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Midwest Matters February 6th, 2023
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November 2022 NNLM Reading Club: Caregiving

Posted by on November 2nd, 2022 Posted in: Consumer Health, NNLM Reading Club


November 2022 NNLM Reading Club: Caregiving

November is National Family Caregivers Month. Caregiving is an often overlooked, but important public health issue that affects many peoples’ quality of life. Caregivers aid with another person’s social and health needs. This may include help with one or more activities important for daily living such as bathing and dressing, paying bills, shopping, and providing transportation. Many caregiving activities also involve emotional support and help with managing another person’s chronic disease or disability. Caregiving responsibilities can increase and change as the recipient’s needs increase, which often results in additional strain on the caregiver.

Caregivers can be unpaid family members or friends or paid workers. Informal or unpaid caregivers are the backbone of long-term care provided in many people’s homes. Middle-aged and older adults provide a substantial portion of this care in the US, as they care for children, parents, or spouses.

People who work as caregivers can be impacted in a number of ways including their ability to work, engage in social interactions and relationships, and maintain good physical and mental health. Although caregiving can bring great satisfaction and strengthen relationships, thus enhancing the caregivers’ quality of life, it is also critical to understand the physical and mental health burden on caregivers, the range of tasks caregivers may perform, and the societal and economic impacts of long-term chronic diseases or disability. Gathering information on these topics enables us to plan for public health approaches to assist individuals as well as their communities to maintain better health outcomes of caregivers and care recipients. (Adapted from https://www.cdc.gov/aging/caregiving/caregiver-brief.html)

For information on each of our three featured books, free downloadable book club discussion guides, customizable promotional materials and more, visit NNLM Reading Club: Caregiving.

  • In a recent memoir release “Mother Lode: Confessions of a Reluctant Caregiver,” Gretchen Staebler offers a view into her life as a caregiver for her 96-year-old mother. The original plan was for her mother to move into assisted living after one year of Staebler returning home. This book explores how caregivers navigate the terrain of returning to their childhood homes, caring for parents at different times in their lives, and how the advancing symptoms of our aging loved ones impacts caregivers. All of this often happens while caregivers work tirelessly as advocates through the unpredictable, but sometimes rewarding, caregiving journey.
  • “Already Toast: Caregiving and Burnout in America” by Kate Washington is a recent non-fiction account of a marriage that moves into Washington caring for her husband’s advancing cancer. A strength of this story is the integration of social commentary and real-life examples of what the experiences are of caregivers in modern-day America. Along with having a relationship, there are also individual careers to maintain and two small children to care for in Washington’s household. Washington implores us to reflect on what we often fail to understand as a society about caregiving. Washington provides us with frameworks and insight to help us further unpack what we need to consider the plights and challenges of caregiving.
  • Kyle Ruffin, author of “In Stroke’s Shadow: My Caregiver Story,” shares her caregiving story in this recent memoir release about her mother’s sudden stroke. This devastating moment in her family’s life was all-consuming and left Ruffin to immediately shift her individual priorities to fully respond to the needs her mother had for care. Ruffin served as her mother’s primary caregiver support through several chapters of family drama, generation clashes, and cultural expectations. She also makes note of how during these times she often simultaneously experienced familial support, love, and care during her often exhausting journey as a woman of color providing care. Balancing the caregiver’s individual needs alongside the needs of those in need is a vital discussion that Ruffin tackles with piercing honesty in this book.

Image of the author ABOUT Miles Dietz-Castel


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This project has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Grant Number 1UG4LM012346 with The University of Iowa.

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