Telling a New Story about Aging

Non-Fiction - Social Issues
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 02/02/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Vernita Naylor for Readers' Favorite

Aging can be challenging for most. It comes with not only gray hair but also bodily changes, health concerns, and other types of challenges. In Keenagers: Telling a New Story about Aging by Corinne Auman, you are asked to consider the gifts that aging offers. Keenagers' and teenagers' lives are parallel yet lived at different phases. Both possess a passion for life and living but are still trying to understand and work out the kinks for the next level. Regardless of how you see aging, it can represent a new and exciting opportunity, especially with the proper support. Move away from how you usually look at aging and consider how offering more structure, information, and services on medical, caregiving, finances, retirement, and family planning can present a healthier longevity. In the book, various individuals tell their stories about living their best life well beyond their 60s, from starting a new career and building a business to creating a livelihood around a hobby they’ve always had a passion for.

I agree with Corinne Auman referring to the purpose of creating Keenagers: Telling a New Story about Aging. Being over 60 does not represent being washed up and older people can still serve a purpose. The aging community is not a liability but an asset. People are living longer, healthier, and vibrant lives. They have wisdom and are setting trends. The younger generations are trying to catch on to their style by coloring their hair gray, white, or silver which shows that gray hair is not only stylish but is the latest trend. Let’s shift away from the stereotypes of judging, illegal firing, forcing out of jobs, or the continued biases that the aging community is experiencing and instead become their ambassadors and advocate for a better quality of life. You will never look at the aging community the same way once you read this book. Instead, you will discover and experience a different and inspiring outlook of those who are living a highly elevated life.

Grant Leishman

Keenagers: Telling a New Story about Aging by Corinne Auman is a fascinating deep dive into the world of growing older. As the baby boomers retire, many still in great health and many needing to generate income, the questions arise as to what age retirement truly starts and if the current perceptions of who is elderly are still applicable. The author asks whether society’s stereotypes about aging and the elderly are still relevant or whether it is time to embrace a new paradigm regarding our over 65s. So many of us are involved in multiple roles within society and, as people live longer, caring for an elderly parent has become a major part of many people’s lives. By looking at various case studies, as well as several highly functioning retirees, the author concludes that our view of the elderly and their roles within our communities does indeed need to change. She also tackles the negative self-perception that many elderly people have about aging and retirement and challenges the negative connotations that have been drilled into us by our parents, teachers, colleagues, and society in general.

As a person on the cusp of that magical age of 65, Keenagers was a fascinating and insightful peek into the world that awaits as I enter those “golden years.” Although author Corinne Auman has tailored this book specifically around the American health system and American conditions, it is equally applicable to all developed countries. Living in a third-world country, as I do, I can still see the vestiges of the old system, where families remain together and caring for the elderly is a collective exercise. I can also see the changes discussed in the book happening here, as the pervasive culture of self-gratification is promoted and acclaimed. I particularly appreciated some of the astounding statistics that awaken us to the fact that this boomer generation is going to play such a significant part in the economy and development of the country long after they have reached 65. I loved the solutions and practical programs offered to work toward accommodating these individuals as contributing and successful members of society, even as they sail serenely into their 70s, 80s, and 90s. That the author offers solutions and tactics not only for society in general but for individuals, in particular, is what makes this book so well-rounded and worth reading. I learned a lot from this easy-to-read book and can highly recommend it.

Jamie Michele

In her book Keenagers, Corinne Auman looks at the topic of aging, addressing the absence of a universally agreed-upon definition of old age. Drawing parallels with the evolution of childhood and adolescent views, Auman introduces the term "keenagers,” aiming to counter stereotypes. Auman talks about healthcare challenges and the need for improved geriatric expertise, medical training, and communication to cater to the unique needs of older adults. Auman addresses issues within caregiving and the workplace and advocates for a paradigm shift, opposing ageism, redefining retirement, and promoting intergenerational collaboration while strengthening societal support for keenagers. Auman highlights a positive outlook on aging, calls for systemic changes, and wraps up with a plea to reject limiting messages and to engage in positive conversations to reshape collective thinking about this life stage.

One thing that my grandmother told me when I was approaching middle age is that I was on the cusp of becoming invisible and that going forward I would only be viewed as a consumer of elastic-waisted pants, probiotic yogurts, incontinence products, and emergency necklaces. This was said as a joke, but the sad truth is that it is mostly true and is the reason why I was drawn to Keenagers by Corinne Auman. Auman blends a mix of personal experiences, statistical data, real-life examples, expert testimonials, and a broader societal perspective to form a large picture of what keenagers can and should do and what needs to be done by all of us to maximize the quality of life and care. The most touching and poignant section to me is when Mark shares his experience growing up with a caregiver mother, losing both parents to dementia, and being a caregiver himself. I didn't fully consider the need for employer support for caregivers, which is further referenced in a study on work-related difficulties faced by caregivers. The book is well-written, easy to read, bursting with information, and, most importantly, accessible. I have no doubt it will help all keenagers, and those who are soon-to-be, who pick this important resource up. Very highly recommended.

Lucinda E Clarke

Keenagers. Who are they? Author Corrine Auman uses this term for a section of the population past retirement age. Present-day thinking of modern-day life follows a pattern: education, career, and retirement. However, people are living longer, and leaving work at age sixty-five may mean another thirty years lie ahead. Do we need to rethink what the last third of life has to offer? Being old carries a negative stereotype, useless, wrinkled, and past it. But this is often not the case. Keenagers opens the door to a re-think of what those final years can offer. The author writes that a new mindset needs to be brought into play. There are multiple examples of elderly people starting a new business, learning new skills, volunteering, and even remaining in the workplace beyond the usual retirement age. Another aspect is that of caring for older parents, and those born and now labeled as Boomers may find themselves sandwiched between caring for very elderly parents and meeting the needs of their children. They may easily struggle to cope, especially, as in the United States, there are limited options for help in-home care, and the heavy cost of retirement facilities.

Author Corrine Auman shines a light on a subject seldom discussed. While society looks unfavorably on a generation after retirement age, keenagers have much to offer. Many retain their health and vitality and have both knowledge and wisdom. Citing multiple references, she shows how a new lease on life lies in the future. While there are many helping agencies for the young in choosing a new career, decision-making, and development, these are non-existent for keenagers, many of whom have nowhere to turn. Where is the help for those who care for ailing relatives, often with no medical training or support? This book focuses on the United States as countries with a National Health Service do employ home care in the state, but even then, for the less advantaged and the very rich, there are more solutions. It is the middle class who may fall between the cracks. I was pleased to see advice on preparing for the future, wills, power of attorney, and plans for the last years and Auman urges more communication regarding these matters. Even in today’s nuclear family world, it is normal to care for elderly parents, often difficult when children have moved away. While there is a fear of dependency and being worthless, communication and understanding are the keys to solving problems, especially at the onset of dementia and severe disability. Keenagers is now the largest market controlling 77%, even though they make up 32% of the population. The author suggests that advertisers have not taken notice of these facts. I also loved the list of people who created their best works in their later years. This book is a must-read for everyone, old or young, and may open some inroads into a mindset change for the future ahead. We will all be old someday.

Zahid Sheikh

Keenagers by Corinne Auman is a thoughtful exploration of the stereotypes linked to aging. The prologue asks readers not to focus on the traditional life stages and encourages them to pursue their careers, education, and whatever they want instead of worrying about their age. Auman sets a positive tone by introducing the term 'keenagers' for people aged 55–75 and highlights the role and diversity of older people in society. The narrative also explores the challenges linked to the healthcare system in understanding the medical needs of older adults. The inclusion of some real-life examples and personal stories on the lack of geriatric training for healthcare professionals, improper prescribing of medicines, and the impact of aging on career opportunities emphasize the importance of life design for older adults. The narrative provides practical insights for planning to live a life free from social expectations and with a positive growth mindset.

While I was reading Keenagers, it made me recall my conversation with a friend in which we were upset about being retired and not having enough opportunities to explore our lives. Corinne Auman made me realize that retirement is not an end; it’s a new beginning. The concept of a longevity economy boosts the confidence of older adults and disputes societal stereotypes about older individuals' health and performance. The author’s writing is inspiring as it creates an awareness to restructure the concept of aging and actively engage in creating a society that embraces and makes use of the later years of people's lives. I highly recommend Keenagers for all older adults and middle-aged individuals who are ready to break the stereotypes and create a fulfilling life.