What most of us don't know about the longevity revolution
My Mother's Hip
Lessons from the World of Eldercare
Search the full text of this book
Luisa Margolies, foreword by Walter M. Bortz II, M.D.
Some 400,000 hip fractures occur every year, the vast majority among the elderly; all too often these fractures are associated with death or severe disability. After her mother's double hip fracture, Luisa Margolies immersed herself in identifying and coordinating the services and professionals needed to provide critical care for an elderly person. She soon realized that the American medical system is ill prepared to deal with the long-term care needs of our graying society.
The heart of My Mother's Hip is taken up with the author's day-to-day observations as her mother's condition worsened, then improved only to worsen again, while her father became increasingly anxious and disoriented. As both a devoted daughter and a skilled anthropologist, Margolies vividly renders her interactions with physicians, nurses, hospital workers, nursing home administrators, the Medicare bureaucracy, home care providers, and her parents. In the Lessons chapter that follows each episode, she discusses in a broader context the weighty decisions that adult children must make on their parents' behalf and the emotional toll their responsibility takes. Here she addresses the complex practical issues that commonly arise in such situations: understanding the consequences of hip fracture and its treatment, preparing health care proxies and advanced directives, enabling elders to remain at home, and the heartbreaking dilemma of prolonging life.
Like many adult children, Margolies learned her lessons about eldercare in the midst of crises. This book is intended to ease the information-gathering and decision-making processes for others involved in eldercare.
"In My Mother's Hip, Luisa Margolies seamlessly integrates medical information with an intensely personal story that includes the frustration and fear that result from caringand not always knowing how to carefor people you love. She explores end-of-life issues with the certainty of one who's been there. She knows how elusive the right answers can be and in their absence, how necessary are the qualities of patience, love, and understanding."
"My Mother's Hip should be mandatory reading for all those who treat hip fracture patients as well as for the families of the patients. Luisa Margolies has captured the true impact of a hip fractureon the patient, their family, and on our society."
"My Mother's Hip is a splendid and troubling book. Two of the great problems that come from medical progress are the use of technologies that can be less than perfect and the care of the chronically ill elderly by their children. This book is a wonderful exploration of what it means to be a dutiful daughter and a troubled surrogate decision-maker. Luisa Margolies' skills as an anthropologist bring those dilemmas to life in a compelling and readable fashion."
"[T]he book reads like a novel, [and] is very skillfully written."
"[T]his very readable book offers a unique view of the effect that illness has on the entire fabric of a patient's life. It will be of interest to both physicians and nonphysicians involved in elder care, as well as to the elders themselves."
"I would love to use [this] book with a class of gerontology and public policy students to launch a discussion of what a better care system would entail and how we might harness caregiver anger to achieve it. I'd also like to see narratives like this in lots of adult discussion groups in churches and synagogues, so family caregivers to those with serious and eventually fatal chronic illness start their work better prepared."
"[C]ompelling.... Not only does Margolies add to the growing body of literature on ageing [sic] and health care, but she does so with great compassion and considerable anger about the current state of play. Anyone with an interest in heath care or health in later life would find My Mother's Hip an engaging read."
Find out more about hip fractures from Luisa Margolies's FACTSHEET (pdf).
Read an article from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 15 November 2004, written by Diane C. Lade.
Foreword Walter M. Bortz II, M.D.
1. Coral Bay Memorial Hospital
2. Sacred Heart Hospital
4. The Palms at Palm-Aire
5. Coral Bay II
6. From LovingCare to Victoria Park
7. Boca Raton Medical Center
Epilogue: En Route