Publisher: Dynamic Learning
Life is an aging process. Each of us will go through it in our own way. How we lead our lives when we are old, particularly as we near the end, is, I believe, worth pondering. In this way, "I've Got Some Good News and Some Bad News: You're Old" serves as a guide for all of us as we age, providing topics for contemplation and discussion with friends, family and colleagues. "You're Old" uses real patient experiences to explore what happens as we age-physically, mentally, and socially. The book also examines the tremendous abilities of medicine today as well as its limits, and the social issues that adults in America face as they age. Each chapter concludes with Notes on Living Longer, and a resource section, providing topic-specific information on organizations, websites, and other expert sources that can help the reader better understand and prepare for the prize of surviving youth and middle-age: becoming old. "You're Old" is written for the aging and the aged, their children, and younger people who aspire to grow old. It is written for the physicians, nurses and other providers who care for the elderly. The experiences explored in this book include the "good news and the bad" as the inevitable ravages of age intrude into the lives of Dr Bernstein's patients. From the most mundane situations to the truly sublime, the tales illuminate the emotional, psychological, and spiritual aspects of aging along with the diverse strategies people use to adapt to its realities.
For More Information
- I've Got Good News and Some Bad News: You're Old is available at Amazon.
Thank you for this interview, David Bernstein. Can you tell us what your latest book I’ve Got Some Goo d News and Some Bad News YOU’RE OLD: Tales of a geriatrician is all about?
My book reveals the five secrets I've learned from my patients about what it takes to lead a happy, healthier life or to say it differently to age gracefully. My book is uplifting and honest about aging adults. I use real-life stories taken from patients in my practice or family members to illustrate the good news and bad news about aging. Each time I sat down to write I would think about my high school classmates, baby boomers; and I directed the stories and the lessons to that demographic. It's a perfect book and guide for baby boomers to assist them to make individualized adjustments in mid-life to make changes that can promote a happier, healthier and longer life. In addition, my book offers a roadmap to address issues that their aging parents deal with in their later years. One of the subjects near and dear to my heart is the first story I wrote for the book, it has to do with taking the car keys from their parents. One of my favorite stories addresses the subject of intimacy in older adults and that the fire does not have to go out as we age.
How did you come up with the idea?
Many professionals particularly doctors encounter unusual events and funny unforgettable stories in their lives. As a physician with 30+ years of experience, I certainly had many memorable events. We all believe or have said at one time… “One day I could write a book about all the crazy things that I have experienced”. I became serious about writing this book and began by sharing all my really funny stories with colleagues, then I put my pen to paper and started writing. By doing so, I realized that most of the stories I was documenting were moving and meaningful and excitingly, evolved into profound lessons. Each story turned out to be a guide to others on how to live happy, healthier and longer. So, what started out as a comedy, ended up as a book of poignant real life stories with humor interspersed. The acronym I developed is GRACE that stands for Goals, Roots, Attitude, Companionship, and Environment. The essence of GRACE unfolds through these stories.
What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?
As a physician, I'm constantly researching topics, looking things up and learning new things within my profession. Each of my chapters began with a true story about one of my patients and would end with Lessons to Live By.
Somewhere in most of those chapters I incorporated current research items. I endeavored to provide current data and information regarding some of the disease processes mentioned. In addition, I included community resources and literature citations to help people explore information in greater depth.
If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?
The first half of my book is dedicated to the five secrets I learned from my patients that lead to a happy, healthier and longer life. With each of those secrets I used to short vignettes or illustrations. My acronym is: GRACE; as I mentioned earlier, where G stands for Goals -having goals or purpose in life, R stands for Roots or knowing your genes, DNA and heredity, A for Attitude, having a positive attitude, gratitude and a sense of Adventure, C for Companionship; having strong personal relationships and connections, and E for Environment; a healthy lifestyle; diet, exercise and listening to your Doctor’s advice. Each of these describes the characteristics of senior adults aging GRACEfully.
The message in the second half of my book is that aging is complex, understanding that there are challenges and preparing for them can result in better outcomes and greater satisfaction in life.
Can you give us a short excerpt?
This is an excerpt of an interaction I had with my patient Peggy:
Over the ensuing years Peggy would come to the office for routine monitoring of her blood pressure and to flirt with me. I would say, “Peggy you are so charming, you make me blush.” She was on what I call “cruise control.” The medication I had chosen had always worked well and she would use the extra time we had together to spar about one thing or another. About eight years after her husband’s death, Peggy was in my office for one of those easy visits when she told me that a man had expressed interest in her. It was her old boss. He lived in Ohio and would be spending some of the winter near her in Florida. She informed me that they were just old friends and they would probably go out to dinner once or twice while he was in town. With a tilt of my head and a raise of an eyebrow, I wondered out loud if she thought he had other interests. She told me, “It’s too bad if he did because I have no desire to become involved with a man at this time.”
I did not see Peggy for another three months, until she returned in the late spring. She told me that the visit with her “old friend” went well and she was planning to take a trip to visit him in the upcoming months of the summer. Now I raised both eyebrows and inquired, “What has provoked your change in attitude?” I could see her soften a little as she told me, “I had a very nice time with this man and he was a perfect gentleman.” She continued, “I will be staying at his home in the guest bedroom.” I nodded my head and asked, “What do you expect of this trip?” She naively exclaimed, “That we will continue to spend time together and do some traveling.” She was taken aback when I asked, “When do you intend to sleep with this man?” She said, “Come on, Dr. Bernstein, that is not what he is interested in. He is my former boss and just wants to be friends with me.” I laughed out loud; she was surprised but neither embarrassed nor offended, asking, “What’s so funny?”
I waited to respond; the silence was deafening. I explained, “Peggy, I have listened to similar stories many times over the years; the naive woman goes to visit the man. They are bound to become physical sooner rather than later.” She told me, “This idea is preposterous!” She was “a good Catholic girl.” It would never happen! “Besides,” she exclaimed, “I would have to be married before I would sleep with him.” She went on to tell me how ridiculous sleeping with this man would be. You see, Peggy was a virgin when she married Tony and he was the only man she had ever slept with. Plus, because of his condition, they had not had sex in 16 years. Before she left my office, I suggested that she be open-minded to the possibility that, if a relationship were to develop, what she might expect and what she needed to consider. My parting remarks pertained to the fact that this man was probably very interested in her and had a strong interest in sleeping with her—I told her I suspected it would be sooner rather than later.
Peggy came to see me in the fall for her routine blood pressure visit. Before I had a chance to ask about her summer trip, she blurted out my five favorite words, “Dr. Bernstein, you were right.” Her eyes lit up and she smiled broadly.
“Tell me what happened?” There was no blushing as she started to tell me how this man romanced her. “Details, details,” I requested. I hardly had to ask. She was very forthright and told me many of the details of how wonderful her experiences were—the man was gentle and there was never a second of embarrassment with him. I even asked what went through her mind when she disrobed to reveal her 75 year old body. “It was as natural as anything else I had ever done,” she said. At the end of our discussion she added, “I cannot thank you enough for bringing up this delicate subject and preparing me for my adventure.”
In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today? How did you do it?
After attending a writer’s workshop in Boston I started my project. It became clear that for me to be successful I wanted to surround myself with a small group of trusted advisors and coaches. I found a writing coach who helped me a great deal and between her recommendations and my observations I chose to self-publish. I enjoyed having complete control of my project without reliance on other people. I did speak with agents and publishers and quite frankly didn't enjoy the process. I got excellent advice from unbiased individuals in the publishing business as well. Clearly the self-publishing route brought my book to market in a much more rapid pace than traditional publishing. There are many companies available for self-publishing, having books printed on demand, and sold either on my website or on major Internet online outlets. It was a lot of work. I learned a great deal and something new almost every day, but I enjoyed and felt empowered by doing so.
What’s a typical day like for you?
My typical day begins with a short flexibility workout, light breakfast, followed by hospital rounds and treating patients in my medical office. Because of my involvement in community activities some nights, I don’t get home until after seven. One or two nights a week I go to spinning class after work. I devote three hours two nights a week and five hours on weekends to writing related projects. These projects might include; working on a chapter for my next book, writing blogs, reviewing and repurposing stories about interesting events that happened during the week that I can use on blog posts, or time spent working on marketing and social media activities.
What’s next for you?
I have just completed the audio version of my book. I have started writing my second book, and begun to developed outlines for several more. I plan to work with my wife Melissa on putting together a healthy cookbook. It will be a compilation of some of our favorite healthy recipes that I can endorse because they support the diet criteria I write about in my book. These recipes will give structure to a Mediterranean type diet, high in protein, low in carbohydrate which fits in with my belief that this is the best way to eat to maximize health and longevity.
Thank you so much for this interview, David. We wish you much success!
It was my pleasure!
- Visit David Bernstein’s website at www.davidbernsteinm.com