“My brother-in-law is just not fond of doctors. I’m not sure if he’s ever even been to see one his entire life. He won’t take any examinations, nor will he take a single pill, and he doesn’t go to the dentist either, so his teeth are probably crumbling too.” This is how Linda Morishita described her brother-in-law, with whom she has lived for many years and now cares for.  

No Doctor Policy – A Tradition in the Family

older adults at a bench

Linda lives in a household of six, including Jun (her husband) and Keith (her brother-in-law) whom she and Jun care for. Jun has lived with his older brother Keith in the same home since their childhood. “Even after Keith left the military, he never went for a single check-up with a doctor. But then again, our mother was exactly the same,” said Jun, prompting Linda to recount an episode illustrating her mother-in-law’s stance on doctors.

“Despite having health insurance, my mother-in-law used to say that ‘going to the doctor will only make it worse’ and just refused to go. Even when she had breast cancer years ago, she didn’t go to the doctor until the tumor had grown substantially, to the point where she couldn’t stand up. She was finally carried to the hospital for an operation.”

Calling Iyashi Care

At the time, Keith was slightly limping but didn’t seem to have any other health issues. Still, the fact that he refused to be examined by any doctor made Linda worry about what would happen when he passes away—she knew there were documents like a death certificate and other things the family would need to take care of. While she wanted to be respectful of Keith’s wishes to not see any doctors, she also wondered if there was a way for them to feel more reassured as a family caring for him. As Linda started pre-planning, the person assisting with funeral plans suggested she call Iyashi Care about her situation.

Caring for the Family

older adult with hands focused

Until then, Keith didn’t want to see any doctors. But with Linda’s encouragement, he agreed to a home visit by the Iyashi Care team doctor, Dr. Edwin Yuichi Yanami. “I thought about what could happen if I died here. They would need to seek help, and if I hadn’t been under the care of any doctor at all, that could cause my family all sorts of troubles. That seemed irresponsible to me,” shared Keith. His current physical condition—he recently experienced a fall which left him unable to walk—and thoughts of what was to come made him realize he wanted to do what he could to reduce any burden on his family.

Supporting While Respecting Patient’s and Family’s Wishes

The Iyashi Care team worked to understand Keith’s wishes as well as those of the family members caring for him. They also provide support in order to relieve the burden on both the patient and his caregivers as much as possible. Home visits are made by Dr. Yanami, who takes Keith’s blood pressure and pulse, checks over his general physical condition, and shares information with his family. “It’s very helpful having the doctor come to our home. It feels very reassuring. We can ask him anything, and he will give us advice, so it has helped to relieve our mental stress, too,” said Jun, with a tone of relief in his voice. 

Since the pandemic, the Iyashi Care team replaced home visits with regular calls to check on Keith’s condition. The family continues to feel reassured that the team is only one phone call away when they have questions about Keith.

Recently, Keith’s appetite declined, and he no longer enjoyed things that he used to like. Despite Linda’s worries, he expressed that his wish of not seeking medical intervention has not changed and wants to let things be as they are. Both Linda and Jun want to respect Keith’s wishes. “As much as we can, we want to look after him as a family, here in his home.”

Easing the Burden that Falls on Family

Every family has their own preferences, defined by their traditions, priorities, and customs. Iyashi Care strives to provide support in a way that respects these wishes. Keith may prefer not to seek help from a doctor, but that does not stop his family from being worried about him, especially when they think of emergency situations. But even Keith, who lived his whole life without ever seeing a doctor, felt comfortable accepting help from the Iyashi Care team, especially when he saw how it allayed his family’s concerns. “I didn’t feel any hesitation,” he said. He cares for his family just as much as they care for him. Not only does the support offered by Iyashi Care ease the burden on patients, it also brings the same peace of mind to family members caring for them.