January 17, 2019
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“Mayo Clinic on Healthy Aging,”

By: Berniece Owen
August 31, 2018
Book Review

I grew up in the far Northeastern corner of South Dakota. We were only 270 miles from Rochester, Minnesota, which is the home of the Mayo Clinic. The clinic is a highly respected medical facility for research and for patient care. It was always spoken of with awe by family members, although few had ever been treated there.  

So, when I received a mailing that solicited purchase of this book, I responded eagerly. I am aging fast and I would prefer to stay healthy. This book should be an ideal guide, and I hoped it would avoid the hyperbole of many commercial publications on the topic. I think I was right and I am pleased to recommend it to others.

The medical editor is a doctor at the clinic and he is a fellow with the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Dr. Creagan’s photo at the beginning of the book shows a smiling man who would inspire confidence, with or without an association with the Mayo Clinic.  

The contributing editors are medical doctors. The book is divided into four topical parts and there is a good index. The parts illustrate the informal nature of the text: Part 1, Taking Charge of Your Future. Part 2, Your Action Plan for a Healthy Life. Part 3, Other Important Issues. Part 4, Quick Guide.  

Chapters in Part 1 include discussion of having the right attitude, planning ahead and having a purpose in life. “No matter what your chronological age, you can continue to enjoy good health, happiness, and an active lifestyle.”

Part 2 makes up the largest section of the book and includes descriptions of what to expect as your body changes with age. Editors make clear that there is no single factor or event that causes aging. Individuals can control some factors, eating and exercising for example, but there are other important factors that one cannot control, ancestral heritage and childhood environment, being two significant ones.

Part 3 covers issues that strictly speaking are not medical in nature but are important as part of the aging process: for example; insurance, health planning and independence.  Here in northern California arrangements for housing one can afford are particularly important. Editors include a nice discussion of advance directives for those of us who are new to the concept. There are descriptions of some of the tools required to continue living independently, tools for every area of the house. And there is advice on when to give up car keys.

Part 4 is a “quick guide” to most of the common ailments that tend to come with aging such as Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, depression, strokes and others. Editors include brief descriptions of the diseases with advice on ways to delay onset and alleviate symptoms.

The basic allure of this book is the reputation the Mayo Clinic has had over many years.  For me personally, it is the lodestar of good information and advice about health, generally and specifically. It does not discourage or confuse readers with a plethora of references to other sources, although there are plenty out there. If your bookshelf has room for only one book on healthy aging, get this one.

Berniece Owen, Retired Librarian, Rohnert Park