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February 2019
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March 2019

Dear Carol: My mother, who has advanced dementia, went into a nursing home six months ago. She’s received excellent care but is now declining quickly so that she no longer swallows any type of food. Her doctor has determined that she is ready for hospice and that makes sense to me. Hospice took her off of medications that didn’t seem to be helping and then prescribed some occasional Ativan for agitation and low-dose morphine for pain. Her response has been satisfying to watch since she’s more alert and far more peaceful than she has been. Here’s the problem. I’ve gone to a support group for several years and there are a couple of people in the group that completely anti-drug for Alzheimer’s so they are adamantly against the use of both Ativan and morphine for my mom. I don’t get it. Mom is dying. She was jerking around in pain and crying and now she’s responsive and comfortable. How do I get through to them that when people are dying everything changes? – HY Read more →


Most of us know that positive thinking is supposed to enhance our lives but thinking positively, especially for some personalities, can be easier said than done. Life can be hard. If you have dementia or another terminal illness, or if you provide care for someone who does, thinking positively can seem impossible. Read more →


As a longtime family caregiver who provided, and continues to provide, differing levels of care for loved ones with illnesses, I can attest to the fact that caregiving can be unimaginably stressful. For dementia caregivers, the stress is even more extreme. Only lately have we seen the results of studies that have followed family caregivers. One of the most scientific, in that it uses hard physical evidence, was published last spring. The study, by Ohio State University in conjunction with the National Institute on Aging, showed that caregivers may have their life span shortened by four to eight years. 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 →


Are you a primary caregiver to a spouse, parent, grandchild or other loved one? If so, you may be at increased risk for significant health problems, especially when you try to take on too many stressful duties without help. On the other hand, caregiving can be a rewarding experience if you have the right support, knowledge and self-care tactics to depend on. Here’s what you need to know. Read more →


Then there’s that first time when it really registers with you that your parents are aging. Perhaps this awareness occurs after one of them has suffered an emotional or physical trauma. Or it could even strike during a time of seemingly little significance, such as bright sunlight highlighting some gray in mom’s hair, or a strong reading lamp enhancing the sag in dad’s once firm jawline. This new reality may simply nudge you, or it may sock you in the gut, but reality it is. Your parents are aging. They are on their way to “being old.” Read more →


...However, as my elders became more dependent I began to hear myself, at least in medical settings, referred to as “the caretaker.” Somehow, that word made me grind my teeth. My loved ones were not a patch of land. They were not a house. They were not an object. Yet the term “caretaker” brought such images to mind.  Read more →


Dear Carol: My dad’s in the middle to late stages of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s been rough on both my mom and me in many ways, but right now I can say that the worst is my dad’s verbal abuse. He was always a gentle, wonderful man, so this uncharacteristic behavior is extra baffling and hurtful. He calls us ugly names and swears at us because he thinks that we’re stealing from him or even poisoning him. Mom is so ashamed that this is happening that she can’t tell anyone about it, but I need an outlet, which is why I’m writing. How do we handle living with Dad’s verbal abuse without breaking down or acting ugly ourselves? – KC Read more →


...One of those shared experiences is a certain amount of stress. Some personalities cope with the ever-changing, nearly always challenging business of caring for another adult with health issues better than others. A positive attitude and a flexible approach can go a long way as we feel our way along the sometimes uncertain path a caregiver must follow. But even the most laid back person is going to feel stressed by the responsibilities of caregiving from time to time. That's normal and to be expected. With some care, people generally bounce back. What caregivers need to watch for is burnout. Read more →