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Dealing With Age-Old Family Problem of Caring for Seniors

May 22, 1986|ROSELLE M. LEWIS

Our Aging Parents: A Practical Guide to Eldercare, edited by Colette Browne and Roberta Onzuka-Anderson (University of Hawaii: paperback, $12.95).

What do we do when our robust, active parents suddenly turn, it seems almost overnight, into "frail elders," becoming part of the fastest-growing segment of American society, characterized as the "old-old"?

Many of us, who are members of the "sandwich generation"--middle-year folks, squeezed between the demands of our own busy lives and the needs of our elderly parents--will find this resourceful guide just the ticket.

Better Than Before

In their introduction to their "eldercare" anthology, the editors point out that life after 65 for an estimated 25 million Americans is significantly better than it was for their forebears, thanks to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and a host of other services. But, on the average, retired people live on half their pre-retirement income. In addition to managing under reduced circumstances, many suffer from diseases and conditions related to aging: arthritis, cancer, stroke, senility, incontinence and depression.

Experts in their respective fields discuss ways to deal with physical debilities, provide psychological support and maintain the elderly in their own homes, the ardent wish of the majority.

There's also useful advice about bringing parents into their children's homes and, when necessary, choosing a nursing home (and improving it if it's not up to par).

Living Alternatives

Other living alternatives include in-home services, such as meals on wheels, housekeeping or chore services--and, the next best thing to living at home--conjugate living, an arrangement providing meals and minimum surveillance.

Though it's doubtful that we need to have the term empty nest defined or be told how to behave when visiting the elderly or even instructed in how to handle bereavement, this guide is splendid in delineating services provided on community, state and federal levels.

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