Contemporary Issues in Gerontology: Promoting Positive Ageing

By V. Minichiello; I. Coulson | Go to book overview

being in old age the importance of social networks and social support are highlighted. Minichiello is one of the pioneers in the field of sexuality and ageing and Chapter 4 dispels some of the grossly ageist stereotypes on this topic, especially the myth of the asexual older person. This Chapter challenges the commonplace ageist assumptions behind how society views the sexuality of older people. Chapter 5 provides a valuable guide to the prevention of dementia, pointing to the key roles of self-actualisation or spiritual growth and healthy lifestyles. The need for a new policy paradigm on work and retirement is demonstrated in Chapter 6. Then Catherine Bridge and Hal Kendig, in their consideration of housing and the built environment in Chapter 7, argue for an environmental approach to supporting older people. Again there are plenty of practical interventions that aim to promote wellbeing. Chapter 8 is an extensive review of gerontological research on caregiving. Among many other topics Neena Chappell and Glenda Parmenter refer to the trend across the more developed countries to concentrate care resources on those in greatest need, a policy which undermines the preventative potential of supportive services. The following chapter on service delivery complements nicely this account of informal care. Chapter 10 concentrates on the promotion of positive ageing and looks at interventions and lifestyle choices not commonly found in gerontology textbooks, but used increasingly by older people themselves to achieve active ageing and a positive outlook. These include natural therapies, such as acupuncture and massage, spirituality, music and wellbeing. Health professionals are given clear guidance in these novel areas. The final chapter examines the role of technology in independent living and relates gerontechnology to a broad-based health promotion model. The central message here is the need to involve older people in shaping the technology that affects their lives.

As this foreword indicates, the scope of the book is wide while the analysis achieves depth as well. Having been, for the last five years, director of the largest social science research programme ever mounted in the United Kingdom, the Growing Older (GO) Programme on Extending Quality Life, I am struck by the similarities between that research and this volume, emphasising again the universal nature of ageing. Comparative material can be downloaded from the GO website (http://www.shef.ac.uk/uni/projects/gop/index.htm). I have no doubt that this textbook will be a much sought after reference for students and professionals in gerontology for years to come and, because of its laudable emphasis on promoting positive ageing, also has the potential to help to make active life expectancy a reality.

Professor Alan Walker
Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom

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