When Older Is Wiser: A Guide to Health Care Decisions for Older Adults and their Families


196 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-385-25427-X
DDC 362.1'989





Reviewed by Christine Hughes

Christine Hughes is a policy analyst at the Ontario Native Affairs


This book offers practical advice on health-care issues that people
often face as they grow older. The authors are well-versed in the
medical field. Arthur Parsons has been a practising family physician for
the past 23 years, and Patricia Parsons has considerable experience in
health-care practice, education, and communication. Together, they offer
the reader “the knowledge and the tools to take control and keep
control” when dealing with health-care issues. They deliver their
message well.

Individuals making decisions about their own health care, or perhaps
assisting family members in doing so, will find the Parsonses’ book to
be a useful resource. The authors emphasize the importance of planning
ahead before a medical crisis occurs. They outline the advantages of
preparing an “advance directive”—either a living will and/or a
durable or enduring power of attorney. In one chapter, readers are
challenged to consider under what circumstances they might want to
undergo 10 specific medical procedures that could prolong their life
(i.e., tube feeding, hospitalization, resuscitation), as well as a
number of other issues, such as consent to organ and tissue donation,
preferences for long-term care, and the desired degree of family
involvement in care-giving and decisionmaking. In other chapters, such
issues such as nursing homes, home care, death and dying, the rights and
responsibilities of patients, and the role of caregivers, family
members, and patient advocates are discussed.

Each chapter is interspersed with a number of hypothetical case studies
and checklists of summary questions that guide the reader’s
decision-making process. Overall, the book is very easy to read (due
both to the large type size and to the language) and covers a number of
important ethical, moral, and social issues associated with aging and
medical care. For those seeking further information, there is a list of
suggested readings as well as the names and addresses of national
organizations offering support.


Parsons, Patricia, and Arthur Parsons., “When Older Is Wiser: A Guide to Health Care Decisions for Older Adults and their Families,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/7011.