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 …

Uniform Definitions and Data Elements for Collecting Information About Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is an important public health problem that has negative consequences on the health and well-being of older adults and contributes to avoidable health spending. Studies have found that elder abuse leads to increased use of emergency room and in-patient hospital care, and estimates are that annual costs associated with such abuse are over $5.3 billion. The U.S. Administration on Aging defines elder abuse as any knowing, intentional or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that …

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 …

7 Legislative Happenings for Older Americans

With 2015 behind us, it’s the season of “best of 2015” and “bold predictions for 2016” lists. Consider this a hybrid. Looking back, there were seven important happenings and victories for older Americans and their families in 2015. They happened in Washington, D.C., state legislatures and communities across the country and will help improve the lives of millions of people. In some cases, we solved long-standing challenges, including protecting seniors’ access to their doctors. In other areas, like supporting family …