Reviewed Books & Films

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Old Friends Needed


“Friends, Communities, and the Rest of Our Lives” is the title of Robert Intrieri’s review of With a Little Help From Our Friends: Creating Community as We Grow Older by Beth Baker. Intrieri says this book is an “analysis of why all of us should not be afraid to look forward into our future and make critical decisions now about how we wish to live our lives in old age” (para. 5). At the end of his review he says this book should be read by students, professionals, and anyone anticipating retirement.

What about those of us who already are there, and have been there for a while? Some gerontologists call us the old old. Baker’s “thesis [is] that community and relationships are essential to sustain us through the end of life” (para. 6). So, if we haven’t done so, we need to make friends and find community. There is an implication that not doing so may lead to loneliness, depression, and, well, the end.

To avoid that down side, an old old person may need some help. There will be a lot more people in that age range in the coming years, but to meet their needs Intrieri says we “will need a significant increase in the number of appropriately trained geropsychologists” and related professionals (para. 8). When I was doing accreditation visits, almost all programs had a specialty in child and adolescent clinical training. Training to work with older adults was unusual. Is that still the situation?

Read the Review
ReviewFriends, Communities, and the Rest of Our Lives
By Robert C. Intrieri
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2014 Vol 59(49)


Lynne Waymon

With the help of Beth Baker's book With A Little Help From Our Friends, my husband and I started many conversations with friends and relatives about how to plan for the next phase of our lives.
We'd tell some of the stories from Beth's book about how others did it. We'd ask, "What options do you see?" or "What are you thinking as you grow older and need more help?" Those conversations spurred us on to explore, look at options, and be more proactive. We didn't just want to sit around and wait. We didn't want to get backed into a corner because of health or mobility issues.
So I recommend getting a group of friends together. Read the book. And help each other figure out the next steps. Beth's books is an excellent guide. Lynne Waymon, 72 years old, Pennsylvania

Patrick Flanagan

Beth Baker has provided a great service with her well researched and well written book, With a Little Help from Our Friends. She is a wise guide for those of us facing the difficulties and complexities of aging. Her counsel is both clear eyed and hopeful. In addition to the help it offers individuals I hope it can encourage us as a society to abandon denial and work to address the issues inherent in dignified aging for all citizens.

Carol Reisen

In his review of Beth Baker's book, With a Little Help from Our Friends, Robert Intrieri raises the concern that some of the creative approaches described would be unavailable for people with limited resources. In the book, Baker pointed out that paying for care of older people is a matter of policy: many European countries provide public funding of care in a manner that allows for personal choice. Although Baker's book is a call to action to plan for our futures to provide mutual support within our local communities, it can also be seen as a call to action to enact policy change. The country has sufficient resources to attend to the needs of all its people, regardless of age. Indeed, despite the current political climate, we could push to enact policies that ensure the possibility of better quality of life during old age for all Americans.

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Editor of PsycCRITIQUES

Danny Wedding, PhD

Chair of Behavioral Sciences,
College of Medicine,
American University of Antigua

Associate Editors of PsycCRITIQUES

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