Book Review: How to Create A Beautiful Old Age

Brazilian anthropologist Mirian Goldenberg is a scholar of issues related to aging. Ms. Goldenberg, Professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ),  just released a new book on this topic.  The Beautiful Old Age is the result of many readings and reflections on aging. For more than 25 years, she has been conducting anthropological studies on aging. Since 2007, she has worked on a research project "Body, Aging and Happiness," where she and her students from UFRJ interviewed 1700 men and women on the subject. The responses are the basis for the new book on how to create a Beautiful Old Age. 

"It is obvious that there is a model to be imitated. There are numerous ways to create and experience the beauty of old age," says Ms. Goldenberg. Among these are the ways discovered by research participants. These include "finding a life project, seeking the meaning of life, finding freedom, discovering happiness, cultivating friendship, living intensely in the present, learning to say no, respecting one’s own will, conquering fears, accepting the reality of growing old and laughing often."

Ms Goldenberg points out that she is "invested in revealing the positive aspects of aging, while also discussing the undeniable negative aspects." For the author there is a clear path to be followed in search of this "beautiful old age." According to her, one must also assume that we are or will grow old. 

The idea of the book emerged from a deep dialogue with the ideas of Simone de Beauvoir.  From these reflections on old age, Ms. Goldenberg added the findings of the anthropological research with elders to explore the possibility of  how to  build a "beautiful old age."

"We are the main stakeholders in a radical transformation of this reality, whatever our chronological age. Each of us, even the very young, should recognize that today or tomorrow they will be old: old is not the other, I'm old. Simone de Beauvoir's fundamental purpose is to denounce the conspiracy of silence and reveal how society treats the old: they are ignored, despised, stigmatized and abandoned," she explains.

"Old age is written for each of us. Only by consciously and fully embracing the fact in all stages of life that we too will be old can we help bring down the fears, stereotypes and prejudices about old age." With clear language for everyone, Mirian Goldenberg 's book is dedicated to all who are interested in building a beautiful old age, whether young or old or old tomorrow.

About the author:

Mirian Goldenberg is an anthropologist. Professor, Department of Cultural Anthropology and the Graduate Program in Sociology and Anthropology, Institute of Philosophy and Social Sciences, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro . Author of "The Beautiful Old Age," "Body, Aging and Happiness " and " Crowns : Body, Aging, Marriage and Infidelity ." Columnist since 2010, for the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo.