Carol Bradley Bursack
Dear Carol: My mother has been in a nursing home for two years because of strokes and vascular dementia combined with Alzheimer's. It's obvious that she'll never go home. Dad died years ago, but Mom stayed in the family home where we kids grew up. While my siblings and I know that this house must be sold to pay for the nursing home, Mom talks about the house and going back to it. Do we tell her that we have to sell it or do we just pretend that it's still hers?
Dear Carol: My mom survived cancer in her mid-years. Now, she's developed dementia and has also battled three rounds of pneumonia. It seems that each illness she's survived has diminished her. She's in late-stage Alzheimer's, and when I look at her sitting in a chair but not knowing anyone or even understanding what is happening when she is washed, fed and comforted, all I can think of is why can't she die. I feel terrible about this. I read about people who would give anything to have their parents back no matter what shape they are in.
Dear Carol: Both of my parents have had significant health issues during the last few years. Lately, things have been good. They live in their own home and I check on them daily. My problem is that I constantly feel like the other shoe is going to drop. Since their health scares, I can't seem to relax and enjoy the fact that they are doing well now. Instead, I live in fear of the next crisis. How do I get out of this mode? — Marianne Dear Marianne: Caregivers often live in a fight or flight mode because of frequent emergencies.
Dear Carol: My wife and I live nearly a thousand miles away from my brother and his family, but we've always been emotionally close. Now, my brother is dying of lung cancer. I've visited when possible, and will visit again shortly, but our main connection is by phone and email. I know that he's being well cared for, so that's not my concern. I just don't know what to say to him when we talk. Is it good for me to bring up where he is in his health or should I ignore that and talk about other things? It's hard to know what to say, yet I don't want to quit calling. It's almost all we've got.
Dear Carol: My dad was always a cheerful person up until my mother got sick with pancreatic cancer. She died within three months of her diagnosis, which was over a year ago. My siblings and I were all in shock and even her funeral is a blur to me, but we kids have gotten on with our lives. Dad has not. I don't believe that he's suicidal, but he's depressed and down all the time. We love him and tell him so. We visit many times a week, but we're getting impatient with him. It's like he doesn't want to try to move forward.
Dear Carol: My husband and I are both 71 years old and have been married 48 years. I've got a few health problems, including high blood pressure, however my husband has had heart by- pass surgery and is diabetic as well. His health is a big worry. My mother, now 95, has lived with us for nine years. She's physically healthy except for severe arthritis, but she has dementia that is rapidly worsening. Her needs are increasing but so are my husband's.
Dear Carol: My mom had a stroke and recently has been diagnosed with vascular dementia with possible Alzheimer's disease. Dad is her primary caregiver although I go to their home daily to help out. My immediate question is how do we cope with the fact that Mom continually takes out her hearing aids and pulls off her glasses? She seems to hear reasonably well without her aids and she can see well enough without her glasses to watch TV and walk around. She no longer can process what she reads, so that isn't an issue.
Dear Readers: Throughout the decade that I've been answering questions about aging and caregiving, I've been continually unsatisfied with the need to refer seniors and caregivers to multiple websites when...
Dear Carol: My mother is 62. There's never been dementia in my family that I know of, but I still worry. Mom sometimes loses her train of thought when she's...
Dear Carol: My 81-year-old grandma has been healthy all of her life. Her only doctor is a family physician who is very nice but nearing retirement himself. Grandma lives alone. Lately, she has been getting extremely forgetful and has had several episodes of scary confusion. Mom tells me that the family doctor says Grandma is just getting older but she's fine. I'd like Grandma to see a specialist.