Local nurse writes book on being a caregiver

Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Sharon E. Hohler has written her second book. She is a registered nurse who works in the operating room at Saint Francis Medical Center. (FRED LYNCH)

Sharon E. Hohler knows the stress and problems that come with being a caregiver. In her book, "Caregiver's Guide: Care for Yourself While You Care for Your Loved Ones," Hohler shares her experiences and provides information for others who might find themselves undertaking the same responsibilities.

"More than 65 million people, 29 percent of the American population, provide care for a disabled, aged or chronically ill loved one, and the number grows every year," said Hohler, who is a nurse at Saint Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau. "Family caregivers are the foundation of long-term care."

According to the National Family Caregivers Association, the value of services family caregivers provide for free when caring for older adults, is estimated to be $375 billion a year -- almost double the amount spent on home care and nursing home services put together.

Hohler outlines the increase in need for caregivers with several contributing factors, such as the steady climb of insurance rates and the fact that people are living longer.

"In 1900, when a baby boy was born, his life expectancy was only 46 years. In 2006 the expectancy rose to 75 years. Back in those days, people encountered illnesses like tuberculosis, pneumonia and other respiratory problems that we now have antibiotics and treatment for. The top three chronic illnesses today are heart disease, cancer and stroke," Hohler said.

Cover of "Caregiver's Guide: Care for Yourself While You Care for Your Loved Ones."

Hohler credits the tough times that she and her family went through while providing care for her parents as the motivation behind writing the book.

"Both of my parents had heart disease. Our family worked very well with each other, but at times we found ourselves overburdened and becoming ill," Hohler said. "I found myself asking how people survive these times. I was doing research and realized that you always have to make yourself a priority, even when taking care of loved ones. We get so committed to providing care that we often forget about de-stressing ourselves."

Hohler has lived the experience and wants other caregivers to know that they are not alone. In her book, she lists ways on how to balance your own needs as well as those you are taking care of.

"It's important that you create that healthy balance and find time for yourself to unwind. Get out of the house and do something you enjoy so you can recharge yourself both mentally and physically," Hohler said.

She dedicates the last few chapters to explaining specific diseases that caregivers frequently encounter and what they should expect. In one chapter, for example, she explains medical terms and general things that might seem mysterious or confusing for individuals who don't deal with them on a regular basis.

Hohler will sign copies of her book from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at the Tuscan Sun Restaurant at Saint Francis Medical Center.

Hohler has been writing for eight years and is a member of the Heartland Writer's Guild and the Missouri Writers' Guild. She has had 10 articles published in professional nursing magazines with an 11th having been accepted. She also has a daily blog where she uses resources to show readers how to better care for their own health.

Her first book, "Arthritis: A Patient's Guide," was released in 2008. Both books can be found on Amazon.com with Kindle e-book formats available as well.

Hohler has worked in the operating room at Saint Francis since 1978. She graduated from Southeast Missouri State University in 1973 with an associate degree. She later received a bachelor's of science in nursing and is a member of the Association of Registered Perioperative Nurses.

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