Monday, July 30, 2012

Leaning Into Sharp Points

Here is what we know about family caregivers:

65% of people who need caregiving rely on family and friends for assistance. Most of these caregivers are women; in fact, the National Caregiving Council estimates that 75% of caregivers are women. The odds are good that you are or you know one of these women. What you may not know is that caregiving is a health and career hazard for women.

 Metropolitan Life has studied caregiving and its economic consequences for many years. They report the consequences of women who are caregivers as follows:

33% decreased their work hours
29% passed up a promotion or training
22% took a leave of absence
20% went from full time to part time
20% quit their jobs
13 % retired early

The costs are very high. So what do we do about that?

Yes, there are lots of workshops and support groups but one of the realities of caregiving life is that caregivers don’t have time to attend the groups they need to. They struggle. And they pray. And they read.

Stan Goldberg’s new book, "Leaning Into Sharp Points", is a gem for a caregiver’s library. Goldberg is a professor, hospice volunteer, researcher and family caregiver. His book is wonderfully straightforward and frank. His advice is platitude-free and that comes from real life experience.

Goldberg not only says “bad feelings are ok” he names them and gives examples. In my many years as a family caregiver and coach for other caregivers I have found that the most energy draining aspect is the bad feelings –those things we think we should not feel and are determined never to admit. Goldberg has been there. He admits them.

Another gift in this book is the chapter on talking to non-caregivers. Based on the statistics about the rapid rate of aging there are fewer non-caregivers around but they do torture us with suggestions, ideas and platitudes. This chapter made me want to make copies to hand out as soon as the well-intentioned, “Now you really have to take care of yourself”, chatter begins.

The book is paperback. The price is right and so is the size: You can fit it in the tote bag to the doctor’s office and the oncology center.

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