Janice’s Review Blog

Memoir shares aspects of caregiving

Posted on: July 5, 2009

"Mothering Mother" reveals aspects of caregiving.

"Mothering Mother" reveals aspects of caregiving.

Carol D. O’Dell writes a compellingly honest memoir, “Mothering Mother,” about caring for her adoptive mother, Noveline DeVault.  She uses humor and love and breaks sections into bite-sized pieces so unlike her, readers can walk away when things get to tough to handle.  Her method of sharing the ups and downs of caring for an elder parent stricken with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s highlights what caregivers might expect if they choose to keep their relative with them through their illnesses and how they can cope with situations.

The book shows how O’Dell’s family works together to provide the support and care for O’Dell and DeVault.  O’Dell and her family sacrifice time together, but O’Dell sticks with her commitment to keep her mother out of a nursing home even when the youngest of her three daughters becomes very ill, and O’Dell blames herself for not catching the signs of illness earlier.  O’Dell’s husband builds an apartment onto their new home, so that DeVault feels close to the family, but still has privacy.

O’Dell’s mother shows her cantankerous side when she insists on doing things her way or she speaks her mind sometimes embarrassing O’Dell with her tactless honesty.  She finds ways to get attention even in the middle of the night when she makes enough noise to wake the entire house.  She also uses the telephone to call everyone at any hour.  Sometimes she refuses to eat, but her favorite food is Klondike bars.

O’Dell tackles every problem that comes along, some with more patience and grace than others.  She heads for the nearby river when things get too unbearable, but she always returns and takes control.  She voices her opionion on doctors, nurses and hospice care and how sometimes they do more harm than good by upsetting her established routine.  She laments the lack of qualified help and gives thanks for those who help and understand.  O’Dell shares all of her feelings about caring for her mother, good and bad, and the final outcome.   

The book contains an Appendix where caregivers and relatives can find referrals and information.   The Appendix includes  associations and groups on Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other diseases, aging, home care, nursing homes and other forms of aid.

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