July 1, 2011

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Catholic guidance aids caring for aging parents

Shirley Vogler MeisterThose who have followed my “Faithful Lines” column might recall the years when my sister, Beverley, who is from Belleville, Ill., and I were deeply involved with caregiving for elderly loved ones.

If so, those readers might also remember the agonizing problems that developed when our mother was badly abused while living in a hometown nursing home.

Happily, we found help for Mom in a church-run nursing home that followed Christian rules of conduct and care. A Catholic nun recommended the facility. We knew we had chosen the right place when we took Mom there, and the staff members greeted and hugged Mom.

Some readers also might recall that at the same time, my husband and I, who were caring for his mother in our home, had to find a nursing home in Indianapolis for her because I could not be in two states at the same time and Paul had to work.

The bottom line was that for a long time, Bev and I became advocates for the elderly, even speaking to nursing home staff members.

In July, I will turn 75 and my sister is six years younger. I’m the elder among four siblings. So I naturally wonder about the future for us and for our spouses.

Then I came upon a book that changed my perspective, and would have been a Godsend for Bev and me during our caregiving years.

A Catholic Guide to CARING for your Aging Parent by Monica Dodds is published by Loyola Press in Chicago. Their website is www.loyolabooks.org.

An earlier version of the book, titled Caring for Your Parent: A Guide for Catholics, was published by Our Sunday Visitor Publishing in Huntington, Ind.

Imagine my delight to find a book that would have been a godsend for Bev and me during our caregiving years. I ordered books for our three daughters and will keep my copy. If my sister and I had known about such a book while we were dedicated caregivers, so much turmoil would have been prevented. I can say with great confidence that every family should buy Dodds’ book.

Dodds has worked with older people and their families in Seattle, Wash., for many years. Monica and her husband, Bill, have also written for the Catholic Press for many years. Together, they have written several books, including The Joy of Marriage. Their wonderful comprehensive website is www.YourAgingParent.com.

She is currently the caregiver for her 97-year-old father.

Bill Dodds suggested that I mention in this column the fact that they are making available free copies of The Little Book of Prayers. To order a copy, call 800-392-5646 or send an e-mail to their website address.

How I admire the Dodds for their caregiving advice that helps families lovingly care for their elders!

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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