My Favorite Resources
Try googling the terms "caregiving," "elderly," and "difficult," and see how many hits you get. Hint: It's thousands. Trying to find things that applied to my specific situation AND made me feel better was overwhelming and discouraging - one of my main motivators in starting Caregiving Without the Crazy. That's why this list is purposefully short - and may not include titles you would expect to find in a resource list on caregiving. The resources below were useful AND comforting to me for a variety of reasons and, at least at various times, have given me all I needed to know right at that moment in time. Note that they are arranged not alphabetically, but in order of usefulness. Check these out and let me know what you think.
Coping with Your Difficult Older Parent: A Guide for Stressed-Out Children, by Grace LeBow and Barbara Kane, with Irwin Lebow.
This book was published in 1999 and reprinted in 2002, but I think I actually bought it in paperback in 2013. That was the year I really started to feel like I was entering treacherous waters in contemplating caregiving for my mom, based on her behaviors and personality. LeBow and Kane, clinical social workers and care managers, offer very readable case studies and advice centered on identifying dysfunctional behaviors in your elderly loved ones and effective strategies to cope with them. Sample titles like "When Your Parent Clings to You" and "The Controlling Personality" will resonate with anyone dealing with a challenging personality. No joke - for at least a couple of years nonstop, this book was literally my bible as I struggled to cope. Available on Amazon in various formats for under $10. Invaluable!
It's Not Personal: Lessons I've Learned from Dealing with Difficult Behavior, by Cindy Hampel.
Full disclosure. I went to college with Cindy, so when I heard she had written a book, I purchased it to mainly to just be supportive of her efforts. Little did I know that I would be rereading this book regularly over the course of at least a year. Twenty chapters focus on all aspects of dealing with challenging people in our daily lives. But the true value of this book to me was found in chapters 6-10, in which Cindy focuses on her often challenging interactions with her own mother. Because Cindy is such a good, caring person herself, reading about her experiences solidified for me that sometimes you are in a no-win situation when it comes to dealing with a challenging elderly loved one and that you had better find some healthy strategies to cope if you - and the relationship - are to survive. This book was my companion during some very dark days. Available on Amazon - new or used, Kindle for under $10. Well worth the buy!
There Was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me, by Brooke Shields.
Yes, this is "the" Brooke Shields of Calvin Klein and Lazyboy fame. Why include this title? Brooke Shields, despite her fame, has always come across as an accessible, down-to-earth person, and this is reflected in her autobiographical account of her life in and out of the spotlight, always accompanied by her "challenging" mother. The book is almost 400 pages long, so you may or may not want to read it cover to cover. The value here is seeing another view of the dilemmas loving children face as a parent gets older. This book is slightly more depressing as Shield's account includes her mom's death and the aftermath. Women and only children will especially appreciate Shield's struggles as she negotiated her relationship with her mother while trying to do the right thing. I took comfort in the fact that even celebrities have to deal with these issues. Available on Amazon in various formats for prices as low as under $2, or just check it out at your local library.
When Our Parents Need Us Most: Loving Care in the Aging Years, by David L. McKenna.
I never intended on reading this book, let alone recommending it. Strike 1: It was published in 1994. Strike 2: It sounded sappy and depressing. Strike 3: It was written by a retired minister. What originally caught my eye was the list "Rights and Responsibilities of the Christian Caregiver." If you've been the recipient of a mega guilt trip - Christian or not - you'll want to read this book just for that list alone. The first six chapters are a bit plodding, but beginning with chapter 7, the book kicks into high gear. Yes, there are some biblical references - but not too many - and they might just offer some encouragement to believers and nonbelievers alike. Available on Amazon in paperback only for as little as $2.99.
This website may be useful to you at various points in your caregiving journey. The online community is very robust with the bulk of the site focusing on asking and answering questions potential and future caregiving family members have. Early on I spent very little time on this site as the questions were very specific and often dealt with down-the-road caregiving issues that were not impacting me. As I am now dealing with dementia issues, I duck in and out of the site seeking very specific information. I have found that if I spend too much time on this site I get depressed as many of the topics are pretty grim. The site also includes some of the typical "canned" articles related to caregiving: how to find a care home, learning the stages of Alzheimer's, applying for veterans benefits. Definitely check out this site and use this resource as you see fit.
Boundaries, by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.
If you follow financial guru Dave Ramsey at all, you've probably heard of this book as he references it often on his radio show. It's just what you would think: a book about setting boundaries with those around you. I ended up being a little disappointed with it, but you may feel differently. I found chapters 5-7 useful, as well as the scenario presented in Chapter 1, "A Day in a Boundaryless Life." There are some Christian overtones in this book, but no matter what your beliefs, they shouldn't impact your ability to take away something useful from the content.