Friday 31 May 2013

From the Moment of Diagnosis - A Book Review of "Designated Caregiver" by Cecelia Salamone

From the Moment of Diagnosis

A Book Review of “Designated Caregiver: Resource Manual forthe Caregiver On Call 24/7” by Cecelia Salamone

Every caregiver or special needs parent can recall in sharp detail the moment of a life-changing diagnosis in the life of their loved one.  Whether it is dementia, cancer or cerebral palsy, a caregiver's life can be considered in two parts:  ‘before’ the diagnosis and ‘after’ the diagnosis. 

When our son Nicholas was about five months old, my husband and I saw the first in a long line of neurologists.  The bearded, rather rotund physician looked at Nick and silently conducted a wordless physical examination.  He turned to us and said, “Your son has clearly suffered a neurological injury.”  I asked him what that meant.  “Cerebral palsy and mental retardation”, he replied.  I blinked, my polite smile frozen on my lips.

I had no caregiver or parenting handbook.  Nicholas was my first child and it was 1988, in the days before internet.  What I had was the phone book – The Yellow Pages.  I started with “A” for Associations and then moved to “S” for Societies.  I was searching for anyone who might help me with information and home support.  I desperately wanted someone to tell me what to do, how to act, and most of all, about my role as the mother of a baby with an uncertain future.  Our family eventually found its way and Nicholas was and continues to be my greatest teacher.  In helping my Mom through her challenges, I use my valuable experience with Nick to find short-cuts in locating the supports she needs to lead a good life.

Today, I want to talk about a guidebook I would have loved in 1988.  It’s called “DesignatedCaregiver: Resource Manual for the Caregiver - On Call 24/7” by Cecelia Salamone.  Recently, I’ve been a little stressed about Nick’s resistance to communication therapy and by my mother’s lease renewal at her senior’s residence.  Reading “The Designated Caregiver” put me at ease – I felt the author almost palpably holding my hand, telling me it’s alright, here is what you need to know….  The book is a large sized paperback and it’s easy to read.   There are worksheets with ample room to make notes as well as multiple mini-narratives to demonstrate caregiving challenges and how to meet them with patience, love and an imperative for self-preservation.

There are many manuals for caregivers on the market.  But I have not seen one like this before; yes, the author uses her own experience as a reference (and there are many lovely family photos), but this book is about the reader and their caregiving experience.   There’s an astonishing amount of detailed and sensitive advice from what to expect when roles reverse between parent and child, to what paperwork will be required at various types of medical appointments.  It is as if Cecelia Salamone remembered EVERYTHING she learned in her years of giving care to her parents and wrote it down as an act of loving solidarity with every other person who lives the caregiving experience. 

Whether you are a caregiver for someone young, or old, ill or infirm, this book will be helpful.  It is an instant classic in the library of caregiver literature and I highly recommend it.

About the Author:
Cecilia Salamone's blog can be found here and her Facebook Caregiving Page here.  The author offers caregiving coaching services for individuals and businesses seeking to empower caregiver-employees.  She has worked with individuals who have disabling conditions by helping to promote independence, address co-dependency and other avenues leading to personal growth and self-advocacy. 

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