4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Creating Unlimited Options For Aging by Joe Carella is a book which touches on a very important topic, one that should not be easily dismissed: that of the retirement age and the future of the elderly. Our Western society is very strict about how older people should be handled. We all know it, and we all anticipate it with horror and trepidation. Most older folks are put in nursing homes by the young who can’t or won’t take the responsibility of caring for their parents.
And we all know how these nursing homes affect everyone who has entered their premises. “Abandon all hope ye who enter here” sounds just about right.
My own grandmother lived for several years with my aunt, who took her in after my grandfather died. As the years passed, my cousins had all grown up and had kids of their own. Now, my aunt had to not only take care of my grandmother but also of her own nuclear family. She made the tough decision to put my grandmother, whose health was strongly declining, into a nursing home. My grandmother, 86 at the time, passed away two weeks after she was committed.
This story stayed with me ever since, and now that my own parents are fast leaving their 70s, I’m scared about their future as well.
The author makes a compelling case for allowing the elderly to remain an integral part of society. He starts the book by giving us a bit of his own history on how he came to find the passion for his main cause. He takes us on a journey to several Scandinavian countries and shows us how different the care for the elderly is there compared to the US (and, honestly, most of Europe too). There, the living facilities are way different than what our own elderly are used to. They have freedom; the facilities are built in a way that allows easy interaction with the outdoors and other people. Also, they are encouraged to care for themselves and ask for help only when they need it, promoting self-reliance. Basically, they are treated like everyone else. They just happen to be older, and might or might not be sicker.
This is a model built on four main principles which Joe Carella describes in his first book, Unlimited Options for Aging, and expands in his second book, Creating Unlimited Options for Aging. He is Executive Director of Scandinavian Charitable Society of Greater Boston, a position which allows him to help elderly with compassion through the Scandinavian Living Center and Scandinavian Cultural Center, which is part assisted community and part a way for people of all ages to explore the modern Nordic culture and come together at the center.
In the book, the author describes his hope that his vision for the elderly will turn the American way around to treating them with dignity, kindness, and love. The concepts Joe discusses in this relatively short book of only 90 pages are quite simple. Abolishing the typical institutions and replacing them with community-centered living, helping elderly gain back their autonomy, and giving them a zest for life by allowing them to form new friendships and relationships and explore new hobbies. This gives elderly hope that the future is not always bleak.
I have to admit that this book shook me to the core and gave me hope that such thing is possible before I am at that advanced age. However, one thing I didn’t get from the book is how much such a living space would cost an average person. Is this really affordable for everyone or only by those who have accumulated funds? To get this information I visited the SLC’s website and realized that unless I won the lottery anytime soon, I wouldn’t be able to afford it long term.
Nevertheless, I realize this book’s value for the future. The more people know about this new approach, the more common it can become. And the more commonplace it is, the cheaper it can get since it won’t be something unique and secluded anymore.
The book is well written with a clear style. Joe Carella does have the tendency to repeat the major keywords several times on a page, but I do understand that he is trying to drill the point deep into our brains. The book has a few spelling and grammatical errors, and while I would usually lower the rating from 4 to 3, in this case, I still give Creating Unlimited Options For Aging 4 out of 4 stars because it is an important book and its message is one of the most powerful ones I came across during the recent years. And who should read this book? Everyone. After all, if you live long enough, you will get to that scary old age with all its negative implications for your life. So how could I restrict this book's audience?
Creating Unlimited Options For Aging
View: on Bookshelves
Like kislany's review? Post a comment saying so!