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April 2012 Feed

Mom resists help handling finances

Dear Carol: My 82-year-old mother wants to go to her bank to renew a certificate of deposit. She seems competent, but my brother and I feel someone needs to go along with her. The bank has been pressuring her to buy an annuity, and we’re not sure this is wise. Since my brother’s name is on the checking account, he has offered to go along with Mom to do her banking, but she refuses. We respect her independence, but she has made several foolish financial choices in the past, and we’d like to protect her. Are our concerns normal?  - Norma

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Are you approaching caregiver burnout?

When you are taking care of a parent with Alzheimer's, you are trying to cope with your own grief over their illnesses, help them with their feelings of loss, keep them safe, make your immediate family reasonably content and work at your job. You are wearing out, but caregiver guilt won't let you say – enough!

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Nearly every caregiver will have negative thoughts at times

Elders in need of constant care feel their own pain. They generally feel a lack of control over their lives, as bit by bit their abilities slip away. This can make some of them disagreeable and bossy. Generally, the answer to this is to learn to detach with love.

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When a loved one with dementia accuses you of stealing

Have you ever looked for something you are sure you left in a particular spot and found it missing? Most of us have. Sometimes, we even wonder if someone in the family moved the object, since we are so sure we left it in that spot. Later, we find the missing object, and then remember when we moved it. If we're lucky, we didn't actually confront a family member for "messing with our stuff," and our minds are presumably normal.

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Breaking the news to a loved on about the need for hospice care

Our culture has historically been devoted to cure illness at all costs, and death is often looked at as "failure," no matter the age or condition of the person being treated. Many other cultures readily accept death as part of the life cycle. I believe we, as a culture, are making progress in this direction, but death still tends to be a word people avoid. If it's up to you to inform a loved one that he or she would be more comfortable under hospice care – or that a person they love will be on hospice care – there are steps you can take to get you through this difficult transition.

Read more about breaking the news to a loved on about the need for hospice care:

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Is shock value an appropriate approach to Alzheimer’s awareness?

A recent public service announcement broadcast in Belgium has added fuel to the controversy over how “clever” it’s appropriate to be when it comes to Alzheimer’s awareness campaigns. The Flemish League Alzheimer’s Association recently commissioned a PSA message that has brought strong responses from viewers. The PSA shows a woman with Alzheimer’s repeatedly opening her door to her grandson when he arrives only to ask for money. In real life, this obvious “fleecing” of a grandparent with dementia would infuriate nearly anyone. The controversy is over the fact that there seems to be an attempt at humor in this PSA which many viewers think is degrading to the woman with the disease. 

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Talking to kids about dementia: how to explain changes in a loved one

I'll never forget the look on my kids' faces when they first talked to their grandfather - my dad - after his brain surgery. It's unclear what went wrong for Dad, but the surgery, performed because of fluid build-up behind scar tissue from a World War II head injury, left him in a state of extreme dementia. The irony that this surgery was to prevent dementia wasn't lost on his family. The fact that this surgery is generally very safe and effective didn't help ease the pain the family felt. The kids' grandpa was no longer Grandpa as they knew him. Their expressions upon that discovery are burned into my brain.

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Daughter feels guilty for dreading time spent with her mother

Dear Carol: My 92-year-old mother is being eaten up by dementia and I am struggling with guilt because I dread visiting her. She lives in an assisted living center which she likes, but there’s no memory unit and not a lot of hands-on help. I try to give her the personal care she needs, but she hates having me assist her. She often insults me, which is unlike how she used to be. I know she acts this way because of her dementia, but I can’t help but dread my time with her. I never thought I’d feel this way about my beloved mother. At times her old self seems to shine through, though not for long. I know I should cherish this time with her, but I don’t. Then guilt eats me up. What’s wrong with me? – Renee

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Caregivers need to periodically evaluate their own lives

We keep putting one foot in front of the other, day after day. We do what is in front of us, to the best of our ability. And time goes by. Sometimes, as time slips away day by day, we live our life so close to our caregiving that we can't, as the old saying goes, see the forest for the trees. We don't notice our stress levels. We don't notice our failing energy. We don't notice our lack of enthusiasm for life.

Read more about re-evaluating you own life when caregiving:

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Making the transition from assisted living to a nursing home

Assisted living centers can often make a good transitional home for elders who no longer feel safe in their own homes, or who are so isolated at home that they are in danger of depression and other health issues. Alzheimer's organizations consider socialization one form of possible protection against the disease. Since many elders find that their neighborhoods change over time, plus many of their friends are ill or have died, a gradual isolation can overtake them without their even being aware of it. 

Read more about helping aging parents transition from assisted living to a nursing home:

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

Ebook editions:

Minding Our Elders on Amazon (Kindle format):

Minding Our Elders For Nook (ePub) format:

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