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Aging Well: Guideposts to a Happier Life (Anglais) Broché – 6 février 2003


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Présentation de l'éditeur

In an unprecedented series of studies, Harvard Medical School has followed 824 subjects-men and women, some rich, some poor- from their teens to old age. Harvard's George Vaillant now uses these studies, the most complete ever done anywhere in the world, and the subjects' individual histories to illustrate the factors involved in reaching a happy, healthy old age. He explains precisely why some people turn out to be more resilient than others, the complicated effects of marriage and divorce, negative personality changes, and how to live a more fulfilling, satisfying and rewarding life in the later years. He shows why a person's background has less to do with their eventual happiness than the specific lifestyle choices they make. And he offers step-by-step advice about how each of us can change our lifestyles and age successfully. Sure to be debated on talk shows and in living rooms, Vaillant's definitive and inspiring book is the new classic account of how we live and how we can live better.

Biographie de l'auteur

George Vaillant MD is a widely respected researcher, psychiatrist and professor at Harvard Medical School. He is considered one of the world's foremost authorities on aging.


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Dans ce livre (En savoir plus)
Première phrase
Having entered the new millennium we are bombarded with contradictory information about what it means to grow old. Lire la première page
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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index | Quatrième de couverture
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66 internautes sur 71 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
GROW OLD GRACEFULLY! 17 janvier 2002
Par Sandra D. Peters - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
While many individuals may find the reading is too classic textbook and dry for their liking, as one who has studied behavioural psychology, I found the book extremely mind-absorbing.
The book closely follows a study of 824 individuals from birth through to old age and shows us how we can prolong our years and health. While genetics do play a role, there is little we can do to change our genetic make-up. What we can do is change our habits and day-to-day way of living. Easier said than done, but a choice, from a health perspective, that may yeild benefits as the years slowly slip by. One may think that avoiding alcohol and smoking, eating a healthy diet, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight are old hat issues, but the author shows just how dramatically those things can and do affect our remaining years. He also shows how sharing a happy, loving relationship can enhance our feeling of well being. Continuing the education process can also increase our state of health by challenging our mind and keeping it active and alert.
Hopefully, younger, health conscious individuals will take avantage of reading this book in order to prevent many of the pitfalls we fall into as we age. Some of us wait until that magic middle-age crisis hits before we realize what we should have been doing years ago. However, it is never too late to change and many readers will find valuable information here that may make the aging years more fulfilling, healthy and enjoyable. A book, also highly recommended, is "The Wisdom of the Ego" by the same author.
182 internautes sur 214 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
More confusion than clarity about aging 3 février 2002
Par J. Grattan - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
"Aging Well" is a book that does not clearly establish what it wants to say specifically about aging. Is it a book about longevity or is it a textbook on adult development? A main purpose of the author is to convey the findings of a multi-decade study of three distinct groups totaling about 800 individuals as they aged: a male Harvard student cohort born in 1920; a male inner city cohort born about 1930; and a gifted female cohort born in California about 1910. However the emphasis is on the Harvard cohort, a group that most assuredly stands apart from typical American lives. All of the interviewees were at least 70 years of age by 2000 but the specific commonality of longevity seems to get lost in the author's focus on more general social and emotional developmental concerns. However, the author establishes little connection between longevity and such development.
Perhaps the biggest problem with the book is that only a very limited, and at times inadequate, overview is presented regarding various social and emotional developmental topics. The author bases the entire book on Erik Erikson's ideas about adult developmental stages, which in his interpretation consists of the sequential tasks of identity, intimacy, career consolidation, generativity, keeper of the meaning, and integrity. There is no discussion about the legitimacy of those ideas or whether there are alternative ideas. The principal means of elaborating on those views is by presenting mini-profiles of about 50 individuals throughout the book who supposedly have or have not attained a particular level of development. It is burdensome for the reader to be presented with so many case studies to weigh.
It is here that the author's subjectivity becomes most apparent as he is very inclined to label those surrounded by somewhat extensive social networks be they ones of family, patients, customers, or friends as having aged well. He takes no notice of single adults or childless couples; two situations that would undoubtedly have an impact on traditional socialization. In one case he lauds as brilliant a man who has focused on the tasks of intimacy and career for the first twenty years of his adult life and then turns to generativity, or nurturing the young. One wonders if his children would appreciate the twenty years of de-emphasis on them. Frankly, it makes the development laid out by the author seem questionable.
In addition, the author demonstrates little appreciation for the atypical life chances and economic standing of the Harvard cohort. He finds it quite commendable that one-half of the Harvard cohort remained in their full-time work at age 65, failing completely to understand that the career control of doctors, lawyers, professors, and business owners and executives of the Harvard cohort far exceeds the options available to most people. He basically sidesteps the entire topic of adequate retirement income, even regarding it at one point as relatively unimportant compared to learning to play.
The author also classifies childhoods as ranging from "the Loveless" to "the Cherished." But to what effect? It is found that the negatives of childhood generally do not translate into life beyond age 50 and certainly not to longevity. In deference to general adult development textbook mode, the author makes a brief jargon-laced foray into both maladaptive and adaptive defense mechanisms that is bound to leave most lay readers just baffled.
The author frequently refers to "healthy" aging, but, again, what is it? We do learn that ancestral longevity, cholesterol levels, stress, parental characteristics, childhood temperament, and ease in social relationships do not predict healthy aging. What does predict healthy aging? Among the Harvard cohort, no alcohol abuse, no heavy smoking, and not being overweight were the greatest predictors of healthy aging followed by some exercise, a stable marriage, and then mature defenses. Among the Inner City cohort, a stable marriage was found to be the best predictor of successful aging followed by the same top three of the Harvard cohort and then by 12-plus years of education and by mature defenses. A major disconnect in the book is a discrepancy where the text claims that mature defenses ranks as the second best predictor contrary to the data displayed in charts.
So what is learned from this book? Some adults develop more or perhaps differently than others. Some adults have lives that are more social than others. Some adults are happier than others. None of that is unique to aging. It could well have a lot to do with life's circumstances that are largely outside an individual's control. We do learn that the author is somewhat judgmental concerning the quality of various individuals' lives in old age. Adults without bad consumption habits stand a far better chance of living longer than those who abuse their bodies. It probably did not take a Harvard study and a book to know most of this. Maybe the lesson is to go to Harvard and live long.
26 internautes sur 28 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A good foundation for creating a philosophy about aging 19 avril 2003
Par booklover - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Mountains of research was reviewed to write this book. For that effort I added an additional star to the three I gave for the book itself. The three studies referenced in this book began before the author was born or when he was a youngster. Dr. Vaillant's participation with these projects began decades later. This data was fragmented and resided on many different mediums. He undertook the task of getting all the data compiled onto a hard drive. His next task was to correlate the data (which was not always consistent between the three studies) to form meaningful patterns about aging.
His book is an "attempt to offer models for how to live from retirement to past 80 with joy". Comparing his pursuit to Dr. Spock's career in the study of child development, the author also perceives his book as "an attempt to anticipate development of old age and understand what can be changed and what has to be accepted."
Using composite histories of the study participants for comparison, six adult life tasks are reviewed: Identity, Intimacy, Career Consolidation, Generativity, Keeper of the Meaning and Integrity. The author strives to determine if we are genetically predisposed in how we experience these phases or in some cases choose to stay indefinitely in a phase that is comfortable rather than move on to experience another.
I read this book out of curiousity about the experiences of advanced aging in the United States and feel I now have a good foundation for developing a philosophy about my own aging process.
This book is not a deep scholarly rendition, however, the majority of the 300+ pages examing statistical data and percentage references became tiresome and difficult to analyze in lengthy reading sessions. I preferred reading a chapter and putting the book down for a while.

A helpful tip: I realized, after the fact, that reading the appendices first would have helped me understand of some terms and jargon used to refer to elements of the studies.
40 internautes sur 46 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Vaillant, George E. (2002). Aging well. Boston, Little, Brow 31 décembre 2004
Par Ann Tomey - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
George E. Vaillant is well qualified to write this book. He is a psychiatrist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, a professor at Harvard Medical School, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, and a respected researcher. Harvard Medical School professors have been studying the basic elements of adult human development for more than five decades. Three separate cohorts of 824 individuals were selected as teenagers for different facts of mental and physical health and studied for the rest of their lives to observe the adult life cycle and to provide a theoretical framework for understanding how older people become fulfilled or not.

Harvard men were studied. In 1940, men who went to Harvard were rich, privileged, white, born to American born grandparents, and expected to equal or exceed their natural ability.

In 1939, Sheldon Glueck obtained funding to do a prospective study of 500 youth sent to reform school and 500 matched school boys who had not been in any legal trouble

at age 14. His wife restudied the groups at ages 17, 25, and 32. The control nondeliquent group had the same social risk factors that helped doom the delinquents-had repeated two grades or more in school, had foreign born parents, lived in blighted neighborhoods, and were from families known to five or more social agencies and more than two-thirds were on welfare. Valinti inherited the study when the subjects were 40, and subjects continued to have physical examinations every five years. At age 60, all but 2 of the 456 subjects were known to be dead or alive.

For the Terman Women Sample, Terman tried to identify most of the brightest children in his three city area. He asked teachers to indentify the brightest in each class. He learned that the unattractive and shy children tended to be overlooked so that he only captured about 80 percent of the bright children. He used the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test to identify 1 percent of the California urban school children with IOs greater than 135 to 140 most of whom were born between 1908 and 1914. Four generations of investigators have followed the Terman men and women by questionnaires about every five years and by personal interviews in 1940 and 1950. The Terman women were not asked to provide regular physical exams. However, when compared to classmates, they had better nutrition, more humor, common sense, perseverance, leadership and popularity among their classmates. By age 80, they had half the mortality of white American women in their birth cohort.

In comparison, at age sixty-eight to seventy, the inner city men had the same physical decline as the Terman and Harvard cohorts at seventy-eight to eighty. The difference was attributed to less education, more obesity, and greater alcohol and cigarette abuse among the inner city cohort.

These cohorts seemed to demonstrate that it is social aptitude or emotional intelligence rather than brilliance or parental social class that leads to a well-adapted old age. Vaillant concluded that individual life style choices contribute a greater role than genetics, wealth, race, or other factors in determining how happy people are in late life. He found that " It is not the bad things that happen to us that doom us; it is the good people who happen to us at any age that facilitate enjoyable old age. Healing relationships are facilitated by a capacity for gratitude, for forgiveness.... A good marriage at age 50 predicted positive aging at 80. But surprisingly, low cholesterol levels at age 50 did not. Alcohol abuse -unrelated to unhappy childhood-consistently predicted unsuccessful aging, in part because alcoholism damaged future social supports. Learning to play and create after retirement and learning to gain younger friends as we lose older ones add more to life's enjoyment than retirement income. Objective good physical health was less important to successful aging than subjective good health.... It is all right to be ill as long as you do not feel sick" p. 13.

This research report can help us understand that we can do little to changer our genetic make-up, but we can change our habits so we avoid alcohol and smoking, eat a healthy diet, exercise to maintain a healthy weight, develop loving relationships, and continue to learn. These are important lessons for all of us wanting to age well, but it takes a sophisticated reader, knowledgable about research and willing to wade through research findings to read this research report. The book has 12 chapters, 11 appendices, notes, acknowledgments, and an index.
18 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Geeks of the World, Despair! 18 mars 2011
Par Six - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Halfway through this book, I threw it and then myself on the floor, kicking and screaming, "Waaaaaaah! It's not fair!" This book made old age look like middle school redux. Not only do the pretty, rich, smart, popular people get bigger houses, more money, more toys and better marriages, THEY GET TO LIVE LONGER TOO! What a rip off. So all you shy, loner geeks and geeklets who had pinned your hats on the premise that socially awkward geekish types will somehow be appreciated in the real world can now fall back into despair - you're going to have not only a more miserable life than the popular crowd, but you're gonna kick sooner, too.
Yes, this book used the psychologically-correct terms "people who establish wider social supports" but anyone who has wallflowered through a junior high dance knows exactly what that means...the popular crowd.
The book was pretty harsh on the Eleanor Rigsbys of the world...one poor lady (called Mrs. Haversham - I admit, the names were clever) who had devoted her life to caring for parents with Alzheimers and ended up lonely in her old age was actually ridiculed for this - can you believe it? In my book, such a lady is a saint.
In addition, the authors kept dissing not only "all the lonely people" but the authors also dissed their cats! As a cat lover, I took offense.
But the plus is...the authors completely ignored the life and health advantages of being a vegetarian/vegan, even though numerous books (see The Okinawa Program, The Blue Zones) clearly show that vegetarians/vegans and even semi-vegetarians live much longer and healthier lives - about seven to ten extra years. The Termin people, by contrast, seemed to have the usual plethoria of American-lifestyle diseases (obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc) even when they lived into their eighties.
So...there is hope. I'm moderately successful but nowhere close to the Termin types, a big-time loner, BUT I am a vegetarian. So take that you popular termites, I thought, as I munched my vegan cheese/broccoli/apple lunch - I may be broke, lonely and miserable in old age...but I will outlive every one of you meat eating suckers for at least seven years. So there.
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