BOOK REVIEWS

The Aging Brain – Timothy Jennings

brainTimothy R. Jennings, The Aging Brain: Proven Steps to Prevent Dementia and Sharpen Your Mind (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2018), 283 pp.

The Aging Brain by Timothy R. Jennings, MD addresses the growing problem of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. At the heart of this book is the idea that these pathological states may in some cases be avoided with a healthy lifestyle and choices. The book is arranged in four parts:

Part 1: History and Aging

The author is realistic in his assessment of aging. He understands that aging is a normal part of life and is a result of the Fall. But the effects of aging can be curtailed through a series of lifestyle changes. “The purpose of this book,” writes Dr. Jennings, “is to lead people to healthier lives, which slow the aging process and reduce the risk of dementia.”

One of the central takeaways of Part 1 is that a healthy brain requires a healthy body. So the author recommends a series of lifestyle changes including proper nutrition and regular exercise as a means of preventative care.

Part 2: Oxidative Stress and Aging

In my mind, Part 2 is the most helpful and most interesting section of The Aging Brain. Dr. Jennings discusses the three factors that lead to oxidative stress (inflammation) and aging which include obesity, sugar, and toxins (tobacco, illegal substances, and alcohol abuse). The author includes several actions steps that lead readers in a direction of health, which in the final analysis result in a healthier brain and longevity.

Part 3: Lifestyle and Aging

Part 3 includes several practical steps that lead to brain health including exercise, sleep, regular rest (sabbaticals), a healthy worldview, and stress management.

Part 4: Pathological Aging

Part 4 focuses on Alzheimer’s disease, more practical steps to help prevent dementia, and a short section that describes how to care for a loved one with dementia.

Critique

The Aging Brain is a helpful resource for anyone who seeks help in understanding the various pathological states, such as dementia. The medical and scientific discussion is readable and accessible to anyone who is willing to put in the time for study.

One of the most attractive features of The Aging Brain is the learning points that the author concludes at the close of each chapter. Also included is an action plan. Here, the author suggests practical steps for moving in a healthy direction that promotes brain health.

While much of the book is helpful, The Aging Brain does not come without weaknesses. First, the author refers in some places to God as the “higher power.” I understand his desire to reach a broad base of readers who may not be followers of Christ. However, the reference to God as a “higher power” is not only unhelpful; it proves harmful as readers may be subtly encouraged to turn to a false god.

Second, the author discourages readers from believing in a deity who is a “punishing god.” It is unclear whether he means the “punishing god” of Islam or the God of the Bible who is a God of wrath and promises to punish every unrepentant person, in the final analysis (John 3:36; 1 Thes. 1:9-10).

Third, the promotion of self-forgiveness is included which proves unhelpful and ultimately, idolatrous.

Summary

These theological disagreements are significant but should not prevent readers from benefiting from the medical wisdom that explodes from this book. Throwing out the baby with the bathwater would be a mistake. Instead, I urge readers to carefully digest the material in The Aging Brain which will involve biblical discernment and discretion.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

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