Not everyone is born a natural caregiver.
One moment, digital journalist Joy Johnston is a cynical workaholic with an underwater mortgage. The next moment, she faces the responsibility of caring for her eccentric mother who's battling colon cancer, just six months after her father's death from Alzheimer's. As an only child, she has no choice but to slap on the latex gloves, and get to know more about her mother — and herself — than she ever imagined possible.
The road from reluctance to resilience is bumpy and splattered with bodily fluids, but it also offers unforgettable lessons. Who knew you could learn how to change a colostomy bag on YouTube, or that hospice nurses like telling dirty jokes? Peppered with snarky humor, vivid observations, and poignant honesty, this essay collection will resonate with anyone drafted into a family health crisis.
Plot: This memoir features a familiar storyline—but one that is well plotted and well paced. The material is handled with an empathy that allows readers to relate to the story and characters.
Prose: The prose invites readers to experience the story as if the author were a close friend. The style allows readres to feel the author's conflicts and fears.
Originality: Despite a familiar storyline, this memoir feels original and vivid. The author has a strong voice, and she tells her tale in a way that readers will trust.
Character Development: The central character in this memoir is skillfully developed. The author has enough distance from the material to allow for strong character development.
Date Submitted: April 02, 2018
Many elderly people suffer from illnesses, but when the debilitating disease of Alzheimer's or dementia kicks in, the conversation changes. In The Reluctant Caregiver: Missives from the Caregiving Minefields by Joy K Johnston, you will read the raw and gritty account of the author's journey in taking care of her dad during his walk with Alzheimer's. Joy notes the mixed emotions of seeing a parent go through Alzheimer's from a caregiver's perspective. Joy not only touches on the caregiving process, but how she began to view her dad in a different light due to his inability to take care of himself. Joy experienced the frustrations, sadness, happiness and joy of being an only child, which created the lonely road to becoming the sole caregiver for her parents. The experiences that Joy encountered - her mother later battled cancer – have enabled her to understand the difficulty that a caregiver will endure. Joy provides nine tips to help others to navigate through the caregiving process, tips that not only provide insight but inspiration in knowing that you're not alone.
Dealing with an elderly loved one is difficult, but to see your parents become helpless, and working to navigate the balance between caregiver and child, can become extremely challenging. In my family, each of my six aunts either has died from or is living with the complications of Alzheimer's. Watching my cousins make the adjustments necessary to care for them can be so challenging. I commend Joy for writing such a transparent book about what to expect when and if one is faced with this task of helping their loved one living with dementia or Alzheimer's. It is important to understand everything about what your role is, whether you have your loved one housed in a nursing home or allow them to remain in their own home and hire nursing staff; your involvement and life will never be the same. If you truly want to understand how caregiving can affect your life, and what you would need to help create a balance, this book is a must-read.
With an open heart and a sharp sense of humor, award-winning writer Joy Johnston chronicles both the reward and the heartache of caring for her parents in their last days in The Reluctant Caregiver.
Suffering through back to back hardship, Johnston’s father passed first from Alzheimer’s, and not long afterward, her mother developed colon cancer. Johnston lived with her mother for lengthy periods in the early stages of her cancer, coming back when death was imminent. Seeing these two strong people endure their final days was inspiring, harrowing and poignant, and Johnston eloquently expresses their strength of character, while also conveying the tremendous difficulty of taking care of a sick loved one.
As her mother’s health deteriorated, Johnston learned more about colostomy bags and vomit than she ever wanted to; she also learned to advocate for her parents, often expressing her frustration that more could not be done for them. Her book, while spiked with sardonic humor, exudes her sincere determination to offer her parents her unselfish attention, even losing career opportunities and going into debt to do so, and provides valuable information about what caregiving entails.
The Reluctant Caregiver offers a realistic and humorous look at the challenges of dealing with a family health crisis, while inspiring readers to consider taking on the difficult but ultimately gratifying job of caregiver.