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Monday, October 28, 2013

"The Golden Years" (Christopher Bogosh)

TITLE: The Golden Years: Healthy Aging and the Older Adult
AUTHOR: Christopher Bogosh
PUBLISHER: Yulee, FL: Good Samaritan Books, 2013, (136 pages).

By 2030, the aged population (above 65 years of age) in the United States is set to rise from its current 13% to 20%. It is common knowledge that many governments around the world are grappling with their aging populations. In some countries, medical care and insurance costs become extremely expensive with some insurance companies charging a very high premium to insure aged people. One of the problems is the lack of understanding by society on the needs of the older generation. While the young often have the older adults to guide them, the same cannot be said for the aged, who are reaching the end of their lives on earth. It can be depressing and meaningless, especially when society seems to be focused on the young and the economically active. Enters Christopher Bogosh, a registered nurse as well as an experienced caregiver to the older adult group and hospice care. Bogosh also has both a medical qualification as well as a pastoral heart. The book is carefully written to help readers appreciate the perspectives for the older generation and how we as a society can contribute to the care of this very important group of people in their golden years. How does Bogosh go about doing this? By taking aim at the three major issues facing older adults: health literacy, financial resources, and lack of motivation.

Before tackling the above three issues, Bogosh grounds his book on the wisdom established in the Bible. In Ecclesiastes 12, readers are reminded of the two-fold awareness of God as Creator and Judge. He shares some of the symptoms of old age, like fewer cells, greater dehydration, weakening effects on the muscles, neurocognitive systems, respiratory, circulatory, and the spiritual aspects. Some of the emotional challenges include the loss of one's spouse and peers. Good health means wholistic health. Do things in moderation. A healthy lifestyle honours God. Proper diets, nutrition, and supplements can help. Exercise, fitness activities, rest, vaccinations, and other simple healthcare can go a long way in helping one to age well.

Bogosh also argues for Preventive healthcare, explaining the merits of Medicare in the US, and other affordable care programs being worked out in Washington DC. It is also important to understand the different kinds of specialists to help the aged in healthcare. There are the geriatricians who are well trained and equipped to deal with medical needs of the aged, 65 years and above. There are the pharmacists who know a lot about medications, their complications, and who can educate people on the proper way to use them. There are the social services both public and privately funded. There are religious institutions like churches who can render their assistance.

Chapter 5 is a particularly important chapter as it contains guiding principles for uniquely complicated situations. The "Patient Self Determination Act" puts the medical decisions smack in the hands of the patient himself, instead of depending on the government, or members of the family. The author shares some incredible stories of how a son makes all the medical decisions miles away on behalf of his dying father, and all the time never even appearing at the bedside of the father. When costs spiral upward, ethical complications ensue. The guiding principles from Bogosh are golden.

  1. Distinguish between prolonging life and addressing symptoms;
  2. Christians can take heart that death is a transition into life in Christ;
  3. Often, our greater need is spiritual healing in Christ, and our appropriate response is to trust God's physical healing in due time. 
  4. Loving one's neighbours means two things: a) using public resources responsibly and wisely, understanding that the whole hospital does not exist just for one person; b) knowing that age problems will eventually come, prepare for it.
Bogosh gives other practical tips on healthcare agents, living wills, Do-Not-Resuscitate-Orders, and life planning, hospice care, common health problems like cognitive deficits, loss of hearing, sight, incontinence, and so on, with the aim of educating people that it is better to be prepared than to be caught unprepared. 

Another important aspect of this book deals with people going through chronic health conditions. For such cases, the focus is on education, preventative treatment, disease management, and assistance to caregivers. The number of challenging issues highlighted range from cardiovascular disorders to mental problems like dementia. Pain is also managed on two levels: acute and chronic.

So What?

Bogosh does a good job of sharing the wide range of challenges affecting the older adult generation. His knowledge of the different levels of healthcare needs is impressive. At the same time, the book does not come across as overly technical or bogged down by sophisticated concepts. Very readable and highly informative, this book basically highlights the most important aspects of the golden years. The practical advice provided is often supplemented by biblical wisdom. In fact, in several cases, the biblical wisdom drives the practical guidelines. For example, the part on the treatment of pain pulls all of these factors together.  Pain in itself can be a complex issue altogether. Seeing that medical sciences have their limitations, and that human wisdom can only do so much, eventually, many will be forced to grapple with pain, suffering, and what is means from a spiritual angle. Ultimately, the way to live is to be educated about what aging is and means; how to be wise with resources in managing aging problems; and finally to see that the final years are golden not simply because it sounds nice, but because of the promised glory of God that will be revealed, especially for God's children. 

If you care for the aged, or if you like to be more informed on this topic, this book will be a good resource to have and to learn from. 

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Good Samaritan Books and Cross-Focused-Reviews in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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