In November of 2008, The New York Times published two columns by Jane Brody on Care Giving for Families. They are:
When Families Take Care of Their Own
Caring for Family, Caring for Yourself
I found her second article at University of San Francisco web page as a PDF file.
If you are a care giver for a relative or friend, these two articles are a great starting point to read about this vital and essential job that usually can not be done by anyone other than close friends or family members.
Our American Communities are not at all like a village, so care givers really struggle to find out what they need to know. We have no wise elder sitting on a porch surrounded by herbal remedies and dispensing comforting folk wisdom. We have Jane Brody, and others who work at educating the people at large, bringing things together for us.
My DH and I have been taking care of my sister, now recovered a little but still needing some help, and he and his sisters have been caring for their mother who has recovered and is doing very well.
I hope you will find the articles, and related materials in links within them, as helpful as I have. Jane Brody has many articles and books about the elder care system and long term care.