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Vol. 4, No. 2, Summer 1999

Review of the audiocassette "Hardship Into Hope: The Rewards of Caregiving"

Produced by: Connie Goldman Productions

Caregiving for a disabled and dependent person is one of life's experiences that you can't fully understand until you've done it. As a caregiver for elderly parents (twice now), I know it can be stressful, confusing, depressing, exhausting, and frustrating. The 60-minute audiotape "Hardship Into Hope: The Rewards of Caregiving" tells a story that is almost completely different from what we usually read about overburdened caregivers. It focuses on the little joys and deep personal rewards that can be found in a sustained caregiving relationship.

Through personal interviews with 10 caregivers, and in one case, a former caregiver who is now a care receiver, host and producer Connie Goldman elicits people's reflections on what they have learned and how they have been fundamentally changed by being a caregiver. People such as former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, Dana Reeve (wife of actor Christopher Reeve, who suffered paralyzing spinal cord injuries), and several less well-known but equally articulate and valiant people talk about taking care of friends, spouses, and parents (including in-laws) with varying conditions and diseases (including Alzheimer's disease). They all share the feeling that caregiving contributes to personal growth, that there is much to be learned from the experience and from the person being cared for, and that the opportunity to be a caregiver should be cherished as a singular blessing, despite its arduous demands.

One main theme of the tape is that caregivers are critically important and underappreciated in society. Each speaker uses a respectful tone that dignifies the most mundane of activities. Several of those interviewed suggest that the hands-on care of bathing and dressing a loved one can be both humbling and spiritual. Some explained that a caregiver's perception of time slows down, allowing appreciation of the little steps in routine activities, the environment, and the other unexpected rewards of life in the slow lane. Others remind the listener that caregiving ultimately gives priceless time with loved ones, often in their final months.

From my own perspective, the impact of these interviews (collectively) can be very powerful, especially to a caregiver. Those interviewed were at the same time humble and heroic. They provided splendid models of people who coped with life's hardships by acknowledging all of the experience, and by using wisdom and maturity to recognize the gifts of time, intimacy, simplicity, and love that can come to the caregiver of one who is frail or dying. This is a most inspirational tape! Ironically, however, the cassette actually evoked a mixed reaction in me, in that I had recently placed my Dad in a nursing home. My lingering reaction to the tape is a sense of guilt and envy, even loss, at having chosen to miss the opportunity of providing hands-on care myself. I would therefore not recommend this tape for someone who has chosen formal care rather than family care for a loved one, or for someone who is depleted from caregiving and needs respite more than inspiration or reconciliation.

I believe this tape would be very useful to an Extension educator doing caregiver education -- as background and as a trigger for discussion in a group of caregivers. There are some segments, two to five minutes long that could be excerpted for playing aloud to the group. I also believe that Extension educators could loan the tape to appropriate individuals for listening at home. Because caregiving is an intensely individual and sometimes lonely experience, the people on the tape might provide ideas, warm company, and validation on a difficult day. It is important to mention, however, that all the people interviewed for this program are well-educated, with a rather sophisticated vocabulary, abstract ideas, and the luxury of self-examination. The whole tape would therefore be most appropriate for college-educated listeners. On the other hand, the messages are universal and transcend social class, so parts of the tape, played selectively, would be helpful to a wide range of caregivers.

Contact Information:

Title: "Hardship Into Hope: The Rewards of Caregiving"
Author: Connie Goldman Productions
Address: 926 Second Street, Suite 201, Santa Monica, CA 90403,
Phone: (310) 393-6801
E-mail: congoldman@aol.com
Price: $10.00 plus $3.00 postage (discounts for quantity orders)

Reviewed by: Luci Bearon, Ph.D., Adult Development/Aging Specialist, North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, NC State University

A Message from the Associate Editor for Reviews, Dr. Luci Bearon:

If you're like me, you have a stack of ads in your office for books, videos, curricula, and other teaching tools that you might like to buy some day if only you had the time to preview them. The Forum for Family and Consumer Issues (FFCI) is ready to offer a little help. Beginning with this issue, we are launching a new column featuring reviews of resources with potential for use by Extension educators.

If you would like to submit a review for a book, video, curriculum, or other teaching tool that you have used, please send your submission to the Associate Editor for Reviews, Dr. Luci Bearon, North Carolina State University, Campus Box 7605, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-7605. If you have any questions, you may e-mail me at luci_bearon@ncsu.edu or call me at (919) 515-9146. Submit four copies of your review, including one copy that contains a cover sheet with your name, job title, organization, business address, phone number, fax, and e-mail address. Also submit your review either on a 3½ inch disk in WordPerfect or as an e-mail attachment in WordPerfect. Please double space and use a block style (no tabs or indents).

We are looking for reviews of materials expressly designed for use in an Extension curriculum with a public audience, or that have been developed for different purposes but hold promise for use by Extension educators. Although we will focus on materials immediately applicable for teaching, we may on occasion include reviews of important theoretical and research-based materials if they provide solid and digestible background information for curriculum development. Materials reviewed may be on any topic related to the main branches of family and consumer sciences: housing and home furnishings, clothing and textiles, health, food and nutrition, human development, family resource management, or on topics that have clear practical implications for families and consumers. The materials under review must be thoroughly identified, including author, publisher, date of publication, and information on how to obtain a copy of the materials.

If you would like a review of educational materials that you have authored, developed, or published that meet the above criteria, please send the materials for review to me at the address above, postage prepaid. FFCI will not be able to purchase or rent any materials submitted, and they are nonreturnable.

We are also seeking volunteers to review materials. If you would like to review materials for this journal, please send me your name, job title, business address, e-mail address, phone number, fax number, short resume, and one to three topic areas in which you have interest and expertise. Please be as specific as possible, and send this information to my e-mail address above.

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