Tracing a Family Tree, From Harlem to China

Paula Williams Madison is the epitome of success: Vassar College grad, award-winning journalist, former TV executive, entrepreneur, community activist. But the Harlem native was also driven toward another goal — finding more about the Chinese grandfather she never knew. Madison, 62, details her multicultural family odyssey in her new book, Finding Samuel Lowe, due April 14. A documentary by the same name is making its rounds at film festivals, including a recent screening at the International Black History Month celebration …

For Family Caregivers, Love Is More Than Chocolate and Roses

Valentine’s Day may be over, but 42 million Americans continue to give their hearts each and every day. They are family caregivers who help parents, spouses, aunts, uncles and other loved ones to live independently at home, where they want to be. For these unsung heroes, love goes beyond chocolate and roses — and their labor of love means driving to doctor’s appointments, cooking, cleaning, helping bathe and dress their loved ones, managing medications, performing medical tasks and more. Gwen …

Be Generous, but Give What You Can Afford

African Americans/blacks have a history of giving. More than two-thirds give to churches and organized charities. We also give to family members who need help paying bills, college students who need tuition assistance and others. We are responsive to our churches and Greek-letter organizations that make appeals. >> AARP Financial Freedom: News, Tips, and Resources for Your Financial Health I applaud the giving tradition and am, indeed, part of it. Yet it is important that our gifts are part of …

How to Talk About Death … and Life

Many Americans, it seems, have a hard time talking about death. Even doctors struggle to deal with the mortality of patients who they know aren’t going to make it. That’s the focus of Being Mortal: Conversations of Death and Dying, Atul Gawande’s adaptation of his bestselling book to a Frontline segment that begins airing Feb. 10 on PBS platforms. A surgeon and writer, Gawande chalks up doctors’ fears to their sense of professional competence. In gaining experience, “Among the most …

Love and Alzheimer’s: It’s Complicated

Valentine’s Day is coming up, but I have to admit, Alzheimer’s complicates loving someone who is struggling to cope with the confusion of an ever-changing world. Dad has always been very affectionate and supportive to me. When I was a child, he was my role model and comforter. When I became an adult, he showed his love by asking about my work or my car. He would even send me Valentine’s Day chocolates every year. Now he often expresses anger and frustration toward …

During Black History Month, Experience the Joy of Self-Education

One of my greatest joys over the past couple of years has been engaging in conversations with authors as host of AARP’s Black Community Book Club. From Nikki Giovanni to Terri McMillan to Russell Simmons to Leonard Pitts Jr., it’s been like conversing with living history. In reading these authors’ books and talking with them, it occurs to me how invaluable it is to delve into the knowledge and gifts of people who are enhancing the lives of others. Whether …