by Sarah Rossbach

In her upcoming book, Martha Stewart offers a new design for living.

By Sarah Rossbach

There’s no way to avoid the fact that life is finite. And so it’s wise, at some juncture, to ponder how to live life well. My parents and in-laws were wonderful prototypes: engaged, nurturing grandparents. Sadly this isn’t always the case. In my twenties, I discovered a frightening breed of wizened elderly who emerged from their apartments on Senior Tuesdays to terrorize the local supermarket—crabby crones elbowing and shoving over produce, grumpy old geezers maneuvering walkers and canes that accidentally, on purpose, tripped up fellow shoppers. It was a veritable gerontological demolition derby. What happened to make these people forget their humanity and behave so badly in their old age? If only those crusty, complaining, miserable folks had been able to read Martha Stewart’s new book on aging gracefully, Living the Good Long Life.

The name, the brand, the media empire. Martha Stewart, like her or not, brings to mind weddings, entertaining, do-it-yourself craft projects, seasonal recipes—all aspects of living graciously. Now in her eighth decade (Martha’s 72 years old), she has departed from her signature material approach to life and penned a 400-plus-page instructional, a practical guide to aging gracefully.

Martha draws on the collective insight of assorted experts, including her mother and herself, to provide lucid advice, step-by-step exercises and helpful medical information that every aging person will find useful. It reads like a trusted older friend dispensing wisdom. Encouraging us to be the “CEO” of our own wellness, Martha covers nutrition, exercise, cosmetic health and caring for a loved one. No subject is too embarrassing or off-limits. From incontinence, hormone replacement and prostate, to plastic surgery (she hasn’t had it, yet), fillers like Restylane, and Botox—and everything in-between, including sex—Martha tackles it all in a simple, clear, straightforward way.

Given how the Baby Boom generation is advancing toward the rocking chair, this is a very timely and useful book. Many a qualified gerontologist is probably kicking him/herself for not coming up with this idea.  But I doubt they could have written such an approachable book. Martha and her team have sifted through mountains of medical studies, heaps of lore and practical information and organized the relevant data in this easy-to-use and digest resource. While I’m sure some will quibble that she’s left out this or that, I imagine Living the Good Long Life will serve nicely as a sort of What to Expect When You’re Elderly, as well as a valuable resource for children caring for an elderly parent.

That being said, this is hardly textbook Martha Stewart. On the contrary, in many respects it is a departure from the Martha stereotype. Of all the areas she covers, her focus on mind, attitude and spirit strikes me as being most different. She approaches life and its challenges on a far deeper level than in her previous books. She provides the information and approach that are critical in determining whether you age positively or miserably.  Over and over, she stresses a positive outlook and offers suggestions on how to enjoy your later years with grace, love and a sense of adventure.

While diet, eating healthy fresh produce, sensible exercise and good habits enhance our bodies, how do we feed and enrich our soul? To this end, the love of pets, offspring and friends, volunteerism and openness to the new play a large role. Martha draws much of her inspiration not only from reflecting on her own life, but also from her positive relationship and experience with her mother as she aged. Her love and admiration is palpable in these pages.

I’ll be curious how this wonderful book is received by the broader public. While Living the Good Long Life was written with the best intentions, a more jaded reader might wonder if a whole new Martha brand for marketing to the aging will emerge: Martha vitamins, Martha hearing aids, Martha walkers, Martha diapers, even Martha dentures (for the record, she prefers dental implants). If so, bring it on!

Over the years, Martha Stewart has given us meticulous, easy-to-follow instructions for a range of delicious dishes from coq au vin to boeuf bourguignon to valentine cookies to the perfect piecrust. Now, more importantly, in this new book, she gives us her most treasured recipe of all—the one for growing old in happiness, good health and grace.

Editor’s Note: Living the Good Long Life ($35.00, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc.) will be available on May 7th. For the latest news, photos, and recipes from Martha— delivered daily—log onto

Photo credit: Reprinted from the book Living the Good Long Life. Copyright © 2013 by Martha Stew-art Living Omnimedia, Inc. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc.