Reflections Feed

A number of years back, my dad, who had developed dementia after a surgery to correct problems from a World War II brain injury, was seized by sudden, horrendous pain. While Dad had to cope with considerable pain from arthritis and some back issues, this was different. I knew his pain was acute and extreme by his body language and vocalizations, even though he couldn't articulate exactly what was wrong. Dad generally had the ability to communicate, though his dementia often skewed the information he was trying to share. Read more →


Dear Candid Caregiver: My dad enjoys going to the park and watching kids play. Since I try hard to give him the best life he can have considering that he has Alzheimer’s disease, I find this a positive experience. The problem is that there are times when Dad is glaringly inappropriate and I don’t know how to handle these moments. As an example, last week, he saw a child in the park dipping his toes in a pond. Dad began lecturing the child about not “falling in.” Of course, the child was confused and the mother seemed upset. I explained dad’s situation to the mom and she was kind, but I was embarrassed.  Read more →


Some situations, of course, leave no room for laughter. But some tough times can offer moments of levity if we choose to recognize them. My sister, Beth, and I experienced what to some people may be a rather macabre situation during the three days our mother was going through the death process. If we hadn't maintained our senses of humor, I'm not sure how we would have handled those sad, seemingly endless days. Read more →


When a beloved elder dies, we may have varying reactions, frequently changing moment by moment. Naturally, there's grief and the realization that we've seen the last of our loved one's physical presence. Often, however, if the death follows a long illness or significant pain, we can also feel a sense of relief that their suffering is over and we can get on with healing. It's often the in-between time - the caregiving years - that are the most difficult to label. 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 →


While Alzheimer’s disease will progress differently for each person, scientists and clinicians have attempted to stage the disease as a way that helps people living with Alzheimer’s and their families understand what is happening, as well as to plan for the future. Some divide AD into seven stages, some five stages, but currently, three stages is the format most often used. The Alzheimer’s Association uses three stages, so that is what we will use for our foundation here. 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 →


The people we love and care for often reach a point where we can no longer be sole care providers and we need to look at options. This is painful because up to this point we’ve likely been partners in their care but haven’t had to make forceful decisions. Now, things have changed. Because so many people have a negative view of nursing homes, the idea of going to a care facility terrifies many older people and being the person to make this decision can be agony. Read more →


Dear Carol: My dad, who had been Mom’s caregiver for years, died suddenly from a stroke. I can’t say that I’m surprised because he was under enormous stress trying to cope with first Mom’s illness from cancer treatments, and more recently her early stage Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Needless to say, we’re all heartbroken over Dad’s sudden death as well as up in the air about how to handle Mom. She seems to be in total denial, though some of her repeated questions may be due to occasional short-term memory loss. How do we help her with this shock and grief? – VB Read more →


People stare. Most are not unkind, they are just curious. But when someone "different" from the norm becomes part of their environment, they often gawk without thinking about or understanding how this affects others. Anyone who has cared for a disabled child or has a visible disability of their own knows this. However, people who care for an elder with dementia may have more difficulty coping with the stares of the public because the person they are caring for was once their dignified father or charismatic mother. The pain of seeing others stare, not knowing how this person was robbed of his or her cognitive abilities, has the potential to bring out the defensive protector that lies within each of us. Read more →