A penetrating glimpse into the modern world of caregiving.
After two years attending meetings of a hospital caregivers’ support group, magazine writer Lake shares the members’ stories in a caring, instructive manner. Through the experiences of these individuals, the author explores timeless topics of love, hope, grief and anguish, as well as timely issues of health care, long-term care and the high cost of growing old. Lake shines as a storyteller, bringing to life such individuals as William, whose wife was slowly succumbing to Alzheimer’s; or Penny, who lived with her mother until having to place her in nursing care. Lake quickly goes beyond the group sessions to enter into these caregivers’ lives, observing their struggles firsthand. Her sympathetic portrayals are touching and thought-provoking, but Lake is at her best when examining the place and character of caregiving in today’s society. “Even the word caregiver,” she writes, “is a technical, postindustrial, post-feminist, public term—necessary only in societies in which caring for our old and dependent is no longer conscripted by family roles." The author tackles topics such as Medicaid, living wills and even the Affordable Care Act, along with the modern trappings of caregiving, such as Alzheimer’s testing and “automatic negative thoughts,” which plague members of the group. Her subjects put human faces to statistics and studies. Readers may find this book emotionally challenging, but they will be rewarded with a new perspective on growing old in America. Those who are currently caregivers will find in Lake’s subjects understanding and compassion, just as they share with each other in the context of the support group.
In the spreading shadow of dementia, Alzheimer’s and other long-term diseases, Lake discovers hope, comfort and continued questions for the future.