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Elder Rage, or Take My Father... Please!: How to Survive Caring for Aging Parents Paperback – April, 2001

4.7 out of 5 stars 660 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 346 pages
  • Publisher: Impressive Press; 2 edition (April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0967970318
  • ISBN-13: 978-0967970318
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (660 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #128,698 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Sandra D. Peters on April 3, 2001
Format: Paperback
Today, we live in such a fast-paced society, forever balancing our own homelife and that of our children, with work schedules, school events, household chores and multiple obligations. All of a sudden, we find our own parent(s)who were once so strong and reliant, have seemingly become the child and the roles have reversed. It is a natural instint of children to want to please their parent(s), so out of parental love, and with a heartfelt sense of gratitude, responsibility and obligation, we take on the additional role of caregiver, mentor, teacher, advisor, and confident to our aging parent(s).
Jacqueline Marcell has a way of making you feel sane again, and at the same time, her wit and writing style will capture your heart and help you to understand you are not alone. Each of us must deal with the situation in our own way, depending on our financial situation, available resources, position in the life's cycle and the allowable time we have to take on the extra responsibility. However, the first-hand experiences of someone who has "been there and done that" can help tremendously.
Over the course of ten years, I watched my father regress, through cancer and age, from a strong, independent, brilliant, business professional to a babbling, hallucinating, demanding, dictator. There comes a time, when constant, professional, around-the-clock care is required, that it may necessary to place the parent in institutionalized care. That decision, in itself, ususally leaves the family with mixed feelings of love and guilt, frustration and betrayal, and a host of other unanticipated, gut-wrenching emotions.
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Jacqueline Marcell is the perfect person to help those who must care for aging parents. She has been there, done that. She is an ideal guide through what is often a limbo of survival by hook or crook because she has a sense of humor.
Marcell teaches by example. With a light heart she tells of her own experiences with an aging father and with a system that can be far more exasperating than dealing with her difficult father. The light heart did not come easily. Because of the hard-earned know-how Marcell shares in "Elder Rage," the process will be much easier for you.
This book has been endorsed by many self-help gurus including John Bradshaw and Bernie Siegel. It has a succinct and well-written addendum on treating dementia by Rodman Shankle, MS, MD. He is the former medical direct of the University of California at Irvine's Alzheimer's Center.
Occasionally Marcell lapses into lingo that may be too hip for some; because of that, it might not be understood by some of those in-between generations who aren't suffering from Alzheimer's (yet!), but mostly the humor comes through loud and clear and does exactly what it should do.
Pain and love are often inextricably intertwined; following Marcell's story is like reading any good memoir. Because it's told from the heart, we identify and learn and then learn some more.
(Carolyn Howard-Johnson [author of] "Harkening"
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As a student of Gerontology I was anxious to read this book. I laughed (Jackie is a wonderful writer) and cried as I read about Jake and Mariel Marcell. I found this book to be very insightful and agree that it is a must read for anyone who is dealing with the elderly or even studying the subject. Jacqueline Marcell writes in such a way that the reader cannot help but get caught up in what is happening and feel as though you are experiencing everything she is going through first hand. I applaud her for her strength in dealing with her parents (especially her father!), the many caregivers she had to screen and a system that needs a real overhaul when it comes to dealing with the elderly and what is really needed.
She has gone through a lot and thankfully she is sharing what she has learned with the rest of us by writing this book, creating a website ..., and doing speaking engagements.
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I read Jacqueline's book with great interest. The book reads very comfortably. Aging parents are not the easiest to care for. It's an emotional rollercoaster as you'll read in her book. I was horrified and touched by all that the author went through, but she kept pulling through with perseverance, love, and tons of patience. This book has been extremely helpful.
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Jacqueline's story will touch the heart and soul of any family member who has cared for or will care for the elderly. I connected immediately with this story, recently experiencing the nightmare of trying to obtain help for my elderly parents. Just when I thought I had reached my emotional limit, someone recommended "Elder Rage" to me. This book has turned me around.
I know that if this book had been available five years ago, I would have avoided a lot of the current unpleasantness of my family's situation. "Elder Rage" provides sound advice from the voice of experience. It is not only a heartfelt story, but an excellent guide to caring for the elderly and for locating appropriate help. It is useful both as a planning resource and a healing mechanism.
I have looked at and read other books on caring for the elderly, but none present the reality of the daily situation more clearly. I laughed and I cried as I read this book, and realized when I finished it that I felt less alone. I have a new perspective about my role and about my parents. My undying thanks to Jacqueline Marcell.
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