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Special Care for Aging Parent

July 24, 1986|ROSELLE M. LEWIS

The Nursing Home Dilemma: How to Make One of Love's Toughest Decisions by Doug Manning (Harper & Row: $12.95).

For a variety of reasons--some entirely erroneous--the modern convalescent or nursing home is viewed with the same horror as the Victorian Era poorhouse. People often stoutly maintain that "I'll never send my parents there."

Such was the case with Doug Manning, a pastor and counselor, who confesses that he was forced "to eat crow" when he and his wife placed his mother-in-law in an institution.

"Our world," he explains, "failed to match her world and her needs."

Though we've moved a long way from "squalid charity facilities," still, nursing homes often lack privacy, suffer from odors of incontinence, can be very noisy and frequently serve less than appetizing meals.

On the other hand, as Manning points out, a well-run home frees the family from the often killing burden of tending to the elderly's physical needs, allowing for "quality time" together.

All well and good, but Manning's easy certainties are undercut by the sudden admission that his once-"cheerful, generous and bountiful" mother-in-law turned mean and complaining. Perhaps she discovered that his expression of "tough love"--his carrying out the notion that "love is doing what people need, not what they want"--failed to meet her needs.

Much of this book reads like an extended, somewhat disingenuous rationalization for an admittedly tough course of action.

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