Last fall Skinner charmed the American Psychological Association--and the media--with a paper called ""Intellectual...


ENJOY OLD AGE: A Program for Self-Management

Last fall Skinner charmed the American Psychological Association--and the media--with a paper called ""Intellectual Self-Management in Old Age"": his own strategies for reducing foregetfulness, and the like. From that paper he and a younger colleague have developed this slender volume of talk about aging and exhortation to do something about it; pointers for offsetting specific imperfections; and forthright advice on mitigating stinginess and other ""unpleasant characteristics of old age."" The whole is something slightly new, directed at helping ""the Old Person give a better performance,"" not just pretending that old age is just another stage, the best is yet to be, or whatever. The actual strategies, though not many, deal with common, annoying-to-distressing problems. Poor vision? A large lens for protracted reading, a small folding lens for other times. New habits for crossing streets or judging depth. New things--a heavy drinking glass instead of a delicate goblet--if you're not seeing clearly. Hearing loss? Technical aids--but also, and most valuably, behavioral adjustments (though Skinner and Vaughan shun the term until the appendix). Don't ""pretend that you have heard things when you have not""; encourage people to repeat--and clearly withdraw when you're ignored. Forgetfulness? A chapter of strategies for different situations (recalling names, not misplacing things). For more general concerns--fatigue, keeping occupied--""creative"" solutions. ""Relax your standards and read detective stories"" or watch ""trash"" on TV. ""There is much to said for a fairly strict daily routine."" As for stinginess, bragging, and other crotchets of old age, awareness is the best deterrent. Finally: the closer you approach to a tranquil, dignified, enjoyable old age, the more your performance will be admired. Not the usual how-tos or the usual uplift--but apart from some verbosity at the outset: a pungent, thorough overhauling.

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 1983


Page Count: -

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1983

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