Reflections Feed

Dear Carol:  About six months ago my dad had a stroke that’s left him struggling to get out his words. Since he was always so eloquent, this is extra hard on him. I dread visiting him at the nursing home because my visits seem to cause him more frustration than pleasure. I know he wants me to visit, but maybe the fact that we’d always had fun debating ideas makes it harder on him since I bring back memories of better days. I love him and want to spend as much time with him as I can, but how do I do this without causing him grief?  – RE Read more →


Once dementia is part of the family, it will be part of the holidays. The person with dementia will have good days and bad days and will change as the disease progresses. One thing we can count on, though, is that a loved one with dementia will need special consideration. How does a caregiver realistically cope with the holidays? Read more →


Dear Candid Caregiver: I’m a divorced, middle-aged woman who’d very much enjoy a relationship but I can’t even date because my mother gets mad when I do. I thought that I’d left this behind after high school but I’m obviously wrong. Mom had a stroke two years ago and recovered as well as can be expected. Other than having a slight limp, there’s little physical sign of what she went through. 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 →


Dear Carol: My sister is the primary caregiver for our dad who is in a nursing home because of Alzheimer’s disease. She lives in his community and I live over 100 miles away. I try to visit every other weekend to give my sister a much-deserved break and often we’ll meet at the nursing home. I do understand her stress. She has a husband, a job, middle-school-aged kids with all that goes with raising kids, plus the primary responsibility of our dad. The problem is that her stress shows in her body language when she's helping Dad. I know that I'm not always as soothing and gentle as I should be either, so I’m not being super critical about her. Still, I’m not sure that she’s aware that she needs to try to do better in this area. Dad sometimes looks confused even when she’s trying to soothe him, and I’m wondering if her motions tell him that she’s angry. Should I bring this up? Read more →


One of the most commonly asked questions about cognitive issues is “Is it Alzheimer’s or dementia?” The short answer is, Alzheimer’s is one type of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Dementia is a general term for loss of memory and other mental abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life. It is caused by physical changes in the brain.” Read more →


While family members providing care for loved ones share many issues, there’s a different emotional dynamic for spousal caregivers than adult children caring for a parent. Betsy E. Wurzel, spousal caregiver for her husband Matt Sloan, can attest to this. Matt was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease (EOAD), at age 56. 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 →


Thankfully, during this past decade, because of technology along with other awareness efforts, caregiver support has exploded with resources and professional help. Still, caregivers long to connect personally with each other and share, on an intimate level, what they’ve learned. The stories below are examples of that sharing spirit. Caregiving will change your life both positively and negatively, but these caregivers make it clear that you don’t have to go through it alone. Read more →


Even though holidays can be fraught with stress because of societal expectations that they be happy no matter what our circumstances, most of us have happy memories of celebrations when we were young. Our parents were in charge, and kids were the focus. As our parents age and can no longer be in charge of celebrations, the duties tend to fall to adult children. Our heart's desire is to provide a way for our aging parents to enjoy the holidays, but their circumstances can make that challenging. First and foremost, however, remember that it's your presence that is the most important thing. That, and helping your parents to feel included in whatever way they can participate. Read more →