Carol Bradley Bursack
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 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 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.
Dear Carol: My mom's lived with me for three years. I'm single and have a demanding job but I've made time for Mom's medical appointments and to keep up with her needs. I love her and want to do my best, but I now find myself getting short-tempered with her, which I hate. The doctor suspects that she has vascular dementia that accounts for her forgetfulness. I've become afraid that she is not safe alone while I'm gone. I'm upset with myself over my own short-tempered behavior, but for many reasons, including concerns about my job, I no longer think that this is the best arrangement.
Dear Carol: My wife's in a wheelchair because of an accident that she had 10 years ago. I've gladly taken care of her, but now she needs an increasing amount of care that I can no longer provide. We found her a place in a large, once-private house that has been converted into a group home, but she's terribly unhappy. All of the other residents have advanced cognitive ailments. We both understand the challenges that these good people face, but my wife isn't there to be a caregiver.
Dear Carol: My mom is currently in a short-term swing-bed facility and will soon be moving to a nursing home. Dad is in assisted living where we already moved some favorite furnishings from home. Their house must be sold, so my brother and I are going through what's left. We're stumped by jewelry and assorted items from their lives together. There are a lot of old pictures as well as Dad's military medals that he says he doesn't care about. We're not sure what to do with these things because they are items that have sentimental value.
Dear Carol: My mom was diagnosed with an early stage of dementia. Unfortunately, she thinks that there's still a strong stigma surrounding dementia and she doesn't want her friends to know about her diagnosis. I understand and respect her feelings, but when I asked her if she'd tell them if she had cancer, she said that she probably would. I tried to tell her that this shouldn't be any different. Since her best friends don't live close by, and she sounds like her normal self during most phone conversations as well as in her emails, there may be no rush.
Dear Carol: My parents are in their 60s and have decided that they need to have their legal paperwork updated. I think that this is smart and my siblings agree. The problem is that my parents want to designate me as their power of attorney for both health care and financial decisions since I live in their community. Unfortunately, my siblings feel slighted. While I don't love the idea of having this responsibility, I have no problem doing what's needed when the time comes.