LONG LIFE: What We Know and Are Learning About the Aging Process by John Langone

LONG LIFE: What We Know and Are Learning About the Aging Process

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The author, science and medicine editor of the Boston Herald-American, adds personal asides to this neat wrap-up of gerontological research and bodings for the future. After some appealing reflections and memento mori, Langone summarizes many of the wilder prescriptions to ensure longevity practiced in the past (mostly having to do with revitalizing the older male). His sections on research do not reveal any new consensus on what causes our decline and fall. The same theories--errors in DNA transcription, programmed cell death, build-up of free radicals and cross linkages, etc.--are discussed in other contemporary texts. Langone does add a section on ""making the best of it"" which should please readers who want more information about those yogurt-loving Russian peasants and other groups touted for long and zestful lives. The common denominators seem to be leanness, a high vegetarian or low animal fat diet, continued work, and a respected place in the community. (However, Zhores Medvedev is quoted as taking a dim view of the Russian statistics: there are no hard data and there are reasons to suspect gross exaggeration.) Langone concludes with five recommendations from a Duke University researcher to guide your passage to age: be flexible, know your limits, use your accumulated experience, ""sock your mental resources away"" as you would a bank account, and, out of it all, achieve a sense of well-being. Given social attitudes that ghettoize the elderly and worship youth, these principles may be hard to implement, but Langone clearly is going to try. Long life to him.

Pub Date: Nov. 28th, 1978
Publisher: Little, Brown