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.