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 …

4 Tips for Difficult Family Conversations

It’s that time of year when many families gather for holiday celebrations and check in on loved ones. It can be a tough combo, creating a celebratory mood while also dealing with serious family issues. I get a lot of questions from family caregivers about how to handle difficult conversations that come up around sensitive topics such as driving, personal care, housework and finances. Here are my top tips for setting up a successful conversation. Observe before you act. Before …

Join the Holiday Blog Party for Caregivers

Now, in the thick of the holiday season, many of us who are family caregivers are facing even more stress than usual, with relatives’ visits and extra items on our to-do lists. That makes this a perfect time for us to connect with our fellow caregivers for support and advice. While we can’t all gather in-person, of course, Caregiving.com came up with something much easier: a virtual Holiday Progressive Blog Party, and I’m thrilled to participate. Visit the site to find links to a range of caregiving blogs …

Caregiving on the Move: Tips for Easier Outings

Let’s face it: Getting out and about with a loved one who has cognitive or mobility challenges can be a logistical nightmare. The equipment, timing and transportation mishaps are often a comedy of errors — like the time I left the trunk wide open for two hours after retrieving Mom’s wheelchair, or when Dad, who has Alzheimer’s disease, spits his food on the floor at a restaurant. Despite the headaches, I’ve remained determined to get my parents (and Dad’s service dog, Mr. …

5 Hard Lessons I’ve Learned Hiring Caregivers

For more than five years I’ve been hiring paid caregivers to help care for my parents. They have run the gamut from top-notch to terrible. Along the way, I’ve learned some hard but valuable lessons: It’s time-consuming. While paid caregivers give me the ability to step away and handle other caregiving tasks, go to work and take care of myself, they also require a great deal of my time to coordinate, monitor and train — even when I’ve used an agency. Don’t fear …

How to Develop a Caregiving Plan

I first spoke with my parents about their plans for “the future” when Dad retired from his career as a university professor in 1995. Mom had suffered a stroke six years earlier but was still mobile, and Dad was in good health. They had completed advance directives and estate planning. My caregiving plan was to help them stay as independent as possible for as long as possible. I’d visit three or four times a year, monitor their needs and coordinate with my …