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Publisher's Summary

In telling the intimate story of caring for her aged and ailing mother, Jane Gross offers indispensable, and often surprising, advice for the rapidly increasing number of adult children responsible for aging parents. Gross deftly weaves the specifics of her personal experience - a widowed mother with mounting health problems, the attendant collision of fear and ignorance, the awkward role reversal of parent and child, unresolved family relationships with her mother and brother, the conflict between her day job and caregiving - with a comprehensive resource for effectively managing the lives of one's own parents while keeping sanity and strength intact.

Packed with information, A Bittersweet Season explains which questions to ask when looking for a nursing home or assisted living facility; how to unravel the mysteries of Medicare and Medicaid; why finding a new general practitioner should always be the first move when relocating an elderly parent; how to weigh quality against quantity of life when considering medical interventions; why you should always keep a phone charger and an extra pair of glasses in your car; and much more. It also provides astute commentary on a national health-care system that has stranded two generations to fend for themselves at this most difficult of times.

No less important are the lessons of the human spirit that Gross learned in the last years of her mother's life, and afterward, when writing for the New York Times and The New Old Age, a blog she launched for the newspaper. Calling upon firsthand experience and extensive reporting, Gross recounts a story of grace and compassion in the midst of a crisis that shows us how the end of one life presents a bittersweet opportunity to heal old wounds and find out what we are made of.

Wise, unflinching, and ever helpful, A Bittersweet Season is an essential guide for anyone navigating this unfamiliar, psychologically demanding, powerfully emotional, and often redemptive territory.

©2011 Jane Gross (P)2011 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"There are no easy answers here, because there are none. A thought-provoking resource for end-of-life care." (Kirkus)

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  • Overall

Exceptional, thought-provoking, liberating!

This is a fantastic listen--honest and helpful. I am writing from the unusual perspective of an internist who is providing care for the elderly and have aging parents who live 400 miles away (83 and 84 yr--my mother with dementia and my dad aging rapidly under the responsibility of care-taking and the recently learned jobs of cooking, shopping, cleaning, etc etc etc) and 4 brothers who also live at various long-distances. I would recommend this book to any open-minded adult over the age of 45. It should be mandatory for ministers, doctors and nurses. If you belong to a book club, recommend this book. If you don't face some of these issues with your own family members, your friends will. The author gives lots of perspective and information in a fresh and honest way. You won't feel so guilty about those nasty thoughts when you realize that we all feel them (and most of us don't act on them). You will start to have insight into the things you don't know as well as some of the things you feel and do. If you are someone who doesn't have to make every mistake yourself, if you can learn from others experiences, then this is a must-read for you. You will be more likely to cut yourself and your brothers or sisters or parents or children some slack. Sadly, the author may be right that most of those who read the book will be reading it 'too late' because they will have already found themselves in her shoes. All of that said (and I could go on and on), Kate Reading is, as always, a great narrator. You will have no trouble listening. You will have trouble putting the book down.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Jakes
  • Carson City, NV, United States
  • 03-11-13

Challenges putting parent in nursing home

Where does A Bittersweet Season rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is easily one of the most helpful books I have listened to. It is an extremely informative book on handling care for an aging parent. The author's mother chose a nursing home. The author's experience demonstrates that the nursing home's basic menu of services is not the complete answer.

What was one of the most memorable moments of A Bittersweet Season?

The author watched her mother's physical capabilities diminish in the last years of her life. With her mother's mind intact, but her voice failing and her ability to hold a pencil gone, the author helped get her mother accepted to a creative writing class offered at the nursing home.

What did you learn from A Bittersweet Season that you would use in your daily life?

This book helped me understand the importance of having an end goal for an aging parent. You can't put a date on when a parent will lose physical and mental abilities. By planning ahead and knowing what the next steps are, you can be better prepared for the eventuality of full time care.

Any additional comments?

Read this book if you will soon be caring for an aging parent.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Outstanding! A must read for Caregivers

Where does A Bittersweet Season rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Bittersweet Season is at the top of my list. It is an amazing source of information, compassion and even laughter when you least expect it. Jane's description of her Mother's abundant character somehow softens the blow to this otherwise serious situation. Her description of out broken healthcare system, supporting documentation and metrics highlight just how unprepared everyone is for the future. The Caregivers, families, healtcare providers, insurance companies and especially the government. This is by far my favorite book on my least favorite subject.

What did you like best about this story?

Jane's practicality, humbleness about being, at times, clueless and her tell it like it is approach. The latter of which sounds like her Mother's apple didn't fall to far from the tree.

Which scene was your favorite?

Too many to mention. Most having to do with us as caregivers, rolling with the punches, being baptized by fire, being grossly unprepared and feeling utterly inadequate for the plethora of minutia which impacts, no, derails our normal starting with

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Welcome aboard! You are on your own. Best of luck.

Any additional comments?

Thank you Ms. Gross. Some of the things I had been thinking had me approaching a self assessment of Narcissism. I am glad to know I am far from being alone. -kc.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Big help substantively and emotionally

I learned a lot substantively about what to consider about elder care, both in the home and in a residential setting. It will be useful both in caring for my elderly father and in planning for my future. From an emotional perspective, it's not a cheery book, but it helped me better understand my father's feelings and behavior as well as my own.

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  • Story

Perfect story of the experience of aging parents

Any additional comments?

Have been listening to several books on this subject, this was last one I listened to prior to my mother's passing this week. As a society in US, we have care of elderly all wrong - wish there was an answer.....