Health in Old Age, Myth, Mystery and Management

By Moyra Sidell.

Open University Press

Price £37.50 ( hardback) £13.99 (paperback)

ISBN 0335 19336 6 (hardback)

0355 19136 3 (paperback)

The Open University has started a new series of studies on
ageing and older people. The series editor, Brian Gearing,
describes it as aiming to fill the gap ‘between what we now know
and understand about ageing and ageing populations and the limited
amount of knowledge and information which is readily available to
the growing number of professional and voluntary workers and others
who are involved in the care of older people’.

Health in Old Age by Moyra Sidell is one of the first in this
series. The sub-title of the book is Myths, Mystery and Management
(try saying that first thing on a Monday morning to a group of
students) and the book follows these topics.

The central thesis is that ‘the relationship of health to old
age is an important but complicated and sometimes confused issue.
Myths and mysteries abound and its management for the individual
and for society is a matter of concern.’

The book is divided into three parts. The first looks at what is
known about the health of older people and usefully brings together
data from various surveys, such as The Health and Lifestyles Survey
of 1987.

In some cases the author has reanalysed the data herself. The
second part consists of case studies which have been taken from
three research projects undertaken by the author. They illustrate
older people’s experience of health and illness.

The final section is concerned with resources for health.
Although some of the data provided here is from the 1980s it is
useful as an overview of the topic.

A helpful bibliography, but a too short index, complete this
book which will be useful for many courses.

Anthea Tinker is professor of social gerontology, Age Concern
Institute of Gerontology, King’s College, London.

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