Synopses & Reviews
A moving, intimate, and compassionate book that chronicles the experiences of a group of long-term caregivers and illuminates critical issues of old age, end-of-life care, medical reform, and social policy
In 2010, journalist Nell Lake began sitting in on the weekly meetings of a local hospital’s caregivers support group. Soon members invited her into their lives. For two years, she brought empathy, insight, and an eye for detail to understanding Penny, a fifty-year-old botanist caring for her aging mother; Daniel, a survivor of Nazi Germany who tends his ailing wife; William, whose wife suffers from Alzheimer’s; and others with whom all caregivers will identify.
Witnessing acts of devotion and frustration, lessons in patience and in letting go, Lake illuminates the intimate exchanges of caregiving and carereceiving. Her work considers important and timely social issues with humanity, warmth, and concern: How can we care for the aging, ill, and dying with skill and compassion, even as the costs and labors of care increase? How might the medical profession take into account the needs of caregivers as well as patients? Nell Lake understands that broad policy questions are experienced personally, in the daily, difficult but rewarding lives of caregivers everywhere. The Caregivers is a thoughtful and tenderly reported depiction of the real-life predicaments that evoke these crucial questions.
With more and more people spending their late years ill and frail, and 43 million Americans caring for family members over age fifty, The Caregivers is an important chronicle of a widely shared experience and a public concern. It offers a humane, realistic, and life-affirming portrait of what it means to give and receive love.
"Journalist Lake investigates the lives and difficulties of individuals providing care for family members with long-term illnesses. She shares stories from people like Penny, a botanist looking after her 87-year-old mother suffering from dementia. Penny struggles to manage her mother's finances, medications, and exercise, facing the decision of one day putting her in a nursing home. Daniel, 88, an Army interrogator during WWII who translated at the Nuremberg trials, now suffers from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and cares for his bipolar wife, dealing with the irony that 'he is helping a woman survive who doesn't want to live.' And Liz moved her ailing husband into a veterans' home after Alzheimer's symptoms caused him to be increasingly abusive until she feared for her life. There are bright spots like Inga and her partner Louise celebrating their love and Louise's recovery from cancer by getting married after 24 years together. Lake addresses psychological dynamics inherent in caregiving, such as role reversal, resentment, and anger. Caregivers deal with a grief that 'is both protracted and unresolved' when someone is 'gone and yet not.' This profound study on the effects of tending to ill loved ones offers powerful testimony to friendship and mutual support." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Nell Lake, a journalist and magazine writer, was the founding editor of the Nieman Narrative Digest at the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University. She has written for The Boston Globe, Yankee, Harvard Magazine, and other publications, and has reported for public radio. She lives with her family in western Massachusetts.