I read this delightful and helpful book as a part of my preparations for a support group for caregivers that our church is now sponsoring during this summer and fall. I was well rewarded. It is written by two people with extensive experience with caregiving both personal and professional.
I was impressed by the very first assurances in chapter 1 of the book. “All caregivers have two basic needs: (1) affirmation that their caregiving is not in vain, and (2) reassurance that the lives of those they care for are not being lived in vain” (p. 28). As I began to implement this understanding in my own ministry, I found ready response.
The title of the book is a spiritual gift. It comes from this inspired section. “Caring for those with dementia presents a major challenge to our own faith. It tests whether we can trust that God will take care of us if we are ever in the same situation. It tests whether we can love unselfishly, without asking for any love back for ourselves. It also tests whether we can live lavishly without expecting anything in return, without paying attention to the cost, knowing that no act of love is ever wasted. Any loving action puts love into the world. The deed doesn’t need to be acknowledged in order to be effective” (p. 32).
Another challenging idea in the book is that caregivers need to consider the journey to be of mutual benefit. While much of the giving does go in one direction, if we will look for it, there are blessings for the caregiver as well. There are often things the caregiver can learn from the one being cared for too. The time together is frequently a great gift in itself.
You can tell from just these three paragraphs how encouraging the book is for caregivers. It is not a long book—160 pages of easy-to-read print. But it will be very helpful to the spirit of anyone involved in caregiving. I recommend it highly.