Shifting the focus to the caregiver may save a life

Care_For_Caregiver_CvrIf you’ve ever been the caregiver for an impaired elderly loved one, you know where your focus lies almost every minute of every day—with the person you are caring for. My mom is the full-time caregiver for my dad, who’s had Parkinson’s for the past 12 years. Parkinson’s is a slow-growing disease that causes uncontrolled shaking, an inability to move and, at the later stages, dementia. My dad is 170 pounds; my mom weighs 95 pounds. My dad needs to be lifted out of bed, needs help to stand up and requires assistance for the few brief steps he takes with his walker to the bathroom, kitchen or living room. He needs to be bathed and shaved, and needs help with brushing his teeth. It’s a struggle to dress Dad, as he doesn’t have control of his muscles to help Mom put on his Depends, pants, shirt, socks and sneakers. Exercise can help Dad sustain what limited range of motion he has, so Mom cues him through his daily exercise routine. She also sings songs with him and has him recite...

What I learned from my shingles scare

girl with bookHave you met anyone who’s had shingles? If so, they probably have a lot to tell you about their experience. My mother-in-law, who is a lung cancer survivor, says the pain associated with healing from her lung cancer surgery was nothing in comparison to the pain she experienced from the shingles outbreak she suffered 10 years ago at age 73. My mother-in-law had not heard of the shingles vaccine, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults age 60 and older get the vaccine, which helps reduce the risk of getting shingles by about half and reduces the severity and duration of the outbreak by more than 65 percent. The shingles vaccine works by protecting the body from a reactivation of the chickenpox virus that most people (98 percent) are exposed to during childhood. I’ve not had the shingles vaccine, as my doctor told me it was only indicated for folks 60 and older. I am in my early 50s. About six months ago I woke up with a severe rash...

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