If you told me I would write a series for family caregivers, I would reply, “Thanks, but I think you’re delusional.” I would say this gently and go on my way. Although I’ve written about my caregiving experiences, I never thought of writing a series. This is odd because I’ve cared for three generations of family members.
My mother had a series of mini strokes and, according to her doctor, they added up to Alzheimer’s. I was her family caregiver for nine years and didn’t realize how exhausted I was until she died. A few years later I became my twin grandchildren’s guardian and caregiver.
On a Friday night in February of 2007 the twin’s mother (my daughter) died from the injuries she received in a car crash. My father-in-law and brother also died. In November the twin’s father died from the injuries he received in another crash. It was unbelievable. The court appointed my husband and me as their guardians, and we did this for seven years.
I hoped life would calm down, but it didn’t. In 2013 my husband’s aorta split and I drove him to the hospital. He was bleeding to death and the ER team took quick action. Unfortunately, successive blood transfusions couldn’t keep pace with the blood loss. My husband had three emergency operations and suffered a spinal cord injury during the last one.
The injury paralyzed his legs. My husband was hospitalized for eight months and dismissed to my care. During this time I visited him three times a day, moved us out of the house we had lived in for 20+ years, built a wheelchair-accessible townhome, and maintained a writing career. Many people have asked me how I did all his and my answer is the same: “I don’t know.”
A week after my husband moved into our townhome I sat down at the computer and started writing The Family Caregiver’s Guide. The purpose of the guide is to make family caregiving easier. Caregivers have little time for reading, so I wrote succinctly and listed Smart Steps at the end of each chapter—self-help tips for readers. As with my other books, I tell a personal story and back-up points with research. Many of the points I make pertain to Alzheimer’s disease. Fifteen five-star reviews of the guide are posted on Amazon. Some of the comments:
. .. even though the subject matter is a challenging one for any of us, there is a sense of “I can do this” . . .
The book is like a friend that you can return to time and again for assistance and strength.
I loved the Smart Steps at the end of each chapter, a brief review of what has helped her and should be a life line for you.
A great resource for any caregiver.
The reviews and comments I’ve received are gratifying. Many people have said they wished they had the book before they became caregivers. The Family Caregiver’s Guide came as a surprise and there were more surprises to come. One book led to a four-book series from WriteLife Publishing. My heart, soul, and life are in these books!
Harriet Hodgson, MA
Contributing writer www.thecaregiverspace.org/authors/hhodgson
Author of Alzheimer’s: Finding the Words, a Communication Guide for Those Who Care (John Wiley & Sons). This book is out of print, but I think it is available in electronic form.