I recently attended the Spring 2011 conference of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys in Las Vegas.  The key note speaker for the conference was Jacqueline Marcell, the author of Elder Rage or, Take My Father …. Please!  How to Survive Caring for Aging Parents.

Jacqueline’s presentation was a both humorous and poignant tale of her year-long agonizing effort to cope with her aging parents’ care, while fighting her controlling, strongly independent, and frequently tyrannical and hot tempered father’s determination to take care of his ailing wife himself.   To make matters worse, her father’s uncontrollable rages left Jacqueline believing that he was losing his mind, although he was sweet as pie and apparently completely competent when seen by any of his doctors.   In the end, Jacqueline figures out that her father is suffering from early stage Alzheimer’s disease and had all of the 10 signs of it.  It is, however, unclear what she would have done differently to cope with her father’s bizarre behavior had she known what was wrong with him.

I am currently reading her book, which is an easy and entertaining read (although I could use a bit less of her endless humor), to learn more about the ordeal she endured and exactly how she eventually discovered the cause of her father’s problems.  I recommend her book to anyone dealing with “problem” aging parents as a study of one daughter ‘s struggle to figure out what to do.  A note of caution, I have heard from two people I greatly respect that the advice Jacqueline gives for dealing with aging parents with diminished capacity is too manipulative.  Perhaps so, but you should decide that for yourself.

At the conference, Jacqueline implored my colleagues and I to tell our clients about the 10 Signs of Early Dementia put out by the Alzheimer’s Association.