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Caring for our aging parents and ourselves

Christina, Lakewood Library

Many of us are facing the conundrum of caring for our aging parents.  Some of us are in the sandwich generation – we still have children and teens at home and we are caring for aging parents as well.  And some of our parents are far away in another state or city. There are new realities and limitations to navigate as we proceed on this path and we are proceeding as we ourselves are aging.  It is a daunting task and fraught with twists and turns along the way.  We want the best for our parents and want to continue being with them and taking them special places.  And we wonder, are we doing this special trip or event for Mom & Dad or because we can’t bear knowing that they are no longer able to enjoy such an outing.  Here are a few resources to help you.

Another Country: Navigating the Emotional Terrain of our Elders by Mary Pipher - This exploration into the period of transition which marks the beginnings of old age offers a compassionate view of ways to build communication between generations.  Pipher examines the trials of aging in contemporary America--for all those involved.  The miniature biographies, told with respect and empathy, reveal not only a complicated reality but diverse possibilities as we all age.  We hope this “field guide” to a foreign landscape will be a help and a resource.

Story of my Father by Sue Miller - “This is the hardest lesson... for a caregiver: you can never do enough to make a difference in the course of the disease," Miller writes in this thoughtful remembrance of her relationship with her father as he succumbs to the ravages of Alzheimer's disease.

A Bittersweet Season: Caring for our Aging Parents and Ourselves by Jane Gross - In telling the story of her own struggle to learn how to care for her aging and ailing mother, this New York Times journalist offers helpful insights and advice to other caregivers who feel overwhelmed.  She 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.  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.  This is a well-researched and thought provoking resource for end of life care.

Caring for Your Aging Parents: An Emotional Guide to Nurturing your Loved Ones while Taking Care of Yourself by Raeann Berman - This book contains much needed direction to lots of resources for aging individuals that family members can use.The authors talk about specifics (finding living arrangements, dealing with memory loss, conversations to have with aging parents while it is still possible to have them) and then give suggestions as to how to proceed.  And for us who are in the middle of this wild ride, they give ideas for the caregiver to stay healthy and well.