regarding our own dying process, it is even more difficult to make those decisions on behalf of a loved one. Complicating this is a condition known as "caregiver syndrome," the manifestation of the physical and emotional stress of long-term care of a loved one. This can affect a proxy's ability to make sound decisions about end-of-life care.
Jung Kwak is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She studies these issues and is working on developing methods to help caregivers make these decisions in the least stressful ways possible.
She tells Lake Effect's Stephanie Lecci that one of her current studies involves family caregivers in people with dementia and Parkinson's Disease.
Dr. Jung Kwak discusses how her research into helping surrogate decision-makers may also help avoid family conflicts.