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Carol Bradley Bursack


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Minding Our Elders: Speak respectfully to cognitively impaired parent

DEAR CAROL: My sister, Ann, teaches nursery school several hundred miles away from our home town where I still live. Our mom has dementia and is in a nursing home here. I’m happy to visit Mom often and take care of her needs. Ann handles Mom’s finances, so she is also contributing to mom’s care. We get along well in general, but her occasional visits create tension.

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Minding Our Elders: Different dementia types can co-exist

DEAR CAROL: I’m confused about my husband’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. He was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease three years ago, but now we are told he is showing Parkinson’s symptoms. The doctor talks to all of us like we should know everything about dementia and Parkinson’s, and our questions just seem to annoy him.

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Minding Our Elders: Mayo Clinic book offers advice on integrated medicine

DEAR READERS: While traditional health care saves lives and cures many illnesses, prescription drugs and many surgeries also have risks and limitations. Because of this knowledge, or simply out of the need to take a more active role in their healthcare and that of their elders, many people are using the Internet and other resources to research historic, alternative methods of preventing or controlling illness and pain.

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Minding Our Elders: Husband won’t accept wife’s help caring for his mother PressPass

DEAR CAROL: After my mother-in-law had a stroke, she developed mild dementia. My husband and I were able to take care of her needs until recently, but because of her deteriorating health she has been admitted to a facility near our home.

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Minding Our Elders: Caregiver worries she’s not doing enough for mom PressPass

DEAR CAROL: I love my mother and have tried to be a good caregiver to her during her battle with cancer, which is in remission, and now with her lung and joint problems. She’s just 78-years-old and seems to be letting life go on without any enjoyment.

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Minding Our Elders: I’m suddenly a caregiver, now how do I start? PressPass

Dear Carol: Like many boomers, I’ve suddenly become a caregiver. I live in my parents’ community but have a demanding job and a family. My parents were doing well until Dad had a stroke.

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Minding our Elders: Staying ahead of Alzheimer’s wandering PressPass

DEAR CAROL: My mom has mid-stage Alzheimer’s. She lives with me and, for now, seems safe enough at home while I’m at work. What concerns me is that she’s started talking about wanting to “go home.”

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Minding Our Elders: Medication could cause slurred speech, drooling

DEAR CAROL: My mom has several medications to help with various health problems. Lately, her speech has been slurred and she seems to be drooling quite a bit. The symptoms appear to be the most pronounced shortly after she’s taken her medications, but she has some symptoms intermittently all day. She also complains of a headache nearly every day, so we are having her eyes checked next week just to be sure, although her glasses are quite new. Can medications cause these problems?

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Minding Our Elders: Serene atmosphere can relax care receiver

I’ve suggested that since Mom gets excellent care at the nursing home, my sister should visit less often so she can have more time for herself, but she gets defensive. I visit Mom as often as I can. How can I convince Mary that if she is more rested, she and Mom are both better off?

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Minding Our Elders: Dementia aggression difficult to control

DEAR CAROL: My 79-year-old mother is on medication for aggression due to her dementia, but she still has periodic violent outbursts where she kicks and hits me. Her psychiatrist has tried several drugs in small doses to avoid side effects, but most of them leave her sleepy and have had little positive effect.

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Columns

Bursack: Unhappy father is turning to booze PressPass

Dear Carol: After two weeks in assisted living, my dad is angry and uncooperative because he feels trapped and not in control. We followed his decision to move both our mother and himself north where family is nearby and visits every couple of days.

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Bursack: Dad’s loss of hearing difficult to cope with PressPass

Dear Carol: My dad suffers hearing loss so severe that even though he wears hearing aids, people often have to write down what they are trying to tell him.

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Bursack: Does living will require a review? Probably not PressPass

Dear Carol: Is it ever appropriate to try to talk about “end-of-life issues” with the severely demented?

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Bursack: Elder care managers can bridge distance PressPass

Dear Carol: I am an only child and live 600 miles from my elderly parents. They need some assistance, and I worry about them. I’m married, have a job and young children. My parents don’t want to move. How do I care for them and still keep my job and family life going? – CeeCee

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Bursack: Anger comes out while caring for father PressPass

Dear Carol: My dad has mid-stage Alzheimer’s. I visit regularly to give my mom a break from caregiving. Mom seems to handle the changes in Dad quite well, but I’m ashamed to say I often don’t. I know the disease is the reason he is so difficult, but sometimes I just lose it. I get angry and yell at him, and then we both feel bad. How can I stop? – Jenny

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Bursack: Rare times of clarity baffling but welcome PressPass

Dear Carol: My dad has mixed dementia, both vascular and Alzheimer’s. He’s in a fog most of the time. However, once in a while, he’ll look me straight in the eye and talk directly to me, just like he used to. Is this common?

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Bursack: Help mom understand that getting help is OK PressPass

Dear Carol: My mother is the primary caregiver to my dad who had a stroke. I help as much as I can, but I work full time and have children. Mom is not young and has her own problems, but she is stubborn about hiring some help with Dad. They can afford it. How do I convince her she needs help? – Sara

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Bursack: Pets add joy to lives of elders PressPass

Dear Carol: My grandmother should be in assisted living, but she won’t move because of her ancient cat. I know she loves the cat, and I think the cat is good for her. Are there places that take pets along with the elderly? – Ben

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Bursack: Alzheimer’s research promising PressPass

Dear Carol: My mom’s short-term memory is slipping badly. Her mother had Alzheimer’s, and I’m sure she’s afraid of hearing that diagnosis. We’re having a heck of a time talking her into seeing a doctor about her memory. – Trina

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Bursack: Third-party aid needed in father’s big move PressPass

Dear Carol: My mother died six months ago, and my dad is moving from the house to an apartment. Or he’s supposed to be.

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