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How long has it been since you asked for help – hired or volunteer – so that you can be your own person for just a bit of time? Too, long, I suspect. This is a new year, which makes it a good time psychologically for an attitude adjustment on your part. Changing your attitude toward your caregiving responsibilities doesn't mean that you don't love the person you are caring for as much as ever. Changing your attitude may even be evidence, once you think about it, of the depth of your love. Read more →

Completing crosswords, making a habit of Sudoku and playing challenging brain games on the Internet have long been suggested as methods of .maintaining our cognitive health. These are all fine pursuits, but research by Mayo Clinic has shown that creative arts such as painting, drawing and sculpting may protect the mind against cognitive decline even better than the commonly used forms of brain exercise. Read more →

While death rarely brings pleasant feelings, from time to time we'll see a story about death go viral on the Internet because it touches people's hearts. Long-married spouses that die within hours or days of one another often fall into that category because they seem to remind us that, ideally, marriage is for eternity. Read more →

Dignity and identity are often tied to independence. As aging issues eat away at our loved ones' ability to follow through on tasks that they always loved, the feeling that life is worth living can fade as well. Our task as a caregiver is to encourage activities that contribute to our loved ones' feelings of self-worth while watching for safety concerns. If, as a caregiver, you are in doubt, it's generally best to err on the side of encouraging more independence rather than less. Read more →

...Often the adult children need to travel south to handle sudden hospitalizations or other emergencies. This causes problems with jobs and kids at home. So they beg their parents to come "back home." Parents balk. "This is my home, now. I don't want to leave my friends. I don't want to leave my church. I don't want to live in the cold and risk a fall on the ice." Read more →

One would think that with news coverage, television specials and even movies based on characters with Alzheimer’s disease, the stigma of dementia would ease. There shouldn’t be any more reluctance for people with Alzheimer’s disease to relate news of their dementia than if they had a cancer diagnosis. Yet the stigma that surrounds dementia as well as most mental illnesses is regrettably alive and well, often forcing people to erect a protective wall of denial around their symptoms rather than seek help.Thanks to courageous people, we are seeing some cracks in the wall of that denial. Read more →

Many people are celebrating Christmas Day, today, December 25th. Caregivers may find the word "celebrating" a little over the top, but try not to be too dismissive. If you are caring for a parent or spouse who doesn't recognize you for who you are, that doesn't mean your efforts are unappreciated. Know that on some level, your love is understood. Celebrate that. If you have rushed around like a wild person trying to make a perfect holiday happen for your family, well, today you are done, no matter where you are in the process. Celebrate that. Read more →

Dear Readers: Christmas is here so, regardless of your level of preparation, remember that this is supposed to be the season of love, not perfection. If you're not ready in the way you would prefer to be, that's fine. Enjoy what you've done and forget about the rest. Letting go of your expectation of perfection can go a long way toward making this a nice holiday. Acceptance of what life is right now can be an enormous part of this process. Caregivers, especially, may need to make changes in routines. You can’t be all things to all people, so the fact that Mom pulled off a Christmas to rival Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” doesn’t require you to continue with that tradition if it no longer makes sense. 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 →

My dad went into surgery with a smile and hope. He came out with severe dementia. Something unexplainable at the time had happened and Dad became a statistic – one of those “poor outcomes” we hear about. My head knew this tragedy was permanent, but my heart wanted my “real” dad back. The kind, loving, intelligent man whose love for me was steadfast. I wanted him back. Unfortunately, my family and I had to learn to accept the fact that Dad would never be the same. Read more →