Review: Health Promotion and Aging: Practical Application for Health Professionals (David Haber)

Haber, David. Health Promotion and Aging:  Practical Application for Health Professionals. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company. 2013. ISBN978-0-8261-9917-1, 536 pp. Price $90 (Paper)

Dr. Haber’s text delivers exactly what the title says and more.  Like most books on aging, this book begins with a demographic perspective of aging in the Unites States.  It then moves onto a clinical perspective of the current state of health (or disease based on your perception) in older adults.  The book continues with a frank discussion of how we as helping professionals should focus on wellness vs. health care (or disease management, again based on your interpretation of the health care system).  The text provides examples of evidenced based practical applications of wellness that can be utilized by gerontologists, public health professionals and everyone in between who works with older adults.  The book ends with a look at the ever changing public policies and programs for older adults such as Medicare, Social Security, and the Affordable Health Care Act.  The final chapter provides words of wisdom, ideas, and hope for the future to continue to serve and care for the growing older adult population.  One can only hope that policy makers have a copy of this book on their shelves and take Dr. Haber’s words to heart.
Health Promotion and Aging is now one of my favorite books and I look forward to using it in class.  It takes many of my interests in the professions of gerontology and public health and combines them all in one book.  This is perfect for the jack of trades professional.  Every health educator, health care administrator, and community planner could benefit from the research and application examples described in this text.  This is the perfect “crossover” text for the public health professional who says they don’t work with older adults and the gerontologist who says they don’t focus on health care.  This book provides a “big picture” look at our society and how we plan (or have not planned) to meet the needs of the fastest growing segment of our population.  This would be an excellent text for an applied gerontology course.  It provides valuable examples for future professionals in the world of recreation, wellness, and administration for older adults.
As a former senior center director, I particularly liked chapter 13, where Dr. Haber provides five unique career paths for students.  The first one, being to redesign existing senior centers as wellness centers.  This book would have been a great asset to assist me in new program development.  As an instructor, this book provides examples for future service-learning projects.  Dr. Haber provides ideas for new programs using evidenced based practices and a good amount of detail to write the policies and procedures (if not the actual procedure) to get a new project off the ground without having to reinvent the wheel.  As a bonus, Dr. Haber provides suggestions on agencies for community collaborations.
I found the author’s writing style particularly engaging.  While reading the text, I felt as if Dr. Haber were speaking to me as if we were old friends or colleagues.  I enjoyed reading his personal insights and thoughts even in areas of the text I would have been tempted to skim just to read what his impression was of a particular topic or situation.
There is a wealth of history along with current events described in the text.  For those of us who have been around, I really liked how Dr. Haber provided “then and now” examples.  For example in chapter five, Dr. Haber describes the USDA’s new program MyPlate vs. MyPyramid in teaching about balanced meal planning.  In chapter four he provides examples of the Surgeon Generals recommendation for activity that used to focus on targeted heart rates and now focuses on the accumulation of activity most days of the week and explains why we changed from one method to another.  If there is a weakness in the book, I have not found it, unless you are not a fan of Dr. Haber’s style of humor and blunt honesty.

Jennifer A. Wagner, MPH, LNHA
Bowling Green State University
Gerontology Program

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