‘Elder Rage’: New Book Details Heartache of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver, Offers Advice, Warning Signs

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Elder Rage: How to Survive Caring for Aging Parents is a new book by Jacqueline Marcell, who details her experiences caring for her elderly parents, both of whom had Alzheimer’s disease. She has written the book as an aid to other caregivers.

Initially, both her parents were undiagnosed. Marcell describes the struggle in her book: “For eleven years I pleaded with my ‘challenging’ elderly father to allow a caregiver to help him with my ailing mother, but he always insisted on taking care of her himself. Every caregiver I hired soon sighed in exasperation, ‘Jacqueline, I just can’t work with your father. His temper is impossible to handle and he’s not going to accept help until he’s on his knees himself.’”

Her father’s pattern of anger masked his own symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. His rage was both a lifetime coping mechanism, as well as a consequence of the neurological condition.

“I didn’t understand that my father was addicted and trapped in his own bad behavior of a lifetime of screaming and yelling to get his way, which was coming out intermittently in spurts of over-the-top irrationality,” Marcell writes. “I also didn’t understand that ‘demented’ does not mean ‘dumb’ (a concept not widely appreciated), and that he was still socially adjusted never to show his ‘Mr. Hyde’ side to anyone outside the family. Conversely, my mother was as sweet and lovely as she’d always been.”

Her book contains helpful information about Alzheimer’s that can be useful to caregivers, including 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s and information about treatments. Although Alzheimer’s currently has no cure, symptoms can be managed with medications and behavioral strategies.

Receiving the Alzheimer’s diagnosis greatly helped Marcell in her ability to care for her parents. “Once my parents were treated for the Alzheimer’s, as well as the often-present depression in dementia patients, and then my father’s aggression, I was able to optimize fluid and nutrition with much less resistance,” she writes. “I was also able to manage the rollercoaster of challenging behaviors. Instead of logic and reason, I learned to use distraction and redirection. I capitalized on their long-term memories and instead of arguing the facts, it was best to live in their realities of the moment.

“I also learned to just go-with-the-flow and let hurtful comments roll off and change the subject. And most importantly, I was able to get my father to accept two wonderful live-in caregivers. Then, with the tremendous benefit of Adult Day Health Care five days a week for my parents and a support group for me, everything started to fall into place,” Marcell says in her book.

Marcell’s Elder Rage is a Book of the Month Club selection, receiving more than 500 5-star Amazon reviews and more than 50 endorsements at www.ElderRage.com/review.asp. To read an excerpt, visit www.ElderRage.com/samplechapter.asp.

Marcell is an international speaker on both Alzheimer’s disease and cancer, which she survived after caring for her parents. To learn more about her speaking engagements, visit www.ElderRage.com/speakingengagements.htm.