Caregiver Articles by Elaine K Sanchez

Elaine is a frequent contributor to caregiving magazines and home care blogs. The links below will take you to some of her most popular full-length articles. Click on the titles that are of greatest interest to you:

elder law attorneys to the rescueLast month four of our eight children found themselves in the midst of a caregiving crisis. Three kids were dealing with aging parents (not us, thank goodness) and my son Robert was suddenly thrown into the role of caregiver when his wife of almost two years was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Our daughter-in-law Mare found herself in a tailspin when her father’s girlfriend of many years refused to take him home after he’d been released from the hospital. She had reached her limit, and she told the VA, “You take care of him. I’m done!”

To find out how a good elder law attorney helped get the care Mare’s father needed and protect her from making some very serious mistakes, and manage a situation that was rapidly spinning out of control, please click on this link to the article I wrote for CaringTimes, Griswold Home Care’s blog.

Please click on this link to read the article:  How to Help Your Kids When They Become Caregivers

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caring-for-spouseI recently reconnected with a dear friend. Unfortunately, her life has taken a very difficult turn since I knew her many years ago. She got married about five years ago to a man who was  healthy, physically active, and employed in a high-paying position. About a year ago, he lost his job, got hooked on Internet gambling and lost all of their savings. He was recently diagnosed with diabetes and congestive heart failure, and he is now displaying some disturbing cognitive changes.  We talked a long time about her options, and she came to the conclusion that she just needs to “live well within her current circumstances.”

I admire her strength, her faith, and her ability to accept what has happened. To see how she has come to a place where she can deal with all of these losses, please click on this link to read my article,  Caring for a Spouse: Living Well Under Difficult Circumstances

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Madelyn-DrawingDo you ever wonder why some people always seem to find the positive—even in the face of extraordinarily difficult circumstances while others seem to wallow in misery, even when their lives appear to be nearly perfect?

I have come to the conclusion that the way we perceive the world and our place in it may be a  matter of choice.

I wrote about this in an article for Griswold Home Care. If you would like to know more about how it is possible to experience mental and spiritual growth, even in the worst end-of-life circumstances, please click on the link below to read my article:

Is It Possible to Maintain a Positive Attitude as a Caregiver? 

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planning a funeralThere isn’t anything fun about planning for incapacity and death. That’s one of the reasons why a lot of people put off making plans.

Deciding how you want your belongings and money distributed after your death can be unsettling, and making decisions about life-support and tube feeding can be very upsetting emotionally.

Those are just a few of the reasons I was surprised when my old 89-year-old Aunt Jean asked me to make an appointment with a funeral home so she could prepay her funeral expenses. I have to admit, I never thought there was anything funny about planning a funeral until I took Aunt Jean to plan hers.

I’d like to invite you to click on this link to read about my surprisingly funny experience with Aunt Jean:

What’s Funny About Planning a Funeral?

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end-of-life careWe all know we are going to die, but how do you know when it’s time to stop life-extending treatments? Should you wait for the doctor to suggest Hospice, or is it up to you and your family to decide when it’s time?

These decisions are not simple, but the more you know about the services Hospice provides and the potential benefits to the family and the patient, the easier it becomes to know if and when it is a right choice for you.

Please click on the link below to read my article in its entirety.

Making Choices about End-of-Life Care: Go It Alone Or Get Hospice Care?


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How do you find the time to maintain a relationship while you are raising kids, working fulltime, and caring for an elderly parent or grandparent?

Nothing will make it easy, but there are five things you can do to reduce your stress on your relationship:

  1. Acknowledge the crisis
  2. Express your fears
  3. Ask for help
  4. Ask for forgiveness and be willing to grant it
  5. Establish a plan for some pleasure after the crisis

Please click on the link below to read my article in it’s entirety.

Keeping a Marriage Together While Caring for Family Elders

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elaine and william NYLast summer my husband and I took our 18 and 20 year-old grandsons to Washington DC and New York City.

William, who is a senior in high school, thought he might like to have a totaly different experience from growing up in Oregon and attend a college on the East Coast. We decided it would be a good idea for him to experience it before making such a monumentous decision.

On our last morning in New York, William and I got up early and went for a walk so we could see the city come awake. I asked him if the trip had changed him in any way, and I was fascinated and delighted with his response.

Although William and I are at very different states of our lives, we are both aware that we are responsible for our choices, our attitude, and for accepting and adapting to a multitude of challenges, disappointments, and situations that might not turn out quite the way we had hoped for or planned.

Please click on this link to read my article, Acceptance: The Greatest Emotional Struggle of Caregiving? 

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My friend Stan cared for his wife Julie for six years as she went through treatments for cancer and a horrible disease called Amyloidosis.
He shared his reflections and insights into what it was like to lose the closeness and spontaneity he and Julie had enjoyed throughout more than four decades of marriage. He talked about how, in hindsight, he might have done some things differently, and he described adapting to his new “fake” life after Julie’s death.

I think Stan’s reflections about moving through grief and adapting to life  after caregiving can be helpful to anyone who is in the process of caring for someone with a terminal illness, as well as to anyone who has lost someone they love. I hope you’ll click on the link below to read Stan’s story, and please share it with anyone you know you may be in a similar situation.

A Husband’s Reflection on Six Years of Caregiving

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loneliness-isolation-loneliness-depression-elderly-200x300In past generations, young couples fell in love, got married and had children. The grandparents helped raise the children, and then, when they grew old or got sick, the roles reversed and the kids took care of the parents. For a number of reasons, that tradition may may not carry forward into the future.

A lot of people are choosing not to have children, and even if you do, there’s no guarantee that they will be able or willing to help when you need it. So, that raises the question:  Who will take care of you when you’re old?

This question was on my mind after reading an article in the Daily Mail about Juan Qi, a lonely 75-year-old man who ran a newspaper ad seeking an adoptive family .  He was willing to exchange his pension for the companionship of a caring family.

I believe it’s important for each of us to make provisions for our own care, and I think there are a number of things we can do while we are physically and mentally independent to assure that we won’t need to run ads in search of someone to care for us.

To read my article on this topic, please click on this link:  Who Will Care for You When You’re Old?

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Portrait of a thoughtful seniorWhen a person receives a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, it is frightening for the individual as well as for their loved ones. You want to know how the disease will progress, what treatments are available, how bad it’s going to get, and how long it is going to last.

These are all valid questions, but no one can predict the direction the disease will take. One person’s symptoms may advance slowly over a long period of time, another person may become disabled in a very short period of time.

Parkinson’s is a progressive disease and there are multiple symptoms that create hardships for the people who have it as well as their care partners.

Three of the most challenging situations for couples may be the effect Parkinson’s has on a person’s:

  • Communication skills
  • Cognitive abilities
  • Behavior

Communication:  PD weakens a person’s voice to the point that it’s difficult for them to be heard.  “Facial Masking” is also a problem, because the caregiver can no longer gauge their care receiver’s mood or meaning by reading the expressions on his/her face.

Cognitive abilities:  Since a person with Parkinson’s can only concentrate on one thing at a time, multi-tasking becomes nearly impossible.

Behavior: Depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, hallucinations, and psychosis are not uncommon. Compulsive behavior, including gambling, shopping and pornography can sometimes develop as a result of taking Dopamine, the medication prescribed to manage other symptoms of Parkinson’s.

If you’d like more information on the symptoms of Parkinson’s and strategies for coping with the challenges of caring for a loved one who has the disease, click here to read my article:

Maintaining Emotional Balance: The Elderly, Parkinson’s Disease & Home Care

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sexuality-and-dementiaRecently Henry Rayhons, 78-year-old Iowa man, was tried for third-degree sex abuse after nursing home staffers told him his wife’s Alzheimer’s had advanced to the point that she was no longer capable of consenting to sex.

Mr. Rayhons and his wife, Donna Lou, were married in 2008. They had both been widowed.  At some point in the last seven years, Donna Lou started exhibiting behavior consistent with Alzheimer’s. In March 2014, she was moved into a nursing home in Garner, Iowa. Shortly after she moved in, the nursing home staff told Mr. Rayhons that she was no longer mentally cap