According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, more than 21% of the U.S. population is providing care for an aging family member. Author Patricia Williams was surprised to find herself in this situation when she became a full-time caregiver for both her parents in 2003. A retired dental hygienist, Patricia had a strained relationship with them, complicated by alcoholism and infidelity.
So, it was with grace, acceptance, and a little bit of humor that Patricia uproots her parents and moves them closer to her, fully expecting to say good-bye within months. Instead, this delightful book chronicles the next ten years as the author not only serves as caregiver for her parents, but discovers a rich family history that goes a long ways towards explaining their emotional wounds.
What began as notes to her brother turned into paragraphs, and ultimately While They're Still Here, a book that becomes a sort of tribute to the elderly couple. This poignant memoir is a wonderful example of a caregiving experience, in that it doesn't shy away from the difficult truths. Despite the challenges inherent in her upbringing, the author remained respectful of her parents at all times. The reader can't help but admire the elderly couple as they face one medical crisis after another, or the author as she comes to their aid. By book's end, it is clear that despite the difficulties inherent in caregiving, the author looked at those years as a gift. This book is a must-read for anyone facing a similar situation, but you don't have to have cared for an elderly parent to appreciate this author's journey.
A retired dental hygienist, Patricia Williams lives in Olympia, Washington with her spouse, Katy Murray. She can be reached through her author website.
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