Do You Know Anybody Getting Older? Former Caregiver Becomes Book Author - AMA

May 15, 2018

Do you know anybody getting older? Aging is the natural course of life, yet many people are vastly unprepared. Aging brings with it any number of medical conditions which can slow a senior down and result in family members stepping in to provide help and support as a caregiver.

My name is Rick Lauber and I am a former co-caregiver for both my own aging parents (Mom had Parkinson’s disease and Leukemia while Dad had Alzheimer’s disease). Teaming up with my two sisters, I provided help for my parents at various levels: moving them (repeatedly), overseeing their savings and investment accounts, paying their bills, driving them to doctor’s appointments, advocating for them, and serving as Dad’s Alternate Guardian and Trustee.

Watching Mom and Dad decline wasn’t easy. Dad – eventually – forgot me as his only son. Needing a coping mechanism, I turned to writing as something I knew and loved to do. Many of my stories were published in local newspapers and magazines while others remained saved on my computer’s desktop.

Mom and Dad eventually passed away and I continued to write. I knew that I was certainly not the only person alive that was or would be dealing with aging parents and I began to think about writing a book. This thought simmered on the back burner for some time as I wasn’t completely confident that I could find a publisher and/or complete the task.

As things turned out, I did find a publisher; I nervously reached out with my book’s “pitch”. This included a suggested Table of Contents, an analysis of my intended readers, my own reasons for wanting to write this book (and why I would be the best person to do this), my CV, a number of writing samples, professional references, several promotional ideas for marketing the book, and so on. After what seemed like endless reads and rereads, I finally screwed up my courage to send all of this via e-mail.

In due course, the publisher replied with a “Yes, this is what we’re looking for” and a promised contract! I had a publishing lawyer review the contract to ensure that everything was acceptable and then sat down to write. My first book, Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians, began to take shape. A number of months later, this book was published and led to a “sister book” – The Successful Caregiver’s Guide (for American readers).

Since publication of my two books, I have turned from an author to a book promoter and have had many opportunities to showcase them (through booksigning events, media interviews, working with like-minded businesses to sell my books on a consignment basis, writing a regular caregiving column in a local senior’s newspaper, and more).

Whether you’re a prospective, new, or current caregiver or a writer looking for marketing ideas or recommendations on finding a publisher, please ask me anything … I’ll do my best to answer!

Rick Lauber - With Book.jpg

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What were some of your fan interactions that has affected you emotionally?
May 16, 2:51PM EDT0
Did you have some emotional troubles when writing certain parts of your book because of how personal the experience was?
May 16, 7:21AM EDT0

Hello and thanks for your question! Yes, I chose to share my own caregiving story as the first chapter of both of my books. In doing so, I wanted to tell/show my readers that I had walked the walk and could speak from experience. Writing that first chapter was both difficult (for that very reason you stated) and also very therapeutic (as I found a healthy means to release my bottled up emotions). 

May 16, 9:38AM EDT0
Did you receive any rejections before getting accepted by a publisher? Did that discourage you in any way?
May 16, 5:54AM EDT0

I consider myself extremely fortunate as I only had to approach one publisher! It certainly doesn't always happen that way - J. K. Rowling pitched Harry Potter to 12 different publishers before being finally accepted! 

May 16, 9:42AM EDT0
Are there many books on the market about caregiving? What genre would you classify your book as?
May 16, 1:15AM EDT0
What target audience did you have in mind when you were writing your book?
May 16, 12:17AM EDT0

I, typically, explain that my book is for prospective, new, and current caregivers. The majority of caregivers are women (aged 45 - 65, approximately), so I wrote to them. 

May 16, 9:46AM EDT0
What are the differences between the Canadian and American versions of your book?
May 15, 5:44PM EDT0

Hello and thanks for your question! While there are similarities with both my books (caregiving can be much the same no matter which side of the border you live on), the main difference is my chapter on avaiable resources - where caregivers can find help. I also address Canadian and American healthcare systems - two vastly different programs. 

May 15, 5:49PM EDT0
Is there anything that can be done to make the aging process less difficult for families of the aging person?
May 15, 4:34PM EDT0

Hello and thanks for your question! While there is nothing you can do to stop aging, family caregivers can make the process easier by sharing the caregiving responsibilities. Many hands make light work, as they say. 

May 15, 5:04PM EDT0
Do you plan to write more books on the same subject in the future? What kind of books do you intend to write about if any?
May 15, 3:28PM EDT0

Hello and thanks for your question! I remain undecided about authoring further books. There are other "caregiving-related" issues I could explore in more depth; however, writing a book can be very hard and time-consuming work! 

May 15, 3:38PM EDT1
What was the hardest part of watching your parents in their last days of such debilitating diseases?
May 15, 5:23AM EDT0

Hello and thanks for your question! I would say the hardest part of watching my parents dwindle was the gradual loss of both of them as I knew them. Mom was always spunky and full of energy for new projects; however, she came to rely on weekly blood transfusions. Dad reached the point of completely forgetting his life, his career, and his family. Dad always liked to read (or at least carry a book around in his jacket pocket). I noticed him a few times holding his book upside down and still trying to "read'. Without a cure for either Leukemia or Alzheimer's disease, I often felt quite helpless as a caregiver. 

May 15, 10:34AM EDT0
What impact did you book have on the caregiving community?
May 14, 10:12PM EDT0

Hello and thanks for your question! I am flattered to see that my books are becoming the "go-to" resource for many prospective, new, and current caregivers as well as caregiving resources. As an example, I am aware of one local caregiving association which has included a copy of my first book in their own caregiver's library (meaning that they support, believe in, and trust what I have written). I am also meeting more readers of my book who have genuinely thanked me for doing what I have done. 

May 15, 11:16AM EDT0
What are some of cities you went to for your book tour? What was your schedule like?
May 14, 9:05PM EDT0

Hello and thanks for your question! To keep my costs down, I have yet to a cross-country book tour for either of my books! The idea is certainly not completely out of the question though. I do keep quite active continually marketing both titles from home via guesting on blogtalk radio shows, participating in media interviews, and scheduling local booksignings. 

May 15, 10:38AM EDT0
Why didn't you seek outside help for managing the care of your parents?
May 14, 6:50PM EDT0

Hello and thanks for your question! Actually, my sisters and I did reach out for help with our parents - I find that caregivers often try to manage (or think they can manage) everything themselves so requesting - and accepting - help from others is very important. One thing we did was to register Dad in a hospital day program a couple of days per week. This greatly benefitted my mother as she was finding Dad to be much needier and she simply did not have the energy to deal with that. 

May 14, 8:55PM EDT0
Did you feel any kind of resentment when you were dealing with your parents' ailments for such a long time? Did you feel guilt over that?
May 14, 6:37PM EDT0

Hello and thanks for your question! I don't recall feeling overly resentful during my caregiving years - I just did what had to be done for both my parents. I was most resentful after Mom and Died had died and I realized that I never really knew either of them. Both of my parents were quite private and I never quizzed them in greater detail about their own parents, their childhood homes, their ambitions, their preferences and dislikes, and so on. Now that Mom and Dad are gone, so are their stories. There has been personal guilt felt. 

May 15, 10:43AM EDT0
What was your goal when publishing this book?
May 14, 4:30PM EDT0

Hello and thanks for your question! I had several goals: to help others who were preparing to provide care, to help me regain my own life (writing can prove to be very therapeutic), and to see if I could write a book!

May 14, 8:50PM EDT0
What perspective did being a caregiver give you? How has your life changed because of it?
May 14, 3:41PM EDT0

Hello and thanks for your question! Serving as a caregiver for my parents has provided me more focus in my life - knowing what is and what is not important. I also have a much better understanding of what my own capabilities are and believe that without caregiving, I may not have ever written my two books and continue to speak with caregivers at all levels. 

May 15, 11:08AM EDT0
How did you deal with the bad reviews for your book? Did you take it personally because of how deeply personal this book is?
May 14, 3:41PM EDT0

Hello and thanks for your question! If there are bad reviews about my book out there, I (honestly) haven't heard or read them. Most often, I meet people who have sincerely thanked me for my work as it is clearly written (no complicated medical lingo!) and shares many valuable insights. Perhaps of interest, however, were my initial booksigning events where I did - admittedly - feel a bit slighted when no one would stop and talk to me. I've realized, however, that caregiving, aging, increased health complications, and death are not pleasant subjects of conversation and these people simply are not ready to face these realities. 

May 14, 9:08PM EDT0
Did you have any kind of special training to be able to be a helpful caregiver to your parents?
May 14, 2:53PM EDT0

Hello and thanks for your question! Actually, I do not have any special training or even related background experience (i.e. healthcare, banking, social work, law, etc.) to draw from. I find that many caregivers are in the same position. If you are interested in pursuing caregiving work, ask your local colleges and/or universities about related programs. 

May 14, 8:59PM EDT0
Do you have any idea on how much a live-in caregiving service cost for patients with memory issues?
May 14, 11:57AM EDT0

Hello and thanks for your question! The rate of pay would flucuate depending on where a senior lives and what help is required. In Canada, live-in caregivers average in between $20.00 - $30.00/hour (and up to $50.00 - $60.00/hour for higher needs). In the United States, live-in caregivers can expect to earn an average of $2,000/month. There could be a variance in pay between the two countries if you are considering private or professional live-in care (i.e. a company like Nurse Next Door or Home Instead). For more info, check either of these sites: (Canada) and (United States).

May 15, 10:54AM EDT0

What were your sisters' reaction when you told them you were publishing this book?

May 14, 8:18AM EDT0

Hello and thanks for your question! Both of my sisters were quite supportive of my idea to write my caregiving books. They may have been more accepting as I promised not share their names and only tell my side of the story! 

May 14, 10:11AM EDT0
What are some of the essential qualities of a caregiver?
May 14, 7:56AM EDT0

Hello and thanks for your question! There are many personal qualities that can serve a caregiver well: empathy, patience, flexibility, passion, attentiveness, creativeness, dependable, honesty / dependability, and experience with the specific medical condition (to know what to expect and how to respond). I also believe that a good caregiver should be both mentally and physically strong (to both deal with decline and/or to lift / transfer a senior, when required). If a person does not possess all of these characteristics, he/she can still provide help and support. 

May 15, 11:04AM EDT0
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