Saturday, December 29, 2007
This is one explosive topic to handle. For
one thing, when someone has to give up
driving, they lose independence. Many
will fight the mere mention of it. Then,
some elders are so self-aware, they know
themselves when it's time to toss the keys!
We've all heard the horror stories of the
senseless accidents involving elderly drivers.
Pressing the accelerator, claiming they
thought it was the brake, etc.
Right in my hometown, an elderly driver
plowed into a department store front,
killing a Christmas shopper. Both families
were left totally devastated. The guilt
suffered by those who were well aware
of the limited ability of the driver have
to live with the knowledge the rest of their
The fact is that many elders are at higher
risk for driving accidents. We have to
monitor the situation.
Driving ability is affected by...
1. Hearing loss
Impaired hearing comes on gradually. A
senior may miss hearing honking, sirens
2. Vision loss
Depth perception and judging speed of
oncoming traffic are affected with age.
Night vision worsens and eyes are more
sensitive to sunlight and glare.
Full range of motion is needed for operating
a motor vehicle. Flexibility decreases with
age. Chronic conditions limit mobility.
Side-effects increase driving risk.
Older people sometimes don't sleep well
at night. This causes drowsiness during the
day and many doze off behind the wheel.
6. Dementia and brain impairment
Probably the cause of most accidents. Driver
becomes confused and frustrated. They have
delayed reactions or simply forget driving
mechanics. (happened to my father)
In a perfect world, drivers of all ages would
know when they should quit driving. Since
that's not the case, the caregivers have to
keep watch. Our elders may think we're
being cruel. They may hate us for a time
but it has to be done. For their benefit as
much as everyone else crossing their path.
P.S. Elder care experts speak of their
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Nothing to it...
A good friend visited this afternoon who
lost her father just a couple days after
Mom died. (her Dad and Mom were good
friends, as well) Anyway, we were bringing
up good memories of Christmases-past and
having a chuckle.
One of my favorite memories of Mom is the
Christmas she decided to crochet sachets
filled with potpourri for our friends. They were
beautiful. All different colors, all decorated
differently. No two were alike.
I went to the craft store and found decorations
to sew on the sachets that matched the receiver's
personality, hobbies or life in some way. One
gardener had tiny shovels, watering cans and
flowers on hers. You get the picture...
Anyhow! There was a very special person in
my life at that time. Mom liked him too! She
wondered if he'd like one. Sure! Only trouble,
I picked black as the color for the bag.
(I love black) I wasn't thinking...
Mom had macular degeneration. Her eyesight
was failing badly. When I noticed it was taking
much longer to crochet this black bag compared
to the many others, I asked her about it. First,
she didn't want to say. She was so determined!
Then she confessed. It was extremely hard for
her to SEE to work with the black crochet cotton.
I felt terrible! Forget about it, I told her. No way.
She was going to complete this work if it took her
until Valentine's Day. And, she did.
I never told my friend how much love and care
went into the creation of his special gift. I was so
proud of her at the moment she proudly held it up.
"It's finished!" she said with a beaming smile. And
it was finished in plenty of time...
Thank you, Mom! I'll never forget what you did
that Christmas. How touched everyone was who
were special enough to receive one. They all still
talk about theirs. I will cherish mine forever.
The special friend? I couldn't tell you how he feels.
I don't know. He decided I was not special enough
to be in his life. Although he'll always be in my heart.
I hope, if he still has his gift from the heart, he can
look at it and feel good, if only for a moment in time.
Hold and cherish the good memories. Forget the bad ones...
Saturday, December 22, 2007
It's supposed to be the most wonderful
time of the year. For those lucky people
who can say it is the best time of the year,
count your blessings.
For many, sadly it is the most terrible
time of the year. You only have to witness
the suicide rate over the holidays.
It tracks the same with our elderly loved ones.
My heart breaks for those who need to live
in nursing homes and family members are too
far away to visit.
Dedicated staff try their best to bring joy
into their patients' lives but most residents
will say they long for a visit from a son or
I was way fortunate than most. My mom
was able to live with me right up until she
passed on. This will be the second Christmas
without her. Since I'm divorced and don't
have children of my own, it's sad. I wish
she were here so I could watch her do her
favorite thing. Opening her Christmas stocking!
What joy shone in her eyes!
I always watched for signs of depression with
her. Dad's favorite time of year was Christmas
and Mom would be sad thinking of all their
Christmases together. But, she had me and
many wonderful friends.
We have to keep close watch, all year really
but especially during holidays and anniversaries
to ensure our elderly loved ones get help
before they slide into depression. Sadness is
normal. Depression is heart-wrenching for
Since everyone seems to get busier and busier
each year, sometimes it's easy to forget how
aging parents are doing. Especially if they are
Trust me on this. When they are no longer
with us, it's not the insane hustle and bustle
of getting ready for Christmas that we
It will be the memory of our loved ones. It
will be the memories of all our Christmases
together. From children up until their deaths.
There's only one thing that is important in
this life. And that's love. Unconditional love.
If you live close enough to get to your aging
parent's side, do it. To heck with last-minute
shopping. You've already bought enough.
Nobody will see that speck of dirt on the floor.
People will be adding more, for sure. As for the
dust bunnies, I say throw tinsel on them!
If your parents don't have trouble with mobility,
but are unable to drive, get them around to visit
their friends. If they can't go out safely, especially
if there's ice or snow-covered walkways, go
Throw an open house for their friends to come
to them. Yes, it all takes time. But think about
this. You may go to a Christmas party hosted
by someone you don't even like very much.
Which is more important in the big scheme of
Sometimes with Mom and I, the best times
were when we just sat side by side. We didn't
even have to talk. Maybe we'd read. Or she'd
crochet. It was just the "being together" that
made all the difference. We both felt loved.
So please take the time to love your elderly
loved ones. Spend precious time with them.
It could be the one thing you do that actually
keeps depression away.
Nothing is sadder than seeing anyone suffer
with depression. Especially our elderly.
I wish you all a love-filled Christmas and the
ability to create more magic memories. When
they are no longer on this earth, it's the only
thing we have of them.
Merry Christmas Everyone!
Merry Christmas Mom. I hope you get
the biggest, brightest red sock, ever!
P.S. For those who would like to learn how
to cope with the pressures and concerns of
caring for aging parents, here's help from
eldercare experts at...
Monday, December 10, 2007
Literally, I mean. The first thing to give me trouble
was my back. Now my mother was not a heavy
woman by any means. And over the years, she
became even tinier! (I could use some shrinkage
Some people may only think of your back giving
out if you're a caregiver for someone who is
bedridden. And you're lifting all the time. Not so!
We don't stop and think about what we actually
do everyday and how it can affect our backs.
For one example, if you care for someone with
balance problems. Funny. The one thing I miss
not having Mom anymore is I seem lopsided!
Whenever we went outside she had a firm grip
on my arm. Many times I had my arm around her.
She was my sidekick!
Think of the side and back strain you acquire after
years of leaning in that direction! Thank heavens
for wheelchairs and rollators!
Bathing is another concern. Before we used a
shower chair, I'd be helping her in and out of the
tub. You're so worried about them slipping, you
push your back beyond what you would do for
anyone or anything else.
It doesn't help when you're told to bend at the
knees when you are leaning over the bathtub.
Bend at your knees at the wrong time and the
care receiver goes flying. Or dunking.
All activities play havoc on your back. You won't
notice it right away but if you become laid up---
I know it's easier said than done but a caregiver
MUST take good care of themselves. Even a rush
job is better than nothing.
I found stretching to help. It sounds too simple but
it works. Especially if it's the lower back that's
Lay on your right side at the edge of your bed. Bring
your left leg up, knee bent and pull it toward you.
Really s-t-r-e-t-c-h. This is why you're at the very
edge of the bed. As you pull your leg toward you, it
will be off the side of the bed to get the best stretch.
Repeat on other side. I don't think I've explained this
very well. You should feel a loosening in the lower
back tension. You will look like a pretzel. You may
fall to the floor at first but it helps.
Any stretching will help. If you don't have the
time to do much of anything else, that is.
(Now if only I could draw!)
Back to the bathing part again. We would have
totally been lost without the shower chair and
the long-hosed, hand-held shower! A true
lifesaver in our day to day life.
And don't forget the tub supports. You can
find all kinds. The one I used was easily installed
(by me!) and was sturdy beyond belief. It clamped
over the side of the tub and was screwed in place
by a large PVC knob.
So, if any "other people" tell you to just
bend at the knees, tell them to "BACK OFF!".
You don't want to mess with a caregiver!
Saturday, December 8, 2007
financially. Unexpected things would come
up and they always seemed to take money.
This got me thinking of other caregivers.
There are many in the so-called "sandwich
On one side of them are their teenagers and
the other their parents who need them more
with each passing year. We all know how much
money it takes to provide just the necessities
for a family, much less luxuries!
And if you happen to be divorced and doing it
all alone, there are times you truly feel abandoned.
If being a caregiver means you have an aging parent
living with you and you can't work outside the home,
it can be difficult.
I came across something today that I would have
given anything for many years ago. It is a way
to make money at home. A legitimate way to make
money. A real home based business opportunity.
One in which you have flexibility in the hours you
choose to work. Now of course this would depend
on the health of your parent. And to what degree
you have to be "on watch".
Obviously, it would be impossible if you were taking
care of an Alzheimer's patient. But, then again, you
and only you know what is possible in your given
The other requirement is to have a "quiet room"
to do this job. No barking dogs or loud teenagers
when you are "at work". You have to be professional.
If this sounds like something you'd like to look into,
you can learn more about it right here...
For many caregivers, we get so wrapped up in
other people, we forget how to look after ourselves
and our own needs. Caregiver burnout is one thing
a caregiver has to be aware of at all times.
Monday, December 3, 2007
All year I like to say, "It's just another day. Put
your mind into perspective!"
Then the calender gets turned to December and
even though I fight it, I slip into a depression.
You see, my mother resided with me for years.
She didn't want to go into a nursing home and
as long as it was possible for her to be with me,
I didn't want to face that decision either.
Luckily, we were together til the end. I do
count myself lucky for all the years we did have
together. But, as you all know, there's something
about Christmas. It's the one day that tugs on
every heart string you have.
I'm divorced, no siblings or children, so I truly
do feel alone. My network of loving friends sustain
me. Still, my last thought as I drift off to sleep at
night is always about my Mom.
For all those who have had to say goodbye to an
aging parent this year, think of the special times,
hold on to your loved ones and cry when you need
The first Christmas without them is hard. I try
to fill my head with good thoughts and move one
foot at a time. As they say....the days will pass.
Merry Christmas, Mom...
Monday, November 26, 2007
hobby, please encourage them to do so.
My dear Mom was an avid crocheter. She did
exceptional work. Everyone thought so.
She continued to crochet up until just months
before she died at 95. It gave her immense
satisfaction. She was doing something she loved.
The mental benefits Mom received from her
beloved hobby were immeasurable. She got quite
a kick when people would commission her to do
a piece. And pay good money for her work!
Your parent could be getting the same joys from
their hobby. It gives validation when they make
money from something they've created.
We all need to feel validated. For the aging population,
I think it's even more important. Because their age
has caused them to give up so many other things.
Since we all complain that it's so hard to know what
to buy an older person (because they HAVE everything),
how about a Christmas gift that will put the spark back
In memory of my Mom, Dorothy...
Saturday, October 13, 2007
From tying shoelaces to bathing. Many
times you'll wonder how it all came down
These are frustrating times. For you.
And for your parent. They too, remember
how it was before their bodies failed them.
A great thing to do for everyone is to
remember the past. When your parent
Gather up pictures of your parent when
they were young. In their prime. Put
the photos out where you can see them.
Make a collage or scrapbook. Find pictures
of your parent as they went through their
life. As a child, a teenager, a newlywed, a
young mother, etc...
It can be beneficial and heartwarming for
both of you to sit together and look at
It's a great reminder of why you are your
parent's caregiver now.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
mother getting Alzheimer's Disease. Mom
and I both coped with all her health-related
issues rather well, I thought.
But I knew Alzheimer's would force a
choice I didn't want to make. My Mom
wouldn't be able to live with me anymore.
As sole caregiver with no siblings, it
wouldn't have been an option.
But we were lucky. Mom lived to be
95. Mind sharper than mine. And we
For the caregivers of aging parents who
are faced with Alzheimer's, my heart
goes out to you.
This is the most distressing disease for
the patient, family members and care
So if your parent has been diagnosed
or you are beginning to suspect Alzheimer's
Disease, you'll want to be well-equipped to
handle what the future holds.
We must remember. The brain is damaged.
The patient cannot make sense or use logic
to what they see and hear. Scary, right?
The patient has no control over what they
are doing. They can't prevent themselves
from doing or saying things they would have
never done when their brains were healthy.
Some Tips For The Caregiver
1. Learn everything you can about the dementing
illness. We can't begin to understand anything if
we just don't know about it. This understanding
of the dementing illness will help us cope.
2. Talk to the patient if the illness is mild to
moderate. You'll both be able to share your feelings,
memories and concerns for the future.
3. Solve problems one at a time. Choose one thing
that has you in turmoil and make little changes
until you see a difference. Everything can't be
conquered at once.
4. Rest. The caregiver must have respite care. They
have to take care of themselves. It's been reported
that chronic caregiver stress leads to a shortened
life span for the caregiver. Serious stuff!
5. Adapt. Always ask yourself, "Is it that big of a deal?"
If the patient wants to do something like sleep in their
clothes, is the frustration of trying to force them into
pj's really worth the stress?
6. Laugh. You must find ways to make what you can
funny. Talk to other caregivers and find the humor in
the situation. The patient needs laughter as well!
If you'd like to learn more about this painful disease,
Monday, October 1, 2007
We "only children" have it much harder as
our parents age. There are no brothers and
sisters to turn to for emotional support.
There is nobody to take turns in being
the caregiver. It can be lonely. And it can
The only ones who truly understand are
the caregivers in the same situation.
This is why it is absolutely essential to
research the support assistance available
to you in your community!
It's been proven that chronic stress of
caregivers is known to shorten our life-span.
With me, I always thought my heart would
give out. The running joke with Mom was
that she'd outlive me because I was always
If she so much as bumped her rollator into
the couch, my heart lurched and palpitated.
A constant flood of adrenaline is not good!
I didn't know how hard it was on the heart
until she passed away. (thankfully, she was
able to live with me until the end) I miss Mom.
But, I don't miss the adrenaline surges!
As an only child, please look into respite services,
home-care support, anything your community
offers to assist you in elder care. They truly are
Check with your doctor, your hospital, the phone
directory, anything...Don't stop until you have
help lined up.
It will save you from caregiver burnout and
possibly add years to your life!
Click Here! if you'd like to learn more about
getting information from eldercare experts.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
your aging parent will have to move from
their home because it's for their health and
***Warning Signs To Watch For***
1. Weight loss
Are your parents having unexplained weight loss?
Many diseases cause this such as cancer, depression,
heart failure, dementia and malnutrition.
2. Are they safe in their home?
As you go through their home be on the look-out
for things like the condition of stairs. Is there
proper lighting? Loose scatter mats can be a
menace. Properly installed smoke detectors...
3. How are their spirits?
We all have bad days but signs of depression are
poor hygiene, neglected housework, shutting
themselves off from the outside world.
4. How is their mobility?
Are they unsteady on their feet? Do they need a
cane or walker to make it easier for them to move
5. Hearing & vision
Are they able to hear the doctor and pharmacist?
Can they see to read instructions? Have they
had any recent falls or injuries?
You really do have to be an investigator with aging
parents. They will not always answer your questions
truthfully. Remember, it sucks to get older and more
feeble. Be gentle but firm in your quest for the truth.
Look at things from a new perspective. Like child-
proofing a home, you have to "think in their shoes".
No, of course they don't want to leave their home
but they have to realize there are times when their
health and safety are at risk.
Especially when an aging parent is living alone. Then
you have to be extra diligent in your assessment.
If you live too far away to "investigate", try to arrange
a friend or family member living close by to watch
these things for you.
Be strong and help them stay around as long as
Sunday, September 23, 2007
a friend or family member of someone who
is the sole caregiver to an elderly parent?
If so, you have probably said many times,
"If there's ever anything I can do to help,
just let me know." Right?
How many times did the caregiver take you
up on that generous offer? I'm guessing not
many. That's because it's hard for so many
people to come right out and ask for help.
They feel they should be doing it all by
themselves. And, that's asking for major
If you really want to help your friend, the
caregiver, you will need to offer concrete
***Tips On Being A Caregiver's Best Friend***
1. If you going to the grocery store, call them
and say, " I'm heading out for groceries. Is
there anything I can pick up for you? "
2. " I have to pick up items and prescriptions at
the pharmacy. Can I pick up anything for you?"
3. " I'm going to the dry-cleaners. Do you need
anything dropped off? "
4. If your friend has pets that maybe aren't getting
their usual TLC, offer to take the dogs for a walk.
Or drop by and give extra attention to the cats.
4. Call up sometime and say, " I have several hours
to spare. Why don't I come over and you take
the time to get out of the house? Go do something
you really want to do."
5. If you've noticed yard work that should be done,
jump in and do it.
6. Offer to take the care receiver out for the afternoon.
These are just a few ideas. By now, you're probably
thinking of many more. I can't begin to express how
happy and grateful your friend will feel when you offer
to do things in this manner.
You may have to go revive them. They may pass out
from sheer gratitude.
Here's to being a good friend,
Friday, September 21, 2007
mother's face when she left the home
she'd lived in since she was a bride.
Even though she was moving in with me
and my then-husband, which was what
she wanted, the sadness was gut-wrenching.
But, she couldn't live alone. We lived too
far away to be there for her everyday. She
had many health issues and wasn't able to
manage on her own. Emotionally, as well,
being alone was not an option.
When the time comes to evaluate if one or
both parents can't manage in their own
home on a day-to-day basis, it won't be easy.
Many of our parents can stay in their own
homes with the help of a home-support worker
They can do housework, laundry and help with
But, when safety becomes an issue, you have
to step in. If our parents have health problems
that cause forgetfulness they have to be helped
to understand the things that can happen that
can lead to dire events.
Whatever the reason they have to leave, please
keep in mind the emotional trauma they will
be going through. Put yourself in their shoes.
Whether they will be moving into an assisted-
living facility or with a son or daughter, life as
they have known it for years is going to change.
It will take kindness and patience to help guide
them through this life milestone.
To learn from top eldercare experts, Click Here!
Take care of yourself,
Sunday, September 16, 2007
we needed to act? Instead of bumbling through
by trial and error?
One of the things I found out during the hospital
stays my mother experienced is this:
You have to become an ADVOCATE.
It is a fine line you'll be walking. For one,
you don't want to make a nuisance of yourself.
But, you don't want to be a doormat, either.
*****Tips For Being An Advocate*****
1. Get in their faces. Nicely put it means:
Introduce yourself to everyone at the nurse's
station. It goes a long way if you greet the
staff by their name. Be friendly. Most of them
are doing their best!
2. Offering help is greatly appreciated by the
staff. It also makes your parent feel so much
better to have you with them, doing for them.
You can help with feeding, getting them out of
bed to move around if they are able. Helping
with toilet rituals, manicures, pedicures, massages.
The little things that mean a lot to their comfort
and emotional well-being.
3. Be educated on your parent's condition so you
can talk to the medical team without appearing
like a total idiot. This way you can discuss treatment
options and be in on decisions. You'll be treated
with respect and so will your parent.
4. Never be put off if you want to talk to the
doctor. If you can't be there when they make
their rounds, insist on an appointment.
5. Trust your instincts!!! You know your parent
better than strangers in a hospital. If the patient
is being pushed too soon to do something you
know is not in their best interests, speak up.
You know how their color is when they are well.
You know what they can do when they are well.
You can gauge things. The staff can only "go by
6. Be present. If you or a sibling can't be there,
be sure to phone and keep contact. Designate
one sibling as the "point guard". The staff can't
be answering calls from the whole family. You'll
just undo everything you're trying to do right!
If you're lucky enough to afford it, consider hiring
a private duty nurse or aide to take your place if
it's impossible for you to be there.
Nobody wants to be admitted to a hospital. But,
it's bound to happen at some point for a variety
of reasons. Be prepared.
This is a case of "the squeaky wheel getting greased."
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
sometimes we miss what's right in our face.
We may brush it off. Thinking it's natural for
the elderly to be depressed. Wrong. They need
to see their doctor and discuss their depression
so they can get help.
Who needs to cope with depression, especially
if there are other medical problems?
Symptoms of Depression
(from the US Department of Health and Human Services)
1. Persistent sadness, anxiety or empty mood
2. Loss of interest in ordinary activities, family/friends
3. Decreased energy, fatigue, "slowed down"
4. Sleep problems
5. Eating problems
6. Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
7. Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
8. Thoughts of suicide or death
10. Excessive crying, sometimes without reason
If you notice some or all of these symptoms in your aging
parent, please get them to their doctor to talk about it.
It didn't dawn on me with my own mother that she was
suffering depression. I was concentrating on her other
health problems. Once she was subscribed anti-depressants,
she began to feel so much better. Yay!
To get information from 12 of the top eldercare
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Let's face it. Nobody ever wants to
be in the position of needing nursing
We hope we never need to go into a
nursing home. We hope we don't have
to see our loved ones in a nursing home.
But, there are times when it can't be
avoided. One of the main reasons for
your aging parent to need to reside in
a nursing home is that they require
around-the-clock care. Something you
are unable to provide.
If your parent is bed-ridden, the demands
of caregiving exceed what you are
capable of giving.
If your aging parent suffers from Alzheimer's,
in the advanced stages, especially, they need nursing
home care for their own safety.
It will be the hardest decision you'll have to
make. Heart-wrenching. Naturally, you'll
be doing a great deal of research to find
the best place you are able to for your loved one.
There is help available within your community.
Take advantage of every resource and referral
agency before making your choice. Remember,
the squeaky wheel does indeed get the grease!
For immediate online help, Click Here!
To learn from top experts in the field of
Wishing you peace,
Monday, August 13, 2007
national profile of caregivers found that 67%
of caregivers felt frustration while nearly 40%
felt sad and anxious.
Half of all caregivers experienced back pain,
sleeplessness and depression.
You are going to take on a caregiving role. After
thinking it through, you know you can do it. Or,
you may be like so many and not have a choice.
It could be thrust upon you before you've had a
chance to think.
One of the things you should be prepared for are
the wide range of emotions you will experience.
And these emotions are normal. Don't beat yourself
Having my Mom live with me has shown just how
many emotions a body can experience. The ups and
downs of the caregiving rollercoaster ride.
Happiness, sadness, joy, depression, anger, frustration,
guilt, compassion and love. There will be days you'll
run through them all! And wonder how you will live
to cope another day.
Now that my mother has passed away and I've had
time to think back on our many years together, I'm
going through a lot of the same emotions.
The biggest is regret. I know the experts say that is
part of the grief process. But my regrets are that I
didn't have more information at the time. I thought
we were doing fine. Now I wish I could have the chance
to do it again.
I work in a library, for pity's sake. I help others find
information and resources they need. But not for me.
What they say about the cobbler's kids going without
shoes now makes sense to me.
What makes it extremely hard when caring for your
parent is the unresolved conflicts from the past. Put
a child and parent back together and you soon find
out that this role will never change.
Being a caregiver, I know your time is limited. But
please find out all you can. Libraries, support groups,
bookstores, senior services, etc...
If I could change anything, it would be to go back
and do it all again. But only better. I'm sorry, Mom.
I loved you. And always will...
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Aging. Nobody looks forward to the process.
But, as the saying goes, look at the alternative!
There are two kinds of aging:
Primary and secondary...
No, we don't get to pick which one we'll take.
We're going to get both.
This is all about genetics. Here's
where we can blame someone else. Or thank
our parents for their great genes.
It's like pre-ordained coding that our bodies
follow. That's why medical doctors want to
know your family's medical history when
it's all about you.
This is when the systems of the body simply
slow down. And, where, in many cases, we
get to blame ourselves.
A healthy lifestyle will delay the effects of
secondary aging. Not stop. Just slow down.
You've heard it all before...
Healthy diet, exercise, no smoking, etc...
So as we take care of our aging parents, it
will be a learning experience of what's in
store for us. And when we think of it in
that way, we tend to have more patience
through the rough times of being caregivers.
Friday, August 3, 2007
anyone can undertake. If you are performing as
caregiver now or you know you will be in the near
future, there are some techniques you may find
Whether you are caregiver to an aging parent,
spouse, sibling or any loved one, many emotions
will be the same.
Frustration and anger will rear up its ugly persona.
Even if you think you are as good-natured as they
come, think again.
This is natural. Don't let the guilt of these emotions
overwhelm you when they happen. Just keep
saying over and over, "I'm not a bad person.
This is normal. I'll get through it."
My mother depended on me for many years. She
was caregiver to my father for many years so I got
to see first hand what I would be doing in the future.
At first it was more psychological dependence. In the
last year of her life, she was like my little child.
Mom resided with me for more years than I care to
admit. Maybe I've actually forgotten. As you may
know, living with someone is a whole lot different
than caregiving at a distance.
Add to that the mother-daughter dynamics and you
are sitting on the proverbial powder keg at times.
We went from me getting her fixed up to go out
when she was mobile to informing her the time had
come for the adult diapers.
Emotions ranged from envy. (She looked better than
me when out socializing! Heck, there wasn't time
left over for me to primp.)
To anger. At her. At myself. At life. Then back to
sadness and depression. For the both of us.
In the final years, I'd finally figured it out. Duh!
Whatever negative emotion I was feeling, I'd
take a deep breath. Yes, it really does work.
As I looked at my mother, I'd remember the pictures
of her taken as a child and young woman. And, I'd
simply put myself in her shoes.
This woman once skipped across the hayfield. Played
with her siblings. Giggled at silly things.
She grew up. Married. Was a dedicated wife. Adopted
me. And put up with my teenage years. Sure, we had
problems. I've never known a family without dysfunction.
Then I'd look at this little old lady and see her soul.
Her aged body turned against her but her soul
was still that of the newborn baby brought into this
world where she endured many difficult years.
I know it's hard. There are times you think your
aging parent will send you off the deep end. But, stop
and remember them. The way they were.
They did not want this. My Mom used to say,
"Oh, to be 70 again!" When I would cringe when
"wiping her bottom", I'd remember the hard-working,
energetic woman who always took care of others.
Try that experiment when your emotions are doing you in.
I know it's easy for me to say. Now. Mom died last year.
And I miss her terribly. I want to hug her again.
Go hug your aging parent. And remember the good times...
This may be of interest and assistance to you...
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Skin Patch Approved for Treatment of Mild to Moderate Alzheimer’s
Monday, July 30, 2007
A skin patch that delivers small, continuous doses
of the Alzheimer’s drug Exelon throughout the day
was approved for sale in the United States earlier
this month. It is expected to be available in pharmacies
in the coming weeks.
The “Exelon Patch” contains the same medication,
rivastigmine, that is has been available in capsule form
since 2000 to treat mild to moderate Alzheimer’s.
The medication is also available in a liquid form.
The skin patch is replaced once a day and worn on the
back, chest, or upper arm.
Various medications have been available as skin patches,
which allow small and continuous doses of the drug to be
absorbed through the skin, but this is the first such
skin patch to be available for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
According to the drug’s maker, Novartis Pharmaceuticals,
the skin patch may be preferred by caregivers because it
may be easier to apply than taking a pill.
“The patch provides a visual reassurance for the caregiver
that the patient is receiving their medication,” they note.
Because it delivers a small and steady dose, it may also be
less likely to produce upset stomach, nausea and vomiting
than oral forms of the drug, the drug-makers say.
The Food and Drug Administration also approved the use
of Exelon Patch in treating patients with mild to moderate
dementia due to Parkinson's disease. Parkinson's disease
is a chronic and progressive neurological condition that
affects some 1.5 million people in the United States.
Yes, this is wonderful news for caregivers! Easier on them
and on the patient...
For more information on Alzheimer's...
For information from noted elder care experts...
deal with a troublesome symptom known
This means that in late afternoon and
evening Alzheimer's symptoms become
**Causes of Sundowning**
---end of day exhaustion (both physical, mental & emotional
---"internal body clock" upset
---lighting is reduced
---inability to separate dreams from reality when trying to
sleep leads to disorientation
---less need for sleep
**Things To Do**
---reduce agitation and sleeplessness
---plan more active days if patient is up to it such
as walks, socializing, exercise, etc...
---restrict sweets and caffeine to mornings, early dinner,
light healthy snack before bedtime
---seek medical advice for bladder and incontinence problems
medication for relaxation
**When patient awakens and is agitated**
---approach loved one in quiet, calm manner
---ask what they need
---remind them of time of day
---do not argue or ask for them to explain themselves!!!
---offer reassurance, hugs, love...
Be kind to them and yourself...
Monday, July 30, 2007
our hearts. It's a disease that we are all
terrified of developing.
The fear of losing control of our minds.
And, not knowing it! Becoming someone
Not recognizing our loved ones. Our loved
ones not recognizing us. Of whom we've
For the caregiver of an Alzheimer's patient,
I bow to you. I can think of no more difficult
undertaking in the world.
*** The caregiving can take over 100 hours a week.
*** It's extremely hazardous to the caregiver's heath.
There's an estimated 5 million Americans who are
caregivers to someone with Alzheimer's disease.
What could the global statistics be??
As our population continues to age, the numbers
of people diagnosed with Alzheimer's and the number
of caregivers will explode.
I see more and more people coming into the
library looking for information on Alzheimer's.
This is a handbook I've found online that I feel
will be of help to many of you...
As time permits, I'll be doing more research.
Take care and hang in there,
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
were overwhelmingly the most important
source of interpersonal stress."
----From a study by sociologists J. Jill Suitor
of Louisiana State University and Karl Pillemer
of Cornell University
Okay! These are the times when I'm glad I was
the "only child" my parents had!
But, I talk with caregivers at work who have
siblings. I have watched in wonder as I've
witnessed the dynamics playing out among
Day-to-day life can be stressful enough. Add
the role of caregiver to aging parents and you
may be entering a minefield if it's not dealt
Relationships change and not always for the
better when aging parents need their grown
children to step up to the plate and become
The #1 complaint I hear and see is that no
matter the number of siblings in a family, in
99.9% of cases, it always seems to be ONE
of the siblings who is responsible for most of
the parent's care!
So just who is the happier sibling in these cases?
No surprise that it's certainly not the one with
the added work. (Usually a woman, I may add)
Where's the rallying around? The support? Is
there any wonder the tension will increase to the
point the primary caregiver is drained of the physical
and emotional strength needed to be a caregiver
in the first place?
Added to the caregiver's grief is when unthinking
parents make excuses for the neglectful sibling in
front of the harried one.
Maybe some of you are old enough to recall the
Smother's Brother's comedy show? The favorite
line being as one brother looked at the other,
"Well, Mom always liked you best..."
Not so funny in reality, is it? So now what?
***Dealing With Sibling-related Stress***
- nobody wants to hear it but...Counseling!
- having a family meeting
- turning to friends for comfort and venting
- look at everyone's point of view
- deciding to function without them
- utilize each sibling's strengths
No matter how bad things can get, most will always say that deep down they are glad to have each other. They can't imagine what it would be like to be the "only child". They feel the "only one" is more disadvantaged.
Hmmm....I guess it comes down to what you know. As an "only child", I didn't have wished-for siblings but both Mom and I had a close, loving circle of friends. No matter what, you can't go through this experience "alone"!
If you're in need of advice on being a caregiver to aging parents, these eldercare experts may have just what you're looking for...
Hang in and take care of yourself,
Sunday, July 22, 2007
"I'm not going to a nursing home!" How many
times did my dear mother exclaim that?
She resided with me and that was where she
was staying. Subject was closed as far as she
I lived in constant fear. Especially the last 5 years
of Mom's life. She suffered mini-strokes. If she
had a debilitating stroke, I knew I would have no
choice but to move her into a nursing home.
I also made sure she knew many years ahead of
time that if she developed Alzheimer's, I would
be unable to care for her. Subject closed as far
as I was concerned.
We were lucky. Mom remained with me, had a
major stroke, went into coma and died the next
day in the hospital.
She did it her way. And everyday since her passing
last year, I count our blessings.
For those of you with aging parents who have no
choice but to consider nursing home care, I'm so
sorry. It is the most gut-wrenching decision you'll
make in your lifetime.
There are times the decision is out of your hands.
Your parent enters a hospital and the medical staff
will tell you in no uncertain terms that your aging
parent now requires round the clock nursing care.
But for other caregivers, you watch your loved ones
decline in physical, mental and emotional health and
you are forced to make the decision.
It may be sudden or you see it coming and have time
to prepare and research. Check with your local library.
You'll have better luck there than bookstores. (Not a
sexy mover for bookstores) Also check Amazon.
I've found an eBook you may find helpful. You can read
Friday, July 20, 2007
from eldercare experts and you don't have much
time, you can go right to...
As a caregiver you know how tough your job is.
Providing eldercare and TLC to aging parents can
Since it's a fact that caregivers are at an increased
risk for depression, you have to be on alert.
~~~Signs of Burnout~~~
- self criticism
- apathy over usual activities
- trouble at work
- trouble in relationships
- substance abuse
- feelings of being overwhelmed
~~~Things You Can Do~~~
- check local senior service organizations
- set up "home visitor" program
- get respite care
- join caregiver support groups
- pay special attention to nutrition
- try for 7 hours of sleep a night
- vent to friends
- push yourself to do things you once enjoyed
- look for humor in everyday situations
You must take care of the caregiver!
Thursday, July 19, 2007
taken that little trip at one time or other.
Yes, there are parents who feel it's crucial
to instill a sense of guilt in their children,
whatever age their children happen to be.
You can be 10 or 65, and parents have the
ability to cause us that emotional grief and
Some lay it on sweetly. Others are more
confrontational. Doesn't matter. It can be
a painful experience.
Family dynamics are touchy enough. Adding
guilt to the mix can backfire and cause a
Some parents lay on the trip when they become
older. Maybe because they are scared of what
the future holds.
Other parents have thought it was a necessary
parenting skill. I don't think the "kids" ever
get over it.
When it comes to caring for our elderly parents,
whether at a distance or up close and personal,
as in them residing with you, the issue of guilt
causes tension and is counterproductive.
We don't need to be "guilted" into loving anyone.
It just doesn't work. But, I hear you!
"Tell that to my parents!"
The saddest thing is that even when they are gone,
we still carry the guilt.
For expert advice, it can be found at
From the always guilt-riddled Karen...
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
an "only child" can be totally overwhelming.
The good part...you're not dealing with sibling
pressures. Arguing over decisions, one person
feeling like they are doing more than the other, etc..
The bad part...there is no support. Of any kind.
Yes, you have friends. But in a situation like this,
you will understand the saying, "blood is thicker
From your earliest memories, you come to know
it's YOU who has the exclusive contract of
caring for your aging parents. A contract
you know you'll have to carry out or live with
the shame and guilt.
It reminds me of the lame joke about Eve asking
Adam if he loves her. His reply..."Who else?"
Who else, indeed?
As the "only one", you have to be prepared.
If you live thousands of miles away, what will
you do when the time comes when one or both
parents cannot look after themselves?
Will you give up life as you know it and move
to them? Will you have them relocate close to you?
Have them move in with you?
All these questions are life-altering and gut-wrenching.
They aren't to be taken lightly. Too much depends
on your choices.
***Things to consider***
- your marriage
- your children
- your work
- your lifestyle
- your finances
- your health
- the health of your family
For expert advice...
And the best of luck to you,
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
You know, back when family members all
lived together? Generation after generation?
If you were lucky you heard these history
lessons from grandparents or great-grandparents.
There was the "homestead". Babies were
born there. The midwife may have been a
neighbor or the mother-in-law.
The many children grew up with parents,
grandparents and siblings. The grandparents
died. The children married.
Maybe they built their own home close by
or simply moved their bride or groom into
the "family home". The parents became the
grandparents and the circle of life continued.
So help me Hannah, but things have changed!
The biggest difference is life expectancy.
The circle of life has beaten a new path to our door.
In the "old days" there were always family to
take care of each other. Now, family members
may be scattered across the planet.
Words our great-grandparents never heard of
are elder care, assisted living, nursing homes,
long term health care and baby boomers!
Whether we live across the street or in another
country, our parents are aging. They may not like
it but they will need our help.
They may even fight us. And, we may get a
kick out of saying, "But it's for your own good!"
Elder care isn't to be taken lightly. This is serious stuff,
folks. Life and death. You should be prepared for all
Waiting until you get the call in the middle of the
night which sends you racing to the nearest hospital
or the nearest airport will be adding more anxiety
to an already over-the-top stressful life event.
Do your research on elder care. Talk with your
parents. Whether they are in their own homes,
in an assisted living facility or facing nursing home
care, there are things that can be done to make this
transition for your parents as dignified as possible.
Remember, chances are you will be needing the same
tender, loving care someday...
To learn from experts...Click Here!
Monday, July 16, 2007
The subject nobody wants to think about.
Not the baby boomers. Especially not the
Our parents were once vital, energetic,
hard working people. They nurtured us,
protected us and loved us.
Then, in what seems like a blink of an eye,
they became old.
It's no fun for them either! They remember
when they were 30 years old. Now they seem
to be held hostage by an aging body that
seems alien to them.
Over time, the effects took hold. The
strength they had is now gone. Hearing and
eyesight are on the decline. Balance is off.
And, these are just the normal, everyday
When you add the age-related illnesses that
they may succumb to, it breaks our hearts.
They can't manage home maintenance. You don't
want to see them behind the wheel. You notice
their memory is not what it should be.
You're a member of The Aging Parents Club.
You may live next door, across the country or in
another country altogether. But when the time
comes when we have to admit our parents are in
need of assistance, we are the ones they look to.
In so doing, they are made to feel helpless. It's
up to us to make their transition as smooth as
You're in transition, too. From the daughter or
son to caregiver. To parenting your parents.
And with it comes an avalanche of questions.
When do we have "the talk" with them?
Do they need a nursing home? Assisted living?
What is they have dementia? What are their
health problems? If you live close by, it's
easier to assess the situation. But what if you
live thousands of miles away? What do you do?
The first thing is to take a real hard look at
the situation. See it for what it is. And,
remember to be firm. Because, their pride
has been attacked. Their bodies betrayed
You'll also hope you do it well. Because if you
have children, they'll be watching. How you treat
your aging parents will be a lens on how you
will be treated by your children.
Let's show love and respect for our elderly.
This will also happen to us!
The most important thing to remember is to
start your research now. When you make
decisions in a crisis, chances are, they will not
be the best ones for you or your parents.
To get advice from experts in elder care...
People are living longer. While we celebrate
the news, we must remember the downside.
We will age. And with that comes all the age-
related maladies. Just at the time we baby
boomers are noticing new aches and pains,
helping kids through university, looking forward
to retirement...we are faced with another
of life's milestones that many in the past didn't
have to deal with.
Our aging parents. In the "old days", even
extended families lived within visual distance
of one another. Help was as close as an arms
Today, a son may be in Thailand, a daughter
in Europe and the parents in Iowa. But, they
are still our parents and we want to be there
In a perfect world, we are armed with the
information beforehand. But, no doubt as we
go about our busy lives, we are blindsided by
an event that reinforces the reality. Our
parents are now old. And, they need us.
How and when did this happen?
If you want to be prepared, take a look at
expert advice all in one place at...
Be ready when the time comes...