Assisted Living for Our Parents: A Son's Journey

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ILR Press, 2007 - Family & Relationships - 211 pages
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"It is because I want to help other parents and adult children understand the problems and risks in choosing an assisted living facility—and thus avoid some of the negative experiences my mother and I had—that I decided to write this book."—Daniel Jay Baum

As the population of North America ages, millions of adult children are faced with the challenge of how to help their parents make the transition to their later years of life. For elderly parents in reasonably good health for whom living on their own is no longer possible, assisted living facilities (ALFs) are becoming an increasingly popular option, ideally providing some measure of independence with varying degrees of assistance and support. The author was sixty-four years old when it became obvious that his eighty-nine-year-old mother, Ida, could no longer live alone. After considering a variety of options, including home health care assistance, he and his mother decided to sell her home, and she moved into an assisted living facility.

In Assisted Living for Our Parents, Baum chronicles every step of his and his mother's journey into the world of assisted living, providing guidance for the millions of adults who face these same decisions. Baum's story is the intensely personal one of a son learning to cope with his evolving relationship with his mother, balancing his own concerns for his mother's health and safety with her desire for independence and a role in decisions about her own life. Readers follow Baum and his mother over six years, from their initial decision to move her into an ALF to discussions about her end-of-life wishes. Complicating all of these issues was the fact that Baum lived hundreds of miles from his mother, a situation he shared with seven million other adult children in North America who live more than three hundred miles away from their parents.

The author's remarkable honesty about his mistakes and misunderstandings on this journey will inform a wide range of readers about questions to be asked and preparations to be made. Baum also discusses the usefulness of informative meetings with facility administrators, staff, and residents. He distinguishes between the various levels of nursing care found at ALFs and advises about the problems of hospitalization for residents. He helps readers understand complicated and emotionally fraught financial matters (from insurance to escalating facility costs). In his final chapter, he considers alternatives to ALFs. A moving and honest guide to a growing and often confusing phenomenon, Assisted Living for Our Parents provides much-needed help to anyone having to navigate through the questions, problems, and risks involved in choosing an assisted living facility.

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