Eighty Plus: Outgrowing the Myths of Old Age. Eena Job. Queensland, Australia, University of Queensland Press, 1984, 235 pages, hardcover, $27.95.
Individuals aged 80 and over are the most rapidly increasing sector of industrialized society. Contrary to popular belief, international research suggests the majority of these individuals enjoy independent living as well as good physical and emotional health. The author's survey of a group of elders in Brisbane, Australia, between 1978 and 1979, refutes many of the stereotypes of senility, loneliness, and helplessness.
"Ageism," writes the author, "creates its own self-fulfilling prophecies and promotes lifestyles that damage individual potential." In this context, the cumulative process of old age is examined, disputing many of the myths of the aging process. Ageism promotes segregation in housing and employment, and in the healthcare, educational, and social systems, resulting in isolation and concomitant deprivation. An alternative is integration, which involves an acceptance of differences along the age continuum.
This book's beautiful illustrations provide excellent insight for viewing the aging process as potentially developmental. Age-integrated health services, education, and housing are viable options to the present scenario. Only as society redefines the biological experience, can the aged be assisted to celebrate life without apology for being old. All care givers involved with aged individuals would benefit from the wisdom imparted throughout this book.
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