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Book and Media Reviews
October 8, 2008

The Denial of Aging: Perpetual Youth, Eternal Life, and Other Dangerous Fantasies

JAMA. 2008;300(14):1701. doi:10.1001/jama.300.14.1701

Given that my grandfather lived to the ripe old age of 111 years, I was able to enjoy his company well into my own adulthood. While visiting one day, when I was still a callow medical student (aged 25), I asked him (aged 105) what it was really like to be so old. He thought for a moment and answered me briefly. I can still recall my grandfather's soft voice and especially his Yiddish-inflected accent—he had arrived in Toronto at the beginning of the 20th century, direct from Czarist Russia. “There's no problem in getting old,” he offered, then paused as I waited for him to qualify. My grandfather partly repeated himself, then offered his punch line, which has stayed with me all these years: “There's no problem in getting old,but if you get sick . . . it's goodbye Charlie!”

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