Category Archives: Caregiving

The Dementia That Is Often Misdiagnosed

Deborah and Todd Dolan [Photo credit: Courtesy of Deborah Dolan]

By Kevyn Burger for Next Avenue

Marriage problems take many couples by surprise. But Deborah Dolan was caught particularly unaware when her husband Todd began to distance himself from her.

“We were truly happy. We were on the same page,” she said. “He was such a gentle, kind, funny man. No one laughed more than we did.”

They were both divorced and in their mid-40s when they met; Todd Dolan was delighted to become stepfather to Deborah Dolan’s three adolescent children.

“He said he was a man looking for a family, and he found a family looking for a man,” recalled Deborah Dolan. read more

When Your Parent Doesn’t Know He Has Dementia

It’s a common aspect of the disorder, but tough on caregivers.

By Emily Gurnon for Next Avenue

Both of Kathy Kling’s parents, who are divorced, have Alzheimer’s. Kling recently talked with her mother, Karen Kelly, about her father’s disease. “Oh, I hope I never get it,” her mother replied.

She was diagnosed six years ago.

Kelly, 82, was a champion high school debater, an activist who spearheaded a Supreme Court victory for the disabled, and a Mensa member. Now, she lives in an assisted living community in Spearfish, S.D., frequently repeats herself and blames her memory problems on old age. read more

Are You Doing Doctor Appointments Right?

[Photo credit: Adobe Stock]

By Grace Birnstengel for Next Avenue

Navigating the medical system can be a daunting process. It’s challenging enough to find any doctor with openings, let alone a good doctor. And the internet isn’t always much help.

What is helpful, however, is this in-depth guide to having a good doctor’s appointment written for The New York Times by Dr. Danielle Ofri, author and associate professor of medicine at New York University.

“As a doctor I often get asked by friends and family how to make the most of a medical visit,” she wrote. read more

Are You Being Helpful or Ageist for People with Dementia?

Offers of support may be perceived as bias. [Photo credit: Adobe Stock]

By Denise Logeland for Next Avenue

A few years ago, Angela Lunde, a leader in patient and caregiver education for the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center in Rochester, Minn., sat at a table between two people who live on opposite sides of a dilemma.

On one side of Lunde was a man with early- to mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease. “He said, ‘What I really want from my community is I want somebody to feel comfortable coming up to me when I’m out and about and asking me if I need help’ if he looked confused,” Lunde recalled. read more

8 Ways to Preserve Your Family Memories

How to save precious images so future generations can enjoy them [Photo credit: Adobe Stock]

By Claire Zulkey for Next Avenue

Does that box of unsorted family photos in your closet give you a gnawing feeling? Always wonder what you’re supposed to do with your old slides? Make it a winter project to organize and annotate your family images and records, not just for your current family but for future generations.

After all, said genealogy consultant Maureen “The Photo Detective” Taylor, “It’s your identity. It’s who you are. And you can’t see where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been.” read more

How a Daughter Helped Her Mom Face Death

Finding truth at mortality’s threshold [Photo credit: Adobe Stock]

By Aimee Ross

“I have a question for you, Aim,” Mom said from her blue La-Z-Boy. “How did you stay so positive during everything you went through?”

This takes me by surprise. “Uh, Prozac?” I joke, and she laughs.

She needs to laugh. I know she is scared and depressed, awaiting her next chemo treatment. Twenty years ago, she battled uterine cancer, but stayed cancer-free ever since, a miracle. Three months ago, she was diagnosed with cancer again: non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. “I’m serious,” Mom said, and my brain begins its search for an answer. read more

Treating Behavioral Symptoms of Dementia Without Drugs

Happy senior woman gazes into the eyes of a sweet beagle in a comfortable setting

There is evidence for potential solutions like aromatherapy and pet therapy.

By Emily Gurnon for Next Avenue

Most people think of dementia as affecting memory and cognition, and it certainly does. But some of the most distressing symptoms of Alzheimer’s or other dementias are behavioral and psychological.

“What takes a lot of families by surprise are the things like agitation, problems sleeping, getting up and wandering; sometimes people even become violent,” said Dr. Keith Fargo, director of scientific programs and outreach for the Alzheimer’s Association.

Some people exhibiting these kinds of behaviors have been treated with anti-psychotic drugs, which has sparked widespread criticism. And the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has mandated a black box warning on such drugs with older adults with dementia; they are associated with an increased risk of death. read more

5 Things Family Caregivers Need to Know About Family Leave

On the federal law’s 25th anniversary, who can’t take the leave and what lies ahead? [Photo credit: Adobe Stock]

By Diane Harris for Next Avenue

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off from work to care for a new child or sick relative or to manage their own serious medical condition without fear of losing their job. The biggest cause for celebration, however, isn’t for what the law has accomplished over the past quarter century, but rather what may come next.

“Momentum is clearly growing among policymakers and employers for an expansion of the law that will include paid leave,” says Lynn Friss Feinberg, a senior strategic policy adviser for the AARP Public Policy Institute. “It’s increasingly seen as a bipartisan issue.” read more

Neil Diamond and Coping with Parkinson’s Disease

Medication and surgery can help, but symptoms impact basic abilities (Photo credit: neildiamond.com)

By Emily Gurnon for Next Avenue

Fans of Neil Diamond grieved last month to learn that the longtime pop singer has canceled the remainder of his 50th anniversary tour following a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.

“Very sad news,” one fan wrote on Twitter. “My brother and I listened to Neil Diamond in the back of the family station wagon growing up. So many wonderful memories with his music. Need a cure for Parkinson’s.”

The creator of such classics as Sweet Caroline, Song Sung Blue and Cracklin’ Rosie said in a statement on his website that his doctor recommended the move. read more

How to Be Supportive to Friends Experiencing Loss

A “support” crash course to guide you through difficult times (Photo credit: Adobe Stock)

By Ken Druck for Next Avenue

(Editor’s note: This essay is the latest in a series from author and speaker Ken Druck, based on work in his book Courageous Aging, which is about how all people can make peace with, and find joy in, every stage of life.)

Loss is an inescapable part of life. Whether we’ve lost someone to death, or are going through a living loss such as divorce, retirement, a life-threatening illness, a debilitating injury or a life-altering condition like dementia or addiction, support can make all the difference in helping us summon the strength, faith and courage to fight our way back into life. read more