Marian Beaman's Reviews > Aging with Grace: What the Nun Study Teaches Us About Leading Longer, Healthier, and More Meaningful Lives

Aging with Grace by David Snowdon
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Nov 25, 2016


Science with a human face: That’s what Aging with Grace (2001) delivers in a 219-page book that presents both high-tech research with heart-felt stories of aging nuns who agree to participate in a longitudinal study of the human brain by epidemiologist/author David Snowdon, PhD.

Hundreds of nuns from the School Sisters of Notre Dame, 678 to be exact, participated in a study to help decode the causes and effects of Alzheimer’s disease, one of the most devastating afflictions of this century. They gave access to their medical and personal records and agreed to donate their brains to science upon death.

As the sub-title suggests “What the Nuns’s Study Teaches Us About Leading Longer, Healthier, and More Meaningful Lives,” Snowdon’s study produced several findings: the connection between linguistic ability early in life and Alzheimer’s disease, ordinary foods that protect the brain against the disease, insights into prevention of strokes and depression, and the role of heredity and lifestyle in maintaining mental vitality.

The author acknowledges that a positive spirit, community and faith are aspects of the study that cannot be scientifically quantified. Still, he postulates that they contribute to health and longevity.

Snowdon’s conversational style and his descriptions of inspiring nuns in the study ranging in age from 74 - 106 kept me turning the pages. I became acquainted with a gutsy lady name Sister Clarissa, who at age 90 drove around “Chevy,” her motorized cart and happily spun out baseball stats to interested fans. Then, the amazing 104-year-old Sister Matthia who knitted a pair of mittens daily for the needy and recited the names of over 4000 of her former students during evening prayers.

Readers of any age can benefit from knowing scientific facts that prove old age doesn’t have to equate to decline in productivity and zest for life. In fact, it is possible to age “with Grace.”
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Reading Progress

November 8, 2016 – Started Reading
November 15, 2016 – Shelved
November 21, 2016 – Finished Reading

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