’The stories in this book made me realise that it is an honor and a privilege to have the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK as more awareness and support is being made available to carers after undergoing a Carers’ Assessment.’
Title: Redefining Aging- A Caregiver’s Guide to Living Your Best Life
Author: Ann Kaiser Stearns
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Book Reviewer: Daisy Chasauka-Maradzika
What was it like?
Reading this book took me back to the days I started my career working as a registered mental health nurse on an older adult inpatient unit for patients with either Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) or dementia. Quality and compassionate person-centred care is my passion; and this book is full of classic real-life examples of what quality looks like to the caregiver and also to the reader. Like any other developed country, UK also has an ageing population and the challenge with that is an increase in the number of carers.
Hence this book beautifully captures the need to continuously raise an awareness of the needs of both the elderly person being cared for and their carers in a safe and compassionate way. Carer stress, which the author touched on is something I witnessed on a daily basis on the wards, highlighting the importance of reassurance and encouraging carers to have their own self-care plans in place which they should adhere to.
The book is rich, well written and organised into easy to follow chapters that incorporate other people’s life stories and experiences. I believe this book will also resonate with the UK population.
What were the highlights?
The powerful use of people’s lived experiences including the author’s own was one of the highlights of this book. Moreover, I could identify with some of the examples the author used to redefine aging including developing a culture of self-reflecting, of building resilience as aging is a natural part of life. Furthermore, the author reiterates that someday someone will also be caring for us and thus poses this pertinent question: so what kind of dependent will I
be in old age? Each chapter with its subsequent stories continuously took me back to my time as a dementia nurse where I witnessed pure stress, fatigue, anxieties and frustrations etched on the faces of carers who came to spend time with their loved ones. This is another highlight by the author that carers are also human; their physical and mental wellbeing is of paramount importance.
Other vital highlights include being aware of one’s own limitations and past experiences including offering the practical tips to someone who assumes the role of a carer to someone who once abused them in the past.
The stories in this book made me realise that it is an honor and a privilege to have the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK as more awareness and support is being made available to carers after undergoing a Carers’ Assessment.
Strengths & weaknesses:
The author’s lived and professional experience around caregiving is the greatest strength of this book. The author gives practical tips regarding compassionate caring and looking after one’s health for as long as possible.
Who should read it?
This book is for anyone who will grow old eventually, caregivers and recipients of care- who still have capacity to read and understand.