N4L 162: "Role Reversal" by Iris Waichler


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By Janet Perry, Janet Perry: blogger, and Nonfiction book lover. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.


In her award-winning book, Role Reversal: How to Take Care of Yourself and Your Aging Parents, Iris Waichler blends her personal experience with her professional expertise as a licensed clinical social worker and patient advocate for over 40 years. Her book is designed to help caregivers who are now 53 million strong in America, 90 percent of whom are adult children or spouses. Realizing caregivers lose a loved one twice, the author teaches how to cope with and overcome the overwhelming challenges that arise while caregiving for a loved one—especially an aging parent. Packed with invaluable information, Waichler addresses a myriad of pertinent topics ranging from dealing with grief and estate planning to taking precautions to avoid scams and finding the right level of care for an elderly parent.


  • Pay attention to your body (headaches, body aches), emotional symptoms (increased irritability), and mental pressures (guilt).
  • Have a backup/respite plan, and then revisit the plan frequently and adapt it to allow for changes.
  • Incorporate weekly time off to recharge.


  • Hire a geriatric care manager.
  • Identify people who live nearby who can help.
  • Divide caregiving assignments, maximizing skill sets.
  • Use reminiscence therapy.
  • Reach out to get additional help.


  • “It doesn’t matter how old you are when you lose a parent. It can be a surprise even when you expect it. It remains a loss or an absence in your life regardless of the relationship you had. Your life is forever changed.”
  • “This role reversal…can be emotionally difficult and stressful for all concerned. It can test everyone’s patience and commitment.”
  • “The best thing you can do for a person with dementia is recognition of the person they were and are and be compassionate in your communication.”
  • “The people we see in their old age today are an altered reflection of who they were when they were young.”
  • “The intimacy of being with someone who is ill, and taking care of that person, is both a powerful and painful experience.”


Find a geriatric care manager and other resources to support caregivers at the Aging Life Care Association.

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