One of my highest words of praise for any book is “lyrical.” Dennis McCullough’s My Mother, Your Mother is lyrical, meditative and compelling. Dr. McCullough dissects the current state of medical care for Seniors with authority: he is a family physician and geriatrician in practice for over 30 years, faculty at Dartmouth Medical School, and doctor at Kendal at Hanover continuing care retirement community. He writes about Eldercare medicine as a healer and as a son: he interweaves his experiences with his patients with his experiences caring for his mother, who passed away at age 92.
Quietly, calmly and forcefully, Dr. McCullough denounces the modern American trend of commercializing medicine, extending quantity of life without necessarily extending its quality. He advocates a return to “Slow Medicine,” a conscientiously chosen path of honoring aging for its inevitability, to allow Elders to adjust to their changing circumstances and needs as gradually, completely and carefully as possible.
For example, take longer to ask your parents “How are you?” Let them take longer to answer. Let them be as independent as possible in their homes, maybe with some housekeeping assistance and physically modified household aids like grab bars in the shower, instead of rushing them to an assisted living facility with their first serious illness. Help them, if you can, to talk with their doctors: be a scribe and an interpreter who insists on “plain English” conversations. Resist profit-oriented tests and procedures and quick fixes with a multitude of medicines. Find trustworthy friends, community and service providers to supplement your own and your parents’ efforts.
This is only a glimpse at the depth of this book. It is worth reading.