The Caregivers

The Caregivers

A Support Group's Stories of Slow Loss, Courage, and Love

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A moving, intimate, and compassionate book that chronicles the experiences of a group of long-term caregivers and illuminates critical issues of old age, end-of-life care, medical reform, and social policy

In 2010, journalist Nell Lake began sitting in on the weekly meetings of a local hospital’s caregivers support group. Soon members invited her into their lives. For two years, she brought empathy, insight, and an eye for detail to understanding Penny, a fifty-year-old botanist caring for her aging mother; Daniel, a survivor of Nazi Germany who tends his ailing wife; William, whose wife suffers from Alzheimer’s; and others with whom all caregivers will identify.

Witnessing acts of devotion and frustration, lessons in patience and in letting go, Lake illuminates the intimate exchanges of caregiving and carereceiving. Her work considers important and timely social issues with humanity, warmth, and concern: How can we care for the aging, ill, and dying with skill and compassion, even as the costs and labors of care increase? How might the medical profession take into account the needs of caregivers as well as patients? Nell Lake understands that broad policy questions are experienced personally, in the daily, difficult but rewarding lives of caregivers everywhere. The Caregivers is a thoughtful and tenderly reported depiction of the real-life predicaments that evoke these crucial questions.

With more and more people spending their late years ill and frail, and 43 million Americans caring for family members over age fifty, The Caregivers is an important chronicle of a widely shared experience and a public concern. It offers a humane, realistic, and life-affirming portrait of what it means to give and receive love.
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  • Scribner | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451674163 | 
  • February 2014
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Read an Excerpt

The Caregivers PROLOGUE
I remember my grandmother Hildegard—tall, slim-framed, her cardigan and shoes sensible but not quite grandmotherly. She was too stylish for that—wallabies, we called those shoes in the 1970s. In a modernist armchair in her study, listening to NPR, she puffed on a pipe—a pipe! My mother’s mother, Hildegard was elegant, German, unadorned, restrained. She had a wide face, high cheekbones, and a gently aquiline nose. I do not remember her embracing me ever; I don’t remember... see more

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