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Life Gets Better: The Unexpected Pleasures of Growing Older Hardcover – August 18, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"Much-needed wisdom about aging."
—Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Wendy Lustbader, M.S.W., is an author, professor, and social worker who specializes in working with older people, their families, and caregivers, and lectures nationally on subjects related to aging. Lustbader is the author of Taking Care of Aging Family Members, coauthored with Nancy Hooyman; Counting on Kindness; and What's Worth Knowing. She lives in Seattle.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Tarcher (August 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585428922
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585428922
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #407,626 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Wendy Lustbader, MSW, is the author of several books and essays that have earned her a national reputation in the field of aging. She is also a popular speaker at conferences throughout the United States and Canada, using storytelling to animate complex subjects. Additionally, she is a skilled psychotherapist, having worked almost twenty years with people from all walks of life at a community clinic in downtown Seattle. Equally passionate as a writer, teacher, and therapist, Wendy brings a social worker's lived experience to her writing, teaching, and service to older people. Currently, she is an Affiliate Associate Professor at the University of Washington School of Social Work in Seattle.

Wendy's publications include two videos. The first, "A Prescription for Caregivers," shows caregivers and those who assist them how to make life better for the giver and receiver of care. In her other video, "Kind Hands," front-line workers learn how to respond to grief and vulnerability. Wendy's first book was co-authored with Nancy Hooyman, Taking Care of Aging Family Members. This is a practical guide to caregiving, with a detailed index to help readers find exactly what they need. Her second book, Counting on Kindness, helps readers to comprehend the complex and often unspeakable feelings which arise when we become dependent on others for help. Her third book is What's Worth Knowing, a collection of pithy insights gathered from older people. Her newest book, Life Gets Better, explores how life improves as we get older, on every level except the physical.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bill Thomas on August 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Wendy Lustbader is one of America's finest and most compassionate writers. Her long experience with and concern for the well being of older people forms of the foundation of this remarkable book.

For more than two decades she has poked and prodded, searched for and then found surprising new answers to the question, "what is the meaning of age and aging?"

While I loved her last book "What's Worth Knowing," I find this book to be deeper with an astonishing string of fully developed insights into life and the lives we lead.

How good is it? My wife and I read a few pages aloud to each other at night before we go to sleep the ideas Wendy offers us reliably lead to a thoughtful conversation about our lives and the decisions we are making about our marriage, our family, our work and our future.

If you wound up on this page and have taken the time to read my brief review then you owe it to yourself to click the buy button.

Go ahead and do it. I guarantee you that you will not be disappointed. In fact, it is likely that after you have finished the book you will give it to your best friend.

Dr. Bill Thomas

Author of "What Are Old People For?"
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By BRIAN on August 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover
"A lifetime of lessons learned can yield one of the most fruitful periods of anyone's life. Emotionally, we may become more self-aware. Intellectually, we may gain insight into our own story that grants the peace of understanding. Spiritually we may realize we have lived the answers to questions that once troubled us, and see that doubt and uncertainty have fallen away." (the dustcover)

Last month I made brief reference to a book I was reading. Now I have finished the book and I want to highly recommend it - Life Gets Better: The Unexpected Pleasures of Growing Older, by Wendy Lustbader, New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2011 (ISBN 978 - 1 - 58542 - 892 - 2)
Dr. Lustbader's book is clear, literate, articulate, and a real gift in its depth of reflection. Let me pick-up from where I was last month.

For many years now I have had a business card that reads, "Older, Wiser, and More Complex; I'm thinking of changing it to "More Unique". Older comes with every breath that we take, wiser requires time spent reflecting upon our experience, and the more unique comes through our individuality in responding to life. While many things may be stripped away from us as we age the truth is that we are continually faced with choices and with every new experience and every choice we make we become more unique; which is meant to be understood as, "we're still growing; adapting and changing to promote growth in whatever situation life puts us. While Dr. Lustbader uses different words: HOPE, TRANSFORMATION, and PEACE I believe we are both describing individual growth toward a common good; fruits of the spirit that take a lifetime to ripen.

In Life Gets Better twenty four far ranging chapters reconnoiter aspects of life that develop over time.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Story Circle Book Reviews on November 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
A delicious book. Wendy Lustbader weaves philosophy and sound observations into and around experiences of her own as well as those of others. In three sections, "Hope," "Transformation," and "Peace," she writes of the "unexpected pleasures" of aging. I feel as if I am with a quiet, sincere, kind and receptive good friend who listens well and coaxes the answers to my big questions out of my own mind.

Lustbader says, "I have been listening to older people's stories for almost thirty years, hearing them attest to later life as the source of ever-expanding inner and outer discoveries." She gifts the reader with these experiences in a flowing and cogent manner.

I enjoyed her self-deprecating tale of her awkwardness in yoga at the age of 50. She writes, "one woman came up to me before class to thank me: 'Without you always doing so much worse than me, I could never have stuck with it.'" I shared the story with a friend who takes yoga and is in the early stages of Parkinson's disease. We were able to identify with both women and laugh. We never know how or when we affect other for better or worse. Lustbader contributed to the well-being of both herself and a stranger. Certainly, a good reason to be thoughtful before we engage.

In later life, we will have had losses. When the day darkens, and night falls, we appreciate the sunlight. So it is when friends and family die or even move to a distant city. Lustbader writes that we cherish life all the more when we recover from loss. It may even lead to transformation. Another point she makes is that learning how to wait is essential to living well. Teens, especially, have difficulties with delayed gratification. We who are older, with so much less time paradoxically, realize that patience is rewarding.
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24 of 30 people found the following review helpful By tmtrvlr on September 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover
To put the book into just a few words, I guess it would be that instead of a coming of age for the youth book, it is a coming into wisdom book for the older set. It explains the satisfaction, wisdom, and contentment that can come with age. I did find some of the stories about the author's trips around the world a little tedious. It is really easy to be satisfied where you are in your life if you have had the wealth and health to experience worldwide travels, but it there is also a lot of insight into the aging mind in this book.
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