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A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents--and Ourselves
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A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents--and Ourselves

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  333 ratings  ·  94 reviews
Just a few of the vitally important lessons in caring for your aging parent—and yourself—from Jane Gross in A Bittersweet Season

As painful as the role reversal between parent and child may be for you, assume it is worse for your mother or father, so take care not to demean or humiliate them.
Avoid hospitals and emergency rooms, as well as multiple relocations from home to a
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ebook, 368 pages
Published April 26th 2011 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2011)
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Jill
The worst nightmare of most adult children is that their parents will die a lingering death, suffering a drawn-out and humiliating series of losses and depleting all financial reserves. Yet somehow, we think, “It won’t happen to OUR family.”

Wrong! In Jane Gross’s important new book, she reveals that approximately 40 percent of Americans, generally past the age of 85 will follow this course – and that number will only grow with improvements and prevention and treatment of cancer, heart disease, a
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Karen
I heard the author of this book, Jane Gross, on the American Public Radio show "Being" and realized she had gone through what I am going through now. My mother is 90 and living in an assisted living facility. She is in a wheelchair, but reasonably cognizant. Certainly not on death's door, but one has to admit the door is not too far from opening. In the meantime, all the stresses associated with this had been weighing on me. Deciding to buy this book may have been one of the smartest things I've ...more
Deborah
About a third of the way into 'A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents--and Ourselves,' Jane Gross recalls a conversation with Dr. Rosanne Leipzig, a geriatrician at Mount Sinai Medical Center, that ended with her "crying in regret for all the now-obvious things I could have done differently. . . . Now, in choosing to guide others through this process by revisiting my own family's experience, the old dust was flying and tears came easily and often." Combining the skills of a seasoned ...more
Ann
I heard Jane Gross on NPR, and she has a blog on old age ("The New Old Age") on the New York Times web site. This book is about the complexities of caring for aging parents. She explains why "aging in place," everyone's ideal situation, isn't possible for very many; how many of the very old (85 plus) reverse migrate from sunshine retirement places to assisted living homes and nursing homes closer to their children; and she explores the realities of dying at 85 plus (that you can "rot away" as yo ...more
blmagm
I was driving on my way to church, listening to NPR. An interview with Jane Gross caught my attention, and when I arrived, rather than hopping out of the car, I waited until the conclusion of her talk- a "driveway moment," as they are called on public radio pledge drives. Jane writes a blog for the New York Times on caring for the elderly and has written a personal account of caring for her own mother in A Bittersweet Season. I ordered it from Barnes and Noble and eagerly awaited its arrival. It ...more
John Benson
Jane Gross has combined a self-help book on caring for an aging parent along with a memoir of the last three years that she and her brother spent taking care of their dying mother. The two parts don't always work together very well. I think the memoir portion is more successful. Still, it was a book that gave me much to think about as I, along with many others, have to consider the lives of our aging parents and their care in the future.
Joan Newcomb
This book was very supportive when I was caring for my dying mother. Although it did not address my personal issues (I was her hands on caretaker), it held valuable information about medicare/medicaid, nursing facilities (which we didn't use in my mother's case), sibling involvement (mine were 'hands off'), and VSED. Strongly recommend it for anyone with aging parents!
Alison
Do yourself a favor - READ THIS BOOK! I wish it had existed when I was caring for my dying mother. Gross provides a wealth of information for navigating Medicare and caregiving.
Jt O'Neill
This was a tough book to read. Old age is no place that I want to be and Jane Gross clearly shows how and why that is. My 91 year old mother is living the slow decline to death right now. My siblings and I are living the painful path of dealing with each other as she declines. Jane's observations are thoughtful and, for the most part, accurate in my experience. It's been three years since this book was published and I think that there is change in dying on the way. More and more people are writi ...more
Sheila Gardner
A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents--and Ourselves

Exposing huge gaps in my own understanding of the aging process, this book helped me to explore this part of the circle of life and the necessary choices boding before the older population, both hidden and known. Some of the craziness swirling around in government regulations and in our healthcare system,added to how all of it intertwines with caregiving for the elderly, left me stunned and confused. The author attempts to navigate
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Laura
A refreshingly unflinching and unsentimental (rather like the author's mother!) guide whose advice I fortunately have not yet had to put to the test myself. However, it seems like excellent reading both for elderly parent and adult child to help with preparation for difficult conversations and decisions. My main quibble is that as someone with no children herself, and whose sources on this particular topic all seemed to be upper middle class professionals, Jane Gross really should have steered c ...more
Noreen
I decided to read this after spending two weeks with my 86-year-old mother this past December and noticing a shocking increase in her cognitive impairment. I'm afraid I was short with her a number of times and I feel guilty about it. I searched the net on the subject of being more patient and compassionate with elderly loved ones and found The New Old Age Blog on the New York Times website, written by Jane Gross and two other reporters. I shopped for books and this one seemed perfect. I remember ...more
Nancy
May 13, 2011 Nancy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: baby boomers with elderly parents
Part memoir, part informational, A Bittersweet Season, is very readable. The book recounts author, Jane Gross' experience in the last few years of her mother's life. Some of the information I already knew, or is too late for me, but there is a lot of good, practical information here. But what touched me most was the sharing of the author's personal experiences and feelings as she went through her mother's decline. Though Gross's mother and her limitations are very different from my mother, there ...more
Judy
Jun 12, 2011 Judy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone caring for elderly parents
Shelves: health, mental-health
I appreciate her honesty. I don't agree with her about assisted suicide but found her book extremely helpful.

p 13-14: My mother wouldn't have welcomed my intrusion, but I should have been pushier...But I like our family's rules of (dis)engagement because they made my life easier.

p 26: He [brother] advised including my mother in the conversation immediately, as she was already primed to move north, and this might be the time to address everything at once. Both of us would be happiest if she could
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Karen
Jane Gross writes three books bound in one: 1) She's processing her mother's journey from independent living through assisted living to skilled nursing and finally to death's door. Gross wonders if she made correct decisions and if she responded appropriately. The book give incredible detail about her feelings as well as the pragmatics of her mothers situation. 2) She's writing a guidebook for other adult children, hoping to help them avoid pitfalls that she and her brother Michael fell into in ...more
Jessica
Part memoir, part advice, Jane tells the story of her mum's slow decline and what she learned from it. She discusses funding (Medicare v. Medicaid) and the maze of trying to get her mum's care covered. She discusses the stigma of going "on welfare" and how in the end, Medicaid didn't really pay for very much after all. She discusses how to plan for and cope with an elderly patient's needs, though her advice is definitely from her own experience of someone fairly well off. The most validating (th ...more
H.d.smith
This book is a must for anyone with an aging parent or spouse. Jane Gross speaks from her own experience of moving her mother to NYC, looking for a retirement home that is "nice" and also affordable. Her mother had some physical problems that made living alone in the SouthEast no longer feasible.

She writes that "assisted living' is a joke! Every "assist," like helping to get dressed, to bathe, changing linen, light housekeeping...all cost extra.

Gross became so stressed from her fulltime job at t
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Jessica
This book was a real slog, partly because of the topic, which is important but pretty grim, and partly because it was repetitive and the author is a bit whine-y. Still, it tackles the subject with great honesty and is worth reading if you are in the midst of or about to begin caring for a dependent parent.

Jane Gross describes her experiences taking care of her mother, who moves from Florida to the New York area when her health starts to decline. Jane and her brother, Michael, do their best to ar
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Christine
Anyone caring for elderly parents or who will get old themselves (who could that be?)will probably benefit from reading this book. Perhaps denial is human nature but it seems there is a lot of wishful thinking or willful ignorance about what happens in our modern American society around aging and death. One example the author cites ilustrates the problem. A physician expert on geriatrics was addressing a Hastings Center gathering and began by asking, "Who here expects to die?" There were a few n ...more
Homewood Public Library
Mar 04, 2012 Homewood Public Library rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Baby Boomers, Anyone caring for aging family members
Shelves: nonfiction, aging
Telling the story of her mother, Jane Gross offers important advice for adult children responsible for an aging parent. She writes the weekly New York Times blog: The New Old Age, a helpful guide for anyone in the unfamiliar and challenging territory of caring for an aging parent.

The author integrates her personal experience-a widowed mother with growing health problems, the awkward role reversal of parent and child, conflict between her day job and care giving - with a comprehensive resource fo
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Peggy
Knowing that we were experiencing a crisis with aging parents different friends started to say, there's this book you have to read. It was Alison Krupnick who gave the title. Everyone was right this is the book that anyone with parents needs to read (or friends with parents). As the author Jane Gross states, if you're reading this book it's probably because you are in crisis. This was one of the most informative and yet accessible books I've ever read (forget What To Expect When You're Expecting ...more
Lori
This is a book for people who will care for their aging parents, although most who read it, pick it up after the "Bittersweet Season" has ended. I now understand better why my mother-in-law referred to the aging in the critical care lock down area as, "those people". It is too close to home, obvious demise of her own impending end. I found the chapter on necessary fibs familiar. I now have a better appreciation of the Assisted Living facility who cared for my mother-in-law. I did not have Jane G ...more
Erin
Excellent, depressing, terrifying, a must-read. Highly recommend this book. A must for anyone with aging parents, aging in-laws, or who is planning on getting older themselves. The lucky ones die before 85. I've read many books like this but this one managed to bring new information to the table. Worth picking up.
Sofia
I found this book to be a good realistic review of the not so golden years, unfortunately, awaiting all of us. Because of my work in healthcare and having mother with Alzheimer's disease, a lot of information in this book was very familiar to me. I think that most people, however, would find author's advice very helpful in many legal, moral and financial issues which inevitably arise when taking care of the elderly parents.
The book was too long and repetitive, however. And in my particular case,
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Jackie
The author started "The New Old Age" blog for the NYT. The book reflects her expertise and her own experience with her mother's end-of-life care. It covers the medical, psychological, financial and relationship issues involved in caring for a failing parent. There's a useful list of resources at the end of the book.
Ann
I found the author's realistic and poignant style compelling. Her feelings were beautifully expressed as she described the heartbreak of her Mother's last days and carrying out her wishes, and the way her life and relationship with her brother changed after her death.

I originally picked up this book at the library to decide if I would buy it for my sister-in-law who was taking care of my father-in-law. He has since decided he wanted to strike out on his own, a decision we are honoring with trep
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Ellen Tveit
An eye-opening must-read for anyone who is or expects to be caring for an elder with diminishing health and/or who hopes to someday be elderly in America. Lots of practical advice delivered alongside good storytelling.
Juliana
Jun 27, 2012 Juliana rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Juliana by: Sharon Harris
In dealing with my mother's recent decline, this book recommended by my colleague Sharon was a godsend.

New York Times journalist and blogger Jane Gross describes the long slow process of her own mother's decline and both good and bad decisions made along the way. The book is packed with helpful advice and by reading it you gain a good view of what is fracked up with our health and government systems for dealing with the elderly.

Wondering if your mother or father are starting a decline? Did you
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Carl
There is some very good information in this book that mixes the story of the decline of the author's mother with many observations on becoming old and caring for the elderly. There really were two books here and I would be more interested in the nonfiction one about growing old and caring for the elderly.
Qi
A first person account of living through the caring of an aging parent. In her case, it is her mother, who had made something difficult and other things easy for being the recipient of a care process, dually provided by the children (daughter and son) as well as the best of the institutional services. It is a story of the very resourced and connected upper middle class in NYC, arguably the center of the modern world. This book is both self-obsessed as well as publicly-generous.

The takeaway of t
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“I had spent the last two weeks consumed with my mother’s condition, at her side for many hours every day, living in a soup of fear, guilt, heartbreak, resentment, loneliness, and exhaustion from bearing the weight of so much responsibility.” 0 likes
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