Dementia/Alzheimer's Feed

Dear Carol: Both of my parents were ill for years. Mom, who died two years ago, fought several types of cancer and then developed dementia. Dad, who died three months ago, had a massive stroke right after Mom’s death and his last years were full of physical and emotional pain. My brother and I grieve our parents, but we saw them wear out from health struggles and feel that they are now together in a better place, so there’s quite of bit of relief, as well. Knowing our parents are no longer suffering is part of the relief, but I’m also relieved that I can now spend more time with my husband and children without feeling that I’m taking something away from my parents. I confided this to a friend who has healthy parents and has never been a caregiver and she became really upset with me. She implied that I was a terrible person to have such feelings and said that since life is sacred, I should confess to our priest. Her response stunned me. Am I wrong to feel some relief that it’s all over? – KH Read more →


Choosing an individual or a company to come into our home, or that of a vulnerable loved one, to provide assistance with anything from cleaning to personal services is never easy. We are giving an unknown person access to not only our property but to the safety of our loved one who may need care while we are not able to supervise. Choosing the right person or company should be done methodically, and education can help you ask the right questions. Read more →


How vital is fitness to aging well? Very. A recent study of participants in the 2015 National Senior Games, also known as the Senior Olympics, revealed that the typical participant had a fitness age of more than 20 years younger than his or her chronological age. According to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, fitness age is determined by a measure of cardiovascular endurance and is a better predictor of longevity than chronological age. I asked Robert Drapkin, MD FACP, to help us understand ... 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.”  Read more →


Our culture is steeped in language that makes accepting the terminal diagnosis of ourselves or a loved one more difficult to accept than it needs to be. Doctors say, “I’m sorry, there’s nothing more we can do. You might want to look into hospice care.” Patients tell their doctors that they want “aggressive treatment,” until there is nothing else that can be done, then they will go on hospice care. The crux of these conversations is that medicine will do everything possible and then when you give up you will go on hospice care. Read more →


Decades ago, having grandparents move in with you was fairly common, and it often worked well. It did for my family. My parents built a new house that could accommodate all the different generations and afforded some privacy for all. Grandma moved in, and the arrangement worked. My mom did not work outside the home, so there was nearly always someone home with Grandma. I was also a born caregiver and gladly did what I could to help with both my toddler sister and my grandmother. Read more →


 I"ve written 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 →


Dear Carol: My 93-year-old grandma has hearing aids but she refuses to wear them. Her hearing without them is poor, and while she's taught herself to read lips that only works if I'm standing right in front of her. My husband's so frustrated that he stood in front of her the other morning and said, “I am not going to talk to you until you put your hearing aids in your ears.” I understand his frustration but his response doesn't seem right, either. Could there be some logical reason why Grandma won't wear her hearing aids? – WS Read more →


Insisting you are right because, well, you know better. You don’t have dementia. People living with dementia (PLWD) have an increasingly limited ability to understand the world as we see it. Therefore, we need to learn to see the world from their view. When we do this, we don’t argue if they say that they haven’t eaten all day even though lunch was an hour ago. We just say, “Really? Then we’d better get you a snack.” Read more →


It's been nearly a decade since I began sharing my personal caregiving stories with the public, first via the book "Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories" and later through a newspaper column, on my own blog and then contributing to major websites such as Healthcentral.com. When I first started sharing my stories and looking for others who had similar tales to tell, people tended to be reticent about speaking up. Now, sharing caregiver "in the trenches" stories has become a major part of caregiver self-care and even survival. Read more →