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Aging Our Way: Lessons for Living from 85 and Beyondby Meika Loe
Synopses & Reviews
In 1998, Hallmark unveiled their new "One-Hundredth-Birthday" cards, and by 2007 annual sales were at 85,000. America is rapidly graying: between now and 2030, the number of people in the U.S. over the age of 80 is expected to almost triple. But how long people live raises the question of how well they live.
Aging Our Way follows the everyday lives of 30 elders (ages 85-102) living at home and mostly alone to understand how they create and maintain meaningful lives for themselves. Drawing on the latest interdisciplinary scholarship on aging and three years of interviews with the elders, Meika Loe explores how elders navigate the practical challenges of living as independently as possible while staying healthy, connected, and comfortable. While most books on the subject treat old age as a social problem and elders as simply diminished versions of their former selves, Aging Our Way views them as they really are: lively, complicated, engaging people finding creative ways to make their aging as meaningful and manageable as possible. In their own voices, elders describe how they manage everything from grocery shopping, doctor appointments, and disability, to creating networks of friends and maintaining their autonomy. In many ways, these elders can serve as role models. The lessons they have learned about living in moderation, taking time for themselves, asking for help, keeping a sense of humor, caring for others, and preparing for death provide an invaluable source of wisdom for anyone hoping to live a long and fulfilling life. Through their stories, Loe helps us to think about aging, well-being, and the value of human relationships in new ways.
Written with remarkable warmth and depth of understanding, Aging Our Way offers a vivid look at a group of people who too often remain invisible--those who have lived the longest--and all they have to teach us.
"The stereotype of the 'oldest old' (age 85 and above) in our society is of frailty and dependence, often in nursing homes. Yet 78% of those in this demographic still live in their own homes and 75% still drive. Colgate University sociologist Loe (The Rise of Viagra) reports on her research on 30 oldest old individuals in small city and rural upstate New York. She draws 13 lessons from their experiences, including '(Re) Design Your Living Space,' 'Resort to Tomfoolery,' and 'Accept and Prepare for Death.' Above all, she notes that the oldest old remain very much in charge of their own lives: 'They innovate. They grow and learn.' Some 30% volunteer and 40% provide financial contributions to family members. Loe also stresses the importance of social capital, the network of relatives, friends, neighbors, and even paid help who sustain the elderly emotionally and practically. Loe's writing is clear, jargon-free, and warm — she clearly likes and often admires her subjects. She has done an excellent job in organizing her book topically and lets her subjects speak for themselves, then distills their most important points. While there are few startling revelations, there is a great deal of wisdom. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
America is graying: people are living longer, and our population is aging. Between now and 2030, the number of people in the U.S. over the age of 65 is expected to double, and the number of people over 80 is expected to almost triple. Aging Our Way follows thirty elders (ages 85-102) living alone, at home, to understand how they create meaningful lives in old age. Drawing on the latest interdisciplinary scholarship on aging, Meika Loe examines how the very old navigate the challenges of loneliness, disability, and loss, while staying healthy, connected, and comfortable.
Whereas many popular books approach old age as a social problem and old people as dependent, depressed, and disabled, Aging Our Way views them as they really are, actively negotiating aging, ageism, and health. Many self-help books revolve around successful or productive aging, but rather than focus on the holy triumvirate of diet, exercise, and medicine to defy age, the elders in this book mobilize a much wider range of resources. In their own voices, we hear how the oldest old achieve comfort and quality of life by striving for continuity, touch, connections, support, control, dignity, learning, and new challenges. In many ways, these elders are role models: they represent the vast majority of Americans who hope to and are currently aging in their own homes and communities.
About the Author
Meika Loe is Associate Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies at Colgate University.
Table of Contents
Prologue: 30-60-90: A Short Meditation on Age and Perspective
Introduction: Living at Home and Making it Work
Lesson 1: Continue to Do What You Did
Lesson 2: (Re) Design Your Living Space
Lesson 3: Live in Moderation
Lesson 4: Take Time for Self
Lesson 5: Ask for Help; Mobilize Resources
Lesson 6: Connect with Peers
Lesson 7: Resort to Tomfoolery
Lesson 8: Care for Others
Lesson 9: Reach out to Family
Lesson 10: Get Intergenerational; Redefine Family
Lesson 11: Insist on Hugs
Lesson 12: Be Adaptable
Lesson 13: Accept and Prepare for Death
Conclusion: New Perspectives on the Oldest Old
Postscript: On Doing Ninety (by Ann, research participant)
Epilogue: Updates on Study Participants
Appendix: Best Practices in Supporting Aging in Place
What Our Readers Are Saying