Wow. Thank you, Roz Chast, for writing (and illustrating) this book. As I said on Goodreads, if you have elderly people in your life or plan to become elderly yourself, you should read this.
I saw one commenter on Goodreads complaining that the book was too much about Chast herself. To me, that's the beauty of this memoir. There are all kinds of manuals and websites out there with hands-on, practical advice for dealing with elderly parents and end-of-life issues and planning. What Chast has given us is her story--much of which will ring all too true to many people in her situation--dealing with difficult (at times) elderly parents: a very stubborn mother and an increasingly demented father, neither of whom wants to seriously look at what needs to happen. Chast searingly illustrates the role of the one person who will stand up and say, "This can't go on like this. Change is needed." Throughout, she tells us her history with her parents, not always an easy story, especially with her mother. Although my mother was very different from Chast's, I too had a lot of conflict with her and a host of unsettled feelings as she sank into Alzheimer's. Chast made me feel like perhaps I wasn't a terrible daughter, but did the best I could under the circumstances and with my particular history.
Chast doesn't set herself up as some kind of saintly caretaker, willing to sacrifice everything for her parents. She has a family of her own and a career, and all these things pulling at her make her complex and very human. At the same time, she shows us how people used to living an independent life--and very committed to their routines--become difficult about change, even when it makes things harder for everyone else.
The U.S. has a huge generation of people approaching their senior years. Even those who have lived a pristine life of proper eating, exercise, plenty of socialization and brain activity, could find themselves dealing with issues like these. Bravo to Chast for telling her tale.