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Handbook of Health Psychology and Aging
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Handbook of Health Psychology and Aging

by Carolyn M. Aldwin (Editor), Crystal L. Park (Editor), Avron Spiro III (Editor), Ronald P. Abeles (Foreword by)

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Meeting a growing need, this authoritative reference and text comprehensively examines the interplay of biological, psychological, and social factors in health and illness in older adults. The volume explores how and why some people adapt more successfully than others to age-related stressors such as chronic illness, disability, and loss, and identifies ways to


Meeting a growing need, this authoritative reference and text comprehensively examines the interplay of biological, psychological, and social factors in health and illness in older adults. The volume explores how and why some people adapt more successfully than others to age-related stressors such as chronic illness, disability, and loss, and identifies ways to promote coping and resilience. With contributions from leading researchers in health psychology and gerontology, the Handbook integrates state-of-the-science theories and methods from both fields. Key topics include how aging affects the cardiovascular, neuroendocrine, and immune systems; the influences on adult development and health of personality, emotions, social support, and religiousness; and effective interventions in healthcare settings.

Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Christopher J Graver, PhD, ABPP-CN(Madigan Healthcare System)
Description: It well known that humans are living longer. As chronic illness becomes more of a concern among the older population, the emphasis on health in the later years becomes paramount. This book addresses psychology's unique role in promoting health in an aging population.
Purpose: The purpose of this book is to provide information about how psychological principles can be applied to health and illness in geriatric populations and the benefits to be gained from incorporating health psychology into regular clinical care.
Audience: The intended audience appears to be wide-ranging, and would include psychologists, geriatricians, social workers, nurses, and other healthcare providers who work with older individuals. There is sufficient expertise in the editors and contributing authors to lend credibility to the text.
Features: The book starts with an overview of health psychology, addressing common assumptions and discussing successful aging, rather than focusing on illness. This is followed by detailed chapters on biological changes in aging, but this section is unfortunately short and incomplete, addressing only cardiovascular, endocrine, and immunological changes. Stress, emotion regulation, and adaptation comprise the next section, which includes a nice chapter about caregiving, which is often overlooked. The diversity in older adults is explored, but only really addresses differences in ethnicity and gender. Other diversity issues, such as the unique challenges for aging individuals of low socioeconomic status, physical disability, and longstanding developmental delays (e.g., autism, cerebral palsy) are conspicuously missing. Fortunately, there is a chapter on the clinical utility of geropsychology and a final chapter on the impact of changes in disease definitions, diagnostic thresholds, and policy.
Assessment: Overall, this book provides useful information on health psychology and aging. The chapters are fairly short and do not need to be read in a specific order for readers to appreciate them, making this easy to reference. The major weakness, however, is the incomplete coverage of the main topic areas. It is more like a handbook on a diet than a four-course meal.
From the Publisher
"Excellent up-to-date information and data. Excellent topics! A wonderful blend of the biological and psychosocial aspects."—Grant D. Chikazawa-Nelson, PhD, Assistant Professor, MFT Program, Argosy University
"This is a much-needed, state-of-the-art resource. It is a 'must read' for students and professionals interested in the basics of health psychology and aging. Key theoretical and methodological issues are discussed, along with biological, psychosocial, and clinical issues central to an understanding of aging and health. This book provides a strong foundation for anyone interested in pursuing a career in one of the most important and rapidly growing research areas within such diverse disciplines as psychology, sociology, public health, nursing, and medicine."—Richard Schulz, PhD, University of Pittsburgh

"This valuable book is the perfect antidote to the biological reductionism that characterizes much of contemporary medical research. It provides a sweeping perspective on the interface of physical and psychosocial risk factors for diseases associated with old age, as well as sources of resiliency and opportunities for prevention and intervention. A distinguished group of authors addresses the most current and exciting ideas about health, behavior, and aging. The chapters are informative, engaging, and highly readable. This book is an essential resource for health researchers and for students from any discipline concerned with aging and health."—Steven H. Zarit, PhD, Penn State University

"This book comes just in time, as the first wave of the baby boomer generation is finishing its sixth decade of life. It is an impressive volume that provides a comprehensive overview of critical issues related to aging. It will be a major resource for those who are concerned about the social, psychological, and health issues facing our aging population, including researchers, graduate students, and practitioners. The editors are to be congratulated for their vision and for bringing together such a distinguished and thoughtful group of contributors."—Nancy E. Adler, PhD, University of California, San Francisco

"The fields of health psychology and psychology of aging have considerable overlap in content and in the populations studied, yet books that directly address their commonality are rare. This volume is likely to become a landmark in the development of a truly shared theoretical and empirical approach to common questions—a lifespan perspective on the transactional relationships between developmental aging and the chronic illnesses of later life. Covering a broad range of topics, this is one of those rare books that left me thinking, 'I'll want to read many of these chapters again.' This is a valuable reference for psychologists and other health professionals working with older and chronically ill adults. It is a great text for advanced undergraduate and graduate courses in health psychology, and an important resource for courses in psychology and aging."—Bob G. Knight, PhD, University of Southern California

International Psychogeriatrics
"Each chapter reads as a review paper in its own right, contributing to the whole but standing alone too. Handbook is truly accurate—you can dip in and read and re-read as preferred....Whatever your background and work focus, if you're interested in work with older people there is something in here for you."
American Reference Books Annual
"An authoritative reference text examining how biological, psychological, and social factors influence health in later life. Contributors are leading researchers in the fields of health psychology and gerontology. This work has a broad scope, aiming at health professionals who work with older adults and their caregivers. It can also be used as a text for courses on aging and health."
"It is well organized, it flows well, and it forms a cohesive whole. Chapters are well researched....Chapters provide a rich blend of theory and empirical data, presenting well-documented support for a perspective of health, well-being, and aging as multiply determined by the complex interaction of biological, psychological, social, and environmental factors, and encouraging the reader to take a life-span perspective on adult development."
Australasian Journal on Ageing
"Highly recommended to professionals who would like to better understand the aging process and to examine issues and barriers to healthier living for older adults."

Product Details

Guilford Publications, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
New Edition
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

Meet the Author

Carolyn M. Aldwin, PhD, is Professor and Chair of the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences at Oregon State University. She received a FIRST award from the National Institute on Aging for her study of psychosocial factors affecting health in aging early in her career, and has published over 60 articles and chapters in this area. She is a fellow of both Divisions 20 (Adult Development and Aging) and 38 (Health Psychology) of the American Psychological Association, as well as the Gerontological Society of America. She is the author of Stress, Coping, and Development, Second Edition: An Integrative Perspective.
Crystal L. Park, PhD, is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Connecticut. Her research and publications focus on stress, coping, and adaptation, particularly on how people’s beliefs, goals, and values affect their ways of perceiving and dealing with stressful events. She is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Clinical and Consulting Psychology and Psychology and Health, and is coeditor of Handbook of the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality and Positive Life Changes in the Context of Medical Illness.
Avron Spiro III, PhD, is a Senior Research Scientist at the Normative Aging Study, part of the Massachusetts Veterans Epidemiology Research and Information Center, at the Department of Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System. He is also Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the Boston University School of Public Health as well as Associate Professor of Health Policy and Health Services Research at the Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine.

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