Caring Currents

Caregiving Isn't for Sissies

Last updated:

March 20, 2008

If you're taking care of an elderly parent, spouse, or other relative, you may not be eager to read a book on the subject. In your scarce-to-nonexistent reading time, you'd probably prefer to catch up on world events or escape into that new novel by your favorite author. But if you can, take a glimpse at this recently published book: An Uncertain Inheritance: Writers On Caring For Family, edited by Nell Casey. The essays in this anthology will help give you perspective on your own caregiving experience. As caregivers know better than anyone, there's little glory or glamour in the position -- and few happy endings. And yet, being a caregiver demands courage, compassion, tenacity, resourcefulness, and an open heart – in short, qualities that most of us would use to describe a hero. An Uncertain Inheritance underscores the every day heroism of being a caregiver, without romanticizing the experience one bit. These essays are bitingly honest; they don't disguise the grisly aspects of caregiving, or the less-than-lovely emotions that every caregiver feels at one point or another. They simply show people doing their best to care and comfort and be present for loved ones who badly need them. Like many of the other experiences that shape us, caregiving may not seem life changing until we look back on it. As a caregiver in the trenches, you're likely too busy and exhausted for reflection; you don't have the time or emotional energy to stop and consider how you got here, or why it's important. The writers in An Uncertain Inheritance are looking back on their caregiving experience with a clarity that probably eluded them at the time. Their stories will help see your caregiving experience – its frustrations, demands, and every day heroic moments – in a new light.

Care to pass along a list of your favorite books on caregiving? Send along titles and authors, and I'll share the list with readers.