“Ruth & Erica” Doesn’t Hold Back About the Perils of Caregiving

I’m not really a YouTube junkie, so I was skeptical when I heard about a slick new caregiving series airing online. Yet “Ruth & Erica” has gotten my attention, and I plan to watch it in its entirety.

Why? Because it’s painfully real. The show – created by Amy Lippman for the woman-centered WIGS channel – chronicles the struggles of Erica (played by a convincing Maura Tierney) over one year as she tries to figure out how to manage the care of her aging parents, Ruth and Harry (played by the equally talented Lois Smith and Philip Baker Hall).

The episodes not only portray uncomfortable conversations between family members that are often a part of caregiving; they also reveal the complexity of Erica’s life, both personally and professionally, which intersect and complicate her ability to cope with difficult eldercare decisions.

The series contains 13 episodes, each running around 8 minutes long. They air on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, after which all 13 will live online indefinitely. Seven have aired so far, and I’m anxious to see the rest. They do seem to achieve the difficult balance of telling an intimate story to which many can relate.

A couple of cautions:

  • If you are someone who doesn’t want to see difficult issues on film that you are dealing with in real life, this may not be for you. However, if you are someone who takes comfort in knowing that your struggles are shared in the larger universe, your ability to identify with Erica (or Ruth, if you are a spousal caregiver tussling with your adult child) may prove to be pretty therapeutic. Also, sharing this show with others is a great way to raise awareness about the unique challenges you are experiencing as a caregiver.
  • Again, this is painfully real. There is less than flowery language (yep, they drop the F-bomb now and then) and issues such as adultery are unflinchingly discussed.

If you watch “Ruth & Erica,” please let me know what you think of this fascinating show.

Comments

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  • I'm living this life, just further down the path. I'm the one who had to take the keys from my dad and make other difficult decisions like moving him from his home to an adult care facility. Last week we entered into hospice care.

  • Dear skissman,

    Thank you so much for your comment. It sounds like you can clearly relate to the characters in this show and that you've made it through some tough challenges. I hope that you've found some support along the way in the form of a caregiver support group and/or a strong network of friends and family to lean on. Thank you for what you do, and please take care of yourself.

    Sincerely,
    Carrie

  • All the support I could ever want from my husband. Not so much from my one surviving sibling. (There were 5 of us). A breezy, "Call us with news" as he drives 200 miles away, after his first visit after more than a year. I am my dads caregiver not because of choices I made, but rather the choices and decisions my dad didn't make. I am at peace with it, but pity the lack of involvement my brother has. It's his guilt.

  • Dear skissman,

    I'm so glad that you have the support of your wonderful husband. I'm sorry to hear about your brother -- unfortunately it is all too common for all of the caregiving responsibilities to fall on one sibling. I'm glad you have made peace with it, for your own well-being. Please continue to take good care of yourself as you continue through this journey.

    Best,
    Carrie

  • Thanks for posting this - I've been checking it out when I can.

    Fortunately, my mother's health isn't too severe, and she has a home care worker come in to take care of various tasks....but it can be difficult in describing the challenges. (Especially to family members who don't feel I "do enough" for Mom....and I'm an only child, which makes things complicated)

    But thanks - it's good to know that there are other people out there who "get it"

  • Dear Gordon,

    Thanks so much for your comment and for what you do for your mom. It's got to be hard having others question your efforts when they cannot begin to understand what it is like for you as an only child caring for your mother. I'm glad that you found the videos comforting to some degree. Please take good care of yourself.

    Sincerely,
    Carrie

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