The Art of Aging: A Doc­tor’s Pre­scrip­tion For Well-Being

Sher­win B. Nuland
  • Review
By – March 26, 2012
With baby boomers approach­ing retire­ment and with rapid advances in med­ical tech­nol­o­gy, more peo­ple than ever before will live well into their sev­enth, eighth, ninth, tenth, and even eleventh decades. The qual­i­ty of life that we can expect to expe­ri­ence dur­ing these years has improved dra­mat­i­cal­ly too. Sher­win Nuland, the retired sur­geon who wrote the elo­quent and edu­ca­tion­al How We Die, has explored the sub­ject of aging from a num­ber of per­spec­tives, and shares these in his new and very read­able book. This is not a tome of research find­ings and sta­tis­tics. Rather, Nuland describes, in non-tech­ni­cal lan­guage, what aging means in phys­i­cal terms, and then intro­duces his read­ers to a num­ber of peo­ple who have suc­cess­ful­ly coped with aging and its chal­lenges, from the famous heart sur­geon Robert DeBakey, now in his nineties, to ordi­nary peo­ple who have found ways to live their lat­er years in a pro­duc­tive and sat­is­fy­ing way. Per­haps the most touch­ing chap­ter in the book is a pre­sen­ta­tion of a cor­re­spon­dence Nuland under­took with a woman from India who wrote to him ask­ing why she should con­tin­ue to live her life in the face of phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties and loss­es. Their encounter, over sev­er­al years, was as reveal­ing to Nuland as it was to her. Chap­ters on eth­i­cal issues (what impact will it have if we find ways to live for two or three hun­dred years?) and the nature of wis­dom add fur­ther dimen­sions to this top­ic. Nuland’s writ­ing is thought­ful and vibrant, and the advice he offers is well worth tak­ing. Index.

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