I’m worried about my father who refuses to visit a hospital

The Yomiuri Shimbun Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a housewife in my 30s. I’m concerned about the health of my father, who is in his 60s and doesn’t like to go to the hospital.

My father is a taxi driver. After I married I moved out of my parents’ house, so I sometimes hear about him from my mother. According to her, he says hospitals “just think about earning money” and refuses to visit a hospital.

Even when he measures his blood pressure at home and learns that it’s high, he won’t go to a hospital. When he suffers dizziness or other abnormal symptoms, though, he’s aware that it’s a problem and he rushes to a nearby clinic. However, he is merely prescribed an antihypertensive drug and that’s it. When he has a headache, he just takes over-the-counter medicine to get through it.

I also heard from my mother that he walks under the blazing sun for as long as an hour under the groundless belief that taking exercise is effective in lowering his blood pressure. He also takes a cold bath before going to bed. He drinks energy drinks every day as he feels sluggish. My mother told me he suffers from a slight case of diabetes, too.

She’s already given up on him, saying, “He won’t learn unless he has a bitter experience.”

I like my father who works hard for his family, so I want him to go to a hospital for a thorough checkup.

How can I persuade him to listen to us?

S, Saitama Prefecture

Dear Ms. S:

I suppose his headaches have something to do with his high blood pressure. If he suffers diabetic symptoms, he risks heart diseases and cerebral vascular problems. I also hope he goes to the hospital for a thorough checkup. However, he just won’t listen to warnings from his family, will he?

Do you know why? You may not believe it, but I think one of the reasons is that he is scared of hospitals. He is afraid of learning about his true health condition. However, he seems to be aware that he should do something to improve the situation, so he takes exercise and drinks energy drinks. Many men are scared of going to hospitals by themselves, you know.

It’s best to treat him as if he were a difficult child. But be careful not to wound his pride. For example, what I can suggest is, as a birthday gift to him, that all the family undergo a thorough physical examination that includes an MRI scan of the brain. You get the results on the same day.

He probably would not be scared if the whole family went for a thorough checkup at a hospital. You will also receive lifestyle guidance there, too.

If you all go to a hospital together, it may become a good opportunity to talk openly about health problems among yourselves.

Junko Umihara, psychiatrist

(from Sept. 26, 2015, issue)Speech

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