I just finished reading A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents — and Ourselves, by Jane Gross, founder of the New York Times’ New Old Age blog. A chronicle of her mother’s last years, the book is part love story, part cautionary tale. Jane Gross bravely shares intimate details of her family’s journey down this path while providing essential information about the late life health care system and how to negotiate each step of the way.
Having worked for years in nursing homes, I thought I knew a lot about what lies ahead in later years. Upon reading this book, however, I realize I know a lot about nursing homes, and not so much about what life might be like before one gets there. As someone with seven close relatives between the ages of 74 and 92, I found the book a wake-up call. It provides a good jumping off point to start to one of those difficult, but necessary, conversations with elders who have read it too — and for elders to open the dialogue with reluctant adult children. Beautifully written, with wit and intelligence, it passes a New York City reader’s highest standard: I was so engrossed in the book, I missed my subway stop.