Never Say Die

Never Say Die, by Susan Jacoby ($16.29)

Author interview here.

Amazon:  “I am about to present a portrait of advanced old age,” Jacoby (The Age of American Unreason) warns, “that some will find too pessimistic and negative.” Her portrait of the emotional, physical, fiscal, and mental problems debunks popular myths about life in our 80s and 90s, “the worst years of lives.” Jacoby locates American youth culture from colonial days, when, in 1790, “only about 2 percent were over sixty-five.” By 2000, those over 65 were 12.4%, thanks to modern medicine and the benefits to well-being coincident to the economic prosperity of the 1950s and ’60s. Jacoby cautions that marketing has deceived the public by suggesting that “cures for mankind’s most serious and frightening diseases are imminent and that medical reversal or significant retardation of aging itself may not be far behind.” As she attends to the “genuine battles of growing old,” Jacoby is both moving and informative about Alzheimer’s costs to the psyche and the purse of sufferer and caretaker, and eye-opening as she reframes impoverished old women as “a women’s issue.” She raises timely and “uncomfortable questions about old age poverty, the likelihood of dementia, end-of-life care, living wills, and assisted suicide.”

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