A practical, accessible guide to the ins and outs of getting old.
Aging is perhaps humanity’s greatest unifier. Most people agree that we’re lucky if we’re able to live a long time, but the idea scares us nonetheless. In this debut, Finkelstein, a board-certified internist and geriatrician, opens with a frank, avuncular discussion of our collective fear: “There is only one alternative to aging,” he points out, “and that one is usually not the acceptable choice.” Despite this jocular beginning, the book is a serious, informative guide, and Finkelstein proves to be a sensitive, smart narrator. The first of the book’s three sections is dedicated to the science of aging, and it presents theories about why and how fast we age in a simple but rarely simplistic manner. It offers intriguing facts about why we shrink as we get older (drying cartilage) and why it becomes harder for us to breathe (stiffening chest walls). However, the book also encourages readers to think about larger issues, such as how to assess our priorities as we age. Medical professionals can’t treat an older person the way they do a 20-year-old; their age, in other words, is relevant to their treatment. This may seem obvious at first, but as the book expounds on the vast range of ailments and afflictions affecting the elderly, the point’s relevance becomes clearer. At times, this section can feel overly broad, as it covers everything from cancer to sciatica to constipation, but it may be useful to older readers looking for a general guidebook to their health issues. Indeed, readers may be grateful to know what a doctor really thinks. Other sections on health insurance and family members are similarly illuminating. Overall, the tone is accessible and the message is positive: The point of life is to enjoy it, at any age.
A straightforward look at the science of aging and its effect on our bodies and minds.