Assisted Living for Our Parents: A Son's Journey

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"It is because I want to help other parents and adult children understand the problems and risks in choosing an assisted living facility—and thus avoid some of the negative experiences my mother and I had—that I decided to write this book."—Daniel Jay Baum

As the population of North America ages, millions of adult children are faced with the challenge of how to help their parents make the transition to their later years of life. For elderly parents in reasonably good health for whom living on their own is no ...

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Overview

"It is because I want to help other parents and adult children understand the problems and risks in choosing an assisted living facility—and thus avoid some of the negative experiences my mother and I had—that I decided to write this book."—Daniel Jay Baum

As the population of North America ages, millions of adult children are faced with the challenge of how to help their parents make the transition to their later years of life. For elderly parents in reasonably good health for whom living on their own is no longer possible, assisted living facilities (ALFs) are becoming an increasingly popular option, ideally providing some measure of independence with varying degrees of assistance and support. The author was sixty-four years old when it became obvious that his eighty-nine-year-old mother, Ida, could no longer live alone. After considering a variety of options, including home health care assistance, he and his mother decided to sell her home, and she moved into an assisted living facility.

In Assisted Living for Our Parents, Baum chronicles every step of his and his mother's journey into the world of assisted living, providing guidance for the millions of adults who face these same decisions. Baum's story is the intensely personal one of a son learning to cope with his evolving relationship with his mother, balancing his own concerns for his mother's health and safety with her desire for independence and a role in decisions about her own life. Readers follow Baum and his mother over six years, from their initial decision to move her into an ALF to discussions about her end-of-life wishes. Complicating all of these issues was the fact that Baum lived hundreds of miles from his mother, a situation he shared with seven million other adult children in North America who live more than three hundred miles away from their parents.

The author's remarkable honesty about his mistakes and misunderstandings on this journey will inform a wide range of readers about questions to be asked and preparations to be made. Baum also discusses the usefulness of informative meetings with facility administrators, staff, and residents. He distinguishes between the various levels of nursing care found at ALFs and advises about the problems of hospitalization for residents. He helps readers understand complicated and emotionally fraught financial matters (from insurance to escalating facility costs). In his final chapter, he considers alternatives to ALFs. A moving and honest guide to a growing and often confusing phenomenon, Assisted Living for Our Parents provides much-needed help to anyone having to navigate through the questions, problems, and risks involved in choosing an assisted living facility.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Daniel Jay Baum's story is about his mother's life in a residence which he calls Glengrove, vaguely defined as an assisted living facility (ALF), a term which now accounts for about 200,000 places in the United States. This book is a good read. The justifiable bitterness that occasionally breaks through is balanced by a fair measure of (dry Jewish) humor. The text is full of well-chosen references to media report, the gerontology literature, and statistics on the ALF's and nursing home industry and the not always successful regulatory laws. It is, therefore, appropriate not only for any adult son or daughter in Baum's predicament but also for teaching gerontology and for field workers in the old-age care industry."—Ageing and Society

"Assisted Living for Our Parents is an informed, impassioned book that maintains the difficult balance between objective investigation and subjective revelation. Daniel Jay Baum shows us the facts of an aging parent's decline and the nature of care provided in an assisted living facility, the political and cultural pressures, the legal and economic realities. He also shows us the agony of grief and loss, the difficult path that must be traveled by those who love and care. It is rare for readers to find a book that provides this much information as well as this much personal candor."—Floyd Skloot, author of In the Shadow of Memory and A World of Light

"This excellent and accurate personal documentation by a long-distance caregiver as he 'travels' with his mother from her fierce independence to dependence is a very helpful guide to assist us as we care for our loved ones in their advanced years—and plan ahead for ourselves."—Hon. Dorcas R. Hardy, Former Commissioner of Social Security and 2005 White House Conference on Aging Chair

"So few books today are a must-read for every professional working with older adults who can no longer live alone. But this is one of them! Daniel Jay Baum's incredible and spellbinding portrayal of his mother's last few years of life informs geriatric care managers, geriatricians, elder-law attorneys, policymakers, and others about the realities of long-term care and challenges us to turn anger and passion into action."—Karen S. Kauffman, PhD, CRNP, BC, University of Maryland School of Nursing and President, Life Passages Care Consultants, Inc.

"Daniel Jay Baum tells a compelling story about a loving and respectful son trying to do the right thing in caring for and about his mother in a world that is complicated, convoluted, and, at best, paternalistic toward older people. This book focuses on that gray area called 'quality of life,' which he continually strove for as his mother and the settings in which she lived changed."—Fredda Vladeck, Project Director, Aging in Place Initiative, United Hospital Fund

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Carole Levin is Willa Cather Professor of History at the University of Nebraska. She is the author of several books, including Dreaming the English Renaissance: Politics and Desire in Court and Culture.

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Table of Contents


Foreword   Carol Levine     ix
Acknowledgments     xiii
Introduction     1
Choice     7
Moving Day     29
The Early Years at Glengrove     47
The Staff and the Boss     71
Health     97
The End of My Mother's Life     122
Assisted Living Can Succeed     150
For Ourselves     181
Selecting an ALF: A Checklist     197
Notes     203
Index     209
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