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From The CriticsReviewer: Bruce Rybarczyk, PhD (Rush Medical College of Rush University)
Description: The book covers four main areas: the general literature on stress and coping in the elderly, with an emphasis on social functioning; the authors' developmental model of the interpersonal situations encountered by older adults as they become more dependent; the theory and measurement of relational competence, a construct developed by the authors; and the application of relational competence to the elderly.
Purpose: The relational competence model has much heuristic value, particularly in the area of preventive and community interventions. Despite the general title of the book, however, the primary emphasis is on authors' theory as it applies to dependent elders (i.e., the "old-old" and otherwise frail elderly).
Audience: The book is intended for advanced undergraduate students, graduate students, researchers, and practitioners in the various health fields. The first half of the book serves as an overview of the background literature and, therefore, is written to the level of students. In addition, the intervention chapters do not describe any clinical cases or specific therapeutic techniques that would be appealing to clinicians.
Features: The authors both have impressive research credentials in the areas covered in the book. I found the tables presented in chapters 5 and 6 to be an excellent integration of the research on sequential stages of social adjustment of the elderly. The references are very up-to-date, particularly in the area of caregiver issues and social support.
Assessment: As a gero-psychologist and graduate school instructor, I found the ideas presented in the book both stimulating and important. I hope the authors' theory becomes more widely known and gets studied further. However, the book is not quite comprehensive or in-depth enough to serve as a reference book or text for a class on aging. It would, nonetheless, make a nice contribution to libraries serving gerontology students and professionals.