Monday, 22 September 2014

Book Review: Elderly Parents With All Their Marbles; A survival guide for the kids

Mom and Dad - 2006
Carey is one of those who are fearmongering about the great Silver Tsunami, as they call it. These people forget about the dozen or so men and women in our area, in their 70s and 80s, volunteering. They forget about people like those in their 70s, 80s, and 90s competing in the Senior Summer Games. Leonard Cohen; who celebrated his 80th birthday by releasing a new album.

Here was a tough book to crack. It did have a lot of humour, but added to the self-deprecating humour of an adult daughter for her parents, she seems to feel she must change their ways and that she knows best. This was a dilemma for me.

The title seems incongruent with the spirit of the book. If her parents are still cognisant of their situation, by what right does the author have to change their living style, accommodations, and make choices for them, not with them?

I must say that this is a book similar to MY autobiography. I didn't feel that I found any hard and fast rules. When I counsel people by email, as I often get requests, I point out that until your parents are acting like children, even then I'm not sure you have the right to tell them what to do. You must do what works best for you, your immediate family, as well as your extended family. You can offer opinions, but until they are potentially doing themselves self-harm, you have no right to boss them and interfere. Yes, I've heard of silver seniors climbing on chairs to change a light bulb, but sometimes this is just to spite you!
Mom and Dad 2005

What you can do, as a child with family, a job, and commitments, is refuse to enable them to live in a house when it is beyond their physical, psychological, financial and emotional means. We are meant to grow up, move out, have our families, and, unless we choose to live as extended families (yes, that is a whole other book!), you do not run at the drop of a phone call. You discourage neighbours to enable them, as well. Those midnight calls, when someone falls and either cannot get up, or need you to help the other parent to get up, you make sure you dial 911. There are people in the hospital that can help you with placements. Sometimes it is the wake-up call they need.

If you cannot manage your activities of daily living (ADL) alone - then sensibly, you really do have to a) seek outside help, which you can pay for (the budget lines for this aren't huge) or b) move. If you are unable to shop, do laundry, do your banking, buy groceries independently, then you seriously have decisions to make.

That was another book I read and reviewed, which provided some good guidelines:
Green, Lyndsay; A Perfect Home for a Long Life
Once you move from being an adult child to being a self-appointed caregiver, life will never go back. I had that conversation with my mother just before she died, but not until I wrote her a letter. She had refused ANY and ALL outside help, despite me moving and finding a job near-by. Yes, full-time job, but she was unable to cook, shop, fetch the paper or mail. She wasn't able to do housework, this formerly meticulous housekeeper and full-time secretary. (She retired at age 66, and began working at age 15.)

Product Details
Elderly Parents With All Their Marbles: A Survival Guide for the Kids (Barking Cat Books; 1 edition, June 2014) is a witty and practical guide to surviving the transition. You’ll feel like you’re right by Pam Carey’s side as she outlines 49 essential points for navigating the trials of elderly living, the medical issues, and the inevitable loss that eventually comes. She illustrates each point with her own sometimes hilarious and often poignant experiences.

Pamela Carey obtained a B.A. from Colby College and an M.A. from Columbia University Teachers College. She taught high school English in three states before studying at Rhode Island School of Design and opening her own interior design firm. She and her husband reside in Delray Beach, Florida, and Westport, Massachusetts. When not writing, Pam can be found playing for a tennis team.


Nancy J said...

I missed this yesterday, and will see if it is here in our library. We had the same thing with my in-laws, they vowed and declared they were OK, by themselves, some 7 hours from us.But they were not. Down here, Hugh and I have been so glad to accept some help, since his back problems have forced him to accept he cannot do now that he did for all those years. Me too, I'm very happy to have someone wash the ceilings, or windows, or anything my right shoulder prohibits. But we are all different, and for some, the thought of having even the little home help is against all their reasoning. Hugs,Jean

Christine said...

seems it's a problem with or without their marbles, life is not an easy balance.

William Kendall said...

A good review!

One of the many reasons I've had to cut ties with my two sisters- both were bossy and interfering where our parents were concerned, and our parents didn't need that.

Red said...

This gives me an idea for my kids. I like being independent to a fault. It could get me into trouble.