IT’S TIME TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE “TIGHTROPE OF AGING”— A TIME BETWEEN ACTIVE INDEPENDENT LIVING AND END-OF-LIFE
Hospice Expert’s New Memoir Shares Insights for Aging Parents and the Adult Children Who Will Care for Them
“Melanie Merriman’s memoir is a wake-up call,” says Pulitzer-prize winning columnist Ellen Goodman.
As the nearly seventy-five million baby-boomers in our country enter their 60s and 70s, too many remain in denial about the period in between full self-sufficiency and the end of life.
With boomers facing the possibility of caring for aging parents at the same time that they start to worry about being a burden on their own children, it has become critical to acknowledge this period and its unique set of needs and concerns.
Melanie P. Merriman, PhD, a former hospice consultant who has studied illness, aging, and our overly-complex medical system, has dubbed this period “the tightrope of aging”—a time typically characterized by ever-steeper physical and/or mental decline. Smart, capable parents cling to the familiarity of homes that no longer suit them, and refuse the help they need. Adult children try to keep aging parents safe, while respecting their autonomy. Finding balance is a constant challenge and the fear of falling is real.
In her new memoir, Holding the Net: Caring for My Mother on the Tightrope of Aging, (Green Writers Press, November 1, 2017), Merriman shares what she learned first-hand while caring for her fiercely independent, aging mother. In Holding the Net she candidly describes her efforts to make her mother’s final years the best that they could be.
Holding the Net includes a foreword by acclaimed author Ann Hood. “This is not the story of just one mother and her daughters. It is all of our stories—ones already lived, or ones midstream, or ones about to happen,” Hood says.
Part memoir, part social exploration, Holding the Net brings readers along on Merriman’s journey allowing them to learn from both her successes and her failures. Holding the Net offers practical details about the effects of aging on the body and mind, living arrangements for older people, health care decisions, and surviving a stay in a rehab facility. It also challenges the notion that anyone can achieve perfection when it comes to caring for an aging parent, and encourages us to simply do our best.
Merriman’s ultimate goal is to help readers find more positive moments and better deal with the difficult ones by anticipating and planning for this crucial “tightrope” phase.
Advance Praise for Holding the Net:
"For those of us who are still engaged in wishful thinking about the end of life, Melanie Merriman's memoir is a wake-up call and a gentle guide through the daily, weekly, monthly, yearly journey of helping the people we love through the difficult process of aging to a soft landing. She is honest about how hard this work is for loving caregivers as well as for their parents. Read it and be prepared!"
—Ellen Goodman, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, New York Times bestselling author, and founder of The Conversation Project
“Holding the Net is an engrossing, tenderly told story of a daughter’s loving care for her mother. Beyond just a good read, these pages hold pearls of practical wisdom that are gifts to any reader who happens to be a parent who is growing older or the child of one.”
—Dr. Ira Byock, palliative care physician, Chief Medical Officer of the Providence Institute for Human Caring, and author of The Four Things That Matter Most and The Best Care Possible
“A moving, matter-of-fact, deeply eye-opening look at what most of us will eventually face: guiding our parents through old age.”
—Cathi Hanauer, NY Times best-selling novelist and editor of The Bitch in the House and The Bitch is Back
“Holding the Net should prove both a much-needed comfort and a practical guide to anyone faced with the many challenges of caring for an aging parent. Melanie Merriman lays out her own journey through the last years of her mother's life in a no-nonsense but affecting fashion that reminds us of both the bounty of fully lived lives and the sacrifices that love requires. Readers will be touched, reassured, guided, and, most importantly, uplifted.”
—Les Standiford, author of Water to the Angels: William Mulholland, His Monumental Aqueduct & the Rise of Los Angeles
About Melanie Merriman
Melanie Merriman, Ph.D., has spent much of her life as a research scientist, hospice consultant, and foundation grant evaluator—driven by a passion to illuminate, understand, and find meaning. In addition to Holding the Net: Caring for My Mother on the Tightrope of Aging, she is co-author of Merriman’s Hawai‘i: The Chef, the Farmers, the Food, the Islands, a cookbook with stories about Chef Peter Merriman. Melanie and her husband Klein Merriman split their time between South Florida and Cape Cod, MA.
Title: Holding the Net: Caring for My Mother on the Tightrope of Aging
Author: Melanie P. Merriman
Paperback: 248 pages; 5 photos (B&W)
Publisher: Green Writers Press/Green Place Books
Publication Date: November 1, 2017
Distribution: Midpoint Trade Books