Health and Productivity—
Challenging the Mystique
May L. Wykle
This first section deals primarily with the idea of the “new gerontology”: the interpretation of aging as a positive, productive process that moves away from the notion of the aging process as a slow and steady decline in health and productivity. The following chapters focus on two main ideas: how to promote and enrich the health of the elderly population, and how to better utilize them as productive members of society. In examining these issues, this section confronts problems such as culturally entrenched prejudices against the idea of incorporating the elders into the workforce, and the resistance of society to recognizing that aging is not an automatic winding down in life but a chance to be just as active, if not more so, than in previous life stages.
In the first chapter, Juengst describes the argument within the gerontological community for breaking down the stigma associated with aging and replacing it with a more positive outlook. This issue is approached from two different angles: first examining the arguments of those attempting to distinguish aging from disease, and second, using fictional examples to imagine a world where these arguments might be true. Juengst analyzes the perspectives of clinicians and social scientists on aging, which are mostly dependent on