Terry Lynch knows how to get your attention. The title of his book "But I Don't Want Eldercare!" is enough to get most people older than 40 to crack open the reference guide to see what it is all about. How many of us, after all, DO want eldercare?
Lynch - whose book is aimed at adult children who are taking care of, or considering taking care of, their aging parents - also knows his stuff. The Racine-based author wrote the 312-page volume after traveling that road with his mother, Leila Lynch, who passed away at age 89. It isn't only his own experiences, however, that went into the book, which is subtitled "Helping Your Parents Stay As Strong as They Can As Long as They Can."
Lynch grew up in Racine and later moved to Washington, D.C,, where he began his work advancing the independent living cause in 1977. He served as assistant to the director of the White House Conference on Individuals With Disabilities, managed a federal disability rights program and had a key role in developing what is now the National Disability Rights Network.
"That work gave me the foundation for my work today," Lynch said.
When he moved back to Racine in 1985, Lynch not only established his own speaking and consulting business, Strategies for Independent Aging, he also practiced what he preached, helping his mother remain at home for the next 10 years. The time he spent caring for his mother, which he calls the Terry and Leila years, was an incredible learning experience for Lynch. His book is his vehicle for sharing the lessons learned.
Some of the things that happened to Leila and Terry Lynch during those years - as well as to others they met along their journey - should not have happened, the author says. They didn't have to happen, Lynch says, and he wants others to know how to avoid such problems.
"If this is this hard for me, what must it be like for people without my background?" Lynch says he thought to himself before writing the book. "I wanted to empower people with the information I had and I also wanted to give people some hope."
Published in 2008 by the Legal Center for People with Disabilities and Older People in Colorado, "But I Don't Want Eldercare!" is packed with useful, easy-to-understand information on a wide range of care topics from communicating with aging parents to heading-off and tackling medical problems, creating a safer home, finding in-home helpers and making difficult decisions. There is even a section that deals with nursing home care, which includes everything from tips for finding the right place to how to build your family's "world" within that home.
Lynch also connects readers with many other resources such as the Aging and Disability Resource Center and the Alzheimer's Association, through which they can get additional support. The $17.95 price of the book seems worth paying, even if just for the 30-page resource appendix.
"People need to know what resources are out there and what they do," Lynch said.
"Don't forget," the author reminds us, "That your most important resource is your parent's motivation. If you can keep you parent's spirit alive, you can accomplish remarkable things."
Staying independent as you age is more possible than most people think, said Lynch, who recently gave a talk about his perspectives on long-term care to a group in London called In Control. At the core of such possibilities are what the he calls his Eight Rules for Keeping the Flame Burning.
1. "Old" is never an acceptable explanation (don't assume that changes must occur simply because of increasing age).
2. Prevention and "old age" DO belong in the same sentence (there are things people can do at any age to improve their quality of life).
3. Not all "Alzheimer's disease" is Alzheimer's disease (loss of memory and confusion may result from other, changeable sources).
4. Loss of interest in life is not normal at any age (depression is not a normal aspect of aging and can be treated).
5. Rehabilitation is not only for the young (don't count your parents out when they are down).
6. Preoccupation with safety can be risky (making parents give up activities they don't have to can be detrimental).
7. Your parents and you are the experts (you and your parents may know more than you realize).
8. The labels must go (don't let your parents flame of motivation be blurred
by age discrimination).
More about Lynch's Eight Rules can be found in an essay he wrote for In Control, posted on the organization's Web site at: http://www.in-control.org.uk/site/INCO/Templates/General.aspx?pageid=675&cc=6B
Helping aging parents stay as strong as they can as long as they can isn't always easy, Lynch says. But, by helping people to see what opportunities for support are out there, the author hopes to make that journey a better one for all involved.
"Think big about your plan, and then take small steps to get there," he said.
Lynch is also a very accessible person.
If you've ever spent time at Wilson's Coffee and Tea in West Racine, you may have already met him. He's the tall gentleman, often settled at a high, corner table with laptop, and smile, at the ready.
Wilson's is where Lynch wrote most of "But I Don't Want Eldercare!" He even mentions the coffee shop in the book saying, "I can't imagine a better office or community meeting place."
The author and consultant lives in his childhood home here and is glad to be back in the lakefront community, which he describes are very family-oriented.
"I found I belong here," he said.
On The Net
For more about Terry Lynch and his work, go to: http://www.agingindependence.com
Copies of his book are available at: http://www.amazon.com and at the Racine Public Library.
You can send him an e-mail at: email@example.com