Carol Bradley Bursack
Dear Carol: I'm wondering if you have advice for people who are shamed by others who judge their caregiving. I am an around-the-clock caregiver and have been for several years. I love my dad unconditionally and owe him everything. We live in an extremely rural area and don't have access to agencies that can come in for a few hours so it's me or no one. I get stressed and emotionally tired. Then, when I do take a little time away, I hear from outsiders about how I'll regret it and how they'd be thrilled to care for their parent and would never complain.
Dear Carol: Your column has been incredibly helpful for my family as we care for my sweet mother-in-law who is in late stages of frontal temporal dementia. As we've struggled to find the right care setting while she progresses through this disease we've been confused by care options. From assisted living to skilled nursing, there appear to be many choices, but it's not always clear what each provides.
Dear Carol: My mom has had Multiple Sclerosis (MS) for 30 years and is nearing the end of her life. She lives in a nursing home and I visit daily. Mom's been struggling to swallow and has been sick with a urinary tract infection. Sometimes she's even thought that my dad, who died two years ago, is with her. She was eating and drinking little and was anxious.
Dear Carol: My husband and I cared for my mom in our home for several years before she passed away two months ago. The first two weeks I was nearly paralyzed with grief. After that, like someone flipped a switch, I went into a wild cleaning and tossing out spree. I just had to do something. Now, I've sunk into a low that's hard to explain. I don't want to get out of bed, shower, or even talk to anyone. I've been taking antidepressants for years and have done well on them.
Dear Carol: My widowed dad is 76. He's in good health and lives alone on a farm several miles from the metro area. Dad drives around the farm and to the neighboring town but stays out of the metro because of the traffic. His nearest neighbors are a couple of miles away. My two siblings and I split the visiting so that someone sees Dad once a week, but with winter weather, the possibility of him going a couple of weeks alone is real. We want him to move to the metro for safety and health care.
Dear Carol: My dad's been in a nursing home for several years and is ready for hospice care. I read your column about hospice care being covered by most insurances, but I'm wondering what happens in a nursing home. Does insurance start to cover nursing home costs, then, too? Would it be better to move Dad home for this time period? It's hard to make these decisions at such a stressful time. — RE
Dear Carol: My dad has late stage Alzheimer's and is in a nursing home in our community where he seems to be receiving good care. Mom is with him every day. He no longer recognizes either of us, but Mom says that he is her husband and she will be there with him. I respect and understand that.
Dear Carol: My friend is struggling to convince her father, who lives across the country, that he needs help caring for his 86-year-old wife who has had a stroke. Her dad is somewhat younger than her mom, but he has his own health problems. She knows that he's overwhelmed with caregiving, but he won't hire anyone to help. My friend asked for my opinion and I'm stumped. She says that her dad has always been stubborn and she doesn't know what to do about his situation because she is too far away to be hands-on. — JY
Dear Carol: My mother has mid-stage dementia, as a mixture of Alzheimer's and vascular. Dad is taking care of her, and overall it's going OK as long as I go over to their apartment each day to help with baths, run errands and accompany them to medical appointments. What's troubling is that last week Mom fell against a cupboard corner and tore a gash in her shoulder. Dad called me immediately to see if we should take her to the emergency room. Mom said the injury didn't hurt but she was acting very anxious and agitated so we decided on the ER.
Dear Carol: My mother is relatively healthy for a 76-year-old woman but she's overcome cancer twice and I worry about losing her. She doesn't show any signs of dementia, which I know because she actually went through screening with a specialist to prove to me that she is capable of doing what she wants. She does want me to accompany her to the doctor, and I'm power of attorney for her health, but she says that I take over the appointment when we're there.