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August 2017

The Stages of Alzheimer's and the Caregiver's Role

AlzehimersWomanWhile Alzheimer’s disease will progress differently for each person, scientists and clinicians have attempted to stage the disease as a way that helps people living with Alzheimer’s and their families understand what is happening, as well as to plan for the future. Some divide AD into seven stages, some five stages, but currently, three stages is the format most often used. The Alzheimer’s Association uses three stages, so that is what we will use for our foundation here.

View slideshow on HealthCentral about the stages of Alzheimer's:

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

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Eldercare Lessons from the Land of the Incas: Part 2

JohnDrake...When we left Part 1 of Eldercare Lessons from the Land of the Incas, HealthCentral and Barbara Drake were discussing, via an email interview, how health insurance, or lack thereof, affected the move to Peru. 

Barbara Drake: I should add a caveat for anyone thinking of moving an elder to Latin America. Our experience involved caring for an elderly person who was relatively healthy. Apart from Alzheimer’s, my octogenarian father didn’t have any major chronic illnesses. He had an enlarged heart that wasn’t giving him trouble at the time we moved him. Our care focus was on getting help with the daily tasks of living, not caring for someone with a chronic illness who needed serious medical interventions.

Read full article on HealthCentral about how Barbara Drake decided to take her father, who lived with Alzheimer's, to Peru:

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Eldercare Lessons from the Land of the Incas: Part 1

BarbaraDrakeAndJohnDrake2012Elder care in America is expensive, with Alzheimer’s topping the charts. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than half of Alzheimer’s caregivers are cutting back on everyday necessities in order to cover the cost of Alzheimer’s care. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) website carried an article published in the Health Tidbits section of the Journal of the National Medical Association that says: “Patients in most nursing homes are not receiving proper care due to a shortage of workers.” This is not to say that many U.S. nursing homes aren’t superb, but it is true that care is extremely expensive and in far too many cases, less than optimum in quality.

Read all of Eldercare Lessons from the Land of the Incas: Part 1 on HealthCentral about eldercare in Peru:

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

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Reasons Why Some Caregivers Say “No” to Help

HELPThe Instinct to Protect: While many caregivers come to terms with the fact that we can't make our loved ones completely healthy again, we still want to be the person who provides care and safeguards their well-being. This protective instinct is powerful and hard to overcome.

Sign up for the Caregiver’s Smile Summit: 0ver 50 Experts on Caregiving, Aging, and Care Partnering

Purchase Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories – paperback or ebook

The stories in this fine book showed us how others have gone through similar things with their families and that is somehow reassuring. There are some helpful suggestions but mostly there is the recognition that others went through the same thing. All we can do is our best. That is greatly reassuring during these difficult emotional times. If you are a caregiver, this is a must read. - Delores Edwards


Caregiver Needs Medical Care before Health Is Irreparably Shattered

Stress3Dear Carol: I’m an only child and single. My mother developed cancer in her 70s and I helped Dad care for her until her death two years ago. Only months after her death, Dad turned into another person. It’s not that he was simply angry. He seemed to be hallucinating and could be violent. I managed to get him to a psychiatrist who said that Dad has mixed dementia, likely a combination of Alzheimer’s and something else, maybe Lewy body dementia. The trauma of seeing his wife decline and finally die in a nursing home may have kicked off Dad’s symptoms and I’m sympathetic, but I could not handle Dad’s situation alone and eventually placed him in the VA home.

Read full column on Inforum about caregiver burnout and the need to take action: 

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

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How Should I Prepare My Family for Grandpa Moving in?

Family6Decades ago, having Grandma come to live with the younger generations was fairly common, and it often worked well. It did for my family. When my brother and I were teenagers and our little sister a toddler, our grandmother can to live with us. Grandma was crippled by rheumatoid arthritis and could no longer live alone. My parents built a house that would accommodate the different generations, with some privacy for all, and Grandma came to live with us. The home wasn't huge by today's standards, but it was nice and well designed for our needs. The arrangement worked.

Read more on Agingcare about preparing your family for a grandparent to move in:

Sign up for the Caregiver’s Smile Summit: 0ver 50 Experts on Caregiving, Aging, and Care Partnering

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


Caregiving: Have You Ever Wished it Could All Be Over?

StressedCaregiverOccasionally, someone in support groups will say that they secretly wish the parent for whom they are caring would die. The parent is sick, miserable and hard to care for. The caregiver wants her or his life back. Of course, those who admit they have had this thought wonder if that makes them a terrible person. Most of these people are decent folks who love their parents. What has happened is they have taken on the role of caregiver, as so most of us do, out of love. Our elders need us, so we hop in without a thought. We have no idea that this role could last for years or even decades.

Read full article on Agingcare about how to handle thoughts of guilt when you wish someone you love could let go and die:

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

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When Both Parents Have Dementia: How to Cope?

CaregiverStress"My mom and dad both have dementia. I am all alone taking care of them since my sister passed away. I have no one to help me. I get sad and frustrated with them both. How do I deal with my feelings?" These are powerful words from one AgingCare.com forum participant. It is a cry that is all too familiar for many family caregivers and one which will touch the hearts of most readers. Many of us feel alone when we are trying to care for our aging parents and there are no siblings to help, or our siblings won't help. When we have one parent who has this disease, it is hard. When we have two, it is often nearly unbearable.

Read full article on Agingcare about how difficult it can be to cope when both parents have dementia:

Purchase Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories – paperback or ebook

An amazing book of stories that will touch your heart and encourage you, especially if you are a caregiver. Carol  Bradley Bursack also has an excellent website devoted to the elderly and their caregivers. - Carol Heilman

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Long-term Caregiving Will Change Your Life

CaregivingChangedLifeMost caregivers go into caregiving mode with full hearts and wonderful intentions. They rarely stop to think, "Hmm, this could go on for years. I'd better plan it out. If I move to part-time at work, have more child care and spend mornings caring for my parents' needs, it will be difficult, but possible. If I continue to work full time, I'll have more for retirement, but I can't do it all. I have to plan this out." No. We just jump in. Dad has a stroke, so of course we are there to help. He survives but needs a great deal of care. Mom can't handle the hard physical work of caring for Dad. And she's getting forgetful. So, it's up to us. We make sure our folks get in-home help and make adjustments in our own lives so we can give them maximum help. Sometimes, we quit jobs or go to part-time work in order to care for our parents.

Read full article on Agingcare about how caregiving will change your life in ways that you may never have thought:

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

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How to Communicate When Your Elderly Parent Can No Longer Speak

Hands13A video I recently stumbled upon remains vivid in my mind. An elderly couple who had spent a lifetime devoted to one another was coping with the wife's Alzheimer's disease. At this point, the wife was in a nursing home. She was unhappy, aggressive and even combative with the staff. No one knew what to do with her. On instinct, the husband decided he would do what he'd always done. He climbed into her bed with her and held her. He cuddled with her. He stroked her face and told her he loved her. He spent hours just snuggling and holding her. Slowly, the wife responded. This once angry, difficult woman became easy for the staff to handle. She was, once again, friendly, cooperative and generally happy.

Read full article on Agingcare about how to communicate with your parent who can no longer speak:

A Virtual Conference to Help You Thrive As a Caregiver – Check this out!

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