Best Books on Aging — 30 Years Worth

Longevity Rev2

As an adult daughter, not to mention an individual who is moving inexorably, but not unwelcomingly, toward retirement years, I read a lot of books about philosophy, aging, transitions, and mindfulness. I have plenty of books to choose from on all sorts of aging and life topics.

Ronni Bennett over at Time Goes By has just updated the books section of her blog. She lists her favorites — published over a 30 year time span – along with short quotes, and her selections offer thoughtful, realistic, and even a few downright literary portrayals of the aging process during our senior years.

As a group, Bennet explains, her favorite books offer “collected wisdom and knowledge of their superb writers – thinkers and activists who aim a bright, shining light onto the realities of getting old.” It’s a pretty cool list, one that steers determinedly away from pop culture and promises of wrinkle-free elderhood.

What_Are_Old_Peo_49d67ac7e88b6_150x150Two of the books, What Are Old People For?, by Dr Bill Thomas, and The Longevity Revolution, by Dr. Robert N. Butler, have inspired a number of posts here on As Our Parents Age, and I’ve been privileged to hear both of these gifted physician authors speak. Dr. Butler died in 2010. To find out how much I  am influenced by Dr. Thomas’ book, please visit my Green House Homes page.            Continue reading

Here’s to the Health of Remembering — Even After Forgetting

If you find yourself forgetting things (and taking more time to remember them than you want), read Dr. Bill Thomas’ post, Tip of the Tongue, over at his Changing Aging blog. He writes about the brain and presents a broad range of research findings that address memory, forgetting, remembering, age, and ageism. As we grow older and despite forgetting, Dr. Bill emphasizes, most of the information is still in our brain as we move toward elderhood, though we are a bit less efficient at retrieving it quickly.

Best Quote from this Changing Aging Blog Post

It turns out that younger brains are good at quickly recalling bits of information (like a name or where you put your car keys) because they have a relatively straightforward filing system. Older people, by dint of long experience, “store” memories within a more diffuse network of brain systems.

brainAt least once a day I have a tip-of-the-tongue experience, and almost always, the thought that I was trying so hard to remember pops into my head sometime later in the day. My parents, age 89 and 85, have the same experience. I do not worry about it, and I encourage them not to worry too much about it, because we almost always remember the information in a relatively short time (or we know where to go to find it).

I stopped worrying about forgetting after I attended a parents’ weekend lecture some years ago at Brown University — in a large lecture hall, standing room only. The lecturer, a professor and brain researcher whose class my daughter was taking (and whose name I cannot remember just now), shared some interesting and reassuring facts using a metaphor of old-fashioned library card catalog.

Important Lecture Points With Some of My Editorial Notes          Continue reading

Jane Gross – “On Being” Program Rebroadcast

On her Facebook page A Bittersweet Season author, Jane Gross, mentioned that one of her book interviews with On Being radio host, Krista Tippett, will re-air today (Thursday, July 26, 2012). Gross wrote her book after her journey in the elder parent caregiving world, and she shares a broad range of insights, ideas, and thoughts.

I  listened to this program when it was originally broadcast, and it’s worth hearing the program again — my NPR station has it on right now.

On Facebook Gross, who started the New Old Age blog, wrote:

‎”On Being,” a popular NPR radio program hosted by Krista Tippett about the big questions at the center of human life, will re-air today their interview with me about A BITTERSWEET SEASON. It’s probably my favorite interview of all the ones I did over the past year about the book.

All of Tippett’s On Being radio programs are archived and available for listeners. Schedule issues keep me from hearing every program broadcast on my local NPR station, so I often listen to past shows when I am driving.

Tribes of Eden — by Dr. Bill Thomas — Book Launch

Read all about the book launch festivities.

Click on the image or visit Changing Aging, the site of Dr. Bill Thomas, to learn about his new book, Tribes of Eden, which comes out this week.

Dr. Thomas’ post tells about the activities that will celebrate the book’s launch, but it’s especially easy to take part in the festivities on Wednesday, April, 4, 2012 at 3:00 P.M. eastern standard time. All of the proceeds from this book will be contributed to The Eden Alternative.

Order a standard book or get a version for the Nook, Kindle, iPhone, etc. This week, before purchasing the book, fans should consider participating in a launch purchase at Amazon.

I will review Tribes of Eden here on AsOurParentsAge.

Multitasking and the Aging Brain

Over the past 20 years multitasking has become a common 20th and 21st Century conversation for people of all ages. Technology, especially the many things we seem to do all at once with the help of our gadgets, makes us think that we are all pretty good multi-taskers. Unfortunately, research is showing we aren’t doing so well.

John Medina, a molecular biologist at the University of Washington wrote Brain Rules in 2008 (available in paperback), an entertaining book in which he discusses 12 brain characteristics and especially the importance of movement on learning and working. Dr. Medina addresses the concept of multitasking, which he says the brain doesn’t really do that well. What many of us think of as multitasking is really task switching, and some people are better at jumping back and forth between tasks than others. Research is cited everywhere in this book, and Dr. Medina documents all of his explanations. Several entertaining video explanations describing the human brain and its functions are posted at his web site. You can also listen to a terrific presentation by Dr. Medina at the Authors@Google series. Continue reading

Check out the “Be the Noodle” Review

While I was intently focused on my Green House posts last week, Inside Aging Parent Care posted a terrific review of Be TheNoodle by Lois Kelly.

What I love about this book is the noodle support metaphor. When the summer waters are rough in my beloved St. Lawrence River, a noodle is just the ticket for extra support on a hot day when one of us — not just aging parents — wants to stay in the water for a long time. A noodle is strong and secure, and it keeps a person from tiring or sinking, functioning just like a caregiver does when a family member is seriously ill.

I have yet to read Kelly’s entire book — I picked it up at a friend’s house — but the hospice experience described in the book is similar to our experience during the last months of end of my mother-in-law’s life. Suffice it to say, hospice was amazing, and so it this book.