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The Denial of Aging

The Denial of Aging

Perpetual Youth, Eternal Life, and Other Dangerous Fantasies

Muriel R. Gillick, M.D.

ISBN 9780674025431

Publication date: 10/30/2007

You’ve argued politics with your aunt since high school, but failing eyesight now prevents her from keeping current with the newspaper. Your mother fractured her hip last year and is confined to a wheelchair. Your father has Alzheimer’s and only occasionally recognizes you. Someday, as Muriel Gillick points out in this important yet unsettling book, you too will be old. And no matter what vitamin regimen you’re on now, you will likely one day find yourself sick or frail. How do you prepare? What will you need?

With passion and compassion, Gillick chronicles the stories of elders who have struggled with housing options, with medical care decisions, and with finding meaning in life. Skillfully incorporating insights from medicine, health policy, and economics, she lays out action plans for individuals and for communities. In addition to doing all we can to maintain our health, we must vote and organize—for housing choices that consider autonomy as well as safety, for employment that utilizes the skills and wisdom of the elderly, and for better management of disability and chronic disease.

Most provocatively, Gillick argues against desperate attempts to cure the incurable. Care should focus on quality of life, not whether it can be prolonged at any cost. “A good old age,” writes Gillick, “is within our grasp.” But we must reach in the right direction.

Praise

  • Finally, a book that tells the truth about aging, starting with the fact that eating right and exercising will not prevent it. Dr. Gillick provides a fascinating guide for the journey into old age, and shows us how to make the best of it. Boomers (and most other grown-ups) will find her book right on target.

    —Marcia Angell, former Editor in Chief, New England Journal of Medicine, and author of The Truth about the Drug Companies

Author

  • Muriel R. Gillick, M.D., is Clinical Professor of Ambulatory Care and Prevention at Harvard Medical School. She is a staff physician for Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, and she is also on the medical staff of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Faulkner Hospital.

Book Details

  • 352 pages
  • 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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