TheCandidCaregiverColumn Feed

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 →


...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 →


Dear Candid Caregiver: My parents are both in their late 70s and doing quite well but I see that the need for making decisions about their futures, or at least gathering information, is closing in. We live in the same community, so my husband and I have been helping with some minor things around their home, but they are very independent and hire out the most difficult jobs. However, with time, I know that more help from us will be necessary. When do I consider myself their caregiver? How do I begin? What do I need to know? – Potential Newbie Read more →


Dear Candid Caregiver: My dad is having around-the-clock home care, which was his choice early on when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. He’s in the later stages now, but he keeps telling his caregivers, including me when I take a shift, that he wants to go home. I read an article that you wrote where you said that asking to go home didn't necessarily mean any particular home, but your comments were directed toward the idea of someone living in a nursing home. Since Dad is in the home where he lived for nearly 40 years, you'd think he'd feel some comfort from that. In fact, that's one reason we've continued to stretch the finances to keep all of this care in his home. What could he possibly want that we aren't delivering? – Sad and Bewildered Read more →


...The internet can be useful for starting these searches and there are a couple of quite different ways to go about it. The Medicare site Nursing Home Compare is probably the logical first choice though, in my opinion, it should simply be one tool because, like all current tools, it is imperfect. Certain categories are self-rated by the nursing homes involved, which sets up questionable results. Also, since states vary in how they do inspections, standards that may seem high in one location may not rate so well in another, so even those categories are not unbiased. Still, Nursing Home Compare is a tool, so I’d suggest that you use it as a launching pad. Just keep an open mind. 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 →


“I hope we don’t have another funeral this Christmas,” my young son said after we wrapped up Halloween. Hearing my child voice that fear nearly broke my heart, but our family had endured the deaths of two elders during the last two Christmas seasons so why wouldn't he wonder if this year would be the same? Thankfully, that particular year we didn’t have a funeral during the season, though we did have another death at that time the following year. Read more →


For years, the push to do something about Alzheimer’s disease focused almost entirely on drug development. Find a cure. Develop a vaccine to prevent the disease. Develop a drug to “manage” people who live with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. What many people weren’t noticing, however, was that in tandem with this effort was a quiet revolution doggedly moving forward.  Long championed by Dr. Bill Thomas of Changing Aging among others, the thinking behind this movement has always been to recognize that people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia were first and foremost people. Read more →