Book Review: Rethinking Aging by Nortin M. Hadler, MD

Tom Emerick

Posted 11/14/11 on Cracking Health Costs

The debate about the effectiveness of many types of treatment and surgery for the aged population is getting more and more fierce.  Dr. Hadler’s newest book, Rethinking Aging— Growing Old and Living Well in an Overtreated Society, simply puts most of those debates to rest…the evidence demands a verdict.

Says P.Murali Doraiswamy, senior fellow, Duke Center of the Study of Aging, about Rethinking Aging,  “An unflinching and rational dissection of the anti-aging field from one of the most respected voices in the health-care debate today…Dr. Hadler’s scalpel has an uncanny ability to separate facts from hype and make us reexamine every screening test and treatment we take for granted as effective.”

Those whose cry is “death panels!” are arguing a point no one disputes.  Yes, certain treatments for certain elderly people are useful.  Those who decry pointless, ineffective, and dangerous surgery on many of the aged are also perfectly correct.

Let’s turn down the rhetoric and have an adult conversation.  That is the point ofRethinking Aging.  The facts are that most of us today will live to be about 85 years old, but few of us will see age 90.  Hadler carefully explains why that is so and how there is little medical science can do about it, no matter how much we spend on health care for that age cohort.  We may alter slightly the proximate or exact cause of death but not so much the timing.

I for one don’t care particularly what specific disease kills me when I’m 85, but I do want to pass with dignity…and “enjoy the journey”.

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