Tag Archives: caregivers

Meet the “Apostle of the Abandoned”; St. John Baptist de Rossi

St. John Baptist de Rossi

By Larry Peterson

John Baptist de Rossi was born on February 22, 1698, in Genoa. His mother and father were quite poor in material goods but were rich in virtue and love of their neighbor(s). John was the youngest of four children, and even during his formative years not only exhibited obvious compassion and love for people but also had an above average intelligence. When he was ten years old, his parents allowed him to leave home with close friends of the family to pursue his education

Three years later, John’s father died. His older cousin, Lorenzo de Rossi, allowed John to come to live with him in Rome. Lorenzo was the canon at St. Mary’s in Cosmedin and was able to get his nephew admitted to the Collegium Romanum under the guidance of the Jesuits. John quickly became a model student studying diligently and performing his required duties. At the same time, he was always pious and humble.

The young man also began studying philosophy and theology at the Dominican College of St. Thomas. It was during this time that, while at Mass, John passed out. It was discovered that he had an epileptic seizure. The illness caused him to miss many classes, and sometimes, the fatigue was so pronounced he could barely move. For the rest of his life, dealing with this affliction would be a constant challenge for him.

Even so, while in school, he became a member of the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin and led the members in the readings and organized visits to the sick in hospitals, feeding the poor and the homeless, and performing other works of mercy. This was what  John Rossi loved most of all; helping the poor, homeless,  and downtrodden.

John Baptist de Rossi desperately wanted to become a priest, but his epilepsy was a constant enemy trying to stop him. Ordination to the priesthood was rarely granted to someone in John’s condition. Afterall, the life of a priest was incredibly demanding and time-consuming  But he worked so hard and studied so diligently that he was given a dispensation. On March 8, 1721, John Baptist de Rossi, was ordained a priest.

As a priest, he worked in Rome, caring for the homeless who wandered the streets of the city. He tended to the needs of the sick and assisted in helping find a hospice for homeless women. He aided prisoners, helped workers, and literally touched thousands of needy people—the sick, the homeless, prostitutes, transient cattle drivers who came to market in Rome, and other rough sorts.  By day he devoted himself to the sick poor in Rome’s hospitals. By night he ministered to street people at a refuge. He did this for over forty years.

In 1738, Father John became very sick with an unknown illness. He was sent to a place called Civita Castellana, a days journey from Rome. The bishop there insisted that he hear confessions. John had done his best to avoid hearing confessions. He had a deep-seated fear that he might have a seizure and wanted to avoid that happening while in a confessional. The bishop, knowing of his knowledge and morality, insisted. In fact, the bishop gave him permission to hear confession in any church in Rome.

Father John Rossi began hearing confessions every day, mostly from the poor in the hospitals and on the streets. Before long he was preaching in churches, chapels, convents, hospitals, barracks, and prisons. He became known as the Apostle of the Abandoned and was called the second St. Philip Neri.

Sometime in 1763, paralysis began to slowly attack Father John. Finally, all his hard labor while fighting epilepsy caught up to him. He died on May 23, 1764.

Father John was buried at the Church of Trinita de Pellegrini under the altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Miracles followed his passing, but because of political upheaval in Europe, beatification was put on hold. Finally, on May 13, 1860, Pope Pius IX, beatified Father John. On December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Leo XIII canonized Father John Baptist de Rossini, a saint

One final note:  Caregivers can look to John Baptist as a model. Before he would speak to a dying person about salvation, he did all he could to relieve their suffering. No service for the sick, no matter how deadly or repulsive their condition was, deterred him from offering assistance and consolation to them.

Saint John Baptist de Rossi, please pray for us.

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

Antoninus of Florence (statue) aleteia.org
St. John Baptist de Rossi

Dementia and Medication Distribution–a Daily Challenge for the Caregiver

Small pill organizer

By Larry Peterson

In America, one in ten people over the age of 65 has Alzheimer’s Disease. (Alzheimer’s Disease is only one of many types of dementia. There are also other types, such as Vascular Dementia or Lewy Body Dementia and many others). Please note: There is no “magic” pill that can cure Alzheimer’s Disease.

Since I was the caregiver for my wife, Marty, who had this insidious illness, I thought I could share some of my experience in dealing with the medication factor. It was a challenge, to say the least, because the meds were being constantly adjusted and oftentimes changed to something different.

Medicine distribution by the caregiver could be the most critical factor in a person’s quality of life. Medications are powerful and, if used as directed, cannot only prolong the patient’s life but can also help maintain a better quality of life for a longer period of time. Please note: There is no “magic pill” that cures Alzheimer’s Disease.

My first tip is, and I believe this may be the best tip I can give anyone: You called a plumber when you had a broken water pipe so now you have called a doctor for a damaged loved one. You need their expertise and you should expect crisp, clear answers to any questions you may have. Whether or not the patient is your spouse, child, parent, grandparent or old Aunt Lucille, never be afraid to ask a question.

Alzheimer’s Disease presents in three general stages; early stage (mild), middle-stage (moderate), and late-stage (severe). During the early stages, the patient will still be able to interact with you about the medications they are receiving. However, as time goes by, invariably these meds will change and increase in dosages. In addition, the patient will start to lose the ability to understand what is going on. That is when your responsibility begins moving into high gear especially when it comes to med distribution.

Marty suffered from several illnesses. Besides Alzheimer’s Disease, she was recovering from cancer, (Lymphoma),  had A-Fib (Atrial Fibrillation is a leading cause of strokes) and a severely broken ankle. This required the involvement of not only her primary care doctor but also an oncologist, a cardiologist, and an orthopedist. They had all prescribed different meds.

The first time you are presented with a bag of various medications it can be an intimidating experience. You look in the bag and see a bunch of vials and a packet of paperwork. The paperwork includes individual explanations and descriptions of each of the meds in the bag. Take a breath, stand each vial on the table or counter and match each one to its corresponding paperwork.

Next step is to make a list of every one of the meds, the dosage of each, and how many times a day it is supposed to be given. (FYI–the letter X denotes times per day so a 3X means three times a day). I entered my list into a word.doc format and stored it on my computer. This way it was easy to update as doses and meds were changed by the doctors. I also printed copies out and always had one with me when visiting one of the doctors or making a visit to the hospital.

The next thing you MUST do for yourself is to purchase a pill box organizer. These are (in my opinion–indispensable). Since I had to distribute meds 4X a day I purchased an organizer that had four rows of seven-day pockets with snap-lock lids. I also had an organizer that had two rows of seven pockets which I used for vitamin supplements.

Once a week, usually on a Saturday evening, I would clear the table and spread the medicine vials out. After several weeks I began to know exactly where everything was supposed to go. For example; Furosemide (a water pill aka Lasix) could only be given on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, Coumadin (a blood thinner, was given in doses of  6mg  4X a week and 7.5 mg 3X a week). The pillbox organizer made it quite simple to separate these meds properly into their designated days.

Once the pill box organizer was filled I was ready for the week ahead. When Sunday morning came the routine started all over. I just had to open the Sunday morning box and take out those pills and give them to my patient. Then it was off to Mass.

©Copyright 2017 Larry Peterson