Health Feed

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 →


Dear Carol: I recently had an experience that I'd like to share with your readers. My dad has several serious physical and mental conditions so his medical file is complicated. Recently, a new drug to help with breathing problems was released and his doctor, who is outstanding in all ways, saw no reason for Dad not to try it. We left the clinic in good spirits but had barely gotten Dad home when my phone rang. It was the pharmacy telling me that an information update had alerted them that dad’s newly prescribed drug could seriously interact with one of his other prescriptions. I asked the pharmacist to follow through with 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 →


A decade ago it was difficult for a caregiver to find relatable books to sustain them as they struggled to make sense of their new role in life. Thankfully, that’s changed. Caregivers can now choose from hundreds of memoirs and informational tomes. One of the best of the former category is Ann Campanella’s “Motherhood Lost and Found: A Memoir.” What makes this book stand out, aside from fine writing, is that the author was enduring not only the agony of losing her mother to Alzheimer’s but also a series of miscarriages. Read more →


...But most people wait until they're well into middle age before taking care of this important legal work. For those who die young, or are disabled because of an unexpected event such as a car accident or ill-fated dive into an unfamiliar lake, it’s too late. Their families may have to fight in the courts and in hospital wards in order to carry through with the decisions that they believe this young person would have wanted them to make. 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.. Read more →


Dear Carol: My mother is doing great cognitively but she relies heavily on a walker. Even though she’s pretty steady, walkers can catch or get off balance. She’s grudgingly agreed to let me get rid of her throw rugs and I’ve had grab handles installed in her bathroom, by her bed, and in the hallway where we get her ready to go out. The biggest problem during these last months has been the ice and snow. I’ll have to get Mom from the car into the clinic for another appointment soon and I’m already starting to sweat how to do it safely, especially if we have a cycle of melting and refreezing. – VH Read more →


Dear Candid Caregiver: As far back as I can remember my grandmother has had a dog. For the last 10 years, this dog has been Tippy, a small, male, mixed-breed that has been an ideal companion. The problem is that Grandma is getting less able to care for herself — let alone Tippy — and she is going to need to move to an assisted living facility (ALF). I’ve checked around, and while some local ALFs will let people bring their cats, none locally will allow them to keep a dog because dogs need to be let outside, among other excuses. I’d take Tippy... Read more →


...A double whammy here is that chronic stress is a problem for most caregivers and stress can be a trigger for many people who live with chronic migraines. It is for me. The fact is that whether caregivers have migraines, severe arthritis, asthma, or any other ailment if they are still functioning better than the person or people for whom they care, they carry on. It’s what we do. Read more →


As a family caregiver of multiple elders, I needed a facility where more than one of my elders could live while I cared for others in various locations. My family was fortunate to find an excellent nursing home just a few blocks from my home. During the 15 years that my loved ones (different people at different times) lived in this facility, I learned a great deal about what makes a good nursing home tick. I interviewed a licensed nursing home administrator for her tips on selecting a nursing home not long ago, but as a family member, I’d like to add a few more ideas. Read more →