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Hill, Robert D.: Seven Strategies for Positive Aging.

Hill, Robert D. Seven Strategies for Positive Aging. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2008. x + 256 pages. Paper, $17.95.

Robert D. Hill is a licensed psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of Utah. In Seven Strategies for Positive Aging, Hill uses information from his earlier work, Positive Aging: A Guide for Mental Health Professionals (2005) in such a way as to guide readers through an examination of their own lives and how they react to life experiences. Seven Strategies for Positive Aging is a clearly written, easy-to-understand approach to examining one's own aging process and how a positive approach to addressing issues associated with aging can improve one's life experience.

Approaching aging through the positive lens of the glass half-full, Hill allows the reader to explore his/her reactions to life situations. As with Positive Aging, Hill's latest work explores aging not as "normal aging" or as "successfully aging," but as a concept rooted in positive psychology, which proposes a successful coping with life events. The role of personal choice becomes the foundation of the text to guide one to change the manner by which he/she experiences the aging process.

The first strategy leads the individual to find meaning in old age. Hill encourages us to not only accept the changes that occur in aging, but also to adopt a new life pattern. This can include a change of habits or a change in the way one responds to the changing that is occurring. He encourages a self-examination of the things that make us unhappy which can be controlled through exercise, eating, stress relief, and trying new things, instead of focusing on the changes to our body that aging controls. He then encourages reframing the issue to better understand the reaction of the older adult or our own response. Each process is supported with research, examples, and narratives that provide the reader with a better understanding of the aging process.

The development of positive aging suggests the use of social and community resources to live a functional and constructive aging life. For those who believe in relying only on oneself, Hill suggests that, for positive aging, reframing from those beliefs can lead to an understanding of the value of accepting services and support from others. This, in turn, can benefit the aging person as well as those offering assistance. The right of self-determination is not forgotten in this work, but the need for understanding of those working with the older adult population is highlighted through discussions and studies of life examples to better reach the older adult on his/her own level.

As with Positive Aging, Hill supports his claims with classic developmental models such as Erik Erickson's eight stages of adult development, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's stages of dying, and Robert Atchley's continuity theory, as well as the exploration of life-span theory. These discussions are intertwined in the writing to support the positive approach to aging without overpowering the reader who may lack a firm knowledge base of these theories.

This book can be appreciated by everyone. The seven strategies for positive aging could be viewed as the seven positive strategies of human interaction. The book is filled with skill-building tips to help people approach life events productively and positively. Students of psychology, sociology, and social work will see this book as a guide to helping older adults deal with the issue of aging, but it is also a guide to understanding the life-span process that creates the person we are. For the older adult reader, Hill's present work provides a great tool to rethink the aging process and their reactions to it. For everyone, this book fulfills its promise of exploring ways to get the most out of the later stages of one's life.

This book is not meant for the professional service provider who has knowledge of aging issues and is looking for a resource or text, but it is appropriate for any individual reflecting on the aging process and dealing with family, friends or his/her own concerns about aging. It is a guide and a tool to explore one's own beliefs and to change those that are negative to a positive view. The seven strategies include ideas such as never being too old to learn, forgiving oneself and others, accepting and offering help, and being grateful. This positive perspective can lead to a paradigm shift to create a more positive life experience for those who are willing to explore a new path to aging.

Janice Kay Purk, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Sociology

Mansfield University

Mansfield, Pennsylvania
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Author:Purk, Janice Kay
Publication:International Social Science Review
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 22, 2009
Words:766
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