The Complete Idiot's Guide to Caring for Aging Parents

Linda Colvin Rhodes. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Caring for Aging Parents (Alpha Books, 2001, 339 pages). From $7.95 on Amazon.

Even if you were an idiot about caring for aging parents before, you will know a lot after reading this book. Written by a former Secretary of Aging for Pennsylvania who also has experience caring for an elderly relative, the book covers the gamut of aging issues -- from common diseases elders face to the basics of estate planning. The book has chapters on hospital stays, home health care, community resources, housing options, veterans benefits, choosing a nursing home, and creating advance directives, among other things.



The author, Linda Colvin Rhodes, encourages readers to see aging through their parent's eyes. She explains what elderly parents might be going through, and then in very simple, clear language, provides a wealth of practical information. For example, she offers tips on how to help a parent deal with hearing problems or poor sleeping, how to recognize the symptoms of several common diseases, and how to help a parent stay in his or her home.

Though the book doesn't go into depth on any one subject, it includes referrals to other books and Web sites for more information on many topics. There is also a detachable reference card with helpful Web sites and phone numbers for caregivers.

The one gap in the book is a discussion of Medicaid. While Rhodes talks extensively about Medicare, Medicaid gets only a couple of pages, and Medicaid planning is not discussed at all.