From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Like the 44 million other Americans caring for an ill or elderly person in their homes, prolific writer Sheehy looked after her late husband Clay Felker while he battled cancer for more than a decade. Having already chronicled almost every stage in baby boomer life (most notably in 1976's Passages), Sheehy offers an empathetic, well-researched guide to an unfamiliar, often scary role to which boomers are being initiated, outlining eight stages of caregiving from "Shock and Mobilization" to "The Long Good-Bye." Along with doctors and nurses, home caregivers have become the backbone of the (admittedly broken) U.S. health-care system, and an increasingly important part of a patient's decision-making team. As such, Sheehy contends, caregivers are in desperate need of knowledge and support, and this resourceful manifesto provides it, including practical steps to take, strategies for each point of care, likely obstacles for both patient and caregiver, and a lucid explanation of what's to come: "My intention is to illuminate the challenges and rewards inherent in the caregiving passage-to identify universal patterns in the chaos and give the journey a form that makes sense." Sheehy achieves her goal ably, providing a steady beacon during a time of great sadness and overwhelming responsibility.
Thrust into the daunting and unexpected role of caregiver when her husband, editor Clay Felker, was diagnosed with cancer, Sheehy was dismayed to find herself lost in the labyrinthine, illogical, and often contradictory world of health care. When second opinions gave way to thirds, and innumerable insurance forms were completed only to have the claims rejected, Sheehy realized she needed answers, assistance, and attitude. For a tenacious reporter like Sheehy, getting answers was second nature but finding competent help and learning how to put things into perspective weren’t as easy. Sheehy reports on her interviews with professionals in traditional and alternative medicine, registered nurses and home health aides, and diverse individuals who also found themselves overwhelmed by caring for an ailing loved one, and she distills the process into eight stages, from the shock of the first diagnosis to the delicacy of saying good-bye, bringing her inimitable, analytical approach to a situation no one wants to face. Supportive and reassuring, Sheehy provides encouraging and practical information for both patient and caregiver in one of the most comprehensive and trustworthy resources a family can ask for when facing one of life’s most disheartening challenges. --Carol Haggas