Have you ever been to the doctor and had questions but weren’t sure if it was an important enough question, so you didn’t ask and pretended that the information you already received was enough? Or didn’t feel comfortable speaking up to clarify medical terms and foreign concepts, because you didn’t want to burden them with explaining what was probably a simple concept? Have you been too embarrassed to open up and share your concerns, so you try to act like everything is fine? Maybe you’ve told yourself, “Oh, the doctor seems busy. I don’t want to bother him… maybe I’m just worrying too much. It’s probably not that big of a deal.”
Often times, enryo is an important cultural concept in our community: showing respect for others–being mindful of others, staying reserved, remaining quiet, and doing the best not to burden other people. Although many Japanese Americans follow this cultural norm, this may sometimes get in our way of asking for the help we actually need.
That was the case for one caller, Stan.
He was concerned about his 95-year-old father-in-law, who has had dementia for over ten years along with difficulty breathing and kidney failure, among other conditions. After going back and forth between home and the hospital several times, he wanted to know what options were out there for his family and his father-in-law, but didn’t know where to ask.
He heard about Keiro’s Iyashi Care program through his co-worker. He initially hesitated to make the call though, and worried about having to open up about his situation and seeking help outside his immediate family. He also wondered if asking a different set of doctors for advice would offend his current doctor.
However, he decided to just make the call, putting aside the enryo, to see what other options he could look into to make his loved one most comfortable.
According to Stan, the call gave him the peace-of-mind that he needed. To his surprise, Dr. Glen Komatsu, one of the lead Iyashi Care doctors, patiently listened to his concerns over the phone for 30 minutes. Dr. Komatsu did not try to sway Stan’s decision, but helped him understand all the options out there for his father-in-law. He recalls, “I thought it was very good, it was very comforting. It really did bring peace-of-mind and it’s just nice to talk to somebody who is so compassionate and patient.”
Following the call with Dr. Komatsu, the Iyashi Care social worker contacted Stan to see what he thought of the options discussed and if he had additional questions or concerns.
Stan said of Iyashi Care: “It really is another resource, especially for someone grappling with what to do, or who doesn’t know where to start. And everyone is seeking the best for their loved ones.”
To learn more about Iyashi Care or to enroll, please contact us a 213.873.5791 or visit www.keiro.org/what-we-do/iyashi-care/
Stan requested that his full name not be used.
Iyashi Care, a partnership between Keiro and Providence Health & Services, is a culturally-sensitive palliative care program for Japanese American and Japanese-speaking older adults in our community who are living with advanced illnesses or debilitating/life-limiting symptoms. The program not only helps manage chronic pain but also stress and other issues the older adult and their caregivers may be going through.
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