What Are Old People For?: How Elders Will Save the World Review

What Are Old People For: How Elders Will Save the World
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I found this book to be interesting, challenging and easy to read. Part of the time it reads like a good novel, but each page is packed with jewels of information and ideas. The ideas in this book are being discussed by professionals in long-term care and the book presents a challenge to the traditional theories of aging and reframes the human aging process as part of a larger process of human development.
In terms of human development, our cultural biases against older adults (elders) is pointed out and how our society wants to keep people locked into adulthood has been exposed.
Elderhood was an important part of human culture in pre-industrial societ and Dr. Thomas advocates for the role of elder to be rediscovered and brought back into theories of human development.
I especially liked Dr. Thomas's use of the five ages of the lifecycle and his discussion on DOING and BEING. This was reminiscent in my mind of material I covered when taking pastoral counseling courses and how important it is to get people to feel comfortable just being human and being loved, cared for, and honored. Our society does have a focus on DOING and Dr. Thomas does and excellent job of placing this cultural critique and mode of living under the microscope. Rather than utilizing psychological terms, Thomas explains the importance of BEING in simple to understand and utilize terms.
The chapter that discussed the assault on childhood reminded me of Strauss and Howe's second book the 13th Generation, which pointed out the sociological trends that have impacted the lives of persons born from 1964 to 1980. This generation was robbed of its childhood and is the first post Baby Boom generation. Although Dr. Thomas gives no indication of having read Strauss and Howe, this chapter covers many of the same themes and makes many similar social critiques.
I was expecting more hard data and solid statistics in this book since Dr. Thomas indicated in the preface that it was written as a response to Dr. Robert Butler's Why Survive. Unlike Dr. Butler's book, this book does not contain the same depth and breadth of statistics and policy analysis.
The new model for long-term care presented by Dr. Thomas is worthy of further study and this book does make a contribution to the field of gerontology in that the Green House model is innovative and worthy of putting into practice. I look forward to reading the journal articles that grow from this work.
In terms of who would benefit from this book and its contribution to the field of gerontology, I believe that it should be read by professional in the field solely for the manner in which it exposes the insidious nature of ageism in our society. Long-term care professionals will benefit from reading this book as would policy makers, politicians, and those seeking to improve the lives of human beings at every stage of human development. I recommend this book. I would enjoy hearing what others think about this book.
On a personal level, it has helped me identify some of my own biases and in that it has pointed me to areas where I need to work and grow on my human growth and transformation. A good book should do that.

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Nodding to popular culture, history, science, and literature, a passionate and persuasive case is made for removing our ageist blinders and seeing old age as a developmental stage of life.

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