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Coping With Your Difficult Older Parent : A Guide for Stressed-Out Children Paperback – February 1, 1999


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Coping With Your Difficult Older Parent : A Guide for Stressed-Out Children + Elder Rage, or Take My Father... Please!: How to Survive Caring for Aging Parents + How to Say It to Seniors: Closing the Communication Gap with Our Elders
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; 1 edition (February 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038079750X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380797509
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,895 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Grace Lebow and Barbara Kane, the co-founders of Aging Network Services of Bethesda, Maryland, are clinical social workers and care managers, specializing in older people and their families. They created a nationwide network of similar professionals to work with geographically separated families. This is their first book.

More About the Author

Grace Lebow and Barbara Kane are both clinical social workers. In 1982 they established Aging Network Services (http://www.agingnets.com), a social work care management and counseling agency dedicated to helping older people and their families. Grace is now co-director emerita; Barbara remains as director.

It did not take long for us to recognize that well over half the adult children who came to see us for counseling were in a state of stress over their "difficult parents." They used the word "difficult," not so much because of the physical burden of caring for parents in a state of decline, but because of the emotional drain of trying to help parents who were hard to help. In many instances the adult child had distanced himself from his parents either geographically or emotionally. But now that the parent was suffering from the ravages of old age, the child could no longer escape. In the intervening years we have helped thousands of such clients with their difficult parents.

Grace also gained the perspective of a family of a difficult parent when she and her husband Irwin, an engineer/physicist who had written several technical books, took care of his mother in her later years. Indeed it was this experience that gave us the idea of writing a book that would share our experience with a much larger group of people. We tried out our ideas on professional colleagues as well as on laymen and received the universally enthusiastic response that a book like this was sorely needed.

Grace is a graduate of Boston School of Occupational Therapy, Tufts University and a 1972 graduate of Simmons College School of Social Work. Barbara is a graduate of Boston University School of Social Work and has degree in Public Health from Pittsburg University.

Customer Reviews

Great book for caregivers dealing with a difficult parent.
CarrolC
The authors are quick to emphasize that since parents can't be made to change, the only hope for improving the relational situation is in changing as grown children.
David R. Bess
It was very comforting to know we are not alone, and the suggestions in the book helped to support what we were doing and try to not feel as guilty.
Karen Vasser

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

246 of 250 people found the following review helpful By David R. Bess VINE VOICE on November 29, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read several books and articles on the subject of children providing care for their ailing parents. This book is the first I have read that addresses the challenges of the interpersonal relationship between a grown child and an emotionally-draining parent. All the other books have dealt with the physical ailments of aging, or the individual challenge of being a caregiver.
The authors address several different types of interaction between a grown child and parent that are common today. Any reader frustrated with a difficult parent will find some area of this volume to which he can relate. The authors are quick to emphasize that since parents can't be made to change, the only hope for improving the relational situation is in changing as grown children.
Role-playing is frequently used to illustrate "before" behavior, then to illustrate "after" behavior as a result of using the specific principle suggested. The authors also encourage developing a mental strategy that plans ahead for confrontational situations. By identifying certain phrases and comments that trigger stress, the grown child can redirect the conversation and move it in a healthier direction for both parties.
This book does not address responding to serious diseases with parents, the decision of a nursing home, or major financial frustrations. It does deal with the constant irritation that can and often does develop between an aging parent and a grown child. I recommend it highly to all persons who are dealing with the stress resulting from interacting with a difficult, older parent.
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179 of 183 people found the following review helpful By S. N. D. on December 25, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book fills a gap in eldercare literature in a very unique manner. The subject is a touchy one: parents who have suffered with lifelong personality disorders whose problems have been exacerbated by aging. Often they have driven the very children on whom they depend away from them and now need their care. A person in the unenviable position of being a caregiver for such a parent is often uncomfortable even sharing what they are enduring with other people, for fear of looking as though they hate or are slandering their parent("How could their mother possibly be that bad?"). Navigating ordinary eldercare issues is challenging enough without deeply rooted personality disorders complicating matters and emotions.

My own mother suffers from what I now know to be narcissistic personality disorder. She was so fearful from physical and psychological abuse doled out by her own mother, that she clung to both her brother,and myself, her only surviving relatives. Her marriage broke up, and she ended up living with and being supported by her brother. She was fearful that I would marry, or get friends, and any friendship I formed was viewed as a personal affront, and she would let me know that it was her or them--- choose one. If that didn't work she would do something calculatedly embarrassing enough that the friendship was ruined.She worked for only ten years of her life, and never planned for retirement, stating "My girl will always take care of me!" I did take care of her, because I was afraid something bad would happen, her brother had passed away, and she would be totally alone. Finally at age 89, her legs gave out and she had become totally demented---on top of the personality disorder. The hospital staff admitted her to a nursing home.
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141 of 146 people found the following review helpful By katefin@aol.com on April 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
I have been hoping to find a book like this for the past two years. During that time, my three adult siblings and I have struggled with sick elderly parents and their painful, chaotic slide from independent living. There are many books on the needs/problems of the elderly, but this book is unique in that it is written from the perspective of the burned-out offspring trying to give aid and comfort--and it tells how NOT to feel like a guilty failure in the light of your parents' problems. In every chapter there are many practical insights and examples for understanding where your parent is coming from and for providing enlightened support and compassion--without continually sacrificing your own needs. There's a whole chapter on dependent behavior, one on negativity, another on fearfulness, including ways to handle them (and ways NOT to). I bought 5 copies of this book and sent them not only to my brothers and sister, but to two friends who are having trouble trying to help sick, depressed elderly parents. This is a handbook for that. I'd give it 10 stars if I could.
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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
An enormous "thank you" to the authors. This book reads like they were running a video camera on my life. Finally, helpful, experienced, =sane= commentary for those of us who struggle with difficult aging parents. This book addresses an important family issue that is usually ignored by other books on aging and caregiving. I'm ordering three more copies for relatives and friends.
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59 of 62 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book applies sound theories of human behavior to the relationship issues between generations. The relationship between the older, difficult parent and the grownchild is fraught with potential for unhappy, even dangerous living conditions. This book clears the air. The authors advise refocusing on the relationship between parent and grownchild rather than indulging in anger, guilt or other unproductive emotions toward the parent. The elderly parent may not be amenable to change. But the relationship can change if the grownchild becomes aware of, and is willing to change his/her part in maintaining a fruitless pattern. Thus the relationship can be molded to a more satisfactory shape by an insightful reader who modifies his response to his parent following the suggestions in the book. The reader freed from patterns that may date back to early childhood is in control of how this cornerstone relationship with parents is conducted. The explicit suggestions in this book show how to do this - how to set boundaries, depersonalize, empathize and above all to understand the parent's behavior rather than react to it. Such change can affect not only the elderly parent/grown child relationship, but other relationships in the grown child's life as well.
Thus, this book suggests the difficult, but necessary, basic changes that can improve our emotional health. Some may need a professional companion to help them apply the principles of the book. The book, however, may be enough for many intelligent readers puzzled by the problems their elderly parents present. The suggestions are concrete, backed up by good case examples and specific to a clientele with which the authors are very familiar.
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