Support Feed

Dear Carol: My mom was diagnosed with an early stage of dementia. Unfortunately, she thinks that there’s still a strong stigma surrounding dementia and she doesn’t want her friends to know about her diagnosis. I understand and respect her feelings, but when I asked her if she’d tell them if she had cancer, she said that she probably would. I tried to tell her that this shouldn’t be any different. Since her best friends don’t live close by, and she sounds like her normal self during most phone conversations as well as in her emails, there may be no rush. Still, while I don’t want to go against Mom’s wishes, I think that she could use their support and they are the type of people who would be behind her 100 percent. There will likely come a time when they should know. When is that time? – CT 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 →


Alzheimer's disease can't be cured. There are medications that help slow the development of symptoms for some people, but the type of care that seems to help most people with Alzheimer's is  hands-on attention. This often means that caregivers need to use a tool-box approach to providing care. Thus, opening our minds to ancient medicine can give us additional options. One ancient technique that's been studied by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the use of aromatherapy. Read more →


Sometimes it's just easier to stay home. I'll admit I have these thoughts more often than most people, as I don't have a very social personality. However, when it comes to caregivers, it's often undeniably true - it easier to stay home...If we won't push ourselves to respond to invitations they will dwindle. People will get tired of asking. And many caregivers, no matter where the loved one lives, can sink into isolation and start refusing opportunities to go out with friends because seems too exhausting to go. It's just one more thing to do. I did that, even when the last three of my elders were living in a nursing home. Read more →


Dear Carol: My parents are in their 60s and have decided that they need to have their legal paperwork updated. I think that this is smart and my siblings agree. The problem is that my parents want to designate me as their Power of Attorney for both healthcare and financial decisions since I live in their community. Unfortunately, my siblings feel slighted. While I don’t love the idea of having this responsibility, I have no problem doing what’s needed when the time comes. My brother lives 500 miles away and my sister lives over 800 miles in the other direction so this seems to be the sensible decision. There’s no concrete reason why my siblings would object to this arrangement except for sibling rivalry. My siblings would be assigned as secondary POAs and they would have their equal shares laid out in the will. How do we get over this bump? – ST  Read more →


It should come as no surprise that optimistic thinking is, for the most part, better for one’s health than negative thinking. In fact, negative thinking has been connected to poor health for some time. A recent study confirms what was previously suspected, linking optimistic thinking to the preservation of memory and good judgment. Both of those traits bode well for staving off, if not preventing, Alzheimer’s disease. Read more →


A double whammy here is that chronic stress is a problem for most caregivers and stress can be a trigger for many people who live with chronic migraines. It is for me. The fact is that whether caregivers have migraines, severe arthritis, asthma, or any other ailment if they are still functioning better than the person or people for whom they care, they carry on. It’s what we do. Read more →