A lyrical, intimate love story of a daughter as she struggled to provide dignified care for each of her parents… What makes this caregiving narrative different are the companion chapters written by an expert geriatrician who provides both reflection and knowledge of what transpires in every few chapters written by Marcy Houle.This is a unique form of riveting narrative that gives us, as members of the general public, a useable medical understanding and practical tips… for the universal care-providing experience we will all encounter.
The Gift of Caring assures the best possible dignity while advancing the best in care as we travel the journey of life and living.
This book is a gift.Jennie Chin Hansen Former CEO of American Geriatrics Society Past President of AARP
The Gift of Caring is a remarkable blending of inspiration and information. It should be required reading for all clergy and caregiversRick Skidmore, United Church of Christ minister
Informative, insightful, and clear, The Gift of Caring provides a moving exploration of what growing old means and how we, as children, friends, and neighbors should respond. It provides extremely practical advice which serves as a wonderful roadmap to a better way of caring for older adults in America.
I cannot recommend it highly enough.Rachelle Bernacki, MD Harvard Medical School, Asst. Professor of Medicine Director, Adult Palliative Care Quality Initiatives Dana-Farber Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital
With the growth of the elderly population, there is tremendous need for The Gift of Caring. There is so much to be learned from others who have traveled this road.David Reuben, MD Chief of Geriatric Medicine, UCLA Past President of the American Geriatrics Society Past Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Board of Internal Medicine
This is a remarkable book. The story of Marcy Houle’s family’s discovery of their father having dementia reads like a novel. So many of the reactions a family can experience during this journey are portrayed in a caring but honest light.
Houle’s willingness to describe the struggles to accept the diagnosis and help her parents adjust serves as a model for other families facing this challenge. Hers is not a story just of struggle, but it is also suffused with love and meaning.
Dr. Eckstrom’s chapters are very helpful— written in clear, understandable language, and very accurate. Hearing her approach to patients with dementia will enable readers to know what to look for in a caring and competent physician. Kenneth Brummel-Smith, MD Charlotte Edwards Maguire Professor and Chair Department of Geriatrics Florida State University College of Medicine
I believe this manuscript should be required reading for every health care professional who has the potential to care for elderly people as well as those family members caring for or responsible for the care of their aged family members.
By Marcy keeping a journal, she has been able to accurately recall episodes, experiences, and her emotional status. The story she tells is one in which many people will be able to identify.
Having insertions written by Dr. Eckstrom not only validates Marcy’s experiences, but also gives valuable information and is written so the lay person can understand it.
This information is so needed by families and medical personnel.Evelyn Baker, R.N., with specialization in geriatrics
Wonderful, painfully honest and funny, sad and uplifting at the same time, The Gift of Caring will speak to many many people, giving them hope and determination to help their loved ones get good care. By exposing the rollercoaster of emotions and the medical maze, they will be comforted, feel understood and find courage in advocating for their aging parents.Catherine Thompson, MD
“The tsunami of growing older didn’t happen all at once. Rather, it came in small floods, with drying-our periods in between.” Houle writes passionately about the deteriorating health of her elderly parents and her role as a primary caregiver, which is a blessing and a burden. She tells a tale of love and struggle, with elements of disbelief, denial, helplessness, grief, and, ultimately, acceptance. As well as advocacy. Her father, a retired orthopedic surgeon, descends into Alzheimer’s dementia, suffers a broken hip, and passes away. Her mother’s health also fails via a stroke and severe dehydration. Houle portrays caregivers and doctors and describes ER visits, hospital stays, and longterm-care facilities. Between her chronicles are succinct commentaries by geriatrician Eckstrom, who addresses problems affecting seniors, including transitioning from home to a medical facility, dementia, falls, delirium, and polypharmacy (too many medications). In another 15 years, about 20 percent of Americans will be older than 65. This book offers worthwhile advice and support for those who care about their aging parents and find themselves providing care for them, too.Tony Miksanek, Booklist —Wednesday, July 01, 2015 Chicago, IL
When my daughter, literary agent Susan Cohen, recently sent me an advance copy of a book she represents, I was surprised, because in her 35-year career she had never done that before. When I started to read The Gift of Caring: Saving Our Parents from the Perils of Modern Healthcare by Marcy Cottrell Houle, MS, and Elizabeth Eckstrom MD and MPH, I understood why she wanted me to read it.
This beautifully written book, coauthored by an award-winning writer from a medical family and a geriatrician, has something for all of us, whether we are a family member, caregiver, patient, older adult or health care professional. It describes the medical history of an older couple cared for by their loving daughter over a 14 year period as they go through home care, hospital and nursing home stays, doctor’s visits, caregiver errors, dementia and more. Descriptive narrative chapters alternate with brief and useful chapters by a geriatric internist intent on educating us and helping us to navigate the ever-changing and complex health care realities today.
My personal take on the book is based on many years as a loving caregiver, as a former president of a national support organization for caregivers of the chronically ill, and currently as an old lady with health care experiences of my own. I loved the book. I learned so much. It not only confirmed what I knew, but also helped me acquire new information, new insights and new coping skills.
Rachelle Bernacki, an associate of Atul Gawande and a professor at Harvard Medical School, was so thrilled with the book she tweeted over 1000 of her followers urging them to read it. Jenny Chin Hansen, a former CEO of the American Geriatric Society and past president of AARP said in her foreword: “This is a unique form of riveting narrative that gives us, as members of the general public a useable medical understanding and practical tips that will help us anticipate, appreciate and prepare for a more effective journey as we approach the universal care-providing experience we will all encounter — whether with our loved ones or when we ourselves will some day be given care.”
Please read this book and pass it on to others. You will not regret it.Lilly Cohen