Carol Bradley Bursack
Dear Carol: My sister is the primary caregiver for our dad, who is in a nursing home because of Alzheimer’s disease. She lives in his community and I live over 100 miles away. I try to visit every other weekend to give my sister a much-deserved break, and often we’ll meet at the nursing home. I do understand her stress. She has a husband, a job, middle school-age kids with all that goes with raising kids, plus the primary responsibility of our dad
Dear Carol: My 93-year-old mother lives in a nursing home and I visit her several times during the work week, more over the weekends. She seems as content as she is capable of being and she’s getting excellent care. My two siblings only visit Mom for the holidays. I understand this since they are each on different coasts and traveling is both time-consuming and expensive. What’s hard to handle is their pressure to have me take Mom into my home.
Dear Carol: Nine months ago, my 63-year-old husband was happy and active and we were both looking forward to his retirement. Then he had a massive stroke, and our lives were permanently changed. I’m very grateful to have him at all, so I don’t want to be misunderstood. It’s just that I’m struggling. We’ve had to hire help for his care because therapy hasn’t been that effective and this expense is draining our savings. Our children want to help, but they don’t live that close to us so their ongoing help is impractical.
Dear Carol: I have four siblings scattered around the country and one brother has stayed in the same community as our parents. This brother helped Dad with Mom’s care until she died, and he’s now taking care of Dad. My brother is great except that he doesn’t keep the rest of us updated as much as we’d like. He says that at times he’s overwhelmed with work and taking care of Dad, so his communication falls by the wayside.
Dear Carol: My mother is 76, healthy and enjoying life. She lives in the same small home where I grew up. Mom still drives, though she’s smart about when and where, and in cases where she’s not comfortable, she rides with younger friends or I drive her. She loves to garden, but again, she’s smart and hires the heavy work done. Mom’s agreed to wear a personal alarm so that I can be alerted if she has an emergency. We see each other nearly once a week and chat or email daily. So why am I writing?
Dear Carol: My 96-year-old mother has moderate signs of dementia and lives in an assisted living facility. Mom can feed herself but she needs assistance with most other activities, including transferring from her bed to her lift chair or wheelchair, but she won’t use her call light to get help. Last evening, Mom had tried to move from the lift chair to the wheelchair and an aide found her on the floor. Mom wasn’t injured this time, but what about the next time?
Dear Carol: My parents' neighborhood has changed and they feel isolated, so they've decided that they want to move to assisted living. Apparently they've heard good things about these facilities from friends, but most of these friends are better off financially than my parents. I've tried to convince them to come north to be near me, but that's not going to happen, and I have a job that I love up north so I can't move there. I'll fly down to help them decide about a facility, and again to move, but I'd like assistance in sorting the choices.
Dear Carol: My husband and I are retired and were enjoying our quiet life when my fiercely independent 89-year-old mother started showing signs of dementia. We felt that it was best for her to move in with us and she reluctantly agreed. Mother's been in our home for seven months and, while my husband is a saint, I'm not. She's driving me crazy. She tries to cook and I spend hours cleaning up from burned food and dumped wastebaskets. She tries to do her own personal care in the bathroom and dumps things in the toilet and then flushes so we've needed a plumber twice, so far.
Dear Carol: My dad died after years of living with a cancer diagnosis. My mom, my siblings and I are all going through our separate grief processes. I spend a lot of time helping Mom, yet I, too, am grieving, which seems to be overlooked by Mom's friends. I can understand that, even though it hurts. What's most strange, though, is that while we are all irritated by different things that people trying to comfort us do, what we agree on is that people either can't or won't take time to listen to us voice our pain. Could you lay out some rules for helping people who are grieving?
Dear Carol: My mom, 83, is in a memory unit because she has advanced Lewy body dementia (LBD). While a nurse was bathing Mom, she noticed a breast lump. My logical mind tells me that considering Mom's cognitive state, together with her age, this lump is best ignored since she has no pain. I've talked with her neurologist. He said that I could consult an oncologist but that he'd suggest not telling Mom since she may be stressed by the news when there's a good possibility that this isn't even cancer.