Articles by Kathryn Burke

Articles by Kathryn R Burke (The ‘R’ is important, separates me from just plain Kathryn Burke — there are several of them out there. I’m the only KRB, though.)  

‘Dementia’ by Kathryn R. Burke [written for the Caregiver’s Handbook].
Dementia is not a specific disease. It’s a symptom, or a group of symptoms, related to memory loss and decline in thinking ability that negatively affect a person’s ability to perform daily activities. Dementia can be a symptom of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), but not always. It could be a symptom of something else. [read more]

‘Food and Caregiver Companionship’ by Kathryn R. Burke [Montrose Daily Press, February 4, 2018].
I grew up in a family where we all ate supper together. No cell phones, iPads, and iPods; we actually talked with one another—face-to-face. Imagine that! And, we looked forward to that time of the day when we could come together as a family and share the day’s experiences. . . . Over the years, as wife, mother, grandaughter, and Caregiver, I have found food provides a strong, cohesive base of Caregiving Companionship for me and my family.  [read more]

‘Grief is a Personal Process, especially during the holidays’ by Kathryn R. Burke [Montrose Daily Press, December 24, 2017].
One year ago, four days before Christmas, my world fell apart. My husband’s illness had escalated to the point where I could no longer manage at home; we both wound up in the hospital. They sent me home and him to a nursing home—an inevitable one-way journey, but still one we were not prepared for. Nobody is, really. [read more]

‘Care for the Caregiver’ by Kathryn R. Burke [Montrose Daily Press, September 24, 2017].
Caregivers need care, too—sometimes even more than their Careé (the person they care for). When they don’t get it, they are susceptible to Caregiver Burnout—a very real, debilitating medical and psychological condition brought on by unrelieved stress. Care for the caregiver is often forgotten in the emotional and physical demands of caregiving. [read more]

‘Building Your Care Team’ by Kathryn R. Burke [Montrose Daily Press, March 19, 2017]
So, you’re a Caregiver. Trying to go it alone. Not working all that well, is it?  Experience has taught you can manage family illness or infirmity just fine by yourself. … Caregiving for someone with a prolonged or terminal illness or disability is a whole new ballgame. The old rules no longer apply. Recovery is not on the immediate horizon—if at all. …So, yeah, if you’re on this journey alone, it’s not going too well. … You need to build a Care Team to ride to the rescue. [read more]

‘Caregiver Advocacy’ by Kathryn R. Burke [Montrose Daily Press, February 12, 2017]
Caregivers need to be sure the one they care for (their Careé) has basic needs met: enough rest, healthy diet, medical care, physical exercise, and social stimulation. But, there is a lot more to Caregiving than what amounts to basic babysitting. Caregivers are also advocates. It’s a big part of the job, and only gets bigger as your Careé’s health declines and more care is required. [read more]

‘The Stress Response:  good or bad?’ by Kathryn R. Burke [Montrose Daily Press, August 14, 2016]
Stress happens when we are faced with a situation that causes a strong, emotional reaction. Sometimes stress can be positive, provide a little physical or mental boost, like when you are anticipating an athletic event or psyching yourself up to give a public presentation. Sometimes it can be annoying, but short-lived, like a fight with a spouse or partner, bad day at work, coming up short at the grocery check-out and having to put things back. But, when stress is ongoing with little or no relief in sight, it has long-term physical and mental consequences. [read more]

‘The Big Bingo’ by Kathryn R. Burke [Montrose Daily Press, June 16, 2016]
When Granny went to that big bingo in the sky, she left her 3 grandkids a winning card. Judy, the oldest, used hers to get a divorce – she was in a bad marriage – and to pay off the mortgage and raise her two kids. Jenny, the youngest, was just 17. She used her share to go to college. She is now a marriage and family therapist. John, the middle kid, spent his on cocaine. While the money lasted, he was a popular guy. John picked up the tab for the whole party crowd. He found a wife along the way, who had even more problems than he did. They both started hitting the bottle as well as snorting coke, and not surprisingly, sunk into a deep drug depression together. [read more]

‘Fifi, Fido, and a horse named George’ by Kathryn R. Burke [Montrose Daily Press, June 12, 2016]
Anybody see the story on Facebook about Thula the therapy cat? She’s a magical feline BFF bonded with a 6-year-old autistic girl. Have you visited someone at Montrose Hospital lately? Therapy dogs make regular rounds in Med/Surg every week. How about that guy with one leg and in a wheelchair, whose dog (attached by leash) tows him around in his wheelchair? I saw him at Walmart yesterday. Geriatric George at Alice Billing’s Thunderheart Haven in Ridgway may be retired, but this old horse still understands how to provide comfort and confidence to a shy kid. Farm and ranch folks have long known that horses have a sixth sense when it comes to dealing with humans suffering from physical or mental trauma. [read more]

‘The Elephant in the Room’ by Kathryn R. Burke [Montrose Daily Press, June 5, 2016]
Even if you’re in good health, after a certain age, talking about sex can be uncomfortable. If your doctor asks, “Do you?” or “How often?” you are likely to squirm, maybe duck the question, and mumble a noncommittal answer (women) or brag about sexual prowess (men, even with a missing prostate). Older people do have sex—they really do! And most of the time, they manage just fine. Many nursing homes accommodate conjugal visits. Regardless of where ‘home’ is, though, what happens when desire dims, when illness or injury diminishes sexual performance, or in some cases, catapults into insatiability? What do you do when physical intimacy is no longer possible or when one partner wants it and the other doesn’t?  [read more]

‘Living With Alzheimer’s’ by Kathryn R. Burke [Montrose Daily Press, May 22, 2016]
The brain scan last week told the story. Two years ago, my husband’s brain looked almost normal—a few blank spots here and there, but on the whole, very few ‘holes.’ Last week, it looked like he had a head full of Swiss cheese. When he has memory gaps resulting in confusion as to time and place, I explain it to him this way: a normal brain is like a block of cheddar—pretty solid; an Alzheimer’s brain is like Swiss cheese—lots of holes. That pesky memory mouse pops up in one hole, then hides in another for a while.  We never know when (or where) he will pop back up again. [read more]

‘Calling for Help’ by Kathryn Burke [Montrose Daily Press, May 15, 2016]
I just left the hospital. A close friend had a heart attack early this morning. She is 90 years old, and has been the sole Caregiver for her husband, who is 93, for over five years. His family does not offer assistance. She has had to struggle with this alone. “I can’t do this anymore,” she told me just a few days ago. And today, in the hospital, she said, “I kept telling them, but they just didn’t get it.” Maybe, now they do?  [read more]