Marcy Cottrell Houle won a Christopher Award last night for her book, “The Gift of Caring: Saving Our Parents from the Perils of Modern Healthcare.” When I heard the topic of her book, I knew immediately that I wanted to speak with her.
I am sure like me that many of you are coming to an age where it is becoming necessary to take care of sick or aging parents. I also know how difficult it can be. I was there to take care of my sick father during the last years of his life and have witnessed other close people taking care of sick relatives as well.
I wanted to share her book and her thoughts with you because I was definitely able to relate.
In her book she writes, “Growing up, I saw other people growing old, never my parents.” I am not an expert, but I think this happens to a lot of young adults. I think it’s sometimes hard to transition from the role of a child to the role of caretaker when it comes to your parents.
A little later on, she writes, “And when the parallel universes of aging and life at last collided for my parents, I was probably the least prepared of all to grasp it. For it had never entered my thinking that this could happen to them. Or when they desperately needed help, it would not be there.”
Unfortunately, in Ms. Houle’s case, she had to witness misdiagnoses, neglect, symptoms being written off as ‘old age’ that were not, and other harrowing ordeals. She told me, “I wrote the book after seeing the suffering my parents went through. They fell through the cracks of the health care system.”
“This book helps people become empowered to advocate and navigate the health care system, which is very confusing and something dangerous,” she said, adding, “The book provides people with the tools they need.”
While the topic may seem sad, she said the book is hopeful. “It’s a call to arms. A call to change the system.”
As for the award, she said with a smile, “I feel very honored. People have told me the book is meaningful, that it’s helped people in their lives. There is no better reward for a writer than that.”