Published in July 2016, Lori Hedderman’s Remembering Together: A Guidebook For Meaningful Conversations With Your Aging Parents is a must-read to navigate the aging process. This guidebook answers the important questions the adult child encounters while caregiving for an aging parent.
This book is divided into six sections:
Section 1, “An Overview of Caregiving”, will introduce you to terms that are often used in the eldercare industry. Medicare and Medicaid will be discussed, as well as navigating the costs of care for your parent. Places that may be of assistance in finding your parent the appropriate care for your specific situation will also be introduced.
Section 2, “Issues You May Be Facing”, will assist you in evaluating your own needs to avoid burnout. In addition to discussing how to meet your needs as a caregiver, we will cover your past and present relationship with your parent; examine your role in caregiving; discuss sibling issues; living arrangements; and your proximity to your parent’s home. You will also conduct a resource assessment to determine who may be helpful in assisting you with the many aspects of caregiving. The definition of an entourage is “A retinue of attendants, associates, or followers”. Put simply, whom can you call upon for different needs? Who is in your entourage?
Section 3, “Issues Your Parent May Be Facing”, covers fear of dependency, physical limitations, health problems, coping with the deaths of friends and other family members, and fear of mental decline, as well as ways that you can help your parent cope.
Section 4, “Grief in Adults and In Children”, covers both bereavement after a death and anticipatory grief. Anticipatory grief is what you may be feeling as your parent declines in physical and mental health. If your parent is losing his mental faculties, loved ones may be grieving for the lost relationship. Anticipatory grief is a reaction to expected loss. Others who know your parent may also be grieving, including siblings and grandchildren.
Section 5, “Documenting Important Decisions”, discusses several difficult topics that you may need to address with your parent. There are decisions to be made in many areas. You must think through legal and medical decisions, as well as financial considerations. At some point, you may need to discuss end-of-life care and funeral arrangements. As difficult as the whole process may be, it is essential to begin now.
Section 6, “Meaningful Conversations”, is a workbook of activities and ideas to help you to make the best of your remaining time and your relationship with your parent.
Published in February 2011, Lori Hedderman’s Preparing Your Children For Goodbye: A Guidebook for Dying Parents is an easy-to-read guide to end-of-life care that is specifically designed for use by parents of children and teenagers. It will help seriously-ill parents plan their end-of-life care, prepare their children for their death, and record life memories. Because it is tailored to the needs of parents who are dying it is more specific for that purpose than general reviews of end-of-life issues. It uses a workbook format that includes questions to help you consider issues relating to children, as well as more general questions that will help in planning and trigger memories about the past.
The book is divided into three parts:
- End-of-life issues to consider
- How children cope with death
- A Life Review workbook
The book also includes a Bibliography and a list of “Places to Turn To for Help”.
The Life Review process can be used by anyone who is interested in thinking about their own past, even if they do not have children. The process of looking back over your life and thinking about what has mattered most to you is a natural part of facing death. There is a formal discipline called “Life Review” in which people are encouraged to discuss and write down aspects of their past. The workbook puts your life history in perspective and includes sections to capture memories related to your children. You can use the workbook on your own or with someone else. It’s a nice activity for two people to do together using a conversational approach. Conversational life review is helpful with older people who are having memory problems. An adult child can use the conversational method with an elderly parent to help exercise the mind and stimulate interaction. It’s an enjoyable way to reminisce about the past and capture memories.
Hospice volunteers could use the book to do life review with patients who want to reflect on their lives. If someone is too sick to take on a major writing project, a volunteer can ask questions from the workbook to help the person recall anything that they want to have remembered. A volunteer could also work with family members to explain life review ideas and introduce the workbook as something they can use on their own.