Rethinking Aging: Growing Old and Living Well in an Overtreated Society

Rethinking Aging: Growing Old and Living Well in an Overtreated Society

by Nortin M. Hadler
     
 

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For those fortunate enough to reside in the developed world, death before reaching a ripe old age is a tragedy, not a fact of life. Although aging and dying are not diseases, older Americans are subject to the most egregious marketing in the name of "successful aging" and "long life," as if both are commodities. In Rethinking Aging, Nortin M. Hadler examines

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Overview

For those fortunate enough to reside in the developed world, death before reaching a ripe old age is a tragedy, not a fact of life. Although aging and dying are not diseases, older Americans are subject to the most egregious marketing in the name of "successful aging" and "long life," as if both are commodities. In Rethinking Aging, Nortin M. Hadler examines health-care choices offered to aging Americans and argues that too often the choices serve to profit the provider rather than benefit the recipient, leading to the medicalization of everyday ailments and blatant overtreatment. Rethinking Aging forewarns and arms readers with evidence-based insights that facilitate health-promoting decision making.

Over the past decade, Hadler has established himself as a leading voice among those who approach the menu of health-care choices with informed skepticism. Only the rigorous demonstration of efficacy is adequate reassurance of a treatment's value, he argues; if it cannot be shown that a particular treatment will benefit the patient, one should proceed with caution. In Rethinking Aging, Hadler offers a doctor's perspective on the medical literature as well as his long clinical experience to help readers assess their health-care options and make informed medical choices in the last decades of life. The challenges of aging and dying, he eloquently assures us, can be faced with sophistication, confidence, and grace.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
We now know exactly where we are at a "ripe old age"—about 85, and more of us are hitting that mark than ever before, notes Hadler, a professor of medicine at UNC–Chapel Hill (Worried Sick: A Prescription for Health in an Overtreated America). But it's all downhill and at a fairly quick clip after that. And here's where Hadler moves into myth-buster mode, arguing that it's not useful to hope that biotechnology will stave off the grim reaper. Better to live the old lives we reach by making smart decisions as we travel there, e.g., ignoring media hype about "the scare of the week, the miracle of the month," and be wary of road maps to impossibly golden years. Hadler cites controversial studies showing, for instance, that there is no obesity epidemic. He also cautions against the growing array of screening tests: unlike diagnostics that look for an existing problem, screening hunts for culprits that could create a future problem that may never materialize. With this thoughtful guide, Hadler urges better options for end-of-life care than a lonely, traumatic last stop at the hospital. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
All Americans over the age of 45 as well as health care providers and political leaders should read this book. . . . Hadler provides useful insights into successful aging within the context of this challenging system. Highly recommended.—Choice

Library Journal
Hadler (medicine & microbiology/immunology, Univ. of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; Worried Sick: A Prescription for Health in an Overtreated America) decries the overmedicalization of aging, arguing that many natural conditions, such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, have been redefined as diseases. This has led to unnecessary screening resulting in aggressive (and expensive) treatments that often do more harm than good. Reviewing epidemiological studies, he demonstrates that even simple interventions after age 60, such as lowering blood pressure through diet and drugs, do not significantly contribute to a longer, healthier life. Hadler advocates informed decision making pertaining to all stages of aging, cautioning that no procedure should be undertaken unless evidence clearly indicates outcomes will be beneficial. He also shows that racial, gender, and socioeconomic factors significantly affect longevity, a point also made by Susan Jacoby in her more readable Never Say Die. VERDICT Hadler's view of aging is cautionary; written in a technical style, it is an elaboration on and slight updating of topics covered in his previous works.—Lucille M. Boone, San Jose P.L., CA

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807835067
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
09/12/2011
Edition description:
1
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
1,183,444
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.10(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Nortin Hadler challenges much conventional wisdom about aging with insight and verve. You may not embrace all of his views, but you will agree that his approach is often original and always thought provoking.—Jerome Groopman, M.D., Recanati Professor, Harvard Medical School, Author of How Doctors Think.

Meet the Author

Nortin M. Hadler, M.D., M.A.C.P., M.A.C.R., F.A.C.O.E.M., is professor of medicine and microbiology/immunology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and attending rheumatologist at UNC Hospitals. His most recent books are Worried Sick: A Prescription for Health in an Overtreated America and Stabbed in the Back: Confronting Back Pain in an Overtreated Society.

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