An engaging, frank handbook that focuses on how to avoid looking and feeling old.
Hecht, a former educational consultant who retired in 2013, has written a guide that approaches aging with honesty, humor and insight. She takes somewhat of a risk of alienating her intended audience by addressing the unpleasant aspects of aging in Part 1, which she titles “Annoying Habits of Old People.” Hecht can be exceedingly blunt: “Take note of how much grunting you do, and resist making sounds that show how much effort it takes for you to get up from a chair, get out of a car, etc.” The author talks openly about the aging body, eyes, ears, nose, throat, teeth, face, hair, skin and mind—and that’s just Part 1. But Hecht tempers what could be unsettling for the reader by including specific, easy solutions in each chapter: “Keep a positive attitude toward yourself and your body; start by smiling instead of frowning.” She also appends several short anecdotes and vignettes at the end of each chapter in which real people relate their own relevant experiences, offering readers a sense of comfort that they aren’t alone in dealing with physical, mental and emotional changes. Part 2 includes a range of important topics, such as finances in retirement, protection from identity theft and mugging, leaving a legacy, and the often taboo topic of aging and sex. As in the first part, Part 2 includes specific solutions and short anecdotes. Hecht approaches each of these subjects without being judgmental as she explains her point of view in language that is simple yet not condescending. Chapters are brief and to the point; some readers may in fact find the content a bit too cursory rather than comprehensive. Still, in a book intended to convey 250 quick tips, Hecht manages to achieve a decent balance of detail—not too little, not too much.
A realistic if sobering look in the mirror for individuals with aging parents or for those who are aging themselves.