Cover image for Changing places : a journey with my parents into their old age
Changing places : a journey with my parents into their old age
Kramer, Judy.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Riverhead Books, 2000.
Physical Description:
xv, 238 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HQ1063.6 .K73 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Millions of baby boomers are facing one of life's most poignant challenges -- they are becoming parents to their parents.

It is a turning point that Mary Pipher illuminated in her New York Times bestseller Another Country -- and one that Judy Kramer knows well. Confronted with new emotional and practical challenges when her parents entered a nursing home, she navigated through a maze of medical bills and paperwork, gained valuable insight from visits with doctors and consultations with elder law attorneys, and found love for her parents in new and often surprising places. It was a difficult journey, and a lonely one. In Changing Places, a book based on her popular newspaper column, she shares what she learned along the way.

Author Notes

Judy Kramer is a journalist who writes for the Washington, D.C., area Gazette newspaper

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Kramer's aim is not to advise readers on how to care for aging parents but to describe how it feels to do so. She writes from the two-year experience of caring for her parents as they moved from their private home to a nursing home and through the slow deterioration into death. Kramer, a journalist, chronicles how she balanced marriage, career, and caring for children and aging parents in a process she describes as "one continuous exercise in triage." She describes feelings of anger, resentment, and helplessness at dealing with the needs of her parents and the demands of insurance companies and Medicaid. By recounting such mundane occurrences and minor victories as her father learning to navigate the length of the hall in the nursing home on his walker or her mother regaining the ability to read with the help of new glasses and a music stand, the author raises the reader's interest level. When her parents die eight weeks apart, Kramer begins the process of "caregiver withdrawal" and grieving. This is an eloquent and touching look at a common experience. --Vanessa Bush

Publisher's Weekly Review

Beginning as a series of newspaper columns recording how she cared for her parents, Kramer's work blossomed into a poignant book that plumbs the depths of love, loss and the ties that bind. "At times, traveling with my parents into their old age has felt like a forced march," she observes. "Often I have not wanted to go. But it gives me great satisfaction that we have dealt with the roadblocks, followed the detours, found the route, and made the trip together." The core of Kramer's book charts the course of their intertwined lives, from the point she began taking over the caregiver roleÄmanaging her parents' finances, driving them to doctors' appointments, helping them move to a nursing home and so on, all while working full-time and caring for her own familyÄthrough their deaths within two months of each other and the unexpected difficulties she had navigating the shoals of grief. Along the way, Kramer had to learn everything from what a durable power of attorney is to how to deal with bureaucratic complications, negotiate the vagaries of medicaid, step back when her parents made choices she felt weren't the wisest and find innovative ways to make their lives more comfortable (such as using a music stand to stabilize books that shaky hands could no longer hold). Kramer shares her frustrations and triumphs with candor; her memoir should resonate with anyone facing similar experiences. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xv
Introductionp. 1
Part I Afternoon - Changesp. 7
1. Departure: Closing a Homep. 9
2. Moving Inp. 12
3. Assuming Controlp. 14
4. Setting Up an Irrevocable Trustp. 17
5. Medicaid: Becoming Poor and Eligiblep. 19
6. Confinement, Contentment, and Commitmentp. 22
7. Nurturing Creativityp. 25
8. Preparing for Mortalityp. 27
9. Trading Placesp. 29
10. Feeling My Feelingsp. 32
11. Family Communicationsp. 34
12. Learning the Drillp. 36
13. Learning the Hard Wayp. 39
14. Traveling with Family Baggagep. 43
Part II Evening - Lossesp. 49
15. Looking Backward and Forwardp. 51
16. Losing Independencep. 53
17. Invisible Indignitiesp. 55
18. Making Choicesp. 57
19. Lossesp. 60
20. Innovating Around Lossesp. 63
21. A Good Lossp. 66
22. Living with Her Choicesp. 68
23. Losing Controlp. 71
24. The Meaning of Thingsp. 73
25. A Full Platep. 75
26. The Limits of Carep. 78
27. Trading Voice Mailp. 80
28. Time-sharingp. 82
29. Guilt and Realityp. 85
30. Finding Ways to Helpp. 87
31. Getting It Rightp. 89
32. The Last Dancep. 92
33. Running Out of Timep. 94
34. Rare Pleasurep. 97
35. Dad Won't Listenp. 100
36. Balancing Actp. 102
37. Showing Lovep. 105
38. Family Albums: Buried Treasurep. 108
Part III Night - Deathp. 113
39. The Gift of Conversationp. 115
40. Preparing Togetherp. 118
41. Medical Emergenciesp. 121
42. The Cost of Carep. 123
43. The Seesawp. 126
44. Approaching Deathp. 128
45. Allowing Death: The Advance Directivep. 131
46. Implementing Deathp. 135
47. Sharing Deathp. 138
48. Road Map: The Advance Directivep. 140
49. When the Question Is an Answerp. 144
Part IV Dawn - Griefp. 149
50. Caregiver Withdrawalp. 150
51. Surviving Deathp. 152
52. The Gift of Rememberingp. 154
53. Seeing Dad Againp. 157
54. Phone Fearp. 160
55. Recognizing Lossesp. 162
56. Life's Overdraft Privilegesp. 164
57. The Natural Order of Thingsp. 167
58. Missing Parents Differentlyp. 169
59. The Memories We Selectp. 171
60. How We Healp. 174
61. Finding the Universal in the Particularp. 176
62. Saying Thanks and Good-byep. 178
63. Meeting Parents as Peersp. 182
64. Wanting to Love Themp. 185
65. Hard Things to Sayp. 189
Part V Morning - Survivalp. 199
66. Legaciesp. 200
67. Balancing the Booksp. 203
68. Not Sharing Good Newsp. 205
69. Being with Dad Againp. 207
70. Feeling Grief and Reliefp. 209
71. Closing Accountsp. 211
72. Releasing the Recordsp. 213
73. Speaking Without Wordsp. 215
74. The Anniversary of Mom's Deathp. 218
75. The Legacy of Lettersp. 221
76. Looking In and Outp. 223
77. Lessonsp. 225
78. Fears, Feelings, and the Flow of Timep. 230
Conclusionp. 233