Pipher reveals that the greatest shame for today's elders--most of whom survived the Depression--is not being self-sufficient. The majority of them stoically prefer to keep their feelings to themselves, and this is why it's so difficult to convince older parents to accept or even discuss such issues as physical and mental health, finances, eldercare, or living wills. This directly conflicts with the openness of their children, who grew up in the era of "free love" and were influenced by society (and the advent of psychology in the 1950s and popularization of therapy) to talk frankly about emotions. While a boomer can easily talk with a friend about marriage difficulties or even surgery, an elder is likely to find admitting such "weaknesses" abhorrent.
Another Country includes excerpts of sessions with dozens of Pipher's psychology patients, interspersed with not-so-obvious advice for sensitively communicating with the elderly. Some interviews are grim: one woman hallucinated that rodents were running through her house; she was so desperate for company from her family, but too proud to ask them to stop by, that she invented her own visitors. But the breakthroughs in communication Pipher is able to accomplish, sometimes with the help of grandchildren as intermediaries, are startling and thoroughly encouraging. (For example, the animals the woman was imagining disappeared after she received company regularly.)
Pipher cared for her dying mother for a "horrid," guilt-filled year while this book was being written and says that she wanted "to help others in my situation feel less alone." She also aims to help each generation understand the other. In these goals she's succeeded brilliantly. Any adult struggling with issues with their parents, especially mortality, will find Another Country an indispensable source of suggestions and support. --Erica Jorgensen
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.