Carol Bradley Bursack
Dear Carol: My world changed in an instant when, at age 45, my mom developed a brain aneurysm. Because of that, she had to undergo brain surgery, which left her with dementia and severe physical limitations. I quit my job and took Mom home and cared for her for three years. Fortunately, my husband has been supportive and we could afford it. Eventually, I found that Mom's care needs were overwhelming me and I had to move her to a nursing home. I haven't been able to drop the guilt that I feel over doing this even though I spend time with her daily.
Dear Carol: I'm a certified nursing assistant (CNA). My dad has been caring for my mom, who has severe lung disease as well as dementia, and he's worn out. Dad and I decided that it would be a good idea for me to move in with my parents to help with Mom's care. Dad agreed to this arrangement because he knows that he needs help, but now that I'm here he won't let me do anything for Mom. I just want him to get some rest before he collapses, but he can't seem to let go. He's still up all night because Mom doesn't sleep much, and he insists on providing nearly all of Mom's daily care.
Dear Carol: I have been taking care of my aging parents' needs for several years. Since I live near them, and caregiving suits my personality, I'm happy to do it. My parent care has gone from just running a few errands and accompanying them to the doctor to going to their home daily and doing their laundry, most of their cooking, and setting up medications.
Dear Carol: My dad is 81 and lives alone in his small home that he loves. What he can't do, he hires done. He's a positive person who is fun to be around, but he's also proud. While his memory recall has slowed, that seems normal. He writes himself notes to remember to do what needs to be done. Still, I don't see that he has a huge problem living relatively safely and well. I go with him to his doctor and the doctor seems to think that Dad's doing extremely well. The issue is my brother. He lives 1,000 miles away and only occasionally visits.
Dear Carol: My 83-year-old mother has lived with my family for two years, but her Type 1 diabetes and lung problems have been worsening. She also has severe pain from arthritis. Mom was recently hospitalized with a respiratory infection and took a long time to respond to treatment. They finally got the bacteria under control but she's very weak and her breathing needs monitoring. The doctor insisted that she should only be released to a nursing home. I asked if this was just a time for recovery, but he was strong in recommending that she move there permanently.
Dear Carol: My mother has had bipolar disorder for most of her life, though medications have helped her stay fairly balanced. She also has diabetes and severe breathing problems so she's recently entered a nursing home. Mom knew that the move was necessary for her safety and started out quite happy. The staff is great and the home offers a lot of activities for when she's felt up to it. Lately, though, she's been so lethargic that I've inquired about her medications. It seems that the doctor, who is a geriatrician, has changed them significantly.
Dear Carol: My mother, who was in her early 80s, was doing well, except for arthritis and high blood pressure. Then she fell and broke her hip. After surgery, she seemed not just foggy but completely irrational. The doctor said that this wasn't unusual for someone her age considering what she'd been through and that she'd get better. Mom spent several days in the hospital and was then moved to a nursing home to recover and receive physical therapy. The staff was terrific with Mom. When I asked them if Mom would recover mentally, they were non-committal.
Dear Carol: As my parents aged, we all thought that we were taking care of the legal issues necessary so that I, as Durable Power Of Attorney (DPOA) could handle anything that came along with their finances. Dad died two years ago, and Mom and I got through it. Now, Mom's health is failing. She wanted me to change the account where her Social Security is deposited, so I called and found out that the DPOA would not allow me to do that. Fortunately, Mom's memory is still good, so she was able to go to the attorney with me and she had me assigned as Representative Payee.
Dear Carol: My mom has been in assisted living for six years and she's loved it. Unfortunately, while she's relatively healthy, her short-term memory has nearly disappeared and her ability to make decisions is negligible. The doctor says that she is ready for a memory care unit, and there's one in the same facility, but she's resisting.