As baby boomers begin to turn 65, one writer offers a heartwarming and heartrending account of caring for elderly parents, and another helps boomers accept the reality of growing old themselves
By Edith Paller
A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents - and Ourselves,
by Jane Gross. Alfred A. Knopf, 368 pages, $26.95
Never Say Die: The Myth and Marketing of the New Old Age,
by Susan Jacoby. Pantheon, 352 pages, $27.95
Two thousand and eleven is a watershed year in the United States. This is the year the first baby boomers turn 65. They have become what is now called the "young old" (65-75 ), with some of them caring for their own parents, the "old old" (85 and older ) - the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population. By 2030, some 20 percent of the country's population, or about 70 million Americans, will be older than 65.
Two books by respected New York writers illuminate society's current knowledge and thinking about old age. In "A Bittersweet Season," Jane Gross, a longtime reporter and blogger for The New York Times, writes a how-to book based on her own experiences caring for her aged mother. "Never Say Die" is an analysis by author and former Washington Post journalist Susan Jacoby of how American society handles old age and what we can do to make our last years better.
Jane Gross and Susan Jacoby are two talented writers whose insights cross borders, with Gross inducting us into the emotional and practical realities of caregiving, and Jacoby entreating us to accept the eventuality of old age, however unpredictable it may be. Both books advocate preparing for old age with autonomy and dignity, if we're lucky enough to get there.
Edith Paller is a retired social worker in planning and program development. She made aliyah from the United States in 2008.
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