Hiring in-home care for my neighbor, Joe, was an ordeal. The company we chose was fine and their caregivers were great, but the quality of care wasn't the issue. The problem was that Joe resented anyone but me helping him. He locked one caregiver out of his home. He let another in but was rude to her, He did thoroughly enjoy one young man but that was only because they could discuss golf together.
The stories in this fine book showed us how others have gone through similar things with their families and that is somehow reassuring. There are some helpful suggestions but mostly there is the recognition that others went through the same thing. All we can do is our best. That is greatly reassuring during these difficult emotional times. If you are a caregiver, this is a must read. - Delores Edwards
Dear Carol: My mother has always refused to take any medication even though she’s needed a prescription to control her blood pressure for years. Predictably, at 74, she had a massive stroke and now she will require around-the-clock care for the rest of her life. There is no sign of dementia. Mom’s in a nursing home and getting great care but she is extremely angry and she focuses that anger at me. I can’t provide the care that she needs at home, but I still feel guilty about placing her in a facility and she knows how to manipulate that guilt. I visit daily. I know that I’m doing all that I can, yet her anger gets to me and then I start resenting her. How do I change this? Donna
Minding Our Elders lets you know that you are not alone, that you are not going to be perfect, but you can get the job done, You do the best you can, and that is good enough. We can't be Carol, but we can learn from her going before us. What a friend to have. What a gift she gave us. – CM Jones
As you watch your parents or other beloved elders age, sometimes worry becomes inevitable. Should they have housing upgrades? Can they continue to live independently? Your intention isn’t to take over their lives, but you may genuinely want to start the conversation about possible future changes. How do you do this without causing a backlash?
Ongoing discussions keep it natural: If you and your parents have frequent, casual conversations about options as they age, you’ll have an easier time with the transition than if you leave the topic until there’s a crisis. When you begin the talks, generalize. Mention a wonderful new assisted living that your friend’s mother just moved into. Mention some exciting new upgrades to in-home bathrooms that are actually good for everyone’s safety. Then, turn the conversation elsewhere.
It seems that there’s always something new popping up in a headline stating that this condition or that disease increases our risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. While the constant barrage of negative information can be frustrating, it’s simply a byproduct of the intense research being done to discover the cause or causes of Alzheimer’s. That’s all good. For people with depression, however, seeing their illness on lists for traits that make them more likely to develop AD is worrisome. How seriously should people with depression take this information about which they can do little?
...That's just the problem. He helps out too much. Ann's dad had owned his own business and had employees. He was very successful. Ann's mom used to complain that after he retired, he wanted to run the house, but it didn't seem too serious. Then, when Ann's mom got sick, her dad's energy went into caregiving. He was a wonderful caregiver all the way through. At first, the move kept everyone busy, and the arrangement was new. But now, all of the "advice" is getting old. Ann's trying to be patient but doesn't know what to do with her dad.
Millions of aging boomers wonder if their memory lapses are the result of normal aging or a sign that they are developing Alzheimer’s. There’s some basis for the worry. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million people in the U.S. are living with it. One in three seniors will die with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia.
While these statistics are scary, you shouldn’t let them cloud the reality that many of us will age normally and will not develop AD, or any other type of dementia. Certainly, we will have some memory changes as we age. Improvements in our lifestyle may help mitigate some of those. Other changes we’ll just have to live with. So what is normal memory loss and when should we worry?
Once you’ve reached your 70s, will you look back and thank your middle-aged self for spending another hour each day on social media rather than jogging around your neighborhood? According to new research, the answer is no: you’re more likely to wish that you’d had more self-discipline. A long-term study of more than 3,000 twins by researchers at the University of Helsinki found that midlife, moderately vigorous physical activity is associated with better cognition as we reach old age.
People stare. Most are not unkind, they are just curious. But when someone "different" from the norm becomes part of their environment, they often gawk without thinking about or understanding how this affects others. Anyone who has cared for a disabled child or has a visible disability of their own knows this. However, people who care for an adult who lives with dementia may have more difficulty coping with the stares of the public because the person they are caring for was once their dignified father, a charismatic mother or our spouse. The pain of seeing others stare, not knowing how this person was robbed of his or her cognitive abilities, has the potential to bring out the defensive little brat that lies within each of us.
Dear Carol: My father has Lewy body dementia and he hallucinates, which I understand is part of the disease. I was raised to not lie. Your writing, as well as articles on the Alzheimer’s Association website and that of many medical people, seems to advocate lying to your parents or spouse once they have dementia. When my dad tells me that he sees people in the garden who aren’t there and wants to know what he should do, I get frustrated. I tell him that no one is there and that he’s imagining it. Then he gets upset and insists that two people are out there. Next, I get mad because he won’t believe that no one is out there. I don’t want to lie. What should I do? Lana
Caregiving can mean that nothing seems to change as we go about our daily routines, endlessly keeping tabs on all that must be done for our vulnerable loved ones, yet knowing that the next moment a life threatening, or at least quality of life threatening, incident can occur at any minute. This combination of unchanging daily routine all the while staying in a fight or flight mode because of a possible crisis situation can be exhausting. The only way I have ever coped with these issues is through my faith—I am never alone. My deeply held sense of spirituality has given me relief from the endless routines of caregiving as well as life-changing crises. Somehow, my core belief has helped me as a caregiver.