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Elder Rage, or Take My Father... Please!: How to Survive Caring for Aging Parents Paperback – April 1, 2001
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"I thought I knew Jacqueline until I read her book. Wow, what a story!" -- Regis Philbin
"Jacqueline tackles that part of life that most think will never happen and shocks us out of our denial..." -- Dr. Dean Edell
"Jacqueline's story and style of writing will surely grab a large readership." -- Hugh Downs
“Your warmth, humor and courage in tackling this sensitive topic, speaks volumes for your strength and character.” -- Erin Brockovich
“Jacqueline’s heart-warming account of the love she gives her parents touched my heart. This is must-reading for Baby Boomers.” -- Leeza Gibbons
“Delightfully written with wit and compassion, this firsthand drama is a primer for anyone with aging parents.” -- Ed Asner
“There’s nothing like a real life story by someone who’s been there—done that. This is a gripping true story that will make you cry and laugh.” -- Phyllis Diller
From the Publisher
If you're caring for an elderly loved one and find the task daunting, you're in the same position Jacqueline Marcell found herself. She gave up her career as a television executive, went through 40 caregivers and cried rivers for a year before solving the endless crisis medically, behaviorally, socially, legally, financially and emotionally. Passion to save others from a similar experience resulted in her first book, "Elder Rage", a Book-of-the-Month Club selection receiving 50 prestigious endorsements, over 300 5-Star Amazon reviews, is required reading for courses in geriatric assessment and management, and being considered for a film.
Delivered with a humorous tone to make a tough subject palatable, Marcell relates how she fought through an unsympathetic medical system and endured her "Jekyll & Hyde" father's wrath, until she finally found help for him and her ailing mother. What she didn't understand was that his deeply engrained life-long negative behavior pattern of yelling to get his way (though never at her before), was becoming intermittently distorted with the onset of dementia, namely--Alzheimer's. Marcell points out that not everyone becomes aggressive with dementia, and that her mother was sweet and lovely before and after her Alzheimer's diagnosis.
Statistically families (and doctors who are not dementia specialists) ignore early warning signs because they incorrectly believe that intermittently odd behaviors are just stress and a normal part of aging. Marcell says, "By the age of 65, one out of every eight has some form of dementia, and by the age of 85, nearly one out of every two. Surprisingly, the fastest growing segment of our population is the 85+ group."
Marcell says her mission is to "spread the word about the importance of early diagnosis of Alzheimer's to 77 million baby boomers who are in denial until a crisis." She wants everyone to know that with proper treatment, dementia symptoms can be masked/slowed, keeping the person independent longer. "Seeking help early can save families so much heartache and money, and save our society the burden of caring for so many who decline sooner than need be."
The Alzheimer's Association reports that by delaying the onset of A.D. for five years, the U.S. could save $50 billion in annual health care costs. Even a one-month delay in nursing home placement could save $1 billion a year. Marcell says, "It's really very simple: When your loved one does something that strikes you as illogical or irrational--it is! You don't need to have a Doctorate degree to know something is wrong--you need the right Doctor who can diagnose and treat dementia properly."
Marcell credits the Alzheimer's Association for referring her to a neurologist specialized in dementia who after a battery of tests uncovered her father's early stage Alzheimer's, while all of his other healthcare professionals missed it entirely. He prescribed medication to slow the dementia and improve her father's cognitive functioning (Aricept, Exelon, Razadyne, Namenda), and treated the aggression and (often-present) depression. After balancing with optimal nutrition and therapies, Marcell implemented her own `Elder Behavior Modification 101', and succeeded in turning around her father's nasty behaviors the majority of the time. And when that didn't work she used distraction, redirection, reminiscence and validation... but discovered the offer of his favorite ice cream worked the best to get him in the shower--even as he swore a blue streak at her that he had just taken one yesterday (actually a week ago).
The final key was getting herself into a support group and getting her parents out of bed ("waiting to die") and enrolled in physical and emotional therapies at an Adult Day Health Care, which completely turned their lives around at 80 and 85. Marcell adds, "75% of dementia patients are cared for at home and sadly elder abuse is rising dramatically because families are unprepared for the frustrations. She believes that with education and the use of Adult Day Care, elder abuse can be reduced. The National Center on Elder Abuse published a very favorable review of Elder Rage in their national newsletter.
Marcell emphasizes, "Dementia costs American business multi-billions of dollars a year--largely due to lost productivity from absenteeism of employees who must take time off to care for ailing loved ones. Everyone should know the ten early warning signs of Alzheimer's and the importance of getting the right help sooner than later." Marcell says she learned caregiving the hard way which is why she wrote her first book, "so that no one would ever have to go through what I did." Determined to make a difference, Marcell says her ultimate goal is to help change our eldercare laws." She laughs, "I have an ulterior motive--I don't have children, so I've got to help straighten things out before I get there!"
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I was hoping to recommend this book to the families of some of my more challenging patients (I am a geriatric neurologist), but this narrator really makes the process of caring for a parent with dementia sound like the greatest act of self-sacrifice known to (wo)man, rather than the fairly ordinary, if difficult, task that it is.
I could not finish ELDER RAGE as I found the humour banal and the endless song references irritating.
I could not relate to the relationship between the author and her father. I was searching for spiritual and emotional guidance on how to cope with the difficulties of care-giving for my Father, as his mental, physical and emotional deterioration took a heavy toll on us as we had always been privileged to have the most wonderful, gentle and loving man as a Dad.
ELDER RAGE did not provide me with anything that I needed or required from a text on caregiving for the elderly.
If you are looking for a wise and compassionate book that sensitively and wisely guides you through a similar caregiving experience, I'd highly recommend another book called So Far Away: A Daughter's Memoir of Life, Loss, and Love by Dr Christine W Hartmann
Another excellent book which provides spiritual guidance for a person in a caregiving role is Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death by Dr Joan Halifax
A delightfully funny and compassionate book about care giving for the elderly is The Selfish Pig's Guide to Caring by Hugh Marriott
DISCLAIMER: I have no connection, affiliation or association whatsoever with the authors of the alternative books I recommend, other than as a reader who discovered an author whose book provided me with immense comfort during a difficult time in my life. I end my review of Elder Rage by recommending these books as alternatives for other readers who are looking for more positive, compassionate and spiritual reads than Elder Rage provided me.
I bought the book and I am a hundred pages into it. The question comes to mind. Does this ever get better? So far I am simply listening to someone else’s nightmare. It is self-aggrandizing, sad and simply not helpful. I am tired of the countless movie and TV references. I had some delusion that this would be a book of “if they try this then do that”. It is nothing but droll. Does it ever become helpful? Please let me know what page to turn too."