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Never Say Die: The Myth of the New Old Age

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  279 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews
In Never Say Die, Susan Jacoby delivers a brave, impassioned, and exceptionally important wake-up call to Americans who have long been deluded by the dangerous myth that a radically new old age awaits the huge baby boom generation.
Combining historical, social, and economic analysis with personal experiences of love and loss, Jacoby unmasks the fallacies promoted by twent
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 14th 2012 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2011)
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Jul 29, 2011 MaryAnn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, skimmed
Although I didn't read this book word for word, I read enough to get the gist--the author believes that much of the media coverage, including that of drug companies, would lead us to believe that most of us will live to a ripe old age and enjoy it. Her extensive research and resources indicate otherwise. The reality, she maintains, is that the older we get the poorer we become, and since there are more Americans headed in that direction every day, the future is not as rosy as we are led to belie ...more
Jenny Brown
May 02, 2011 Jenny Brown rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The substantive content of this book could fit nicely in the pages of a magazine article. Jacoby fills the rest of her book with prolonged rants and supports her arguments mostly by telling you vaguely sketched anecdotes about what happened to her friends and relatives.

This is a shame, because the subject is one that is vitally important, so a better written, better documented book on this topic might have done some good.

The topic is one that deserves a lot more notice: the way our society rom
Jenny Shipp
One can hardly say one LOVES this book. I mean, really! I bought it because I heard this woman on the radio talking about how very old people are not allowed to be angry about getting old. I remembered my 8 years with House Calls. Time to come back and look at it again. This woman knows her stuff and her big complaint is the false image so many people have about getting old these days, "90 is the new 50!" etc. Mostly, after 85, all sorts of debilities creep in and most (not all) really don't lik ...more
Oct 07, 2014 Cara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really like this, especially when compared to a terrible book I recently read, Long for This World: The Strange Science of Immortality. I get the impression that Susan Jacoby would slap Aubrey de Grey upside the head, and I would honestly pay good money to see that.

Anyway, Jacoby touches on a number of subjects in this book, but I'd say the main theme is that getting old sucks and let's stop pretending that it doesn't, for the sake of old people (and I love that she calls them old people inste
David Melbie
Apr 01, 2011 David Melbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All baby boomers!
Recommended to David by: I am a big fan of Susan Jacoby
If you are a baby boomer (born between 1946 and 1964) and you read only one non-fiction book this year, I recommend this one. The idea that our older years are going to be our "golden years" is a myth that Jacoby shatters. If you live beyond the age of 85, you have a 50-50 chance of ending up living in a nursing home AND a near 50% chance of having some form of dementia, like Alzheimer's disease. And, if you are that unlucky, say goodbye to your money, what little you will have if Congress gets ...more
Apr 20, 2014 Maggiemuggins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With the sole exception of chapter six in which her personal attitudes parted company with some of mine, Jacoby has written the 'fighting back' manual for people who are fed up, sick and tired, and angry at the insistence of medical professionals, pharmaceutical companies, and the selfish among the elderly, that we waste health-care dollars better spent on the young, dope ourselves to the eyeballs, or submit regularly to surgery in old age in order simply to live longer. Jacoby believes, as do m ...more
Mar 08, 2011 Eileen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Difficult to plow through because of lengthy discussions on ethical issues related to life extension versus quality of life and the social and political constructs of old age. The author raises depressing facts that are often overlooked by baby boomers who assume their "golden" years will be mentally and physically sound, economically viable, and most importantly, that they will have choices on how and where they spend their final years. In fact most of the "old, old" (those in their 80s and 90s ...more
Jun 14, 2011 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Seriously depressing and I publicly apologize for making other people read it. That said, it was interesting and probably it's better to know what I now do, even if what I now know includes things like the fact that most "old old"--80s and 90s and beyond--people are women, who are alone, and have very low quality of life because of health issues that just happen if you live that long. The book's trying to confront the American idea/l that we can stave off old age by exercising, eating healthfull ...more
An intelligently written opinion piece on aging. Jacoby touches on tons of pertinent subjects from Alzheimer's to universal health care to retirement planning to Social Security and Medicare. The subjects of aging, the elderly, diseases of the old, terminal illness and death are highly uncomfortable ones in our society. Jacoby tackels these issues with passion, care and an unflinching pen. These issues are social and political issues, as well as personal issues. [Highly recommend.]
Paul Heidebrecht
Here's a dose of hard reality. Aging is going to be hard and our collective self-denial of its reality is only setting us up for major despair. Don't buy the myth that you can escape the demise of your body and your brain and the loneliness of old age. There won't be any drugs to keep you from Alzheimers. Jacoby is an articulate atheist and a champion of reason with a capital R so the Christian view of dying holds no appeal to her. Someone needs to write a response.
Jean Wiseman
Aug 11, 2016 Jean Wiseman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An important book about the realities of aging. Not for the faint of heart (sorry, folks--80 is not the new 50), but a worthwhile read for those in middle age or approaching retirement.
Aug 13, 2012 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: health
3.5 stars for the good advice. Susan Jacoby is a good writer. I like the way she expresses her thoughts in much of the book. There were sections, however, that I tried to read more than once, and when my eyes just glazed over for the second time, I gave up. Ms. Jacoby seems to have little tolerance for those who do not share her political or religious views, which I also found a bit off-putting, at times. That being said, there was much of her book with which I agreed.

Here are my favorite passag
Alberto Lopez
Feb 22, 2017 Alberto Lopez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-favorites
The most serious and thought provoking book in a while for me, this author brings up a problem of great importance; yet one that may challenge all of us beyond our ability to solve it. It is not enough to try to understand the old old or to internalize the relevance of natural aging and its problems, like dementia. One must come to peace with the fact that curing age may not be a better alternative if the quality of life turns negative. Again, this book is heavy and not for most. It left me in d ...more
Sep 12, 2013 Msladydeborah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love it when an author goes there on a topic! Never Say Die The Myth and Marketing of the New Old Age by Susan Jacoby is a non-fiction read that I recommend any mature adult read because there are topics in this work that will make you think on a very personal level about your life choices.

There are five distinct things that I like about this book.

1. Jacoby raises the issue of how boomers are being lead to believe that we can defy reality via marketing schemes that promote new old age. This pa
Meredith Watts
Aug 20, 2014 Meredith Watts rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an important book about various misconceptions about aging, including the myth that we can avoid the normal deterioration of age by exercise, the "right" diet, and clean living. It's not true, we all eventually die, and when we pass from just "old" to "old old" (over 80, generally) our chances of having ill-health or dementia and being dependent or frail are greater every year, no matter what we do.

One criticism is that the book, published in 2011, already feels a bit dated, as politics
Kirk Johnson
The author continually categorized me, as a reader, in her stereotypical viewpoints of her imagined audience base.

Because I don't ascribe to her idea that "everyone" thinks aging is likely full of vibrant 90-year-olds skydiving into the sunset, I was continually put off by her tone and suppositions.

I can see, perhaps because of her Manhattan relatively affluent lifestyle and writing for AARP for a while that she would be weary of what common media depict for older people. But c'mon, it's adver
Feb 12, 2011 Shinynickel marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: soon
Off this review:

Jacoby, who tended her lover through Alzheimer's disease and watched her spunky grandmother, almost 100, grieve because she could no longer do "most of the things that had given her life meaning," has no illusions about what she regards as the dubious blessings of longevity. She is enraged by the self-help gurus and the drug companies that merrily market an age-defying old age, in which octo- and nonagenarians are flourishing teachers, com
Jul 21, 2014 Alan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a well-written book that addressed issues concerning growing old in contemporary America. Jacoby began with the Browning poem, Rabbi ben Ezra, (Grow old with me, the best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first is made…) and argued that one could just as easily be ill or stupid during old age instead of wise and fit. Along the way Jacoby explored assisted suicides, the expense of dying in a hospital, and how men often die earlier than women, leaving many women grieving, lone ...more
Todd Martin
In Never Say Die little miss sunshine Susan Jacoby uses the cheery topic of getting old as a jumping off point for a broad range of topics relating to aging including: products marketed to seniors, Alzheimer’s Disease, entitlement programs, assisted suicide, life extension research and others.

Where I think the book is strongest is in its discussion of financial issues affecting seniors. Since people are living longer than ever (or to put it more accurately, more people than ever are making it t
Jun 24, 2015 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Much as I liked the book, I oan't help by find fault with it. And my guess would be that Jacoby would appreciate my critique - it advances the discussion. First, the title - actually I would have used the subtitle as the title, and come up with something about the inevitability of dying for the subtext; to me that would have been a more honest way to grab one's attention. An Amazon reviewer has said something about the book needing better editing, which may be true. But I wonder how much control ...more
May 20, 2014 Sevenponds rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I hate the thought of old age and I do my best at keeping good care of my body. “Never Say Die” by Susan Jacoby tells us that no matter how much we exercise or how many supplements we take, we will all eventually become physically and mentally crippled by old age. Yes, there may be a few who will remain spry and alert as modern medicine keeps many of us alive into our 90′s, but most will succumb to the ravages of old age no matter what we do to avoid it. Susan Jacoby offers up to my Boomer gener ...more
The premise for this book is what intrigued me: It is a myth that age 70 is the new 50 and that we can by eating right, taking up new mentally-challenging activities, and staying active stave off the effects of old age. The author provides numerous convincing examples of how the media tries to convince us that we are as old as we feel and act but, in reality, she illustrates such examples and portrayals are far from the norm. So, this book ended up being very depressing. The author's thesis is s ...more
Apr 08, 2011 Pat rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I will turn 65 next month and, in fact, just applied for my Medicare card, so I thought this would be an appropriate time to read this book and perhaps I would learn something about my current 'young old age' and my rapidly approaching 'old old age'. Wrong. I can't imagine how anyone who has lived more than a few decades could possibly not know what the author goes into excessive length to point out; to wit, that aging can be a messy business and that only a very lucky few spend their last days ...more
Apr 06, 2013 Joyce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 01, 2012 Naum rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A compelling read, one that I was simultaneously (a) drawn to and (b) repelled by. (a) mainly due to the writing style (Jacoby writes well and have read and liked previous works by her) and the truth contained therein and (b) the subject matter itself, which is not enjoyable -- aging and the inevitability of physical degeneration, decay and ultimately death, a fate that awaits all us mortal beings -- in a sense, making the author's points about how we like to put a shiny slant on the aging ordea ...more
Jul 13, 2011 Cathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This should be required reading for all who think they might die someday. Some people don't seem to believe it.
The American attitude towards death is to pretend it won't happen to us and we won't be like those people who wind up in nursing homes. This attitude prevents us from caring for older people with the dignity they deserve. It also prevents us from understanding that no individual can save enough to support themselves through a long old age, if that old age includes the infirmities that
Nov 04, 2012 Mmars rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I admit having to return this to the library before finishing, but did read about half of it. I so appreciated what Jacoby was espousing. Truly anyone aging (and that's basically any adult) should consider the reality check she provides. To be mentally prepared for the worst has always helped me cope with what DOES come my way. Not that I'm a worrier, just cautionary in outlook. It's a fact - my body will age and possibly in unpredictable ways physically and mentally. Will my money run out? Will ...more
As someone in her late 50s and with parents/in-laws in their late 70s, early 80s, I naturally find this a topic of great interest. There's a lot to think about here, and although this book is pretty depressing, it does bring up a number of things to think about - and, fortunately for me, at a stage when I can still plan and prepare in a meaningful way.

Although I don't necessarily agree with everything she says, and I think the book is much longer than it needs to be, I think it's a book that's w
Kathryn Hallett Ph.d
A much needed realistic picture of aging that bears no relationship
Nor preparation for those so called golden years.......My women
In my book club felt anger that we had bought the whole MYTH
And did not and we're not prepared for all the medical problems
and miserableness!

You may not like all this reality but then you might decide to
Forgo a lot of procedures and other things that really can not
Stop the aging process and so prepare for the worse scenario since
We are doomed to dementia if we insist
Nov 01, 2011 Drgranma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anyone over 50 should read this thoughtful, thought provoking book. Anyone interested in the politics of aging should read this well-crafted book. All boomers need to read it for an honest look at the research, politics, costs to the country of their years-to-come. I must add that those who are concerned about our social responsibility to others will appreciate the research and time that has gone into writing this honest, though representing the political beliefs of the author, than will those w ...more
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Susan Jacoby (born 1945) is an American author, most recently of the New York Times best seller The Age of American Unreason about American anti-intellectualism. She is director of the New York branch of the Center for Inquiry.

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