The Longevity Prescription of Dr. Robert Butler: A Proposal
Monday, 09 August 2010
Over the weekend, I ran across a beautiful online tribute to Dr. Robert Butler, the learned geriatrician, teacher, researcher, longevity expert, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and elder advocate who died last month on 4 July at age 83. It was written by one of his many international colleagues.
“He will be remembered as the epitome of aging with dignity, grace and good health, a role model for younger gerontologists like me...” writes Mala Kapur Shankardass in The Hindu.
“He was a practitioner of all that he prescribed. His sharpness, alertness and vitality till he died is exemplary. It sets the tone befittingly for his promoted concepts of 'productive ageing' and 'successful aging...His energy, enthusiasm for work, ability to share was infectious.”
“Infectious” is exactly the right word, as I learned when I was privileged to spend an expense-paid week at the tenth annual Age Boom Academy for a dozen journalists held at Dr. Butler's International Longevity Center in New York City last year.
Even when the discussion turned serious - to the debilities of old age or to cultural and institutional ageism - there was a twinkle in his eye and an enthusiasm for the work that needs to be done. In his presence, I believed it will be done and that I – and each old person - can be a part of making it happen.
Dr. Butler's most recent and, alas, last book on aging, his 17th, arrived in my mailbox in May while I was in the midst of planning and executing my move from Maine to Oregon. With the intention to write about it here, I managed to read it in bits and pieces in between packing and all, but it was lost in a box that I unpacked only in the past couple of weeks. Then it got buried under a bunch of papers I had not moved in that time.
Mala Kapur Shankardass's tribute has me back on track.
The title is The Longevity Prescription – The 8 Proven Keys to a Long, Healthy Life. Generally, I have little truck with self-help books, even one from Dr. Butler. But this is not your ordinary self-help book. In this one, the good doctor's native enthusiam infects every page – along with his intelligence, optimism and the wisdom of a lifetime.
He's not preaching at you about what you should do to attain a vibrant old age; he is engaging and encouraging the reader to practice living as he did. You cannot read this book without believing you can overcome or accommodate obstacles that are in your way or, more particularly, you think are in your way to a longer, healthier old age.
Just about every sentence is packed with information I want to pass on to you, particularly his many small, easy steps we can take every day to improve and maintain our health. There is so much, however, that I don't believe a “review” can do the book justice.
So here is what I propose: That we go through the book together, one chapter a week – there are nine plus an important introduction - and make this a kind of TGB Book Discussion Club – over ten weeks. That's two-and-a-half months to an improved old age for all of us.
Certainly, I encourage you to buy the book, but if you can't afford it ($26 U.S. and $32.50 Canadian – I don't know if it's published in Great Britain, Europe and elsewhere) or don't want to, I will write about each chapter in enough detail that you will get a reasonably good idea of the main points.
Your job then, in the Comments section of the post each week, will be to respond to what you've learned, introduce elements I've left out (if you're reading along), tell us about your experiences with what you do now to maintain your health, what you need to change, what you want to incorporate from the book into your daily lives, encourage all of us in our efforts and to respond to and build on one anothers' comments.
If this interests you, sign up today in the Comments section below. Well, no one needs to sign up. But if there is enough interest, I'll get us started with the introduction chapter next week.
The Longevity Prescription Series
Chapter 1: Mental Vitality
Chapter 2: Nurture Your Relationships
Chapter 3: Seek Essential Sleep
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Maureen Moore: Sweet Memories of Mabel Cook, Malibu's Horseback Riding Instructor
Count me in!
Posted by: Marcia Mayo | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 05:50 AM
Me too!! Always willing to learn something new. Love having the world at my fingertips on the internet. Love reading the blogs I have chosen and hearing other people's ideas about just about everything.
Posted by: Twin City Joan | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 06:00 AM
Wonderful idea! I'll be following your discussion of Dr Butler's book with great interest. After you talked about him sometime ago, I read a couple of his books & found them to be all you said they were.
Posted by: Bert | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 06:11 AM
I am definitely in. Amazon One-Click here I come.
Posted by: Florence | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 06:25 AM
This sounds interesting.
Posted by: SusanG | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 06:25 AM
Sounds great! And a group read is a wonderful way to spread the "infection" (so to speak)!
Posted by: Peg | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 06:34 AM
Posted by: mary jamison | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 06:44 AM
Great idea, I might buy it and then donate it to our library, of they don't already have it.
Posted by: zuleme | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 07:04 AM
Count me in too! I am very interested in anything to do with elder health and activites.
Posted by: Barbara McKay | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 07:14 AM
Sign me up, Mabel. Promise I won't dance on the table and spill all the beer...
Well, maybe one little shimmy...
Posted by: Cowtown Pattie | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 07:16 AM
I'm in. I am interested in what Dr. Butler has to say.
Posted by: Gaea Yudron | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 07:36 AM
Sounds like a good plan. Count me in.
Posted by: Genie | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 07:45 AM
Terrific idea. I'll try to join in.
Posted by: Paula | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 07:59 AM
I'm in, getting one used on Amazon for $15. Looking forward to the input of all.
Posted by: Celia | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 08:13 AM
Thank you for offering to share Dr. Butler's wisdom with your readers. I look forward to the first installment. Gladys
Posted by: Gladys | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 08:38 AM
Just want to add that the book is available on Kindle. Gladys
Posted by: Gladys | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 08:41 AM
Interesting. I already have a copy on my shelf that I got from the public library last week.
Posted by: Carol | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 08:42 AM
I'm in! Sounds interesting.
Posted by: Marion Dent | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 08:46 AM
Definitely I want to participate. Thank you Ronni for doing this.
Posted by: Mary C. | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 09:14 AM
Gladys - yep just "whispernetted" the book via Kindle for $12.99.
Posted by: Cowtown Pattie | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 09:32 AM
Count me in. What a great idea!!
Posted by: millie garfield | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 09:35 AM
Please count me in, as well. I look forward to the upcoming discussions!
Posted by: Courtenay | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 10:05 AM
You'll be very good at distilling it, I'm sure. Am getting the book from the library to look it over. Might be that I'll prefer your take on the meat of it!
Posted by: notdotdot | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 10:08 AM
Sounds interesting to me also
Posted by: Rain | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 10:38 AM
I'm all for it, count me in too. This is a good thing for you to do.
Posted by: Technobabe | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 10:47 AM
I'm with you.
Posted by: Judith | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 11:04 AM
What a wonderful idea. I'm with the Kindle crowd!
Posted by: Marion Vermazen | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 11:52 AM
You can include me. I can always learn something new.
Posted by: Darlene | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 12:47 PM
I sign up. Looking forward to it. On my blog Saturday I wrote I was in the late summer of my life. I'm 53. Everyone started saying, oh no you're not! But I am. I'm OK with it. But I am. It's not a bad thing.
Posted by: LPC | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 02:00 PM
Sign me up
Posted by: Chancy | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 03:17 PM
I just put the book on hold at the public library. I'm #1 in the queue. Should be fun and interesting. Great idea!
Posted by: Tarzana | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 03:19 PM
No library around here has Dr. Butler's book so far, but I'm so interested I'll try to find one somewhere. Thank you for this great idea, Ronni.
Posted by: joni | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 03:41 PM
Ordered the book!
I'm looking forward to this.
Posted by: colleen | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 04:49 PM
Great idea, Ronni. Good of you to suggest it. Thank you!
Posted by: Mona | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 06:27 PM
Looking forward to it.
Posted by: Elaine of Kalilily | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 06:28 PM
Posted by: Ashleigh Burroughs | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 08:23 PM
I'm in. Book is on order, but cheapskate that I am I took the (slower) free shipping option, so it might not be here before the first discussion.
Posted by: Deejay | Monday, 09 August 2010 at 08:56 PM
I'm 80 yrs and want to do so much. will look forward to continuing on with your comments on this book. ginymetro.
Posted by: Virginia van Breemen | Tuesday, 10 August 2010 at 02:34 AM
Sign me up!
Posted by: Diane | Tuesday, 10 August 2010 at 04:36 AM
Ronni, what a great idea. I'm definitely in.
Posted by: Brenda Verbeck | Tuesday, 10 August 2010 at 04:44 AM
Already have the book and this will be a good kickstart.
Posted by: Pam | Tuesday, 10 August 2010 at 05:25 AM
Great idea! I'm in!
Posted by: Lois Cochran | Tuesday, 10 August 2010 at 05:29 AM
For sure count me in. And I'll re-post this on the Elderwomanspace Network too.
Posted by: Marian Van Eyk McCain | Tuesday, 10 August 2010 at 05:34 AM
Thank you for the great idea - I am in also
Posted by: Scotti Kluess | Tuesday, 10 August 2010 at 05:52 AM
Definitely want to be a part of this! Can always learn new things.
Posted by: Barbara | Tuesday, 10 August 2010 at 06:03 AM
Brill idea, Ronni. I'm signing myself up and will order the book too.
Posted by: Pamela (Lady Luz) | Tuesday, 10 August 2010 at 06:33 AM
Good for me--just ordered it new from amazon for $17.16.
Posted by: Nana Royer | Tuesday, 10 August 2010 at 06:34 AM
Sign me up too!
Posted by: Dianne | Tuesday, 10 August 2010 at 07:06 AM
good idea, ronnie! looking forward to our 'lessons'.
Posted by: eema | Tuesday, 10 August 2010 at 08:13 AM
Good idea! I'm in.
Posted by: SuzyR | Tuesday, 10 August 2010 at 08:16 AM
What a great idea! Please count me in.
Posted by: Flora Davis | Tuesday, 10 August 2010 at 08:22 AM
Great idea. I'd like to participate when I can, with the caveat that I'm probably not going to morph into an extrovert, much as I respect Dr. Butler. I'll order the book today.
Posted by: Elizabeth Rogers | Tuesday, 10 August 2010 at 11:53 AM
Sounds like a wonderful idea. I'll attempt to get the book at our library, but if not available, I'll order from Amazon. Your summaries will be invaluable, I'm sure.
Posted by: Jacquie Grant | Tuesday, 10 August 2010 at 12:54 PM
Great idea....I'm in.
Posted by: Rhonda | Tuesday, 10 August 2010 at 09:13 PM
Posted by: Elderly care | Wednesday, 11 August 2010 at 09:41 AM
This will lift our spirits and help us all.Great idea,
Posted by: Uma | Wednesday, 11 August 2010 at 02:06 PM
I ordered the book from Amazon and it arrived today. But I haven't been equally successful in signing up for the discussion. I've submitted two comments and neither of them has shown up anywhere on the blog page. Here goes for the third and last time. If this doesn't work, I give up . . .
Esther Harriott, West Village, New York City
Posted by: Esther Harriott | Friday, 13 August 2010 at 07:36 PM
Just returned from a week out of town and in catching up with your blog (never miss it)hope I can participate. A great idea, will try and purchase the book.
Posted by: Marge Roach | Sunday, 15 August 2010 at 11:23 AM
Celebrated my 68th birthday on Sunday, August 15th and love the idea of your blog. Should be interesting and helpful...great idea! Always enjoy reading Time Goes By...Thanks! Barbara
Posted by: Barbara Klein | Tuesday, 17 August 2010 at 03:13 PM
I wanat to be a part of the group on Dr. Butler, since I met him years ago.
Posted by: Naomi | Wednesday, 18 August 2010 at 04:48 AM
He sounds like the kind of person I would have liked and admired. Next best thing, of course, is to read his writings.
Posted by: Miki Davis | Wednesday, 18 August 2010 at 07:34 AM
Please count me in. It sounds like the motivation I need to keep my healthy aging habits (or lack of them) from slipping.
Posted by: Jan | Wednesday, 18 August 2010 at 07:51 AM
Will be looking forward to the weekly sessions. Think I will order the book now. Enjoy discussions with intelligent people my age.
Posted by: Gail Mahoney | Wednesday, 18 August 2010 at 08:41 AM
couny mre in! I knew Dr. Butler and always loved him. nes
Posted by: Naomi | Thursday, 19 August 2010 at 07:37 AM
I shall follow your reviews, Ronni - because you are awesome!!!!
Posted by: Sheila Silver Halet | Thursday, 19 August 2010 at 09:58 AM
Posted by: Kate Harper | Thursday, 19 August 2010 at 11:49 AM
Ahh sounds like water for the desert as I finish my dissertation --bring it on!
Posted by: Cate McCarty | Sunday, 22 August 2010 at 12:38 PM