Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Helpful Books...Or Not.

I've just finished two more books about dementia, caregiving, etc. and I thought I'd review them here for everybody.

The first one was, Elder Rage, by Jacqueline Marcell, who know speaks about dementia and caregiving issues.  This is a memoir with helpful tips and resources in the back.  It details the struggle she had to live with and care for her ailing mother, while at the same time dealing with her father, who is going through dementia-induced rages.  As the story progresses, we learn that he has always been somewhat abusive and we learn a little bit about her parents' relationship and how Jacqueline sees it.

It seemed like it would be an interesting read and she certainly has an eventful, challenging story to tell, however, the way she's written it was a little tough to read, in my opinion.  She has a background in television, I believe, and almost every sentence is punctuated by some reference to a tv show, or character, or well-known line in movie.  It gets a little overwhelming and distracting, at times, and it really detracted from the story she had to tell. She also tries to write in the vernacular, which is very hard to do.  She does list some helpful tips and resources through the book, that she learned while dealing with her father and mother's different needs and issues.

On the whole, it seemed a little voyeuristic and sensational.  I empathize with the terrible experiences she and her mom had to go through but I'm not sure reading this book would be that helpful to anyone looking for support or a similar experience.  I'm sure there are more cases than we know of, however, of caregivers trying to care for a family member with a history of abuse, and the little bits of information she gives on that might be helpful for someone in that situation.

The second book is, The Caregiver's Path to Compassionate Decision Making, by Viki Kind, MA, a bioethicist and counselor.  It is not a memoir, per se, although she uses examples from her experiences with her mother and father to illustrate her points, as well as a few stories from other caregivers. 

Viki's main goal is to help anyone caring for another to know how to make the best life and health care decisions possible, from the point of view of the person being cared for, i.e. what would that person decide if they had the capacity.  It was very straightforward and she gives the readers very clear steps to follow to make the best choices.  Making decisions that impact another person's life is a very difficult and soul-searching process, as caregivers know, and she gives a structure whereby it can be done without too much second-guessing.

A lot of people, when they enter the world of caregiving and making medical choices for another, have not had a lot of experience with the medical world.  I did only because I have a chronic illness, and I still found it a little challenging to navigate.  Viki helps the reader navigate this world somewhat, including the ways that most doctors and hospitals think about care and risk and sustaining life.  I enjoyed the book and feel like I got some good tips and information on how to make the impending choices for my Father.  I would actually recommend this as a good book for everyone to read, because, while you may not have ever have to experience caring for someone with dementia, many of us may have to make choices for a spouse of sibling. Buy it, read it, and pass it on to your spouse or sibling or friend!

I hope these reviews have been helpful - I'll keep on bringing them to you as I go through my bookshelf!

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