Meika Loe (author); AGING OUR WAY; Oxford University Press (Nonfiction: Social Sciences) $29.95 ISBN: 9780199797905
Byline: Karunesh Tuli
"Little by little, the spirit gets broken here," says Caro Spencer in May Sarton's novel As We Are Now, describing her life in Twin Elms. Sarton based the nursing home she's speaking of on a "disgraceful" facility she visited in New Hampshire, "a place where more than one child has simply abandoned a senile parent, buried him alive." In the end, Caro decides to burn the house down along with the residents, reasoning that "death by fire" is better than "death by bad smells and bedpans and lost minds in sordidly failing bodies."
In Aging Our Way, sociologist Meika Loe, from Colgate University, examines the lives of thirty elders, aged 85 to 102, only two of whom reside in a facility. All of them, Loe writes, "believe strongly in autonomy and dignity, and retain control over their day-to-day lives." One describes an earlier stay in a nursing home as a "dark cold dreary" experience. Another said she would kill herself if she were ever sent to a nursing home. She died at home two months after her ninety-fifth birthday; a relative and two nurses cared for her at home in her final weeks.
Aging Our Way is Loe's well-crafted answer to the question many ask as they approach the end of their days, "How can one maintain...