Aging with Grace: What the Nun Study Teaches Us about Leading Longer, Healthier, and More Meaningful Lives

Aging with Grace: What the Nun Study Teaches Us about Leading Longer, Healthier, and More Meaningful Lives

by David Snowdon
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Aging with Grace: What the Nun Study Teaches Us about Leading Longer, Healthier, and More Meaningful Lives by David Snowdon

In 1986 Dr. David Snowdon, one of the world’s leading experts on Alzheimer’s disease, embarked on a revolutionary scientific study that would forever change the way we view aging—and ultimately living. Dubbed the “Nun Study” because it involves a unique population of 678 Catholic sisters, this remarkable long-term research project has made headlines worldwide with its provocative discoveries.
Yet Aging with Grace is more than a groundbreaking health and science book. It is the inspiring human story of these remarkable women—ranging in age from 74 to 106—whose dedication to serving others may help all of us live longer and healthier lives.

Totally accessible, with fascinating portraits of the nuns and the scientists who study them, Aging with Grace also offers a wealth of practical findings:

• Why building linguistic ability in childhood may protect against Alzheimer’s
• Which ordinary foods promote longevity and healthy brain function
• Why preventing strokes and depression is key to avoiding Alzheimer’s
• What role heredity plays, and why it’s never too late to start an exercise program
• How attitude, faith, and community can add years to our lives

A prescription for hope, Aging with Grace shows that old age doesn’t have to mean an inevitable slide into illness and disability; rather it can be a time of promise and productivity, intellectual and spiritual vigor—a time of true grace.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307481238
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/19/2008
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 419,894
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Dr. David Snowdon received his Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of Minnesota and began the Nun Study there in 1986. In 1990 he moved the Nun Study to the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging at the University of Kentucky Medical Center, where he is also Professor of Neurology. One of the world's leading experts on Alzheimer's disease, he has presented his findings at scientific conferences throughout North America and Europe and has been published in such major medical journals as The Journal of the American Medical Association and The Journal of Gerontology.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Aging with Grace: What the Nun Study Teaches Us about Leading Longer, Healthier, and More Meaningful Lives 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
SCL0013 More than 1 year ago
"Aging with Grace" is an absolutely exquisite and elegant story of the world renowned, longitudinal Nun Study on Alzheimer's Disease, brilliantly designed and carried out by the creative and compassionate epidemiologist, Dr. David Snowdon. Throughout the book there is a beautiful message of hope, optimism, courage and altruism as well as recommendations for optimizing health and wellness, and primary and secondary prevention efforts. This book is a must read for everyone: lay individuals, all health care professionals, as well as a book to be read and discussed by families. As a nurse practitioner for the past 25 years, I found the reinforcing messages of blood pressure and cholesterol control, smoking cessation, stroke, heart attack and obesity prevention, diet and exercise recommendations, as well as the importance of relatedness with others and a positive outlook, to be particularly relevant in promoting optimal health and wellness for all members of our society. I am privileged to have been a student in one of Dr. Snowdon's classes at the University of Minnesota many years ago - his compassion, sensitivity, and kindness are far reaching.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was a student at the SSND Motherhouse in Canada (Waterdown) and lived with the Canadian nuns there for one year. Mr. Snowdon captures the lives of the SSND sisters extremely well - even though his study was of the American sisters. There were many similarities to the Canadian sisters. A trip down "memory lane" for me! Thank you Mr. Snowdon for your work! Congratulations on a well written book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Showdon has written a very readable layman's summary of his research into Alzheimers. While much remains a mystery, researchers are beginning to get a better picture of what causes this disease. Fascinating reading!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book when my husband and I started to suspect my father in law had Alzheimers. It is highly informative - an excellent book for those who would like a greater understanding of Alzheimers and/or aging. The book delt with a scientific topic without seeming like a textbook: the personal stories and the author's obvious affection for the nuns made "Aging with Grace" read more like a biography than a book reporting the results of a scientific study. "Aging With Grace" does not go into detail on treatment options, medications, resources for patients who DO have Alzheimers (that's not the purpose of this book). However, it does provide insight on how to incorporate a wellness plan into your life to reduce your chances of becoming afflicted with Alzheimer's. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Alzheimer's, aging, or wellness. I think it would also make a good choice for a book club that is interested in reading non-fiction.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Most books about science operate mostly from the head. This book also has a heart, and gives you a close human connection with the people being examined. 678 elderly nuns from the order, School Sisters of Notre Dame, are being studied to understand what factors helps explain their long life, and ability to remain mentally and physically active at advanced ages. The results of this work will undoubtedly focus future scientific research into the most productive areas for extending and improving the quality of human life. Professor Snowdon is an epidmiologist who has had great success with studying religious communities. Because of the similar environments and habits involved, these communities can more clearly demonstrate the factors that favor or disfavor disease. He has also done work with Seventh Day Adventists and diet, for example. The School Sisters of Notre Dame is a teaching order, and its members are highly educated. For example, of the elderly nuns studied 85 percent held bachelor's degrees and 45 percent master's degrees. This is in sharp contrast with the rarity of these degrees in the general population among women of similar ages. Obviously, they have also led a life of strenuous service to God and to teaching others. The study benefits from many other unique qualities. Each nun also wrote an autobiography when she was young, and just joining the order. As a result, it is possible to go back and study those writings. The sisters have also generously agreed to donate their brains for research when they die. This means that the physical brains can be compared to the results of cognitive and physical tests to see what the causes of mental and physical dysfunctions might be. Early in the study, Professor Snowdon also gained another advantage. He was encouraged to develop a relationship with the sisters, rather than just to study them. The book's many examples reflect his personal connection and observation of their aging experiences. Although the study is continuing, it has already yielded some remarkable insights. In the area of Alzheimer's disease, the research has shown that higher education and better vocabulary and reading comprehension skills when young help prevent or delay the disease. In brains equally ridden with distortions of the disease, functionality of the person varies a lot due to those factors. You are advised to read to your children as a way to help them avoid Alzheimer's disease when they are older. Brains of those with Alzheimer's disease show plaques and tangles. The study suggests that the tangles are important, and the plaques less so. Keeping blood pressure under control to avoid stroke also helps to stave off Alzheimer's disease. Interestingly, more education and greater mental capacity when young are also predictive of longevity. The book also looks at the genetic impacts on Alzheimer's and seems to suggest that these can be overcome to some extent by education and mental development. There are also diet suggestions, like getting plenty of folic acid (found particularly in cooked tomatoes). The stories of the individual nuns will stay with you for a long time. These are very admirable people, and I learned a lot from reading about their lives. If you are like me, you will be saddened to think about the sister who had Alzheimer's who feared that she would forget God. You will also be saddened by the sister who was incorrectly diagnosed as having Alzheimer's and lived four very unpleasant years with this misapprehension. There's good news here if you do live a long time. 'The older you get the healthier you've been.' So after around 85, many sources of health risk don't seem to get any worse. The stories of active minds and bodies over 100 will inspire you. After you finish reading this book, I suggest that you locate some elderly people (ideally over 90) and get them to tell you about their lives. In that connection, you will also receive much inspiration