TheCandidCaregiverColumn Feed

Family caregivers provide many functions for their older adults or spouses, from transporting them to a social event to encouraging healthy habits. Caregivers can also find themselves in a cycle of bouncing from one emergency to the next. Juggling crises is a significant part of what we do, so learning how to handle these situations is helpful. Emergency physician Kevin Haselhorst, M.D., an expert in advance care planning, speaks to patients, family members, and healthcare providers about advance directives, palliative, and end-of-life care. Here are some of his tips. 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.”  Read more →


According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), falls are the leading cause of death from injury among older adults. Thom Disch has a passion for this topic and has been compiling statistics and stories related to this healthcare crisis for over a decade. Thom owns HandiProducts, a web-based business that showcases the dozens of products that he has developed specifically for preventing slips and falls. He also wrote “Stop the Slip,” which is packed with practical tips. Read more →


Dear Candid Caregiver: As far back as I can remember my grandmother has had a dog. For the last 10 years, this dog has been Tippy, a small, male, mixed-breed that has been an ideal companion. The problem is that Grandma is getting less able to care for herself — let alone Tippy — and she is going to need to move to an assisted living facility (ALF). I’ve checked around, and while some local ALFs will let people bring their cats, none locally will allow them to keep a dog because dogs need to be let outside, among other excuses. Read more →


Insisting you are right because, well, you know better. You don’t have dementia. People living with dementia (PLWD) have an increasingly limited ability to understand the world as we see it. Therefore, we need to learn to see the world from their view. When we do this, we don’t argue if they say that they haven’t eaten all day even though lunch was an hour ago. We just say, “Really? Then we’d better get you a snack.” Read more →


Dear Candid Caregiver: My mom passed two years ago and my dad hasn’t done well since. Recently he had a stroke. My sister, who lives 1,000 miles away, came out for mom’s funeral, and she also visited for a few days after dad’s stroke, but she has a job and a family and couldn’t stay long. Now, dad’s been diagnosed with vascular dementia. Realistically, I’m the sole caregiver. I have two teenaged children, a husband who is, so far, supportive, and a job. I’m already beginning to feel burned out after just a few months. What can I do to help myself get through this and still take care of my dad? — Frazzled Read more →


Dear Candid Caregiver: My parents were always open about their long-term plans for retirement, saying that they’ve worked hard and retirement was going to be the payoff. Travel was huge on the horizon. Now, my dad has been diagnosed with mixed dementia, which, in his case, means Alzheimer’s and possibly Lewy body dementia, so their dreams are pretty much canceled...Dear Sad but Tense: I’m so sorry about what’s happened, not only to your dad but to your whole family. Generally, when I hear about ruined retirement plans, the letter comes from a spouse, so you provide an observant perspective that we can all learn from. I’m certain that your mom doesn’t have any idea that her grief, her anger, and her stress over what happened is showing... Read more →


A study from the Family Caregiving Alliance found that adult children caring for their parents, as well as parents caring for chronically ill children, may have their lifespan shortened by four to eight years. Caregivers could conceivably alter these statistics if they practice reasonable self-care. Read more →


Dear Candid Caregiver: My mother is in a lovely assisted living facility and I have to say that she’s having a ball. While she’s always had a tendency to play “the Grand Lady,” this arrangement seems to have given her even more of a feeling of entitlement. There’s another woman with a similar personality and they seem to have a turf war going on, even to the point of “recruiting” people for their tables. I’m thrilled that Mom has competition – it’s about time – and I find the whole scenario funny. I don’t see a problem with laughing... 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 →