A Memoir of Aging in America
Sue Matthews Petrovski
Purdue University Press
Sue Petrovski has always been capable, thoughtful, and productive. After retiring from a long and successful career in education, she published two books, ran an antiques business, and volunteered in her community. When her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and until her death eight years later, Petrovski served as her primary caregiver. She even cared for her husband when he also succumbed to dementia. However, when Petrovski's husband fell ill with sepsis at the age of eighty-two, it threw everything into question. Would he survive? And if so, would she be able to care for him and manage the family home where they had lived for forty-seven years? More importantly, how long would she be able to do so? After making the decision to sell their house and move into a senior living community, Petrovski found herself thrust into the corporate care model of elder services available in the United States. In Shelved: A Memoir of Aging in America, she reflects on the move and the benefits and deficits of American for-profit elder care. Petrovski draws on extensive research that demonstrates the cultural value of our elders and their potential for leading vital, creative lives, especially when given opportunities to do so, offering a cogent, well-informed critique of elder care options in this country. Shelved provides readers with a personal account of what it is like to leave a family home and enter a new world where everyone is old and where decisions like where to sit in the dining room fall to low-level corporate managers. Showcasing the benefits of communal living as well as the frustrations of having decisions about meals, public spaces, and governance driven by the bottom line, Petrovski delivers compelling suggestions for the transformation of an elder care system that more often than not condescends to older adults into one that puts people first-a change that would benefit us all, whether we are forty, sixty, eighty, or beyond.
Sue Petrovski is a retired educator in her mid-80s who lives in an independent senior community with her husband of sixty-one years in Colorado. She is the author of the books A Return Journey: Hope and Strength in the Aftermath of Alzheimer's (Purdue University Press, 2003) and Wild Apples: Reflections of a Thoughtful Life (Outskirts Press, 2010). She holds a bachelor of arts degree in history from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, and a master's degree in secondary/adult education from the University of Colorado.