Lessons from the World of EldercareLuisa Margolies
Some 400,000 hip fractures occur every year, the vast majority among the elderly; all too often these fractures are associated with death or severe disability. After her mother's double hip fracture, Luisa Margolies immersed herself in identifying and coordinating the services and professionals needed to provide critical care for an elderly person. She soon realized that the American medical system is ill prepared to deal with the long-term care needs of our graying society.
The heart of My Mother's Hip is taken up with the author's day-to-day observations as her mother's condition worsened, then improved only to worsen again, while her father became increasingly anxious and disoriented. As both a devoted daughter and a skilled anthropologist, Margolies vividly renders her interactions with physicians, nurses, hospital workers, nursing home administrators, the Medicare bureaucracy, home care providers, and her parents. In the Lessons chapter that follows each episode, she discusses in a broader context the weighty decisions that adult children must make on their parents' behalf and the emotional toll their responsibility takes. Here she addresses the complex practical issues that commonly arise in such situations: understanding the consequences of hip fracture and its treatment, preparing health care proxies and advanced directives, enabling elders to remain at home, and the heartbreaking dilemma of prolonging life.
Like many adult children, Margolies learned her lessons about eldercare in the midst of crises. This book is intended to ease the information-gathering and decision-making processes for others involved in eldercare.
"In My Mother's Hip, Luisa Margolies has written two powerful books in one. The chapters of her caregiving experience read like a novel, one that more and more Americans are living every day. Her alternating chapters, called 'Lessons,' build a compelling argument for fixing—and humanizing—the fragmented system of long-term care in the United States. Every older American, family caregiver, and provider of health and social services should read this remarkable book."
—Gloria Cavanaugh, President and CEO, American Society on Aging
"(T)he book reads like a novel, (and) is very skillfully written."
—The Senior Times
"(T)his very readable book offers a unique view of the effect that illness has on the entire fabric of a patient's life. It will be of interest to both physicians and nonphysicians involved in elder care, as well as to the elders themselves."
—The New England Journal of Medicine
"I would love to use (this) book with a class of gerontology and public policy students to launch a discussion of what a better care system would entail and how we might harness caregiver anger to achieve it. I'd also like to see narratives like this in lots of adult discussion groups in churches and synagogues, so family caregivers to those with serious and eventually fatal chronic illness start their work better prepared."
—Medical Humanities Review
"(C)ompelling.... Not only does Margolies add to the growing body of literature on ageing (sic) and health care, but she does so with great compassion and considerable anger about the current state of play. Anyone with an interest in heath care or health in later life would find My Mother's Hip an engaging read."
—The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute