Feature

Best books ... chosen by Gail Sheehy

Gail Sheehy put a fresh frame around life’s challenges with her international best-seller Passages. Below, she recommends titles for families grappling with the ‘predictable crisis’ that is the subject of her new book

They’re Your Parents, Too! by Francine Russo (Bantam, $26). Russo, a journalist who covered the baby boomer beat for Time, guides adult children of aging parents in how to win crucial help from your siblings instead of letting them drive you toward considering fratricide. Elder Rage by Jacqueline Marcell (Impressive Press, $25). “Jacqueline, you ignorant slut!” is not the sort of greeting one would expect when a daughter visits her father in the hospital—unless one has been a caregiver for a proud parent who has gone cognitively haywire. Marcell offers hilarious relief to anyone coping with parental rebellion, along with solid guidelines for those who are caring for a loved one with dementia.  Always on Call by Carol Levine (Vanderbilt Univ. Press, $25). A tell-it-like-it-is book from a woman who was caregiver to her husband for 17 years. Levine’s gift to caregivers is a brilliant website: Nextstepincare.org. It will guide you through the toughest part of this passage— transitions in care between home, emergency room, hospital, rehab, and back around again.

Share the Care by Cappy Capossela and Sheila Warnock (Fireside, $15). Share the Care is more than a book. It’s a philosophy from two caregivers who looked after a friend with cancer for five years and developed a step-by-step model for empowering friends, neighbors, and co-workers to create and maintain a “caregiving family.” A Family Caregiver Speaks Up: ‘It Doesn’t Have to Be This Hard’ by Suzanne Mintz (Capital Books, $15). The tireless president of the National Family Caregivers Association offers expert advice on how caregivers need to believe in themselves, protect their health, and reach out for help.Walking a Sacred Path by the Rev. Lauren Artress (Riverhead, $14). The outdoor labyrinth at the Rev. Artress’ Grace Cathedral in San Francisco was the inspiration for my book’s thesis—that the caregiver’s journey is like walking a labyrinth. Here, Artress identifies the labyrinth as “the inner map of knowing in women,” and reminds us that its use in healing and rebalancing predates Christianity.

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