Staying fit and confident as we age
With the nation’s population aging at an unprecedented rate, three new books help seniors (and near-seniors) get a jump on the physical and emotional challenges of growing older.
Alzheimer’s disease is undoubtedly the affliction of aging that scares people the most. Gary Small, director of the UCLA Longevity Center, offers a proactive approach to dealing with this concern in The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program: Keep Your Brain Healthy for the Rest of Your Life, co-written with his wife Gigi Vorgan. The text offers an overview of Alzheimer’s research and the physiology of the disease. Yet the main focus is on physical regimens and mental exercises designed to promote good overall health, to reduce stress and, most critically, to strengthen memory and reinforce mental acuity in ways that might help to stave off the Alzheimer’s threat. The book also includes diet recommendations, tips about drug interaction and handy health-related Q&As. According to the authors, “this program will . . . help you feel better and delay Alzheimer’s disease longer.” Given the stakes, it’s certainly worth a try.
A potential companion volume for the age-conscious is The Baby Boomer Diet: Body Ecology’s Guide to Growing Younger. Nutritional consultant Donna Gates aims to combine the best ideas from conventional medicine with alternative therapies, and in this ample guidebook she tailors her already established Body Ecology Diet to the needs of older folks. The coverage is inclusive, with information on everything from teas, wines and water to cancer-fighting grains and “healing” condiments. Gates also addresses issues such as cooked foods versus raw, the dangers of fat, the truth about iodine and the importance of certain fruits as anti-oxidants. Overall, Gates’ recommendations encourage restorative effects on the digestive, immune and endocrine systems, though sticking with the program would be a timely (and costly) pursuit for the average person. A pertinent shopping list is included, with recommendations of specific brand-name products.
For social worker Wendy Lustbader, the glass is half-full where aging is concerned. Her Life Gets Better: The Unexpected Pleasures of Growing Older is a sensitively written collection that stresses the liberating aspects of aging. Lustbader’s observations are divided into sections—loss, spirituality, courage, etc.—and each anecdote illustrates a perspective on living enhanced by the passage of time. Lustbader’s goal is to present aging as a challenging and invigorating adventure, and she succeeds in inspiring seniors to move forward with confidence.