« August 2017 | Main | October 2017 »

Your siblings don't show up at the door to visit Mom. They don't offer to take Dad to doctor's appointments. Heck, they don't even know the doctors' names. They don't know the medications. They don't care about the elderly parent's temper tantrums you, the caregiver, must weather. They don't care that you are the target for verbal abuse from the Alzheimer's afflicted parent. And they really don't care that the you haven't had a break from 24/7 responsibility, whether hands-on or helping with all the needs of an elder in assisted living or nursing home, for weeks, months or years. They voice huge concern for the elder, yet they aren't willing to get their hands dirty (figuratively or literally), or open their wallets to help. Read more →


t's not really news that people tend to be their worst with the people they love. Generally, this is thought to be the case because people feel safe enough with family to just "let it all hang out." Their anger at their circumstances, which may or may not have to do with these family members, is the real cause. Other times, the behavior is because the person has an abusive personality with deeper problems lurking. Read more →


If ever there’s a group of people who suffer deeply from unearned guilt it’s caregivers. Whether you’re the parent of a vulnerable adult, an adult child of aging parents or the spouse of a vulnerable adult, you are bound to have your “if only” times where you are sucked into the quicksand of guilt. The reality is that most things you could have done differently wouldn’t have made a huge difference overall. Even if another approach would have made a difference, you can’t go back. Staying mired in guilt is counterproductive for you as well as your care receiver. Read more →


When I was born my mother was single and hooked on drugs. She kept me with her, but she abused me physically and emotionally. My grandma gained custody of me when I was five years old and she raised me. Grandma died two years ago and now my mother, who has wrecked her health and is in a nursing home, has decided that I should take her to my home to care for her. I don’t hate her, but I really can’t forgive her, and I can’t take care of her anyway. She is my mother so I do feel guilty. I have followed your work and you have addressed similar situations, but I need to hear this as meant for me. What is my duty in this situation?– AE Read more →


 ...Compassion: While I like to think that I’ve always been a compassionate person, and I believe that maturity adds increased compassion to most of us simply because we’ve seem more suffering,caregiving can take compassion even farther. When we witness the suffering that many of our loved ones go through for weeks, months or even years before they die, we can’t help but have compassion for them and for others who suffer. Read more →


Recently, I wrote about how playing in an orchestra has helped people living with dementia renew their confidence in themselves.  Another twist on music has now come in a recent report from the British Psychological Society’s Division of Clinical Psychology in London. The researchers describe how both the people in their study who had dementia, as well as their caregivers, benefitted from group singing.This exercise seemed to have much the same effect on the people with dementia as the orchestra experiment. Read more →


One of the most commonly asked questions about cognitive issues is “Is it Alzheimer’s or dementia?” The short answer is, Alzheimer’s is one type of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Dementia is a general term for loss of memory and other mental abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life. It is caused by physical changes in the brain.” Read more →


Accused of stealing from a loved one? The first time it happens many caregivers find themselves choking back tears. They try a logical approach although they’ve long realized that logic is not effective when communicating with a person living with dementia. But to be accused of stealing your dad’s hearing aid? Your mom’s sweater? This is the parent for whom you gave up so much in order to provide care. Now they think you are stealing from them. How do you handle this all-too-common problem? Read more →


Relishing the effects of the aging process is a shocking idea in our society. We are expected to fight every sign of age. Billions of dollars annually are spent to help people, especially women, look more like their young adult children than who they really are. Sadly, older adults are even encouraged to act like young people rather than celebrate who they’ve become throughout decades of learning. A whisper-thin (less than 100-page) volume titled “The Truth Is at My Front Door: Spiritual Direction on Aging Beautifully” pushes back against this negative view of women and aging. Read more →


It was not unlike any other day, but this particular afternoon Dad was adamant. He was waiting for his medical degree to come from the University of Minnesota and wondered why it was taking so long to arrive. I did what I usually did, and waited a few days to see if this episode of delusional thinking would pass. It did not. So, I created a facsimile of a medical degree on my computer with my dad's name on it. Read more →