Color & Control:

Expert advice


Arthur, my husband and I are worn out. His mother has always been high maintenance, but now she’s got demanding medical conditions and no one but us to care for her. We need a break or I’m afraid our marriage won’t last. Any suggestions?

No doubt about it, caring for a parent can take its toll on your relationship and your health. As a first step, try respite care. It will give you a break for a few hours, a few days or even a week. Respite care is offered through volunteers, community groups or a paid healthcare provider. You can count on someone qualified to take over your caregiving responsibilities so you can recharge, reduce your stress and avoid caregiver burnout. It also enables you to spend time with other family members or take a vacation. A break from the caregiver role means that you can return the focus to ensuring your own health and wellness and follow through with your own daily affairs.

Know that respite care can be provided at home, in a senior’s retirement community or a long-term care facility. It can be customized to meet your needs and those of your mother-in-law so if she stays at home, selected tasks such as personal care, companionship, meal preparation, light housekeeping and escorted trips for shopping, outings or appointments can be arranged.


Jackie, my stepmother needs on-going care. That’s easy to arrange but she refuses to stop smoking several joints a day. How should I broach the subject with a retirement residence or caregiver?

Honesty is the best policy. Speak to potential care providers, ask about company policies and contact Jackie’s doctor to  get professional advice. Bear in mind cutting back may cause irritability, upset stomach, trouble sleeping and loss of appetite. You’re not alone…a lot of older adults use cannabis for medical or recreational purposes.


My sister has gone from being a tidy, clean person to wearing the same unmatched outfit every day. Her clothes are often soiled. She’s not bothered by it and is quite unaware of the change in her personal hygiene. Why is this happening?

Sometimes it’s a need for comfort and control in a world where it suddenly seems like everything else is changing, sometimes it’s memory loss and other times it’s simply a practical way to save energy and avoid the aches and pains that may come with getting dressed and undressed each day.

Here are a few ideas from our experts:

1. How important is the change in health and hygiene, not appearances.

2. Avoid using logic or criticism that will put your sister on the defensive.

3. Quietly replace used clothes with identical ones or similar while she’s sleeping.

4. Simplify dressing by removing extra clothes from the closet and leaving just those that are plain, appropriate for the season and easy to get on and off.

5. Lay out clothing the same way every day.

6. Don’t rush the dressing process.

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