Mindy Fried, "Caring for Red: A Daughter's Memoir" (Vanderbilt UP, 2016)


In her new book, Caring for Red: A Daughter's Memoir (Vanderbilt University Press, 2016), Mindy Fried shares her experiences with providing care for her father at the end of his life. With rich stories and memories of her father, the book introduces the reader to Manny "Red" Fried, in addition to Mindy as a daughter as caregiver. The book really focuses on how families can preserve the dignity of older family members as they age, as well as how we can keep older family members active and engaged into their later years. Red's personal history is important throughout the book---he was a labor organizer and once pursued by the government during the McCarthy era. This historical time influences not only Red's life and experiences but also that of his family. By combining "activism with acting," he led a rich life and was interested in being engaged until the end. With friends and family having "Mondays with Manny," his community was able to provide support and continue to keep his tie to the theatre community. In this book, Fried also provides important insights into her role as a caregiving adult child, a common role for many Americans as their parents age. Fried takes a wide view of her father's care and provides insights and stories into the assisted living facility in which he lived, as well as the role of a hired caregiver in their lives. Although this book is labeled a memoir, Fried is a sociologist and ties in many important ideas and theories into the book, including activity theory and continuity theory. This book will be of interest to sociologists in general, but especially those in the area of aging and family caregiving. In addition, adult children currently providing care for a parent may find the book insightful and interesting, along with practitioners in the caregiving sector. The use of theory and a sociological lens throughout the book makes it accessible in many ways, and would be good for a graduate level Sociology class on Aging or Death and Dying.
Sarah E. Patterson is a Sociology post-doc at The University of Western Ontario. You can tweet her at @spattersearch.

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