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Questions & Answers - December 2002

Mary C. Fridley, RN,C is a registered nurse certified in gerontology with more than twenty years in the geriatric health field. She is the owner of Gero-Resources specializing in caregiver, eldercare, and successful aging education and advocacy. Mary is also an author of two caregiver advice columns and contributes articles to various websites. She is available for speaking engagements and would be happy to answer your questions or concerns while maintaining your anonymity.

About Mary
Mary's Column Archives: Caregivers'
Questions & Answers
Dear Mary,

I live in Canada and recently read an article you wrote and thought you may be able to incorporate this concept for other caregivers. There is a business size card issued to all caregivers by our local Alzheimer’s Society. This card definitely helps when confronting either a new or reminding old contacts about the person with Alzheimer’s without embarrassing him or her. The card says, “My companion has a brain disorder that results in communication difficulties and his/her behavior may not seem appropriate at times. Thank you for your understanding”.

I hope this is helpful.

Thank you for writing and sharing this information. This card can be obtained in Canada by contacting your local Alzheimer Society or the national organization at 20 Eglinton Avenue, W., Suite 1200, Toronto, ON 1K8; 800-616-8816 (in Canada only); The Alzheimer’s Association in the U.S. also has a similar card that says, “Please be patient…The person with me has Alzheimer’s disease and may require a few extra moments. Thank you for understanding.” Contact your local Alzheimer’s Association or the national organization at 919 N. Michigan Avenue, #1000, Chicago, IL 60611; 800-272-3900;

God Bless. Mary

* * *

Dear Mary,

For the third time in five months my elderly father was hospitalized with aspiration pneumonia. He was sent home still congested, coughing, and with a low-grade fever. The doctor said there was no more he could do and sent him home on oral antibiotics, diuretics, and oxygen 24-hours a day. My mother is his primary caregiver but fortunately has daily dependable help.

I’m very concerned about him. His color is gray and even with oxygen he’s short of breath. He also isn’t eating. I think he should be in the hospital but the doctor disagrees. I’m a nervous wreak, what can we do at home to help him?

Has the physician talked to him and the family about his prognosis? My experience has been that many physicians are reluctant to give a prognosis even in a situation where no more can be done. This only adds to the patient’s and family’s stress, as the unknown can be more frightening than the known. If your father isn’t expected to recover Hospice care should be ordered and started right away. A heart to heart talk with your father’s doctor is in order, so call him today. It’s the compassionate physician who talks to families about end of life care. .God Bless

Dear Mary,

My husband recently passed away and I have two perfectly good hearing aids that he bought a year ago. They were very expensive and I don’t want to just throw them away. Where can I donate them so someone else could use them?

Thank you for thinking of someone else in need at a time like this. Yes, there are organizations that accept used hearing aids. However, after checking with a representative from the local Lion’s Club and a hearing aid company, I was told that behind-the-ear models are usually the only ones recycled. I recommend you check with your local Lions Club or call Hear Now, a national organization in Minnesota at 1-800-648-HEAR. God Bless. Mary

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