Reflections Feed

Start with body language: The factor that allowed us to finally understand that my dad was ready for hospice care was when he’d prop himself up on one arm and repeatedly slam his fist into the opposing palm, with a grimace on his face as if he was trying to pound out the pain. Body language is a powerful means of expression – and often the only means for expression – for those who cannot express feelings. Read more →


Dear Carol: My 96-year-old mother has moderate signs of dementia and lives in an assisted living facility (ALF). Mom can feed herself but she needs assistance with most other activities including transferring from her bed to her lift-chair or wheelchair, but she won’t use her call-light to get help. Last evening, Mom had tried to move from the lift chair to the wheelchair and an aide found her on the floor. Mom wasn’t injured this time but what about the next time? The facility says they cannot use any alarms to alert staff that she is trying to get out of her bed or chair because these alarms are considered illegal restraints. Do you have any suggestions? Read more →


For most anyone who has been diagnosed with dementia, or has loved someone with a type of dementia, the formal diagnosis was a moment frozen in time. A moment where the thought of possibly having a brain-destroying disease became a confirmed reality. That pivotal moment is life-changing, however, people can move beyond that moment in time and learn to live with dementia. For our family, that moment arrived after my dad came out of a surgery that was supposed to repair damage caused by a World War II brain injury. Read more →


It’s difficult to watch our parents age. As their hair grays, wrinkles form and age spots multiply, we adult children can find ourselves feeling protective. We want to keep them healthy. We want to know that they are safely at home when there’s the slightest risk of bad weather. We don’t want them taking risks that could result in an injury. That’s love, after all, and parents appreciate being loved. It’s a mistake, however, to make yourself the director of your parents’ lives simply because they are piling on years. Think about it. Barring dementia – and as much as we hear about dementia, not everyone over 65 has become unable to make decisions... 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 →


Older adults, even those who are healthy, have been enthusiastic about many of the services now offered that can make aging at home easier. For people with health issues or those who can no longer drive, these services may make the difference between aging at home and moving to a care facility. With some couples, one person may be the primary caregiver for the other, but often the caregiver has chronic health issues as well. With the help of these services, older adults can stay independent longer. Read more →


There are countless positive aspects to long-term caregiving, but those who’ve done it know that there are also negative effects, many lifelong. While some effects have been well studied during this last decade, there are changes that occur within most caregiver’s lives that are hard to measure. Some are nearly universal to caregivers, some perhaps more unique to the individual. Below is a short list from my personal experience when it comes to negative effects of caregiving. You, the reader, may have additions and subtractions if you were to make your own list. Read more →


Dear Carol: My husband and I are retired and were enjoying our quiet life when my fiercely independent 89-year-old mother started showing signs of dementia. We felt that it was best for her to move in with us and she reluctantly agreed. Mother’s been in our home for seven months and, while my husband is a saint, I’m not. She’s driving me crazy. She tries to cook and I spend hours cleaning up from burned food and dumped wastebaskets. She tries to do her own personal care in the bathroom and dumps things in the toilet and then flushes so we’ve needed a plumber twice, so far. She has dropped and broken my makeup bottles leaving huge messes. She wants to eat in the living room and spills and rubs the mess into the couch. I’ve tried to talk to her but she says that she’s used to her own life. I know this isn’t her fault and that I’m supposed to be patient, but I’m not a natural caregiver. This makes me feel guilty but there you have it. Am I that unusual or do we live in a world of saints? – BD Read more →


Decades ago, when I began my caregiving life, I just did what I did. I’m not sure I was referred to as anything other than the daughter, the niece, or the mom, and I was too busy to care. However, as my elders became more dependent I began to hear myself, at least in medical settings, referred to as “the caretaker.” Somehow, that word made me grind my teeth. My loved ones were not a patch of land. They were not a house. They were not an object. Yet the term “caretaker” brought such images to mind. Read more →