REVIEW: Ridge Writers on Books — ‘The Power of Positive Aging’

By David Alan Lereah, Ph.D., 281 pages, indexed, paperback, Quill Driver Books, 2020, $15.95

By DONNA MCCROHAN ROSENTHAL

Just out this month and subtitled “Successfully Coping with the Inconveniences of Aging,” this fearless, fact-filled, and compassionate guide both confirms and confronts the adage “Growing old is not for sissies.”

As a stage-three cancer survivor, Dr. Lereah learned valuable lessons for facing and rising above daunting challenges. Surgeries and treatments led to substantial gastrointestinal complications, “a basket of tremors, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts,” and left him to realize he had entered the fray with no coping skills. Yet he emerged from the battle with a new set of tools.

In “The Power of Positive Aging,” he speaks honestly without sugar-coating. He pulls no punches in acknowledging the physical and mental realities that come with advancing years, from changes in appearance to declining mobility to possibly worse.

Drawing on his experiences as well as extensive research, he developed an achievable exercise program, suggestions for simple lifestyle modifications and attitude adjustments including healthy habits and enhanced emotional intelligence, a roadmap to spiritual reserves, remedies for avoiding or minimizing age-induced depression, a plan for “Filling a Hope Bucket,” and strategies for increasing self-esteem and building a network of social support. Remarkably for a book already on the shelves, he discusses at length the implications of COVID-19 for senior populations.

Given that Americans now live some three decades longer than they would have in the early twentieth century, nothing could prove more important than to prepare for, rather than only stumble into, the uniquely testing adventure of positive aging. A widely published motivational speaker, economist, and founder of the nonprofit United We Age, Dr. Lereah offers perspective, instructions, and solutions for interactions, priorities, and expectations. He concludes with a “Guide to Key Concepts” (essentially a crib sheet), information sources, and statistical highlights from profiles of older Americans.

Resoundingly and emphatically, he urges, “If your knee breaks, use a walker; if your ears break, use a hearing aid. This is your encore, make the best of it. Staying alive is a wonderful concept but embracing life is a better one.” He inspires, compels, and delivers on his message.

This monthly column is written by members of Ridge Writers, the East Sierra Branch of the California Writers Club. Meetings are held the first Thursday evening of each month – except for July 9 this year – at Ridgecrest Presbyterian Church and free programs are offered throughout the year. Ridge Writers’ book “Scenes from Lives of Service” is available at the Historic USO Building, Maturango Museum, and Red Rock Books.

Story First Published: 2020-06-19