Carol Bradley Bursack
Dear Carol: I've been reading a lot about if it's time to force a parent into some kind of care. Your position seems to be that it's the older adult's decision unless there is dementia present. I can see that working at 70, but my mom is 90. She's mentally sharp and still likes her home and her garden, but she refuses extra help except for hiring lawn care, snow removal and grocery delivery. She gave up driving on her own, but she is adamant about not wanting to move to assisted living. At what age do adult children finally say enough and use our Power of Attorney to force a move?
Dear Carol: I'm 78 years old, and I have lived with my son and his wife for two years. I'm feeling hemmed in, and I think that they may feel the same way. They are kind, but my daughter-in-law seems stressed when we're together too much even though in the past we have always gotten along well. The house doesn't allow much privacy which may be why we get on each other's nerves. I also miss being around people my own age.
Dear Carol: I have several friends who are caring for their parents in various ways. They talk as if their parents have become the family children and it upsets me. My parents are living in their home and doing well. We've been planning for the future with the necessary legal documents, and I know that they'd like to stay in their home as long as possible but if a move is necessary, they will do it.
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.