As I come across books that I find helpful or interesting, I will share them here. They're not all about Caregiving because it is SO important to have other aspects of life that define us. I am a HUGE fan of audio books since they give me the freedom to "read" while occupying myself with other things. I rarely indulge in reading a physical book these days because life is too busy and if I am lost in a book, nothing else gets done. But, with an audio book, I can indulge while still getting things done. Win win. And in the meantime, I am constantly picking up books for that "someday" scenario, that is hopefully not imaginary, when I will have time to sit and read again!
8 Weeks to Optimum Health by Andrew Weil, M.D.
Before I Forget: Love, Hope, Help, and Acceptance in Our Fight Against Alzheimer's by B. Smith & Dan Gasby
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters In The End by Atul Gawande
Change Your Brain, Change Your Life by Daniel G. Amen, M.D.
Change Your Schedule, Change Your Life by Suhas Kshirsagar
Daughters Of The Earth: The Lives and Legends of American Indian Women by Carolyn Niethammer
My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.
The Brain Warrior's Way by Daniel G. Amen, M.D.
The Telomere Effect by Elizabeth Blackburn, Ph.D.
Why Our Health Matters by Andrew Weil, M.D.
Looking for a little escape?
You can't go wrong with books by Clive Cussler, one of my personal favorite authors for Action/Adventure Fiction. His Oregon Files series is probably my favorite.
Also a big Jane Austen fan. Because sometimes it sounds better to tell someone to "make haste" rather than "hurry up".
What am I listening to now?
Amazingly enough, I am finding time to actually read a book! Yes, turning paper pages and everything. Astounding! I am reading "Just Before the Stroke of 7", by Aaron Ainbinder. I met Aaron at a senior services seminar where he asked the panelists about resources for solo Caregivers. Despite knowing 4 of the 5 panelists personally, I have to say I was a bit disappointed in their responses. So was Aaron. He and I started talking afterwards and he asked me to read his book. I am finding that I relate to a lot of what he is saying, even though the care we provided was done within a family setting. The responses of the outside world he experienced and the resentment (justified or not) that he felt, are familiar. I haven't finished it yet, but I'm confident this book will be bumped up to the "Recommended Books" section.
I just finished listening to "The Girl With Seven Names" by Hyeonseo Lee. Wow! What a powerful book. I think, especially as Caregivers, who sometimes feel we have it pretty tough (don't worry, I know it's not all in our heads, we do have it pretty tough at times), it is incredibly important to put things into a global perspective. The story of this woman's childhood in North Korea, her crossing into China and the treacherous paths she walked to get not only herself, but her family to South Korea is astounding. Let's just say it will put what we see as struggles into a different light. Will this book make your challenges go away? No, of course not. However, you might be able to take them on with a better frame of mind.
Important terminology for your Caregiving Journey.
Please note - these definitions are not all-inclusive as there are many variances between communities and agencies, the services they provide, areas of specialty and the types of payments they are able to accept. This list is meant as a general starting point. Definitions that seem vague are a reminder to ask questions of any service provider you are considering for your loved one.
ADLs: Activities of Daily Living. Basic self-care activities that include eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, mobility and grooming/personal hygiene. Some lists vary slightly in their terminology.
AL: Assisted Living. Typically provides assistance with ADLs at varying levels, which effects cost. Most include meals, laundry, housekeeping, etc.
CCRC: Continuing Care Retirement Community. A community that provides all levels of care on a campus-type setting including independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing and sometimes memory care, allowing a resident to receive any level of care as they age.
Home Care: Also known a "Class B" agency. This is non-medical care providing services such as assistance with ADLs and IADLs, light housekeeping, cooking and companionship. Some agencies are franchises while others are privately owned. All are required to be licensed by the state, which you can look up and review for violations. Be sure to ask questions about employee training, minimum hours, 24/7 pricing and any other concern that you have for your loved one. Services are typically paid for by long-term care insurance, VA benefits, private pay funds or a combination of these.
Home Health Care: Also known as a "Class A" agency. This is medically-based care that may include visits from a nurse, CNA, Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Speech Therapist and/or Medical Social Worker. Services are typically ordered by an MD after a hospital or rehab stay and some or all costs are covered by insurance.
Hospice Care: Specialized end-of-life care provided for individuals who have a life expectancy of six months or less. The focus is on living the best life possible, not on treating or curing disease.
IADLs: Instrumental Activities of Daily Living: More complex activities including meal preparation, housekeeping, transportation, handling finances, managing medications, etc.
IL: Independent Living. Typically does not include any sort of assistance with self-care (although it may be available at an additional cost). May or may not include amenities such as meals, laundry, housekeeping, etc.
Memory Care: Care tailored for individuals with memory issues. Staff is typically trained to understand and assist with behaviors and the special needs surrounding clients with memory/dementia-related concerns. May be "secured".
Palliative Care: Care for people with serious illnesses. The focus is on pain and symptom relief, support for the patient and family and may be used in conjunction with curative treatments.
Placement Agency: May be a franchise or a privately owned business that provides "real estate agent"-type services for individuals and their families who are looking to find the best living environment to meet the financial, geographical and physical needs of each client. Most provide services at no cost to the client - they receive payment from the community once the placement has been made.
Rehab: Rehabilitation Community. Provides more intensive, short-term medical and therapeutic support for post-injury or post-hospitalization needs.
Respite Care: When a third-party steps in to give a Caregiver a break. This may be for hours, day or even weeks. May be provided in-home or on-site within a community setting.
SNF: Skilled Nursing Facility. Often pronounced "sniff". For clients who require higher-level medical care than can be provided at an assisted living or memory care community. 24/7 nurse oversight.
Resources and Referral Partners
There are so many resources available that it is impossible to list them all here. Always try to speak with or interview at least three providers within a category to make sure their services are a good fit for your needs.