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A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents--and Ourselves by [Gross, Jane]
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A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents--and Ourselves Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 167 customer reviews

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Length: 450 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews


“[Gross is] an incisive reporter with a fine eye for detail . . . A Bittersweet Season is sure to become required reading for anyone with an elderly parent who depends on long-term care.”
            -Associated Press
“This is tough stuff, and Gross writes movingly about the toll it takes on her and other caregivers. Although her tone is often darkly humorous, she’s serious about documenting the often hidden workload borne by middle-aged daughters and sons.”
            -Kate Tuttle, Boston Globe
“An invaluable guide . . . One thing is for certain: Individuals, families, medical professionals, and our society’s institutions have a pressing moral duty to reform our failing systems of care for the fragile old and dying. Jane Gross’s excellent book can help us do better on all these fronts. Middle-aged adult children can read with their parents and help prepare themselves and each other for the inevitable. Families can be encouraged to have those difficult conversations. Jane Gross has taken her own painful experiences and worked hard to give needed help to us all.”
            -Sidney Callahan, Commonweal
 “In A Bittersweet Season, Jane Gross combines her unique perspectives as a health journalist, daughter and caregiver to unflinchingly explore the last phases of her mother’s life and death. Interwoven with this inspiring personal narrative are practical, hard to access, vitally useful lessons and information she learned along the way. One way or another the issues and circumstances vividly portrayed in this book will be faced by us all, so we would do well to use it to help us contemplate the inevitable and prepare as best we can.”<b...

About the Author

Jane Gross was a reporter for Sports Illustrated and Newsday before joining The New York Times in 1978. Her twenty-nine-year tenure there included national assignments as well as coverage of aging. In 2008, she launched a blog for the Times called The New Old Age, to which she still contributes. She has taught journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, and at Columbia University, and was the recipient of a John S. Knight Fellowship. She lives in Westchester County, New York.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2923 KB
  • Print Length: 450 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; Reprint edition (April 26, 2011)
  • Publication Date: April 26, 2011
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004DEPII8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #148,345 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By The Spinozanator VINE VOICE on April 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a memoir about the final years in the life of the author's mother - AND a guide to the Rube-Goldberg-like complexities of Medicare, Medicaid, assisted living facilities (great for those who need no assistance), and nursing homes. It's about how the system is broken - a ridiculous maze of conflicting and unrealistic rules that (unsuccessfully) try to make a for-profit health care system humane. It's also about how, as Phillip Roth put it, "Old age isn't a battle - it's a massacre."

The number one killer in the US is heart disease - number two is cancer. After a motley assortment of other diseases causing "early" death, we are left with that large group where everything is wearing out but the body refuses to die. This group is subjected to endless serial humiliations - physical and financial. Even if older couples enter their golden years with a million dollars they can die bankrupt and on Medicaid. Enlightened ones might even plan for it and give their assets away early. The wealthy and the destitute have less to worry about.

Gross definitely gets it right. My wife and I (mainly my wife - as Gross succinctly points out, the primary family rep is female at least 80% of the time), are going through this for the third and fourth times now. We have faced or are facing most of the issues she covers. Her chapter about Thanksgiving dinner in the nursing home (touching on a pecking order resembling a high school cafeteria) was perfect. She could have been describing our exact facility - with one dining room for those who could use a fork and another for those who required "feeders." In her words, "The elderly hate that you have to visit them in these surroundings on a holiday, so act like you're having a decent time even if you're not.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The worst nightmare of most adult children is that their parents will die a lingering death, suffering a drawn-out and humiliating series of losses and depleting all financial reserves. Yet somehow, we think, "It won't happen to OUR family."

Wrong! In Jane Gross's important new book, she reveals that approximately 40 percent of Americans, generally past the age of 85 will follow this course - and that number will only grow with improvements and prevention and treatment of cancer, heart disease, and pulmonary disease.

Those of us who are baby boomers - used to being in control - must stand by and (as one of Jane's bloggers stated), "watch our mothers un-live." Yet we are stuck in a medical world where old age is considered a disease with a cure...when in reality, precisely the opposite is true. There ARE no heroics and there IS no cure for aging. Jane quotes Dr. Sherwin Nuland in saying, "The very old do not succumb to disease, they implode their way into eternity."

This one is PERSONAL for me. Like the author, I was thrust into an unanticipated role of moving my vibrant mother halfway across the country to a senior facility nearby. It upended my life, causing never-ending cycles of guilt, resentment, frustration, overriding terror and exhaustion - along with the days of feeling unaccountably blessed to have the chance to be a part of my mother's world again. I trusted my intelligence and management skills and believed I was making all the right choices. I wish I had read this book two years ago! Among the insights that Jane Gross reveals:

*The Medicare fee-for-service system is broken. To get paid, doctors must recommend a billable procedure; recommendations on lifestyle changes, for example, translate to no payment.
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16 Comments 61 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is particularly pertinent to me. My Mom is 84 and has just moved to be near me and lives in an independent living facility. However the author points out, if you are in your 40s and your parents are in their 70's it may be time to have that difficult conversation on how they want to finish out their days. The story starts out, with the author Jane Gross moving her Mom from Florida to NY state to be near her after some medical issues. This book tells of her ensuing struggles and mental angst that we will all face someday.

If you are in your 30's-60's and have living parents, this book will provide you one example of what you may well face as your parents age. There are many questions and choices that have to be made. This is a combination memoir and cautionary tale of the end of life struggles in our and our parent's futures. The author writes of what she went through with her Mom very specifically, but also provides information and discussions on aging in the US.
Some things unique to the author and her Mom, that she acknowledges:
* The author's Mom knew it was time to move nearer to family, there was no resistance. This is not the most common situation.
* The author's Mom was of sound mind and quite practical.
* The author's Mom purchased long term care insurance and had assets of her own
* The author had a brother who worked with her at this time
* The author and her brother have upper middle class jobs
* The author and her brother are childless
* The author and her brother live near New York City, so prices as well as availability of services were high.

To many of us, this situation is much better than we will face.
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