Being a “family caregiver” involves more than most people think. It comes as no news to the millions engaged in taking care of homebound elderly and severely ill family members that the responsibility entails tasks previously handled by medical and nursing professionals. Family caregivers now give injections, manage drug regimens, and use complicated equipment, usually without any formal training and often without respite or backup. As a result, their own health—mental and physical—is at risk.
Author Brett H. Lewis describes himself as a “recovering caregiver,” and he candidly shares his experiences and emotions about caring for his aged, terminally ill father and for a friend who was injured in an accident. His book is a combination of resources, advice, and acknowledgment for readers who, like himself, agree to take on this compassionate yet demanding, exhausting, and sometimes extremely frustrating mission.
Lewis explains not only what a caregiver needs to know about complicated and bewildering medical data and records, but how to interact with doctors, hospital and insurance personnel to guarantee that the patient receives the best treatment available. He advises that good caregiving comes down to three essential things and devotes a chapter to each: “Process: Planning and Preparation”; “Protocol: Roles and Rules”; and “Caring: Sanity, Success, and Recovery.”
Using an approach similar to the one described by Dr. Atul Guwande in The Checklist, the author offers numerous useful lists, plus tools, online resources, a glossary of medical terminology and acronyms, and documents and forms for caregiving instructions and advance directives. More personal than The American Cancer Society’s Complete Guide to Family Caregiving, this short volume is an excellent reference.
Also available in hardcover.