Resource Pathways Inc. has published a handbook evaluating books, Web sites and other information sources that offer guidance on issues connected with aging. Edited by Marty Richards, a consultant on aging who teaches at the University of Washington, "Eldercare" reviews dozens of these sources. Below are excerpted descriptions of several sources that won four-star ratings--indicating that they were "highly recommended: top quality at a fair price."

"Aging Parents: The Family Survival Guide"

Consisting of a booklet and two videotapes that run 3 1/2 hours, this guide is designed to help family members respond to elder care crises and to plan ahead for long-term caregiving. Included is information on addressing an immediate crisis, getting organized, caregiving from a distance, family dynamics, housing alternatives and support services, medical and health issues, legal issues, finances and insurance, relevant government programs, and death and dying.

Price: $99

Where to find it: Lifetapes Communications, 4127 Bay Street, Suite 6, Fremont, CA 94538;

888-777-5585; www.agingparents.com.

AARP Webplace

This advertisement-free site provides information and encourages elder advocacy; it is sponsored by AARP, formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons. The site covers many issues affecting the lives of older adults and updates its information often.

Where to find it: On the Internet at www.aarp.org.

ElderWeb: An Online Elder Care Sourcebook

ElderWeb is designed to assist older Americans, professionals and family members. For a one-stop Web guide on elder care and related issues, bookmark this site. Publisher Karen Stevenson Brown has assembled an impressive array of links to all the basics: health, living arrangements, finance, legal issues and more.

Where to find it: On the Internet at www.elderweb.com.

"The Complete Bedside Companion: No-Nonsense Advice on Caring for the Seriously Ill"

The goal of this guidebook is to turn caregivers into knowledgeable patient advocates, armed with the information they need to care for their loved ones and themselves. This is a clear, practical resource that presents essential caregiving tools and techniques not found in most other books--such as what to do if a pill lodges in the esophagus or how to toilet a loved one who suffers from memory loss. Just as important is the authors' emphasis on identifying inadequate care. While the authors offer advice on how to make the most of time together, this book makes no bones about the harsh reality of caregiving. What caregivers need, they write, is practical skills, strategies for bearing up, support and self-confidence.

Price: $27

Where to find it: Bookstores and libraries.

"How to Care for Your Parents: A Practical Guide to Elder Care"

Many people faced with the sudden aging of their parents are overwhelmed by the complex feelings, unfamiliar bureaucracies and tough decisions elder care involves. This handbook offers a systematic approach to gathering information, identifying and considering options, reaching joint decisions and finding help. The goal of author Nora Jean Levin is to make it easier for adult children to help their aging parents enjoy the best possible quality of life. To that end, she offers a step-by-step plan for becoming a good consumer and advocate for one's parents.

Price: $12

Where to find it: Bookstores and libraries.

"The Dying Time: Practical Wisdom for the Dying and Their Caregivers"

Authors Joan Furman and David McNabb lead the reader through the various stages of "the dying time," beginning with difficult choices that must be made. They offer suggestions on how to make the dying person's environment more tranquil, directions for physical care and advice on self-care for the caregiver. With compassion and wisdom, they address the full range of emotions felt by caregivers and the dying. Ultimately, they encourage those near death and their caregivers to embrace the dying process as an opportunity to make a final testament to a life.

Price: $14

Where to find it: Bookstores and libraries.

"Beyond the Grave: The Right Way and the Wrong Way of Leaving Money to Your Children (and Others)"

This book addresses an array of potential family conflicts and problems that arise when parents die and assets are divided among survivors. The authors--a father and son who are partners in a law firm--provide sound (and sometimes tough) advice about talking to children about inheritance issues. This is an authoritative book with a mission and a sense of humor--an important resource if you want to avoid future squabbling and protect assets from the Internal Revenue Service.

Price: $15

Where to find it: Bookstores and libraries.

"The American Bar Association Legal Guide for Older Americans: The Law Every American Over 50 Needs to Know"

This guide presents information in plain English and covers legal issues affecting work, family, home and health. The book is designed as a navigation tool guiding readers through Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and pension benefits. The detailed information on health care coverage and premiums is especially helpful, even for those who are unfamiliar with health insurance choices.

Price: $13

Where to find it: Bookstores and libraries.

"Choosing Medical Care in Old Age: What Kind, How Much, When to Stop"

Author Muriel R. Gillick draws on her insights as a geriatric internist to describe how changes in the medical decision-making process can enhance health care for the aging. She focuses on developing a reasonable approach to medical care in the final stage or stages of life with the aim of reducing the burden on patients and families while optimizing patient comfort.

Price: $14.95

Where to find it: Bookstores and libraries.

"Moving Mom and Dad! Why, Where, How and When to Help Your Parents Relocate"

Authors Sarah More and Donna Quinn Robbins visited hundreds of retirement communities and conducted focus groups with older adults to learn what they needed and what they actually got. The authors are savvy enough to know what to look for. For example, they note that many retirement communities don't allow wheelchairs, though this rule is not mentioned in the contract. They also explain confusing concepts, such as "continuing care" vs. "lifecare" communities and why it's much wiser to opt for the latter. Most of these communities are expensive, and the authors wisely devote a chapter to low-income and subsidized housing.

Price: $19.95

Where to find it: Bookstores, libraries.

Excerpted from "Eldercare: The Best Resources to Help You Help Your Aging Relatives," edited by Marty Richards, MSW, ACSW; available from the publisher by phone at 1-888-702-8882 or on the Web at www.sourcepath.com.

Copyright 2000 Resource Pathways Inc.