Thursday, July 2, 2015

Showering with Nana: Book Review

Published 30 April 2015.
Caregiving can push people to the edge of sanity.

Elder law attorney and family caregiver Cathy Sikorski takes a pro-active stance by pointing out the absurd things that happen in the life of a caregiver.

In her book Showering with Nana: Confessions of a Serial (killer) Caregiver, Sikorski documents what happens when her grandmother "Nana" stays for the six months that the author's mother is wintering in Florida.

[I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.]

Because of various age-related challenges (memory changes, role loss and physical changes), Nana required constant attention--much as a toddler would.

Caregivers, despite some uncanny similarities, absolutely must treat older adults differently than they would a child.  Trying to do anything different not only is unethical, it's ineffective.

Or as Nana says, "You don't have to get testy, honey girl." 

The salient issue during the six months time frame of the memoir was the way Sikorski's 92-year-old Nana and two-year-old daughter, Rachel, combined forces to thwart the best laid plans for caregiving.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Cyber-Seniors: Movie Review

Released 9 May 2014.
I know, "So many movies, so little time.

This movie was exhilarating. Watch it!  I am so happy that it finally made its way to the top of my queue.

Cyber-Seniors (2014) is a documentary about a group of teenagers who mentor a group of older adults on how to use computers.

The documentary shows the older adults gaining skills in using the mouse, using menus and then using programs such as browsers, social media sites and video viewing sites.

But this partnership isn't limited to a one-way transfer of information. No way. 

The older adults also get an opportunity to talk to the teens about their extended families, their work experience, their military experience, and their present challenges and opportunities.  I was moved to tears while watching the older participants use technology to express their feelings, to share their interests, to connect with their extended families and to offer their perspective on life.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Caregiving for Three Weeks

Photo by MTSOfan.
I rarely blog about my teens. They prefer that I don't. However, I'm going to make an exception here. Let me apologize in advance for being a bit vague.

One of my kids broke a bone on June 11th while traveling down a water slide.  It was the collar bone, which will require about 3 to 5 weeks to heal.

When I mentioned this on my Facebook page, more than a dozen midlife friends reported having broken a collar bone that now healed.  I'm happy to hear all of these reports.

A few reported that decades later, they do have some issues.  Some have a little trouble sleeping on that side and reported feeling a little cold-weather-related pain.  These long-term affects seem very manageable.

Nevertheless, I find myself hovering. It's been a week since the fracture, and I'm still functioning as an extra pair of hands. The doctor's orders were "Keep that left side immobile."  OK!

I've read a great deal about caregiving, but I'm living it for the first time.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

TV or Not TV: Images of Older Adults

Photo by John Atherton
Because I review so many movies featuring older adults, people sometimes recommend that I watch specific series or episodes that depict older characters.

I might start reviewing television shows. I might not.

My first impulse is to stick with movies and books. I find greater character development and a broader spectrum of depictions in films.

I feel as though feature films and documentaries offer greater insights and epiphanies than television series.

Many characters on television shows are flat, unchanging and based on stereotypes.

This is more true of comedies, in my opinion, than television dramas or investigative journalism programs.

But I can't think of one television drama that focuses on age-related challenges.  I have, however,  viewed / reviewed several episodes of age-specific episodes of Frontline.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Final Exam: Book Review

Published 9 Jan 2007 hardback
(paperback 2008 cover pictured)
For the past three years, I have been reading books written by physicians.  Some might predict that this would lead me to reach a point of saturation.

Not true.

I found Chen's account extremely engaging.  In Final Exam: A Surgeon's Reflections on Mortality (2007), Chen explains in rich detail how she responds to the realities of death inherent in medicine -- and in life.

Chen is a very well-respected surgeon, noted for her excellent technical skill.

However, she also has a background in anthropology, which makes her very attentive to the social, emotional, cultural and ethical dimensions of medicine.

Chen reveals great vulnerability by pulling back the curtain of her profession and her own internal processes, showing her constantly evolving stance towards those at risk for dying--which ends up being everybody.