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Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos into Confidence

4.1  ·  Rating details ·  197 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
“One of those rare books that can drastically lighten even the heaviest of loads.”
—Rosalynn Carter


“Trust me: there is no better guide to caregiving.”
 —Bill Moyers


Gail Sheehy, author of the groundbreaking Passages—which was a New York Times bestseller for more than three years—now brings us Passages in Caregiving. In this essential guide, the acclaimed expert on the now a
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published April 20th 2010 by William Morrow (first published 2010)
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Apr 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, aging
Forget "It" and "Intensity" and "Rosemary's Baby and every other horror story that has ever kept me awake at night. I am sure Gail Sheehy did not mean to do this -- but Passages in Caregiving disturbed me to my core. This is not the author's fault. She seems to be quite a compassionate, competent, strong and organized person. I know that she intended for the resources and information she provides in this book to be an aide and comfort to shell shocked family members who are wandering our Byzanti ...more
Jul 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The woman gets it. It isn't all that surprising since she lived the life of a long term caregiver with all of its ups and downs and with its isolation.

Yes, even a famous author can experience the isolation.

I had a very strange experience with this book since I was living the same conditions as I read the book. I got to the sections about the crisis when you realize there is no way to win, which Sheehy calls the center of the labyrinth just as I got to that center while sitting next to my husband
Dec 14, 2010 added it
This wasn't that good, which I kind of knew from the start. There was some helpful stuff about coping with sudden changes in your life and the lives of the people you love, but it can from a very privileged space, with no voices of those being cared for. I felt like large parts of it were conscending, reinforced ableism, and assumed a lot of wealth and other privilege of those doing the caregiving.

But it was useful for me to read; to disagree with it, and to figure out what is important to me wh
May 04, 2014 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Folks who weren't bothered by the class privilege of Joan Didion's Year of Magical Thinking
This book should probably be called "Passages in caregiving for exceedingly well-connected and wealthy people, plus some advice on all the neat things you can buy to help you if you have money" It is chock-full of information on how to conduct a bi-coastal marriage when one of the partners is dying of cancer, how to deal with the heart-break of needing to sell your SECOND house when one of you needs around-the-clock care, how poignant it is when scores of grateful writers and students stream to ...more
Artemis Nitzband
Jun 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
I prospered emotionally from reading this book. I am currently in the midst of caring for my mother and immersed in much of the same turmoil and chaos that Sheehy illustrates. By identifying these issues and finding that I am not alone in my conflicting feelings was extremely enlightening.

This book also was worth it's weight in gold for the simple reason of passing on these 2 words...UNSAFE DISCHARGE. Sheehy exposes the issue of patients discharged from hospitals that ethically, legally and cli
Oct 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A must-read for anyone who is currently a caregiver or who can reasonably expect to become one in the future. It tells the story of Gail Sheehy's own caregiving for her husband for around 20 years, but it also tells many other stories of caregiving and of how individuals or families found ways to share the responsibilities. It describes resources that are available in many communities, as well as online. Most of all, it gives caregivers permission to take care of themselves as well as their care ...more
Feb 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Sheehy kept journals during the 17 years her husband needed care. They were a busy couple, keeping residences in Berkeley (his job), N.Y.C. (her job), eastern Long Island (family get-away) and she commuted cross country as needed. She gives a straightforward account of emotions, solutions, searching for care, warning what insurance and Medicare will and will not pay for, palliative care when Hospice is not yet an option. I gave this four stars because I was a caregiver and needed her message "tu ...more
May 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I have not made my way completely through this book. That said, it is clear that this is one highly useful book in the world of caregiving and all that this entails. Chock full of pragmatic and specific advice for the act of caregiving, but also full of empathy about the changed lives of caregivers. This is one of those books people will consult when they find themselves in the middle of a crisis.
Jul 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A definite must read if you know of anyone who is currently a caretaker, will be yourself a possible caretaker for a family member in the future, and/or may have to provide services to someone who has or needs a caretaker. Gail goes through the caretaker stages when providing care for someone with a illness, dementia, or Alzheimer. Very informative with suggestions and resources.
Oct 09, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is about Gail Sheehy's life of being a caregiver for her husband and also stories from other caregivers. Great reference book, as she has given many agencies and their phone numbers for people that don't know where to begin.
Lynn Tolson
Oct 01, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: caregivers
Shelves: psychology, sociology
Review of Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos into Confidence by Gail Sheehy

Gail Sheehy is a writer who became well-known with her books Passages and Hillary’s Choice, a biography of Hillary Clinton. Sheehy built her career as a literary journalist.

In Passages in Caregiving, Sheehy uses her journalistic style to report on eight stages of caregiving, which she calls “Turnings.” The stages range from “shock and mobilization” to “the long goodbye.” Sheehy offers strategies for solving the problem
Aug 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
HELP WANTED! Untrained family member or friend to act as advocate, researcher, care manager,and emotional support for a parent or spouse,sibling or friend,who has been diagnosed with a serious illness or chronic disability. Duties: Make medical decisions, negotiate with insurance companies or Medicare; pay bills; legal work; personal care and entertainment in hospital and rehab. Aftercare at home: Substitute for skilled nurse if injections, IV, oxygen, wound care or tube feedings are required. L ...more
Jan 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
No one really expects it, but at some time or another, just about everyone has been—or will be—responsible for giving care, for a sustained period, to someone close to them. Gail Sheehy, who has chronicled every major turning point for twentieth-century Americans, as well as reported on everything from politics to sexuality, knows firsthand the trials, fears, and rare joys of caregiving. In Passages in Caregiving, she takes you by the hand and shows you that you will get through this, and you wi ...more
Nancy Kennedy
Feb 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
I truly think that you cannot grapple with the issues of caregiving until it becomes your role. I am not in that place, though I can see the day coming. I am sure that I will return to this book when I need the help and support -- and practical advice -- it offers.

Whatever book I read, I find that I take away at least one useful or memorable bit of information. In this Passages book, I was riveted by the chapter on the beneficial effect that creating art can have on dementia patients. I had neve
Aug 13, 2012 rated it liked it
I've read several of Gail Sheehy's books, and once again, she does not disappoint. I took copious notes because there was so much to learn and I'm sure I will need it for future reference. She covers it all, the medical, the personal struggle, the financial struggle, and facing the final outcome. This is such an important book to read while we debate what our health care system should look like, and how we, as a society, should set as our priorities. Her story gives a face to the statistics that ...more
Nov 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book is a MUST read for anyone who is the role of caregiver, whether it is taking care of an elderly parent, a child or a spouse. Sheehy offers concrete advice recommending coping strategies, agencies, and ways to get through some very difficult times. She is incredibly open about her own experience caring for her husband as he goes through 4 battles with cancer. I felt my roller coast emptions mirrored her experience as I go through a similar episode of life.
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: general
This has got to be one of the most comprehensive Guides in caregiving. At page 50, I had written so many notes, that I closed the book, went to Costco, and bought myself a copy returning the one I had from the library. A must have for anyone caring for a parent or love one as it will guide you thru every step of the way; and this is coming from a caregiving pro. I guess you can teach old dogs new tricks. Buy the book!
Aug 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
As everyone will find themselves as caregiver to a parent or spouse at some point, this book is a comprehensive guide to every stage that can occur. Presented thru her own personal experience as caregiver to her husband, Gail Sheehy provides learnings, insights, advice on how to work around and thru sytems and an amazing list of resources for both patient and caregiver. A guide every mid-life individual should own.
Apr 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Great book! A must read for anyone who is or even thinks they will be a caregiver. It's a little depressing realizing how much work and how many walls you will probably run into being a caregiver. But she does provide a great number of resources and help for those who are in various situations. Thanks! I will hold on to this book as I anticipate I will be using it..
Nov 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Really hit home. Full of anecdotes, including her personal situation with her husband, that can help anyone identify with their own life situations. And there are also great strategies for dealing with the various passages or phases of caregiving. I'll keep it on hand for when I might need it for the next passage.
Oct 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this boook when it first came out in 1976. I was 30 and going through a divorce. I read it again when going through a "hard patch" in my life in the mid '80s. Anid I dragged out recently for reference when writing my own memoir. The pages in my book are turning yellow, but the themes of the book are still revelent today.
Jun 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Full of wonderful caregiver help that I learned the hard way, through experience. This is a book anyone with a parent needs to have ready on their bookshelf. In fact, read it while you are young so you'll be better prepared to pick up the heavy load once it's yours.
Beez Beasley
Oct 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Very helpful for a family dealing with a family member with altzeimers or dementia. It helps to know that others have gone through the same journey....and that we all just try to do the very best we can for those that we love
Jul 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
the right book at the right time........ full of great information and insight about the caregiver's needs. recommended to my mom, too.....
Mar 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is a must for any caregiver or family supporting a caregiver.
Kira Wizner
Jul 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is an important read that helps you see all the facets of the role of caregiver, family, etc. She gives concrete ideas and examples that show how common most reactions are, from all sides.
Eileen Ricker
Oct 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Loved the book, especially as I'm dealing with care taking for my parents. She tells you the story of her care for her husband while she's sharing resources. It is so well written and helpful.
Oct 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommend this book to anyone caring for another person or persons.
Jun 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Very helpful; full of references. Sheehy sees the world in stages; that seems a little contrived here, but her story is compelling
and her insights valuable.
Jul 13, 2010 rated it really liked it

Everyone should read this book unless they, and everyone they know, are planning to live forever and never need assistance.
Great book!
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Gail Sheehy is an American writer and lecturer, most notable for her books on life and the life cycle. She is also a contributor to the magazine Vanity Fair.

Her fifth book, Passages, has been called "a road map of adult life". Several of her books continue the theme of passages through life's stages, including menopause and what she calls "Second Adulthood", including Pathfinders, Spirit of Surviv
More about Gail Sheehy...