In recent decades, the North American public has pursued an inspirational vision of successful aging—striving through medical technique and individual effort to eradicate the declines, vulnerabilities, and dependencies previously commonly associated with old age. On the face of it, this bold new vision of successful, healthy, and active aging is highly appealing. But it also rests on a deep cultural discomfort with aging and being old.
The contributors to Sarah Lamb’s Successful Aging as a Contemporary Obsession (Rutgers UP, 2017) explore how the successful aging movement is playing out across five continents. Their chapters investigate a variety of people, including Catholic nuns in the United States; Hindu ashram dwellers; older American women seeking plastic surgery; aging African-American lesbians and gay men in the District of Columbia; Chicago home health care workers and their aging clients; Mexican men foregoing Viagra; dementia and Alzheimer sufferers in the United States and Brazil; and aging policies in Denmark, Poland, India, China, Japan, and Uganda. This book offers a fresh look at a major cultural and public health movement of our time, questioning what has become for many a taken-for-granted goal—aging in a way that almost denies aging itself.
Rachel Pagones is an acupuncturist, educator, and author based in Cambridge, England. Her book, Acupuncture as Revolution: Suffering, Liberation, and Love (Brevis Press) was published in 2021.
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