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Here are six books that may help both your wallet and your well-being
Whatever your age, this year’s book selections offer myriad ways to define-and redefine-what healthy aging means to you. You’ll find helpful advice and insights for achieving health and well-being in mind, body and bank account, and perhaps inspirations for your next adventure.
Your Complete Guide to a Successful & Secure Retirement
By Larry E. Swedroe and Kevin Grogan. Foreword by Wade D. Pfau. Harriman House.
Veteran investment and personal-finance experts Larry E. Swedroe and Kevin Grogan answer essential questions you probably didn’t even know to ask in this authoritative yet accessible handbook.
They start with the risks posed by what they dub “the four horsemen of the retirement apocalypse”: stock valuations at historic highs, bond yields at historic lows, increasing longevity, and its mate, the cost of long-term care. These four horsemen, the authors point out, can look particularly threatening to those who make such common mistakes as underestimating how much money they’ll need in retirement and overestimating how long they’ll continue to work. The authors offer a variety of investment strategies based on different needs, goals, values, interests (including volunteerism and philanthropy), physical health and bucket lists. They walk readers through the intricacies of Social Security, Medicare, health savings accounts, health-care plans, IRAs, annuities and insurance. And to conclude, they give sage advice on estate planning, including difficult family discussions that can help to prevent surprises and friction later, and how to protect both yourself and those you love against the threat of elder financial abuse.
Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life
By Louise Aronson. Bloomsbury.
There is a frustrating paradox at the heart of Louise Aronson’s sometimes bracing, always compassionate treatise, based on 25 years of clinical practice as a geriatrician: The U.S. health-care system has not kept pace with the changing needs of an aging population that is now living longer precisely because of the availability of ever more advanced medical treatments. For instance, Dr. Aronson points out that although about 40% of all hospital patients are seniors, medical-school students today receive relatively little training focused specifically on treating and caring for these patients. As a result, she writes, doctors might neglect such issues as how an aging, more vulnerable immune system can affect the course of a disease; and how coexisting medical conditions can lead to dangerous drug interactions when specialists don’t consult each other. She advocates for the return of old-fashioned house calls and designs of medical buildings that are “silver” friendly. Most of all, she urges everyone to push back against outmoded assumptions about aging that can blind us from seeing the resilient individual within an aging, perhaps ailing body.
The Body: A Guide for Occupants
By Bill Bryson. Doubleday.
Few writers combine wit with erudition as nimbly as Bill Bryson. In his latest book, he explores terrains intimate and mysterious. “We pass our existence within this warm wobble of flesh and yet take it almost entirely for granted,” he writes. Most of us lack the foggiest idea how or why our various body parts do their jobs so seamlessly-and we are left baffled when they fail us. Enter Mr. Bryson with his engaging survey of how we‘re put together. He draws on extensive research, interviews and medical-case histories, as well as his own wry humor and sense of wonder. Each chapter reads like a portrait of a different physical feature or attribute, often including medical and scientific discoveries that have led to our current understanding. There are striking observations, as well, such as the doctor who points to a shaving of skin no more than a millimeter thick and notes, “That’s all race is-a sliver of epidermis.” Ultimately, Mr. Bryson encourages us to cherish our bodies. After all, life is uncertain, except for this: “In a few tens of years at most you will close your eyes forever and cease to move at all. So it might not be a bad idea to take advantage of movement, for health and pleasure, while you still can.”
By Kim Brown Seely. Sasquatch Books.
The best adventure stories track journeys that are both physical and psychological, as in this autobiographical tale from travel writer Kim Brown Seely. Anxiety looms for many married couples, as, one by one, the children leave the nest. As their youngest son prepares to leave home for college, Ms. Seely and her husband, Jeff, approach their transition to an empty nest with trepidation. What to do? Though neither knows much about sailing, they impulsively buy a 54-foot sailboat in need of repair. Their plan, Ms. Seely writes: Sail north, alone, from their home near Seattle to a remote island off British Columbia in search of the “spirit bear,” a rare, pale-colored relative of the black bear. Ms. Seely captures the action and nature encountered on the couple’s journey in lyrical prose and descriptions. As they navigate their way through fiords and rough waters and feel the sting of cold air, they also find a new way to envision their future together.
No Stopping Us Now: The Adventures of Older Women in American History
By Gail Collins. Little, Brown.
In her briskly paced, highly entertaining social history of older women in America, journalist Gail Collins deftly chronicles the changing stereotypes and attitudes toward women of a certain age alongside stories of many women who challenged those assumptions.
The age at which a woman was considered in or past her prime has been subject to debate since Colonial times, Ms. Collins shows. As a promoter of emigration to New England wrote in the 17th century, the dearth of females made women prime marriage candidates “if they be but Civil, and under 50 years of age.” In 1857, suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton, after the birth of her sixth child, wrote to her friend and fellow suffragette Susan B. Anthony, “We shall not be in our prime before fifty, and after that we shall be good for twenty years at least.” She was 40 at the time. Ms. Collins peppers her survey with anecdotes about women in literature and the arts, entertainment, medicine, politics, social activism, popular culture, business and other fields. With age boundaries continually being pushed forward, she looks to the future with cautious optimism. Such an attitude, she maintains, “isn’t self-deluding if you acknowledge right off the bat that this one may involve hip replacements.”
Wanderlust: A Traveler’s Guide to the Globe
By Philippe Gloaguen. Moon Travel Guides.
If the travel bug hasn’t bit you yet, prepare for it as you browse this practical and attractively illustrated volume. Philippe Gloaguen suggests numerous itineraries for all tastes, activities and budgets. Locations and ideas for travel are grouped by themes. Nature lovers can read about national parks and other natural phenomena in the U.S., Argentina, Costa Rica, Kenya, France, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia and elsewhere. There are off-the-beaten-track suggestions as well: stargazing observation points for astronomy buffs, for instance, and best bets for glimpsing the aurora borealis. For those who favor the bright lights and buzz of urban areas, there is a section that profiles 50 must-see cities of the world, with tips on not-to-be missed dining, street art and quirky neighborhoods. Another section points out destinations for their cultural, spiritual, artistic and historical significance. While armchair adventurers will appreciate the photography, graphics and research this book offers, there is also an emphasis on activities, with specific suggestions about cruises and hiking, culinary and wine trails, festivals, carnivals and other celebrations.
By Diane Cole
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