Fact and Fiction

By Jay Lebow

July/August 1998

ALBERT EINSTEIN, Eubie Blake, Georgia O'Keeffe, Brooke Astor, Bob Hope. It is common to hear that people such as these, who live vital lives into their eighties and nineties, somehow have beat overwhelming odds to achieve a fulfilling old age. The bleak assumption about old age is that it dooms us to being lonely, sick and unproductive. In an effort to develop an empirically based "new gerontology" that moves from such outdated myths about aging to reflect the realities of successful aging today, the MacArthur Foundation Study of Aging in America conducted a wide range of research projects led by an array of scholars over the past decade. The results of the study, presented in Successful Aging by physician John Rowe of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and psychologist Robert Kahn of the University of Michigan, show that far from being doomed to inevitable decline, the vast majority of older people maintain their health, enjoy good quality of life and contribute substantially to society well into old age.

By examining how older members of our society actually live and looking at what we can learn from people who age successfully, the research study shifted the focus away from the deficits experienced in aging to the factors that permit individuals to function effectively, both physically and mentally, well into old age. The findings debunk many common myths about aging.

Already have an account linked to your magazine subscription? Log in now to continue reading this article.

(Need help? Click here or contact us to ask a question.)

Not currently a subscriber? Subscribe Today to read the rest of this article!

Topic: Aging

Tags: positive aging

Read 2464 times
Comments - (existing users please login first)
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *