Carol Bradley Bursack
Dear Carol: My dad had been fighting cancer for years. Eventually, there was no more hope for a cure, so we agreed to ask for hospice care to keep Dad comfortable during his last weeks of life. He surprised us by doing well under hospice care, living beyond the doctor's expectation, but he eventually died.
Dear Carol: My mother's memory has gotten very poor, her arthritis puts her at risk for falls and she has severe asthma, so she decided that she'd be better off in assisted living. My brother and I were in agreement and we went with Mom to look at available facilities. We were thrilled with what we thought was the perfect home.
Dear Carol: My mom is 94 years old and frail. She has a weak heart and bad lungs, yet she hangs on. I'm a 73-year-old widow. I took care of Mom at home for more than five years, but two years ago I placed her in a nursing home. I felt terrible guilt about doing that because I'd promised her that I wouldn't, but my own health was deteriorating and I couldn't physically transfer her anymore. There was no other choice.
Dear Carol: My mom passed away a month ago from a major stroke. Since her death, I seem to either be in a fog or collapsing into tears. My sister, Carolyn, had been caring for Mom until two years ago, but then Carolyn had a sudden heart attack and died. She was only 43. Mom then came to live with us. Mom had COPD and heart disease. My husband has always been a rock of support and love and my two kids have handled Mom's death well. They are trying to help me even though they, too, are grieving their aunt and their grandma.
Dear Carol: My wife died of cancer three years ago. Her decline was long and slow, so when the end came there was some relief, along with the agonizing grief. I've slowly recovered enough to enjoy life. However, I've now been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease (EOAD). I also have neuropathy, which affects my balance. My wife had a great attitude during her illness, and I'm determined to use her as my example for dealing with my own challenges.
Dear Carol: I'm certain that my 76-year-old neighbor, a good friend of mine, has dementia. She forgets what day it is, what groceries she needs and she seems terribly confused when she has to plan anything. Sometimes she seems frightened because of her confusion.
Dear Carol: My mother has severe spine and knee issues and should be using a walker, but she refuses. She's only in her 60s and she says a walker makes her look old. She also complains that a walker keeps her from getting close enough to the cupboards and sink to cook, which is something that she loves. I admit that walkers are bulky and get in the way. They also keep a person from carrying dishes. I understand that. Still, she's taking a terrible chance. When she's having a lot of trouble she will use a cane, but that doesn't help enough. Her mind is fine. The problem is her ego.
Dear Carol: I'm 69 years old and widowed. My 76-year-old single sister has advanced osteoporosis, inflammatory arthritis, and lung disease. I cared for her in my home for more than seven years. My health is deteriorating and my doctor has warned me that, if I don't change my caregiving situation, I'm in for big health issues. My sister said that she understood, so six months ago she moved into a nursing home. The facility is lovely and the staff is great. The staff members have told me that she has made friends and, considering her health, does very well.
Dear Carol: I helped my mom take care of my dad for years after he'd had a stroke. Dad died last year, and Mom was diagnosed with cancer shortly after his death. Apparently, she had cancer symptoms for some time but was so focused on Dad that she didn't follow up on her own health. Mom died last month under the care of a wonderful hospice organization, but now I am lost. I'm divorced and never had children. Caregiving was my life for more than 10 years. I have enough money not to have to work so I just sit and watch TV, not even registering what I'm watching.
Dear Carol: The New Year is arriving and I'm trying to make my annual list of what I'm happy about and what I want to improve. This year, I'm struggling. My once-healthy mom had a sudden, massive stroke in October and is now in a nursing home. She's always been vibrant, both physically and mentally, as well as a kind, loving mother and grandmother. Her volunteer work is a local legend.