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What to Do about Mama?: A Guide to Caring for Aging Family Members Paperback – November 25, 2013
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About the Author
Barbara G. Matthews has had a patchwork quilt of professional career experiences. For nearly five years, she served as an Assessor/Care Manager for the Area Agency on Aging of Dauphin County, PA. Her main responsibility was to visit seniors in their homes to administer a comprehensive assessment, which determined their needs and eligibility for services. Matthews then “retired” to become a full-time caregiver when her mother-in-law moved into her home, an experience that motivated her to write this book. Prior to that, Matthews was literacy coordinator for a Jobs Training Partnership Act agency. Over seven years, she was instrumental in building a thriving learning center program, which included Adult Literacy, English as a Second Language, Adult Basic Education, General Educational Development, and Adult High School Diploma programs. She was also a Life Skills Instructor with the Dauphin County Prison for four years. Matthews graduated from Kent State in 1969 with a degree in Elementary Education. She also attended one year of graduate school at Kent State and was a graduate assistant in the sociology department. Her graduate education was cut short, both by the Kent State shootings of May 4, 1970, and her marriage in June of that year. After college, Matthews taught 4th grade for a year, then began raising a family as a full-time homemaker. She returned to full-time employment when her children were in their pre-teen and teen years. The mother of three and grandmother of nine lives in Harrisburg, PA, with her husband of forty-three years.
Barbara Trainin Blank is an independent writer and editor who heads her own company, Blank Page Writing, now based in Maryland. A writer for newspapers, magazines, and web sites, in areas as diverse as the arts, health and medicine, religion, and societal trends, she has contributed to Health, Emergency Medicine, Hadassah, Business2Business, and B magazines, as well as to Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Patriot-News, and Carlisle Sentinel, among others. Trainin Blank also provides editorial services to agencies, businesses, and individuals and has edited several books, including for the U.S. Army War College, an interior designer, nonprofit consultant, and major NYC social service organization. A graduate of Barnard College in New York City, her hometown, she also writes plays, several of which have been presented in several local and regional theaters. Trainin Blank is married and has two children.
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Top Customer Reviews
In What to Do about Mama? we hear about the very different experiences of the co-authors, as well as testimonials from numerous other caregivers:
• Barbara Matthews cared for her mother-in-law in her home for four years. She felt like the warm relationship she’d had with her in-laws deteriorated during the process, due to criticism, second-guessing, and an unwillingness to share the burden to the level expected.
• Barbara Trainin Blank cared for her mother at a distance for about two years. Because her mother had Alzheimer’s, she had to hire full-time aides and manage the caregiving from afar.
• The majority of the testimonials from interviewees dealt with the care of a parent, although some of the people provided care for spouses, children, and other relatives.
• The testimonials covered experiences with home care, long distance care, nursing home and hospice care, as well as assisted living arrangements.
Some of the people had good experiences; for others, caregiving became a nightmare. Some had siblings and other relatives who were supportive; others bore the burden alone. Some families grew closer; others were driven apart. For some, the care period was only for a few months, for others, the arrangement lasted years. But the almost universal consensus was that caregiving is hard and unpredictable. Even those who had previous experience in the medical field and elder care were hit with surprises.
What to Do about Mama? is divided into 10 chapters that discuss different aspects of caregiving. Snippets of the stories, which appear elsewhere in the book in their entirety, are interspersed where appropriate to drive home a point. Each story illustrates an important caregiving theme.
In my mystery novel, Going Home, I only show a small slice of the caregiving experience as the drama unfolds. What to Do about Mama? hits you with the hard reality.
Highly recommended for anyone who might someday assume a caregiving role. Read it before you need it, and then keep it around for reference!
Caregiving itself has a different definition for each individual providing it. It is hard work from what I have read in the book and witnessed myself in interactions with clients and family. While I have children myself, caregiving for an adult is very different. The needs of a child can be more or less than the needs of an adult and much easier to carry/lift a child than an adult! Also, as Barbara pointed out to me, for her an important difference between caregiving for children vs. care giving for older adults is that the first is a hopeful process preparing the child for a good future and the second is a process of trying to make life as comfortable as possible for the aging adult as they proceed toward the end of life.
The book is worth reading and is very comprehensive.
-Victoria Brewster, MSW
I work with professional social workers whose careers are devoted to helping older adults live with independence and dignity. Our case workers work very closely with family members to develop care plans to support their loved ones.
This book contains information and resources that will not only be invaluable to families but also to professional social workers. Barb Matthews and Barbara Trainin Blank have identifed the everyday practical issues caregivers must confront. These include the stress and emotional demands of being a caregiver, the impact this role will have on the remainder of the caregivers family, the financial implications and many other issues that we may not immediately think about when we think of what it means to be a caregiver.
If you are a caregiver or are preparing to become one, or if you are a professional who works with caregivers, this book will give you valuable insights that will help you to better appreciate not only the difficulties caregivers encounter but also the many rewards which far outweigh the burden.