Seniority: In Search of the Best in Nursing Homes and Alternative Care in Canada


246 pages
ISBN 0-201-53890-3
DDC 362.1'6'0971





M. Annabelle Richardson is head of Twilley Richardson & Associates,
Counselling and Consulting Services, in Perth, Ontario.


Losing a parent is a cataclysmic event that provokes and promotes a
strong expression of feelings. The author appears to have used the
energy provided by her feelings to search out the questions that most of
us ask: “What did we do right? Wrong? If we had to do it all over
again, what would we change?” But self-talk should not always be
considered useful advice for others! Most insight and advice that she
has accumulated in her broad survey of experts are sound, fresh, and
indeed useful. The book is also based firmly in reality. It refuses to
gloss over the bad, such as the implications of staff shortages, the
prevalence of theft, and the possibility of abuse.

But I found the book an irritating read. The constant use of “your
loved one” to refer to the reader’s aging parent, relative, or
friend reminded me of the kind of language for which funeral directors
used to be criticized. The ideas, although thick and furious, were
repeated enough times. The advice is superficial, and ignores such
important questions as how to distinguish between little
“insignificant” difficulties and what is “really” wrong. Several
important ideas, such as the role of overmedication and dehydration,
were missing or barely touched on. The synopses at the end of each
chapter did not seem to always fit, and missed some of what I would
consider essential points.

The author’s approach and use of language appears ageist. The overall
impression is that this book follows the format of a simple child-care
manual. Surely residents of nursing homes would feel infantilized if
their beloved offspring were to follow the advice to insist that they
open their mouth so that their dental hygiene could be evaluated!

The author attempts to be helpful by providing a very extensive list of
resources. Of course, she can’t be complete. Except for two small
references, she certainly missed out entirely with my locality. And as
with any directory, she is found to be outdated already with others. It
would have been more useful to define the general scope and give some
few general sources in each locality from which accurate, complete
information could be obtained.

Overall, there are much better books out there for those who are
dealing with the care issues associated with a senior relative or
friend—and most have a much more respectful attitude toward the person
requiring the care and toward the complexities that those who provide
the care must consider.


West, Michelle., “Seniority: In Search of the Best in Nursing Homes and Alternative Care in Canada,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 30, 2024,