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November 2018
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January 2019

...Sadly, new beginnings for caregivers are far easier to suggest than to accomplish, especially since they tend to come after significant endings. Yet, with some effort, you can still find small ways to refresh your life if you are willing to push yourself outside of your comfort zone.  One route of exploring new possibilities and rediscovering yourself is journaling. Writing in a journal can be a useful exercise for examining where you were before you took on the caregiving role, where you are now and how you envision your life in the future. Read more →


.Dear Carol: When my husband started having some rather bizarre behavioral episodes he made an appointment for a checkup. After an exam didn’t show problems, the doctor referred him to a neurologist who conducted some tests and diagnosed him with Alzheimer’s. Because my husband didn’t have memory problems that are unusual for his age, I wasn’t satisfied, so we saw another neurologist. She diagnosed my husband with mixed dementia with signs of Alzheimer’s, but also vascular dementia. This diagnosis seems odd to me, too. Aren’t memory problems the hallmark of Alzheimer’s? Are we right in staying with her or should we get yet another opinion? – GD Read more →


Dear Candid Caregiver: My mom passed two years ago and my dad hasn’t done well since. Recently he had a stroke. My sister, who lives 1,000 miles away, came out for mom’s funeral, and she also visited for a few days after dad’s stroke, but she has a job and a family and couldn’t stay long. Now, dad’s been diagnosed with vascular dementia. Realistically, I’m the sole caregiver. I have two teenaged children, a husband who is, so far, supportive, and a job. I’m already beginning to feel burned out after just a few months. What can I do to help myself get through this and still take care of my dad? — Frazzled Read more →


While Alzheimer’s disease will progress differently for each person, scientists and clinicians have attempted to stage the disease as a way that helps people living with Alzheimer’s and their families understand what is happening, as well as to plan for the future. Some divide AD into seven stages, some five stages, but currently, three stages is the format most often used. The Alzheimer’s Association uses three stages, so that is what we will use for our foundation here. Read more →


Dear Candid Caregiver: My parents were always open about their long-term plans for retirement, saying that they’ve worked hard and retirement was going to be the payoff. Travel was huge on the horizon. Now, my dad has been diagnosed with mixed dementia, which, in his case, means Alzheimer’s and possibly Lewy body dementia, so their dreams are pretty much canceled...Dear Sad but Tense: I’m so sorry about what’s happened, not only to your dad but to your whole family. Generally, when I hear about ruined retirement plans, the letter comes from a spouse, so you provide an observant perspective that we can all learn from. I’m certain that your mom doesn’t have any idea that her grief, her anger, and her stress over what happened is showing... Read more →


Dear Carol: This January marks one year since my mother died. My dad adored her, as we all did, but he's having a harder time adjusting than we kids, which I suppose is to be expected. Mom had cancer but her treatments proved to be ineffective so she eventually went on hospice care. With hospice helping, Mom was coherent during the holidays last year. We got through it, and Dad did admirably well, considering the circumstances. Read more →


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 →


Dear Carol: Last year was a tough one for my family. Dad had never recovered from a massive stroke that he suffered two years ago and Mom, who’d been his caregiver, discovered shortly after his death that she had advanced breast cancer. They were both 79. Mom was peaceful with the fact that the cancer was too advanced for her to fight and said that she was ready to join dad. We realize that since she was beyond treatment when she was diagnosed she was showing a healthy attitude, but my sister and I are still feeling traumatized by the year. Our parents loved Christmas and spent weeks decorating and preparing, which is making this year extra hard. My sister said that the only reason that she’s going to celebrate at all is for her husband and kids. I’m single and have no children. I’m close to my family and have great friends but I’d just like to skip this holiday. Should I make an effort for myself? I’m torn. – HP Read more →


There’s an image of holiday perfection that our culture encourages. Starting with Thanksgiving, we are inundated with images of families happily enjoying each other’s company during a holiday meal. Most of us have memories from our childhood that feed this desire for Norman Rockwell-esque celebrations. Even those who didn’t have these picture-perfect experiences growing up often strive to create them with their own families.  However, few of us can measure up to the fantasy—caregivers least of all. The vast majority of advertisements, music and blockbuster movies sugarcoat the holidays and shirk the reality that most of us face. These images feed expectations that are impossible to meet. Read more →