by S. H. Marchisello
I wish a book like What to Do about Mama? had been available in 2000 when my mother was suffering from Alzheimer’s, or even a decade later, when we faced the same issues with my mother-in-law. Because America’s population is aging and more and more baby boomers—“the sandwich generation”—are being thrust into caregiving roles, this book is very timely and reassures you that you are not alone. Seeking help is not a weakness; it may be necessary to retain your sanity.
In What to Do about Mama? we hear about the very different experiences of the co-authors, as well as testimonials from numerous other caregivers:
- Barbara Matthews cared for her mother-in-law in her home for four years. She felt like the warm relationship she’d had with her in-laws deteriorated during the process, due to criticism, second-guessing, and an unwillingness to share the burden to the level expected.
- Barbara Trainin Blank cared for her mother at a distance for about two years. Because her mother had Alzheimer’s, she had to hire full-time aides and manage the caregiving from afar.
- The majority of the testimonials from interviewees dealt with the care of a parent, although some of the people provided care for spouses, children, and other relatives.
- The testimonials covered experiences with home care, long distance care, nursing home and hospice care, as well as assisted living arrangements.
Some of the people had good experiences; for others, caregiving became a nightmare. Some had siblings and other relatives who were supportive; others bore the burden alone. Some families grew closer; others were driven apart. For some, the care period was only for a few months, for others, the arrangement lasted years. But the almost universal consensus was that caregiving is hard and unpredictable. Even those who had previous experience in the medical field and elder care were hit with surprises.
What to Do about Mama? is divided into 10 chapters that discuss different aspects of caregiving. Snippets of the stories, which appear elsewhere in the book in their entirety, are interspersed where appropriate to drive home a point. Each story illustrates an important caregiving theme.
Highly recommended for anyone who might someday assume a caregiving role. Read it before you need it, and then keep it around for reference!
Sharon Marchisello is the author of Going Home, a murder mystery about an elderly woman who allegedly kills her caretaker.
What to Do about Mama?: A Guide to Caring for Aging Family Members
Black & White on White paper
BISAC: Family & Relationships / Eldercare