Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Book report: "Aging Well"
Old 02-25-2006, 06:42 PM   #1
Moderator Emeritus
Nords's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Oahu
Posts: 26,620
Book report: "Aging Well"

This is a long post for a great book; my thanks to Mikey & Whodathunkit for recommending it. It has a wealth of experience on aging well... and on how not to age well. There's a tremendous amount of meat in the book, and it's worth reviewing every few years as one's own point of view (hopefully) evolves.

The "Study of Adult Development" is actually three groups. The first is Harvard's Grant Study, started in 1938 with 248 sophomores, and it's still in progress. Admittedly these are all white Anglo-Saxon males with significant social advantages, and the study was pretty rudimentary at first, but the written records & extensive interviews provide a huge pile of data. It also keeps everyone's memories from re-interpreting the past.

The Inner City Cohort started in 1939 with 14-year-old boys in reform school. They and their families also were extensively interviewed through 1962. The remaining 456 were tracked down by Vaillant in the last 30 years and the survivors are still being interviewed every two years.

The third group is Stanford professor Terman's Study of Gifted Children. He began in 1922 by selecting the top one percent from IQ tests given to California urban schoolchildren. Vaillant picked 90 women, admittedly more white Anglo-Saxons, and they've been followed continuously for over 80 years.

In his 30 years on the job, Vaillant's learned a few things about gathering data. First, most of his researchers are interns or contract psychologists who aren't full-time employees of the study. (Or they become full-time after their initial research is completed.) They review questionnaires or go into the interviews without any prior knowledge of their subjects, and they have to base their findings solely on what they read or hear. This is followed up by someone who's equipped with the full history and their findings are compared to the blind study. Even the subjects aren't told how they answered survey questions earlier in their lives. Some of them have impressively modified their "recall" or their motivations but it's all on record.

Of course his study population is small, biased toward WASPs, and mostly males. Other studies have significantly corrected those biases but of course they've only been around for a couple decades, not most of a century. His study is the oldest and by default the best.

Another concern is "attention bias"-- the effect of paying attention to people. Participants were thought to have lived their lives in a more responsible manner, or achieved more goals, just because they knew they'd have to fill out a #@$% survey or talk to one of the researchers. Vaillant disagrees and says "If only changing the course of human lives were so easy." He thinks if attention bias really existed then everyone would be required to visit a psychotherapist.

With those disclaimers in mind, here's some conclusions:
- People can grow & change. We can overcome our genes and our environment. It's not the bad things that doom us, it's the good people happening to us (at any age) that facilitate an enjoyable old age.
- Healing relationships are helped by a capacity for gratitude, forgiveness, and loving. The key is a long-term relationship with one person.
- A good marriage at age 50 predicted positive aging at 80.
- Low cholesterol at age 50 doesn't predict anything about age 80.
- Alcohol abuse consistently predicted unhappy aging. Part of the reason is that alcoholism destroys social supports.
- Learning to play & create in retirement, and learning to gain younger friends as we lose older ones, are more important than retirement income.
- Subjective good health is more important to successful aging than objective good health. It's not how you are, it's how you feel. It's OK to be ill as long as you don't feel sick.

Psychoanalyst Erik Erikson felt that children matured into adulthood by developing an identity, by learning how to become intimate in a long-term relationship with another person, and by consolidating a career among other co-workers. Even if the career was "homemaker", it required competence, compensation, & commitment while giving the person contentment.

Vaillant added that later in life, adults master the task of generativity-- teaching & guiding the next generation. This is followed by the role of "keeper of the meaning" or preserving the culture, for example by being on the International Olympic Committee instead of being an Olympic coach. And finally, adults mastered the task of "integrity"-- the wisdom of experience detached from life/death concerns and just accepting the body's decline.

Both psychs noted that adults didn't necessarily master all six tasks, not always in the same order, and not by the same age. Some were up to the sixth task at an early age-- Joan of Arc, Ghandi, Mother Theresa. Others barely got to career consolidation and died early/unhappy.

According to the book, here are six variables that did not predict healthy aging:
- Ancestral longevity.
- Cholesterol.
- Stress.
- Parental characteristics like social class, marriage stability, family cohesion, or early death. They sure could be traumatic but by age 70 there was no discernable effect on healthy aging.
- Childhood temperament.
- Ease of social relationships.

Here are seven factors that predicted healthy aging:
- Not smoking, or at least stopping before age 50. Even the effects of a pack a day for 20 years disappeared by age 70.
- Adaptive coping (mature defenses). As people aged, their coping styles matured from turning molehills into mountains to turning lemons into lemonade. Coping mechanisms were practically an entire chapter.
- No alcohol abuse. Abuse was determined from medical/legal evidence or by multiple reports from people around the subjects.
- Healthy weight. (Admittedly this definition has changed over the years.)
- Some exercise (another variable definition).
- A stable marriage (can't define this for you either!).
- Years of education. The more educated the Inner City men were, the more likely they were to control smoking & drinking, persevere toward their goals, and care for themselves.

Retirement was highly overrated as a life problem. Surveys consistently ranked it among the lowest stressful events. Even men who loved their work at age 60 loved their retirement even better at age 75.

The study noted four stressful retirements: (1) involuntary/unplanned, (2) no savings, (3) an unhappy home life previously escaped by going to work, and (4) bad health. Other than these four cases, 80% of retirees noted that their health improved. Of course a few of the participants were in their 80s and STILL working, so the results aren't final yet.

Essential retirement skills are thought to be: (1) replacing coworkers with another social network (even grandchildren), (2) relearning how to play, even if it's just bridge or shuffleboard, (3) learning how to create, and (4) lifelong learning.

There's more but this post is already too long. Even if it's not deemed worth buying, get a library copy and skim the interesting parts. There's enough good advice here to handle a whole flock of canaries...
__________________

__________________
*
*

The book written on E-R.org, "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement", on sale now! For more info see "About Me" in my profile.
I don't spend much time here anymore, so please send me a PM. Thanks.
Nords is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Re: Book report: "Aging Well"
Old 02-25-2006, 06:48 PM   #2
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Outtahere's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 1,677
Re: Book report: "Aging Well"

Thanks Nords, that sounds like a book I'll enjoy.
__________________

__________________

Dogs aren't our whole lives, but they make our lives whole. - Roger Caras
Outtahere is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Book report: "Aging Well"
Old 02-25-2006, 07:01 PM   #3
Recycles dryer sheets
SamHouston's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Houston
Posts: 218
Re: Book report: "Aging Well"

Thanks for the great summary. I've just gone into my county library system to put this one on my hold list, and hopefully I'll have it next week. Thanks again for the heads-up.
__________________
"Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint." - Mark Twain
SamHouston is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Book report: "Aging Well"
Old 02-26-2006, 07:35 AM   #4
Moderator Emeritus
Martha's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: minnesota
Posts: 13,212
Re: Book report: "Aging Well"

Nords, your book reports are great. We should book reports in one thread for ease in finding them.
__________________
.


No more lawyer stuff, no more political stuff, so no more CYA

Martha is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Book report: "Aging Well"
Old 02-26-2006, 08:04 AM   #5
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Outtahere's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 1,677
Re: Book report: "Aging Well"

I agree Martha.
__________________

Dogs aren't our whole lives, but they make our lives whole. - Roger Caras
Outtahere is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Book report: "Aging Well"
Old 02-26-2006, 08:32 AM   #6
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Eagle43's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: DFW
Posts: 1,883
Re: Book report: "Aging Well"

Nords, I read that book about two years ago. Great book report and the tome is well-worth reading. I don't remember the cholesterol reference; all I know is my doc is adamant about getting it down. Of course, I'm not 80. . . yet!

Anyway, your book reports are well-written and illuminating. Maybe your next "job" is English 101 professor or book reviewer for the Honolulu Star Bulletin.
__________________
Resist much. Obey Little. . . . Ed Abbey

Disclaimer: My Posts are for my amusement only.
Eagle43 is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Book report: "Aging Well"
Old 02-26-2006, 08:43 AM   #7
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
JPatrick's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,494
Re: Book report: "Aging Well"

Nice report Nords, you island surfer boys sure are getting sophisticated.* At least as I remember island surfer boys.* 8)

Best part of the report>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Hey, this is the second time in 10 days I've been assured the 10 or so extra pounds I'm packing is not a big deal*

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Here are seven factors that predicted healthy aging:
- Not smoking, or at least stopping before age 50.* Even the effects of a pack a day for 20 years disappeared by age 70.
- Adaptive coping (mature defenses).* As people aged, their coping styles matured from turning molehills into mountains to turning lemons into lemonade.* Coping mechanisms were practically an entire chapter.
- No alcohol abuse.* Abuse was determined from medical/legal evidence or by multiple reports from people around the subjects.
Healthy weight. (Admittedly this definition has changed over the years.)
- Some exercise (another variable definition).
- A stable marriage (can't define this for you either!).
- Years of education.* The more educated the Inner City men were, the more likely they were to control smoking & drinking, persevere toward their goals, and care for themselves.
__________________
JPatrick is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Book report: "Aging Well"
Old 02-26-2006, 09:27 AM   #8
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
cute fuzzy bunny's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Losing my whump
Posts: 22,697
Re: Book report: "Aging Well"

Wow, a study I cant find much fault with.

I would note that the lifestyle of someone who started life in the 30's still has a lot of differences from someone starting life in the 2000's.

I can only imagine what a life will be like full of junk food and soft drinks, instant messaging, mobile internet access and the other distractions facing our kids. But i'm going to find out.

My wife was happy about the lack of correlation between cholesterol and age.

How about high blood pressure? I could make my dads day too...
__________________
Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful. Just another form of "buy low, sell high" for those who have trouble with things. This rule is not universal. Do not buy a 1973 Pinto because everyone else is afraid of it.
cute fuzzy bunny is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Book report: "Aging Well"
Old 02-26-2006, 11:59 AM   #9
Moderator Emeritus
Nords's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Oahu
Posts: 26,620
Re: Book report: "Aging Well"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha
Nords, your book reports are great. We should book reports in one thread for ease in finding them.
Dory, BMJ, can we moderators set up new board categories or do you need to do that for us?

Once the board category is set up I'll move the threads.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eagle43
Anyway, your book reports are well-written and illuminating.* Maybe your next "job" is English 101 professor or book reviewer for the Honolulu Star Bulletin.
Thanks! It's a funny thing-- when you're not motivated by the money or the ego, a discussion board like this can be all the outlet you'll need. I have an "Idea file", I have outlines, I read Writer's Market & author's websites-- and it's all just sitting around percolating (or emulsifying?) while I work on parenting & surfing. Not that there's anything wrong with that. When I'm ready to write in a different venue, the time will make itself appear.

Ironically a local newspaper writer lives two doors up the street. Jobs have never been a topic of conversation between our families, although the nature of his writing is 180 degrees different from the kind I prefer to do. At least he seems to get time off during the workday, although I'm sure that's just to compensate for nights & weekends already served.
__________________
*
*

The book written on E-R.org, "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement", on sale now! For more info see "About Me" in my profile.
I don't spend much time here anymore, so please send me a PM. Thanks.
Nords is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Book report: "Aging Well"
Old 02-26-2006, 03:59 PM   #10
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
maddythebeagle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,450
Re: Book report: "Aging Well"

Nice report Nords. I find these useful.
__________________
- Hurry! to the cliffs of insanity!
maddythebeagle is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Book report: "Aging Well"
Old 02-26-2006, 10:54 PM   #11
 
Posts: n/a
Re: Book report: "Aging Well"

Thanks, Nords.
__________________
  Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Book report: "The Little Book of Value Investing" Nords FIRE and Money 5 01-08-2007 12:00 AM
Book report: "Conquering Your Quarterlife Crisis" Nords Other topics 2 09-01-2006 10:09 AM
Book Report: "Why Do I Love These People?" Nords Other topics 4 06-12-2006 11:40 PM
Book report: Life 2.0:... Nords Other topics 4 03-02-2006 04:42 PM
Book report: "The Way We Never Were" Nords Other topics 9 05-17-2005 10:57 AM

 

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 12:51 PM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.