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The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America
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The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  223 ratings  ·  39 reviews
By 2035, 11.5 million Americans will be over the age of eighty-five, more than double today’s 5 million, living longer than ever before. To enable all of us to age with dignity and security in the face of this coming Age Wave, our society must learn to value the care of our elders. The process of building a culture that supports care is a key component to restoring the Ame ...more
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published February 3rd 2015 by The New Press
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Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is an important addition to the literature on aging and work in America. It is written with an incredible warmth and understanding of the vast subjects of eldercare and caregiving in this country. It is impossible to read without relating some parts of it to your own experience, either as a senior, a caregiver, a parent, a child, or a member of the so-called "sandwich generation," those with children of their own and elder parents. I am recommending this book to everyone I know. Indisp ...more
May 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
The first half of this book was wonderful. It was informative and resonant with experience. Poo does a great job of understanding and highlighting the hardships facing families as they mount the challenge of maintaining quality of life while coping with diminishing independence of loved ones.
Unfortunately in the middle of the book Poo adulterates her purpose. She leaves the world of Elder-care and goes on a tirade about immigration and minimum wages.
Her premise that elder-care will remain the
Robert Wechsler
Apr 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This book is a double call for action. It calls for fair treatment of caregivers, with a focus on those who take care of the elderly. And it calls for the creation of a Care Grid, by which our society can best care for the elderly. One of the goals is the dignity of both the caregiver and the cared-for.

Unfortunately, the book is padded with biographical and autobiographical material that often adds little to the arguments, but is apparently what the author thinks will keep many people interested
Aug 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Anyone who has ageing parents should read this. With rising healthcare costs for the elderly and the homes for the elderly, both the ones with limited care as well as full care, are expensive. Once a patient checks in, the average duration of their stay is just under 3 years before death comes.

The first half talks about the elderly and our current system for long term care, but the focus on the last half was mostly about the caregivers.

I liked the focus on the importance of dignity and security,
Anne Libera
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure, I am working with Ai-jen and her team on using improvisation in care situations -both to bring to light the plight of caregivers as well as for use in caregiving situations. Having said that I found this book to be moving, hopeful, and an inspiring call to action. We are all involved in caregiving - we will all at some point in time be called upon to give or receive care and to work with those who provide care professionally. It is important for us to reflect on its value and to ...more
Apr 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
3.5 stars. Interesting and once I realized it's really about the care workers more than the elders themselves, I found it easier to read. It made good and important points, but they were maybe a bit repetitive for such a short book.
Oct 29, 2018 marked it as abandoned
I feel very silly getting less than halfway through such a short book, but sometimes your library holds all come in at once [shrug]. I will say I appreciate Poo's perspective of treating this big demographic change as not a crisis; I'm not sure how optimistic I can be about it, but she's got a good balance of solid policy / facts & figures with a joyful understanding of her subjects' worth and humanity.
Ellyn Lem
Dec 09, 2017 rated it liked it
This book was recommended to me by someone who heard Ai-jen Poo on NPR and knew I would be interested. I love the title of her book "age of dignity" and her passion and commitment to do more for caregiving as a profession and as something families do for their own. She has a good mix of personal anecdotes from her own family's experience with caregiving and many of the people she has known who work in this capacity since she has helped them organize into a union. Some of the book reads a little ...more
Dec 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: baby-boomers
"If you make it to age seventy-five having survived the threat of cancer and organ failure, the likelihood is that you will make it to eighty-five,even ninety-five or beyond one hundred."

"Research shows that caring for aging parents shared among siblings often causes childhood family dynamics to reignite, old wounds to reopen, and the healing of family therapy to come undone."

"Family caregivers sacrifices create a domino effect, hurting the caregiver's children and other family members, not to m
Dee Halzack
Feb 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book. Addresses everything regarding the increasing proportion of the American population that is aging and needs or will need services, from the demographics, to what is needed, to the "sandwich" generation, to the workers, to how to pay for it, to some solutions from other countries.

And, because, according to the author, without the immigrants who perform many of the services (and yes, many are currently undocumented) it touches on the need for immigration reform. E.g., were you awa
Mar 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An interesting and important look at dealing with our growing aging populations. There were enlightening profiles of people who have made care-giving a career as well as people providing care for family members. There are a lot of things to think about and plan for both for individuals and for society as a whole. The author raised some important systemic issues such as health insurance, immigration reform, and protections for domestic workers that our politicians really need to buckle down and a ...more
Esther Kim
Jun 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Ai-Jen Poo beautifully weaves her own personal narrative into a concise, dynamic analysis of the U.S. healthcare system. The deep compassion and love she holds for the people she works with (the National Domestic Workers Alliance, for example) can be strongly felt from within her prose. Ai-Jen Poo's visionary solutions to the current unsustainable health care system also give me hope and renewed energy to work towards a more care-centric and care-valuing economy and society - for myself and for ...more
Sep 18, 2015 rated it did not like it
Poo dispenses some hard truths about what growing older might mean for us, for those we care for & those who will care for us. It’s a blessing. It’s a drag. It’s gonna happen. Are you ready? Poo raises the typical questions and concerns regarding how we as a country and culture might come to grips with the rising cost of eldercare and projected increased elderly population. "The Age of Dignity" details a socialistic utopia fairy tale in which all individuals & forces magically align to c ...more
Susan Mumpower-spriggs
Based on just the ideas, I would give this book five stars. She addresses one of the most urgent issues we face as a society -- and are currently failing. Ai-jen Poo offers a vision of what we need to do, if we only find the collective will to do it. Her vision is not pie in the sky; it is a realistic and a caring one of which we are capable: providing training, livable wages, and support to caregivers, helping elders to stay in their homes (more economical than facility care), and making our co ...more
Dani Levine
Apr 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book provides a necessary introduction to issues we aren't but should be talking about. Our nation, like others, is experiencing a growth in the elder population, and we are immensely unprepared to deal with both the elders themselves and their grossly underpaid and undervalued caregivers.

Although the writing was a bit repetitive at times, the message is worth repeating, and hopefully this book is just the beginning of a very important conversation that will effect change. We must elevate
David Ryan
Jul 27, 2015 rated it liked it
According to the stats in this book, by 2035...not that long from now!...the number of Americans over the age of eighty five will more than double to 11.5 million. It is the fastest growing age group. As babyboomers are aging into retirement, Ai-jen Poo describes in this book the "Elder Boom" happening right now! She examines care issues, and envisions a new future, where more folks can stay in their homes and receive the care they need to lead good lives. She also lifts up fairness issues for c ...more
Mar 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The subject of this book is universally important because everyone has some relationship to caregiving in their life whether they receive it or give it, pay for it or do it for love rather than money. Poo shares a compelling vision of a society and economy built around what societies are actually about – the relationships between us. It changed the way I think about my family and my future in some profound ways and I'd recommend it to anyone. It's a quick read and well worth it more for the idea ...more
May 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An important and well-written read about the coming elder-age boom but it is also about the intersection of immigrant labor, aging in home, and home care workers. We all want to die with dignity but how will that be possible without major changes to our healthcare system, shifting our paradigm about aging, death, and dying, and, finally, fairly compensating the people we entrust to care for our elders? Ai-Jen Poo provides solutions to these problems.
Mar 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book is so essential for advocating for the care that our elders are going to need! The reality is also really depressing... and I definitely had to take breaks when listening. I have way more empathy for my parents, in-laws, and others that have had to make such tough decisions.

If you need a similar read, one that also tackles this subject well with more humor try Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast.
Feb 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Poo is a great story-teller. I don't usually like non-fiction (too dry, too pedantic -- give me a beautifully written, plot-driven novel please) but Poo weaves together her insights on aging and caregiving with a series of stories that really drew me in. I recommend this book to anyone caring for an elderly loved one, seniors trying to figure out how to age with dignity, and to parents trying to juggle work and family caregiving obligations.
Apr 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Simple, straightforward and useful

This book presents a positive and forward-looking approach to the "elder boom" facing America. I recommend it to anyone seeking solutions to the issues posed by the rapidly growing aging population in need of care to enable them to lead lives of fulfillment and dignity.
Dolores Voorhees
Apr 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
An important book. With the Elder Boom approaching, it is really important that those of us who may someday need care help insure that caregivers are trained and fairly paid. Aging at home makes sense, but many will need help to do that. Unpaid family caregiving is important, but families need help too. We need to treat care givers with the respect they deserve.

Aug 09, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. This book is a policy proposal, which is why I only awarded it 3.5 stars. Despite that, the author does an excellent job explaining the aspects of elder care in a way lay people can understand. I recommend this to anyone who wants to better understand this for their own aging concerns (or that of a loved one) or to better understand what policies would make the most sense.
Scott Schneider
Apr 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It is truly inspiring to read Ai-Jen Poo's book about the dignity of domestic workers and how we need to challenge ourselves to to transform our society to one that values caring. She gives lots of great ideas on how to do it at the end. She also tells lots of good stories to help get people to care. Thought provoking and action provoking as well.
Jana Panarites
Aug 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Incredibly moving, with many touching anecdotes from both the author and folks who shared their stories for the book. With 10,000 Americans turning age 65 every day, this book should be required reading for students and US policymakers.
Jun 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Quick, easy read that offers hopeful, compassionate solutions to the complex issues of aging in America by valuing care work and supporting an expanded understanding of the relationships needed to do it well.
Louise Aronson
Mar 06, 2015 rated it liked it
This is an important book, though it also has some notable missed opportunities. My full review in the NYT here:
Jun 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
important book raising a crucial issue
Jan 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Really original take on a big issue.
Jul 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: reference
More a manifesto of the state of things than a roadmap to solutions. Still, a good starting point.
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“Caring Across Generations, led jointly by twenty organizations representing caregivers, care consumers, and their families, is a national movement to embrace our changing demographics, particularly the aging of America, and an opportunity to strengthen our intergenerational and caregiving relationships.” 1 likes
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