Book on long-term care tells it like it is

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A new book should be on the required reading list of novices and season veterans of long-term care.

It is called "Caring for our Parents: Inspiring Stories of Families Seeking New Solutions to America's Most Urgent Health Care Crisis."

The book, written by former Business Week correspondent Howard Gleckman, guides the reader carefully through the maze of long-term care. Gleckman covers clearly and succinctly complicated concepts such as Medicaid, Medicare, the latest long-term care housing models and long-term care insurance.

And he doesn't sugarcoat the issues. Every option, even the much-touted home care, has its share of challenges, he implies. And long-term care insurance is far from perfect at this point, he adds.

He also offers interesting perspective on the field, delving into the history of nursing homes and how other countries handle long-term care.

Gleckman does all this with the knowledge that can be gained only by someone who has done his homework. (He performed countless interviews with experts and families during the two years it took him to write the book.)

But it is not dry. Like a good news story, the book explains the issues through real-life examples of people who are dealing with various situations. We get to know Natalie, a nursing home resident who Gleckman calls "the face of long-term care for the elderly in America." He also brings us into the life of Peggy, a paralyzed younger woman who is struggling with the challenges of home care. There are also several vignettes describing loved ones who cope with the stresses of long-distance caregiving, finances and the complex programs of Medicare and Medicaid. Gleckman actually wrote the book after he and his wife were confronted with the challenges of caring for their parents.

Given the healthcare debate that is raging, the book comes out at the right time. Gleckman even touches on the CLASS Act and the long-term care insurance model that was espoused by the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging.

While the book is geared for a mainstream audience, long-term care workers can learn from the book as well.

Long-term care is a puzzle that so far has not been pieced together, he has concluded. This is largely because the system as it is set up makes it too expensive for both the government and even financially responsible individuals to bear.

This you have heard before. But here is a book that lays out in the clearest terms and language why. Lawmakers cannot read this book and not feel an urgency to act.

To find out more about the author, the book and how to buy it, go to

Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.