Beam me up Dr McCoy

Cover of Turm back your age clockPerhaps its my age, but I’ve been noticing an growing number of reports in the media about the in-roads science is making into the problems of aging. They’ve very recently discovered that a reversible protein deficiency causes age-related memory loss, that healthy living can reverse the aging process at a cellular level and body parts can now not only be grown in the laboratory, but they can be reproduced on a chip using a 3D printer, to test medicines.

It all brings forth the vision, long dreamed of by sci-fi writers, of much longer and healthier lives. Have a heart problem? Just plug in a new one. Losing your memory? Just let me give you a little injection of protein (note from me – could you get right onto that research please?)

So, all those books on reversing your age and increasing your longevity may not be just wishful thinking after all. The doctor demanding that you look at your diet and exercise regimes could be starting you in the road to rejuvenation and practicing yoga and meditation are starting to look age defying.

Will this all start us on the road to healthy living I ask myself, or will we carry on eating junk food and slouching in front of computers in the hope that injections and transplants will overcome our bad habits?

What do you think?

In a haze of purple and wisdom – growing old with spirit

coverAging – its something we can’t avoid and something in these image obsessed times that many people fear. Whatever may be happening to our unreliable physical bodies we can still view aging with a positive mental attitude. I’m sure many of us have met amazing older people whose attitude to life fills their days with a positive glow.

New Zealand author Juliet Batten has just published a book about called Spirited Ageing. She has the baby boomers firmly in her sights as she gives a spiritual perspective to the many issues of  aging.

A quick trawl through our catalogue reveals a range of books on the topic of aging. The humour category in particular is quite large and authors seem happy to fend of the dooms of age with such titles as Gravity sucks, Growing your own turtleneck and other benefits of aging and You’re only young twice by Quentin Blake which as you’d expect has funny pictures.

A more measured approach comes from writers with titles like The warmth of the heart prevents your body from rusting, The third chapter; passion, risk and adventure in the 25 years after 50 and Wise up; how to be fearless and fulfilled in mid-life.

New Zealand poet Kevin Ireland has written an essay On getting old and it is just one of the titles we have on the social aspects of aging.

Something for everyone whether you are defiantly wearing purple , joining the red hat society  or hanging out with the blokes at a men’s shed.

Year-long pursuits: Not for the faint-hearted

Search catalogueChanging your life for one year may sound like the ultimate boredom-buster, but the proliferation of books in this area has made me wonder if we all have rather low attention spans? What happens after the year, are changes maintained – or once the book deal is signed do these authors go back to all of their bad habits?

The self-help area is ripe for authors wishing to improve  themselves. Robyn Okrant had a year of Living Oprah : my one-year experiment to walk the walk of the queen of talk, where she devoted a year of her life to following all of Oprah’s suggestions from her talk show, webpage and magazine.  I gather the results were varied!

Kjerstin Gruys, who is apparently “a scholar, fashionista, and bride-to-be spends a year without mirrors and other reflective surfaces to get a better view of herself, her life, and what’s really important” in Mirror, mirror off the wall : how I learned to love my body by not looking at it for a year, and Lauren Kessley has been trying every concoction to stop the clock in Counterclockwise : My Year of Hypnosis, Hormones, Dark Chocolate, and Other Adventures in the World of Anti-Aging.

A.J Jacobs in his latest book Drop dead healthy : one man’s humble quest for bodily perfection is perhaps the most extreme.  He had to consult a team of medical advisers, and subject himself to a gruelling regimen of exercises, a range of diets, and an array of practices to improve everything from his hearing, to his sleep, to his sex life; all the while testing the patience of his long-suffering wife.

Search catalogueJohn Kralik documented 365 thank yous. Over one year he wrote thank you notes for the small acts of kindness that came his way and Judith O’Reilly, in A year of doing good : one woman, one New Year’s resolution, 365 good deeds attempted to do one good deed each day. According to the publishers both authors experienced profound changes in their lives – but being of a rather cynical disposition I am curious to know if these changes remained permanent?

The area of sustainability is rife with year-long experiences, with the best known being Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, vegetable, miracle : our year of seasonal eating. John Lewis-Stempel detailed in his book The wild life : a year of living on wild food how nothing came from a shop or agriculture, and had to be either foraged or shot. When do these people have time to go to the movies of have a holiday I wonder?

Search catalogueOn the rather extreme area of the spectrum is The perfect punter : a year of losing everything and trying to win it all back by Dave Farrar who does his best to become the worlds best gambler, a dubious honour I suspect.

And then there is The trout diaries : a year of fly-fishing in New Zealand by Derek Grzelewski,  which I will not be showing to my husband in case he gets any ideas!

My personal favourite is a novel by Sue Townsend  The woman who went to bed for a year. I might give that idea a go.

Celebrating the older person

CoverSaturday was the International Day of Older Persons.

In our youth-obsessed world, it can be easy to forget the wonderful gifts that age can bring . Many of us end up embracing instead the glass half-empty attitude that “old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative,” to quote French entertainer Maurice Chevalier.

So let’s buck the trend!  Let’s recognise and celebrate the many contributions that older people make to the community, and let’s discover how to make the most of the second halves of our lives.

The library, as usual, has much to offer:

And, above all, don’t forget “with mirth and laughter [to] let old wrinkles come” (thank you, Mr Shakespeare!*) by enjoying some “age-appropriate” humour.

Make also a note in your calendars to attend the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Expo on Monday 10 October.

The expo will be hosted by Age Concern Canterbury, with support from the Christchurch City Council and Papanui High School.  It promises to be a fun day combining information about services for older adults with free entertainment, including cooking demonstrations by MasterChef runner-up Jax Hamilton.

Library staff will be there on the day, so come and have a chat and discover the myriad ways in which we can help you enjoy your “golden years”.

*The quote is from The Merchant of Venice.

20 years younger in 8 weeks!

Having just celebrated a birthday that is one short of a milestone, I can’t help but notice the proliferation of books on how to stop the aging process. My rational brain tells me that aging is fine, it’s part of life and I should embrace and welcome the wisdom that comes with old age, but my mirror tells me otherwise.

It is hard to avoid titles such as Turn back your age clock: look and feel 20 years younger in only 8 weeks. What ! Only 8 weeks and I could look 29! Wow.

Then there is Superhealth: 6 simple steps, 6 easy weeks, 1 longer, healthier life. Only 6 weeks for this one and I also get to live longer. Perhaps I should read both just to cover all bases. But, what about my mind? It’s all very well looking 29 and living until I’m 120 but not if I’m unable to remember any of it, so better add Alzheimers prevention plan: 10 proven ways to stop memory decline and reduce the risk of Alzheimers to the list.

Having gone through all these books you might want to read Bodies by Susie Orbach (counsellor to Princess Di and author of Fat is a feminist issue).

Susie Orbach has come to realise that the way we view our bodies is the mirror of how we view ourselves; our bodies become the measure of our worth

Perhaps an important book to read before taking on that 8 week programme!

Gray-haired Glamazons

As a self-proclaimed fashionista (is there any other kind?) it was with some interest that I pounced upon a new biographical offering on one of the first ladies of New Zealand fashion, WORLD powerhouse, Denise L’Estrange-Corbet, namely All that glitters.  However, rather than diving straight into the book to find out more about the “outrageous, fascinating and impish” doyenne I found myself quite taken aback by the cover photograph which features the impish one looking decidedly grey of hair.  One of L’Estrange-Corbet’s signatures, other than her bright red lipstick is the sleek black bob that she usually sports and taking into account her high-flying fashion designer lifestyle the obvious lack of colouring on her head came as a bit of a shock.

It was then that I remembered an article that I’d read some time back about a movement among “ladies of a certain age” to eschew hair-dyeing in favour of a more “authentic”, age-appropriate look (they’ve even got their own graygirls website)  So the question is, which one of the following books has Denise been reading, and as something of a trendsetter will fashionable ladies everywhere be following suit?

Oh, and I think the gray looks fabulous on her, in fact I can’t wait until the bob turns completely white.  She’ll be quite striking! And do check out All that glitters – she has had a fascinating life, dahlings.

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