Doing the Right Thing: Taking Care of Your Elderly Parents Even if They Didn’t Take Care of You combines my personal experience caring for my elderly mother and interviews with 50 caregivers in New York, Connecticut and Ohio.
With so many of our parents living so long, middle-aged caregiving can last into our old age. Seventy year olds are caring for their 90 year-old parents. In addition to all of the practical difficulties that middle-aged caregivers face, often the most painful part of caregiving is the re-emergence of feelings from our childhood that seem to erupt inappropriately and make us feel out of control. The past intrudes in our experience of today.
Many social workers and counselors who work with caregivers tell them not to think about the past—just deal with today. However, I believe we must think about the past to deal with the conflicts we feel and in order to do the psychological work necessary when confronted with this awesome burden.