Family Feed

Dear Carol: My mother is 76, healthy, and enjoying life. She lives in the same small home where I grew up. Mom still drives though she’s smart about when and where and in cases where she’s not comfortable she rides with younger friends or I drive her.  She loves to garden but again is smart and hires the heavy work done. She’s agreed to wear a personal alarm so that I can be alerted if she has an emergency. We see each other nearly once a week and chat or email daily. So why am I writing? I have two coworkers who have parents with Alzheimer’s. They are laying guilt on me because I’m not “making” my mother move to a “safe environment.” Why would I want to insist that Mom do anything different? Mom says to ignore them, and I try, but I hate the guilt trips. I love my mother and will do what I can to help. Am I a neglectful caregiver? – JE Read more →


When the average person thinks of dementia, generally Alzheimer’s disease comes to mind. At the same time, the person will likely think of memory loss. Both of these conclusions are understandable since Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and memory issues are often, though not always, the first symptom of that disease. Surprising then, to many people, is the fact that there may be earlier indicators of potential Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia than frequent memory lapses. Read more →


“I hope we don’t have another funeral this Christmas,” my young son said after we wrapped up Halloween. Hearing my child voice that fear nearly broke my heart, but our family had endured the deaths of two elders during the last two Christmas seasons so why wouldn't he wonder if this year would be the same? Thankfully, that particular year we didn’t have a funeral during the season, though we did have another death at that time the following year. Read more →


Start with body language: The factor that allowed us to finally understand that my dad was ready for hospice care was when he’d prop himself up on one arm and repeatedly slam his fist into the opposing palm, with a grimace on his face as if he was trying to pound out the pain. Body language is a powerful means of expression – and often the only means for expression – for those who cannot express feelings. Read more →


Dear Carol: My 96-year-old mother has moderate signs of dementia and lives in an assisted living facility (ALF). Mom can feed herself but she needs assistance with most other activities including transferring from her bed to her lift-chair or wheelchair, but she won’t use her call-light to get help. Last evening, Mom had tried to move from the lift chair to the wheelchair and an aide found her on the floor. Mom wasn’t injured this time but what about the next time? The facility says they cannot use any alarms to alert staff that she is trying to get out of her bed or chair because these alarms are considered illegal restraints. Do you have any suggestions? Read more →


For most anyone who has been diagnosed with dementia, or has loved someone with a type of dementia, the formal diagnosis was a moment frozen in time. A moment where the thought of possibly having a brain-destroying disease became a confirmed reality. That pivotal moment is life-changing, however, people can move beyond that moment in time and learn to live with dementia. For our family, that moment arrived after my dad came out of a surgery that was supposed to repair damage caused by a World War II brain injury. Read more →


Increasingly, stress is considered a risk factor for dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s. Stress is also a risk factor for stroke and heart attack as well as a trigger for many diseases from arthritis to psoriasis. Obviously, limiting stress in our lives is a good idea. But how? Simply living what we call modern life seems to make stress the norm.  Read more →


Can people find happiness – even joy – while living with dementia? That depends, of course, on one’s definition of happiness and joy. But I do believe that there can be satisfying moments for people with dementia and their caregivers. World War II left my dad with a brain injury. He was in a coma for six weeks and had to learn to walk and talk again. This he did. He went on to live a successful life, at least until he was in his 70s and fluid started building up behind the scar tissue in his brain. Read more →


It’s difficult to watch our parents age. As their hair grays, wrinkles form and age spots multiply, we adult children can find ourselves feeling protective. We want to keep them healthy. We want to know that they are safely at home when there’s the slightest risk of bad weather. We don’t want them taking risks that could result in an injury. That’s love, after all, and parents appreciate being loved. It’s a mistake, however, to make yourself the director of your parents’ lives simply because they are piling on years. Think about it. Barring dementia – and as much as we hear about dementia, not everyone over 65 has become unable to make decisions... Read more →


Dear Carol: My parents are so isolated in their home because their neighborhood is so changed that they want to move to assisted living. Apparently, they’ve heard good things about these facilities from friends but most of these friends are better off financially than my parents. I’ve tried to convince them to come north to be near me, but that’s not going to happen, and I have a job that I’m firmly planted in up north so I can’t move there. I’ll fly down to help them decide about a facility, and again to move, but I’d like assistance in sorting the choices. Can I trust the senior “placement” companies that I see advertised?– PR Read more →