Guilt Feed

Dad's dementia taught me what it was to both grieve immediately the loss of the man as he was before surgery, yet feel gratitude for having him alive. Gratitude aside, learning how to care for my now very changed father challenged me. Somehow, I had to muddle through what is often referred to as ambiguous loss, while putting on a brave face for Dad. This type of gut-level loss is often defined as a "confusing feeling of interacting with someone who is not fully present mentally or socially." Read more →

...Some situations, of course, leave no room for laughter. But some tough times can offer moments of levity if we choose to recognize them. My sister, Beth, and I experienced what to some people may be a rather macabre situation during the three days our mother was going through the death process. If we hadn’t maintained our senses of humor, I’m not sure how we would have handled those sad, seemingly endless days. Read more →

...Since I’m a dementia caregiver with my own history, I quite naturally wanted to understand the thoughts of other dementia caregivers on this issue, so I asked several of them for input. As one would expect, responses to my question varied, though not one of those who responded mentioned Valentine’s Day itself as being a trigger for showing love. Here is a sampling of caregiver responses: Read more →

“Carol!” The hospice nurse’s voice was quiet but urgent. I instinctively knew what was happening. She had been shifting Dad’s position so that he wouldn’t develop bed sores, but as she was laying him back on the bed, something changed in his respiration. This was it. His body was preparing for him to take his last breath.  Read more →

I’m struggling with trying to find answers on how I can help my elderly mother. I’m 67, I’m retired and I live an hour away from my 87-year-old mom who has heart failure. Mom still lives alone in her house and this is very important to her. As her condition has worsened, she’s required more help from my sister who lives just 10 minutes away. My sister runs all of mom’s errands, completes all of her chores, and checks in on her several times a day. On top of this, my sister still works full time and won’t be able to retire for a three more years. I visit mom a couple times a month to give my sister a rest, but I fear as moms health continues to fail, that won't be enough. I feel guilty for not doing more but I am too far away. I love the town I live in as it is close to my daughter and grandchildren. Should I move? – BT Read more →

Every person who becomes a caregiver will have unique personality traits, yet we nearly always share certain feelings and experiences as we travel a road similar to one another. That’s one reason that caregivers often turn to other caregivers for support. It’s a version of the adage that we need to walk in another’s shoes in order to truly understand what they feel. One of those shared experiences is a certain amount of stress. Some personalities cope with the ever changing, nearly always challenging, business of caring for another adult with health issues better than others. Read more →

Dear Carol: My dad has aggressive prostate cancer that has spread to his liver and bones. His oncologist isn’t very communicative and when I asked about hospice care he said that’s up to us. He told us that Dad won’t get better but that he can keep treating him if we want. The treatments make Dad miserable. If they won’t help, what’s the point? I feel strongly that Dad needs hospice care and have been trying to talk my mom into it but she’s dragging her feet. How do we go about getting the service? Which one do we choose? Will Mom have to go on Medicaid to get it paid for? This is her biggest fear. – ST Read more →

If ever there’s a group of people who suffer deeply from unearned guilt it’s caregivers. Whether you’re the parent of a vulnerable adult, an adult child of aging parents or the spouse of a vulnerable adult, you are bound to have your “if only” times where you are sucked into the quicksand of guilt. The reality is that most things you could have done differently wouldn’t have made a huge difference overall. Even if another approach would have made a difference, you can’t go back. Staying mired in guilt is counterproductive for you as well as your care receiver. Read more →

Alcohol abuse can occur at any age, but in the past, most doctors looked for the signs in younger people. There’s also a bias in society at large, including some doctors, that people who abuse alcohol will be of a certain type. It can be hard for a doctor to look at a sweet, grandmotherly woman and think that perhaps the "occasional" glass of wine she admits to drinking may actually be a good portion of a bottle on a nightly basis. But things are changing. Read more →

Dear Carol: After my mom died last year I stepped in to take care of my 83-year-old dad. I know that I spoiled him at first because of his devastation over losing Mom, but now he’s used to my taking over the “wife” role. I pay his bills, take him shopping, cook his meals, clean, and spend nearly every day, all day, with him. When I’m leaving to go back home to my husband, who is retired and has his own health problems, Dad wants to know when I’ll be back. He knows the answer will be tomorrow, but he asks anyway. Dad's healthy and strong, but he needs some assistance, yet he fights my suggestions. How do I get off of this merry-go-round? – CT Read more →