NEW YORK TIMES Summer Reading Weekend Book Addition in Summer 2010
Aging Gracefully with Dignity, Integrity & Spunk Intact: Aging Defiantly: Including Ten Tips to Keep People Off Your Back
“A fine read that will inspire and motivate many in the second half of their life Aging doesn’t mean you have to be a forgetful person entering the latter half of their life and a useless senior. Aging Gracefully, Aging Spunk Intact is a guide for elders who want to age independently as opposed to what one’s friends and family may try to force on them.
Humorous and insightful, Aging Gracefully, Aging Defiantly is a fine read that will inspire and motivate many a person entering the later half of their life.”
- Guide for Losing Your Mind, review by Enid Grabiner
"Septuagenarian poet Roth decries our “obsessive focus on the deterioration of the elderly” and charts a course of independent, dignified and fruitful aging.
Roth doesn’t deny that there are physical and mental losses as we grow older, particularly regarding brain cells that relate to short-term memory. What she finds galling is the cultural negativity toward old age, the dire warnings of a society that contemplates every aspect about itself and is seriously afraid of growing older.” With advances in modern medicine, there is every reason to expect an alert, active, achieving and participatory old age. What Roth focuses on are the mental hiccups that attend the advancing years – the moments of forgetfulness. She advises a use-it or lose-it approach, writing, “Those who continue to use their brain retain its use; those who do not, lose it.” The author explains that if you worry about forgetting that pot of boiling water, then don’t leave it. If you can’t recall a certain word, chose another, simpler one (which will probably be better than the $10 one you forgot).
Roth is especially forceful in counseling that one cultivate his or her head. There is a great storehouse of knowledge, skill and interests in the brain – one that’s been fed since the day each of us were born. The author writes that one should first explore the terrain – find the time, the place, and the quiet to begin to become conscious of the stored data you already possess” – then build on it and keep learning and ruminating on the big issues, like war and peace and human decency. Some may call it absentmindedness, this mooning about in your own head, but instead it’s a process of letting the mundane slip away. There was a time when we used to learn from our elders’ experience, but now the memory bullies want to send the old to the abattoir. Roth shows how, instead, to be subtly and directly defiant of being pigeonholed as decrepit.
Thoughtful, uncowed observations of the aging process with upbeat conclusions.
- Review by Kirkus Discoveries
"As I read Aging Gracefully With Dignity, Integrity & Spunk Intact: Aging Defiantly by Norma Roth, I soon found myself reading the words as her cheerleader. More! I wanted to read more about the subject! The information she presents is a result of research, personal experiences, and the desire to help debunk many myths about again that she considers to be “hogwash.” She refers to the aging population as the “Silver Generation,” encouraging them to take charge of their lives by refusing to be controlled by exaggerated fears and negative thinking. Ms. Roth discusses how “that” generation can live productive, fulfilling lives into their seventies, eighties, and nineties. After all, they have a vast amount of knowledge, experience and expertise to draw from – a storage retrieval system. Her writing is full of wit and wisdom and describes “the art and not the agony of growing older.”
Although I am a member of the Silver Generation, when I burn food that I am preparing, forget where I place an item, or ask myself why I’ve gone into a room to get an article, it is my opinion that, with aging, I am simply paying more attention to my own behavioral patterns, fearing that others may think I’m “losing it.” But, if seniors think about it, most will admit that they did the same things in their earlier years – perhaps not as often but, nevertheless, they did them. The author reinforces this concept, telling our generation not to panic; she provides some simple suggestions to avoid such distractions and occurrences. As far as absentminded, she explains that our minds are full of things we have learned and not on matters of the moment. Rather than planning for when we are put out to pasture, we need to plan for life! One way to do that is to test the concept of a storage retrieval system.
The second part of the book discusses how to unleash this Personal Retrieval System by going on a treasure hunt within one’s self. The journey will take readers down familiar paths as they access and retrieve stored information that can be utilized to live fuller and more productive lives. The author offers the Silver Generation some basic rules for success in harnessing the power of the brain to access this information. As I continued to read, I began thinking about the piano lessons that I had taken as a young child. My sister, who also took lessons, became quite a musician; however, I quit after only a year. It was a decision I regretted in adulthood; therefore, a few days ago, I purchased some lesson books from our local music store and began practicing again. Little by little, what I learned as a child is coming back to me, and I now plan to build on that foundation. The author, obviously much more talented in this area that me, tells a similar story; this is what gave me the courage to try again. If you think it is impossible to learn something new, Norma Roth says that such thinking is “hog wash.” (I love how she uses that word throughout her book.) Science suggest new brain cells might just be available for new learning. As we age, we must “use it or lose it.” There are endless opportunities for the Silver Generation when members choose to empower themselves. Admittedly there may be physical challenges along the way, so it is very important not to cheat on nutrition, vitamins, or sleep.
Do you want to know how to deal with the “word supplier” and “word corrector”? What about the finisher of sentences, or looks given that are meant to embarrass you? How do you handle a disrupter? The author addresses these situations and gives examples of appropriate responses to those who might try to intimidate you. Yesterday, I used one of those responses and found it very effective.
I cannot stress how important I think this book is to society as a whole. It is easy to understand and well written with some repetition for emphasis. Even those who are not presently part of the Silver Generation will, barring unfortunate circumstances, continue to age. This book will help prepare them for a long and fulfilling life. I give Aging Gracefully my highest recommendation and consider it a “must read.”
- Review by Bettie Corbin Tucker, An Independent Professional Reviewer:
“A whole generate of Baby Boomers from the 1950s is beginning to retire or at the very least receive Social Security. Thus, Aging Gracefully, Aging Defiantly by Norma Roth not only proved to be interesting and inspiring reading to me, but will no doubt find a large audience among my contemporaries.
The expression is that old age is not for sissies and there’s enough truth in that for Roth to have developed “ten tips to keep people off your back” when family and others begin to wonder if you are having a “senior moment”, (occasional forgetfulness), giving someone really good advice on making the transition to one’s sixties and beyond that I cannot say enough good things about it. If you have an aging member in your family or a friend possibly having a problem or two as they age, I recommend you give them this book."
- Relationships & Again, review by Alan Caruba
Age 55 has come and brain power has left! Where did I leave my keys? Is the garage door closed? Did I leave the oven on? Meet my friend, what’s his name? These are common enough events for all of us growing into maturity, or what is better known as the "Silver Generation". It is the time in one's life when conversation revolves around issues of aging, the most frightening being problems of word and memory retrieval. Fear of dementia and failing health are a constant plague. Attitudes toward growing old have to be revisited and changed.
Norma Roth suggests that fear of aging and the panic that accompanies it
should be met head on, first with recognition and then with a plan of attack. In the first half of the book she addresses with anecdotal humor, the occurrence of common worrisome situations, and then offers plans of attack. She encourages seniors to relook at their lives and acknowledge strengths and weaknesses. An honest self-appraisal is the first step in dealing with anxieties and handling the obstacles.
In Part II Roth offers a detailed list of techniques offering this generation simple useful skills to use in aging boldly yet gracefully. She urges them to accept the weaknesses that age brings and deal with them. She offers skills to be learned to retrieve memories and language through a relearning process. Best of all, she teaches that self-respect is an important tool in maintaining a good image. The author encourages self-recognition of a lifetime of experience which can invaluable in their empowerment.
- Review by Rebecca Reads
The engaging guide helps mature adults deal with the complications of aging. Inside you’ll find advice, tips, understanding and hints on how to get people off your back, including: If you can’t remember a word – use a smaller word; if you can’t remember what you ate today – switch the subject, if an interruption caused you to lose your train of thought – stop letting people interrupt you and more.
This is an invaluable guide for aging people and those who love them.
- Review by NY City Strand, 15 Miles of Books, new, used rare.