Monthly Archives: April 2016

Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide

Old Age cover

“If life is a race to the finish line, I’m years ahead now.  In the course of our lives, most of us will get… [bad] news…one day.  And every day you don’t get …bad news increasgrandfather-clipart-granddaughter-grandfatheres the chance that you’ll get it tomorrow. So get ready.”

by Michael Kinsley

 

Tim Duggan Books| April 2016
Hardback: 160 pages (978-1101903766)
Genre: Non-Fiction/Aging/Parkinson’s Disease

ARC hardback copy provided free of charge by Tim Duggan Books via edelweiss in exchange for my honest opinion.

Michael Kinsley, for the edification of the younger generation, is well known to Baby Boomers for his left leaning politicBoomer graphical commentary in print and publicly on numerous televised shows including Firing Line  and as co-star of Crossfire representing the left side of the political spectrum pitched against Pat Buchanan on the right.

In 1993, at age 42, Kinsley was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.  At the peak of his career, he had crossed “the line” from rising star to dying star.  In astronomical terms, a “red giant”.

Successfully ensconced  in self-denial for nearly 9 years, challenged by the advancing effects of the disease, had to release the diagnosis publicly in 2002. This admission cracked open his career and forced him to face his future.  The first casualty was a retraction of an offer to run the highly acclaimed magazine, The New Yorker.  He found solace to this first blow to his rising career with success with other endeavors…but it was a sign of things to come.

Now at age 65, Kinsley has written what he hopes will be a guide to fellow Baby Boomers as they, too, face a future with a rapidly approaching expiration date.   He writes, “This book is supposed to be funny, as well, on a subject that does not lend itself to humor.”  Admittedly at times there are witty statements that will make you smile, at the same time the self-deprecating remarks that leave you sad as you understand that a vital and creative journalist has lost his “edge” and he knows it.

Several of the chapters have been lifted from essays appearing previously in other print sources.  My overall feel is that book is somewhat disjointed but delivered with heartfelt genuineness.  Kinsley veers from discussing his life with Parkinson to comparing it to other mind altering diseases such as Alzheimer’s.  He concludes the book with a lecture on the legacy Baby Boomer’s should aspire to achieve.

As an aging Baby Boomer myself, I finished the book with mixed emotions.  Apprehensive about my future, resigned that I can’t do much to face the inevitable but inspired to live this final chapter as fully as possible and to love each sunrise and all my friends and family.

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When Someone You Know Has Depression

When Someone you know has depression coverby Susan J. Noonan, MD, MPH
head-in-his-hands

 

“It’s easy to understand depression as an illness when you’re distanced from it.  It is more difficult to keep that in mind when you’re living with someone day to day who has depression.” 

John Hopkins University Press (June 2016)
ISBN (paperback): 978-1421420158
160 pages
Genre: Non- Fiction/Mental Illness/Caregiver

An advance reader copy was provided free of charge by John Hopkins University Press through edelweiss in exchange for my honest opinion.

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This newest book by Dr. Susan Noonan, When Someone You Know Has Depression is aimed at supporting parents, spouses and friends who are on the front line.

Noonon says, “Family members and close friends are usually the first to recognize the symptoms of depression and the ones providing daily support.  Most felt powerless to know what steps to take, what to say or do in response to symptoms, or how to change the course of the illness.”

There is a ton of information in this little 160 page book.  Some of the discussion covers information most likely known already but now viewed more intimately and personal.  Noonan’s bedside manner is helpful and styled to make concerned supporters feel more confidant and secure in their conversations and observations.

The book is scattered with many professionally developed tables such as Symptoms of Depression, Warning Signs of Suicide, and Anger in your Family Member or Friend.

Although it is impossible to address every concern, there’s enough here to provide a guide for each reader.  Even a chapter on taking care of the caregiver.  And a brief chapter advising the concerned supporter that the depressed person (over 18) has the right to refuse treatment but can be overridden if in danger of harming themselves or others.

I would like to have seen some discussion of where the caregiver can turn if the loved one loses the strength to go forward and commits suicide.  Perhaps added to the chapter on taking care of themselves to avoid burnout.

Overall, a very useful book.

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