The Caregiving Trap
Book Review: The Caregiving Trap by Pamela D. Wilson
Most people will at some point experience being a caregiver for a loved one or needing one themselves. For how common a part of life it is, it’s not something many of us think much about until it happens – and how it happens tends to be through a process most people don’t see coming.
In The Caregiving Trap, Pamela D. Wilson describes a scenario she’s seen many times in her work with seniors and their caregivers. Parents little by little start to find everyday tasks more difficult and ask their kids for help – one thing at a time – until the overwhelmed kids suddenly realize one day they’re spending as much time taking care of their parents as they are on their own job or kids.
Too often, by the time they realize what’s happened, they’re already suffering from stress and the many negative health effects that come with it – and setting themselves up to need a caregiver themselves earlier than they would have otherwise. It’s a dangerous cycle and one that many families are experiencing because they simply don’t know enough about what to expect from caregiving and what their options are.
It’s not good for the caregiver or the loved one they’re taking care of if the caregiver takes on too much. If their other relationships, their health, and their career start to suffer, the care they offer will suffer as well and resentment is inevitable.
Wilson’s book mixes anecdotes and personal experiences in with advice for handling the caregiving process in a way that works best for everyone. By improving communication, having clearer expectations, and being willing to turn to outside resources like paid caregivers and assisted living homes, the book suggests that much of the vicious cycle that Wilson calls “the caregiving trap” can be avoided.
That’s a very general summary of a book that packs in a lot of detailed advice over nearly 300 pages. Here’s a cursory idea of what the book covers:
- The physical and long-term harm that caregiving can cause if the caregiver takes on too much
- What to expect in terms of costs of care and how to navigate paying for it
- How to prepare early for caregiving issues likely to occur down the line
- Advice for communicating realistically about the requirements and needs of taking care of an ailing loved one
- How to talk to doctors to get the most out of visits and better understand health care needs
- How to ensure that caregiving doesn’t become all about completing tasks, but also includes time for enjoying your relationship with your loved one
- How to recognize the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s and dementia
- Preparing for and handling death when it comes
The reality that most people will need help handling the basic tasks of daily life at some point is an uncomfortable one to address, which leads to a lack of preparation for all involved. This book won’t solve all the problems that arise with caregiving, but it can give people the knowledge they need to tackle those problems more successfully as they arise and have a better idea of where to turn for help when the problems are more than they can handle.
One important thing Wilson does with her anecdotes and personal stories that she urges caregivers to do as well is to not forget the people behind the needs. If you’re not careful, caregiving can turn your relationship with your loved one into a series of tasks that have to be completed, when all along, behind all that work, there’s a person you love and have limited time left with. A willingness to accept help and draw boundaries when it comes to the caregiving you provide can feel selfish in the moment, but it helps preserve the relationship and ensure the time you spend with your loved one in their final years is more meaningful.
Order your copy of The Caregiving Trap today.