The CARE Act: Helping Family Caregivers From Hospital to Home

In preparing Mom’s medication, my 90-year-old Pop would fill a syringe using the light of the kitchen window to see if the dosage was correct. He set up the nebulizer on a table with handwritten step-by-step instructions to remind him how to operate it. Today, millions of family caregivers like Pop perform complex medical tasks that at one time would have been administered only by medical professionals. 21 states and counting Two years ago, AARP proposed the idea of the …

New Tools for Family Caregivers—the Promise of Telehealth

Across the country, about 40 million Americans are doing an overwhelming, stressful and exhausting unpaid job every day. They cook meals, drive to appointments, manage medication, perform complex medical tasks and more. They help parents, spouses and other loved ones live independently at home — where they want to be. They are family caregivers. Kimberly cares for her son, husband and mother, all while working full time. “That’s my life, I get up each day, check on my son about …

Driven to Desperation: Caring for Someone With Alzheimer’s

I recently read a disturbing news report about a 69-year-old man in Florida who apparently killed his 89-year-old mother and then committed suicide. Police reported that he left a note stating that his mother, who lived with him, had advanced Alzheimer’s disease and that he was having extreme difficulty caring for her. The story absolutely breaks my heart. While I have certainly never felt that low, as a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s, I do have some insight into the feelings of …

A Family Caregiver Love Story

“The person you’ve lived with and cared for, you’re now caring for them differently. And I consider that an opportunity…” More than half a century ago, Don and Elvira met while teaching school in a little town in Kansas. They built their life together, moving to Colorado, raising two daughters, and now have two grandchildren. Today, their love story continues in a new way — with Don as Elvira’s family caregiver. “We discovered she had dementia. I did not know …

Simple Hearing Device Makes Big Difference for Dad

When Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, I knew he would need all of his senses to help interpret the world around him and balance his changing cognitive abilities. But he has hearing impairment and limited vision (glaucoma plus visual-processing problems associated with Alzheimer’s). Even though there is only so much I can do about the visual issues, I assumed hearing aids would solve his auditory problems. I was wrong. The good news is that we eventually discovered a surprisingly simple …

Caring for Mom Shouldn’t Mean Losing Your Job

The phone rang one day when I was at work. It was my mom. “Come right away, Elaine, we need you,” she said. Mom had just driven Pop to the emergency room. I knew Pop must have been very sick, because Mom hadn’t driven a car in years. So I talked to my boss and headed straight for the airport to find the first flight home. After a week-long stay in two hospitals, Pop recovered from pneumonia only to learn …