Carol from @mindingourelder gives some of the best advice out there on aging. Many family caregivers feel guilty because they can't be perfect. It's ok to ask for help! Great job Carol!
Carol: Our caregiving group here in Santa Cruz, CA shared your lovely essay about caregiving elders and not feeling such guilt when you can't do all you wanted for them or promised. Love the perspective. My folks are passed ... a short term stint at caregiving with my husband's knee injury and subsequent surgery. After 6 weeks, it feels like 6 years (!) but I put in place many of the things that you speak about in your work. Thank you for that, you are so needed and loved and appreciated. A huge thank you.
Thank you, Carol Bradley Bursack for all the wonderful information you share. You are my first read each morning and I walk into the day feeling more informed and ready to do whatever it takes to make my mom's day better.
Carol Bradley Bursack, your passion and commitment to spread awareness and education on caregiving and elder care inspires me to work harder and do more. Thank you for all that you do!
...Melissa Price Williams
I really want to tell you thanks, not only for your support in your note of me as an individual, but for all that you are doing for others. You are really making a difference; your words are both wise and enlightened in ways that only someone who has been there can know. You are a blessing in more lives than you realize.
Carol, Your article addressing Caregivers managing chronic pain themselves hit home for me. I too have migraines & chronic physical pain due to several car accidents when I was in my 30’s. I’m 62 now. The pain can be unbearable and debilitating some days but I still continue to take care of my 89 & 90 year old parents. It’s always ‘show time’ when I get to their home. I have no family to support me and my parents refuse to have help come in their home or move to assisted living. Thank you for addressing this topic. I’m taking my migraine medication and going to bed. Your words of wisdom and guidance get me through each day. God Bless us Caregivers.
Quite the balancing act to handle this Carol! Thank you for your usual brilliance!
...Loretta Woodward Veney
I live in the Twin Cities and read your column through Twitter.
I think you do a good job. Lot's of well-reasoned responses and information.
Hope you are well! Thanks for interviewing the Choosing the StrongPath authors. We are so pleased with your piece! Hope you have a great weekend.
...Margaret representing Fred Bartlit StrongPath
Blessings to you Carol, thank you for your wonderfully written articles and your knowledge into the many layers of elder care and treatment!
...Jean Marie Smiley
Thank you so much for your insight and helpful advice. I wish I had found you when we were on our journey.
Oh Carol, this is so beautifully written! This topic is one that only someone like you—someone who’s been a family caregiver and who’s also known a lot of professional caregivers—could tackle with such grace and balance.
As usual Carol…I read your reply and it brought tears. You are such a gift. THANK YOU so much for those words of comfort to Ramblingman. You always offer such valid and tangible advice. I appreciate you!
Let me paint a picture for you. This is the literal truth...before I get out of bed EVERY morning, I reach for my cellphone and launch my email app, and go straight to your article. That's how important they are to me.
...Craig Dayton, Composer
'that was one of the most concise and information wise articles ive read in years. damn, the woman can write.
hell yea, learn from your mistakes and move onward. thats common-sensical and damn rational.'
Carol, I love, love, love your work! Always a blessing to help others find your wisdom and compassion.
...Ian Kremer @LEAD_Coalition
Love your articles, Carol. I wish I had discovered you earlier but can at least share with those who still have parents.
Carol Bradley Bursack @mindingourelder has simple, compassionate, uplifting advice for burnt out carers here. She's like a very special penfriend for the isolated.
I wish there was a way we could make your columns mandatory reading for caregivers, especially those just getting started.
Thank you, Carol! You have such a gentle way of writing an article on a tough subject. Your examples are always helpful.
Letter: Bursack's 'Minding our Elders' column delivers helpful information
By Keith Lehman
There are plenty of reasons why I continue to be a consumer of The Forum, but right towards the top of my list is Carol Bradley Bursack's weekly column, "Minding our Elders."
Bursack answers questions and offers advice about how to handle issues that come up with many of the older people we interact with day by day. Each week, she addresses issues and concerns that people have about the senior citizens in their own lives. She provides advice to people who play various roles in the lives of seniors: adult children, spouses, grandchildren, caretakers and friends. Each of these roles are likely to be one that every person eventually serves in his or her life, making the tips she offers invaluable to everybody, no matter what their current involvement with seniors is.
Thank you, Carol, for your clear, thoughtful, and considerate input on how to handle difficult situations with our elders. I look forward to opening my Saturday paper to your contribution for many years to come.
...Keith Lehman - Letter to the Editor
Have been wanting to "sit at the table" with you and express my deepest Thank You for always responding with such sensitivity, empathy and encouragement! The encouragement from another sister in this life experience of caring for those who need us the most (requiring the deepest commitment any family member would ever have believed could be possible), just is the spiritual "elixir" that God brings to us from His Heart! I am grateful to at times place my crying heart out for you to "feel" and will soon share more of our family story with you.
So true regarding those who walk through pain and hard places alone, without Jesus Christ, His Power and Presence. I knew from the moment I found your website, Minding Our Elders, that God had seen my need early on in caring for my spouse, and directed my search sovereignly.
Many Blessings to you, Carol!
I so often appreciate the wisdom in your columns and never more than today. Keeping dignity in dealing with the maladies of aging is key. Too often older people fail to seek remedies or to accept help when they need it because of the indignities they expect to suffer. I learned much from my mother who had Parkinson's and kept her dignity and sense of self while also appreciating the help she had in a care center. I think I once mentioned that my husband's parents both had dementia and it was hard to see them talked to as if they were babies.
Thank you. You provide a valuable source of information, comfort, and wisdom.
I have been reading your articles in the Fargo Forum for serveral years. We have moved to Wichita, Kansas this summer. I really miss your articles in the Sunday paper!
The last question and answer article that I was able to read was May 24th. I saved it....your answer was so amazing. You are so compassionate and wise. Thank you for how you have helped me to learn so much the past few years. I am not a full time care giver of an elderly person, but occasionally have the opportunity. Also, I have been able to share your advise with others going thru different situations with the elderly.
It would be great if you were in many newspapers. Maybe you are, and I just haven't seen you before we moved to Fargo. The Kansas City Star could use you...and also the Wichita Eagle!! I will be looking for you!!!
Thank you for all you do. God bless you, your work and your family!
Carol, I have read the intro to this article several times, but put off clicking the link and reading it partly because of busyness, but mostly because I knew it was going to have a profound effect on me; so I wanted to read it when I could really have time to digest it. Well, that time came - 3 am this morning, when I woke up and couldn't get right back to sleep. Faith and trust in God is the most important part of my life, though I often struggle with my problems for longer than I need to because I fail to turn to God first. I have been caring for my mom, who is now 100 years old, for 20 years. Since day one, when she had a stroke, I have depended on God for every aspect of her care. She recently moved into a nursing home, and is starting to experience mild dementia. There is no way I could have done it without Him, His grace, mercy, forgiveness - when I mess it all up - His love, His divine rest - when I get weary in well doing. So, it is not a surprise to me that He chose this quiet still moment (he often does that) for me to finally read this post, to speak to me this morning. Thank you for being the messenger through which He worked, this time. God bless and keep you as you do His will.
Thank you very much for your help. You have no idea how much it was appreciated.
God bless you!!
In response to a column on sexually aggressive behavior.
One of my fav things about you Carol is the grace with which you handle the really tough subjects!! Thank you!
...Loretta Woodward Veney
Oh my gosh; I so relate to this. No one seems to understand so it was so good reading this. I feel like my heart is broken every day. God bless you.
...Amelia Grove Ellington
Thanks for your kind words and feedback. I really appreciate your spreading the word. You are the hardest working blogger I know. I am amazed that you are able to post informative information daily. You are a gift to the caregiver community.
...Kevin Haselhost, MD
This is one of the most helpful things I've read as it relates to my situation. Being a very literal realist, much of my difficulty in dealing with my husband's dementia has been associated with his "altered reality," Within the past few months, on my own, I've come to appreciate how he mirrors my moods and acts more complacent when I simply agree with him -- and this article has helped me put that into perspective. Thanks!
This article is written beautifully. The explanation of "validation is seeing through their eyes" is enlightening. I agree that it is kind and respectful of the elderly person, who is too often "corrected" to see our point of view instead. It is a gift to be given to allow dignity to remain in these people's lives as their lives have changed and continue to change. It is healthy to be engaged in life and validation, when often appropriate, allows the person with dementia to be engaged in life as they know it and it "validates: them as a whole individual reinforcing their much needed self esteem. It is a loving gift to them.
I think this article is fabulous. I and my husband are caring for my grandmother who has been diagnosed with Malenfart Dementia. This article hit spot on, our current questions and issues.
Exceptional, caring, realistic, well thought out, practical. Carol hits the Bullseye from every angle. Thank You for the counsel on caring and guilt.
There is not a lot that scares me truly...BUT...the loss of my father and now the impending loss of Mama is bringing me to my knees...with Daddy, the end seemed to come quickly....and I even feel guilt for talking about it because I am afraid if I talk about it it will come to be....I don't even know what I am doing anymore.....this article is invaluable...and I know I need help.
I think this article addresses how I feel. I just told my daughter today that I think I am grieving my husband's her fathers death. He has suffered with vascular dementia for six years and I am sad most of the time. I have caregivers while I work but even when I work I am sad. We know the inevitable and it is difficult to say goodbye to someone I have been married to for 48 years.
great article. I especially identify with the long goodbye. It puts a name to what many of us are feeling and didn't recognize exactly what it is and that is a legitimate thing.
Great article Carol! Insightful, honest, and beautifully written. Giving you a standing O!!
Carol Bradley Bursack thank you for your kind words of understanding. I agree Mom has every right to complain. We actually had a good day yesterday. I wasn't exhausted and therefore was able to view her through the lens of compassion. I think Mom complains to me because I am her "person". She had lost the ability to see or or have concern how it affects me. I know she can't help it. I will work hard to line up some care in hopes she may be happier but even if that doesn't happen at least my sister and I will get some help caring for her. Your words Carol are appreciated by me more than you will ever know.
...Susan Joan Mason
Thanks Carol, I am not for contacting the ombudsman, I believe that they are doing everything they should, and can, and as long as they are acting appropriately, I think I will ere on the side of Gods Grace. His BP is still somewhat low, which is a concern, but they are monitoring it hourly, keeping someone with him pretty much at all times and will continue to do so all day long.
Thanks for your comment, it let me know that I am doing the right thing.
Subject: RE: Care-giving - Self-Destruction
Many many thanks Carol for answering so quickly. Just your email has helped to give me hope. I will contact the link you gave me and see what they can do. I will do my best to keep an open mind and not let my emotions take over so that I can know all my options and decide accordingly.
Again, thank you so much. I have found your pieces of writing very useful and will continue to look up your work.
I so enjoy your newsletters. I lived the caregiver role for 10 years with my husband Bob who had Alzheimers. Because I knew from the start, that no one was caring for the caregiver, I too opened a business based on my experience. Love the work you are doing and will use you and your book as a referral with my clients.
Thank you so much for the sensitive responses you always offer your readers. I have been especially grateful lately when you have mentioned Hospice and respectfully provided information and guidance to families who are trying to find help for their loved ones. Hospice of the Red River Valley compassionately cared for both of my parents at the end of their lives, and their support of me and my family, the caregivers, helped me to decide to join this important work.
Thank you and God bless you,
... Lauryl Ivers , Chaplain Hospice of the Red River Valley
You have helped a lot of people Carol, thank you for what you do and your advice.
Thank you for this excellent and inspiring article, Carol - I love to write and never thought of utilizing journaling for these issues (though I certainly have vented in my personal journal!) I love the structure for the three books you provided...looking forward to getting started on them!
Best wishes to all...hope tomorrow is better for us...
Thank you so very much! I just came home from my parents'
home where my 79 year old father was "seeing" unauthorized men
completing thousands of dollars of work in his yard. My mother had been arguing
with him, bless her heart, that no one was out there. I just told him that we
would figure it out tomorrow. He was ok with that. I felt wrong in a way, but
after reading your article I feel better. His world is real to him. Just
because we cannot share it, does not make it any less real to him. Thank you
Carol this is fabulous!! While I haven't personally been in this situation, I just spoke at a Caregiver Support group on Sat and a question about repairing a relationship after hurtful words came up. I'm going to forward this to the group!
I just wanted to tell you how much I have been enjoying your articles on Health Central. I like your content but especially I like your writing style. Thanks.
Thanks Carol... When I'm training a dementia care seminar - I sometimes have an opportunity to read one of your blogs to the class -to make a point. :)
...Loretta Woodward Veney
Dear Carol Bradley Bursack,
You write a terrific, much-needed column! I've worked in long-term care for years and appreciate your spot-on advice.
"I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end."
...Craig William Dayton, Film Composer
"You do a great job. : ) Some of the richest content on the web for caregivers!!!"
...David Wolf, CLTC
To: Carol Bradley Bursack
You are kind. It is an honor. Your voice is so powerful. You are lifting the banner for those who may not be able to lift it alone any longer.
...Danniel C. Potts, Geriatrician
Thank you Carol for every ounce of energy you've poured into vulnerable, needy elders as well as the caregivers that tend to the needs of others at the great cost of ignoring their own. You have built a house with walls of love and a foundation of kindness. It is furnished with gratitude and lasting friendships I'm sure. I simply am compelled to thank-you from my heart for your monumental contribution(s). What you do is "life-changing" for us (caregivers). I'm certain you've burned alot of "midnight oil" to have the wisdom and experience you share with others. God Bless you sweet lady and Godspeed to any projects you currently have. May you continue to have your path enlightened by the source of creativity, love and kindness. xo
My Dear Ms. Bursack:
I just happened upon your article about caring for your Dad while he was in a nursing facility. You are absolutely an Angel. How clever of you to "enter his world" and bring him so much joy. You are truly "Wonder Woman" to have cared for a neighbor and six others! What an inspiration you are and I am going to share your information with my step brother who is caring for his Dad that is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's now.
I hope to read your book.
Thank you for all the good that you do and the happiness that you bring to others.
Carol, I appreciate so much, the Q&A you write in our Sunday paper. You are very sensitive and kind. When I was a teen, working in a grocery store, I started to notice how disrespectful some elders are treated. Some are treated as children and talked down to, some are actually abused. I was so surprised by this. We always treated my Grandmas like they deserved...
I guess we practically worshipped them because we loved them so much...they were the most wonderful people (including my grandpas and even a few step grandparents that treated us as if we were by birth). I don't know what I would have done without my grandparents, growing up. They had such a huge influence on my life. I am 58, my grandparents are gone, but they still influence me to this day. I saw a lady in a store the other day....she looked just like Grandma Martha...I had teary eyes watching her.
All this to say....thank you. Your advice is wonderful. The advice this week about things to do when visiting a mom in a nursing home was so creative and great...I will always remember it.
Thank you for loving the elderly...they were us one day...we will be them one day. God bless you for all you do. ...Debbie Braaten
SUBJECT: Vitamins and Folic Acid
I just read about this study this evening. I have Vascular Dementia...there was once a time when I did not even recognize my vacuum cleaner...that seems like such a long time ago. Since then, I have taken Aricept and supplemented my diet with Super B Complex and folic acid...as well as flaxseed...and I have seen a big improvement in certain areas of my life. I now recognize what the vacuum looks like (though I don't seem to ever be able to remember where it is). I can follow recipes much better. Of course, there is still much I have to deal with... But, getting back to the study, I was so happy to read about it. I will continue taking the combination as long as I see it is helping. Thanks for reporting on it; perhaps it will help others as they deal with dementia. God bless you, Carol!!!
Thanks so much for your article about RA and caregiver stress. I fit the pattern exactly; as caregiver to my disabled husband for decades. I now have RA and like you wonder if I would have it otherwise. I think you are correct with the correlation; my husband is very ill and I am having a huge flare up and can hardly walk due to feet inflame. I hope you are doing well and know that we appreciate your taking the time to write the article about RA and stress. Thanks again, ...Barbara
Carol – What a pleasure talking with you today! Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom with our listeners here in Detroit.
...Detriot Area Agency on Aging
Thank you so very much! I just came home from my parents' home where my 79 year old father was "seeing" unauthorized men completing thousands of dollars of work in his yard. My mother had been arguing with him, bless her heart, that no one was out there. I just told him that we would figure it out tomorrow. He was ok with that. I felt wrong in a way, but after reading your article I feel better. His world is real to him. Just because we cannot share it, does not make it any less real to him. Thank you again!
Carol: I think you are wonderful.!! May the GOOD LORD BLESS YOU with ever GOOD and wonderful gift from his heaven...Keep doing what you are doing...and going with the flow..!!!
Hello Carol! My wife and I just listened today to your 1/2 hour interview on sibling conflicts and seniors. It was excellent! I am facing a very, very difficult and complex situation with my parents and two older siblings. I also have a younger sibling who is in "my camp." I would also like to post something in the caregiver community site but can't seem to figure out how to get there to post it. Can you help? I get your blog all the time and find so many topics so, so helpful. As for my own situation, Dad is 84, Mom 83. Dad has onset dementia, especially with short term memory issues. It seems to be worsening, as do his occasional moods and outbursts (forgotten soon after). My mom recently went through a very, very difficult and near "breakdown." Fortunately, we were able to get her into a new psychiatrist (she has been on meds for years) who has adjusted her meds. She is doing much better, but my father's dementia is a heavy weight on her. They still live independently in a mobile home in Ventura, CA. My wife and I live 9 miles away, as does my older sister. The biggest "conflict" in our family system is around finances. My father often expresses concern that he is going to run out of money before he dies, and at the same, time continues to support my older brother and sister financially. My younger sister and I believe it is very, very wrong for these siblings to accept my father's money, as he does not seem capable of breaking the financial and emotional enmeshment he has been in with them for years. My younger sister and I neither have any desire for any of their money. We just want what is best for them. And we believe that my father's continued financial support of our older siblings is not only wrong (they are 62 and 60), but more than likely very, very harmful for my parents' future. I could go on and on, but I will begin with this short summary. By the way, I AM going to see an attorney this next week to get a legal perspective on all this. Thank you for all you have done for the seniors in your life, and now all you do for those of us thrust in caregiving with little knowledge or experience. I appreciate you so, so much! All the best,
...John Paul Beals Port Hueneme, CA
Hi Carol, I'm a caregiver to a loved ones. I so identify with the things you mentioned in some of the articles - stress, no self-care, zero social life, home bound, etc. Unfortunately,there are no caregivers group in Malaysia so your blog has been very helpful. Please keep me in your mailing list.
Thank you so much, again, for your thoughtful comments and advice. As a Hospice Chaplain I really appreciated your advice in Sunday’s paper – especially that you noted Chaplains can be an important support at end of life for those who are not religious as well as those who are. I have so many stories like the one you shared of your uncle. I sometimes read my non-religious clients from the book by Dr. Janis Amatuzio, Forever Ours, and they find comfort in that, too. God bless you for the caring wisdom you provide us all, Lauryl
...Lauryl Ivers, M.Div., B.C.C.| Chaplain,
Hospice of the Red River Valley ......