How to Survive Your Aging Parents... So You and They Can Enjoy Life By Raeann Berman and Bernard H. Shulman, MD; 2001; Chicago, IL; Surrey Books; 176 pages; soft cover; $14.95
The cover of this very practical guide describes its content succinctly as "a common-sense guide for turning a difficult time in both your lives into a loving cooperative relationship." Recognition of the difficult time experienced by both the parent (losses associated with aging, mortality) and the child (role-reversal, confronting one's own aging and mortality) is a common theme of the book. Effective communication is another theme. The authors write that communication should be "ego-syntonic." The words should offer encouragement, facilitate cooperation, or allay anxiety or fear. Communication should assist in finding new ways to cope with multiple losses. When the conversation is completed the parent feels better. Strategies for effective communications focus on learning to respond to parents' real needs, which may be hidden by complaints, crying, or other criticisms. The book provides useful techniques for talking about money, marriage, medical care, moving, and mortality with aging parents.
In addition to a plethora of vignettes of common elderly parent and child concerns and ways to promote ego-syntonic communication, there is a chapter on care for the caregiver as well as one describing programs for elderly parents to "compensate constructively." The book concludes with a brief appendix of resources for older adults. Professionals and anyone who is blessed to have an elderly parent will find ready-to-use ways to enhance this dynamic relationship.