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Older Americans, Vital Communities: A Bold Vision for Societal Aging

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Overview

This thought-provoking work grapples with the vast range of issues associated with the aging population and challenges people of all ages to think more boldly and more creatively about the relationship between older Americans and their communities.

W. Andrew Achenbaum begins by exploring the demographics of our aging society and its effect on employment and markets, education, health care, religion, and political action. Drawing on history, literature, and philosophy, Achenbaum focuses on the way health care and increases in life expectancy have transformed late life from a phase characterized by illness, frailty, and debility to one of vitality, productivity, and spirituality. He shows how this transformation of aging is beginning to be felt in programs and policies for aging persons, as communities focus more effort on lifelong learning and extensive civic engagement.

Concerned that his own undergraduate students are too focused on the immediate future, Achenbaum encourages young people to consider their place in life's social and chronological trajectory. He calls on baby boomers to create institutional structures that promote productive, vital growth for the common good, and he invites people of all ages to think more boldly about what they will do with the long lives ahead of them.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Educational Gerontology - Naomi Eden

Researchers, scholars, and graduate students will find that Achenbaum has written a useful, current overview of the literature and history for the field of aging.

Educational Gerontology
Researchers, scholars, and graduate students will find that Achenbaum has written a useful, current overview of the literature and history for the field of aging.

— Naomi Eden

The Gerontologist - Larry Polivka

Achenbaum brings a historian’s sensibility to his analysis... [His] treatment of religion, spirituality, and aging is one of the most informed and sophisticated that I have read.

Care Management Journals - Marshall B. Kapp

A well-referenced and clearly, engagingly written account.

Journal of Marriage and the Family - Sarah Ruiz

Achenbaum's book makes a useful contribution to knowledge. His long experience in the field of aging allows him to provide important policy insights.

Anthropology and Aging Quarterly - Allison Kabel

A well-researched historical overview of trends in societal aging over the past century.

The Older LEARNer - Christina Butler

If the six main chapters alone were not enough to recommend this book, the 30-page reference list that wraps up the volume certainly would be. As textbook or professional reference, Older Americans, Vital Communities would be a worthy investment.

Ageing and Society - Chris Phillipson

Achenbaum's study provides a powerful and superbly written starting point for what will be a key area of research within gerontology over the next decade.

The Gerontologist
Achenbaum brings a historian’s sensibility to his analysis... [His] treatment of religion, spirituality, and aging is one of the most informed and sophisticated that I have read.

— Larry Polivka, Ph.D.

Care Management Journals
A well-referenced and clearly, engagingly written account.

— Marshall B. Kapp, JD, MPH

Journal of Marriage and the Family
Achenbaum's book makes a useful contribution to knowledge. His long experience in the field of aging allows him to provide important policy insights.

— Sarah Ruiz

Anthropology and Aging Quarterly
A well-researched historical overview of trends in societal aging over the past century.

— Allison Kabel

The Older LEARNer
If the six main chapters alone were not enough to recommend this book, the 30-page reference list that wraps up the volume certainly would be. As textbook or professional reference, Older Americans, Vital Communities would be a worthy investment.

— Christina Butler

Ageing and Society
Achenbaum's study provides a powerful and superbly written starting point for what will be a key area of research within gerontology over the next decade.

— Chris Phillipson

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801887680
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 10/19/2007
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Meet the Author

W. Andrew Achenbaum is a professor of history and social work at the University of Houston.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction : a new demographic revolution demands novel structural responses
1 The new faces of individual aging 1
2 The new age of production and consumption 25
3 (Re)creating networks for lifelong learning and sharing talents 49
4 Reforming the U.S. health care system to care for an aging population 76
5 Renewing religious experiences and spiritual practices for a new age 103
6 Extending the civic engagement of senior citizens 129
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