An estimated 25 million adults are caring for a loved one right now, and that number continues to increase as baby boomers age. I was once part of that number, until my mother died last month. I may be again part of that number, as my father is still alive and I’m an only child.
That is why a series of new books by Connie Goldman, the former host of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” interested me. (That and the fact that I love NPR and All Things Considered.)
Goldman compiled two books on living with disability, disease, and death; one from the caregiver’s point of view, and one from the person needing the care.
In The Gifts of Caregiving: Stories of Hardship, Hope, and Healing (Second Edition) Goldman explores the challenges faced by many people when their loved ones can no longer care for themselves. Inspired by a series of poignant interviews on her radio program—with guests including the late Dana Reeve (wife of Christopher Reeve) and Rosalynn Carter—Goldman describes moving stories of hope and healing brought on by acts of caring and kindness.
“These caregivers share their personal moments of disappointment, despair, loss, and exhaustion,” Goldman says. “Yet they also share moments of laughter and courage. Most importantly, each of their stories reveals how their hardships can be turned into a journey of courage and self-discovery.”
As a natural storyteller and experienced interviewer, Goldman dives deeper into the nuances of caregiving with her new companion piece, Wisdom from Those in Care: Conversations, Insights, and Inspiration. Here, she brilliantly weaves together stories of those who are receiving care to illuminate what it feels like to be dependent on another person.
Wisdom from Those in Care shares personal stories told by those who have been or are now being cared for. Some have been diagnosed with non-curable illnesses. Others have become debilitated. Many have left their old worlds of interaction and sociability.
Sharing their stories, they are saying, “Listen to me, I have something to share.” New conversations between the caregiver and those in their care offer a never expected enrichment.
As a companion to The Gifts of Caregiving: Stories of Hardship, Hope and Healing, Second Edition, each chapter ends with the author’s thoughts and discussion questions to encourage readers to explore more deeply their thoughts and feelings about similar situations.
They are not hard to read, but they were a little intense for me to take in one sitting. Perhaps because my mother’s death is so fresh – just five weeks ago – I found it emotional to hear such intimate stories of sadness and strain.
I must point out, though, that all the stories end with an attitude of optimism, faith, and staying present, which is one of the very important takeaways. Kudos to Goldman for bringing hope to what can be a bleak topic.
More on Goldman at http://www.congoldman.org.