Counting on Kindness: The Dilemmas of Dependency, by Wendy Lustbader, 1991, 206 pages. Free Press, (206) 985-5400, www.lustbader.com.
Lustbader, a medical social worker, has taken a unique look at caregiving — from the perspective of the person receiving the care. Her book is valuable both for people who find themselves having to "count on kindness" for survival, and for caregivers who may be struggling with their own roles in changed relationships.
Lustbader's message is that the journey from independence to physical dependency is complex and difficult but ultimately offers many treasures. Drawing on her decade of experience in home, hospital and nursing home geriatric care, she relates countless vignettes of caregivers and patients (many with ALS) that illustrate the issues of power, dependency and self-identity that occur for both sides.
"My hope is that this book will be passed back and forth between dependent people and those who assist them," Lustbader writes in the preface. "Ultimately, seeing each other's position may make it easier to find a balance point in the center of chaotic emotions and unpredictable circumstances."