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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!"
Top customer reviews
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Ms. Marcell's situation was, in many ways, parallel to mine own - parent(s) living many miles away and not doing well. Fortunately, she was able to journey to them and help them for 9.5 months, while struggling to figure out (and, believe me, it's not as simple as some may believe) how best to help her mum and dad. She uses humor to cope, as we do, as well.
There are elements of the story which struck me as brilliant (club on the steering wheel, for one) and others I understood her frustrations with (an unhelpful medical community). Knowing someone else is ) struggling with the complex issues that arise takes some burden off the reader's shoulders, insofar as understanding they are not alone in this fight.
There are naysayers in these reviews, but there always are - some are just happy to be malcontent. Looking for the love and the possibility of becoming a parental caregiver and meeting their wishes isn't easy, and no one does it perfectly (how can they when the parents seem to forget what they wanted!). Yet, Ms. Marcell is able to help her parents stay in their home for quite some time (which we were unable to accomplish), and is such a ball of energy I found myself agape at what she was able to achieve.
This is a wonderful handbook, full of lessons made easy through the pitfalls and triumphs of the author and her cohorts; the lessons keep coming while the humor tickles and resorts in out-loud laughter (at least for me) when she hits home.
I highly recommend this book for those who are trying to accomplish the same herculean feat, as well as others who may be facing the possibility of dealing with their parents. Had I read this six years ago, perhaps we'd be in a different place, now. Yet, I can recommend it to others in hopes it will allow them insight into the nightmarish world of caregiving and dealing with dementia.
She even has resources that will help the reader/caregiver, as well. A fine job!
Jacqueline has my deepest admiration for the way she coped with her parents in very tough times. Well written in humorous and readable style. Well done!