cover image Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos into Confidence

Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos into Confidence

Gail Sheehy, Morrow, $27.99 (416p) ISBN 9780061661204

Like the 44 million other Americans caring for an ill or elderly person in their homes, prolific writer Sheehy looked after her late husband Clay Felker while he battled cancer for more than a decade. Having already chronicled almost every stage in baby boomer life (most notably in 1976's Passages), Sheehy offers an empathetic, well-researched guide to an unfamiliar, often scary role to which boomers are being initiated, outlining eight stages of caregiving from "Shock and Mobilization" to "The Long Good-Bye." Along with doctors and nurses, home caregivers have become the backbone of the (admittedly broken) U.S. health-care system, and an increasingly important part of a patient's decision-making team. As such, Sheehy contends, caregivers are in desperate need of knowledge and support, and this resourceful manifesto provides it, including practical steps to take, strategies for each point of care, likely obstacles for both patient and caregiver, and a lucid explanation of what's to come: "My intention is to illuminate the challenges and rewards inherent in the caregiving passage—to identify universal patterns in the chaos and give the journey a form that makes sense." Sheehy achieves her goal ably, providing a steady beacon during a time of great sadness and overwhelming responsibility. (May)