Thursday, August 25, 2016

9 Realities of Caring for an Elderly Parent: Book Review

Published 2014 by Pressman Books
At first glance, I expected 9 Realities of Caring for an Elderly Parent to be a guidebook, filled with objective lists and a lot of information on how to contact government resources.

Then I started the book. It's more of a caregiver's memoir.

Finally, I noted the subtitle: "A Love Story of a Different Kind." That was my big hint, and I skimmed past it. However, author Stafania Shaffer shares the tender feelings she experienced over five years of caring for her increasingly dependent mother.

[Note: I receive a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.]

The books starts when Shaffer discovers that her widowed mother is living in a cluttered, unhygienic home.  Shaffer's mother is having trouble maintaining her finances, her diet, and her own cleanliness and grooming.

After making these observations, Shaffer takes on the task of caring for her mother, first from a distance of two hours until she can secure a new teaching job and move back into her childhood home.

True, the book is filled with a lot of detail about how Shaffer overhauled every aspect of her mother's life. Readers might adopt the same organization system, but most will probably tailor the task to their own work style.

More interesting to me were the details about the many relationships among Shaffer, her mother, her boyfriends, her siblings and some of the people who came to care for the house and to care for Shaffer's mother.  And let's not forget the three cats and one dog.  They add to the complex dynamics of the household.

There is no easy path for extended family members to walk when a parent grows increasingly dependent. If readers do not have a clear idea how family caregiving works, Shaffer's book provides vivid details of issues that could very well emerge during the process.  Note that this book comes with a workbook that is more practical and full of resources.  It's called The Companion Playbook.


Books on the Dying Process


  1. What you say is very true—there is no easy path to walk when caring for an older parent who cannot care for themselves. My family did it when our 90 year old mother developed alzheimers. It was a heartbreaking and difficult road. Thank you for pointing us to this book. I think it will help many.

    1. Hugs to you and your family for serving as caregivers. May you be comforted by fond memories of your mother during happier times (and during those tender times in her last years). Thanks for witnessing to the difficulty of the task.

  2. Great review! I work with many families who are going through this experience. I am sure it will offer comfort to those who are caring for a loved one, and a better perspective for those who offer support to the caregivers.

    1. You are doing great work supporting caregivers. All my best to you--and to them and their loved one requiring support.