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How We Age: A Doctor's Journey into the Heart of Growing Old Paperback – March 6, 2012
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Hudson Valley News, 3/2/11
“Gives hope…to those people who dread and fear the idea of nursing homes…Dr. Agronin has a lively, upbeat writing style.”
“Filled with good stories…What ultimately emerges from this book (though it clearly wasn’t his intent, as there is nothing self-congratulatory about his prose) is that Marc Agronin is an extraordinarily capable geriatric psychiatrist…It’s not his aging patients who offer us the hope of growing old with dignity. It’s doctors like Agronin himself.”
Yale Alumni Magazine, April 2011
“A book rich with insight about aging.
“In the tradition of Atul Gawande and Sherwin Nuland…A spellbinding look at what aging means today.”
“Offers a more balanced perspective on aging…Many of the anecdotes in the book illustrate just how worthwhile it is to treat patients without any discrimination based on age…This is a thoughtful and compassionate book.”
Psychiatric Times, November 2011
“In his well-written and provocative book, Dr. Marc Agronin helps reduce the stigma of ageism and provides clinical guidance for seasoned geriatric psychiatrists, primary care clinicians, and medical students alike…Highly recommended.”
“The interviews and cases are interesting and well-presented.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/22/12
“[A] compassionate and engaging book.”
“Dr. Agronin presents a vivid picture of how the older person changes both physically, emotionally, and cerebrally…For the baby boomers whose increasing numbers will attempt to break through the barrier of invisibility that seniors are now accorded, this is a valuable book.”
New York Journal of Books, 2/1/11
“Skillfully told and well worth the read. The reader’s emotional involvement in the latter half of this book was more akin to the feelings one has after having read a very compassionate novel rather than a treatise on aging.”
The New Yorker, 3/14/11
“[Agronin] writes with the fluency and ease of another doctor, Atul Gawande, whose The Checklist Manifesto last year was a revelation…Some of the stories are sad, of course, but many are profound…demonstrating that the old—just like the young—harbor complexities and riches that the dismissive eye can miss.”
Portland Book Review, March 2011
“A successful explication of how ‘aging equals vitality, wisdom, creativity, spirit, and, ultimately, hope.’”
Sherwin B. Nuland, MD, bestselling author of How We Die
“Beautifully written…Marc Agronin’s daily work is the Art of medicine at its finest, and his descriptive powers are a gift to readers.”
Gary Small, MD, UCLA Professor of Psychiatry and Aging, bestselling author of The Memory Bible
“Through the stories and lives of Marc Agronin’s patients, we learn about the scientific, medical, and human side of the aging process. Dr. Agronin is not only a gifted writer and clinician, but also a keen observer of human behavior, whose empathy for his patients goes a long way to break down the ageism that separates the generations.”
Atlanta Jewish Times, 3/17/11
“[Agronin] offers inspiration for any interested in aging well.”
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Top customer reviews
Aging is rather like death-and-taxes, a part of life. We're all aging but Dr Agronin writes about good ways to adjust to the process in ourselves and our loved ones. In many cases, with the aid of new diagnoses and medication, Dr Agronin and his staff, have been able to help many patients who he has treated. And with others, Dr Agronin has helped to ease what are the emotional pains of aging - the remembrances that have been locked into their minds for many years. In one case cited by Dr Agronin, a music therapist worked through uncommunicative woman's only method of communication - verbal "clicks" - to recognise that she was "clicking" to a song that she and her late husband had loved. Her mind, almost totally closed by Alzheimers', had retained that song and that connection to a much-loved husband.
Dr Agronin's book is also a loving testimony to his family. Marc Agronin is a third-generation doctor and he writes that the memories he shared of his grandfather have helped him to be able to feel the compassion he does for his elderly patients. He also cites other professionals in his field, including Erik and Joan Erikson and Sophia Freud, with whom he has worked and studied.
A very good book, written for the lay person.
His mission he says, is to "offer a more balanced perspective on aging". He is "interested solely in honestly exploring the experience of old age through the lives of his patients"
Part 1 of the book covers the aging process generally
Part 2 more specifically through some memorable patients.
Part 3 discusses memory in old age.
Part 4: Wisdom.
Part 5 some lessons learned. I know it sounds similar to what I said it wasn't. However I felt it had a more philosophical bent to it.
What I really like about this book, is the enjoyment of reading about the various people that have touched this doctors life. From his aging grandfather, to his patients. I found it interesting how he commented that we form our impressions of aging based on the people who were aged when we grew up. If our elders gracefully aged, it had no fear or dread, but if dementia or loss of facilities were our experience, then aging, was something to dread. Considering some of these items are genetic, you can see how this could be anticipated.
Overall, it is clear the author enjoys his work with old people. He does bring to to light many subjects we all dread. So many of us look at age from a youth perspective and don't consider that our perspective changes as well. I think when I was younger, I thought that older people looked at me in my youth with envy. However as I get older and look at younger people, it is not with envy but familiarity and in some ways relief as that time is over. It is this type of perspective (though, the concept prior is my own) this author is trying to emphasize. Aging is something we all face. If we take care of our health and are one of the lucky ones not to suffer from Alzheimer's or other dementia's it is just another stage of life. Mind you the end stage, but there is no avoiding it if we are lucky.
Another thing the author illustrated in a few stories, is that sometimes dementia in elderly patients is drug or illness related and sometimes reversible. I know when I read my Mom's medicine inserts, a good 4-5 of them can cause altered states. It isn't hard to imagine this might happen more often than we think. What seems prevalent though, is the assumption of dementia often results in seniors not being listened to. I wonder if this generation of baby boomers that are now aging will allow it, since they have already changed the world once already.
This book does not let you rest on your aging assumptions and I'm happy to say after reading this book, the outlook is not all bleak. However the author also pointed out the need to maintain your health before you are a senior, is one of the best ways to work toward a more pleasant end stage of life.
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