At ninety, Eileen Allen has the wisdom and humility to dole out advice on aging and being happy. As she discusses her physical limitations and how she copes with them, she does not shy away from talking about her resistance to change and the “wake-up calls” that have influenced her decisions. For example, when a Pyrex dish she had unintentionally left on a hot burner exploded, she realized she needed to move out of her condominium and into a retirement community.
I Like Being Old: A Guide to Making the Most of Aging is divided into three sections; each focuses on a common challenge associated with the aging process—being happy, surviving the loss of independence, and embracing the advantages of aging. Containing three or four chapters, the sections begin with an introduction by Judith Starbuck, a friend and editor who worked closely with Allen in producing this book. A brief “pondering,” named to honor the author’s daily meditation, ends each chapter.
Allen’s honesty and bright tone make her book appealing to “anyone on the aging track”—and, by that, she means everyone. Allen hopes to “inspire [readers] … to make choices about how you grow old” and she encourages older adults to enjoy “the freedom to dabble.” Younger readers, too, could benefit from the author’s practical advice on how to improve memory.
Allen worked for nearly fifty years as a child-development specialist. She was a faculty member at the University of Washington and at the University of Kansas at Lawrence. In the 1980s, she advocated for the elderly in Washington, D.C. She now applies this energy to the field of aging.
The undaunted spirit of Eileen Allen dominates the text of I Like Being Old. Although she is now legally blind and deaf, she is not defeated. She lives by her most important piece of advice: Each of us is the author of our own happiness.