A well-loved reading in the Unitarian Universalist hymnbook ends with the words, "All our lives we are in need, and others are in need of us." As adults grow older, some of them need care to navigate the challenges of day-to-day living. While some have professional caregivers, many rely on family members and friends for needed help. Caregiving is a gift of love and compassion to another, but it is also a privilege, giving both the caregiver and the one who receives care a chance to explore unknown territory together. Caregiving requires practical skills as well as physical, emotional, and spiritual resources.
Practical Guidance and Information
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides helpful publications and links to services and information for caregivers.
- Caregiver Action Network provides education, peer support, and resources for family caregivers.
- Caring.com offers resources to help navigate the many aspects of caregiving. The site, which is Massachusetts-based, also provides a comprehensive database of senior housing options in greater Boston.
- "Aging Parents, Adult Children: Who's Stubborn?" by Ami Albenaz, Boston Globe, February 23, 2015, summarizes research on negotiating independence and safety for older adults.
- Creative Connections in Dementia Care by the Rev. Katie Norris and Jennifer A. Brush (2015) provides guidance engaging people with dementia through art projects.
- I Care: A Handbook for Care Partners of People with Dementia by Jennifer Brush and Kerry Mills (2014) provides not only practical information and guidance, but also spiritual and emotional support to help caregivers reframe their work, recognizing it as a partnership with the person with dementia.
- Why Did Grandma Put Her Underwear in the Refrigerator?: An Explanation of Altzheimer's Disease for Children by Max Wallack and Carolyn Given (2013). Read a review of the book by the Rev. Katie Norris (and her son).
- Aging Life Care Association helps families find professional care managers in their area.
- The caregiver statistics offered by the Caregiver Action Network, provide useful information for congregations who are considering growing their ministry to those who are caring for older loved ones.
- Alzheimer's Caregiving Takes a Village, a 2014 UU World article by the Rev. Jade Angelica, offers practical suggestions for how UUs can better serve people with dementia and their loved ones.
- Rev. Esther Hurlburt, a Unitarian Universalist community minister, offers workshops and programs about using Unitarian Universalist practices and values to help navigate the challenges of caregiving. Programs are for congregations and for older adults and their families.
- Healing Moments, a nonprofit focused on Altzheimer's/Dementia education and Advocacy, offers workshops for faith communities about how to address the pastoral needs of individuals with Atzheimer's/Dementia and their caregivers.
- The Sacred Care Project was developed by Bridget Betzer at the Northwest Unitarian Universalist Church, Southfield, MI, as a way to help faith communities support those at the end of life.
Spiritual Support for Caregivers
- Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? (Bloomsbury, 2014), a graphic memoir by New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast, invites the reader to share the funny, sad, tragic, poinient road she travels as she cares for her aging parents through and beyond death. Read the New York Times book review from May 30, 2014.
- Where Two Worlds Touch: A Spiritual Journey Through Alzheimer's Disease, by Jade C. Angelica (Skinner, 2013) offers a spiritual memoir and a pastoral guide for those who love someone with Alzheimer's. Offers advice on preserving connection, self-care, and staying open to the possibility of grace. Read the Tikkun Daily review from Nov. 3, 2014.
- Rev. Katie Norris's blog offers reflections on her time as her mother's carepartner, including this Nov. 6, 2015, post: "You Can Live Well with Lewy Body Dementia: #LivingWellwith LBD"
- Seasons of Caring: Meditations for Altzheimer's and Dementia Caregivers, by ClergyAgainstAltzheimer's Network (2014), is a book of readings by clergy from many different faith traditions. Available as an e-book.
- While Still There is Light: Writings from a Minister Facing Death, by Nancy Shaffer (Skinner, 2013), is a journal of the author's final year. Part journal, part meditative reflection, and fully honest, Shaffer's account of her journey through denial to peaceful acceptance will lend inspiration and courage to those in need, and insight to those who give pastoral care.
- Who Will Remember Me?: A Daughter's Memoir of Grief and Recovery, by Barbara Hamilton-Hollway (Skinner, 2004), captures the author's journey through loss and renewal after the death of her mother. It speaks to the challenges and rewards of caring for an elderly loved one, and reminds us that from loss we can also discover a new beginning.