The ABCs of Caregiving

We often presume that the caregiver operates as a lone wolf, a brilliant beacon on the uncertain shoals of elder care. Confident that they are doing the right thing for their loved one, they forge their way in and out of doctors’ offices, hospitals, care centers and adult day health facilities. But the caregivers I interviewed—and the dozens of caregivers I have spoken to since that time—did not have that sense of certainty about their decisions.

Initially, many of these caregivers had only a limited grasp of their loved one’s medical condition, treatment, outcome, support structures and the boundless demands they would confront along the caregiving path. Only when they woke up to the reality that they had to devise a caregiving strategy that specifically worked for them and their family that included these three basics—awareness, education and, eventually, enlightenment—could they move with self-assurance, knowing they had taken the best course of action possible.

This approach to caregiving leaves out the “shoulds,” “musts,” “have-to’s” and any actions that do not add up to a recipe for successful caregiving. Once you can move beyond the reluctant or insecure caregiver stage, you may find that caregiving can be the journey of a lifetime. And like all sojourns, events arrive unannounced—the good, bad and indifferent. Your task will be to do the best you can to prepare for any and all contingencies.

Getting into the flow of care, you may discover caregiving is what you make it. It may provide an opportunity to set things right, clear out the cobwebs from a relationship, jettison those fractured feelings, and perhaps, rectify the past. Or caregiving can be a renewal, allowing you a rare glimpse of your loved one’s inner self, as they struggle with terminal illness and dying. Best of all, you can transform caregiving into the most mindful experience of your life.

This book offers a first step toward shaping your caregiving perspective: information that puts you in the driver’s seat. Managing caregiving actually does have some general requirements: get the correct information when you need it, ask for help before you are overwhelmed, seek the best advice, and never turn down support from any reliable source.

And, similar to any management job, it can be most effectively handled with goal setting, staying level-headed and rewarding supporters. Goals can be simple or complex: giving your loved one a backrub today or checking out local care facilities to prepare for the time when he or she may be ready. Keeping your own health and emotions intact may take more time and effort, but it is well worth it. You’ll have renewed energy for assisting your loved one.

From the Foreword. To read more, buy the paperback or get the Kindle edition on

The ABCs of Caregiving: Words to Inspire You offers support and encouragement to accompany you along your caregiving journey. Sometimes the task feels very bleak, even despairing, to care for someone who will never get better. In the midst of crisis and upheaval, this book points the way to a more serene and compassionate way of caregiving. I wish there had been such a book to lift my spirits during my four long years of caregiving for my late husband.

....Whether you’re looking after a beloved family member or a friend who’s like family, this little book can be an invaluable resource. It’s here to help shift your perspective, and perhaps open you up to new opportunities for self-awareness and spiritual growth. These and other approaches enable you to transcend the suffering, and bring hope, love and peace into your life and those of others.

From the Introduction. To read more, buy the paperback or get the Kindle edition on

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