elder rage

Jacqueline’s Story: Elder Rage: If I Only Knew Then —
What I Know Now!

For eleven years I begged my obstinate elderly father to allow
a caregiver to help him with my ailing mother, but he adamantly
insisted on taking care of her himself. Every caregiver I hired
sighed in exasperation, “Jacqueline, I just can’t work with your
father–his temper is impossible. I don’t think he’ll accept help
until he’s on his knees himself.”

My father had always been 90 percent wonderful, but that raging
temper was a doozy. He’d never turned on me before, but then I’d
never gone against his wishes either. When my mother nearly died
from his inability to care for her, I had to step in and risk
his wrath to save her life, having no idea that in the process
it would nearly cost me my own.

I spent months nursing my mother back to relative “health”, while
my father got upset over the most ridiculous things and repeatedly
threw me out of the house. It was so heart-wrenching to have my
once-adoring father turn against me, yet it was so astonishing
when I’d take him to the doctor-where he could act completely
normal when he needed to.

I couldn’t leave my mother alone with my father, because she’d
surely die from his inability to care for her. I couldn’t get
the doctors to help because he was always so normal in front of
them. I couldn’t get medication to calm him, and even when I did,
he refused to take it and flushed it down the toilet. I couldn’t
get him to accept a caregiver, and no one would put up with him
anyway. I became trapped at my parents’ home for nearly a year
trying to solve the endless crisis–infuriated with an
unsympathetic medical system that wasn’t helping me

Finally, I stumbled upon a compassionate geriatric dementia
specialist who performed a battery of blood, neurological and
memory tests, and after ruling out other causes, diagnosing
Stage One Alzheimer’s in both of my parents–something that all
their other doctors missed entirely. What I’d been coping with
was the beginning of dementia, which is intermittent and appears
to come and go. My father was trapped in his own bad behavior of
a lifetime and his habit of yelling was coming out over things
that were illogical and irrational… at times. I also learned
that demented does not mean stupid–at all.

There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, but if identified early there
are medications that can slow the progression, delaying fulltime
care. Had I simply been shown the “10 Warning Signs of
Alzheimer’s”, I would have been able to get my parents the help
they so desperately needed much sooner. If any of this rings
true about someone you love, I urge you to reach out for help
from a dementia specialist sooner rather than later.

Jacqueline Marcell


Stepping Stones: Caring for Your Aging Parents

Jacqueline’s story captures the essence of the pain and
heartbreak of seeing her parents deteriorate. She was further
frustrated because she was not aware of the reasons for their
condition. The Alzheimer’s Association has made Jacqueline,
and all of us, aware of how to pay attention when one of
our parents begins to act differently.


(Reprinted with permission of the Alzheimer’s Association)

1. Recent memory loss that affects job skills
2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks
3. Problems with language
4. Disorientation of time and place
5. Poor or decreased judgment
6. Problems with abstract thinking
7. Misplacing things
8. Changes in mood or behavior
9. Changes in personality
10. Loss of initiative

In this complex and often painful family situation, there will
be at first subtle then greater changes in your parents’ mental
or physical condition. As their decline continues you will
no longer know them as before. You may be facing your parents’
fears and feelings of helplessness as well as your own
vulnerability. During this process, be mindful and notice
the gifts as well as the losses – having this time together,
making their comfort a priority, sharing family stories
and memories.

As you assume greater responsibility for your parents’ well
being and care, be sure to find an oasis for yourself.
Create the time to make it a priority to take care of yourself:

***Don’t attempt to go it alone – have support systems in place.
Reach out, create a network, hire someone to help as often as
you think is necessary.

***Be frank with the rest of your family. Engage your
siblings in the problems and the solutions. Ask for practical
help and delegate responsibilities.

***Secure assistance, even if it is over your parents’
objections. Rely on gerontologists and geriatric social
workers to advise you on the next steps to take. Make use
of community interventions, support groups and adult
caregiver resources.

***Re-establish routine in your own life, both at work and
with your family. Maintain firm boundaries to protect
yourself, talk openly and honestly about how you feel,
and believe in what you’re doing about the family
challenges you are handling.

***Give yourself credit for all you do and be sure to take in
the compliments that others give you.


Resources: Websites and Books

Jacqueline Marcell is the author of “Elder Rage: How to Survive
Caring for Aging Parents”, and she maintains a website dealing
with caregiver issues, www.ElderRage.com. Jacqueline also
hosts a radio program for caregivers,
www.wsRadio.com/CopingWithCaregiving and writes Elder
Care Blogs on www.blog.thirdage.com/?author=12 and

The National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging
provides an Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center
(ADEAR) website for the public, www.Alzheimers.nia.nih.gov,
which presents information on current research, available
clinical trials, and links to other Federal resources. Here
you can order free publications, sign up for e-mail alerts,
search for clinical trials and use the literature data base.
There are details about the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, how a
diagnosis is made and what treatments are currently available
to slow the progression.

The Alzheimer’s Association website, www.Alzheimers.org,
offers facts about Alzheimer’s disease, resources, research
advances and publications. Chat rooms and message boards are
available as well as assistance in finding your local chapter.
The website suggests you initiate a brain healthy lifestyle by
exercising your brain as you do your body.


Our Invitation to You

Do you have your own transition story? We invite you to
share it with our readers for the benefit of women who
themselves may be dealing with similar changes. The skills you
used may be Stepping Stones for others. If you are interested,
please e-mail us at mentors@HerMentorCenter.com

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express permission of HerMentorCenter.com.