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April 2013

Not Every Adult Child Can Be a Caregiver

Dear Carol: I feel guilty because I don’t want be a caregiver for my elderly mother. I’m an only child, and since my father died she’s come to rely on me more than she needs to. She’s healthy and has plenty of money. She has friends, though she seems to prefer leaning on me. She was controlling and emotionally abusive when I was growing up, so we don’t have a great relationship, but I’m willing to help her out, and naturally I am on call for emergencies. I just don’t want to become her sole caregiver. Read more →


Going Public with an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

I do think a lot of what I wrestled with is that I knew people were judging my beloved dad. They didn't think it odd that this aging gentleman was in a wheelchair. They didn't find it odd when he needed a sling for his broken arm. But they stared, a few obviously questioning my judgment [for taking him out in public], when he acted "odd." The feeling from some was that I should keep him hidden away so that people didn't have to witness this behavior. Read more →


How Involved Should Family Be In Your Elder's Senior Living?

The nursing home staff would occasionally confide in me about families who "took over" the nursing home. The families came on like they owned the facility and their loved one was the only person who mattered. They cornered every staff member they could find and talked to them either with the attitude of a good neighbor who had all the time in the world, or as an adversary who needed constant monitoring. Neither attitude is good. Read more →


Making Caregiving a Team Effort

What she discovered was my 80-year-old neighbor, Joe, crawling toward home. Joe had taken off on one of his impulsive walks to an old downtown tavern without considering the lack of sure footing. On a good day, with dry cement under his feet, Joe shuffled with an occasional sideways wobble. Put ice and snow underfoot and his walk was an invitation for disaster. Read more →


Option of Hospice Care Freeing for Many

Once on the program, the hospice staff melded seamlessly with the nursing home staff, and my parents lived the rest of their lives without pain. As a family, we had time to enjoy each other before each of my parents died, rather than focus on their misery. Read more →


Caregiver's Often Use Humor to Survive

Occasionally, our brief chats were accompanied by sorrow and perhaps a good cry, but nearly always there was laughter, as well. The laughter was wry and tinged with pain, yet cathartic. It was aimed at an ugly disease or illness that was slowly destroying a loved one. The only alternate relief for us would seemingly be tears, and most of us had shed buckets of tears already. Empathetic laughter was what we had left. Read more →


Infections May Speed the Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease

I remember the effect that my mother-in-law’s urinary tract infection and later, her pneumonia, had on her dementia. While she lived two years after clearing up the pneumonia, her quality of life had taken an irreversible dive. I always felt that her infections accelerated her dementia. These studies certainly correlate with my experience. Read more →


Elderly Mom Losing Appetite and Weight

Dear Carol: I’m worried about my mom. She’s 89-years old and has very little appetite. At one time she was quite heavy and ate as much as my dad, but now she says just looking at food fills her up. She’s in a good nursing home and she goes to their dining room for three meals a day. They also offer snacks between meals Read more →