More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s today. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.”
A friend of mine has a mother with Alzheimer’s disease living in England. She shared her emotional difficulty with me regarding the loss she experienced even though her mother is still alive. Coping with a parent with Alzheimer’s is Continue reading
You may wonder how I went from writing about my soul mate dog in MAGGIE The Dog Who Changed My Life to writing about parent care and loss. Although they are two different topics, both of my books bring to light difficult feelings and experiences that many find hard to talk about and listen to. Both MAGGIE and my parents touched my deeply and changed my life.
Are you a caregiver to aging or ill parents? Have you lost your parents? Many baby boomers are part of the sandwich generation caring for both their children and elderly parents. In my new book, FINAL YEARS Stories of Parent Care, Loss and Lives Changed, ten people shared stories of tough decisions, family dynamics, grief, and healing as their parents’ health diminished and they eventually passed. I weave my own account through each of their chapters. Continue reading
Do you know what Pulmonary Fibrosis is? Do you have an aging parent or other loved one suffering from it? According to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF) is a condition in which “the lung tissue becomes thickened, stiff, and scarred.” This is what happened to my father. The medical term for this scar tissue is fibrosis. Watching Dad’s quality of life change from this horrible disease was a heartbreak like I had not experienced before.
Oxygen is delivered to the entire body through the lungs. When someone like my father has PF, their lung tissue becomes scarred and thickens. There is therefore less healthy lung tissue to transfer oxygen into the blood to carry it throughout the body. As a result, the organs, including the heart and brain do not get the oxygen they need to function properly. In Dad’s case he developed a debilitating anxiety as a result. And prior to having pulmonary fibrosis, there was nothing anxiety was even a remote part of Dad’s life or way of being.
In some cases, like Dad’s, doctors can determine the cause of the fibrosis (scarring). In his case it was related to asbestos exposure during his years of working in construction and remodeling. Often the cause remains unknown, and that is termed idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis or IPF. IPF occurs primarily in older adults. Continue reading
My caregiving for my parents began while I was living in Colorado and they were still in their own home in Indiana. Long distance caregiving for your parents can be stressful and emotionally exhausting. My father became ill and his pulmonary disease progressed over a period of 5 years. Watching him suffer and his quality of life diminish with each passing day lived with me every waking moment. Not living close to care for him and help my parents on a regular basis was one of my life’s greatest challenges. I write more about this and others share their long distance caregiving experiences in my newly published book, FINAL YEARS Stories of Parent Care, Loss and Lives Changed.
There is an informative post on Caregiving.com titled 10 Tips for Family Caregivers – Caring for Parents Long Distance written by Thedogmamma (as a lover of dogs and the author a dog book, I love her name!) She, too was/is in the shoes many of us are in as long distance caregivers and shares some of her valuable pointers. Take a look at her November 3 post on Caregiving.com for long distance caregiving tips.
As a nurse, I knew that sibling conflict was common when the time came to care for aging and ailing parents. But I didn’t dream it would happen to my sister and me. When it did, and when common ground for communicating was nowhere to be found, I suggested to my sister that we go to counseling to work things out through a third party mediator. What I didn’t know that the AARP blog addressed in a July, 2013 post is that there are actually mediators specifically for siblings bickering over how they are going to handle and share the care for their aging parents. They are called elder mediators.
Many issues can come up between and among siblings regarding their aging parents. Some may include their living arrangements and safety, medical decisions, who the primary caregiver is, and of course, money. Each sibling’s relationship with their parents may play a role in how involved they do or don’t wish to be, as may the distance they each live from their parents. One sibling may have an expectation of another that is unfortunately not out on the table, or even realistic. Finally, past resentments, conscious or unconscious, may rear their ugly head at this most inopportune time. Continue reading
Continued from 10/25/13 post
…After all, I was in the healing profession. I had become a nurse practitioner and Dad turned to me when he couldn’t find assistance through his own doctors to help him find even a small degree of comfort in his day-to-day life. I tried everything I knew in both Western and alternative medicine, but not knowing his diagnosis it was almost to no avail. As a result, I went down many blind alleys and unfortunately took him with me. Had I known his diagnosis, we could have gotten him into hospice much sooner than we did and perhaps provided some of the comfort he desperately sought.
Some of us are more sensitive than others. Those of us who are more sensitive may more easily step into the shoes of the person in agony and feel their pain more than those of us who are less sensitive. That can overwhelm us. For me, it’s not that I felt my dad’s physical ailments, but he so readily shared his anguish with me that I was beside myself at times. My heart broke for him. Others are better at keeping emotional distance from Continue reading