02/16/2003 - Articles

Aging Well: the complete guide to physical and emotional health

By: Robert W. Griffith, MD


Aging Well: the complete guide to physical and emotional health

Robert W. Griffith, MD
December 1, 2000 (Reviewed: February 16, 2003)

Regular visitors to our HealthandAge.com pages get a good overview of the entire spectrum of aging, covering its natural progression and the health problems that can arise. Searching on the computer, however, is not always the most practical way to get the information you want in a form you can refer to again and again. Books still have their place in every home.

A new book, Aging Well, is a strong candidate for a place on your bookshelf. The authors, two Associate Professors at Harvard Medical School, have compiled not only the health-related, but also the social challenges that face us all as we grow older.

The first part covers the normal changes we can expect to experience as we age, and what we can do to age "successfully". This includes not only the usual strictures regarding exercise, eating right, and avoiding bad habits, but also practical advice on how to make the best use of the various health services available to you - reading labels and prescriptions, choosing you health professionals, doctor visits, hospitalizations, etc.

Part two has different chapters devoted to the various body systems - heart, brain, senses, etc. Apart from describing how the function of these change as we age, each chapter also goes into the common problems that may occur, giving a short synopsis of the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.

The third part of the book deals with the changes in lifestyle you may be presented with, as you get older. Retirement, where to live, moving to a nursing home, and end-of-life decisions are all considered, as well as facing the loss of a loved companion. There is advice for those trying to care for aged parents, and a final chapter on the future hope of prolonging life with newer treatments (if that is indeed a desirable step). Three appendices offer useful sources for getting further information you may need, and there are some good suggestions for further reading.

Of course, there are some limitations. First, it's been impossible for the authors to cover all the ground in sufficient detail to satisfy every reader, without producing a tome of unmanageable size. Second, the book is clearly orientated to its US readers, so that there is discussion of Medicare, Medicaid, and HMO's that will be irrelevant for readers from other countries. These shortcomings are more than compensated by the well-selected quotations that begin each chapter - a charming feature of a useful book for reference and browsing.


  • Aging Well: the complete guide to physical and emotional health J. Wei, S. Levkoff, John Wiley and Sons, Inc. New York, 2000, pp. 1--384

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Aging Well: the complete guide to physical and emotional health

Created on: 12/01/2000
Reviewed on: 02/16/2003

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