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A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents--and Ourselves Paperback – May 1, 2012
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“Unique and lovely. . . . How wonderful to have [Gross’s] mix of sage advice, pithy insights and practical discoveries at hand.” —Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone
“Nothing can fully prepare you for the overwhelming experience of caring for your elderly parents, but Jane Gross’s new book, A Bittersweet Season, comes awfully close . . . Gross is an incisive critic of our systems and institutions.” —The Seattle Times
“A forthright story and trenchant advice. . . . Intimate and affecting.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A smart and highly detailed book about navigating the complex eldercare system as it related to healthcare, insurance and end of life. . . . The kind of book social workers might suggest to the family who craves more perspective about the logistical issues mentioned above. . . . Readers will find they are engaged by how much they learn in reading Gross’s account.” —Psychology Today
"Hugely informative, and a gripping read." —Betty Rollin, author of Last Wish
“A Bittersweet Season is sure to become required reading for anyone with an elderly parent who depends on long-term care. It's also a worthwhile read for anyone who is interested in America's health care system as it braces for the demands posed by demographic changes that include a sharp rise in the group now termed the "old old." —The Huffington Post
“An invaluable guide. . . . Excellent. . . . . Jane Gross has taken her own painful experiences and worked hard to give needed help to us all.” —Commonweal Magazine
"With great insight and empathy, Jane Gross guides us through one of the most difficult of all life transitions—the decline and death of our parents. Not only does she provide a wonderfully helpful guide for how and what to do, and when. She also enables us to understand what our parents need, and what we ourselves need, during this passage.” —Robert B. Reich, author of Aftershock
“This is tough stuff, and Gross writes movingly about the toll it takes on her and other caregivers. . . . She’s serious about documenting the often hidden workload borne by middle-aged daughters and sons.” —The Boston Globe
“A Bittersweet Season deals with a sobering topic. But the narrative is so lively and informative that readers will come away feeling more prepared than pessimistic . . . An intelligent guide to handling the onset of old age with sagacity and sensitivity.” —BookPage
“This book is an invaluable and comprehensive primer on what most Americans will face soon. Its honest and loving message is to prepare yourself now.” —Jeff Madrick, author of Age of Greed
“Readers may pick up this very well-written book to learn about taking care of their own ailing parents, but will soon realize that it’s also a wake-up call to become educated in order to make informed decisions about their own inevitable aging.” —The New York Jewish Week
“A Bittersweet Season is a brave and compelling book by a masterful storyteller.” —Carol Levine, director, Families and Health Care Project, United Hospital Fund
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.
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Jane Gross offers a comprehensive look at how to age well using her 3-year experience with her mother’s decline. It’s a cautionary tale, but if handled right, a hopeful one, and, she reminds us, one that is about to become more common as baby boomers – some 60 million of them – age.
She builds her elder care lessons around her mother’s story, expertly weaving in Medicare and Medicaid definitions, medical information, along with common sense advice like “stay out of the emergency rooms to the extent possible.” Her book is not a social or political statement on elder care – Gross acknowledges her upper middle-class status allowed her to access services and resources for her mother in a way the poor or abandoned can’t.
In essence, that is the book: that the biggest advantage in growing old is not only having information, but the power to act on it. And the strength to do that comes from a family committed to their elder’s well being. If you already have that, you’re halfway home. To get all the way home, read this book as a guide to logistical next steps.
My daughter in law bought me the book as a gift because she knew the stress I was dealing with. I read it immediately and gave it to a sibling. This is not a how to fix it book but a book that can open your heart and mind to the reality of aging parents, unavoidable family strife, and provides resource information. The book gives you a chance to gain knowledge and be prepared for the future of helping older parents.