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Our Parents in Crisis"Our Parents in Crisis: Confronting Medical Errors, Ageist Doctors, and Other Healthcare Failings,” is author Ann G. Sjoerdsma’s compelling 12-year memoir of patient advocacy on behalf of her parents, who, although well-educated physicians, became vulnerable to dangers inherent in the U.S. healthcare system as they aged.

The misdiagnosis in 2002 of a life-threatening illness suffered by her then-78-year-old mother galvanized Sjoerdsma: The astute journalist and lawyer could see how the diagnosis didn’t fit her mother’s symptoms, even though doctors could—or would—not. She intervened, taking action that resulted in saving her mother’s life. Thereafter, Sjoerdsma became a dedicated bedside advocate, representing her parents’ interests in all healthcare venues and doing extensive research about medicine, diseases prevalent in older age, anatomy, physiology, and the facts of normal aging, all of which she shares in her impressive book. As her parents experienced more health crises—a pulmonary embolus; falls leading to hip and leg fractures; heart disease—Sjoerdsma witnessed firsthand how fragmented, error-prone, and patient-unfriendly the U.S. healthcare system is and how often doctors engage in ageism and what she calls “No-Think.”

“Our Parents in Crisis” is a chock-full-of-medical-information call to action to protect elders from biases and other risks in U.S. healthcare. It is also a poignant family story. Passionate, driven, assertive, and smart, Ann Sjoerdsma fought for her parents, and against her own burnout, initially with success, but later achieving mixed results and struggling with troubling questions.

dingbatAuthor Ann Sjoerdsma

Ann Sjoerdsma is an award-winning journalist and author and a former mediator and practicing attorney. A native of Washington, D.C., she received her bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and now lives on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. This is her second book. See what more Ann has to say about medical matters, ageism, and other topics that catch her attention on her website, www.annsjoerdsma.com.


The Table of Contents for “Our Parents in Crisis: Confronting Medical Errors, Ageist Doctors, and Other Healthcare Failings”:
Hardcover, 611 pp., $27.95

Acknowledgments & Notes
Preface: Old Age Is Not a Diagnosis: So Get Your Ass Off the Cot
1. 2002: Proceed Until Apprehended: Or You Might Lose Your Mother
2. Becoming an Advocate: And A Pox On Dad’s Head
3. 2006: Bronchitis or a Massive Blood Clot? When Precautions and Primary Care Fail
4. DoctorThink & No-Think: Psyching Out Misdiagnoses
5. 2010: Falls & Fractures: Life Turned Upside-Down
6. 2010: Confusion, Pain, & Decline: Bad Things Happen While Others Watch
7. Ageism & Aging: A Study in Fear and Heterogeneity
8. Memory Loss: Normal Aging, MCI, or Dementia?
9. 2010-11: A Plumbing Nightmare: The High Price of Botched Repair
10. 2011: Concurrent Problems: Lung Nodules and Fatigue
11. Depression & Delirium: A Complicated Picture
12. The Aging Body: Normal Physiological Changes
13. 2012: The “Rescue” Comes: With Pain and Atrial Fibrillation
14. 2012: A Runaway Train: In Too Many Station Stops
15. 2013: (Sub)Acute Wreckage: Dad Loses Ground
16. 2013: Staying Alive: Mom and Dad Crash
17. 2013: Failing to Thrive: “Ticky-Tack” Doctoring
18. 2013: Never Events: Killing Him Slowly
19. My Ending: There’s No Place Like Home
• The Risks of Hospitalization
• Surgical Hazards
• The Paradox of the Better-Rested Resident
• The PSA-Test Controversy
• The Scourge of Atherosclerosis
• Taking Care of Yourself

EXCERPTS: Read Ann’s provocative PREFACE, “Old Age Is Not a Diagnosis (So Get Your Ass Off the Cot),” and pages one through 23 of her compelling FIRST CHAPTER, “2002: Proceed Until Apprehended (Or You Might Lose Your Mother).”


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