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July 2011
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September 2011

August 2011

Caregiving Comes From the Heart but Education Helps

Most family caregivers take on tasks as they see fit. Sometimes a parent has a stroke and suddenly needs care. Other times dementia enters the picture and the need for help progresses slowly. Few caregivers immediately think that they need to get educated about how best to care for their elders. But education does help, if only because it shows the caregiver that there are options. Read more →


Over medicating can worsen symptoms of dementia

Dear Carol: My mom has late stage Alzheimer’s disease. Her doctor took her off the medications for slowing AD in June, then prescribed Ativan for anxiety. At first we saw some improvement in her behavior, but it didn’t last long, so he added the antipsychotic medication Haldol. Haldol made Mom drugged and sleepy, but worse, it caused hallucinations when she was awake. Read more →


Pets Can Be Therapeutic For the Aging Population

Numerous studies have shown that pets can increase the quality of life for our aging population. The unconditional love of a dog or the soft purring of a snuggly cat can be helpful for many people, even in later stages of dementia. Many nursing homes, notably those based on The Eden Alternative, have found animals including dogs, cats and birds, along with plants and other natural surroundings, to be soothing and beneficial to people in nursing homes. My personal experience with several of my elders showed me that pets can make a difference. Read more →


Early on-set Alzheimer’s challenges people under 65

The news is everywhere. Pat Summitt, a virtual legend in women’s basketball who has won more games in her coaching career than any other college coach has been diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s disease. The news is rocking her many fans, because this active, healthy, intelligent woman, who has seemingly taken the steps that most of us are told to take to protect our health, now has a brain disease that will forever change her life. Read more →


Male caregiver’s ranks boosted by well spouses

Books have been written, articles published and columns run in newspapers putting forth the statistics that it’s women who step up to the plate as caregivers. While the numbers of female caregivers still outrank male caregivers, I would guess that the caregiver gender divide is much less marked when it comes to well spouses. As a columnist, forum moderator and author on caregiving, I hear from many male caregivers. Some are elderly men who are thrown into the caregiving role when their spouse develops Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Others, however, are younger men whose wives have contracted cancer, MS or another major illness. Still others have younger wives with early on-set Alzheimer’s. Read more →


Pat Summitt’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis has people asking questions

It’s bound to happen. When any disease is discussed frequently in the news, people begin to look for signs of it in themselves and others. Alzheimer’s (AD) has been in news headlines nearly every week for months, since huge numbers of aging boomers are increasingly at risk. Read more →


Helping doctors ask the right questions to diagnose your elder

It's one thing to get a parent to the doctor for a check up and quite another to get the parent to cooperate with the doctor once there. Sometimes we have to be a little creative to get a diagnosis, especially if that diagnosis is apt to make the elder angry. Read more →


Basketball legend Pat Summitt diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease

Summitt had experienced months of what she labeled "erratic behavior" before she scheduled an examination at the May Clinic last May. Her diagnosis was early on-set Alzheimer's disease. An AD diagnosis is life changing at any age, but at age 59, the effect is even more unnerving. Why would someone who is active, smart, educated and basically doing all of the right things for her body and mind develop AD? Read more →


Estranged family members could forgive the past

Dear Carol: Many years ago my grandmother, because of uncontrolled diabetes, had mental issues and tried to commit suicide. Two of her children thought she just wanted attention. They had a huge argument with her and walked away, seemingly forever. My mother, Grandma’s only other child, has always tried to help, but has little money and lives across the country. Read more →


When a cure Is not possible we may have to settle for contentment

Most caregivers would do nearly anything to cure their sick loved one. However, we know that we are not going to cure our father of Alzheimer's disease, nor our mother of Parkinson's disease. There are many illnesses that attack our elders that can't be cured. Aging in general is eventually fatal. Therefore, after all medical options for cure have been tried, we often have to accept the fact that the person will not get better. What then? Read more →