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Elder Rage

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by Jacqueline Marcell,

If you’re caring for elderly loved ones and find the task daunting, you're in the same position in which Jacqueline Marcell once found herself. She gave up her career as a television executive, went through 40 caregivers, and cried rivers for a year before she succeeded in solving the endless crisis.

Marcell tells how she did it, in her riveting bestseller: Elder Rage, or Take My Father... Please! How To Survive Caring For Aging Parents

Delivered with a humorous tone to make a tough subject palatable, Marcell's book relates how she fought through an unsympathetic medical system and endured her "Jekyll & Hyde" father's physical and emotional wrath until she finally found help for him and for her ailing mother.

What she didn't understand was that his deeply engrained life-long negative behavior pattern of screaming and yelling to get his way (though never at her before), was becoming intermittently distorted with the onset of dementia, namely--Alzheimer's.

Education is the Key

Marcell points out that not everyone becomes aggressive with dementia. She says her mother was “sweet and lovely” both before and after her Alzheimer's diagnosis--indicating that the disease can manifest itself in many ways.

There are many types of dementia--Alzheimer's is just one type. There’s no stopping the progression nor is there yet a cure. Alzheimer’s is typically preceded by “Mild Cognitive Impairment” (MCI), which can last five to ten years. 90% will then progress to Stage One Alzheimer’s, which lasts 2-4 years. Stage Two lasts 2-10 years (and requires full-time care), and Stage Three, the end, typically lasts 1-3 years.

Statistically, families (and many doctors who are not dementia specialists) ignore the early warning signs. They do this because they incorrectly believe these intermittently odd behaviors are just a normal part of aging and untreatable senility.

Marcell says, “By the age of 65, one out of every ten persons has some form of dementia. And by the age of 85, one out of every two. Surprisingly, the fastest growing segment of our population is the 85+ group, and over 50 million Americans struggle to provide care for aging family members and friends.”

Marcell says her mission is to “spread the word about the importance of early diagnosis to the 77 million baby boomers who are so often in denial about eldercare and dementia until they are in a crisis.”

She wants everyone to know that with the proper treatments and medication, dementia symptoms might be masked and slowed down by 2-5 years, keeping a person independent and in Stage One longer.

This is important, because Stage One is intermittent and mild. “Seeking help early can save families a lot of heartache and money, and save our society the burden of caring for so many elders who decline sooner than need be.”

The Alzheimer’s Association reports that by delaying the onset of AD for five years, we could save $50 billion in annual health care costs. Even a one-month delay in nursing home placement could save, in the aggregate, $1 billion a year. Marcell says, “It's really very simple: When your loved one does something that strikes you as illogical or irrational--it is! You don't need to be a Ph.D. to know something is wrong--you need an M.D. who can diagnose it and treat it properly.”


Finally, the Answers

Marcell credits the Alzheimer's Association (800-272-3900) for referring her to a geriatric dementia specialist who uncovered her father's early stage Alzheimer's disease. Her father's regular doctors missed it completely.

The specialist prescribed medication (Aricept, Exelon or Reminyl) to slow the dementia down and improve her father's cognitive functioning, and then treated the aggression and (often-present) depression.

After balancing her father with optimal nutrition, as well as Vitamin E, anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory therapies, Marcell implemented her own behavioral technique of rewards & consequences. This was effective because his short-term memory was still quite good. She succeeded in turning around his bad behaviors--most of the time. When that didn’t work, she used distraction, redirection, and reminiscence. She calmly validated his frustrated feelings

She discovered that the offer of his favorite ice cream usually worked the best to get him into the shower. He would swear a blue streak that he had "just taken one"--though that was a week ago.

The final keys:

  • Getting herself into a support group
  • Getting both parents out of bed ("waiting to die")
  • Enrolling both parents in physical and emotional therapies at an Adult Day Health Care facility.

This last step completely turned around the lives of her parents, at ages 80 and 85.

Marcell says, “75% of dementia patients are being cared for at home, and sadly, elder abuse/neglect/exploitation is rising dramatically because families are so unprepared for the frustrations of caring for their elders--who are living longer than ever."

She believes  education and the use of Adult Day Care can reduce the horror of elder abuse. She is pleased that the National Center on Elder Abuse published a favorable review of her book Elder Rage in their national newsletter.


A Self-Help Book

Elder Rage is a combination non-fiction work, novel, & self-help book. It has answers to such difficult "how to" problem as how you can get obstinate elders to:

  • Give up driving
  • Accept a caregiver
  • See a different doctor
  • Go to adult day care
  • Move to a new residence

The book includes a wealth of valuable resources, Websites, and recommended reading. The addendum by renowned dementia specialist, Rodman Shankle, MS MD, “A Physicians Guide to Treating Aggression in Dementia,” helps doctors diagnose and treat this troubling aspect of dementia (which can occur in some patients). The bottom line message of both author and doctor is “there can still be a good life after a diagnosis of dementia, if it is properly managed medically and behaviorally.”

The list of 45+ high-profile endorsements include: Hugh Downs, Regis Philbin, Dr. Dean Edell, Jacqueline Bisset, Ed Asner, Dr. Bernie Siegel, John Bradshaw, Dr. John Gray, Betty Friedan, Julie Harris, Art Linkletter, Leeza Gibbons, Dr. Nancy Snyderman/ABC News, Erin Brockovich, the late Steve Allen and Robert Stack, Johns Hopkins Memory Clinic, Duke University Center For Aging, Dr. Eric Tangalos/Mayo Clinic, Dr. Rudy Tanzi/Harvard Medical School, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, and the National Adult Day Services Association. The NADSA honored Marcell with their Media Award for her tireless efforts to bring attention to the value of Adult Day Care.


Hitting a Chord

Marcell’s speaking career began when she was invited to replace an ailing Maureen Reagan at the California Governor's Conference for Women. She presented a caregiving seminar with First Lady, Sharon Davis.

Marcell speaks nationally to families--and to healthcare professionals who earn CEU’s & CME’s--about eldercare awareness and reform She is the spokesperson for an upcoming series of tapes on Alzheimer’s Disease, and is featured in an upcoming documentary about AD.

Having been a sought-after guest on hundreds of talk radio & television programs, including CNN (twice) and NBC, Marcell launched her own Internet radio program, “Coping with Caregiving.” In this program, heard worldwide, she interviews experts in the fields of health, aging and caregiving on

A feature film company is considering Elder Rage for a movie; the Book-of-the-Month Club selected it; and 162 five-star reviews on indicate she’s hit a chord with a timely issue. But Marcell says she is most honored that several universities use Elder Rage as required text for their graduate courses in Geriatric Assessment & Management. The Orange County, CA chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) will honor her with “Advocate of the Year” at their Remarkable Women Awards October 24th.

Numerous publications have featured Marcell, including: Prevention, Woman’s Day, Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union Tribune, Kaiser Permanente Journal, Aging Today, Family Therapy Magazine, Institute of Gerontology, Modern Healthcare and The Gerontologist--but it was when she landed the cover of AARP's Bulletin (circulation 22 million) that Elder Rage catapulted to the fast track of becoming a bestseller.

Marcell says, “Dementia costs American business over $61 billion a year--largely due (79%) to lost productivity and absenteeism of employees who must take time off work to care for ailing loved ones. Everyone should know the ten early warning signs of dementia and the importance of seeking help sooner than later.”

She says she learned caregiving the hard way, which is why she wrote her first book, “so no one would ever have to go through what I did.”

Determined to make a difference, she says her mission is to, “get to Washington as quickly as possible and help change our eldercare laws. 34 million Americans are age 65 and older right now, and by 2030 there will be 69 million--and I will be one of them." She laughs, "I have an ulterior motive, I don't have children--so I've got to help straighten things out before I get old!"

Ten Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s:

  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.

Copyright 2003, Jacqueline Marcell, Impressive Press, 25 Via Lucca, J-333, Irvine, CA 92612. Ph (949) 975-1012.  j.marcell

“Coping with Caregiving” Radio Program:  


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