Drawing from intelligent insight and personal journal entries, Eleanor Gaccetta narrates pinnacles from her mother’s last years. During this, she was responsible for the older woman’s daily care.
People generally become a caregiver when a family member or a close friend needs care due to a medical or mental health condition. Sometimes, you might feel overwhelmed and unsure how to help. Not only are you flooded with new information about medical conditions. But you are also experiencing complex family dynamics and messy feelings to manage.
Author Eleanor Gaccetta highlighted this in her book about how to become a caregiver. She mentioned how the isolation of being a caregiver makes you think you have gone bonkers and sends you outdoors.
Gaccetta’s One Caregiver’s Journey
After a 40-year career with state and county government in Colorado, author Eleanor Gaccetta found herself in the unenviable position of providing 24/7 care to her 92-year-old mother. This journey withstands the final nine and a half years of her mom’s life. The stories shared in this book serve as intimate documentation of that decade of her caregiving experiences. It also serves as a comprehensive guide for those new to the role of full-time primary caregiver.
Gaccetta takes the reader through detailed considerations of a plethora of matters to be considered. Among these are documentation (power of attorney plans, medication lists), handicap placards (if applicable), physician and all medical visits, and the like. Of particular consideration is honest communication and maintaining a healthy sense of humor.
Eleanor unselfishly took on the job of full-time caregiver. She moved herself and her mother from a rural setting to somewhere close to needed medical services. She began journaling, finding a new way of living in her daily work, and approaching many often-sadden situations. Eleanor’s mother was a second-generation Italian immigrant with deep religious roots. Much of her day was spent singing spiritual songs and praying. Her mother’s 100th and 101st birthdays were sweet occasions for the family. During these days, her mother is cognizant enough to sing her “Happy Birthday” and recognize some family members. Gaccetta’s mother passing at age 102 was slow but clear at home, attended by Gaccetta and a hospice nurse.
The Book’s Narrative
Further, Eleanor’s narrative is realistic, honest, and at times, lightly humorous. She urges those who are or may become caregivers for their loved ones to give up on the kinds of routines of sleep, meals, and housework common to most home settings. With an elderly and ill person in the home, change is a constant. Other strong advisories include learning to watch out for scammers. These prey on the elderly and for dishonest or incompetent people volunteering help or information.
One “red flag” is whether such people have any medical training, and another is how eager they seem to refer the patient to the organization they represent. Gaccetta resisted moving her mother to hospice because she could not see that the care in such a place would be better than what she could receive at home, aided by nurse visits and doctor house calls. Many lessons were learned, from managing necessary paperwork to positively welcoming each new day with a sick, forgetful, and slowly failing relative.
If you are a caregiver or about to become a caregiver, “One Caregiver’s Journey” is a MUST read. This personal memoir will make you laugh or tug at your heart.
About The Author
Eleanor Gaccetta is a Colorado native who grew up in a small farming community outside Denver. She retired from her work of almost 40 years to provide full-time care to her mother after she broke her hip at age 93. Armed with faith, humor, and love, she navigated being a sole caregiver until her mother’s death at age 102 in 2017. Today she lives in a western suburb of Denver and enjoys an active lifestyle that includes baking, cooking, gardening, physical activities, and spending time with family and friends.