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Already Toast: Caregiving and Burnout in America

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  217 ratings  ·  56 reviews
The story of one woman's struggle to care for her seriously ill husband--and a revealing look at the role unpaid family caregivers play in a society that fails to provide them with structural support.

Already Toast shows how all-consuming caregiving can be, how difficult it is to find support, and how the social and literary narratives that have long locked women into provi
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published March 16th 2021 by Beacon Press (first published March 15th 2021)
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Average rating 4.09  · 
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Hannah Spector
Nov 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Disclosure: the author is a friend and I'm a longtime fan of her as a writer and a person.

Caring for a critically ill spouse and caring for newborn babies/small children are two of the bleakest, darkest periods of my life; periods I got through with an enormous improvised network of support. They were isolated, stressful times which are illustrated so deftly here. Kate weaves together her personal narrative of caregiving with the literary and cultural history of caregiving to show how fragile th
May 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
Washington combines her caregiving story with a clarion call for action. I found the beginning slow. As the primary caregiver of my adult son with special needs our “emotional baggage” differs. But the second half gets the 4 stars as the PTS and raw vulnerability and honesty she displays is very appreciated. Washington’s awareness of her privilege (which I share) increases her credibility. She doesn’t shy away from any of the hard stuff. I’m rooting for her and her family. But in our society I h ...more
May 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kate Washington's account of her experience caring for her husband, who contracted a rare cancer, as well as their two children, is a must-read.

Whether you've been a caretaker or know someone who has gone through a similar ordeal, this book is the frank discussion we need to have on what it means to care for others, too often at the expense of our own mental and physical health. Raw, unflinching, heartbreaking and sometimes hilarious, it uses Victorian-era literature to draw some critical paral
Jill Reads
Almost everyone at some point will need to provide care for a sick or dying loved one. And the problem is that so many of us will face burnout in this caregiving role. In the case of Kate Washington, when she googled something about caregiver burnout, she checked enough boxes to determine that she was “already toast.”

Fair warning: this books is a difficult read. Because Kate Washington doesn’t sugarcoat what it’s like to nearly watch her husband die. Then have to lose her identity as a mother, a
Apr 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
There need to be more books about caregiving. Period.

As a social worker with geriatrics, I work alongside informal caregivers daily, often helping their loved ones return home safely. Even without the anticipated boom of elderly population anticipated in the next few decades, it is tough to find any appropriate resources. Those that do exist often cost a pretty penny, or don't service rural areas like the one in which I work.

99.9% of the time, I see the daughter (or even daughter in law) of th
Susan Wright
Nov 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars rounded up. Yes, this is an eye-opening and unflinching account of a successful writer whose husband was diagnosed with a serious case of T-cell lymphoma in 2015 ... and who was thrown unexpectedly into two years of intense caregiving for him. Not only does she cover the details & toll of her husband's illness on her marriage and her family's lives, she also spotlights the issue of unpaid family caregivers who are sacrificing so much of their lives for others ... and yet receive no com ...more
Kim Zarins
Aug 29, 2020 marked it as to-read
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir
Yup, I'm going to read this book! ...more
Dec 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Amazing story. I have no elders or significant other to ever have to care for, so I can't begin to imagine the situation. I do, however, know of four friends who are in this situation with 90 year old mothers and fathers. I pity them as no one can really help them at this time of covid. So isolated in their homes as full time caretakers. I can't even begin to imagine the hell. Most lived alone with the parent for some years and are now trapped. Few outside supports other than visiting nurses and ...more
Apr 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio
When Kate Washington's husband contracts a rare lymphoma, she finds herself thrust into the world of caregiving. Already pressed between being a mom to young children and a freelance writer, the additional burden of caring for her husband's illness is overwhelming: there are medical procedures she's expected to perform without any professional training; there's family to keep updated; there are appointments to drive to and phone calls to make and paperwork to fill out and help to hire. She recog ...more
Lisa Roney
I needed this book and found much of the content helpful and comforting. Kate Washington lays out very clearly what a travesty will befall you should someone in your family become ill, disabled, or aged. She makes a strong argument that as a society we really don't value the traditionally female caregiving role and that our medical world makes family members' lives living hells due to lack of clear information and support. I couldn't agree more with all of those things--it is truly appalling how ...more
Lee Woodruff
Mar 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
What is it about evil and mass murder that fascinates humans? Crime shows and podcasts about evil dominate the ratings. This book piqued my curiosity because I’d never heard of this disaster, one with more lives lost than the Columbine and Sandy Hook school shootings. Schechter forensically recreates the family history and gradual unravelling of mass murderer Andrew Kehoe. In 1927, the residents of Bath, Michigan were proud of their new elementary school. Local farmer and school board treasurer, ...more
❤Marie Gentilcore
I really enjoyed this book about Kate Washington’s experience caring for her husband when he contracted a rare cancer. She had to care for him as well as her two young children. I appreciated her sharing her personal story as well as providing information about care giving and how it is undervalued and doesn’t get enough support. I related to this as my husband was primary, unpaid family care giver for his mom for the last several years of her life. I hope there will be changes made so that care ...more
Apr 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book hit me right in the gut. Having been a caregiver myself, it was an eye opening look into the things that made me say, "THAT WAS ME." Or, "That totally explains what happened." And while I loved her story, and felt a strong connection to it I was more interested in the parts of the book that explain what TO DO about it. So the information around Fureai kippu in Japan, or Federal caregiver leave were enticing, but also I wonder then about the self-employed or those in the gig economy. Yo ...more
Jul 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
I am amazed at how brave this woman is. She tells the truth about her faults. She doesn’t try to hide them. She keeps taking care of her husband even though with help it is still a physical and mental strain. Her relationship with her husband struggles. I hope that eventually their relationship heals as time goes by but I guess I won’t know about that. She helps the reader to perfectly understand how unsupportive the government and America is of care takers. I’ve learned that feminism isn’t the ...more
Apr 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I thought the book did an admirable job of weaving the author and her family's personal experiences in with a thoughtful treatise on the abysmal state of caregiving and support for families and individuals with care needs. Although there were moments of hope offered, both individually and culturally, Washington pulls no punches about how hard all of it is and how much work needs to be done to rectify the situation. In fact, it left me a little depressed!

As an English major, I enjoyed the through
Agnes Chu
Apr 19, 2021 rated it liked it
Alright, I'll admit I skimmed the book heavily. This account of caregiving for her extremely sick husband is told by a freelance journalist, ex-academic and is written like one long thesis. Kate Washington explores interesting themes of caregiver burnout and injustice--women are often the informal caregiver, responsible for more of the "home" tasks and take a backseat to the needs of the patient, while immigrants are often professional caregivers, performing heavy labor and not getting paid much ...more
Jun 15, 2021 rated it it was ok
Kate Washington tells the story of her husband Brad's devastating battle with lymphoma--five years later he is alive but a much different person having been forced to take early retirement and suffering from many lingering after effects. The book is Kate's attempt to also tell the story from her position as Brad's caregiver. She weaves in a lot of facts about medicine and caregiving and interjects the plots of novels where caregiving plays a role. I found these summaries of novels to be annoying ...more
Jun 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, health
This is my favorite kind of nonfiction: a little bit memoir-y/biographical, and a little bit facts. I like seeing what data looks like when an individual wears it. In this case, I really identified with the author and felt so validated by her experiences. I also wept as I understood FOR THE FIRST TIME that caregiver burn out is a systemic problem, not an individual problem. Caregivers are set up to fail in a country and culture that doesn't understand, doesn't care, or doesn't value their labor. ...more
Oct 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Washington's impeccably researched memoir is also a call to action. When her husband became extremely ill with cancer and other ailments, she was forced to give up her life as she knew it and reckon with her new role as a caregiver. Washington details the intense stress she faced as she needed to learn how to be on 24/7 to help her husband live, plus deal with all the other moving parts of her everyday life. She weaves in the most relevant scholarship surrounding this conundrum today, as well as ...more
I received a copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program.

This is a fascinating read!

Part memoir, part information on caregiving in America this is a great book! Washington shares her experience being the caregiver for her husband after his cancer diagnoses. She talks about how she remained responsible for the kids in addition to caring for her husband and her responsibilities beyond his recovery. Washington also talks about the state of caregiving and how it often falls to women, why burn
Nancy Shepherd
Apr 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: adult readers
Recommended to Nancy by: Beacon Press
Shelves: memoir, contemporary
I received a copy of this book free from Beacon Press through Goodreads. It is a firsthand account of what a caregiver goes through in America. While we all probably know someone who is a caregiver for a loved one today, we really have no idea what this really means. I had never thought about the day-to-day routine of one who is caring for a spouse with a life threatening illness. The amount of time needed just to wade through all the paperwork is mind boggling. Add to that the physical toll of ...more
Ann Fisher
Apr 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A scorchingly honest look at the bleak reality of all the caregiving that's been offloaded from health care professionals onto untrained and already busy family members--usually women. That said, though the book is frequently angry, it's never depressing. And though I'm sure there are some people who start to yawn at the very thought of reading a whole book about caregiving, I can assure you that it's never dull, ponderous, or preachy. Washington's own story of having to manage the her husband's ...more
Apr 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Very good book showing the insights of what a caregiver endures/accomplishes/grows/spirals out of control/accepts, changes...the list goes on. Being a caregiver changes you, changes your sick one, and also changes the family and friend’s relationships surrounding you. This has been an honest prose of how hard it is to be a caregiver, and how little our country is set up to help when this type of care is needed. Kudos to Kate for not only bringing this to light for those of us not being in the ca ...more
May 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
First several chapters were very captivating. I liked the raw honesty. I like how she weaves novels and other people's stories into her narrative. I like that she illuminated the contradictions, dilemmas, and self-doubt in care giving. I take her story as a cautious tale of how my life would be if in similar situation. And the stories keeps going, because there is no end to care giving. The part about her changed relationship with her husband is also somewhat alarming. The one thing that I would ...more
3.5 ⭐️ As a caregiver, I can understand the governmental deficits, but knowing the exact statistics is not something I needed to wanted know about. Regardless, I continued to read the numerous statistical facts throughout this book hoping for more depth to the writing.

I appreciated the personal account of the author’s thoughts and feelings she experienced. However, much of the book was an account of her journey as her husband’s caregiver when he was diagnosed with a rare cancer making it more m
Frances Thomas
Oct 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a sobering and all too realistic tale of what it is like to care for an ailing spouse. I'm in a similar, although thankfully less serious, situation. The author had a lot more resources than I do. That helped but by no means made her journey an easy one.

The statistics about how unappreciated and underpaid caregivers are have been written about many times before, but changes are few and agonizingly slow in coming. As we baby boomers get older, this will become an even more urgent issue.

Beverly Hallfrisch
Mar 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir-esque
I did not want to put this book down. I appreciate the brutal honesty of the author; and she doesn't sugarcoat the strain on her marriage. She is up front about her privilege and owns it. But her privilege does not negate the struggle of her situation. With privilege her situation still feels unbearable; it makes it more upsetting to think about the vast number of individuals without financial or social support (and the tragic state of u.s. healthcare system).
I loved all the references, particul
Apr 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars rounded up. Not my normal read... This book was being promoted by the library as a local author.

This memoir can be summed up as: caregiving in the USA is extremely difficult/draining EVEN with lots of resources (family, good health insurance, lots of financial savings, and understanding employers). The author does touch on impacts of caregiving to those without those resources.

I left the book better informed, with ways to help caregivers in my life, but scared of how my life would be
Phyllis Searles
Apr 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I’d give it 10 stars if I could. Everyone should read this book. Until you have lived life and experienced a caregiving situation, you might not understand or accept the tone of her writing. She is on point and honest in her descriptions. But even I can see where she held back. Much of what she and her husband went through is beyond description and yet they came through it. Not sure anyone “survives” this. Very good book and an immensely helpful resource chapter at the end. Read it electronicall ...more
Jun 27, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir
Well..this book felt a lot like a complaining session as opposed to the life of a caregiver. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand the emotional, physical and mental toll it takes to be a caregiver (from personal experience) but listening to the wife, my sympathies were always with the husband who had no control over his cancer or his needs. She seems more annoyed and resentful as opposed to loving. This was her husband …close to dying and yet she was focused almost all about her. It seeme ...more
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“When Brad and I had moved to Sacramento for his job, I had resigned myself to caring for my mom in her declining years. She had moved to Sacramento from my smaller hometown, not far away, after I graduated from high school. I never intended to end up back in Sacramento Valley, but that's where my husband found a tenure-track position. When we relocated, I quit my job as associate food editor at a Bay Area-based magazine, and I was worried I wouldn't be able to find writing work in the smaller Sacramento area.” 0 likes
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