Friday, May 2, 2014

Books, Books, Books!

Once again, I throw myself into the breach and sacrifice my time and energy for my fellow caregivers doing something I really enjoy doing anyway – reading! Here are the latest book reviews for your enjoyment and edification.

Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias: The Caregiver’s Complete Survival Guide – Nataly Rubinstein.

There are now several different books claiming to be the complete caregiver’s guide, with varying truthfulness. I did enjoy this book, although I don’t think it is the best of its type that I have read. I enjoyed Janet Shagam’s, An Unintended Journey, a little better. Rubinstein certainly knows what she’s talking about: not only is she a social worker who specializes in geriatric care management, but she cared for her mother, who had Alzheimer’s.

Like many, the book is a combination of memoir and information and she does give a lot of great tips in each section for different things like difficult behavior, communication, and caring for the caregiver. I enjoyed reading the bits about her mother and her own life, but I thought the tips were probably the best part of the book.

It is a thick book, with lots of information, most of which is covered in other, shorter, books like, Learning to Speak Alzheimer’s so if you don’t have the time or patience for a long read, choose other resources. It is kind of nice to have it all in one place, however, and I suppose you could jump around. In the end, she talks about respite care and institutionalized care but stops the journey there without covering end of life. All in all, not a bad resource if you have the time or just want a reference book. **

When the Time Comes – Paula Span.

I really enjoyed this book, which was an informative resource, memoir, and sociological study. It did cover some important issues with humor and compassion, as well as information. Span followed several families over an extended period of time as they wrestled with the illness and age-related issues affecting their loved ones and gives us fascinating insight into other caregivers’ lives. She also shares her own story about her mother’s dementia and her increasing worries about her father as he ages. She describes her book as a, ‘support group in print.’

Span describes the process of caring for our loved ones, starting with home care and its good points and pitfalls. The stories about families trying to hire private caregivers made me laugh because I, too, had my issues with private aides. She moves on into Assisted Living and its pros and cons, including a few tips on how to find a facility and what to look for. There are good facilities and bad facilities, and some that are in between. I always like seeing someone talk truthfully about facilities because they sometimes get a bad rep, but like anything else, they run the spectrum.

Dementia, itself, and the ways we end up having to deal with it, is often described as nothing but bad choices – choosing the best of the worst. To a certain extent this is true, as none of us wanted to have to deal with it in our loved ones. I like Span’s message of hope in the darkness, however, and her descriptions of how some families have chosen to deal with the way their cards were dealt. She focuses on a few issues, which I think is a great idea, since the step-by-step eldercare manuals, like the one above, can be too broad. I really enjoyed this book, and I would recommend it for anyone who wants to read about people experiencing the same problems they are, with compassion and humor. ****

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