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A Caregiver's Review of Chicken Soup For the Soul: Living with Alzheimer's & Other Dementias

Updated on July 2, 2014

I've had many career paths in life but, the most important career (and the one I most identify with) was being my elderly Mom's caregiver for the last 5 years of her life. It was because of that time in our lives that I started my own website - GoodGiftsForSeniorCitizens.com - a website where I hope to include all of the items I found necessary or helpful when caring for the elderly.

On my quest to include new items to my website or get a differing point of view from my own, I frequently buy books about caregiving to see what others have to say. 

So, when I bought Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer's & Other Dementias, I prepared to do just that - read a few stories, get a few ideas, and get back to blogging on the website.

Boy, was I wrong! Although my own mother did not have Alzheimer's or dementia, the 101 stories in this Chicken Soup for the Soul book tell stories almost identical to the path we had walked, sometimes stumbling, sometimes falling, but always picking ourselves up and continuing on. The stories speak of the both the sorrows and the joys of caring for an Alzheimer/dementia patient. 

The stories reinforce what I already knew - that I was a natural caregiver and had figured out a whole lot of stuff on my own when I took on the care of the most wonderful woman I've ever known - my mama, Gertie. There's stories of the despair felt when trying to deal with someone with limited memory. There's wonderful raw emotions felt coming right out of the book and into my own soul. In fact, I had to stop reading periodically to dry the tears. But, they were good tears.

This book also contains some wonderful ideas about how to deal with someone with beginning through advanced Alzheimer's and dementia. 

I recommend this caregiving book for anyone who is caring for another person. It's that good.

Here's a few of my most popular articles about caregiving here on Squidoo.com:

When Death Looms - The Signs and Symptoms Of The End Of Life

Good Gifts For Senior Citizens (the article that spawned my website)

Practical Gifts For Senior Citizens

I took over caring for my then 90 year old Mom on April 4, 2007 when my dear father died. Dad and I had talked many times about how I would step in as the caregiver for whomever was left behind - in looking back, I'm glad that Dad died first as Mom was emotionally stronger and able to go on another 5 years with me right beside (and sometimes, behind pushing) her.

Since I chose not to have children, I really have NO idea how to care for Mom but, as always, she taught me well. She gently guided me and explained what foods she could and couldn't eat and why - hint: don't give the elderly a lot of mayonnaise....

I was smart enough though to invest in a few good books. Here's some of the ones I like the most, including my own caregiving book (first link below).

Senior citizen caregiving 101: Things I wish I'd known
Senior citizen caregiving 101: Things I wish I'd known

This is my and my Mom's own story about the things I wish I'd know when I took over helping her. It's fairly light reading and even has some Gertie-isms sprinkled throughout - out of the mouths of old babes comes some pretty funny stuff.

 
Mayo Clinic Guide Alzheimer's Disease
Mayo Clinic Guide Alzheimer's Disease

The Mayo Clinic is one of the most advanced researchers in the field of Alzheimer's and Dementia. This book is a great guide to dealing with those suffering memory loss.

 
The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementias, and Memory Loss
The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementias, and Memory Loss

Anyone who is a caregiver can relate to the 36-hour day. In my life, that was a 'short' day.

 

Photo Gallery

Click thumbnail to view full-size
My Mom on the left as a young bathing beauty. This was taken in 1933 when she was 17.I trained one of my dogs, Killian, to help me care for Mom. He'd pick up and return anything she dropped and would clean crumbs from her lap.My wonderful brother Mike lives in Arizona but came home to be with me the last month of Mom's life. I can never repay him for the kindness.Mom and Dad were married 65.5 years before he died. They were a love affair from the moment they met until their last kiss.Mom and I made quite a pair. We shared many tears, both sad and happy. She was one of my best friends and I hope I was hers.I am SO grateful that Mom got to meet and love the man I plan to spend the rest of my life with. She told me to 'hold on to him.'
My Mom on the left as a young bathing beauty. This was taken in 1933 when she was 17.
My Mom on the left as a young bathing beauty. This was taken in 1933 when she was 17.
I trained one of my dogs, Killian, to help me care for Mom. He'd pick up and return anything she dropped and would clean crumbs from her lap.
I trained one of my dogs, Killian, to help me care for Mom. He'd pick up and return anything she dropped and would clean crumbs from her lap.
My wonderful brother Mike lives in Arizona but came home to be with me the last month of Mom's life. I can never repay him for the kindness.
My wonderful brother Mike lives in Arizona but came home to be with me the last month of Mom's life. I can never repay him for the kindness.
Mom and Dad were married 65.5 years before he died. They were a love affair from the moment they met until their last kiss.
Mom and Dad were married 65.5 years before he died. They were a love affair from the moment they met until their last kiss.
Mom and I made quite a pair. We shared many tears, both sad and happy. She was one of my best friends and I hope I was hers.
Mom and I made quite a pair. We shared many tears, both sad and happy. She was one of my best friends and I hope I was hers.
I am SO grateful that Mom got to meet and love the man I plan to spend the rest of my life with. She told me to 'hold on to him.'
I am SO grateful that Mom got to meet and love the man I plan to spend the rest of my life with. She told me to 'hold on to him.'

Are you a caregiver? It's sometimes a floundering path, at least it was for me, but, it's a path I would not have missed for anything in the world. Caregiving changed the core of my soul - for the better.

I'd love to hear any comments you may have.

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    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Lovely review! Posting to Alzheimer's and Dementia Squids on FB.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I am not a caregiver, rather I will probably be the one needing the care. I love it when you write about your Mom, because the love you felt for her shines through every word. Excellent review and thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      Ibidii 3 years ago

      My daughter is my caregiver now and for my Mom. I did help my Mom for many years. Great book!

    • Lorelei Cohen profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 3 years ago from Canada

      My mom loved the Chicken Soup series of books. She kept a bible on the table and next to it a collection of Chicken Soup books that she would pick up daily and read passages from. Both gave her inspiration for her day.

    • profile image

      Ruthi 3 years ago

      I have always enjoyed the Chicken Soup books and can understand how this one would reach out and touch your caregiving heart. I applaud your care of your mother. We should all be so lucky in our elder years as to have such compassionate care from our children, or another.