Carol Bradley Bursack
Dear Carol: My husband and I cared for my mom in our home for several years before she passed away two months ago. The first two weeks I was nearly paralyzed with grief. After that, like someone flipped a switch, I went into a wild cleaning and tossing out spree. I just had to do something. Now, I've sunk into a low that's hard to explain. I don't want to get out of bed, shower, or even talk to anyone. I've been taking antidepressants for years and have done well on them.
Dear Carol: My widowed dad is 76. He's in good health and lives alone on a farm several miles from the metro area. Dad drives around the farm and to the neighboring town but stays out of the metro because of the traffic. His nearest neighbors are a couple of miles away. My two siblings and I split the visiting so that someone sees Dad once a week, but with winter weather, the possibility of him going a couple of weeks alone is real. We want him to move to the metro for safety and health care.
Dear Carol: My dad's been in a nursing home for several years and is ready for hospice care. I read your column about hospice care being covered by most insurances, but I'm wondering what happens in a nursing home. Does insurance start to cover nursing home costs, then, too? Would it be better to move Dad home for this time period? It's hard to make these decisions at such a stressful time. — RE
Dear Carol: My dad has late stage Alzheimer's and is in a nursing home in our community where he seems to be receiving good care. Mom is with him every day. He no longer recognizes either of us, but Mom says that he is her husband and she will be there with him. I respect and understand that.
Dear Carol: My friend is struggling to convince her father, who lives across the country, that he needs help caring for his 86-year-old wife who has had a stroke. Her dad is somewhat younger than her mom, but he has his own health problems. She knows that he's overwhelmed with caregiving, but he won't hire anyone to help. My friend asked for my opinion and I'm stumped. She says that her dad has always been stubborn and she doesn't know what to do about his situation because she is too far away to be hands-on. — JY
Dear Carol: My mother has mid-stage dementia, as a mixture of Alzheimer's and vascular. Dad is taking care of her, and overall it's going OK as long as I go over to their apartment each day to help with baths, run errands and accompany them to medical appointments. What's troubling is that last week Mom fell against a cupboard corner and tore a gash in her shoulder. Dad called me immediately to see if we should take her to the emergency room. Mom said the injury didn't hurt but she was acting very anxious and agitated so we decided on the ER.
Dear Carol: My mother is relatively healthy for a 76-year-old woman but she's overcome cancer twice and I worry about losing her. She doesn't show any signs of dementia, which I know because she actually went through screening with a specialist to prove to me that she is capable of doing what she wants. She does want me to accompany her to the doctor, and I'm power of attorney for her health, but she says that I take over the appointment when we're there.
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.