Since the snake-oil days of the wild wild west, self-proclaimed health experts have been hawking advice and “products” on an unsuspecting and somewhat gullible public. The difference between then and now (besides the coon-skin hats) is that today we have the tools and resources to help snuff these folks out.
There still any number of snake-oil salesmen around but they're pretty well disguised these days. You'll know one if they're touting the latest “fad” diet like The Sleeping Beauty Diet, the Grape Fruit Diet, or the Baby Food Diet (yes this is a real diet). You'll also know one if their approach is extreme and/or one dimensional. We believe healthy aging isn't just about one thing… It's about taking care of, and being aware of our physical AND our mental being.
Besides wacky diets and bad advice online, there are some great resources out there to help us age-with-grace and in good health (both mentally and physically). We'll pass along a few ideas in the coming weeks, but this week we're focused on our favorite books about healthy aging. If you've read any of these, be sure and give us a review or an opinion in the comments section. In addition, if you have any recommendations on books our readers should be aware of, please let us know!
The Best Healthy Aging Books
1. Acclaimed best-seller Dr. Andrew Weil provides sensible advice to aging adults in an oldie-but-a-goodie titled; Healthy Aging: A Lifelong Guide to Your Well-Being. In the 2007 version (a good one), Dr. Weil's advice combines traditional and non-traditional medical advice to help us age in good health. Highlights include advice on eating right, nutrition, and the anti-inflammatory diet, exercising right, and a solid background on the aging process in general terms.
“Weil wants us to be sensible about growing old… He argues that we should not fight aging. There’s no winning that war. Instead, we should concentrate on aging well.” (The Washington Post)
2. Aging Wisely: Strategies for Baby Boomers and Seniors is Dr. Robert Levine's book about aging that includes both mind and body in its approach. Dr. Levine is the former chief of neurology at Norwalk Hospital in Connecticut and a retired clinical professor at Yale University. Dr. Levine believes that we are responsible and need to be in control of our own lives. Interwoven is the element that maintaining a positive attitude allows us to age well. Dr. Levine reminds his readers that aside from illnesses and random events, healthy aging is up to us.
“Dr. Robert Levine’s book provides a prescription for aging wisely and with dignity. Brimming with anecdotes, and written in an interesting and clear manner, it’s good medicine for those of us who want to make the rest of our lives the best of our lives.” (Jan Cullinane, best-selling author of The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement)
3. Although the title says otherwise, there are many things in this top book on healthy aging that applies to both sexes. A Man's Guide to Healthy Aging: Stay Smart, Strong, and Active Authors Edward Thompson Jr. and Lenard Kaye examine “what's next” after middle age, and offer a man's perspective on healthy aging. In this book, the authors focus on mind and body approaches to healthy again, with a strong bend toward mental health and the role it plays in men as they grow older.
“Covers almost everything you need to know, but might be afraid to ask, about keeping fit mentally, physically, socially, intellectually and sexually through the decades.” (Wall Street Journal)
4. The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully is a book about embracing the aging process and taking it in. Author Joan Chittister is a Benedictine Sister of Erie, PA and has written over 50 books (many of them receiving accolades and awards). Chittister herself on writing The Gift of Years; “The thing most wrong about this book is that I may be too young to write it. I am, after all, only seventy.” This quote alone offers the self-awareness and perspective worthy of consideration for our top 5 books on healthy aging.
Among other things, the book contains 40 or so essays on subjects like adjustment, sadness, regret, and success. The author also offers advice on allowing yourself to become active in one's golden years and using that time to connect with yourself and with others.
“Perhaps you have to be in the second half of life to know how truthfully and helpfully Joan Chittister speaks. We live in a first-half-of-life culture, which makes this wisdom all the more necessary—and all the more wonderful.” (Richard Rohr, author, The Naked Now)
5. New York Times bestselling author Michael Gurian (author of The Wonder Boys) takes us on a journey along newly defined dimensions for our second half of life. The Wonder of Aging: A New Approach to Embracing Life After Fifty divides our second act into 3 stages; The Age of Transformation (from our late forties to around sixty), The Age of Distinction (from sixty to seventy-five), and The Age of Completion (the final stage of our journey). His philosophy is to emphatically embrace life after 50 and he inspires his readers to go out and get it (whatever their “it” is). Author Michael Gurian is described as a philosopher, a family therapist, a corporate consultant, and a bestselling author of over twenty books.
“The Wonder of Aging is a very important book. It is filled with practical tips, solid science and stories that will inspire and motivate you. With 11,000 people turning 60 every day, we can no longer avoid talking about aging… So we might as well embrace it with wonder.” (Daniel G. Amen, MD, New York Times bestselling author of Use Your Brain to Change Your Age)