Sunday, October 28, 2012

Harnessing hope

Gail Sheehy probably had a hand cramp after signing so many copies of her book “Passages in Caregiving” for Annual Meeting attendees. Her messages of hope for those caring for elderly, chronically ill family members resonate with so many.

“Those who suffer so much are caregivers, and I think she’s identified that and experienced it and is what I’d consider an expert in the field,” said Sara Johnson, who bought a book for herself and another for a friend who is a caregiver.

“I didn’t even want to read the book, honestly,” said Pamela Luna, of Riverside, whose mother has stage-four lung cancer and father is on oxygen and suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Yet when she checked it out at the library, she found an encouraging message. “This is really a book about hope.”

Betty Daniels bought a book for her sister, who is caregiver for her 96-year-old mother. Susan Colman purchased one for herself and one for her sister-in-law, both caregivers for her 82-year-old mother-in-law who has Alzheimer’s disease.

Scott Morrow said he was afraid he’d break down in tears when asked why he bought the book. He hopes it offers support to his stepfather, who is caring for his mother, who has dementia, as well as his developmentally disabled brother. Morrow flies monthly from California to Florida just to help for a few days.

“There’s no answer to this,” Morrow said about the stress of family caregiving. “She talked about the circle of care, and that’s what they really need.”

“How do we take care of our late-living parents and in-laws without depriving men and women in midlife?” Sheehy said as the long line formed. “There is no support for caregivers who have this job. I’m happy there’s more attention to this, but I don’t see any real movement in health care” to address the problem. “Where’s the money, and where’s the will?”

Karen Hiller’s mother suffered a fall two years ago, leading to her placement in a nursing home. The first to get her copy of the book signed, Hiller told Sheehy, “listening to you today really helped me know I’m normal.”

Check out the book and other engaging public health titles at APHA Press in the Everything APHA Booth, #1925.

— D.C.

Above, Gail Sheehy talks with meeting attendee Karen Hiller at Sunday's book signing. Photo by Donya Currie

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Learning how to deal with aging parents -- especially in a time whee life expectancy continues to rise while funding does not -- will be one of he great challenges from this point forward.