Reflections Feed

It seems shocking to hear people ask whether dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s since it’s the best known, is as hard on the caregiver as it is on the person with the disease. After all, developing dementia of any kind is one of our greatest fears, even overtaking cancer. A caregiver who asks this question must be incredibly heartless and selfish, right? Yet, people who've never been a caregiver for someone with dementia need to think this through. When a loved one develops dementia, both the care receiver and the caregiver have entered an incredibly challenging time in their lives. Read more →


As a longtime family caregiver who provided, and continues to provide, differing levels of care for loved ones with illnesses, I can attest to the fact that caregiving can be unimaginably stressful. For dementia caregivers, the stress is even more extreme. Only lately have we seen the results of studies that have followed family caregivers. One of the most scientific, in that it uses hard physical evidence, was published last spring. The study, by Ohio State University in conjunction with the National Institute on Aging, showed that caregivers may have their lifespan shortened by four to eight years. Read more →


As a family caregiver of multiple elders, I needed a facility where more than one of my elders could live while I cared for others in various locations. My family was fortunate to find an excellent nursing home just a few blocks from my home. During the 15 years that my loved ones (different people at different times) lived in this facility, I learned a great deal about what makes a good nursing home tick. I interviewed a licensed nursing home administrator for her tips on selecting a nursing home not long ago, but as a family member, I’d like to add a few more ideas. Read more →


Most of us who have cared for someone living with dementia have tried our best to determine how best to provide that care. We research. We try putting ourselves in their place. We do our best to be patient because we understand that they can’t help their having the disease. Still, we are human and we make mistakes. While we shouldn’t wallow in guilt when we do make mistakes as a care partner, there are situations that we should try extra hard to avoid. Here are nine of them. 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 →


Dear Carol: My mom is currently in a short-term swing-bed facility and will soon be moving to a nursing home. Dad is in assisted living where we already moved some favorite furnishings from home. Their house must be sold, so my brother and I are going through what's left. We’re stumped by jewelry and assorted items from their lives together. There are a lot of old pictures as well as Dad’s military medals which he says he doesn't care about. We’re not sure what to do with these things because they are items that have sentimental value. Mom had a stroke that has taken most of her memory and Dad says he doesn’t care what we do with the "stuff." My brother and I are both saddened by how their lives have played out and it seems somehow that discarding these items is discarding them, so we're struggling. What do we do with all these keepsakes Mom and Dad don't want or can't use? – LD Read more →


Prior to the mid1980s, accepted psychiatric theory was that people with dementia had to be re-oriented. In other words, the people needed to be brought back into the real world – meaning the real world as we who do not have dementia see it. They were wrong. My dad had dementia brought on by surgery that was meant to correct the effects that a World War II brain injury. Tragically, the surgery failed and Dad came out of the operation with severe dementia. I, a completely uninformed person when it came to dementia, became Dad's primary caregiver. Read more →


Relationships are important to all of us whether or not we live with dementia. However, often due to the fear of not knowing how to handle changes in a friend or relative who is diagnosed with dementia, relationships can evaporate, leaving the person living with dementia, as well as the caregiver, isolated. Helping others understand that with a little shift in their method of communication is part of the goal of awareness campaigns. Read more →


How can faith help both caregivers and people with dementia get through something that makes no sense even to those who believe in a loving God - or maybe especially to those who believe in a loving God? Many people have asked me this question. My own spiritual beliefs have been vital to my caregiving life, but I wanted to give people more depth than I could provide on my own. With that in mind, I asked Dr. Benjamin Mast, a licensed clinical psychologist... Read more →


Most Alzheimer's organizations have found that, in general, people are more afraid of a dementia diagnosis than finding out that they have cancer. One reason for this fear is the stigma that accompanies dementia. While sympathetic to those who have Alzheimer's and other dementias, people who haven't been close to anyone with the disease often think that any type of satisfying life is out of reach after such a diagnosis. Read more →