메인 Canadian Journal on Aging Albert Ellis and Emmett Velten. Optimal aging: Get over getting older. Chicago IL: Open Court...
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Book Reviews/Comptes rendus La Revue canadienne du viellissement 117 References Eyman, R., Grossman, H., Tarjan, G., & Miller, C. (1987). Life expectancy and mental retardation. Washington, DC: American Association on Mental Retardation. Salvatori, P., Tremblay, M., Sandys, J., & Marcaccio, D. (1998). Aging with an intellectual disability: A review of Canadian literature. Canadian Journal on Aging, i 7, 249-271. Seltzer, M., Krauss, M., & Janicki, M. (Eds.). (1994). Life course perspectives on adulthood and old age. Washington, DC: American Association on Mental Retardation. Albert Ellis and Emmett Velten. Optimal aging: Get over getting older. Chicago IL: Open Court Publishing, 1998. Reviewed by Jane Ledingham and Manal Guirguis, University of Ottawa. RESUME Optimal Aging, d'Ellis et Velten, applique les preceptes de la psychothe'rapie rationnelle emotive aux defis du vieillissement. Au cour de I 'ecole rationnelle emotive se trouve la notion qui veut qu 'en changeant sa facon de penser on changera aussi sa facon d 'envisager les situations etd'y reagir. Grace a I 'effort actif, les gens peuvent arriver a se sentir mieux et a exercer un meilleur controle sur leurs vies. Cesprincipes clairement definis sont appliques id afin d'apporter de nouvelles solutions aux problemes lies aux changements financiers ei sociaux occasionne's par la retraite et aux questions portant sur I'amour et la sexualite, le deuil, le demenagement et la peur de mourir. Ce livre interessera particulierement les personnes dgees et celles qui preparent leur avenir ainsi que les professionals qui travaillent aupres des personnes dgees. Optimal Aging, by Ellis and Velten, is designed to suggest new ways of thinking and acting that will enable older adults to derive more pleasure and less pain in later years. This self-help book emphasizes people's capabilities rather than limitations and stresses individual responsibility for changing one's life. The book brings the principles of rational-emotive behaviour therapy (REBT), ; developed by Ellis, to bear on the vicissitudes of aging. In essence, REBT argues that it is not what happens but how we interpret events that is important, and that our thoughts influence how we feel. "Shoulds" or "musts" are irrational ideas that lead to the belief that it is a dire necessity that people, circumstances, and events be perfect at all times. These beliefs cause us to overemphasize the significance of events and make us less able to deal with situations. Negative emotions occupy our energies and attention to the detriment of focussed problem solving. In contrast, healthy thinking involves eliminating "shoulds" and reducing the perceived importance of isolated events. 118 Canadian Journal on Aging Vol 18 no. 1 1999 Book Reviews/Comptes rendus What is important about REBT is that, when it works, it works quickly and has an enormous effect on how one feels. REBT is a technique that can be explicitly taught by demonstrating how thoughts influence emotional states leading one to recognize and alter irrational beliefs which create "artificial" emotions. REBT does not seek to eliminate emotion; instead, it targets enduring artificial negative emotional states perpetuated by selftalk so that spontaneous but natural emotions can emerge. REBT works best with those stymied by self-doubt, fear and anxiety as well as with depressed persons who believe that everything they do is wrong. These techniques liberate the energy directed toward worry and procrastination and free the person to do his or her best with tasks at hand. This philosophy helps us to keep perceptions of ourselves and others in perspective, rather than dwelling upon negative events and failures to the exclusion of all else. In this way, REBT can help people reclaim lost self-esteem. Perhaps more than any other audience, older adults may be prepared to accept the no-nonsense philosophy of REBT. One advantage of this framework is its focus on coping with challenges associated with aging. Ellis and Velten do not ignore or minimize the difficulties of growing older, especially in a culture which idealizes youth. This makes the approach credible to the older reader who can feel that his/her problems are truly understood. After all, there is no point in telling an old person that life is rosy and that all of life's adversity and grief are a matter of "negative thinking". On the contrary, the authors advance an invitation to face life's challenges objectively, well-equipped with effective tools for coping. REBT emphasizes empowerment. The authors make it clear that they understand that later years can be difficult and made more complex by the ageist stereotypes about helplessness and ineffectuality. A need to regain and maintain control may well be essential to successful aging. The authors offer a mixture of strategies for effective coping, perspective-taking and self-acceptance in order to restore a sense of control and dignity. Moreover, these suggestions are offered with sensitivity to important issues, such as the influence of a long life, grief as a result of inevitable losses and the necessity of direct action. Covered in the book are a number of themes important to older adults. These include dealing with change in financial status, loss of material possessions, and reduced occupation-linked prestige. The book also examines issues related to the transition to retirement, money issues which may cause conflict between family members, and sex and romance for older adults. In addition, this book addresses coping with new living arrangements (including a possible move to a nursing home), bereavement and dying. Finally, the authors discuss the importance of maintaining involvement, risk-taking, assertiveness, friendships, and establishing healthy living and exercise patterns. Throughout, there is an emphasis on self-acceptance and growth. Book Reviews/Comptes rendus La Revue canadienne du uiellissement 119 Ellis and Velten have written a book to help older adults feel more in charge of their lives, with emphasis upon activism and activity. The book's dynamic language challenges the reader to implement its precepts. By and large it is amusing, entertaining and highly readable. This is not just a book for older persons; it also has a message to help younger adults reduce fears of aging. The message is to start living now so that later years will be happy and productive. This book will also be useful for professionals working with older adults. Throughout the book, the authors present many examples and vignettes to illustrate important points, some from personal experience and others from clients. These examples clarify important concepts. Older persons, however, are an heterogeneous group with some now surviving into extreme old age. This particular group would benefit from further examples and strategies to enable them to cope with few resources. For the oldest-old, greater coverage of the less tractable problems such as loneliness, isolation, chronic disability, cognitive loss, and inaccessibility of resources could have been dealt with in greater detail. For some, the occasionally controversial views of Ellis and Velten may be disconcerting. In particular, the extreme frankness with which sex is discussed may disturb some readers. Shame-attacking exercises, which suggest that people do things such as go out in public with their underwear on their heads or call out the time loudly in department stores, will likely be questioned by some readers. As well, description of current self-help movements as "crybabyism" may further alienate. Finally, views expressed about dying may be perceived as somewhat cold and callous. This book downplays spiritual aspects of life and this may not sit well with those who hold strong religious beliefs. On the whole, however, this book is delightful to read and is an eye-opener to anyone at risk of growing older. Now an octogenarian himself, Albert Ellis is a model for successful and productive aging. This book certainly gives anyone concerned with old age a reason to hope for the best, rise to the challenge, and look forward to the rewards ahead.