Chances are if that if you have aging parents, you’ll need to learn how to best care for them as their age increases and their needs change.
- With the increasing number of adults living beyond their 70’s, their middle-aged adult children are often left to navigate the challenging role of care provider.
Today, author Iris Waichler talks about her past experience caring for her aging father and the lessons learned and shared in her book Role Reversal, How to Take Care of Yourself and Your Aging Parents.
Was there a pivotal moment when You knew you must write Role Reversal?
Yes. One day I realized that countless people around me had been talking about their struggles around health crisis their parents were having. The recurring theme was they were uncertain about what to do and overwhelmed. I have been a medical social worker for 40 years.
My father was ninety and I quickly noticed something was wrong, his balance and memory were off. I took him to the doctor right away and we learned he had a brain hemorrhage. He had surgery and made a full recovery. It got me thinking that if people knew what to look for they could be proactive and mange care challenges in more productive ways. I decided to use my dad’s story as a springboard to help others.
You have written 2 other books. One of them won multiple awards. How did the process differ when writing this book? What difference was working with a hybrid publisher like She Writes Press?
This book was very challenging because I was writing my father’s life story and the story of
my family. It was very personal. I wanted people to see that sometimes people can appear
ordinary by society standards and do extraordinary things. I also wanted to make sure my
siblings were OK with my sharing our family experience.
I love the hybrid publishing model. It has been a perfect fit for me. She Writes Press offers the expertise of
traditional publishing with high quality design team and distribution options. Brooke Warner,
SWP publisher, is very hands on. She guides her authors through every step of the process. I also
really enjoy the opportunity to share ideas, successes, and resources with my talented colleagues.
You don’t find that in other publishing models.
What chapter was the most challenging to write?
The most difficult chapter for me to write was called “No Mas” which means no more in
Spanish. It is the story of letting go of my father and facing his death. He used to say no mas
when he was eating and didn’t want any more food. He had a swallowing problem because of his medical condition. It was so painful to even think about. I could not begin to write it until a
couple of months after his death.
What are the top 3 tips you share with readers in Role Reversal? What was the most difficult
you to follow as you cared for your father?
One of the most difficult things for people to do is estate planning. Nobody wants to think about
death or talk about it. If you know what your parents wishes are regarding health directives, and
what insurance and assets they have, that information can guide you as a caregiver. I interview an
estate planning expert who shared his recommendations.
A very challenging aspect of caregiving is identifying caregiver roles and sharing responsibilities
with siblings or other family. This can cause so many problems and can dissolve relationships. I
explain how to approach this challenge and to build a support team with family.
As a social worker I am interested in grief, loss, and relationships. This ultimate role reversal
where adult children parent their parents comes with a lot of emotional baggage from the past. I
reveal how these past relationships impact your current caregiver relationship and how to
incorporate this in your caregiver plan.
I am incredibly lucky. My relationships with my father and my siblings were very good. My dad
trusted me. We discussed his wishes about health directives, his financial situation, and he made
me executor and gave me power of attorney. When decisions needed to be made and I had to set
up his care and arrange his funeral, he gave me everything I needed. It was such a gift to me and
my siblings. I didn’t have any of the challenges of those 3 tips.
How can readers best connect with you?
Iris Waichler is the author of Riding the Infertility Roller Coaster: A Guide to Educate and Inspire