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Caring for Our Aging Parents--and Ourselves

by Jane Gross

Pub Date: April 26th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-307-27182-2
Publisher: Knopf

A New York Times reporter helps readers face a final, difficult journey.

Americans are living longer than ever before, and most senior citizens will eventually become dependent on others for care. Gross offers advice for those already caring for their aging and dying parents and issues a wake-up call to those who think they are prepared should the time come. Her tone is straightforward, but not cold or clinical, when she shares the heartbreaking story of her aging mother, who died in a nursing home. With well-written and researched prose, Gross debunks misconceptions about assisted-living facilities and offers eye-opening anecdotes about Medicare and Medicaid, including how her own upper-middle-class mother ended up on Medicaid and virtually penniless due to health-care costs. The author also gives gentle guidance for understanding the biology and psychology of aging and ways the adult child can best help the parent. For some readers, the most uncomfortable part of the book will be Gross' mother’s choice to die by refusing to eat or drink. This may be controversial, but the subject is not treated lightly, and many conversations occurred beforehand. With a poignant, honest voice, the author recalls her mother’s suffering. This book will remind readers that quality-of-life issues are important, and will hopefully prompt those types of discussions. There are no easy answers here, because there are none.

A thought-provoking resource for end-of-life care.