One Caregiver’s Journey is a personal memoir that was written over a period of 9 ½ years as the author (nicknamed Ellie) cared for her elderly mother in her home until her death at age 102. Ellie’s 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 allow Ellie to find balance in her situation and provide a narrative about how life readies us for unforeseen challenges. The book touches on a multitude of issues that all caregivers are faced with at one time or another and offers various suggestions how to navigate those issues. The book is based on personal experiences and not on medical findings. There are many books online and in bookstores that are written by medical professionals that provide scientific findings and information to caregivers. One Caregiver’s Journey was written over a long period of time and provides a snapshot into the reality of the stages, changes and many challenges caregivers may face over time.
Throughout the 9 ½ year period the book describes the how face the challenges that require making decisions as their loved one’s medical or mental condition change. The author describes her experiences and offers ways she learned to assess available options when faced with an obstacle. As an example, as Ellie’s mother’s mobility became limited getting her to and from doctor appointments became a significant source of stress and anxiety on all the family. Ellie had to enlist the assistance of family members (most often her brother) for assistance in getting their mother to a doctor or lab appointment. Ellie was able to find a physician service which provided in-home care that was covered by both Medicare and her mother’s supplemental insurer. Her mother’s long-time primary care provider understood the family’s dilemma and shared all records to assure a continuum of care with the new provider. The in-home provider was equipped to draw blood samples and other medical services while mom never moved from the confines of her comfortable chair. In the same vein Ellie found an in-home provider for audiology services who was also utilized. Suggestions such as these may help caregivers understand that options are available and with just a bit of perseverance the caregiving journey can be made much 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 in an activity that allows you to maintain your mental and physical strength. You need to figure out how to take care of yourself too! One thing that is impressed upon the reader (and was paramount to the author) is regardless of how difficult your situation may seem you don’t have to look far to realize someone else has it worse. As the author’s maternal grandmother wisely described – behind every door of every home there is a cross – meaning every household has issues crucial or worse that caregiving. These could be financial, medical, mental, employment and the list is seemingly endless. This consolation makes caregivers realize the challenges we face are not insurmountable.
The book focuses too on faith. This is not so much in the religious sense but maintaining a positive attitude that as a caregiver you are doing the best possible job you can do to make your loved one’s life better. And 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. By all means this is not to trivialize the burdens that a caregiver bears – particularly if you live in the confines of four walls for many years as Ellie 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 into the world you were not part of for a time.
One Caregiver’s Journey is a very heartfelt book about a very personal experience for one caregiver. I would encourage anyone who is in a caregiving role or about to embark on the caregiving journey to read my story. After Ellie’s mother passed away Ellie 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. Please grab a copy at www.onecaregiversjourney.com and experience the journey.