During a ten-year period I helped provide care to three elderly relatives, my parents and my mother-in-law.
Texts that I returned to include:
- Caring for the Parents Who Cared for You: What to Do When an Aging Parent Needs You by Kenneth P. Scileppi.
- Nancy L. Mace and Peter V. Rabins The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementias, and Memory Loss.
- Mark L. Warner, The Complete Guide to Alzheimer's Proofing Your Home.
Extremely helpful is the website of the Alzheimer's Association.
One form of self-care was reading and listening to Jane Austen's novels. Through this, I discovered Margaret Morganroth Gullette's incisive Agewise: Fighting the New Ageism in America. She, too, believes that Mr. Woodhouse suffered from cognitive impairment, but her book also importantly introduced me to a wise critic analyzing the cultural anxieties about aging and how they have structured our discussion of dementia.
I also became a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America where I could indulge my love of her novels with others who are also on a first name basis with her characters. I am a member of the North Texas Regional group.
One of my most consistent resources for self-care was my journal. I have kept a daily journal since 1996. By the first decade of the 21st century, when I needed it as a resource in caregiving, the practice of journaling kept me company through the most demanding of years. Now I see that it contains so much richness from that life, yes it reflects times when I was confused, upset, angry, and scared, but it also contains snippets of conversations with my parents, conversations with my sisters and partner about caregiving, and tracks deep spiritual questing in the midst of crisis. Journaling can happen in the interstices of caregiving, those in-between moments, in which you grab a few minutes for yourself.