I've wanted to write Caring for Our Parents for more than a decade, since my wife Ann and I helped care for her dad and mine.
I've written many short pieces about long-term care over the years, including some for Business Week, where I was senior correspondent in the magazine's Washington bureau. I covered health and elder care as well as tax and budget issues there for nearly 20 years.
But this story needed more than short magazine articles. And I didn't want to write a how-to book. I had a different project in mind: a close-up, personal look at our nation's dysfunctional system of delivering and paying for this assistance. And I wanted to tell this powerful story through the eyes of real families.
My chance to write Caring for Our Parents came in 2006 when I received a media fellowship from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. At about the same time, I became a Visiting Fellow at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College and began writing for Kiplinger's Retirement Report and other publications.
That gave me the opportunity to take a leave from Business Week and work full-time researching, reporting, and writing about the subject I felt so passionately about: long-term care services.
It was two years from my first preliminary interviews until I delivered a finished manuscript to St. Martin's Press. I spent most of that time interviewing families and long-term care experts. But I also used the opportunity to volunteer. I became a senior advisor to Caring from a Distance, a non-profit organization that provides Web-based and telephone-assistance to long-distance caregivers; I helped give advice to seniors and their families at the Jewish Council for the Aging of Greater Washington; and I serve as co-chair of the Medical Quality Committee at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md. and as a member of the hospital's Board of Trustees.
As my work on the book wound down, I took on other exciting challenges: I started a blog on economic and fiscal policy called TaxVox. I'm now spending about half of my time as a Resident Fellow at the Urban Institute and editor of TaxVox. I also write an occassional column on long-term care issues for Kaiser Health News
I've also continued most of my volunteer work, and I'm spending lots of time writing and speaking on long-term care. Sometimes, I lecture to professional groups such as The National Council on Aging, the American Society on Aging, and the National Academy of Elder Care Attorneys. But my favorite audiences are made up of seniors and their adult children.