“The Caregiving Wife’s Handbook” – coping strategies

This New York Times article is about the new book “The Caregiving Wife’s Handbook” by Dr. Diana Denholm, a psychotherapist who was the caregiver to her husband for over a decade.

The book lists 50 dos and don’ts to make caregiving easier.  The author of the NYT article provides 16 of the 50 at the end of her article.

Here are a few excerpts from the NYT article:

* “It is no surprise when serious illness or severe pain results in feelings of anger, helplessness and depression, all the more so when the illness is terminal and the afflicted person loses his sense of self. After many years as ‘the man of the house,’ the sick husband is once again a child who must be cared for, often by the very person he signed on to protect.”

* “In her book, Dr. Denholm discusses a series of coping strategies that she developed with her husband during his long illness. The most important of these is to adopt communication tools that avoid red flags, accusations and self-pity, and instead “create expectations, agreements and understandings, including some that may involve agreeing to disagree,” she said.”

* “Never start with, ‘’We need to talk.’’ … Always use an ‘”I”’ statement “­I need,’” “‘I want,” “‘’I’d like to’.”

* “One tool Dr. Denholm found to be especially helpful is to create written understandings, some of which may need to be modified as circumstances change. The understandings might involve finances, individual responsibilities or issues to be avoided.”

* “For example, the waitress, whose husband refused to review finances with her, came to realize it was pointless to keep asking. Instead, she ended the screaming and arguing by going to the bank, the Social Security office, the Veterans Affairs office and even the Legal Aid Society to determine her rights regarding what she and her husband owned.”

Here’s a link to the full article:


The Well Blog
Caregiving as a ‘Roller-Coaster Ride From Hell’
The New York Times
By Jane E. Brody, Columnist
April 9, 2012, 3:09 pm