Monday, May 25, 2015

Take My Hand Again by Nancy Parker Brummett

We're seldom ready when our parents need us to intervene in their care. Brummett wants us to be prepared and has written this book to be a companion in the process.

She addresses many issues, some I expected, others I did not. She starts by exploring the feelings we might have as we lose a parent as we have always known them. She explains how to watch for telltale signs and then the topics about which we will need to talk to our parents. She includes a good section on how the brain ages, including dementia and depression. She covers choosing living conditions and that tough one, when it comes time for them to stop driving.

She writes about the aging physical body, including medications, exercise and nutrition. She helps us think about the quality of life for our parents, such as whether they should continue to work and the making of new friends. She shows how we can help our parents be life long learners and take advantage of the digital age. She even writes about romance, noting that dementia can break down social mores and cause inappropriate behavior. She reminds us of the spiritual needs of our parents, including Bible studies and worship services. (If there is not a Bible study at the care facility our parent is in, Brummett suggests we volunteer to teach one.) Another area is helping our parents walk through grief. As they age, they lose their friends. Coming beside them with comfort is an important part of elder care. And then there is also the finances, power of attorney, etc. Finally, he process of dying and decisions that need to be made.

There are areas Brummett covered that I found especially meaningful. Growing older is a spiritual journey as much as it is a physical or emotional one. She suggested asking older people about their spiritual life, such as circumstances that made them trust the Lord more or maybe question His direction. The elderly are a wealth of spiritual wisdom from which younger people, like grandchildren, can draw.

A difficult subject but a very important one is caring for an aging parent within one's home. Brummett looks at the responsibilities, the role of siblings and the stress it can place on a marriage. She also looks at the very real situation of caregiver burnout.

One suggestion Brummett makes is very important – leaving a legacy. She has great ideas for tapping into the knowledge of aging parents. Her ideas range from family history to faith. She reminds us how important it is to preserve our parent's story.

In our mobile society, aging parents are often a distance from their children. Brummett helps us know how to assess and care from a distance. She encourages the use of aides like Skype, knowing that not all aging parents will want to use such technology. It is worth a try, she writes. She includes great advice for making visits in person as valuable and effective as possible.

This book is a good combination of information and stories. Brummett illustrates her suggestions with her own experiences and those of many others. That makes the book very readable rather than a dry account of what we should be doing to care for our aging parents. Yet within the book is a wealth of resources. Some of them are given in the text but there is also a list at the end of the book.

This is not an exhaustive encyclopedia of elder care but it is a good place to start. The conversational style of Brummett's writing is encouraging as we contemplate the actions and decisions to come.

Nancy Parker Brummett is an author and freelance writer. She experienced her mother and mother-in-law aging and that, along with her academic interest in aging led her to receive the Professional Advancement Certificate in Gerontology from the University of Colorado. She now focuses her writing and speaking on older adults and those who care for them. She and her husband live in Colorado Springs. You can find out more about her and subscribe to her blog on aging issues at

Kregel Publications, 224 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

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