Monday, August 3, 2015

A Powerful and Practical Handbook for Caregivers Struggling to Do the "Right Thing" while Taking Good Care of Themselves

Recently, Carolyn A. Brent of The Caregiver Story interview me on her BlogTalkRadio Show. Here's the link to that interview - which I enjoyed immensely, by the way! I'd received Carolyn's second book called The Caregiver's Companion some time ago, so I decided to write a book review for it. It is very comprehensive and well written; and believe that many of you hardworking caregivers out there will appreciate it. Please take to heart Carolyn's plea that you take GOOD CARE of yourself. I would concur that his is most important!

Here's my review:

Carolyn A. Brent is the perfect author for this book, The Caregiver's Companion: Caring for Your Loved One Medically, Financially and Emotionally While Caring for Yourself, because she was very close to and appreciative of her father, a minister, who she needed to care for as his aging began to take a toll on him. After her father lost his second wife and he had to start going it alone, he began to need Carolyn's help. His needs were serious, so Carolyn had to travel from her home in the Bay Area to assist her father in the Denver area. Eventually, Carolyn convinced her father to move in with her and come to the Bay Area. Some time later, when Carolyn's father's health was in a more critical state, Carolyn had to deal with her siblings, some of whom she had not grown up with. They made life very difficult for her - and her father - toward the very end of her father's life. At a pivotal juncture, Carolyn was not even allowed to visit her father in the private care facility he was living in, and she had to find out about her father's death - after the fact - from a distant relative. This, after acting as her father's caregiver for twelve years, with virtually no help from her siblings.

The point being, Carolyn has had extensive experience working through many complex and complicated issues around caregiving. She is the perfect one to be writing about how important communication and the "crucial conversations" she refers to are, between family members, caregivers, and the loved one facing death. As she writes, "you can never be too prepared." 

I want to mention some of Carolyn's chapter titles here so you can get a feel for the thorough content she offers in her book: "Talk Early, Talk Often," "When Should You Step In?", "Caring for Your Loved one At Home," Moving Your Aging Loved One...", "Emergencies and Life-of-Death Decisions," "Hospice Care," "Crucial Emotional (and Financial) Conversations," How How to Have Crucial Conversations," "Crucial Legal Conversations," and "Taking Care of Yourself." By the way, this last may be the most important chapter in her book?! And Carolyn offers at the very end of her book, "The Caregiver's Cheat Sheet," a comprehensive 14-page list of things that caregivers need to keep in mind, from "empower yourself ... with the right questions when checking out a long-term care facility for your loved one" to "Ask for help and stop having an 'I can do this by myself' attitude."

Needless to say, I highly recommend this beautiful, practical "handbook for caregivers" that many of you current or would-be caregivers around the globe could benefit from. Much of this book is written in a Question & Answer format. Therefore, if you have a burning question, you could simply look for your question in the book and most likely find it. An index has also been provided for the reader's convenience. At the end of each chapter there's even a Question Checklist which summarizes the topics covered in each chapter. 

There are many dedicated caregivers out there working without fanfare or much appreciation. Of the 76 million or so baby boomers in our society, it is likely that a good third of them are caring for a loved one. I read a statistic that said "43.5 million of adult family caregivers care for someone 50+ years of age and 14.9 million care for someone who has Alzheimer's disease or other dementia" (November, 2012 - Family Caregiver Alliance). See this article for more.  Carolyn interviewed 1500 caregivers across the globe as part of her research for this book and for her legal campaign to change the law "to protect the caregiver and the person he or she is caring for." My hope and prayer is that many will find this magnificent, very interesting and unique resource for caregivers that Carolyn has spent a great deal of time and effort putting together! In 2011, Carolyn wrote her first book, Why Wait? The Baby Boomers' Guide to Preparing Emotionally, Financially, and Legally for a Parent's Death.

For those of you interested in exploring further, the link to Carolyn's website is here.

Thank you, Carolyn, for your very fine and thorough work on caregiving. I'm very pleased to be associated with you, and look forward to more conversations with you!

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