Mental health counselor and self-help guru Gurian (The Invisible Presence: How a Man's Relationship with His Mother Affects All His Relationships with Women, 2012, etc.) moves up the age spectrum to discuss how to embrace the experience of getting older.
Taking 50 as his starting point, the author divides the process into three stages. The years from 50 to 65 he calls the age of transformation—the proper time to begin preparing to become an elder. Gurian advocates the process of beginning to kick back at 50. Having reached a pinnacle of success, our minds and bodies are beginning to slow down. The arduous phase of child-rearing is coming to an end, allowing parents the opportunity to reconnect and opening the possibility of developing a second career or creative hobby. The next phase is from 65 through the 70s, a time for senior citizens to celebrate their accomplishments and re-examine their spiritual values. The last phase he calls “the age of spiritual completion,” a time for renouncing material values and looking toward the “wonder of dying and death.” Gurian offers concrete examples of ways to deal with problems of aging, such as loss of sexual prowess, and he suggests that a slow death can be preferable in that it allows us to “experience dying fully.” Still, he admits that “dying and death can be terrible and upsetting.” He questions the desirability of such procedures as knee replacements for those over the age of 80 and supports the right of individuals to assistance in terminating their lives.
An engaging warning against a hopeless search for the fountain of youth that overlooks some of the painful issues of retirement, such as loss of savings, debt and adult children needing financial and emotional support.