If you are a caring person, thank you.
If you are a care giver, God bless you!
While there is no comprehensive “Dr. Spock” how-to guide for caring, there is a consensus that caring for oneself while caring for someone else is of primary importance. Below are a few resources that can support the caregiver as he or she carries that onerous and honor-worthy responsibility.
It’s not possible to write a one-size-fits-all guidebook for being a caregiver. In the four years I partnered with my brother to provide care for our mother several of my friends were facing similar situations. The operative word is “similar.” All of us age, all of us will face end-of-life issues, but that’s where the comparison ends. Everything else is unique – the pre-planning that was done, the kind of physical and mental health challenges encountered; the local government policies, not-for-profit organizations, and medical and support services available in your particular geographic area, and on and on. I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s easier to make appropriate childcare decisions than to decide what to do as the caregiver for a person on an end of life journey. The most we caregivers could provide for one another was moral support and the occasional good tip. We lived through that time together, but alone.
Books That May Assist Those Caring for Elders
“A recent column in the New York Times mentioned several books that focus on caring for elders. Hard-Won Advice in Books on Aging and Elder Care is written by the columnist who has been authoring a series of columns about Medicaid as Congress focused on health care repeal. As a result of those columns, some of the comments the author received were recommendations of books for the author to read. Using the criteria of those books mentioned at least twice, the author read and wrote about 4 books, which the author describes as ‘in their own way utterly essential reading’. Few of us are prepared for the financial and emotional complexities of managing the last several years of our lives. But as we live longer, drain what may prove to be inadequate retirement savings and lean harder on already strained government programs, we’ll probably find ourselves facing ever more challenging questions and unfortunate compromises.”
I’d like to add Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos into Confidence, by Gail Sheehy.
The insights in the Passages book result from the five years Sheehy spent as caregiver to her husband during his long bout with Cancer. The book served as a kind of bridge between my brother and myself, until it didn’t. I’ve learned so much since my mother died about how to relate to a person with dementia, how I could have been a better partner with my brother, how to ride the emotional waves. I wish I knew then what I know now.
Never underestimate the always up-to-date AARP Powerful Tools for Caregivers Resource Center.