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December 2011

Studies indicate lack of oxygen to the brain could be behind many cases of Alzheimer’s

Why some elders develop Alzheimer’s disease and others do not remains a medical puzzle, but researchers are coming closer to understanding the process. An article on The Alzheimer’s Forum website reports on the results of two new human studies connecting loss of oxygen to the brain with Alzheimer’s.

Read more about hypoxia  - lack of oxygen - and Alzheimer's:

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The emotional side of moving mom and dad

Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home. Our home is our castle - a shelter from the storm. These old saws and many more indicate how most of us emotionally view our home.  For most of us, the feeling is less about how large or how fancy a home is than about it being a place where we belong. Many of us, after getting out of the house we were so anxious to leave as young adults, still find ourselves lovingly attached to the humble dwelling of our childhood.

Read more about moving mom and dad:

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How much do adult children owe their elderly parents?

Today, we hear about the toll elder care takes on families as routinely as we heard the former dialogs in the 70s. Adult children are being faced with choices (or seemingly, assignments) they never thought about before. They are raising children or teenagers and holding down a job, when suddenly they find that their aging parents need an ever increasing amount of attention. 

Read more about how much is too much in parent care:

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How to talk about end-of-life issues

Sex and death. It’s odd that those two topics should bring so much anxiety to parents and children. But, there you have it. One – sex – is about the beginning of life. The other – death – is about the end. Both are a part of the life cycle but if anything sex is easier for many to discuss than death. 

Read more about talking with your loved ones about end-of-life wishes:

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What to do when a parent constantly complains

You've taken your mom to the doctor and she's upset with you because the doctor's office was cold. You've helped your dad with the yard and he's annoyed that you didn't mow the grass in the right pattern. Why do many elders complain about everything you do? Much depends on the parents' personalities throughout life. If your parents were the bickering type and were always negative, this complaining may be the only way they know how to communicate.

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When one parent dies and the other needs a caregiver

Long-term marriages generally evolve into a support system so efficient that even adult children hardly notice changes in their parents. If Dad's hearing is poor, Mom becomes his ears. If Mom's arthritis is bad, Dad becomes her muscle. If one of them has memory loss, the other fills in the gaps so smoothly that it's barely noticeable to onlookers. Then, either Mom or Dad dies.

Read more about when one parent dies:

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It’s Christmas Day: are you enjoying it?

Many people are celebrating Christmas Day, today, December 25th. Caregivers may find the word "celebrating" a little over the top, but try not to be too dismissive.

If you are caring for a parent or spouse who doesn't recognize you for who you are, that doesn't mean your efforts are unappreciated. Know that on some level, your love is understood. Celebrate that.

If you have rushed around like a wild person trying to make a perfect holiday happen for your family, well, today you are done, no matter where you are in the process. Celebrate that.

Read more about enjoying Christmas Day as a caregiver:

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Staying in the moment for the holidays

Dear Readers: As you read this column, you may be starting your Christmas day, ending it, or catching up on newspapers the day after your celebration. Whenever you get around to reading your newspaper, Christmas will still be on your mind.

A few thoughts: if there is ever a time to live in the present moment, it’s now. If your brother and you have an ongoing disagreement about how to care for your parents, try to forget the past and not think about the future. This is your sibling. Today is a day to celebrate an event much larger than family squabbles.

Read more about having a successful holiday season:

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Don’t sweat the small stuff: bloopers can add to family Christmas stories

No matter how well we plan, most of us have some loose ends to tie up Christmas Eve day, just before going to church or having the family gather at our home. The present that was ordered early and then delayed remains in question. Will it arrive in time? The fruit tray reserved at the grocery store. Will it be there when we arrive to pick it up? Probably more worrisome for caregivers is how their aging loved ones will make it through the family events.

Read more about going with the flow during the celebrations:

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The challenges of long-distance caregiving

The days when most extended families lived in the same town have been over for decades. People often move from the home town right after college graduation. If not, they may move later for a better job or to follow a spouse who was transferred by an employer. Whatever the reason, once their parents show signs of aging and decline, adult children can find that being a long-distance caregiver tugs at their hearts and their wallets. Where do these people turn for help in caring for their loved ones?

Read more about long-distance caregiving and the challenges one faces:

Find care agencies to help you care for your loved ones:

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