Saturday, October 24, 2015

520-523 (2015 #77-80). Four Books on Aging

Just this past week, my mother turned 87, and my father is 86.  My mother has a lot of health issues and has had a part-time caregiver for a number of months.  Lately my spare-time reading (outside of audiobooks) has turned from recreational to the serious, as I try to learn more to be able to help them - and myself.

They're Your Parents Too!  How Siblings Can Survive Their Parents Aging Without Driving Each Other Crazy, by Francine Russo, helped me better understand why some of my four siblings seem to be unaware - or uncaring - about my parents' aging and health issues.  We each had different relationships with our parents as well as with each other, that impact how we interact today.  Each chapter has case studies and helpful suggestions at the end on dealing with these situations.

The Eldercare Handbook:  Difficult Choices, Compassionate Solutions, by registered nurse and nursing home administrator Stella Mora Henry, focuses on professional care (assisted living and nursing homes) when home care is no longer an option.  It too is full of case studies and great advice.

Chapter 2, "Red Flags: Ten Signs To Watch For In Your Parents," is an excellent tool to help children make a plan and ideally involve their parents in the process.  The author also walks the reader through the process of selecting a long-term care facility as well as all the concerns that come with that decision, including medical, financial, and legal matters.  Most eye-opening for me was the need to do the research into assisted living and nursing homes NOW, because often a hospital will give as little as 24 hours notice that a patient will be discharged and cannot return home.

I heard Dr. Tam Cummings, the author of Untangling Alzheimer's: The Guide for Families and Professionals, speak at a recent caregiver's conference.  If I hadn't, I would not have been able to make it through this book, because the numerous and frequent grammar and syntax errors and obvious lack of editing detract from what would otherwise be quality material.  Someone unfamiliar with the author might find it hard to take her book seriously due to this poor quality.

While the book focuses on Alzheimer's, it does touch on the many other forms of dementia, and their signs and symptoms as well as stages.  Each chapter ends with a helpful summary of five or six main points to remember.

If I hadn't received the book for free, I would have been more upset about the poor editing.  I do hope the author publishes an update or revision soon with better editing, as the information she shares is so worthwhile.

The Elder Care Helper Guide:  Making Sense of Long-Term Care, by Susan Cherco, was probably the most useful book of the four.  The book describes the types of elder care available - home care, assisted living, nursing homes, and continuing care retirement communities - their costs and who pays, and the appropriateness of each for a given situation. Checklists and lists of best practices help the reader evaluate local providers of the appropriate type.  Most of the information in this book is available on Cherco's web site, eldercarehelper.com.  However, the book is organized in a way that makes it easier to read, and also includes mini case studies.

© Amanda Pape - 2015

[The first and last books were borrowed from and returned to the local public library.  The other two books were received at a caregivers conference in Austin, Texas, in late September 2015.  I will be hanging on to them for a while.]

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