Long life and the factors which promote it are of perennial interest to human beings. Although there is much discussion in our society about aging, there is less willingness to examine the assumptions which govern our attitudes towards old age. The very old represent the fastest growing segment of the population in most Western societies, yet attitudes toward them are mostly limited to negative stereotypes. In "Life After Ninety," Michael Bury and Anthea Holme have surveyed and interviewed 200 individuals living at home and in institutions to create a unique portrayal of the health, quality of life, and social circumstances of the very old. The authors examine the validity of old age stereotypes, and discuss longevity and the factors which promote it.
Throughout the book the concept of the "life course" is employed, as a process which weaves together the biographical experiences of individuals and the changing historical circumstances of the twentieth century through which they have lived. Although poor health and unhappiness are experienced by some individuals, this study shows that a good quality of life is possible in advanced age, and that life after ninety can involve both contentment and dignity.