Our parents are our primary caregivers from day dot. They bring us into the world, change our (super gross) nappies, stay up with us all night when we refuse to sleep, and teach us how to walk, talk, and find our way in the world. But, when they start to age, we usually find ourselves taking over as their primary caregiver; organising their paperwork, showing them how to use their new iPhone, teaching them the real meaning of LOL and, well, putting plans in place for when their health starts declining. The shift in caregiving can feel strange, but in time you’ll absolutely get used to it.
Here are some of our top reading recommendations – if books are your thing – to help guide you through their ageing process.
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers – 101 Stories of Love, Sacrifice and Bonding – By Joan Lunden
If you haven’t heard of ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ series then which rock have you been hiding under?! First published in 2012 (which feels like aeons ago at this point), these books have become a must-have in every home library. Featuring a collection of 101 stories of love and sacrifice, these books provides practical and emotional resources that’ll help you feel a little more in control as you watch your parents age.
These books are heartwarming. And honestly, even if you aren’t yet close to taking over the role of your parents’ caregiver? It’s still well worth a read, warming you from the inside out. Just like mum’s famous chicken soup. Mmm.
The Beauty of What Remains – By Steve Leder
Written by the senior rabbi of one of the world’s largest synagogues (Wilshire Boulevard Temple, in case you were wondering), Steve Leder shares his own experience with grief as a rabbi. After assisting many families in saying goodbye to their loved ones, Steve grapples with the loss of his own father. Filled to the brim with anecdotes, wicked humour, and a fair share of tear-jerking moments, Steve shares how he learnt to turn loss into something beautiful. This is one worth reading for those who feel a little unprepared and anxious for the future.
We Need To Talk About Mum & Dad – By Jean Kittson
Looking for an easy-to-read, light-hearted book? This one is warm, witty and super practical, and it dives deep into how you can best support your ageing loved ones. Topics covered include: How to protect their health and wellbeing, how to keep them safe and secure (especially when they’re at their most vulnerable), and how you can help enable them to be independent for as long as possible.
Avoiding The Ageing Parenting Trap – By Brian Herd
Your go-to guide when it comes to planning for your ageing parents, this book has been written to help navigate the obstacles that might arise during this time. Think arguments with family members or siblings (*sigh*, we’ve all been there), the aftermath of relationship breakdowns, and managing financial and legal affairs.
A book that tackles the serious stuff, but makes it all a little more palatable.
A Bittersweet Season – By Jane Gross
A memoir, this book details Jane’s experience as she dove head first into the caretaker role of her eighty-five-year-old mother. Facing challenges she never thought she’d have to, and grappling with the neverending costs associated with assisted living facilities, Jane shares the lessons she’s learnt along the way.
Relatable and insightful, we’d recommend adding this one to your to-be-read list, pronto.
While the thought of having to care for your parents as they grow old can feel daunting, take solace in the fact that many of us have been through it all before, too. There are so many resources, books and podcasts out there designed to guide you through the ageing process – so take some time to do some research, and add everything that interests you to your cart. There’s nothing better than a jam-packed home library.
If you're one of the millions of Australians who doesn't yet have a legal Will, take a 15-minute reading break and jump online to write one. Start today at willed.com.au