Carol Bradley Bursack
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.
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.