How We Age: A Doctor's Journey into the Heart of Growing Old (Hardcover)

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In the tradition of Atul Gawande and Sherwin Nuland, Marc Agronin writes luminously and unforgettably of life as he sees it as a doctor. His beat is a nursing home in Miami that some would dismiss as God's waiting room. Nothing in the young doctor's medical training had quite prepared him for what he was to discover there. As Agronin first learned from ninety-eight-year-old Esther and, later, from countless others, the true scales of aging aren't one-sided -- you can't list the problems without also tallying the hopes and promises. Drawing on moving personal experiences and in-depth interviews with pioneers in the field, Agronin conjures a spellbinding look at what aging means today -- how our bodies and brains age, and the very way we understand aging.

About the Author

Marc E. Agronin, MD, a graduate of Harvard University and Yale Medical School, is the psychiatrist at the Miami Jewish Health Systems. He lives in Cooper City, Florida.

Praise For…

“[Agronin] sees [old age] as intrinsic to life, with its own ‘ways and meanings,’ its particular wisdom…He points to research showing that old brains can grow new nerve connections, to surveys that indicate happiness peaking at 85, to all the creative potential he has witnessed in the elderly. It’s heartwarming.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/6/11
“[Agronin] writes with the fluency and ease of another doctor, Atul Gawande, whose The Checklist Manifesto last year was a revelation…Some of the stories are sad, of course, but many are profound…demonstrating that the old—just like the young—harbor complexities and riches that the dismissive eye can miss.”
Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 2/13/11
“[Agronin] is as sensitive in his writing as he appears to be in his treatment…Here is a doctor who not only writes poetically but who also demonstrates what it means to have respect for our elders…The strength of How We Age is the compelling and absorbing case studies. In these patients' stories readers will find a greater understanding of their own aging and that of their loved ones…Through fascinating case studies, Agronin documents what aging means and how our understanding of it is constantly changing.”

“[An] honest exploration of old people and the process of aging…An excellent and hopeful book for caregivers of all kinds.”

New York
Journal of Books, 2/1/11
“Skillfully told and well worth the read. The reader’s emotional involvement in the latter half of this book was more akin to the feelings one has after having read a very compassionate novel rather than a treatise on aging.”
AARP Bulletin, 3/10/11
“Agronin's message is simple butpowerful: This aging process is not all decline; everyone—no matter how old—can experience renewal.”

The New Yorker
, 3/14/11
“[Agronin] tells thoughtful stories.”, 3/4/11
“[A] poetic, respectful look at the aging process…[Dr. Agronin]should be held up as a role model in the medical profession.”

"A delightful book about… the challenges—and triumphs—of people who refuse to age quietly…Unforgettable stories…Agronin does a masterful job of letting readers see into the trials of the elderly while still offering hope that the last years of life can be useful and productive.”

Jewish Times, 3/17/11
“[An] illuminating and deeply humane book…Fortunate are the patients who have such a sensitive and wise man to help them…And fortunate are we, the readers, to have such a profound book in our hands.”
Reference and Research Book News, April 2011
“Aiming to offer a more balanced perspective of aging through the lives of his patients, Agronin…recounts his experiences counseling the residents of Miami Jewish Health Systems and how his view of aging was changed by this work.”
Midewest Book Review, April 2011
“[Agronin] offers inspiration for any interested in aging well.”

Internet Review of Books, 1/8/11
“Many books on the subject of aging have flooded the shelves and online queues of booksellers, taking advantage both of our fear of aging and our desire to find the fountain of youth. Such is not the case in How We Age…It would be a pity if you were to pass up this important book…How We Age is a remarkable treasure…One of the most readable, engaging books I have encountered in a long time, How We Age is reminiscent of Oliver Sacks' method of finding the person inside the illness (or age). Agronin is the doctor we should all wish for when we find ourselves in that late stage of life.”

Sherwin B. Nuland, MD, bestselling author of How We Die
“Beautifully written…Marc Agronin’s daily work is the Art of medicine at its finest, and his descriptive powers are a gift to readers.”

Gary Small, MD, UCLA Professor of Psychiatry and Aging, bestselling author of The Memory Bible
“Through the stories and lives of Marc Agronin’s patients, we learn about the scientific, medical, and human side of the aging process. Dr. Agronin is not only a gifted writer and clinician, but also a keen observer of human behavior, whose empathy for his patients goes a long way to break down the ageism that separates the generations.”

The Economist, 2/10/11

Kirkus Reviews, December 2010
“A successful explication of how ‘aging equals vitality, wisdom, creativity, spirit, and, ultimately, hope.’”
Publishers Weekly, 12/6/10
“Literate, generous, and compassionate, Agronin's ground-level view of aging…opposes the current spate of books attempting to turn back the clock and preserve physical youth. Rather, Agronin argues for accepting, understanding, and appreciating aging as a nonreversible, frequently debilitating, but valuable condition…Referencing poetry, plays and parables, he makes an art of caring for the aged by restoring dignity to a dehumanized but growing segment of the population.”
Buffalo Jewish Review, 1/7/11
“Agronin realistically shows the inevitable changes that occur with aging as well as the strengths that can provide balance…Agronin's extensive interviews with patients and others lead to his assertion that aging doesn't necessarily equate with deterioration and enfeeblement. It can be a stage of life marked by wisdom, faith, trust, and hope.”

“The Bookworm” nationally syndicated column, 2/18/11
“Part science, part essay, How We Age is not one of those books that blindly celebrates the so-called wisdom of years…Agronin bluntly writes about dementia, forgetfulness, Alzheimer’s, and other issues that come with Seniority. He’s honest with his readers without trying to hide anything. Then, he balances the bad with soaring stories of the goodness in becoming an elder, including serenity, knowledge, and acceptance. Agronin’s colleagues taught him that aging has no cure. His patients taught him that aging really doesn’t need a cure. Thoughtful, warm, and wise, How We Age is a book for everyone who’s putting on the years.”
The Future of Aging blog, 2/11/11
“The stories of Dr. Argonin’s patients are coupled with expert insights to create a comprehensive overview of scientific, medical and human sides of the aging process. His book features discussions about dementia, brain health and family relationships, but it also emphasizes an unlikely topic: hope.”
Spirituality & Practice
“[An] enlightening book.”

Book Review, March 2011

Valley News, 3/2/11
“Gives hope…to those people who dread and fear the idea of nursing homes…Dr. Agronin has a lively, upbeat writing style.”, 3/10/11
“Filled with good stories…What ultimately emerges from this book (though it clearly wasn’t his intent, as there is nothing self-congratulatory about his prose) is that Marc Agronin is an extraordinarily capable geriatric psychiatrist…It’s not his aging patients who offer us the hope of growing old with dignity. It’s doctors like Agronin himself.”

Midwest Book Review, March 2011
“Agronin looks to explore the psychology of age with a bit of unique gusto and much food for thought…A thoughtful and insightful look into the mind of age, highly recommended.”

Yale Alumni Magazine,
April 2011
“A book rich with insight about aging.
Washington Times, 3/18/11
“In the tradition of Atul Gawande and Sherwin Nuland…A spellbinding look at what aging means today.”
Deseret News, 3/27/11

The Key Reporter, Fall issue
“Offers a more balanced perspective on aging…Many of the anecdotes in the book illustrate just how worthwhile it is to treat patients without any discrimination based on age…This is a thoughtful and compassionate book.”

Psychiatric Times,
November 2011
“In his well-written and provocative book, Dr. Marc Agronin helps reduce the stigma of ageism and provides clinical guidance for seasoned geriatric psychiatrists, primary care clinicians, and medical students alike…Highly recommended.”
Metapsychology Online Reviews, 2/11/12
“The interviews and cases are interesting and well-presented.”

Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/22/12
“[A] compassionate and engaging book.”

San Francisco Book Review / Sacramento Book Review, 6/12/12
“Dr. Agronin presents a vivid picture of how the older person changes both physically, emotionally, and cerebrally…For the baby boomers whose increasing numbers will attempt to break through the barrier of invisibility that seniors are now accorded, this is a valuable book.”

Philadelphia Tribune, 2/22

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9780306818530
Publisher: Da Capo Lifelong Books
Publication Date: February 1st, 2011
Pages: 320