The Denial of Aging: Perpetual Youth, Eternal Life, and Other Dangerous Fantasies




Author: Muriel R. Gillick
Type: eBook
Date Released: 2007
Format: pdf
Language: English
Page Count: 352
Isbn10 Code: 0674021487
Isbn13 Code: 9780674021488


From Publishers Weekly From diets to cutting-edge diagnostic technology, Americans spend billions of dollars—not to mention untold hours of anxiety—staving off the aging process. In this readable examination of growing old and learning to live with it, Gillick, a Harvard Medical School associate professor, is pitiless as she critiques the current medical mantra of "health maintenance," observing that warding off death via endless testing and dangerous invasive procedures is "a hopeless and counterproductive aim" hurting, rather than helping, the elderly. She persuasively argues for "intermediate care," "a middle ground between maximally aggressive care and exclusively comfort-oriented care" involving, among other things, less expensive screening for some ailments after a certain age and, when possible, treating patients at home. This means fewer trips to the emergency room and fewer admissions to hospitals, which, in addition to being the most expensive means of delivering health care, also have proven to be places where the elderly actually suffer unnecessarily and often die prematurely. Gillick concludes that "a good old age is within our grasp," provided we rethink our approach to urgent or acute care, provide compassionate support to the elderly, and accept the fact that no one lives forever. (Mar.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. From Harvard physician Gillick lines up all the baby boomer antiaging fantasies--diet and exercise can conquer all, youth can be preserved, there is such a thing as an eternally healthy life, and, best of all, everyone will simply drop dead at the curb one day as he/she takes out the garbage--and systematically shoots them down. The simple truth, she says, is that no one passes through this mortal coil without illness or injury, particularly at the end, so we'd better start planning for the inevitable. With personal anecdotes and stories taken from the files of her practice, Gillick demonstrates how current medical practices don't always correspond to patient expectations. Particularly when it comes to making decisions about aggressive medical intervention with a close-to-death patient, she suggests a middle road is often preferable though too seldom taken. In language straightforward enough to draw the occasional wince, she points out inadequacies of most individual end-of-life plans and existing support agencies' woeful underpreparedness for the looming needs of aging millions. Donna ChavezCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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