Dear Carol: I have four siblings scattered around the country and one brother has stayed in the same community as our parents. This brother helped Dad with Mom’s care until she died and he’s now taking care of Dad. My brother is great except that he doesn’t keep the rest of us updated as much as we’d like. He says that at times he’s overwhelmed with work and taking care of Dad so his communication falls by the wayside. I understand that what he’s doing isn’t easy but we really need him to put a higher priority on communicating with us about Dad’s health. Maybe we could help more if we knew more. – VW Read more →


...No rest for the caregiver. I climbed back in the car and fought my way through the streets to Mom. It wasn’t another false alarm. Mom really had fallen, and as usually happens after a fall, I couldn’t get her up off the floor by myself. I had to call the EMTs — again. Thankfully, this time she wasn’t seriously hurt. Hours later, once I’d settled Mom in her bed, I forced my way back through the still unplowed streets toward home, hoping for a couple of hours of sleep before morning, when I had to take my uncle to his neurology appointment for a post-stroke checkup. Read more →


Dear Candid Caregiver: My parents are both in their late 70s and doing quite well but I see that the need for making decisions about their futures, or at least gathering information, is closing in. We live in the same community, so my husband and I have been helping with some minor things around their home, but they are very independent and hire out the most difficult jobs. However, with time, I know that more help from us will be necessary. When do I consider myself their caregiver? How do I begin? What do I need to know? – Potential Newbie Read more →


Dear Candid Caregiver: My dad is having around-the-clock home care, which was his choice early on when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. He’s in the later stages now, but he keeps telling his caregivers, including me when I take a shift, that he wants to go home. I read an article that you wrote where you said that asking to go home didn't necessarily mean any particular home, but your comments were directed toward the idea of someone living in a nursing home. Since Dad is in the home where he lived for nearly 40 years, you'd think he'd feel some comfort from that. In fact, that's one reason we've continued to stretch the finances to keep all of this care in his home. What could he possibly want that we aren't delivering? – Sad and Bewildered Read more →


...The internet can be useful for starting these searches and there are a couple of quite different ways to go about it. The Medicare site Nursing Home Compare is probably the logical first choice though, in my opinion, it should simply be one tool because, like all current tools, it is imperfect. Certain categories are self-rated by the nursing homes involved, which sets up questionable results. Also, since states vary in how they do inspections, standards that may seem high in one location may not rate so well in another, so even those categories are not unbiased. Still, Nursing Home Compare is a tool, so I’d suggest that you use it as a launching pad. Just keep an open mind. Read more →


Most of us who have cared for someone living with dementia have tried our best to determine how best to provide that care. We research. We try putting ourselves in their place. We do our best to be patient because we understand that they can’t help their having the disease. Still, we are human and we make mistakes. While we shouldn’t wallow in guilt when we do make mistakes as a care partner, there are situations that we should try extra hard to avoid. Here are nine of them. Read more →


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 →