Carol Bradley Bursack
Dear Carol: My father-in-law has had two strokes. Even though doctors have cleared his health, he seems insecure on his own, so we moved him in with us. We have a great setup since our kids have left home and he has a nice area all to himself. What's happened, though, is that the easy back and forth we'd planned on has turned into Dad being my shadow.
Dear Carol: My family is having a disagreement over signing do not resuscitate (DNR) forms for our mom who has just entered a nursing home. I have power of attorney. She is going into the nursing home for both physical reasons and mid-stage dementia.
Dear Carol: My mother died of a heart attack nine months ago. Dad's health is good for someone 78 years old, but I was frightened for him after Mom's death because he seemed depressed, so I convinced him to move in with me and my family. Dad has a nice room and we try to make him feel welcome. But now he tells me that he should look for his own place because he doesn't want to put us out. That makes me feel bad because he's not putting us out.
Dear Carol: My father, who is 83, refuses to shower or bathe. Mom can't budge him. He used to be very clean. He was also interested in fixing things around the house and he loved yard work and playing poker with friends. Over the last months he's completely changed. All he wants to do is sleep in front of the TV. He won't even put on fresh clothes in the morning unless Mom snatches his dirty clothes and puts them in the wash before he goes to bed. Mom says he's also careless about taking his blood pressure medications.
Dear Carol: I've cared for my wife who has dementia for several years, but now she's begun wandering and needs constant supervision. Our kids think that both she and I are better off if we place her in a nursing home, so we are on two waiting lists. One of the homes that we're considering has a rule that the family isn't supposed to visit for the first two weeks after the person is admitted, and after that visits should be infrequent. They say that family visits disrupt the routine that they are trying to put into place for the elder and that seeing family members simply confuses them.
Dear Carol: My parents were killed in a car accident, so I was raised by my grandparents who always showed me their love. My grandmother died seven years ago when I was 23. I'd been on my own for a few years, but I moved back in with Grandpa after he had a stroke. Things have gone fairly well with me working part-time jobs and spending a lot of time with him. Lately, though, Grandpa's memory has gotten bad and he's become stubborn about taking his medication, which he was always good about before. He's also having more trouble getting around.
Dear Carol: My dad, who is 84, has lived on the same farm and in the same house that his parents owned all of his life. He and Mom rented out the land 10 years ago, but kept a few animals and a large garden. After Mom died, Dad sold the animals except for his house dog. He no longer gardens but he finds simple chores to do that keep him occupied. I know that he feels like he has to look after the home but that leaves him alone out in the country, essentially isolated. He's in good health but the family worries about him. We want him to move to town and live with one of his adult children or rent an apartment, but he resists the idea saying that he wants to stay independent.
Dear Carol: My parents are both in the same nursing home. Dad is wheelchair-bound from a major stroke, and Mom has mid-stage dementia. I visit often, but I feel guilty for not taking them out more. I've had back surgery twice and cannot transfer my dad or lift his wheelchair. I do accompany them to medical appointments in the paratransit bus that takes wheelchairs, but what I'm talking about is doing something fun. My parents don't even seem to want to go out, and friends say, "Oh, don't feel guilty, they are fine." I know that they are fine, but I still feel like I'm failing them.
Dear Carol: My parents had been married nearly 60 years when my mother abruptly died from a heart attack. Dad held up well during the first weeks. He'd say that he was glad that she didn't have to suffer a long time like so many people do. But after a couple of months, Dad started to develop strange habits like humming tunelessly and mumbling gibberish.
Dear Carol: Can illnesses make someone with Alzheimer's worse? My mother had been diagnosed to be in an early stage of Alzheimer's disease but she still got along very well. Mom then developed a cold which was followed by a UTI and then pneumonia, so we had to have her hospitalized. The whole experience was terrible. Mom's physical issues were eventually taken care of by antibiotics and she seems all right physically, but she's much more confused than before and her short-term memory has deteriorated markedly. I'm wondering what caused this big change so quickly.