Rethinking Aging: Growing Old and Living Well in an Overtreated Society

Nortin M. Hadler, Author
Nortin M. Hadler, M.D.. Univ. of North Carolina, $28 (288p) ISBN 978-0-8078-3506-7
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We now know exactly where we are at a "ripe old age"—about 85, and more of us are hitting that mark than ever before, notes Hadler, a professor of medicine at UNC–Chapel Hill (Worried Sick: A Prescription for Health in an Overtreated America). But it's all downhill and at a fairly quick clip after that. And here's where Hadler moves into myth-buster mode, arguing that it's not useful to hope that biotechnology will stave off the grim reaper. Better to live the old lives we reach by making smart decisions as we travel there, e.g., ignoring media hype about "the scare of the week, the miracle of the month," and be wary of road maps to impossibly golden years. Hadler cites controversial studies showing, for instance, that there is no obesity epidemic. He also cautions against the growing array of screening tests: unlike diagnostics that look for an existing problem, screening hunts for culprits that could create a future problem that may never materialize. With this thoughtful guide, Hadler urges better options for end-of-life care than a lonely, traumatic last stop at the hospital. (Sept.)
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