Hospital to Rehab to Home: How to Ease Transitions

I’ve recently been helping a friend who has been managing her mother’s transitions from a hospital to a rehab facility and then to another rehab facility that now wants to send her home before she, or her family, is ready. It reminded me of how tough family caregiving transitions can be. I’ve been through so many of them with my parents and my sister — some smooth, others unexpected and rocky. As a study in the American Journal of Nursing found, …

A Caregiver’s Guide to Staying Sane

“How do you stay sane?” That’s the question a reporter asked me recently at the National Press Foundation after a talk I gave about being a family caregiver. As blunt as it sounds, it was a very good question. And I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I have been caregiving for nearly 35 years, the past six at a very intensive level. During that time I’ve worked full time; traveled a great deal; written two books; maintained a long-distance …

10 Must-Have Gadgets for Caregivers

I’ve been a family caregiver for more than 30 years, and I’ve found that there are some gadgets that not only make my life much easier but also make the lives of those I’m caring for much safer and happier. Some of these handy items are simple, and others are high-tech. Prices can vary widely but most of the gadgets are relatively inexpensive, and one of my favorites is even homemade. You can find all of these products online, and many …

4 Tips for Emptying a Loved One’s House on a Budget

When my sister Karen died, almost six months ago, I knew, amid my shock and grief, that I had a huge job ahead of me as executor of her estate. There was the paperwork, of course — her will, finances, home mortgage, etc. — which has been complicated, to say the least. But emptying her home and preparing it for sale have been the biggest hurdles. Her three-bedroom house was packed to the brim, and there was no money in …

‘Caring for Mom and Dad’ — a Documentary Hits Home

Watching the new PBS documentary Caring for Mom and Dad was like looking in a mirror. The gut-wrenching heartaches, stress, fatigue, fears — but most of all, the love — these families experience reflect my own caregiving journey. The film (check local listings or watch online at pbs.org/caringformomanddad) is narrated by actress Meryl Streep and highlights several adult children’s experiences as they work and care for parents who are dealing with strokes, dementia and other health challenges as they age. It …

Caregivers, Are You Ready for a Disaster?

Daddy and I were walking across the living room one night recently when the house suddenly went dark. The power was out, but fortunately, I was prepared. Plugged into the outlet in front of us was a power-failure light that comes on automatically. It also serves as an automatic nightlight and a portable flashlight. I have the lights strategically plugged in throughout the house, and they lit our way to safety. I also realized that no electricity meant no air-conditioning, …