In her work as a hospice chaplain, Kerry Egan has served as a repository for the stories told by those seeking to make sense of their journeys. But this stock-taking of our lives is not limited to those facing their last days; any of us, especially as we move into new phases of being, are drawn to understanding the specifics of our own lives and the larger questions of existence. In this deeply felt work, Egan shares personal lessons from her own life and wisdom gleaned from her encounters with the dying.
The XX Brain
Lisa Mosconi PhD
For a long time, science assumed that the female body was just a male body with different hormones and reproductive functions. But as Dr. Mosconi demonstrates, the female brain ages in different ways, and women need to protect their brain health with specific methods. Her book focuses on preventing Alzheimer’s in women, how to improve cognitive function and slow decline, and explores how hormones such as estrogen continue to affect the brain even after menopause.
The Sleep Solution
W. Chris Winter, M.D.
Changes in sleep patterns are felt even more acutely as the body ages. And the deleterious effects of not getting sufficient rest can include obesity, pain, emotional stress, and other signs of ill health. Here, Dr. Winter provides solutions for sleep issues, but also offers essential information for understanding the science of sleep and how to maximize sleep’s benefits. This is a guide that goes beyond the superficial answers for fixing sleep patterns.
Daniel J. Levitin
Daniel Levitin demonstrates that entering one’s 60s also begins a new phase of brain development. Instead of fearing the aging brain, Levitin argues that there are benefits to getting older and that these cognitive benefits can be extended into our 70s, 80s, and 90s. Drawing from scientific research and psychological studies, Successful Aging offers a wealth of strategies for continued cognitive resilience and methods for maintaining brain function long into old age.
Older, but Better, but Older
Caroline De Maigret and Sophie Mas
French women have long enjoyed a reputation for a certain insouciance toward the idea of “acting their age.” In this humorous take on aging while female, Caroline de Maigret and Sophie Mas present their observations and advice about how to handle everything from the older woman’s “invisibility” to those moments borne of the realization that you’d just rather hang out with yourself rather than go out at night. If you’ve ever wondered how French “women of a certain age” carry themselves with aplomb, this is the guide for you.
Sage Rountree and Alexandra DeSiato
While mainstream representations of yoga may have left you thinking that it’s only for the young and fit, Rountree and DeSiato offer a welcome corrective. They demonstrate how yoga in one’s 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond offers a multitude of health benefits for both mind and body. Their plans tackle specific issues—improving balance, maintaining strength and flexibility, and more—and show how yoga is a lifelong program that can be taken up at any age.
Our complex world can overwhelm us with worries and inflate our sense that we have no control in our own lives. In Radical Compassion, Brach offers a specific program for meditation comprising four parts: Recognize, Allow, Investigate, and Nurture (RAIN). With both a practical guide for practice and a compendium of stories drawn from the lives of Brach and her students, her book offers ways to counter the corrosive effects of anxiety and distress.
The Longevity Diet
After a lifetime of research in his clinical work, and drawing from 25 years’ worth of published studies on nutrition and aging, Dr. Longo offers a dietary program to combat common maladies associated with aging. Here, he presents his research that shows how changes in the ways we eat can reduce our risks for heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and diabetes. He also presents methods for adopting his suggestions without being overwhelmed by unworkable or burdensome requirements that can prevent you from maximizing the plan’s benefits.
It was French novelist George Sand (born Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin) who wrote that one should “try to keep your soul young and quivering right up to old age….” While it is impossible to stop time’s progression, it is possible to minimize its impact on our bodies. In some of these books on aging, authors offer a range of advice on practical matters that can take us into our later years. Other books address the existential matters of aging, of what our lives have meant and continue to mean. All of them include strategies for moving through the particular challenges of getting older without losing our spark and lust for life.
Featured Image: Kevon Nicholas