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March 2019
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May 2019

As with most types of dementia, family members are the primary caregivers by default, at least at the beginning of the disease. They are usually the people who notice that something is not right with their spouse or parent. Again, like Alzheimer’s and most other types of dementia, Read more →


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? Read more →


Dear Carol: My mom abused me during my childhood and I left home right after high school. I'm now nearly 40 and Mom, who is in her 60s, has developed Parkinson’s disease. She's beginning to need daily help and has asked me to move back home to take care of her. I don’t know if I can do this. Read more →


Sadly, even after years of work to educate the public about any illness that affects the brain, a stigma remains. No matter that most, if not all, mental illnesses have a biological basis. No matter that people aren't any more responsible for a brain illness than they are for other illnesses. The fact remains that whether the disease affects the brain occurs at a younger age in the form of depression or bipolar disease or an older age in the form of Alzheimer's disease or another dementia, people with brain illnesses are often reluctant to acknowledge their illness for fear of being treated differently than others. Read more →


Since communication is vital to quality of life, we who care for those with Alzheimer's or other diseases that make understanding language difficult need to learn unique methods of coping with the challenge. It's not easy. When your wife thinks you are her brother, when your dad thinks his best friend is robbing him, when your 75-year-old mom insists that her baby is in danger - it will be your challenge to try to find words or actions that will calm your loved one and redirect his or her thinking. Read more →


A number of years back, my dad, who had developed dementia after a surgery to correct problems from a World War II brain injury, was seized by sudden, horrendous pain. While Dad had to cope with considerable pain from arthritis and some back issues, this was different. I knew his pain was acute and extreme by his body language and vocalizations, even though he couldn't articulate exactly what was wrong. Dad generally had the ability to communicate, though his dementia often skewed the information he was trying to share. Read more →


Dear Candid Caregiver: My dad enjoys going to the park and watching kids play. Since I try hard to give him the best life he can have considering that he has Alzheimer’s disease, I find this a positive experience. The problem is that there are times when Dad is glaringly inappropriate and I don’t know how to handle these moments. As an example, last week, he saw a child in the park dipping his toes in a pond. Dad began lecturing the child about not “falling in.” Of course, the child was confused and the mother seemed upset. I explained dad’s situation to the mom and she was kind, but I was embarrassed.  Read more →


Some situations, of course, leave no room for laughter. But some tough times can offer moments of levity if we choose to recognize them. My sister, Beth, and I experienced what to some people may be a rather macabre situation during the three days our mother was going through the death process. If we hadn't maintained our senses of humor, I'm not sure how we would have handled those sad, seemingly endless days. Read more →


When a beloved elder dies, we may have varying reactions, frequently changing moment by moment. Naturally, there's grief and the realization that we've seen the last of our loved one's physical presence. Often, however, if the death follows a long illness or significant pain, we can also feel a sense of relief that their suffering is over and we can get on with healing. It's often the in-between time - the caregiving years - that are the most difficult to label. Read more →


Dear Carol: My mother developed vascular dementia, personality issues, and speech problems after a stroke three years ago. She lives with me, and because of her difficult personality, my daughter no longer wants to bring my grandchildren here to visit. I retired early to care for Mom but now I feel trapped. Nothing I do for her is right. I’ve suggested that she might have a better life if she moved to assisted living and, surprisingly, she isn’t resistant though I know she’ll complain about them, too, if she moves. My sisters live out of the area so they are limited with what they can do. We have a highly rated assisted living facility in town, but thinking about moving Mom to any kind of care makes me feel like a selfish failure. I know that I’m depressed and burned out but I don’t know how to fix it. – CL Read more →