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 solution.
I have been both a live-in caregiver and a long-distance caregiver. In fact, currently, I’m really both. My dad lives with me (as do my sister and her two sons at the moment), and I also travel for work, about a week every month. I’ve learned to manage my loved ones’ care no matter where I am. Here are some of my tips for other long-distance caregivers.
The way Alzheimer’s disease has ravaged my dad’s capabilities is especially hard to bear during holidays. I wish he could more fully participate in and enjoy our family traditions. So often it seems that he just doesn’t understand, and the meaning is lost for him. Recently, though, he gave me my most unexpected and treasured Christmas gifts ... and taught me invaluable lessons at the same time.
I recently had the great pleasure of representing AARP on The Doctors to share some of my top caregiving tips, give away copies of my new book, Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving and tell everyone about AARP’s Random Acts of Kindness for Caregivers contest. (You can watch the segment, below.) It made me think about what I really want for Christmas this year and it’s exactly that: small kindnesses that free my time, nurture my soul and minimize the stress of the holidays while maximizing the joy.
Thanksgiving is approaching and families across the nation will be gathering to eat, maybe watch TV and, I hope, enjoy time together. But one of the most common questions I get this time of year is, “How can I get the generations in our family to interact more?” This year I have a great answer: Participate in StoryCorps’ Great Thanksgiving Listen using its new free app.
Respite is one of the most pressing needs of families and friends who take on a caregiving role. The need for caregiver supportive services — including respite care — is only going to rise as the U.S. population ages.
I’m excited about AARP's current caregiving awareness campaign, to recognize and support America’s 40 million family caregivers. The campaign coincides with November’s National Family Caregivers Month.
Recently, I appeared on the Today show with Kathie Lee and Hoda to share some of my best tips for caregivers. The segments go by in a flash, so I thought I’d share a bit more about each of the tips I discussed on the show (see the video below).
She carried me when I was tired. She protected me when other kids were picking on me. She introduced me to new experiences and music, from dancing to the Beatles in 1964 in our West Lafayette, Ind., living room to my first Grateful Dead concert in 1968 — where she lifted me to the stage so I could dance with the band — to the music of Keith Jarrett in 1982.
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