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May 2011

Are siblings more interested in inheritance than parents' care?

We don't like thinking it, but there are times when we have to wonder. Is your sibling's resitance to your parents getting in-home care or moving to assisted living due to the fact that they don't trust outside help or is it more about the money? Outside care can be very expensive. In fact, the cost often eats up all of the funds our elders have. Hopefully, your siblings only want the best for you parents. But for some, the motives aren't all that pure.

Read more about siblings and inheritance on agingcare.com:

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Difficult mother is a problem for adult daughter

Dear Carol: I sometimes feel like the only person who struggles with less than warm feelings toward a parent, especially during holidays. My mother has a history of mental illness and now has dementia. I know it’s not her fault that she’s been ill so much, but my childhood was tough. I can't remember having a mother - only being in the mother role with her. I recently looked at Mother’s Day cards and thought how inappropriate most of them are to our situation. I just feel tired and sad when I think of her.

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Do you regret your decision to have your parents live with you?

Many people contemplate the pros and cons of inter-generational living. Their elders are aging. They feel they owe their parents care, and it makes sense, financially, for all concerned. Or else, the elder has few assets and this is one way to watch over them. For some people, this is a wonderful solution. For others - not so much.

Read more on agingcare.com about living with aging parents:

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Well Spouse Association has unique caregiver focus

Throughout my years of writing about caregiving, I’ve often recommended the Well Spouse Association as a resource for spousal caregivers. As a family caregiver who spent two decades in varying caregiving roles for a total of seven elders, I’ve endured a lot of emotional upset. While none of my own caregiving was spousal in focus, I did observe my mother, and my mother-in-law, in their spousal caregiver roles. I was the helper, but the wives started out as primary caregivers until their own health failed. It was obvious to me at the time, and even more so in hindsight, that while there is much crossover in caregiving relationships, there are also differences.

Read more about supporting well spouses:

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Dropping the guilt: "I promised I'd never put her in a nuring home"

Many of us have been back into a corner when we are reminded that, decades ago, we "promised" a once healthy parent or grandparent that we wouldn't even "put them in a nursing home." Yet, as decades pass, and a parent has a stroke or gets a disease that needs expert medical care 24 hours a day, we sometimes have no choice. How do we cope with the guilt of "breaking the promise."

Read more about guilty feelings when putting a parent in a nursing home:

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Choosing the best hospice for your loved one

Not all hospice organizations are created equal. It's true that in many communities there is only one choice for palliative care, the kind of care people who are dying get that keeps them comfortable but doesn't aim to cure. Some hospitals have a palliative care unit. Many - probably most - hospices are non-profit organizations that are heaven sent to suffering people and their grateful families. However, there are some hospice organizations where better training for the caregivers is needed, and there are a few hospice organizations that are not well run or well informed.

Read more about choosing the right hospice for your loved one:

Support a caregiver or jump start discussion in support groups with real stories - for bulk orders e-mail Carol:

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How to cope when a parent abuses you as a caregiver

We like to think that caregivers and care receivers all appreciate each other and do their best. Yes, elders can get cranky from pain, or can have dementia issues that make their behavior difficult. Adult children can get stressed and be short with a parent who can't help his or her behavior. But we still like to think that most of the time things are generally okay. However, there are people who are trying to care for elders who abused them as children and continue to abuse them as caregivers.

Read more about abusive care receivers:

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Betty White advises us not to vegetate or isolate if we are to stay sharp

Betty Yesterday morning, I had the pleasure of participating in a conference call featuring the irrepressible Betty White. White, who is kicking 90, really hit her stride after she turned 50, recently hosted Saturday Night Live. She stars in TV Land’s Hot In Cleveland, and is now the face of a new AARP campaign telling people to just “get over it,” when it comes to aging. During a different interview, she said, “I’m swimming as fast as I can,” referring to her work life. I’d say that White seems to be able to swim pretty fast.

Read more about Betty White's take on aging:

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How do I arrange a family meeting?

 Dear Carol: My mother-in-law has dementia and I was her full-time caregiver for eight years, with some help from her son who is my husband. Six months ago, she moved into a care home in a town where her daughter, “Sue,” lives. Now, “Sue’s” life has changed and she needs to move. This care home is 50 miles from any other family member’s home.

“Sue” is evading any talk about what to do with Mom. We need to discuss this with her, and the other daughter and son. I can’t take on the full-time care again, so another care center close to one of us is the best idea. The family acts like the issue will just go away. I suppose it’s some kind of denial.  I am unsure how to go about tactfully setting up a family meeting. Any suggestions will be gratefully received. Glorianna

Dear Glorianna: Family meetings can be a very effective way to plan out elder care. I’m assuming that there’s a reason why your husband isn’t arranging the meeting, but if he’s just left it to you by default, press him to take over the helm. This is his family and his mother, and you shouldn’t have to shoulder the whole responsibility.

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Communicating with loved ones who cannot speak

For many of us, a time comes when we are visiting or living with a loved who cannot communicate his or her needs. This person cannot tell us when there is pain; this person cannot tell us about love given and received; this person cannot communicate his or her most basic needs. It's up to us to try to determine what the needs are. It's also up to us to understand that communicating our love to them is vital.

Read more about communicating with loved ones who cannot speak:

Getting help from care agencies in your loved ones community:

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