Dementia and communication: Listening

People with Alzheimer’s or other memory loss conditions often have trouble expressing themselves, sometimes right from the start of the disease. This can easily lead to confusion and frustration for both of you. Your willingness to exercise patience is key to successful communication: Patience and calm, over and over and over again. This is hard!... Read More

Video chatting for the “tech challenged”

Many older adults are embracing technology to stay connected with family and friends during the pandemic. Although some popular technologies—Zoom, FaceTime, and Skype—are relatively simple, they still require a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Plus some tech savvy. Your loved one may be challenged to learn new skills because of memory issues. Or perhaps arthritis or... Read More

“Should we bring Dad home?”

In the context of COVID, many families are wondering if an older relative would be better off moving out of their assisted living, memory care, or skilled nursing facility. It’s not an easy question to answer. The advantages of facility living. Facilities have staff on site 24/7 to assist with residents’ needs. They can provide... Read More

Health risks of Korean War vets

Close to 2 million American soldiers fought in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. More than half of those who served in what is often called the “Forgotten War” are still alive. Most of these soldiers were born during the 1920s and 1930s. They are now in their 80s and 90s, with some cresting... Read More

Constructive criticism: When to speak up

Caring for a family member often involves collaborating with other relatives. Sometimes you will agree. Sometimes you won’t. Debating every item may not be the best use of family time. In some situations, the wisest course is to be quiet and let others do it their way. That said, there are times when you should... Read More

Would having a dog help? A fish?

Increasingly, research shows that older adults can benefit in myriad ways from the companionship of an animal. Physical health benefits Pets seem to help us stay calm in the midst of stress: Reduced blood pressure and heart rate. Some research shows improvement even when the “pet” is fish swimming in an aquarium! Strengthened immune system.... Read More

When you can’t hold a funeral

Between travel concerns and restrictions on group gatherings, holding a traditional funeral can be challenging. Many families are turning to “virtual funerals” using video conferencing programs, such as Zoom. About 20% of funeral homes offer virtual services. And there are online companies that specialize in funerals. They assist with everything from sending out invitations and... Read More

Supporting a person with arthritis

Arthritis is a difficult condition to understand as an onlooker. The pain is invisible and unpredictable. Some days are good. Other days are not. Arthritis challenges the affected person’s ability to accomplish the basics—simple tasks, such as opening jars or walking up stairs. Such disability can generate feelings of frustration and low self-worth. The chronic... Read More

What is palliative care?

Life with a serious illness is not all dreary and glum. The condition and its symptoms can certainly take over. But daily life continues. And patients are more than their disease. Like everyone, they need to eat, walk, talk with friends and family, and enjoy pleasant activities. Palliative care is an extra layer of support. Its... Read More

What is “mindfulness,” anyway?

Many people confuse mindfulness with meditation and Eastern religions. Mindfulness is a skill gained by training your mind to observe life situations in a less emotionally charged way. It is a mental skill that gives you a less-cluttered perspective. It lowers daily stress and is particularly helpful when making important decisions under duress. Mindfulness is... Read More