The Caregiver's Tale: Loss and Renewal in Memoirs of Family Life

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Columbia University Press, 2006 - Medical - 189 pages
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Ann Burack-Weiss explores a rich variety of published memoirs by authors who cared for ill or disabled family members. Contrary to the common belief that caregiving is nothing more than a stressful situation to be endured, memoirs describe a life transforming experience-self-discovery, a reordering of one's priorities, and a changed view of the world. The Caregiver's Tale offers insight and comfort to individuals caring for a loved one and is a valuable resource for all health care professionals.

Identifying common themes, Burack-Weiss describes how the illness career and social meaning of cancer, dementia, HIV/AIDS, mental illness, and chemical dependence affect the caregiving experience. She applies the same method to an examination of family roles: parents caring for ailing children, couples and siblings caring for one another, and adult children caring for aging parents.

Jamaica Kincaid, Sue Miller, Paul Monette, Kenzaburo O , and Philip Roth are among the many authors who share their caregiving stories. Burack-Weiss provides an annotated bibliography of the more than one hundred memoirs and an accompanying chart to help readers locate those of greatest interest to them.

 

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Contents

Part I Care Situations
1
The Flavor of the Name
3
Cancers Gift
12
Everything Crumbles
19
Burden of a Secret
25
Companion Demons
31
Part 2 Care Relationships
39
Spun in Loves Loom
41
The Consummate Act
72
Part 3 The Memoirs
83
Jointly Human
85
Our Inward Journey
88
13 Epilogue
139
The Memoirs by Care Relationship and Care Situation
159
Notes
169
Sources Cited
175

An Unimagined Life
48
She Was My Parents Child and So Was I
58
This Terrible Traffic Regulation
64

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About the author (2006)

Ann Burack-Weiss, DSW is Adjunct Associate Professor at Columbia University's School of Social Work. She also maintains a private practice and is a frequent contributor to The New York Times. She has co-authored three books: First Encounters between Elders and Agencies, Gerontological Social Work Supervision, and Social Work Practice with the Frail Elderly and Their Families.

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