cover image Another Country: Navigating the Emotional Terrain of Our Elders

Another Country: Navigating the Emotional Terrain of Our Elders

Mary Pipher. Riverhead Books, $24.95 (328pp) ISBN 978-1-57322-129-0

Older men and women, as well as their children and grandchildren, will find this well-written and sensitive investigation of aging both enlightening and engrossing. Because the death of her mother was so traumatic, Pipher, a psychologist and the author of Reviving Ophelia, was motivated to study the aging process in order to promote meaningful connections between the generations and more cultural support for pursuing them. She provides a wealth of anecdotal information about the problems of growing older, drawing on interviews and her own therapeutic work with predominately middle-class white and black Midwestern Americans in their 70s, 80s and 90s, as well as their children. Pipher contends that a variety of cultural trends are responsible for there being so many isolated old people today: a movement away from communal to individualistic ideals; the generation gap between baby boomers and their aging parents; the lack of organized support for the care of the elderly. As she relates the stories of those she has met and counseled, Pipher describes strategies for dealing with illness, physical decline, the death of a husband or wife and the emotional problems that arise for both the elderly and their families. She emphasizes the importance of intergenerational contacts, the benefit of giving older people freedom to make their own choices and her resolute belief that families can fortify the honesty and love they share through involvement in a dying parent's final months. One of the strengths of this excellent study is that Pipher includes examples of troubled as well as rewarding marital and parent/child relationships. Agent, Susan Lee Cohen at Riverside Literary Agency. Author tour. (Mar.)