Are you a caregiver or about to become a caregiver? If so, One Caregiver’s Journey is a MUST read for you. The book is an easy read and you will feel as though you are in the author’s living room listening as she is telling her story and offering support and an abundance of information.
One Caregiver’s Journey is a personal memoir that was written over a period of 9 ½ years as the author cared for her elderly mother in her home until her death at age 102. The journey began when her mother broke her hip at age 93. She started journaling her caregiving experiences 18 months later when her mother suffered a minor stroke and caregiving became more challenging. This book started out as a series of journal entries designed to provide a source of balance, but soon became a narrative about how life readies us for unforeseen challenges. The book touches on a multitude of issues and provides a snapshot into the reality of the stages, changes and many challenges caregivers may face over time and provides information and suggestions to navigate those issues. The book is based on personal experiences and not on medical findings.
Throughout the 9 ½ year period the book describes how to face challenges that require making decisions as our loved one’s medical or mental condition changes. The author describes how she learned to assess available options when faced with an obstacle. As an example, as her mother’s mobility became limited and getting her to and from doctor, dentist, and lab appointments for bloodwork on a walker when ill became a significant source of stress and anxiety. The author was able to find a physician service who provided in-home care that was covered by her mother’s insurance. The in-home provider saw her mother regularly and performed routine and other medical services and her mother never moved from her comfortable chair. The author also found an in-home provider who serviced her mother’s hearing aid as well. These are some examples in the book of how caregiving can be made easier for all involved.
While this book focuses on being a caregiver to a loved one, it does not lose sight of the caregiver’s needs. Caregivers need to find balance and activities that allow you to maintain your mental and physical strength. The book also reminds the reader that regardless of how difficult your situation may seem you don’t have to look far to realize someone else has it worse. The book emphasizes the challenges we face are not insurmountable. The book also accentuates the need to maintain a positive attitude. As a caregiver you are doing the best possible job you can do to make your loved one’s life better. Finally, the book focuses on the need for humor. Something will occur each day to make you smile and, in the end, you will be thankful you can find something to smile about. This does not trivialize the burdens that a caregiver bears particularly if you live in the confines of four walls for many years as the author did.
When the end arrives to caregiving the caregiver is faced with a new set of challenges. The final challenge for a caregiver is to reintegrate back into a world that moved on without you. After the author’s mother passed away, she was able to recognize how special the time she spent caring for her mother was, how much she had learned about herself, her strengths and her life is enriched. This is her story.