Successful Aging

John Wallis Rowe, Author, Robert Louis Kahn, Joint Author, Rowe, Author
John Wallis Rowe, Author, Robert Louis Kahn, Joint Author, Rowe, Author Pantheon Books $24.95 (265p) ISBN 978-0-375-40045-2
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
Accessible and upbeat, this report interprets the findings of the MacArthur Foundation Study of Successful Aging, a long-term, multidisciplinary research program designed to examine the genetic, biomedical, behavioral and social factors that determine how well we age. Rowe, president of Mount Sinai Hospital, chairs the Foundation's Research Network on Successful Aging, and Kuhn, professor of psychology and public health at the University of Michigan, is a member of that group. They begin by citing the study outcomes to effectively destroy some common negative myths about aging (e.g., that illness accompanies aging or that mental capacity diminishes with age). Next they define successful aging as having three components: low risk of disease and disability; high mental and physical function; and active engagement with life. Emphasizing that lifestyle choices are more important than heredity, they spell out the choices the elderly can make to enhance each component. While focusing on what to do, they also make clear what not do to (e.g., they warn against such popular anti-aging remedies as DHEA and human growth hormone). They then turn to society's role in promoting successful aging. Finding that the elderly are one of the country's great underutilized productive resources, they propose that improving the mix of education, work and leisure throughout life would keep workers in the labor force longer, and they call on the government to make the necessary regulatory changes. Author tour. (Mar.)
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