Dee Marrella. The Me You Don't Know: A Gift of Knowledge for My Future Caregivers. DC Press. Sanford, FL. 2009. 244 pages.
$13.57 from Amazon.com (click on book to order).
This is a book that buyers will largely write themselves, and it is a book that, once completed, will find a very limited but crucial readership: the writer's own future caregivers.
If we become unable to manage our own affairs -- something that will happen to most of us at some point -- how will those caring for us know what to do? How will they know what brand of toothpaste we prefer, much less whether we want to be kept alive by extraordinary means? Will they even know who we are if we are unable to tell them?
Author Dee Marrella, who experienced much guilt and self-doubt in caring for her incapacitated mother, has created a way for adults still of sound mind to map out in detail the care they would wish to receive if they themselves become incapacitated. Much of the book consists of largely blank pages to be filled in with important information such as "Doctors, hospitals or other professionals I never want to go back to," "Friends to notify if I am hospitalized," and "Where to locate important papers."
In addition, there are opportunities to convey to caregivers -- who are often one's children -- essential information about who one is as a person. For example, there are pages to make note of fears that one has, accomplishments that one is proudest of, and lingering regrets one may have. The book also includes an appendix of important words and phrases to know.
The book can be completed by people of all ages, including young parents, individuals with early diagnosed Alzheimer's, parents of special needs children, and military personnel.
For many of us, having "the conversation" about our future incapacity is one of most difficult things to do. This book makes a direct, face-to-face conversation unnecessary, substituting a set of general care instructions and a small autobiography that can be completed in private and with careful consideration.