Life Challenges

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Developing Empathy for Aging Loved Ones

Can you help me understand what my elderly dad might be feeling? I sometimes think that elderly people are "invisible" to the rest of us. We never seem to ask ourselves what they're thinking and feeling as they deal with personal loss, the implications of aging, and the prospect of death.

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Preparing Your Home for an Aging Loved One

What do we need to do to make our home as safe and comfortable as possible for my elderly mom? She's not coping well on her own, so we're arranging to have her come and live with us. Can you offer any suggestions, especially when it comes to preventing falls?

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Managing Pain in the Elderly

How can I help my aging father deal with his physical pain and discomfort? I'm his primary caregiver. He's never been very communicative, and I have reasons for believing that he's hurting a great deal more than he lets on. I'd like to help him manage that pain, but he's not very cooperative when it comes to admitting weakness or taking medications. Any suggestions?

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Exercise for the Elderly

How important is exercise and physical activity for a woman in her late seventies? I'd like to help my mother preserve her health as long as possible, but I don't want to push too hard. Can you suggest any reasonable guidelines? What kinds of exercise are best for a person at this stage of life?

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Aging Loved Ones: Feelings of Guilt and Inadequacy

Is it normal to be weighed down by negative emotions while caring for an aging loved one? When my dad had a stroke, my wife and I took him into our home because we thought it was the right thing to do. I guess I expected to feel good about myself for doing such an unselfish thing, but instead I'm wrestling with guilt and a sense of inadequacy, as if we're failing him somehow. How can I get rid of these feelings?

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Aging Loved Ones: Lack of Sibling Support

How can I get my brothers and sisters to be more involved in caring for our elderly mother? I'm the oldest, and my siblings seem to have decided that I should do most of the work. I don't mind being the primary caregiver, but the lack of support is frustrating. If I don't do something or at least direct it, it doesn't get done. How should I handle this?

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Preserving Family Harmony While Caring for Elders

Do you have suggestions for preventing conflicts and misunderstandings among siblings over the care of their aging parents? I've been hearing horror stories about what can happen when elderly people can no longer care for themselves and need the support of their grown children. My mom and dad are nearing that stage in their lives, and I'd like to do everything I can to preserve family harmony and promote cooperation among my siblings. Any ideas?

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Dealing With Elder Care Burnout

What can I do when the task of caring for my aging parent leaves me feeling tired, discouraged, confused, and torn in several different directions all the time? I guess I didn't realize it at first, but this is an exhausting job! I'm already burned out! How can I survive without losing my mind?

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At-Home Alternatives for Elder Care

Is a nursing facility the only option for my mother? Her health has been in decline for a long time, and it's recently become clear that she can no longer live on her own. She doesn't want to move, and I don't like the idea of putting her in some kind of "institution." What are some alternative forms of elder care for a woman in her situation?

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Caring for an Aging Loved One from a Distance

How can I love and care for my elderly mother when we live on opposite sides of the country? My dad died several years ago, and my mom has been in decline ever since. Fortunately, two of my siblings still live within twenty minutes of her home, so I don't worry about her needs being met. But I feel guilty about being so far away.

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Preparing for the Death of an Aging Loved One

What can we do to help guide our extended family - siblings, spouses, and grandkids - through the difficult experience of losing an elderly loved one? It's obvious that my mother is very near the end. How do we prepare for her eventual death? Do you have any practical suggestions?

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Aging Loved Ones and Hospice Care

What can we do to make our terminally ill grandmother's final days as comfortable as possible? She's at the point when there's no sense in attempting to prolong her life by heroic measures, but we want to do everything we can to help her. We've been thinking about hospice care, but we don't know much about this option. Do you have any information on it?

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Aging Loved Ones and "Transfer Trauma"

How can we help ease the transition of moving our aging loved one into a full-time care facility? I've heard of something called "transfer trauma," but I don't know exactly what it is or how it's likely to affect my mother. Can you give me some idea of what to expect?

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When to Assume Care of an Elderly Loved One

How do I know when it's time to take on more personal responsibility for the physical well-being of my aging parents? They're getting older, and I can already see that I'm going to have to assume a larger portion of their care in the very near future. What can I expect as they age?

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Assuming Care of an Elderly Loved One

Can you help me prepare for the challenges of caring for an aging parent at home? My mother is no longer able to care for herself and has come to live with my husband and me. We preferred to do this rather than place her in an alternative facility, but we're not sure that we're equipped to meet her needs adequately. What should we bear in mind as we get ready to take on this new role?

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Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease

Can you list for me some of the basic symptoms of Alzheimer's disease? I'm beginning to fear that my spouse may have it, but I don't know how to tell for sure. How does one care for a person afflicted with this condition?

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Dealing With the Discouragement of Unemployment

How do I survive unemployment? It's been two years since I lost my job. After exhausting every possibility in my search for work, I no longer have any hope that my situation will ever change. My wife has gone back to work, but her income isn't enough to cover our bills even though we've trimmed expenses to the bare bone. To say I'm discouraged is a huge understatement. I actually feel like a complete loser. My wife tries to encourage me, but I don't think she understands how this experience has devastated and demoralized me. Where can I turn for help?

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The Spiritual Side of Eating Disorders

Could my struggle with bulimia and anorexia stem from a lack of understanding of my identity in Christ? A friend recently suggested this possibility, and I'm not sure what to think of it. I've been struggling with eating disorders ever since I was a teenager, but I never considered it a spiritual problem. Does my friend's analysis sound valid to you?

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Career, "Calling," and Christian Vocation

How can I know God's "calling" for my life? For years I've been working at a difficult, uninteresting job. It has never brought me much in the way of happiness or satisfaction, but it has allowed me to provide for my family. As far as I'm concerned, that's the higher priority. Meanwhile, I'm always hearing Christian leaders say that God has a specific "calling" for my life, and that this "calling" includes my occupation. As far as I can see, this idea has no biblical support. What do you think?

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Aging Single Concerned for Her Future

Do you have any suggestions for an aging single woman with no immediate family who is seriously worried about what's going to happen to her in old age? I know that God holds widows close to His heart and calls the church to help care for them if they have no close relatives, but I also worry that there really isn't any place for me in the church – that because I'm not a widow, no one will be there for me when the time comes. I cling to the Lord's promise that He will provide for my needs, but I'm having a hard time trusting Him with how that might look in practical terms further on down the road. I'm also concerned that I will eventually grow bitter towards Him or other people about my circumstances. How can I find peace?

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Reaching Out to Someone Who Has Lost a Loved One Through Suicide

How can I best minister to someone who has lost a family member to suicide? My good friend's son recently took his own life, and I'm at a loss as to what I should do or say to her. Can you help me?

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Unmarried and Pregnant – Boyfriend Uninterested in Fatherhood

How can I encourage my boyfriend to embrace his role as a father-to-be? I'm due to deliver our baby next month, and up to this point he's been completely uninvolved. It's not just a matter of feeling unsure of himself – he has actually told me straight out that he's just not interested in being a dad. He may not even be present for the birth of the child. He's been emotionally detached and distant throughout most of our two-year relationship, but I thought that having a baby together would help nurture a deeper connection between us. I've become so disappointed in him that I'd be willing to dump him altogether if it weren't for the baby. I can't raise a child on my own, and wouldn't want to even if I could. Can you help me?

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Trapped in an Incestuous Relationship

How do I say "no" to someone in my family who has been forcing me to engage in sexual acts? I can hardly bear to think about this! I feel ugly, dirty, worthless, wretched, and used. I don't want this to continue, but I'm afraid to tell anyone what's going on, and without help there's nothing I can do to prevent it. What should I do?

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Wife Wonders If Husband Is Going Through "Male Menopause"

Is my husband going through "male menopause"? Lately he's been irritable and moody, but when I ask him about it he says he can't put a finger on anything. We're both in our mid-fifties, and I remember that when I went through menopause I felt a lot like my husband seems to be feeling now. Could he be going through a male version of what I experienced?

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