Mental Health and Depression 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 →


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 →


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 →


...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 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 →


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 →


The idea that some people can stay positive after receiving a dementia diagnosis seems surprising to many, yet when faced with adversity we have only two choices — make the best of what is in front of us, or live with negativity. No one is suggesting that living with a positive outlook after being given a diagnosis for any serious disease is easy, but negative thinking is risky for your overall health, while positive thinking has health benefits. Read more →


HealthCentral: In reading “The Only Way Out,” I was especially taken with your advice about saying goodbye to your old life and letting go of what was before you can move on. This is a complicated process, and your book takes this on in depth, but could you give us a few brief tips that people can hold on to? Read more →