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November 2017
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January 2018

December 2017

Dear Carol: This January marks one year since my mother died. My dad adored her, as we all did, but he’s having a harder time adjusting than we kids, which I suppose is to be expected. Mom had cancer but her treatments proved to be ineffective so she eventually went on hospice care. With hospice helping, Mom was coherent during the holidays last year. We got through it though, and dad did admirably well, considering the circumstances. I think he kept up a front for Mom’s sake. Once she died, which was mid-month, he fell apart and had only marginally recovered before this year’s holidays approached. The family struggled through a low key Thanksgiving and Christmas, but with the New Year and mom’s death anniversary coming up, I’m afraid for Dad. Though he made an effort over Christmas for the grandchildren, he’s now become depressed and withdrawn. I know that suicide is an issue for older people. I don't think he's that bad, yet, but I’m scared. – FM Read more →


Adult children are right to be aware of their parents’ physical and mental changes since there’s no way to stop the aging process. However, as a columnist on caregiving and a forum moderator, I’m seeing something very scary happening far too often. Ageism is overtaking common sense and respect. The fact that someone is over 65, and perhaps has arthritis and controlled high blood pressure, does not make this person cognitively unstable. Dementia doesn’t necessarily step in even after – gasp! – age 70. Read more →


By some measures, Alzheimer’s disease has become the most feared diagnosis one can hear ― even more so than cancer. Additionally, most people think of Alzheimer’s as an “old people’s” disease. Taking these two thoughts together, Hazel Minnick has defied assumptions. She has shown that one can live with Alzheimer’s disease even when it tries to steal meaning and memories in middle age. Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 53, Hazel has been living with the disease for more than 18 years. Her early years were grim even as she fought to do everything she could to improve her health. She used a wheelchair much of time. Read more →


Accused of stealing from a loved one? The first time it happens many caregivers find themselves choking back tears. They try a logical approach although they’ve long realized that logic is not effective when communicating with a person living with dementia. But to be accused of stealing your dad’s hearing aid? Your mom’s sweater? This is the parent for whom you gave up so much in order to provide care. Now they think you are stealing from them. How do you handle this all-too-common problem? Read more →


Dear Carol: My mom is smart, stylish, and trim. She was very social but now that’s changed. Occasional, minor urinary incontinence has become a problem and she’s acting like her life is over. I’ve told her that women who’ve had babies often have this issue and that there are products that she can use. Of course, she knows this, but she says that’s not an option. Meanwhile, she is becoming reclusive which is not like her. I’ve told her that her doctor may have some ideas but she says that talking to her doctor about this is humiliating. How do I convince her that this one issue doesn’t need to ruin her otherwise exceptional life? – Kate Read more →


Relishing the effects of the aging process is a shocking idea in our society. We are expected to fight every sign of age. Billions of dollars annually are spent to help people, especially women, look more like their young adult children than who they really are. Sadly, older adults are even encouraged to act like young people rather than celebrate who they’ve become throughout decades of learning. Read more →


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 →


Dear Carol: My mother is in a nursing home following a series of strokes and, thankfully, the facility is relatively close so I can visit daily. I’ve decorated Mom’s room for Christmas and I bring her Christmas treats to share with others. Dad also spends time each day with Mom. My quandary is that I have a husband and teenage children at home. Mom says she doesn’t have the energy to come to our home for Christmas day and, frankly, I don’t know how we’d manage the wheelchair with all of our steps, anyway. Dad will eat with Mom, but I still feel like I’m letting my parents down by not having them join us as they have in the past. I can’t think of anything that I could do differently, but I still feel guilty. How do I pull out of the funk and provide my husband and kids with a cheerful day? – GR Read more →


The decisions caregivers of elderly loved ones must make during the Christmas holidays are fraught with opportunities to make mistakes in judgment. Chief among them is how much to include a loved one who has dementia in the festivities. Will the Christmas tree bring Mom happy memories of past Christmas pleasures or will it remind her of the Christmas tree fire in her home when she was a five-year-old child? Will the gathering of loving relatives bring her a feeling of being loved and cared for or will she suffer from horrible anxiety because of all of these people who have become strangers? Read more →


It’s enough to make a saint swear. Suddenly they are there in the middle of things, acting as if they understand every aspect of your parents’ care, your schedule and how the house should be run. But where were they when you had to find someone to stay with your sick child at the last minute so you could take Dad to the emergency room? Where were they when you desperately needed to take a long weekend off from caregiving? Where were they when your car broke down and Mom needed weekly trips to the doctor for blood testing to ensure her medications were working properly? Read more →