UP FOR DISCUSSION … Along the way, some of the best information we can use comes from other caregivers. And knowing their entire story can bring unintended additional benefits … like the wonderful realization that family caregivers share many of the same concerns and emotions!

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On this Mother’s Day weekend, I am reminded about my penchant for reading about anything I do not understand.  As a new mother, I remember my go-to was Doctor Spock’s wisdom about child-rearing.  I don’t even remember the title of the book, but I remember it was dog-eared and well used in the early years of parenting.  I have never found an equivalent tome for caregiving, but I have discovered over the years I get the best information from books written by family caregivers talking about their personal experiences.  Not only for the knowledge and ideas shared, but also for the myriads of emotions the author confesses to along the way.  None of us are alone in these emotions, but it sure feels better knowing that how we feel about our experiences can be instantly identifiable as common and shared by others.

Two recent books written by family caregivers came across my desk this week and I have looked into both.  Written by a journalist and a cardiologist respectively, my guess is they are very different in tone and approach, but both seem to be filled with the wisdom that comes with reversing roles while caring for an aging parent.  Here is what these authors have to offer other family caregivers.

Richard Lui, award-winning news journalist and documentarian, tells the story of setting aside his career to come alongside his parents to care for his aging father.  Enough About Me chronicles all Lui learned along the way in a seven-year journey that taught him “what it really means to be selfless.”  What I especially liked about the book synopsis and reviews is that Lui’s position about all that he learned is that it requires a shift in the way we think and live as caregivers that ultimately will get us through the experience.  “Choice by choice, step by step, the path to a more satisfying and fulfilling journey is right here in the people around us.”

The second book promises medical understanding along with the emotional and physical changes seen in a loved one – in this case author Sandeep Jauhar’s parent in My Father’s Brain – Life in the Shadow of Alzheimer’s.  The author points out that 1 in 10 people over the age of 65 are currently living with some form of dementia, and that number is expected to more than double by 2050.  While endeavoring to explain what is happening in his dad’s brain he also addresses “how his immigrant father and extended family felt, quarreled, and found their way through the dissolution of a cherished life.” He, too, addresses the moral and psychological concerns of family caregiving, the challenges of role-reversal, and ultimately the acceptance necessary of all this change “in an aging society” as we reckon with the resulting fallout.   A practicing physician, Jauhar is also an author with multiple New York Times bestselling books to his credit.

As is always the case with caregiver memoirs, we will recognize so much of what the author shares.  We can pick up pointers, feel validated in our reactions and personal feelings about caregiving, and learn more about what is happening to our loved ones along the way.  Best of all, perhaps, is the knowledge that we are not alone.  Treat yourself to a special Mother’s Day gift this year … and put one or both of these books on your reading list.  We will be adding both to our Family Caregiver Resource Center in the coming weeks.  Feel free to check them out!


UP FOR DISCUSSION:  Have you read some helpful books recently?  Do you find reading other caregiver stories helpful?  Why?  Please, share your comments below.


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