Carol Bradley Bursack
Dear Carol: I'm struggling with trying to find answers on how I can help my elderly mother. I'm 67, I'm retired and I live an hour away from my 87-year-old mom who has heart failure. Mom still lives alone in her house and this is very important to her. As her condition has worsened, she's required more help from my sister who lives just 10 minutes away. My sister runs all of Mom's errands, completes all of her chores and checks in on her several times a day. On top of this, my sister still works full time and won't be able to retire for a three more years.
Dear Carol: My dad has aggressive prostate cancer that has spread to his liver and bones. His oncologist isn't very communicative and when I asked about hospice care he said that's up to us. He told us that Dad won't get better but that he can keep treating him if we want. The treatments make Dad miserable. If they won't help, what's the point? I feel strongly that Dad needs hospice care and have been trying to talk my mom into it but she's dragging her feet. How do we go about getting the service? Which one do we choose? Will Mom have to go on Medicaid to get it paid for?
Dear Carol: My dad came to live with my family after of a series of strokes. The doctors think he has a combination of vascular dementia and Alzheimer's which seems to make him unable to tell the difference between real life and TV. He gets angry if I put the TV remote where he can't use it, and I can understand that.
Dear Carol: This January marks one year since my mother died. My dad adored her, as we all did, but he's having a harder time adjusting than we kids, which I suppose is to be expected. Mom had cancer but her treatments proved to be ineffective so she eventually went on hospice care. With hospice helping, Mom was coherent during the holidays last year. We got through it, and Dad did admirably well, considering the circumstances. I think he kept up a front for Mom's sake.
Dear Carol: My mother is in a nursing home following a series of strokes and, thankfully, the facility is relatively close so I can visit daily. I've decorated Mom's room for Christmas, and I bring her Christmas treats to share with others. Dad also spends time each day with Mom.
Dear Carol: After my mom died last year, I stepped in to take care of my 83-year-old dad. I know that I spoiled him at first because of his devastation over losing Mom, but now he's used to my taking over the "wife" role. I pay his bills, take him shopping, cook his meals, clean and spend nearly every day, all day, with him.
Dear Carol: My mother has been in rehab since she broke her hip at home but now she needs to be moved. The professionals, including her doctor, strongly encourage moving her to a nursing home close to me because Mom will continue to need extensive care and her condition is expected to decline.
Dear Carol: Is a dementia diagnosis always needed? I can understand younger people needing to know what kind of dementia is present, but my dad, who is 89, has declined cognitively over the last five years. His doctor has him on some dementia drugs that are supposed to help. They don't seem to do much but they don't seem to be hurting either, so we decided that it's worth whatever benefit he can get. The doctor says that Dad is really doing OK for his age, and we both hate to put him through a lot of tests just because his memory is poor.
Dear Carol: My mom was drugged into dementia. She started out having a thyroid problem, but she kept developing more illnesses and receiving more prescriptions. The prescriptions ranged from her thyroid medication, which was necessary, to anti-depressants, anti-anxiety pills, etc., until she was eventually put in a psych ward.
Dear Carol: My mother suffered a series of small strokes that contributed to increasing disability. Since I'm divorced with grown kids, I retired early and had mom move in with me. This worked for nearly five years before a massive stroke made it evident that I needed to move her to a nursing home. Mom lived there for less than six months before she died. Sometimes, I'm overwhelmed by guilt over moving her, even though the care that she received was excellent. I tell myself that if I would have stuck with it six more months Mom could have been with me the whole time.