Grief and Death Feed

Dr. Barry J. Jacobs is a clinical psychologist and family therapist in Pennsylvania, who specializes in helping family caregivers. When he was in high school, Dr. Jacobs’ family struggled with his father’s illness and ultimate death from brain cancer. This experience spurred him to become a psychologist specializing in helping family caregivers...years later his mom developed dementia.  Read more →


Hospice organizations are keenly aware of the soothing power of music. Sometimes the music may be used casually, by the facility or the family, knowing that this is a type of music that the person who is in the dying process had always enjoyed. Increasingly, though, employing trained music therapists has been favored. This type of therapy seems especially helpful with those who are dying from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Perhaps this is because in the final stage of dementia, people have usually moved beyond the point where conversation is possible. Read more →


Many people have heard of hospice care but they mistakenly think that it’s just a way to help cancer patients be more comfortable at the end of their lives. Fewer people have heard of palliative care, and they may have no idea what it is. The truth is that hospice and palliative care are related but used for different reasons at different times, and everyone should be well-versed in what they offer. Here, we’ll clarify some points of confusion. Read more →


In reading “The Only Way Out,” I was especially taken with your advice about saying goodbye to your old life and letting go of what was before you can move on. This is a complicated process, and your book takes this on in depth, but could you give us a few brief tips that people can hold on to?  Read more →


One of the most common health issues affecting caregivers is depression. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that caregiving can lead to this condition:  We feel like we’re letting everyone down, especially if we have children as well as elders to care for, and perhaps a spouse we don’t want to ignore. We try. We try so hard. Yet, it seems like we are spread so thin that, in our view at least, our loved ones all get shortchanged. This can, indeed, be depressing. Read more →


Dear Carol: My father-in-law has late stage Alzheimer’s and he no longer knows the family. My husband’s heart breaks when he sees his dad, and he doesn’t want to spend his own Father’s Day going through that pain. I think we should make the effort. Our kids from out of town will call, and our daughter and her family have invited us for an evening dinner. There’s plenty of time to go to the nursing home to see Dad early in the afternoon. I think that I’ve talked my husband into going, but I’d like more insight. To me, it seems important that we visit even if I can’t express why. Can you help? – SA Read more →


There’s a great deal of anger in the world of family caregiving over siblings who don’t help care for their aging parents. Very often, it’s the adult child who lives closest to Mom and Dad who ends up assuming the role of primary caregiver, especially in cases where some degree of hands-on care is required. While this may be a logistically sound arrangement, it doesn’t mean this adult child is best suited emotionally, financially or practically for the job. Read more →


Dementia may have robbed our friends or loved ones of their ability to understand their own environment, follow a sequence of directions or even understand how to use the toilet. These issues do not in any way make these people less than adults and they should never be treated as such. Read more →


Dear Carol: I quit a job that I enjoyed, one with good benefits, in order to be a caregiver to my parents up until their deaths just months apart. I don’t regret doing what I did but now I need a change. I’m 57-years-old and must go back to work. Before I even worry about that, though, I’d like to take a vacation. I’ve been planning a cruise with a friend, but my brother has me reconsidering. I didn’t inherit a lot of money, but I have enough for the trip and still retain some savings. He says that I should land a job first and then consider a vacation. I know that he's right in a practical way, but I really need to regroup and do something for myself before beginning to rebuild my life as a non-caregiver. My brother was across the country during the caregiving so I’m not certain that he understands. What do you think? Am I being foolish and reckless and my brother says? – RH Read more →