Book Review: The Family Caregivers Collection*

Three books. One writer. I’ve decided to review all three books in this series together as they form a complete care package for anyone who provides full time care to a family member. 

Harriet Hodgson has written about various aspects of providing care within the family. From caregiving to a family member with Altzheimers, to coping with bereavement. When it comes to to writing about being a family caregivers, there is no one better placed to advise, than someone who is already providing that care, and has been doing so for a number of years.

All three of these books deserve a place on any family caregiver’s bookshelf. They are a powerful resource that provide assistance to help deal with most of the issues you’re ever likely to encounter. They also recognise the importance of not losing yourself behind the role you undertake.

Harriet Hodgson | WriteLife Publishing | Paperback & Kindle

   

Book 1: The Family Caregivers Guide

Published: 7 September 2015 | Pages: 170

Family caregiver, it’s a role many people find themselves in without warning, and in most cases without preparation. It’s not always possible and even if you do get a few warning signs, how on earth do you prepare yourself!? The one thing that strikes you when you accept this new challenge, is how little advice is immediately available to you. Or so we have found.  Unless you’re fortunate enough to plug into a resource that is willing to help without wanting to know your financial status first. For us, it’s our local mobility shop, run by a former nurse and her husband, and their guidance and friendship has been invaluable. This book gives you a new ally in Harriet, who acts as your guide through this new world.

Although written from an American perspective, it is still wholly relevant and the services transferable to those we receive her in the UK. The other thing to note, is that the focus is caring for someone with an illness or permanent disability that needs managing, which may not be your situation, but again, it’s still helpful as circumstances can change without warning and it’s better to be prepared. In our instance, an elderly relative with mobility issues. The key thing is that the book is written by someone who actually provides care for a family member. In Harriet’s case, her husband, who is disabled as a result of a series of mini strokes. She knows every aspect of caregiving and she has much to teach. The book doesn’t just deal with day to day issues. It also raises points you may not have considered. For example, being on the ball about ensuring any medication is regularly ordered. Here in the UK, most local chemists will have repeat prescription arrangements with local doctors surgeries, which means they can take over dealing with that side of things for you. Believe me, this is a blessing. She also deals with legal issues, which you may not have considered but may need to make provision for , at some future date. Also, the importance of journaling about your daily caregiving routine and your relatives day to day wellbeing. This is essential in being able to monitor any changes, difficulties and improvements they may be experiencing. It also helps to have the information handy when the doctor or community nurse is due for a visit.

This book isn’t just a guide about how to care for a family member, it’s also a reminder to care for yourself. Its not an easy job. The hours are long and it can be hard going. My day always starts with the jobs I need to do before my caregiving begins, and ends with jobs I need to get done after my caregiving duties are finished. The guide provides a whole section on the ways in which a caregiver can take some time to care for themselves.

  

Book 2: Affirmations for Family Caregivers

Published: 7 October 2015 | Pages: 120

The book is organised by topic. Each of which is split into subtopics dealing with the various issues a caregiver has to deal with on a daily basis. The book is designed to be read in small, bite sized portions, to make it more accessible. Many carers don’t always have enough time to sit and read for much time. All of the affirmations are based on Harriet’s 18 years of experience. Whilst some of the affirmations in the book may not be relevant to your particular situation. All of them will provide the support and encouragement that only another caregiver can give. Some are intended to be goals. Reminders that it’s ok to plan for the future and set yourself targets outside your present daily obligations. Then there’s something of a challenge directed straight to the reader. Have a go at writing a few of your own affirmations. The final chapter focuses on the benefits of writing your own affirmations, and top of the list, is that it helps you to think positively. Think of it as taking time out to practice a little mindful relaxation. The chapter concludes with some hints for writing your own affirmations. 

When you need to take I’ve minutes to relax. This is a really good way to spend that time. It’s also useful to jot down some of your favourite affirmations from the book in your diary or a notebook. Maybe even create an affirmation jar/bowl and write them on pieces of paper. Pick one at random each day and let your mind focus on it throughout your day.  Particularly during those moments that are difficult or stressful.

    

Book 3: A Journal for Family Caregivers 

Published: 15 March 2016 | Pages: 120

This book is essential as its. A more  practical resource that can be used on a daily basis. It’s the caregiver’s private space. As Harriet suggests in the introductory section to the journal. This is something that should be kept where only you can find it. Call it your daily therapy session. 

The journal draws on points made in The Caregivers Guide and uses some of the affirmations in Affirmations for Caregivers, and is possibly one of the most essential pieces of kit any carer could have because it’s your personal manual for caregiving and a stress reliever rolled into one. Now it goes without saying that the best format to use is the physical journal BUT even in digital format, it’s still very useable as a template. Buy a blank notebook and pick a page to use at random. In fact you could use the journal year on year, using the same format but creating your own content.

Each page of the journal has three features. An affirmation for the day, a writing prompt based on the affirmation with a space for you to add your own thoughts, and a blank section marked ‘Action’. This is the important part as you can write whatever you want. A to do list, your shopping list, any issues that may need consideration or action. Whatever seems important at that particular moment. Always write something. Even if it’s just exercising a frustration, as it could relate to something that requires some form of action.

The good thing about the journal, as Harriet points out, is that at the end of th the year, you’ll have a complete record of how far you’ve come, the skills you’ve used/developed, the knowledge you’ve acquired. Each day is a new learning opportunity and this book gives you the chance to write about it. A definite must have.

Source: NetGalley

  

Useful Links:

http://www.thecaregiverspace.org

http://www.carersuk.org

https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/

http://www.alz.org/uk/dementia-alzheimers-uk.asp

http://www.ageuk.org.uk/

http://www.scope.org.uk/

http://www.mencap.org.uk/

http://www.caregivingmadeeasy.com

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