Book Review: “Aging Our Way”

Aging Our Way: Lessons for Living from 85 and BeyondBy Marguerite Langlois

AGING OUR WAY: Lessons for Living from 85 and Beyond by Meika Loe (Oxford University Press, New York, 2011)

Take a look at the bookstore shelf that contains books on aging, in almost any bookstore, and it’s clear that books on aging too often portray several common approaches to aging: “anti-aging” (a terrible phrase, when you think about it), or how we are all going to need so much help that it will be a terrible burden on society, or what adult children must all do to deal with the frightful things happening to mom and dad, or how aging is the most amazing time of total wisdom, complete satisfaction, and unending happiness. Yes, I exaggerate. But we truly need more books that give voice to all the mixed realities of aging. Is anyone listening to what we, the aging, really have to say?

Their stories are refreshing and encouraging, because they are real and avoid stereotypes, telling the truth about both good times and difficult times, the joys and the pains.

In Aging Our Way, Meika Loe, associate professor of sociology and women’s studies at Colgate University in New York, has written such a book. For three years, Loe followed the lives of 30 elders in New York state, talking with them, going places with them, and, especially, listening to them. (The people in the book are all over 85, but what they have to say speaks to anyone who is aging or is concerned about those who are aging.)

The result is a vivid, realistic portrait of people who are each aging in their own way, adapting, adjusting, and creating their lives as they go along. Their stories are refreshing and encouraging, because they are real and avoid stereotypes, telling the truth about both good times and difficult times, the joys and the pains. Loe follows several key themes which she says are important to pay attention to as we age: continuity, comfort, connection, and meaning. (Sounds a little like what our PNA Village encourages, doesn’t it?)

Reading the book started me thinking in different ways about my own aging and how I want to do it. It also confirmed my sense that the best wisdom about the process often comes from people like ourselves, who are living it. And, a couple of months after I had finished the book, I received the information about the PNA Village. What I had learned from the book gave me one more reason to join.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11354839-aging-our-way

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Find this book!

Seattle Public Library: http://seattle.bibliocommons.com/search?custom_query=(0199797900)+

IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780199797905

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