Dear Readers: This year, thinking about Father’s Day reminded me of a short trip I took with a friend last summer. Two places we visited were my parents’ childhood homes. I have many happy memories of my maternal grandparents’ home because my family visited often when I was young and we spent most holidays there. However, my dad’s childhood home was different, since by the time I was born the house had new owners and I’d never seen the interior.
Dear Carol: My mom is in a nursing home because of kidney and lung problems plus mid-stage Alzheimer’s. Dad seemed to be doing well at home but had a sudden heart attack and died. It’s been a difficult, sad time for us all, but the worst part now is that Mom can’t or won’t believe he died. We took her to the funeral and did all we could to comfort her, but it’s like her mind won’t grasp the loss. How do we handle this? It’s horrible for the whole family. – Susan
Dear Carol: My sister Jean has wanted our mom to see a doctor about memory issues for months but Mom says she’s fine. Jean lives out of town, so she set aside a day to come into town and take Mom to lunch and get Mom’s hair cut. Then, Jean sprung a doctor appointment on Mom and, not surprisingly, Mom refused to go. She and Jean had a fight. I took Mom’s side, which probably didn’t help matters.
Dear Readers: Like most of us, I grew up hearing that it’s the little things that count. I’m becoming increasingly aware of the truth in the old adage. As I look back this Mother’s Day on my mom’s last year of life, I remember how important the smallest things became to her as time went by.
DEAR CAROL: My mother, who is in her early 70s, suffers from advanced multiple sclerosis. She lives with me, my husband of three years, and my stepdaughter. Mom’s mentally fine, but physically she needs a lot of care which includes lifting and continence issues.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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