Friday, September 22, 2017

Interview with writer Harriet Hodgson

Writer Harriet Hodgson joins me today and we’re talking about her self-help inspirational book about caregiving, The Family Caregiver’s Guide: How to Care for a Loved One at Home.

Rochester, Minnesota, USA resident Harriet Hodgson has been a freelance writer for 38 years, is the author of thousands of online/print articles, and 36 books.

A member of the Association of Health Care Journalists, Hodgson is a contributing writer for the Open to Hope website, The Grief toolbox website, and the Caregiver Space website. To read her caregiving articles visit

Hodgson has appeared on more than 185 radio talk shows, including CBS Radio, and dozens of television stations, including CNN. A popular guest, she has given presentations at public health, Alzheimer’s, bereavement, and caregiving conferences. Her work is cited in Who’s Who of American Women, World Who’s Who of Women, Contemporary Authors, and other directories.

All of Hodgson’s work comes from her life. A caregiver for 20+ years, she has cared for three generations of family members, and currently cares for her disabled husband. For more information about this busy wife, author, grandmother, and caregiver please visit her website,

Welcome, Harriet. Please tell us about your current release.
When I wrote The Family Caregiver’s Guide, I didn’t know one book would lead to two, then three, then four. The purpose of The Family Caregiver’s Guide is to prepare family members for caregiving and make their lives easier. The chapter titles are an indication of the caregiving journey:
  1. Caregiving is an Expanding Role
  2. Focus on the Care Receiver
  3. Facing and Accepting Illness
  4. Assessing Your Loved One’s Abilities
  5. What Skills Do You Have?
  6. What Skills Do You Need?
  7. Getting Ready for Home Care
  8. Caregiving Nuts and Bolts
  9. The Many Rewards of Caregiving
Other books in the series include Affirmations for Family Caregivers, A Journal for Family Caregivers, and The Family Caregiver’s Cookbook.

What inspired you to write this book?
My mother had stroke-induced dementia and I was her family caregiver for nine years. I didn’t realize how exhausted I was until she died. Although I hoped life would calm down for a few years, it didn’t. In 2007 my elder daughter, mother of my twin grandchildren, died from the injuries she received in a car crash. Two days later my father-in-law died of pneumonia. Two months later my brother, and only sibling, died of a heart attack. In the fall, the twin’s father died from the injuries he received in another car crash. The court appointed my husband and me as the twin’s guardians/caregivers and we did this for seven years. In 2013, my husband’s aorta dissected and he was bleeding to death rapidly. Surgeons operated on him three times in a desperate attempt to save his life. During the last surgery, he suffered a spinal cord injury that paralyzed his legs. I became his family caregiver and advocate the night I drove him to the hospital. After being hospitalized for eight months my husband was dismissed to my care. He was exhausted a bit confused because I moved him into a new, wheelchair accessible townhome I built for him. A week after he returned home, I started The Family Caregiver’s Guide, wrote parallel to my life.

What exciting story are you working on next?
In the spring of 2018 my 36th book, So, You’re Raising Your Grandkids, will be released. It will be posted on Amazon soon and available for advance ordering.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I thought I might become a writer in grade school when I started making books and illustrating them. In college, I was the co-editor of the college literary magazine. Armed with a BS in Early Childhood Education, I taught for a dozen years. During this time I wrote a few articles for teaching magazines, and was thrilled when they were accepted. Writing tugged at teaching, and after a dozen years in the classroom, I retired to become a full-time writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Every day is a writing day. I’m either writing an article, working on a book, or working on book marketing. Caring for a disabled loved one is demanding, but I continue to write because it’s my salvation. Writing for other caregivers and The Caregiver Space gets me out of myself, and connects me with others. Many people have asked me how I switched from teaching to writing. For me, it was an easy transition. Wheelock College, a pioneer in early childhood education, gave me excellent training in planning units. Today, I call these segments chapters. My graduate degree in art education from the University of Minnesota enables me to see cover images and printed words on paper. In short, I see the finished product, and this is extremely helpful.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Believe it or not, I write in my sleep. I’m blessed to have a mind that continues to process while I’m in bed. Around 3 a.m. I awaken and my mind tells me there is an error in the second paragraph of page 32. When I get up, I go to the computer and immediately correct this error. I often write new copy in my pajamas.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
At the time, girls only had three choices. We could be secretaries, nurses, or teachers. I received a scholarship from the local teaching association, and used it to pay my first year of tuition at Wheelock College in Boston.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
As you can tell by my bio, grief and I are well acquainted. Too well acquainted. As a self-help step, I wrote eight grief recovery resources for the bereaved. WriteLife, my current publisher, published one of them, Happy Again! Your New and Meaningful Life After Loss. I’m proud of this book and, if you’re grieving now, think you will find it helpful.


Thank you for stopping by today, Harriet!

1 comment:

Kourtney Heintz said...

Wow. Harriet is truly inspiring in how many family tragedies she coped with and how she was the caregiver for so many people. Adding to my tbr list!