A Most Reluctant Caregiver relates the personal story of a baby boomer daughter who finds herself caring for her difficult, ailing mother. Having survived a turbulent, roller-coaster relationship with her mother for over 50 years, the author entered her early retirement years consumed with caregiving issues of which she knew little or nothing about. While struggling to provide her mother with the love, care and attention that she needed, the author wrestled constantly with her mother’s extreme mood swings and undiagnosed depression. The author’s experiences provided her with a first-hand glimpse into the world of elderly care, including a look at unwelcome family stressors, advanced directives, medical care, assisted living facilities, physical rehabilitation, and funeral planning. The sale of her parents’ home was particularly painful, as it represented the last vestige of her mother’s independence. In the almost three years in which the author cared for her mother, valuable lessons were learned along the way, and they are included as practical, everyday tips for those who face similar challenges.
Following her retirement from federal service, Susan Mero Shelton was placed in the role as caregiver to her difficult mother in early 2002. A wife, mother, and grandmother, Mrs. SheltonÕs professional education includes a BachelorÕs degree in English and a MasterÕs degree in Human Resources Management, but she found them of little value in her new-found role. As she embarked on her almost 3-year journey, the author chronicled her experiences and translated them into practical, useful lessons for those who find themselves with similar caregiving challenges and responsibilities. Mrs. Shelton lives in Suffolk, Virginia, where she is pursuing a MasterÕs degree in gerontology, and volunteering with Meals on Wheels and the CitizenÕs Committee to Protect the Elderly.