Dear Heloise:

For 11 years, I begged my obstinate, elderly father to allow a caregiver to help him with my ailing mother, but he adamantly insisted on taking care of her himself. Every caregiver I hired lamented: "Jacqueline, I just can't work with your father -- his temper is impossible. I don't think he'll accept help until he's on his knees himself."

My father had always been 90 percent wonderful, but that raging temper was a doozy. He'd never turned on me before, but I'd never gone against his wishes, either. When my mother nearly died from his inability to care for her, I had to step in and risk his wrath.

I spent months nursing my mother back to health, while my father got upset about the most ridiculous things and repeatedly threw me out of the house.

It was so heart-wrenching to have my once-adoring father turn against me. Yet when I'd take him to the doctor, he could act completely normal when he needed to. I couldn't get the doctors to help me because he was always so normal and competent in front of them. I couldn't get medication to calm him, and even when I did, he refused to take it. I couldn't get him to accept a caregiver, and no one would stay anyway. I became trapped at their home for a year trying to solve the crisis.

Finally, I stumbled upon a compassionate geriatric-dementia specialist, who performed a battery of tests and then diagnosed stage one Alzheimer's in both of my parents -- something that all their other doctors missed entirely.

What I'd been coping with was the beginning of dementia, which is intermittent. I also learned that "demented" does not mean stupid -- at all! There's no cure for Alzheimer's; identified early, there are medications that can slow its progression. Keeping a person in stage one longer delays full-time care. Had I simply been shown the "10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer's," I would have realized what was happening to my parents and been able to help them much sooner. If any of these signs rings true about someone you love, I urge you to reach out for help sooner rather than later.


1. Recent memory loss that affects job skills

2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks

3. Problems with language

4. Disorientation of time and place

5. Poor or decreased judgment

6. Problems with abstract thinking

7. Misplacing things

8. Changes in mood or behavior

9. Changes in personality

10. Loss of initiative

Jacqueline Marcell, via e-mail

Jacqueline, you have been on my radio show a few times, and each time I learn something new from you. Getting help from a professional in the medical field who either specializes in geriatric care or has experience and knowledge in this area is most important. Folks, you can visit Jacqueline's Web site,

Dear Heloise:

My family has always been fond of Eggplant Parmesan, but I never enjoyed preparing it because of the necessity of frying the slices before covering them with the sauce.

One night, after a delightful dinner party at a friend's house, the hostess shared her method of preparation: Cut the eggplant into 1-inch slices and peel, then place the slices on a lightly sprayed cookie sheet or shallow baking pan.

Lightly spray and season the slices, then put under the broiler in the oven for a few minutes until slightly browned. Turn over and brown the other side.

You do have to watch them carefully so they don't burn. But in a few moments, they are ready for the sauce, and no greasy frying pan to clean.

Anita F. Eisenstein

Columbus, Ohio

Anita, this is a less-hassle way and cuts down on fat calories as well. Thank you and your friend for sharing this quick and healthy hint.

Dear Heloise:

My husband was fixing dinner for a family shindig the other night and ran out of time to make hollandaise sauce for the broccoli. So he warmed some ranch salad dressing and decorated the broccoli with it. It was wonderful. I told him I was going to tell you about it.

Lena Sharp, via e-mail

Glad you did! I tried this, and it's tasty! I even used fat-free, and it was tasty to me.

(c)2005, King Features Syndicate