Book helps families deal with late-life care decisions for a frail aging parent

Toronto, Ontario, April 14, 2010  — One of Canada’s longest practicing geriatricians has drawn on his vast bank of experience with eldercare to write a book for adult children struggling with difficult decisions around “doing the right thing” for an ill parent in the latter stage of life.

Moments That Matter book coverDr. Michael Gordon has been providing care to older clients for three decades and as a clinical ethicist has been helping adult children put their own wishes aside and focus on what they believe their parent would want during their final stage of care.

His latest book, Moments That Matter: Cases in Ethical Eldercare, is published this month and available through online bookstores. Even when there might be an attempt at formulating a “road map” – living will, advance directive, or clear verbal communication from a parent – there can be a tremendous emotional strain on children, says Dr. Gordon, Medical Program Director of Palliative Care at Baycrest. The strain will either bring family members closer together or drive them further apart.

He hopes his “storytelling” of different case scenarios he’s been involved in will provide an ethical framework that family members can use when deciding what is best for their frail and aging parent.

“A family has to arrive at a place where they can feel at peace with the decisions they’ve made and know that those decisions, as much as possible, reflect what the parent would have wanted or are in their best interests,” says Dr. Gordon, who is also a clinical ethicist and Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto.

He acknowledges that the road to making the right decisions about late-life care for a parent can be a rough one, especially when siblings have different values and agendas, different relationships with the parent, or there is sibling in-fighting.

“When it comes right down to it, it is about adult children putting their own historic grievances within the family and personal needs aside when making care decisions for their ill parent,” says Dr. Gordon. “Some families will struggle more with this than others, but the family should never feel alone on the journey.” The treating physician, social worker, spiritual advisor and other healthcare team members are there to support the family and help resolve conflict during an often heart-wrenching and poignant roller coaster ride of emotions.

Moments That Matter: Cases in Ethical Eldercare (iUniverse Press) is available online at Indigo Chapters,,, iUniverse, and Barnes and Noble. It can also be ordered in-store at Chapters or downloaded from iUniverse to an electronic book reader. For more information on this book and other books Dr. Michael Gordon has written, go to

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Kelly Connelly, Senior Media Officer
P. 416-785-2432,