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Counsel | Beth Witrogen McLeodhorizontal rule

photo of Beth Witrogen McLeod

Beth Witrogen McLeod is an author, journalist, speaker and consultant on caregiving and end-of-life issues. She is a double Pulitzer Prize nominee, and has won many national and regional awards for her work. She has written for Good Housekeeping, SELF, Family Circle, and The Wall Street Journal, among others. Her latest book is Caregiving: The Spiritual Journey of Love, Loss, and Renewal (Wiley, 1999.

Five tips for emotional wellness for caregivers

1) Realize that you don't have to be all things to all people. You can say no and set limits without putting your loved one out of your heart. Realize that asking for help is a sign of courage and caring, not of weakness and inability.

2) Remember that you have a right to your own life. Giving your all doesn't mean giving up your own health and well-being. Take care of yourself with proper exercise and nutrition and some semblance of a social life.

3) Don't worry about what society, or even other family members and friends, think of you or how you are doing. Only you know in your heart that you are doing everything you can. Your best is good enough and you need to take heart in knowing that no one else has the right to judge you or make you feel guilty.

4) Keep a positive attitude; don't worry about "getting your life back." This is your life now, and it is important to stay in the present time. When you can focus on the good you are doing, then you can remember that caregiving is about giving care. It is not about fear, but the mandates of the heart.

5) Remember that you have a choice whether to see yourself as a victim or as taking responsibility for difficult decisions and situations. Caregiving is not always easy, but through your acts of love you will develop courage, compassion, patience and a strong sense of moral and spiritual values. These are your new inner strengths as caregiving becomes a midlife rite of passage, part of a natural cycle of life, rather than a midlife crisis.


Beth Witrogen McLeod's Recommended Reading

McLeod, Beth Witrogen. "Caregiving: The Spiritual Journey of Love, Loss, and Renewal"
Wiley & Sons, 1999.
This book explores caregiving as a midlife rite of passage, offering support, hope, inspiration and courage through personal stories and sacred literature.

McLeod, Beth Witrogen. "The Caregivers"
A seven-part series for the San Francisco Examiner, April 2-9, 1995

Warner, Mark. "The Complete Guide to Alzheimer's-Proofing Your Home"
Purdue University Press, 1998.
This is a comprehensive guide to making a home safe for people with dementia, with extensive explanations of the disease and how caregivers can ensure quality of life.


Recommended Resources


Administration on Aging
330 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20201
(202) 619-0724
Directory of aging sites
This site offers a comprehensive set of links to other aging sites and resources for elder care and is an excellent portal to long-term care.

601 E St., NW
Washington, DC 20049
(800) 424-3410
This site offers a wealth of practical information (brochures, surveys) and support chats and message boards.

American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging
901 E St., NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20004-2011
(202) 783-2242
This is one of the best sites for information about home health care and long-term care service providers.

National Association of Area Agencies on Aging
Eldercare Locator
(800) 677-1116
This site is the headquarters for referral to every county's local office on aging, which is a clearinghouse of resources, agencies, and programs and services for seniors.

Web Resources

ElderCare Online
A wonderful resource for supportive information, chats, newsletter, and articles.

One of the most comprehensive sites for practical information about housing, legal and financial matters, and caregiving.

Resource Center Library on Aging
University of California-Berkeley
An immensely resourceful site for information (products, education, Web sites) relating to aging, elder care, and long-term care.
A useful site for aging information, and housing and financial resources for family caregivers.

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