The founder of a self-help program for family caregivers shares insights into managing the interpersonal aspects of aiding a relative.
In this debut health book, Gelberg-Goff presents a companion to her Take Back Your Life support group, which advises family caregivers and provides strategies for managing the challenges of helping a loved one. Although an appendix details some of the logistical aspects of the role, the volume focuses primarily on the emotional aspects: balancing the caregiver’s needs with those of the patient, dealing with frustration in a productive way, and setting boundaries. Anecdotes based on anonymous stories from Gelberg-Goff’s clients—as well as her own as caretaker for multiple relatives—serve as case studies for the topics. Each chapter concludes with a series of questions to guide further discussion and action as well as links to additional resources on the author’s website (lorengelberggoff.com). The narrative voice is that of an unflappable and patient adviser, with the refrain “and we breathe” appearing many times throughout these pages. There are frequent reminders that caregivers should be aware of what they are and are not able to change: “Your decision is not written in stone. Each new decision brings you new direction, and each new reaction you feel or receive from others means you get to go back to Step 1 and process how you want to handle this new awareness.” Although the text is occasionally repetitive (Gelberg-Goff cites passages by Julia Cameron about anger eight times in one chapter), the conversational and confiding tone makes for an easy read, with plenty of actionable lessons for overstretched caregivers. The author provides sample scripts for difficult conversations and frameworks for establishing emotionally healthy thought patterns that readers can easily apply to their own situations. While caregivers will still need other resources for understanding the practical aspects of home health aides, long-term care insurance, and assisted living, this guide is a useful tool for learning to manage the less concrete but equally important emotional facets.
A valuable manual for struggling caregivers.