Working Daughter is a revelatory look at who’s caring for our aging population and how these unpaid family caregivers are trying to manage caring for their parents, raising their children, maintaining relationships, and pursuing their careers. It follows the author, who was enjoying a fast-paced career in marketing and raising two children when both of her parents were diagnosed with terminal illnesses on the same day. In the challenges she faced and the choices she made, readers will learn how they can navigate their own caregiving experiences and prepare for when they are inevitably called on to care for their parents.
Liz O’Donnell is a marketing executive and the founder of WorkingDaughter.com, a community for women balancing eldercare and career. She is the author of Mogul, Mom & Maid: The Balancing Act of the Modern Woman (2013). Liz lives in Boston, Mass.
Aiming her words at the many women in the sandwich generation, O’Donnell presents a blueprint for managing a career, children, and aging parents. She applies her own experience and that of others to talk plainly about the challenges of eldercare, the choices to be made, the aspects of caregiving that can and cannot be controlled, and the upside to caring for an aging parent. O’Donnell further considers common issues such as setting boundaries, caregiving with siblings, managing disruptions, and practicing self-care. VERDICT This book provides much-needed support for the growing population of women caregivers. Highly recommended for both public and personal collections.
What happens to women who spend more time with their ailing parents than with their husbands and kids? They can feel overburdened and resentful, writes O’Donnell, a mom of two kids who was the primary caregiver for her now-deceased parents. On the same day in 2014, doctors diagnosed her father with early-onset Alzheimer’s and her mother with ovarian cancer. In this honest, advice-filled memoir, O'Donnell admits to feeling like a “horrible, selfish” person and an overwhelmed one, too. At one point, this super-daughter, who was also working full time, had 196 items on her to-do list for her parents. She advises parents to remove the word “should” from their vocabulary and to choose some “non-negotiables,” like being present in their kids’ lives and staying employed. “Perfect is overrated” and “impossible,” she says. After her father’s death in July 2017, she feels a “sense of freedom.” But it’s temporary. Her 51-year-old husband gets diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The lesson seems to be to expect the unexpected and to place more value on loving and caring for family members.
Liz O'Donnell, an expert on life challenges faced by working women, tackles an issue that most will eventually face: how to help an aging parent while keeping up with work and everything else a modern woman is often juggling. This book provides essential understanding, encouragement, and practical advice. I especially loved her suggestions on how to manage at work and how to handle the inevitable expectations and judgments that women encounter (not the least of which come from themselves). This is a great resource to help "working daughters" and I'd also recommend it to employers and policy-makers, who need to do more to support the many working family caregivers of aging adults.
Women might be able to shoulder both work and motherhood, but throw an elderly parent’s care into the mix, and these mighty women can collapse into a heap of wine, cheese dip and tissues. Liz O’Donnell gives them some guidance on how to accept their fates, manage the mess, and even find some joy in the moment.
Liz O’Donnell is a woman who knows how to write, how to be brutally honest, how to tell caregivers’ unique stories, and how tell a bigger story about the new normal we’re all experiencing as our parents live so much longer than any generation before now. I love this book so much. It’s required reading for every grown-up with a loved one to care for. Heck, it’s just required reading about modern American life.
Finally a book that respects and addresses the challenges faced by women in the workforce who are simultaneously caring for aging parents. Working Daughter is an essential guide that will help and empower caregivers at a time when they need it most.
Working Daughter is an essential tool for the millions of families facing the crisis of elder care in this country. Liz crafts a gripping narrative that describes her own experiences and combines her story with a treasure trove of practical strategies that are universal in application. The book is a must-read for both daughters and sons of aging parents.
Caregivers are joined by stories, because it is through our stories where diversity meets to the road to combat a common cause. And our common cause is caregiving. By sharing her caregiving story, Liz O'Donnell provides her readers with real-life stories, filled with real-life emotions, complemented by tried and tested solutions so that your caregiving journey just might be a tad bit easier. Well Done Liz!
Drawing from her own raw experience caring for her aging parents while juggling young children and working as her family breadwinner, in Working Daughter Liz O’Donnell offers hard-won lessons on dealing with shame, guilt and unrealistic expectations, as well as how to navigate the complex, confusing and woefully inadequate elder care system in America. A welcome and practical guide to anyone struggling to honor and care for aging loved ones while seeking to live their own lives fully.
Well done Liz for giving permission to women (and men) to cut the perfection garbage that hurts everyone around elder care. Liz has captured the incredibly hard challenge and the joy of care-taking our parents while having a career. Every CEO should read this book so they can figure out how to help make it easier for people to do both.
Working Daughter is an unflinchingly honest, sharp, often funny guide to caring for an aging parent while holding down a job. If you've ever wished you could just talk to someone who understands what you're going through - and also offers the best advice - you've found her.
This is a must-read for anyone who is in the midst of carrying a heavy caregiving load. Begin reading, and know there is benefit to what you are doing - not just for the person in your care, but for you. It is not all about distress, because caregiving stress is actually good for us in some ways. The trick is in knowing how to work with it and not let it become caregiving distress! And, knowing what to do when it does become distress.This is a book worth having and reading. Even if you only use one of her fifty suggestions in Chapter 8: Renew, maybe just for five minutes at a time, do it! It is part of what can help you take care of you. And, as Liz shares, if you are going to reap the benefits of caregiver stress, you will want to start some new habits of self-care. Little habits, but ones that help you be the person you are becoming through your new normal. What is so engaging and absolutely beneficial about this book is that it is real and it is hard, at times. Liz has also, however, included details and specifics on how you find the special and utterly unforgettable and invaluable moments in the care experience. Liz has used her story of care provision for two parents while working, parenting, and living to develop a resource for others that is practical, evidence-based, and meaningful. She uses her experiences to humanize and individualize a very complex and overwhelming role of a working daughter, who may also be a wife, mother, employer, care plan manager, insurance policy interpreter, care facility realtor, unit manager… you get the drift. I love how Liz captures action items and places them in lists or categories for the reader to consider, after sharing the personal portion of her journey that got her to that list. She also provides bits of research that help support what she is offering and sharing. It is always helpful to hear the science behind the recommendations, and she is great at adding it into the recipe.As a well-known and passionate advocate for people living with dementia and their care providers and families, I found this book a helpful read and a useful resource. Personally, I really enjoyed the revelations of what gave Liz moments of relief and joy at the end of a long, hard, impossible to do more day. I am adding Working Daughter to my library of recommended offerings when families are looking for either the why, the how, or the when in the role they may be considering or the role they have found themselves in.
11/8/22, goop Podcast: Liz O’Donnell talked about being part of the sandwich generation that is caring for aging parents and growing children at the same time.