With its compassionate, yet no-nonsense approach, Caregiving Our Loved Ones will be appreciated by anyone who must navigate the turbulent waters of looking after an ill loved one. I count myself among them, having served as caregiver for my mother, who has suffered from dementia since 2004. Dr. Nanette Davis discusses numerous caregiving topics, from transitioning into the role of caregiver and advocate to dealing with medical misdiagnosis and overmedication, even survivors’ guilt. She offers expert advice intertwined with practical tips and strategies that she has gleaned from her own caregiving journey, along with relating the experiences of sixty other caregivers who have shared their experiences with her. Each chapter ends with key ‘Lessons Learned’—helpful takeaways for the reader.
What I particularly appreciate about Dr. Davis’ guide is that she covers the complexity of family dynamics and its inherent conflicts. It was especially heartening for me to know that I am not alone in feeling (sometimes) less-than-altruistic in my caregiving role. She identifies the stages and transitions that caregivers go through (or may remain in), and in doing so, explores the forces that form our thoughts, actions, and reactions. She also reminds us of the emotions that our loved one may be experiencing, so we may have a better understanding of their perspective.
Dr. Davis doesn’t shy away from the dysfunctional free-for-alls that can and do take place when siblings and family members are in conflict over what to do when they find themselves in the trenches of caregiving.
Her suggestions for “parenting the parent” are particularly invaluable. Dr. Davis also discusses more taboo subjects that most of us would feel awkward about broaching, such as the difficulties of becoming a caregiver for one’s spouse. And she takes the time to inform her readers about the symptoms of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, dementia, cancer, and other ailments, so they can be better prepared for their journey.
From my own personal experience and reading, I would emphasize that Dr. Davis’ accounts and insights of the complex relationships between caregivers and their loved ones are right on target. Caregivers could gain much from her tips for dealing with the ongoing emotional, financial and health toll of taking care of someone who will never get better.
Caregiving Our Loved Ones is a positive tome that left me feeling more empowered and energized in my role of caregiver. It has helped me set boundaries and given me new tools that I can implement today and in the days ahead. Dr. Davis’ reminds us that chronic diseases tend to have two victims—the patient and the caregiver—unless steps are taken by the caregiver to prevent losing herself and, ultimately, her health.
I highly recommend this informative and compassionate book to anyone who finds herself at the crossroads of taking on the caregiver mantle.