#Review: The Essential Family Guide to Caring for Older People by Deborah Stone @DeborahStone_ @maturethinking1 @BloomsburyBooks @LoveBooksGroup

By | November 20, 2019

Something a little different today. When Kelly at Love Books Group Tours invited me to join the blog tour for The Essential Family Guide to Caring for Older People by Deborah Stone – published by Green Tree (Bloomsbury) on 14th November, available for kindle, in paperback and as an audiobook – I really wanted to take a closer look. Many of you will know that caring has been a major part of my life – specifically the care needs of my almost 94-year old mother with vascular dementia – for a few years now. Having thrashed around in the dark in the early days, I was eager to find out whether this book might be a useful resource for others embarking on a similar journey. I’ve also become a rather older person myself, and have recently been putting my own affairs in order – the advance directive, the power of attorney, the will, the financial planning – so it also provided me with a welcome opportunity to see if there was anything I might have forgotten…

No one wants to think about getting older. It’s true. At any age, when things are moving along normally day to day and everyone seems fit and well, there seems no reason to think about future problems that your friends and relatives might (and probably will) come across as they age. In fact, it might even seem a little morbid to think such thoughts, or possibly even tempting fate?

Yet there will come a time when you must raise these issues and, ideally, this should be before any problems arise. The Essential Family Guide to Caring for Older People is the ultimate source of information and help for families with care responsibilities. Deborah Stone draws on her extensive experience working in elder care to offer practical advice on every aspect of the field indepth.

Topics range from how to get help immediately, legal information, care funding options, a guide to useful technology and advice on the main physical and mental health issues that affect older people. Plus guidance is given on dealing with social services and ensuring you choose the right care for your situations. Crucially, the book also offers help on how to cope as a carer with practical advice on juggling family, work and your caring responsibilities while looking after yourself.

I really liked this book – it’s practical, it’s realistic both about what’s available and the hurdles along the way, and it presents a vast amount of usable information in a digestible and accessible format. I liked the way that information was organised: the first chapter, “What to do if you need help NOW” provides a quick gallop through the content, full of links to more in-depth information and relevant websites, and there’s also a comprehensive alphabetical index at the back of the book. I read the book from cover to cover, which others are unlikely to do – and the book really is designed as a resource for carers to dip into for key information.

The tone and voice of the author was spot-on – there’s a particular empathy with the carer and their need for personal support (and where to get it), the occasional anecdote (personal experience, and that of others), and an acknowledgement of the fact that some aspects will be difficult. Fair to say, I think, that there’s nothing particularly new here – all the information included is available via the plethora of websites out there targeted at the elderly and their carers, but this book would certainly make finding it rather less of an uphill struggle.

Do I have a criticism? I do think it maybe includes a tad too much information, particularly the substantial section covering health issues – but my perception of its usefulness might well have been influenced by my cover-to-cover reading. I also wondered about some of the detail included, and how quickly it might change: although perhaps not such an issue for the kindle version with its potential for updating, I did notice that my advance reading copy included benefit rates (Attendance Allowance) that were already out-of-date, and there was also information about the now largely defunct free TV licence.

But I’m happy to recommend this book, particularly to those with less established caring experience. Over the years, I’ve found the information I’ve needed through many hours of searching the internet, comparing sources of information, discussing issues in chat rooms and groups: anything that makes that quest rather easier, and holds your hand along the way, can only be commended.

A clear, simple guide to a very complex process. All aspects of supporting older people are to be found in this incredibly comprehensive and useful publication. (Professor Martin Green OBE Chief Executive: Care England Chair: The International Longevity Centre-UK)

As someone who has worked professionally in the arena of adult social care for over 25 years and more recently had to deal with the need for care for a close relative, this book is a timely and very useful reminder of the do’s and don’ts in dealing with increasing frailty and the need for a care home. This book is extremely helpful in guiding people through what can seem a maze of bureaucracy, at the same time not forgetting the personal aspects. (Simon Morris, former CEO of Jewish Care)

There has never been a more important time for a clear and concise guide like this – the care system can be a confusing (and sometimes perilous) maze, and families need to be well prepared and know all their options if they are going to make the right decisions for their loved ones. (Tony Watts, Director EngAgeNet)

About the author

Deborah Stone read English Literature at Durham University. She lives in North London with her husband, two sons and her dog.

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