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Culture Watch

And Consider Books About Health and Retirement Concerns


The Seven-Step Program for a Younger, Healthier You

By Mark Liponis, MD, © 2007

Published by Little, Brown & Co.; hardcover, 288 pp

This how-to book, written by the medical director of the Canyon Ranch Health Resorts, is a detailed outline of how to delay the aging process through his seven-step program to longevity well beyond one’s 80’s and into the 90’s.

According to Dr. Liponis, it is our own immune systems that are the enemy. Various triggers have kicked immune systems into overdrive, and the result is damage throughout the body. He refers to diseases like diabetes, asthma, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and indeed every disease of aging, as the result of overactive immune systems that attack the body’s own tissues.

Along with an explanation of how the immune system works and where it goes awry, Liponis offers an “Ultralongevity Quiz” designed to alert the reader to how rapidly his or her body is aging. He also does anecdotal reportage on several of his patients.

The bulk of this book is taken up with the seven steps that Dr. Liponis sees as necessary to keep the immune system in check. Chapters are devoted to the importance of: breathing correctly, diet, sleep, rhythmic exercise, love, a soothing environment, and mental/physical harmony. Each step is explained in detail, with suggestions on how to achieve it.

The last 50 or so pages contain an eight-day meal plan, designed from the Canyon Ranch menus. They are all short on sugar, opposed to trans fats, and long on ingesting ample amounts of fluids and fiber, along with strategies like eating and chewing slowly. There is not much here that is new, but it doesn’t hurt to review the subject.

Since I’m not a doctor or nutritionist, I’m not qualified to comment on the validity of the overactive immune system as culprit. It’s an interesting theory, but one which I’ll leave to someone else for verification or defense.



The Personality-Based Guide to Your Best Retirement

By Eric Sundstrom, PhD, Randy Burnham, PhD, and Michael Burnham © 2007

Published by Springboard Press; hardback; 199 pp plus a 15-page insert for resources for retiring seniors

Well, I must confess that I’ve been a bit skeptical about personality typing ever since I took a Myers-Briggs Assessment during a teacher workshop and wound up with the exact same profile as my head of school, from whom I could not have been more different. Granted, we’d both wound up in elementary education, but that was our only similarity. Or at least both he and I hope so.

However, this little guide will be useful to people who don’t mind being slotted. Replete with case studies and personality assessments, it claims to be a tool to help you select the right kind of “retirement life.” Certainly the questions it raises will help a potential retiree to avoid many a pitfall. Everything is discussed, from one’s readiness (financial, emotional, etc.), to what one needs to tailor an individual style of retirement. Included are listings of personality traits, as diagnosed by “social style,” “stress style,” “activity style,” “information style,” “outlook style,” and “planning style,” with case studies cited to enliven the text. One answers the questions and takes the tests, and ultimately the assessments you’ve received are written into a template to help you make good choices.

It certainly couldn’t hurt to do these exercises, and it may indeed help some people to clear their vision and organize productive retirements. I just wish that the authors weren’t so enamored of attributive nouns (“activity style,” “stress style,” etc.) which seem to form a beloved vocabulary for psychologists everywhere. This kind of usage must have their former English teachers spinning in their graves.


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©2007 Julia Sneden for SeniorWomenWeb

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