There is probably no one who knows more about aging than Butler, who coined the term “ageism,” and founded the federal National Institute on Aging and the first medical school department of geriatrics. Winner of a Pulitzer for Why Survive?
Butler now examines the health, economic and social consequences of the growing elderly population. Increasing longevity brings a host of challenges, such as finding better (and cheaper) treatments for chronic health problems; building a health-care system capable of handling the load; and legal protection against age discrimination. Many of Butler’s topics overlap with family and women’s issues, whether creating a fair elder-care system or strengthening profamily work policies. The author supplies plenty of hard data and lengthy notes. Although his discussions of Alzheimer’s and various theories of aging are too technical for the average reader, most of his points are clear and concise, and quite optimistic; for example, Butler urges the need to “reinvent” ourselves to stay in the workforce. He presents a strong argument for why everyone, from individuals to doctors, marketers and policy makers, should pay far more attention to the growing elderly population worldwide. (Mar.)