Carol Bradley Bursack
Dear Carol: My mom is smart, stylish and trim. She was very social but now that's changed. Occasional, minor urinary incontinence has become a problem and she's acting like her life is over. I've told her that women who've had babies often have this issue and that there are products that she can use. Of course, she knows this, but she says that's not an option. Meanwhile, she is becoming reclusive which is not like her. I've told her that her doctor may have some ideas but she says that talking to her doctor about this is humiliating.
Dear Carol: I own a condominium in a building where two elderly sisters live. Though we didn't spend time together we'd always been friendly and they seemed to have plenty of other friends, though no family.
Dear Carol: My mother has always refused to take any medication even though she's needed a prescription to control her blood pressure for years. Predictably, at 74, she had a massive stroke and she will now require around-the-clock care for the rest of her life. There is no sign of dementia. Mom's in a nursing home and getting great care but she is extremely angry and she focuses that anger at me. I can't provide the care that she needs at home, but I still feel guilty about placing her in a facility and she knows how to manipulate that guilt. I visit daily.
Dear Carol: My father has Lewy body dementia and he hallucinates, which I understand is part of the disease. I was raised to not lie. Your writing, as well as articles on the Alzheimer's Association website and that of many medical people, seems to advocate lying to your parents or spouse once they have dementia.
Dear Carol: My mom loves to shop, attend church, see local theater and go to park events. We've done these things together for years. What's changed is that Mom had a stroke last year. She recovered well, but she is unsteady on her feet when conditions aren't perfect. She's supposed to use a walker for balance, at least when she goes out of the house, but she refuses. I'm always nervous that she will fall, so I want her to hold onto me, but she hates that. I've begged and I've nagged, but I don't get anywhere. How can I convince my stubborn mother to cooperate? — MC
Dear Carol: I read one of your articles which said that you had lost both your parents in quick succession so I identify with you. I live in the UK.
Dear Carol: My dad has Alzheimer's. Recently, he had a bad fall and needed to be hospitalized. Dad was given Dilaudid for pain, but the drug affected his dementia so badly that I begged them to take him off of it. The hospitalist agreed, and he found something else for the pain, but Dad still hasn't improved. It's been two weeks and Dad's dementia is off the charts. The staff said that he may still improve, but that we must remember that Alzheimer's is a progressive disease so he may simply be getting worse because of the disease. This change was so sudden that I can't buy this thinking.
Dear Carol: My parents were married for 56 years before Mom died. Dad eventually moved into assisted living. His mind is good, though he had a stroke years back so he uses a cane. He can still drive. My sister works part time, yet Dad is at her house every day from breakfast until evening. I live 50 miles away, but help out on weekends. I'm afraid that, because of Dad's grief, we've overdone the caregiving. We've talked with Dad, but he doesn't see the problem. How do we convince him that we love seeing him but he needs to take advantage of his new home and give us some space?
Dear Carol: My dad had a massive stroke five years ago when he was 78, and Mom, who's the same age, is caring for him at home. Mom's finally realizing that she can't keep this up because her health is declining. I live 500 miles away so I can only help so much. Mom's tried hiring in-home care, but that hasn't worked out consistently, so Dad's on a list for a nearby nursing home. Having to make this move is heartbreaking for Mom but she knows that it needs to be done. The problem is Dad's sister, who is also Mom's friend.