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The Merck Manual of Health and Aging
By Mark H. Beers and Thomas V. Jones

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The Merck Manual of Health and Aging The Merck Manual of Health and Aging
By Mark H. Beers, MD, & Thomas V. Jones, MD, MPH
Extra Large Print Book, in 20 Point Type
Virginia M. Woolf Foundation
Text-Key, (2009)
Genre: Health

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - February 23, 2010

The Merck Manual of Health and Aging is a massive guide that is designed for both older adults as well as for those that work with seniors in a variety of capacities from health care workers to family members. The book runs almost a thousand pages in the standard print edition, and some 2,600 pages in this large print edition. As stated in the book's introduction, this manual "...was written to help people navigate the health care system and find useful information on health and disease." As such, this book is meant to be used as a supplemental resource, not as your sole source of medical advice.

The information found in this manual is organized into four thematic sections,
  1. Fundamentals of Aging - this section covers such pertinent issues as what causes aging and its effects on the body.

  2. Caring for Self and Others - this section covers a range of topics from the benefits of preventive health care and information on the various diagnostic tests that are available, to tips on talking to your doctor and taking more active role in your own health care.

  3. Medical Conditions - this section provides information on a wide range of diseases, and how they affect older adults.

  4. Social, Legal, and Ethical - this wide ranging section covers just about everything from how to pay for health care to when, and if you should give up driving.
The information presented in this manual is concise and to the point. The authors have taken pains to minimize the use of medical jargon, electing to use common terms. When that was not possible, they provide clear explanations of any medical or technical terms used. As well, while the book is geared toward empowering older adults to take a more active role in their own care, the authors are aware that as we age, we sometimes lose the ability to care for ourselves as we might want to. Therefore the authors also provide tips to caregivers on how they can help care for older adults who are incapacitated by physical impairments or who suffer from some form of dementia.

At first, I found some of the explanations in this book to be over simplified or to explain items that I thought should be common knowledge, such as the steps a dentist goes through to repair a cavity. However, the more I thought about it, the more I think that due to the vast array of readers for whom this book is intended, that this style of writing fits the purpose of this book. It not only makes the book accessible to those whose memories might not be as sharp as they once were, but it also lays a foundation from which those so inclined can delve into a given subject in greater detail by referring to other sources.

The Merck Manual of Health and Aging is an excellent reference manual that will aid both older adults and those working with or caring for them. This extra large print edition is available in a 20-point type size, and is published in a PDF file format that can be read using the free Acrobat Reader. In addition, internal links allow you to easily navigate through the book. It has been prepared and reformatted by the Virginia M. Woolf Foundation, with the permission of the Merck Research Laboratories, which originally published this manual in 2004. This large print edition will prove a boon to not only those that require large print reading material, but also to those who simply find it easier on the eyes!

The Merck Manual of Health and Aging is but one of the many books available in large print from the Virginia M. Woolf Foundation, a non-profit organization. New books are constantly being added to their collection of large print books, including Selected Speeches and Remarks of Barack Obama 2002 - 2009, a compilation of more than 70 speeches given by President Obama. Other books include the Aging, Eye Diseases and Diabetes and A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking . In addition to nonfiction, the Virginia M. Woolf Foundation offers a wide variety of fiction titles such as Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, all seven books in the The Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis, Are You There, God?, by Judy Blume , and The Door Through Space, by Marion Zimmer Bradley . Most of these books have been preformatted into 28 and 48 font sized ELF (enhanced letter format) versions. However some of their books, such as the The Merck Manual of Health and Aging, are only available in one font size, in this case a 20 point font.

You can learn more about the Virginia M. Woolf Foundation and all the books they offer at: There you can also see demos of some of their books, discover what the ELF (enhanced letter format) is, and how to order any of the more than 350 books that have been reformatted into large print editions by the Virginia M. Woolf Foundation.

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