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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Realistic And Not Optimistic
Books about aging fall into two categories: gloom and doom (like Mary Pipher's Another Country) and chirpy and cheery (like Marc Freedman's Encore).

Rubin's book falls mostly in the gloom and doom category. She seems determined to debunk, "Sixty is the new forty."

Sometimes she misses the mark. "When I was forty my friends weren't dying," someone...
Published on October 12, 2007 by Dr. Cathy Goodwin

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your time
I decided to read this book to learn helpful ways to think about aging and to develop ideas for how to grow old with grace, but realism, too. Ms. Rubin's "truth" appears to be: die young if you can; people who are reasonably happy in old age are either lying, demented or part of an extremely small minority; beware of younger people, most of whom hate the aged; and get...
Published on May 2, 2008 by Rosy Reader


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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Realistic And Not Optimistic, October 12, 2007
Books about aging fall into two categories: gloom and doom (like Mary Pipher's Another Country) and chirpy and cheery (like Marc Freedman's Encore).

Rubin's book falls mostly in the gloom and doom category. She seems determined to debunk, "Sixty is the new forty."

Sometimes she misses the mark. "When I was forty my friends weren't dying," someone says. But in fact,we're not comparing our 60-year old selves with our 40-year old selves. We're comparing with 40 year olds of an earlier generation, who often watched their friends die at the same rate as 60 year olds do now.

The best part of the book was the section on retirement. I once knew a 64 year old man who had retired from a demanding, prestigious profession. He claimed to be happy with his hobbies, but his neighbors knew he was bored. Sadly, they saw him as a crankly old busybody who pried into everybody else's affairs with unwanted advice. He deserved more.

As Rubin points out, sixty-somethings aren't taken seriously in the working world. Regulations and laws limit meaningful volunteer work. Not everybody wants to be a greeter at Wal-Mart, a job happily espoused by an ex-executive in Marc Freeman's Encore.

I also appreciated Rubin's frank discussion of friendships that become harder with age. After years of enjoying friends who were 20 years younger, she herself finds common interests disappear. I've found that as I work on the Internet, I have less in common with many women my own age. After a classmate invited me to bring "samples" of my ebooks to a college reunion, I decided to forego future gatherings with my age-mates.

The real lesson of books on aging is that cohort groups become more diverse as they age. At 60, you might be running marathons or having trouble walking around the block. You might be ready to sit on a porch and let the world go by or you might want to build a business. At 75 you might be ready for assisted living or you might be Sandra Day O'Connor, who played a leadership role in the US Supreme Court until she retired.

In the end, this book was strangely compelling. I'm struck by the number of long, thoughtful reviews. Rubin strides confidently into topics where most authors tiptoe. My favorite part of the book comes when Rubin quotes a New York Times food critic: If living to 99 means "cutting the Porterhouse into thirds," maybe 85 is okay. Give up Haagen-Dasz? Maybe 79.

Yet, as other reviewers note, Rubin doesn't offer suggestions either for activism or personal empowerment. She's trained as a therapist and I'm reminded of stereotypical "you have to accept" therapy responses, delivered with a philosophical shrug

She gets it. I get it. I get that she gets it. Now what?
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Dose of reality in a sea of hype (3.75 *s), September 15, 2007
By 
J. Grattan (Lawrenceville, GA USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This fairly short book is part lament by the author of getting old [83 and counting] and a reality check on the notion that people can choose to not get old, that 60 is really 40 or that 80 is the new 60, or that the olden years will be a time of continued development and exciting living. The book is part personal reflection and experience, what is known by experts, and the views of many older people without the hype.

Because we live longer, many of the traditional sequences of life have been significantly altered. For example, the newly pregnant forty-year-old lives beside those who have adult children at the same age. Or some through personal habits are undoubtedly far healthier than their peers entering old age. Witness the seventy-something marathoner compared to the stooped shuffling of a peer. Old age for the author begins at sixty-five with more advanced levels about every ten years. Yet despite these exceptions that lend credence to the hard sell of perpetual youthfulness, it is clear that many at age sixty or so have not escaped the ravages of time, suffering from any number of physical and mental maladies.

Older people are often encouraged to "disengage" or retire only to find that idleness, golf, or the like gets old very fast. Yet even for those with advanced learning and the retention of skills, re-employment in our society is often very problematical. As the author points out, the older citizen found working at Home Depot or Wal-mart may well be vastly over-qualified for their job, but simply have no other place to turn.

Other areas that need a strong dose of reality injected are those of finances and sex. The harsh reality according to the author is that the vast majority of older Americans simply do not have the financial resources for extended life after working. She points out that the median wages in this country do not permit anything beyond the most meager of savings. In addition, any financial windfall expected from parents often disappears as they too are living to advanced ages with accompanying large payments to nursing homes and health care providers. As far as sex goes, it appears that the mind is willing, but the body often fails for older people. She also points out that sexual passion usually leaves most marriages after many years, not easily recaptured even if desired. The passionate older woman hyped in a recent popular book is mostly just that: hype.

The author readily admits that we live far longer than just one hundred years ago, but we really have not come to grips with it. Getting old is not accepted by the person, employers, friends, etc. The reactions to getting old fall into denial, exclusion, and aversion among others. It is not the intent of the author to necessarily change those reactions, but to simply expose realities. Some advocacy of change would have been welcome. For example, anti-discrimination, living wage, and national health care legislation would seem appropriate. In the end, the author encourages being realistic about getting old and rejecting the nonsense.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dilemmas of Aging, September 30, 2007
Lillian B. Rubin tells it like it is when it comes to growing old. I am impressed by her fair-mindedness and her scientific efforts to look at the many dilemmas of aging, based on both personal experience and interviews.

We are frantic to turn back the clock. Dr. Rubin quotes geriatrician Kate Scannell, who says, "We are regularly consumed with commercial messages that promote an experience of aging that is far more possible on billboards than in the three-dimensional lives of most elderly people. . . . Our culture's compulsive spinning of old age into gold can inflict pscho-spiritual harm when it lures people into expecting a perpetually gilded existence."

While she favors our remaining active as long as possible, Rubin notes that not only aging, but old age, is inevitable, and often brings with it problems such as outliving savings and pensions, losing social connections, having to care for even older parents when we ourselves are old, and spending our children's intended inheritances. Even those happy, active seniors living in retirement communities often reach a point when they need to slow down and relax.

Originally planning to use Dylan Thomas' poem "Do not go gentle into that good night" as her book's epigram, Rubin learned that "it's one thing to 'burn and rave' at old age and another to do so 'against the dying light.'" She came to understand "how much our fight against the 'good night' costs, how our fear of death imprisons us . . and contanimates our life, how our denial of it closes us off from the full affirmation of the life we could be living."

This book should be "must" reading for everyone over 50 and for all those who study us, advertise to us, or oversee our care. While the realities presented are not, in general, pleasant ones, those of us over 70, at least, are likely to react with "How true!"
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unblinking look at the realities of old age, February 3, 2010
This review is from: 60 On Up: The Truth about Aging in the Twenty-first Century (Paperback)
You don't often come across a book like this one that doesn't mince words or divert our attention from the actualities of aging. Rubin takes us deeply into the country of age with neither an unrealistic optimism nor a cynical pessimism. Old age is what it is--the final years of our lives. It comes with various ailments and infirmities, and also with a lifetime of accumulated experience. As the author herself is a woman in her eighties who alternates between writing about her own experience and summarizing the literature on the subject, the book encompasses the state of the art in terms of what growing old feels like. There is no truth more difficult to face than our own mortality and a virtual industry of products, euphemisms, activities, and downright lies has developed to help us avoid that truth. Rubin dismantles the denials one after another, yet the book is not depressing--in fact, its very existence proclaims what is possible to achieve in one's ninth decade of life. I wish it had an index and a bibliography, but other than that, its an excellent introduction to what is always unfamiliar terrain.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant reflection on the view from age 82, November 30, 2007
By 
marie curie (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
At age 49, with 2 kids (8 & 10) and a full-time job, I have a ways to go before I join Lillian Rubin in old-age-hood - which she notes that people experience at different ages, and which for her didn't feel real until her 80th birthday. But I love this book. It speaks to the experience of people my age, who balance incredibly busy lives with concern for their aging parents - and also to the experience of the parents, whose greatest fear is becoming dependent on their kids. It gives perspective on the experience of retirement, which many folks my age envision as a wonderful break from the daily work grind, but which may feel (after an initial blissful year or two) like an unexpected search for new meaning and social connections... and which may be less of a break than expected, if at age 70 we're caring for 95-year-old parents. Above all, this book illuminates the ambivalence with which many of us grow older, welcoming the time to reflect and slow down but mourning our losses both physical (decreased energy & strength) and social (friends and partners growing ill and dying). I did find it interesting that there is no mention in this book of the passion some folks have in their after-60 years for getting involved in the big issues of this planet - environmental, political - in an effort to improve life for their grandchildren. But: Rubin notes in passing that she and her husband (90 and suffering from early dementia) have been politically active for years, so maybe this issue doesn't merit a special focus in the last 1/3 of her life. Nonetheless, i highly recommend this book. Unlike one of the other reviewers, I don't find it at all "gloom & doom" about aging. I think it's a wonderful read - thoughtful, honest, and constantly provoking small shocks of recognition about myself or others i know.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 60 On Up: The Truth About Aging in America, September 30, 2007
60 on Up: The Truth About Aging in America
This is an enlightning and "down to earth" look at growing old in America. It examines the true realities that exist within a population who is uncomfortable with aging. In reading the book you can clearly see how we have no value for the aged. It shows that people are very afraid of growing old and the feeling among us is the end of life after a certain age even though we're still living. The book helps one come to terms about aging and invites us to face issues head-on regarding not only our utlimate challenge but the very last important process in our lives. This book helped me to accept instead of deny what is happening to my body as well as my mind, and to try to stay in touch with the world and be a vibrant part of it at this time in my life. This is a terrific book and a delight to read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your time, May 2, 2008
By 
Rosy Reader "Rosy" (Sebastian, Florida) - See all my reviews
I decided to read this book to learn helpful ways to think about aging and to develop ideas for how to grow old with grace, but realism, too. Ms. Rubin's "truth" appears to be: die young if you can; people who are reasonably happy in old age are either lying, demented or part of an extremely small minority; beware of younger people, most of whom hate the aged; and get ready to watch your body die. She offers nothing positive, no insights into how to make life better during our later years. Absolutely no ideas or hope. The book is humorless and utterly depressing. I think Ms. Rubin, sociologist and psychotherapist, needs some care and love and therapy herself!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Skillful Writer, A Book With Hard Questions, December 30, 2007
Psychologist Lillian B. Rubin is in her early eighties; her husband, over ninety, has early stage dementia. In 60 On Up, Rubin gives us an honest, hard look at the realities--especially the physical difficulties--of being old. She feels that Americans are in denial about the difficulties of aging. She wants to shake her husband when he says,"I'm lucky to be able to do as well as I can." I, on the other hand, would want to hug him and give him credit for his positive attitude. I focus on what we are able to gain as we age if we seek it in spite of the inevitable physical difficulties. I am not eighty, however, and my spouse is not ninety.

That said, 60 on Up is a book worth reading. Rubin focuses on the prevalence of ageism in America... "Until ageism comes under some kind of public scrutiny with a political movement to match, euphemisms like 'senior citizen' will be met with disdain by both the old and the society in which they live." Here is a battle that needs to be fought.

Rubin points out that our new longevity has costs, not only to those of us who are considered old, but to our children and our grandchildren as well. We may have wisdom, but who, she asks, wants to hear it? (Perhaps she has also unconsciously accepted some of the premises of ageism.) She acknowledges that seeking a spiritual life, a transcendent life, is a valid goal; however, she questions whether we, as sum totals of our whole life experience, can easily turn toward an introspective life. (Carl Jung and Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi in From Age-ing to Sage-ing, say it is imperative.) As we live longer, Rubin says, "We are now in uncharted territory, a stage of life not seen before in human history."

When Rubin writes of friendship, she talks of those who have drifted away, died or grown frail and unable to continue a full social life. "Something happens on the way from there to here," she writes. "Suddenly our lives don't fit together the way they used to." Friendships change with age, she suggests, because we begin to pull back. We become introspective and conscious of the limitations that our future may bring us. While we want to be in the world, we need more solitude than ever and "have withdrawn...some of the energy that was once given over to our friendships." We move to a quieter, contemplative place that is "all too often, lonely."

The title of Chapter Nine is self-explanatory: "Hey folks, you're spending my inheritance." Because we are living longer (healthier or not), we are using our savings on ourselves, not our children. Yet as we realize that our time is finite, we tend to value our children, grow closer to them, and, yes, become more dependent upon them. Paradoxically, we fight for our independence and our right to live alone, to drive and make our own decisions until circumstances require that we relinquish the fight, if only to ease the concerns of our children and grandchildren. But it is hard, and those of us who live long enough will inevitably come to depend upon others.

A skillful writer, Rubin writes of herself and her husband in an honest, sympathetic way, keeping her humanity and a sense of humor but at the same time maintaining her psychological and research-oriented focus. She says,"For old age tiptoes in on silent feet, taking a little here, a little there, none of it big enough to get our full attention, until one day, it's there, and we're left wondering, 'What happened?'" Here is a book with hard questions, even philosophical questions. Eighty in 2007 is very different from eighty in earlier decades, Rubin says. Eighty in 2025 will be a new adventure.

by Judith Helburn
for StorycircleBookReviews
[...]
reviewing books by, for, and about women
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I learned alot, November 4, 2009
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This review is from: 60 On Up: The Truth about Aging in the Twenty-first Century (Paperback)
I loved this book because I felt like the author understood me- she said so many truisms. She is 20 yrs older than me and offers guidance into an unknown territory- like the end of life, parents aging and what is in store for us, how our children see us as we age, our independence, our health, what we want to accomplish in our lives, etc. I would also like to read some of her other books. She made me less " afraid" of becoming old.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rubin tells it like it is, May 26, 2009
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This review is from: 60 On Up: The Truth about Aging in the Twenty-first Century (Paperback)
Lillian Rubin has an impressive lists of books on topics like friendship and marriage that speak truth insightfully. She's done it again in this refreshing book on aging. Her opening line is "Age sucks." And she goes on to talk about those aspects of age--decline and loss--that are often by-passed by other authors. This honest look at growing old ["old age lasts a long time"], its impact on self, family, friends, and society, is perhaps even more appropriate for those of us who have reached 70 or beyond and may have many years ahead.
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60 On Up: The Truth about Aging in the Twenty-first Century
60 On Up: The Truth about Aging in the Twenty-first Century by Lillian B. Rubin (Paperback - September 1, 2008)
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