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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Issues in Aging by Mark Novak (Allyn & Bacon) presents facts and information about aging today. It covers the issues that most older people and their families will face, and it deals with issues that an aging society will raise for all of us. Whether you are older yourself, have older parents, relatives and friends, or plan to work with older people, the information in this text will help you understand again today. This book first looks first at large-scale social issues — social attitudes, the study of aging, and demographic issues. It then shows how these conditions affect individuals and social institutions. The book concludes with a look at political responses to aging and how individuals can create a better old age for themselves and the people they know.

Excerpt: Some years ago I attended a sociology department meeting to present my first proposal for a course on aging. After some questions from the committee, the committee chair (a professor of comparative culture) leaned forward and squinted at me. "I have no objection to you teaching this course," he said. "You have an interest in the subject and knowledge of the area. But, tell me, what in the world will you talk about for an entire semester in a course on aging? People get old, then they die. What else is there to say?"

This colleague wouldn't ask these questions today. Today in the United States there are more older people in the population than ever before. Every day newspaper and magazine articles bring us new knowledge about aging and our aging society. Studies report findings on diet, exercise, pensions, family life, and housing. Televised reports suggest ways to stay healthy and live a long life.

Almost everyone knows something about aging today, and the growth in popular books on this subject suggests that people want to know more.

Issues in aging will grow in importance as more people enter middle and later life. Most university and college students today will face these issues in their careers. For example, the Baby Boom generation has entered middle age and will move like a glacier into old age in the next few years. This mass of people will want services from professionals who understand their needs and concerns. Students in gerontology classes, whatever their major or field of study, will need to know about this aging population.

This book presents facts and information about aging today. It covers the issues that most older people and their families will face. And it deals with issues that an aging society will raise for all of us.

Whether you are older yourself; have older parents, relatives, and friends; or plan to work with older people; the information in this text will help you understand aging today.


The interaction between personal aging and social institutions creates many of the issues that older people face. For example, our bodies age—reaction time slows, chronic diseases develop, and the body tends to put on weight. These personal changes become issues when society needs to respond. For example,

Slower reaction time raises the issue of safe driving in later life. Should we require older people to take a driver's test each year after a certain age? Should we approve licenses with restrictions on when and where an older person can drive?

More chronic disease raises the issue of how our health care system, designed to treat acute illness, cares for older people. Should we create more long-term care facilities like nursing homes? And if we do, who will pay for this expensive form of care?

Added weight (around the middle for men and the hips for women) raises issues related to our North American life-style, diet, and health promotion practices. Should we invest more money in health promotion programs for older people? Do physicians need more training in health promotion, diet, and the wellness needs of older patients?

Issues related to aging go beyond the basic need for health care. All older people encounter negative stereotyping, minority older people face low incomes, and changes in the economy force many older workers to retire. Students need to understand these and other issues. This calls for knowledge that sorts the myths from the realities of aging.

I have designed this book for easy use and enjoyable reading. Each chapter presents issues around a single theme—for example, housing, health care, and income security. I present the facts on that theme, the issues related to that theme, and creative responses to these issues.

Chapters also include graphs and tables for the display of complex information. In almost every case, these displays have an accompanying explanation. I have also tried to give the meaning of new concepts in the text, so that students can read along without constant reference to the glossaries.

I have included photos and case studies of older people. Some of these people I have met informally or through my research. Other cases come from insightful articles in the popular press. These additions show the human side of aging. The case studies show the diversity of older people and their unique circumstances. Cartoons are also included to show the lighter side of aging.

The end of each chapter includes a summary of main points, questions for discussion or study, suggested readings, and a glossary of terms. These resources will direct students in their study and help in the review of the chapters.

This book first looks at large-scale social issues—social attitudes, the study of aging, and demographic issues. It then explores how these conditions affect individuals and social institutions. The book concludes with a look at political responses to aging and how individuals can create a better old age for themselves and the people they know.

Chapters 1 and 2 introduce students to aging in the United States and to the study of aging. Chapter 1 looks at people's attitudes toward older people and corrects many of the myths people believe about aging. It also looks at the origins of negativeattitudes toward older people and at ways to change these attitudes. Chapter 2 looks at how best to study aging. It reviews the theories and methods gerontologists use in their research.

Chapters 3 and 4 discuss the treatment of older people in various societies and the aging of the U.S. population. Chapter 3 looks at the issue of older people's status in societies past and present. Chapter 4 looks at the issue of population aging in the United States, the increase in the number and proportion of older people in the population. This is the foundation for the chapters that follow.

Chapters 5, 6, and 7 discuss how individuals age. Chapter 5 covers the issue of biological aging and its causes and effects including the changes that take place in personal health and illness. In Chapter 6, psychological and developmental issues related to aging are discussed. This chapter reviews changes in memory and intelligence and the influence of social context on a person's well-being in later life. Chapter 7 looks at race, ethnicity, and culture. It looks at discrimination and societal barriers to good aging. This chapter traces many of the issues that older minority people face to inequality throughout their lives in our society.

Chapters 8 through 14 explore current issues related to health care, income security, retirement, housing, the family, and death and dying. These chapters show that problems related to population aging and to individual aging exist in all these institutions. These chapters propose responses to some of the most serious problems caused by population aging. Chapter 13 looks at intimacy and our relations with those we love. Chapter 14 raises questions and issues related to the treatment of older people at the end of life, prolonging life through technology, and physician-assisted suicide.

The final two chapters, 15 and 16, provide information on politics, social policy, and the need for education related to aging. Chapter 15 deals with the current political system and how it might address the issues raised in earlier chapters. This chapter shows the potential and limits of public response. Chapter 16 encourages students to learn more about aging and discusses potential career opportunities in the field of aging.

The Journey of Adulthood, Fifth Edition by Helen L. Bee & Barbara R. Bjorklund (Pearson Prentice Hall) The best-selling The Journey of Adulthood discusses the aspects of “successful aging,” covering growth and development from young adulthood to old age, and the impact that culture, gender, and individual differences have on these processes. Its conversational and positive tone keeps readers interested in the subject matter, as it encourages them to apply the concepts of the book to their own lives. It presents research findings, theories, and models from the fields of developmental psychology, social psychology, health psychology, sociology, and others to discuss topics of prevention, compensation, gains, and losses.

This textbook defines terms, describes key concepts, and presents major theories of adult development; discusses health and medicine, behavior genetics, cognitive development, social psychology, sociology, economics, and social development in the context of adult development, based on empirical findings from these disciplines; and covers such topics as the growth of meaning, dealing with stress, conceptualizing the transitions of adulthood, and confronting death. Comprehensive in scope, it explores all aspects of the process of development – physical, cognitive, social, personality, and spiritual development – and the biological, psychological, or social forces or laws that may govern the changes we see among adults.
This new fifth edition features new information about

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Anxiety and depression in adulthood
  • Health benefits of hormone replacement therapy
  • Sexuality in older adulthood
  • Human factors research with aging populations
  • Theory of mind explanations of cognitive aging
  • Women's work roles and retirement
An exceptionally well-balanced blend of research, theory, and practical applications, for psychologists, sociologists, and gerontologists, The Journey of Adulthood, is a valuable resource for information about the aging process

Not Your Mothers' Midlife: A Ten Step Guide To Fearless Aging by Marilyn Kentz, Nancy Alspaugh (Andrews McMeel Publishing) Aging ain't what it used to be. For one thing, people are staying younger longer. For another, countless baby boomers are rising up against the notion that with age comes worthlessness.

This gloriously gutsy volume challenges society's worn-out perceptions that women become less valuable as they age. Instead, authors Nancy Alspaugh and Marily Kentz celebrate the fact that today's women can be more powerful, more efficient, more capable, and even more desirable as they age. With chapters like Let Go of What's Not Working, Shore Up Spiritually, and Find A New Passion, Not Your Mothers' Midlife contains personal growth exercises, humorous and poignant stories, and questions and visualizations to inspire new ways of thinking. A CD is included, containing the meditations and visualizations set to music. Not Your Mothers' Midlife takes the crisis out of midlife, replacing it with passion, fearlessness, and unlimited possibilities.

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