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Materials available to help caregivers

Much attention has been paid to those dubbed the “Sandwich Generation:” adults who are caring for both their children and their aging parents. But the reality is that as the American population ages, especially the baby boomers, people of all generations are becoming caregivers. Spouses, siblings, in-laws, children and grandchildren are bearing the burden of the daily care of their loved ones. I was recently invited to speak to a caregivers support group, so I created an extensive list of the materials the Brainerd Public Library owns on the subject, as well as disease specific books and DVDs and reliable online resources. All of the following books and many more are available at the library; a complete list is available at our display.

Caregivers have to make decisions large and small on a daily basis, which can be even more difficult if your loved one is resistant to your help or if there are multiple family members involved in care and finances. Several new books deal with these issues in detail: “Stages of Senior Care: Your Step-By-Step Guide to Making the Best Decisions” by Paul Hogan and Lori Hogan guides you through the options, laying out the pros and cons, and reveals some of the hidden costs associated with in-home care, assisted living and full nursing care centers. Dividing up caregiving responsibilities between adult siblings is never an easy task, even when all the brothers and sisters get along in the first place. Throw in some old hurts and sibling rivalry and things can get really ugly. “They’re Your Parents, Too!: How Siblings Can Survive Their Parents’ Aging Without Driving Each Other Crazy” by Francine Russo leads families through the stages of caring for aging parents, making legal and end-of-life decisions and including everyone in the process, whether they are the daily caregiver or living halfway across the country. “Mom, Dad, Can We Talk?: Insight and Perspectives to Help Us Do What’s Best for Our Aging Parents” by Dick Edwards gives advice for providing your parent assistance while still giving them the space and independence they expect and deserve, and tips for discussing sensitive and emotional subjects successfully.

Memoir continues to be a very popular genre, and those by and about caregivers are no exception. Carol Bradley Bursack collected tales of joy and sorrow in “Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories,” an excellent option for those who don’t have the time or energy to delve into a book-length biography. Novelist Sue Miller is a master of capturing human experience and emotion in beautiful prose. Her memoir “The Story Of My Father” does the same for the account of her years caring for her father while Alzheimer’s disease slowly devoured his mind and body. In “A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents and Ourselves,” Jane Gross winds her story of caring for her own mother with practical advice and support for other caregivers.

Of course, sometimes you just need to escape to another time and place, and the library has a wealth of books, DVDs, magazines and more to whisk you away for a few minutes, at least. Check out our new book display, or ask a librarian for suggestions in your favorite genre.

While the title of the Senior and Homebound Outreach program might make you think that it is only for those who are permanently disabled, it is designed to get library materials to those who cannot regularly visit the library for whatever reason. If you care for a family member and are not able to make it to the library on a regular basis, please give me a call at 829-5574 or email and we can determine what kind of service would work for you. In addition, if you’re a senior who has a difficult time getting around in the upcoming icy winter weather conditions, we can deliver materials to you during just the coldest winter months. I would love to help you continue to read the books you love.

Our early winter event schedule is shaping up quickly, with some great performances and activities for the whole family. On Nov. 29th at 6 p.m., Pequot Lakes residents Tim and Cindy Roggenkamp will present a concert featuring bluegrass, country and gospel-style music, and share the history behind the songs and instruments they play. Join Kent Scheer of Wadena, toy maker extraordinaire, in creating your own toys of another time on Dec. 3. This workshop is aimed at children ages 10 and up, so bring your grandchildren! Call or visit the library for more information or to register. Both of these programs are sponsored in full or part by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

We will have a very special visitor, Santa Claus, for storytime on Dec. 19th at 6:30 p.m. He will read holiday stories and answer questions, so be sure to include us in your holiday celebration plans.

LAUREL HALL is the senior outreach coordinator for Kitchigami Regional Library System.