In Their Own Voices: Five Books by Caregivers about the Caregiving Experience
One of the most amazing moments in the caregiver support groups at Wilder is when two people with different caregiving situations realize that they are experiencing incredibly similar emotions, frustrations and joys. As I have seen through my role as a social worker in Wilder Caregiver Services, every caregiving experience is unique. Every family is different, every person cared for has different needs and challenges, and every family handles the experiencing of aging and providing care in its own way. Every caregiver’s story is their own, yet caregivers can have so much in common.
To share important learnings, let other caregivers know they are not alone, and process the experience of caregiving, many caregivers have written books, created art, and started podcasts, among other storytelling ventures. In this post, you will find five books by caregivers that bring to life the universality of caregiving through the authors’ individual experiences. You can find many of these and other books by caregivers in the Caregiver Resource Center at the Wilder Community Center for Aging, as well as online and in bookstores.
No Saints Around Here: A Caregiver’s Days
Susan Allen Toth, 2014
Writer Susan Allen Toth, a resident of the Twin Cities, wrote this 2014 memoir of caring for her husband during the progression of his Parkinson’s and eventual dementia. Described as “occasionally peevish, at times darkly funny, and always deeply felt,” “No Saints Around Here” illustrates the challenges and dedication of caregiving.
Under the Bridge Backwards
Barbara Blanch Roy (2013)
In this memoir, Roy, also a Twin Cities resident, former board member at Wilder and longtime community volunteer, shares her story of caring for her husband, a retired surgeon, leading up to and after his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Described as written with “unflinching honesty,” Roy chronicles the ups and downs and the adjustments required of her entire family as her husband’s disease progressed.
The Gifts of Caregiving
Connie Goldman (2002, second printing 2018)
Another book by a local author, “The Gifts of Caregiving” is a collection of caregivers’ stories. Personal narratives from caregivers throughout the United States show how caregiving – though challenging – can be a deeply moving and hopeful experience. If you only have a couple of minutes at a time to read, this is a good one to pick up!
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
Roz Chast (2014)
Chast, a cartoonist for the New Yorker, created this graphic memoir about caring for her parents at the end of their lives. The book, in Roz’s signature voice, describes how someone can find themselves caregiving in ways they could never have imagined. It’s also hilarious.
The Caregivers: A Support Group’s Stories of Slow Loss, Courage, and Love
Nell Lake (2014)
Lake is a journalist who sat in on weekly meetings of a caregiver support group for two years. The resulting book shows the experiences of a group of long-term caregivers and lifts up issues of old age, end-of-life care and more.
Over the coming weeks, Wilder will share stories of caregivers and what they want others to know about their experiences. Look for the stories on our website and join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, using the hashtag #ListenToCaregivers.