Reflections Feed

This Thanksgiving - not necessarily the day you are wrestling with the turkey at one home while you cope with a disoriented parent in another - but during the holiday time, you may find that making a gratitude list can help you discover the blessings wrapped in the guise of caring for your loved one. This exercise is one of the most effective tools I know of to relieve the frustrations that can come with "why me." Read more →


Emergency-room doctor Kevin Hasselhorst had an epiphany while he tried valiantly to save an elderly man who’d been through one too many traumas. His book, “Wishes To Die For: A Caregiver’s Guide to Advance Care Directives” was the first step toward a new advocacy. Dr. Hasselhorst continues to work toward helping people understand the importance of healthcare directives and the ability to make their own decisions about end-of-life care. 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 →


Dear Carol: Nine months ago my 63-year-old husband was happy and active and we were both looking forward to his retirement. Then he had a massive stroke and our lives were permanently changed. I’m very grateful to have him at all so I don’t want to be misunderstood. It’s just that I’m struggling. We’ve had to hire help for his care because therapy hasn’t been that effective and this expense is draining our savings. Our children want to help but they don’t live that close to us, so their ongoing help is impractical. Our faith tells us to be grateful for life, which of course, I am. I’m also grateful, and somewhat humiliated, to find that my husband is doing better emotionally than I am, but the holidays are approaching and I’m still angry and, worse, bitter. We aren’t and won’t be homeless, we have plenty to eat, and we don’t owe money, so I feel guilty that I can’t find more gratitude. How do I get beyond this bitterness and find gratitude? - NM Read more →


Caregivers will experience anxiety. It simply goes with the territory. How to cope with that anxiety is the true challenge because if we don’t cope well we, too, may become ill. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recognizes this in the article Physical and Mental Health Effects of Family Caregiving, which concludes that “caregiving is a major public health issue.” Knowing how caregiving can affect your long-term health should help you understand that your anxiety isn’t something to take lightly. Read more →


My car, buffeted by wind that had chilled to 30 below zero, plowed through yet-to-be-cleared streets. Mom had set off her personal alarm so the dispatcher called me as planned. It had been one of those days. I’d just returned home from the nearby nursing facility after trying to calm my dad, who was experiencing a major anxiety episode due to his dementia. 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.  Read more →


People living with dementia are the only ones who really understand what it’s like to live with their form of the disease, whether it’s Alzheimer’s or another type such as frontotemporal (FTD) or Lewy body (LBD). Sadly, the ability to communicate becomes compromised by dementia. That being said, care partners can, if we take time to search out the meaning behind their words or actions, continue to improve the care provided. Here are some tips that can help you. Read more →


DEAR CAROL: My wife has had a stroke that’s left her mostly paralyzed on one side. She can’t speak well and she cries often. We’re in our 70s and have spent our lives as active church people. In fact, we’ve done our share of visiting hospitals and nursing homes representing the church. We’ve told people that what they are facing is their reality and that we will pray for them. We’ve told them to be grateful for what they have. Now, the shoe is on the other foot. I’m having a difficult time feeling grateful for anything at all. Instead, I feel angry, exhausted, frustrated and frightened. How could I have been such a hypocrite all of these years? – Roger Read more →


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 →