Thirty-five million Americans are living beyond the age of sixty-five, a twenty-five year increase in life expectancy since 1900. This longevity, once the gift of a few, has become the destiny of many. This statistic was just that to me until 5 years ago when I was given a copy of this book, Elderescence. It was written by a dear friend of my mother, who had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimers Disease. The book actually contained a section about my mother who had been one the elders they had followed over an 8 year period. I honestly expected a nice light read that might include interesting observations about my mother's aging, but came to find a wealth of information about the entire aging process and a burgeoning new field.
Peggy and Jane Thayer, a mother-daughter team, had studied a small sample of elders over this 8 year period to observe the changes, as well as the effect of attitude on the aging process. Being an academic, I was blown away by the amount of research and fascinating references to earlier pieces of work on this subject. These two women have cleverly used the concept of the Stage of Adolescence and compared and contrasted it to the Stage of "Elderescence".
It is a rigorous work which includes solid research, great references and poignant stories that touch heart while simultaneously educating the field about the experience of "aging". People have simply never lived this long before and thus, the field desperately needs rigorous works like this research to help both those of us who work in the field of elders, as well as those of us who are actively dealing with the care of our own elder parents.
Please take just a moment and read the synopsis of this book Click here and I think you will be hooked. It is a simple, yet chock full book on questions that we need to be asking ourselves, both as caregivers and family members, trying to understand the labyrinth of the aging process.