Holiday Feed

...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 →


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 →


There's an image of holiday perfection that our culture encourages. Starting with Thanksgiving, we are inundated with fantasy images of perfect families happily enjoying each other's company during a holiday meal. Most of us have memories from our childhood that feed this drive toward the Norman Rockwell nostalgia of holidays past. If we lived it, we want to duplicate it. If we didn't, we want to create it.  Read more →


It’s easy to feel grateful when life is going well, and certainly, it’s desirable to acknowledge life at its best with appropriate gratitude. What’s not easy is finding gratitude when life hard. Is it even realistic to try? Yes. Discovering gratitude during difficult times can be a giant step toward peace. Read more →


When store employees wish us "Merry Christmas!" we smile back and return the greeting. When acquaintances wave and shout "Happy Holidays!" across a parking lot we wave back with good wishes. When we take part in our work holiday celebrations we put on our happy face. Yet many of us don't feel merry or happy during this time of celebration. Read more →


DEAR CAROL: My parents have been married for over 50 years. Mom has moderate to advanced dementia and moved to a memory care unit three months ago. Dad was her primary caregiver until he couldn’t handle her needs anymore so this is very hard on him. We’ll have the family Christmas gathering at my home and Dad thinks he should bring Mom here for dinner. As a family, we’re divided about what is best for Mom. If she came here she could enjoy our family traditions but would it just set back her adjustment to her new surroundings? What’s the best approach? – Nicole Read more →


If we don’t voice the fact that our parents are aging and may eventually need assistance, and then, yes, die — it won’t happen. This is a version of covering our eyes when we were small and saying “you can’t see me.” Read more →


Would you prefer a hot dog or hamburger? Ketchup, mustard, relish? Chips, salad, dessert? All were available during the annual barbecue picnic at the nursing home where my parents, my uncle and my mother-in-law lived at different times. While people also enjoyed the monthly birthday dinners and holiday festivities hosted by the nursing home, the summer barbecue was one of the most anticipated events of the year. Read more →


...As years go by, most of us gain–or attempt to gain–perspective. By retelling personal stories, elders are often, consciously or subconsciously, trying to reframe their life from the perspective of time. If we give them the gift of attentive listening, we may find their stories more interesting and even learn something new about them. Since an elder’s history is part of our own, we might learn something new about ourselves, too. This mutually beneficial activity is the perfect gift for Dads this Father’s Day. Read more →


Father’s Day and my birthday always fall close together. Some years they are the same day. That always made Father’s Day an extra special time in our house as I was growing up. I was, of course, an adult and mother by the time Dad had the surgery that threw him into dementia for the following decade. However, my adulthood didn’t shield me from the pain of missing “my real dad” when I’d bring Mom up to the nursing home and we brought cards and flowers. Read more →