When Adult Siblings Fight–6 Steps To Heal The Hurt

By CK Wilde for 3GenFamily Blog

The court reporter was readying her equipment while waiting for the next case to begin. The bailiff brought in the defendant. The court reporter glanced up to see the next man on trial. Imagine the her shock to see that the defendant being brought into criminal court was her mother’s court appointed guardian!

This man was accused of embezzling from his nephew’s trust account. Was this the same man who was managing her mother’s affairs through the county’s Public Guardian Office? Yes, it was.

More of this article . . .

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The Cure for Helicopter Parents of College Students

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By CK Wilde for 3GenFamily Blog

With the start of a new school year at universities and colleges in the US, there have been a flurry of news reports and newly released books discussing the problems that “helicopter parents” are causing. These parents are so named because they are still hovering around trying to take care of their students who are attending college.

But, it is not just a parent problem. It is a child problem, too. For many of these college freshmen, this is the first extended time away from family. If they are not used to using a coin laundry, locating and taking public transportation or foraging for food on their own, freshman year becomes a struggle to learn about living alone along with studying and adjusting to a new social structure.

Some students are natural adventurers, but others are not. The result is a very homesick son or daughter who just wants to give up and come home. Meanwhile, the parents, who really do want their children to succeed in college and in life, offer to help in ways that can range from minor to ridiculous.

Paul Wruble in his blog at TuitionCoach.com suggests a solution that is straightforward and makes enormous sense. Your child needs practice being away from home. During high school (and even before), your student should participate in summer camps, student trips, visit distant relatives and go on trips with others.

Any activity (it doesn’t have to be expensive) that allows your child to learn about living away from your immediate home environment offers an opportunity for your son or daughter to test drive independence. By little bits, your child gains confidence and, seeing that confidence, you let go.

Summer camps or student travel programs are too expensive? What about marching band, chorus, speech and debate, science clubs, robotics clubs, sports and other school and community organizations that have trips funded by contributions from the community? And, of course, there is Scouting, Campfire, YMCA/YWCA camps and activities. Many organizations have scholarships for students whose families can’t afford the fees.

Let your child find the program that excites him or her. Don’t do the work, but don’t take “I don’t know” for an answer.

One of the skills my son and I worked on while visiting some college campuses and attending college interviews was using public transit. How do you look up schedules? How do you purchase a ticket from the machine or add money to ticket? How do you use the airline self-service kiosk?

We didn’t rent a car while we were in Boston. We walked everywhere except for the taxi to and from airport. In Pittsburgh, our hotel had a shuttle that dropped us off and picked us up.

Right before making the final decision on which college to attend, Number One Son took solo trips to two campuses on the East Coast. One trip was to attend a special event for newly admitted students. The college arranged for sharing dorm rooms with current students and had planned meals and events.

The other was a solo trip to a campus because he could not make their planned event. My son arranged to meet the brother of a friend who is attending that college and toured the campus on his own. He stayed on his own in a motel close to campus. An important note for parents: some states (New York in this case) have rules about students under the age of 18 staying alone in a motel room. I had to fax a permission letter to the manager of the motel before my son arrived.

The airport in upstate New York was fogged in when he arrived at that last destination, so they landed at another airport and traveled the rest of the way by bus. The trip back also had its weather problems. My son learned first hand how difficult travel could be to that location. He eventually decided that he wanted a less remote college.

None of this made saying goodbye at the airport on August 31st any easier for me or my husband when it was time for our son to begin college on the East Coast. But, we knew that he had done this trip before and could do it again.

Where to Start When The Doctor Says Its Dementia

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By CK Wilde for 3GenFamily Blog

It was during a phone call five years ago with my Dad’s primary care doctor that the “D” word first came up. Dad was in the hospital, again.

He had gastro-intestinal bleeding which the specialists had finally stopped — but not before a series of delirious outbursts about certain marital secrets that had his second wife shouting that she would have him committed to an institution!

As Dr. R explained, people who have lost a lot of blood can become very incoherent. The problem goes away once the patients’ blood levels are stabilized. “Oh, by the way, you know that your father has dementia, right?” the doctor asked.

Whoa! That stopped me in mid-sentence. Was my father’s second wife right? My father needed to be institutionalized?

“Are you going to commit him to a mental institution? I asked with considerable trepidation. The doctor laughed nervously. I took that to mean no.

Dr. R explained that she was seeing some signs of dementia but that they were mild. She rattled off a litany of symptoms. I had noticed many of those behavioral issues, too, but I didn’t know what to make of them.

The questions I should have asked the doctor were, “What is your recommendation for dealing with my father’s dementia?” and “What can I do to help him?”

The doctor’s diagnosis of dementia seemed like a cruel joke. To be truthful, it frightened me. I had terrible visions of my irascible father becoming a vegetable.

But no matter how frightening this seems, the most important thing NOT to do is pretend it will go away on its own. Taking the initiative to learn as much as you can about dementia can give you the knowledge to ask the right questions.

But, where do you start?

A great place to start is wth the basics: the 7 stages of dementia. Here is a link to the list of stages. Not everyone has all of the symptoms. Like my father, a person with mild dementia can continue to function in familiar surroundings. Denial is very common in the early stages of dementia. The person may become anxious, though.

This is the time for the family to plan for the next stages. My Dad was certain that the next day would be his last. As he envisioned it, he would go to sleep and just not wake up. It didn’t exactly happen that way.

Researchers have indicated that patients with dementia can live from 3 to 9 years after the initial onset of symptoms. Patients who develop symptoms at a younger age tend to live longer than those who are advanced in years when they develop symptoms.

Patients who continue to live in their community seem live longer than those in a nursing home or hospital, but this may be because patients who live in the community are in better health generally.

It is important to note that Alzheimers’ disease is only one cause of dementia. There are actually a number of causes including stroke, depression, or a major shock like loss of blood.

It is important to understand what is causing those symptoms for your loved one. By keeping an open mind and a positive attitude, you can help your elder and the doctor find the right combination of medical and nutritional therapies for the best possible outcome.

Other great resources include:

HealthCentral.com resource on Alzheimer’s,

The Dementia Caregiver’s Toolbox

HeartSpring’s section on Alzheimer’s

So what happened to my Dad?

His dementia seemed to be related to his vascular condition rather than Alzheimer’s. The doctor added Vitamins B6, B12, Folic Acid and E to his regimen of drug prescriptions. These nutrients are very helpful for cardio-vascular support as well as mental acuity. My father had a heart bypass operation a number of years ago and currently had a pacemaker. His dementia seemed to be related to these other medical issues.

His relationship with his second wife, however, was never the same. They eventually were divorced.

So, I became his caregiver for the last two years of his life.