June 2016 ByTA Balasubramanian Growing Older Without Feeling Old On Vitality And Ageing Rudi Westendorp Speaking Tiger, Paperback, INR 399; 303 pages Can we grow older without feeling the effects of growing old? “Some of the babies born today can expect to live to be 135 years old. Not everyone sees this increased longevity in a positive light. Once we turn 50, it becomes increasingly clear: our bodies demand more attention. Old people will tell you that life is hard work, and associated with loss. We need to rethink our ancient notions about ageing, and adapt our lives to the exciting circumstances we live in today.” These thoughts lead on to some unique perspectives that run through this fact-filled ensemble of 13 chapters about the challenges of growing old gracefully in today’s world. Rudi Westendorp is one of the world’s leading experts in geriatric medicine. He draws extensively from his medical knowledge and experience to share practical insights into all kinds of life and health situations that affect us as we age. To provide a historic context for each chapter, Westendorp explains how and why we have adapted our ideas of growing old to match our social and cultural evolution over millions of years. Why do we age, and what do we need to understand about the process of getting old? What does scientific research tell us today about the process of ageing? What do longer life spans mean for the way we organise our societies? How can we best prepare our bodies, minds and emotions for living considerably longer lives? How do we deal with the constant flow of technological changes that challenge us to learn new behaviours and adapt to novel ways of interacting and making sense of the world? For maintaining physical well-being, does it help to eat less, or to take hormones, vitamins, or minerals? Are age-related problems such as dementia unavoidable? And what can we learn from old people who remain full of vigour and vitality, even though they cope daily with illness and infirmity? In these 300-odd pages, Westendorp answers these questions lucidly by proposing what he describes as a “navigation system” for us to manage our extended life spans. If you are grappling with the challenges of ageing, this book is just right for you. Westendorp offers a valuable and cheering vision backed by scientific data and an upbeat outlook.
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