Dr. Louise Aronson, MD
Date: January 11, 2020 1:00-3:15 pm (2nd Saturday)
Physician and award-winning author Louise Aronson, a noted Harvard-trained geriatrician, introduces a revolutionary perspective on aging in her new book ELDERHOOD: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimaging Life. Sharing stories from her personal and professional life, and drawing from history, science, literature, and popular culture, Dr. Aronson offers a powerful roadmap for how we approach old age. Full of joy, wonder, frustration, and outrage, Dr. Aronson’s moving book offers hope about aging, medicine, and humanity itself.
With modern increases in human lifespans, the period of elderhood—what Dr. Aronson calls the third and final stage of life, after childhood and adulthood—may now span forty years of our lives or more. But in American society, at the very moment that we are living longer than ever before, we have turned old age into a disease, a condition to be dreaded, disparaged, neglected, and denied, as we try to avoid the signs of our own aging and mortality. Throughout Elderhood, Dr. Aronson shares anecdotes from her twenty-five years of caring for patients, and from her personal experiences of getting older and watching her parents age. From what these experiences have taught her, she envisions a large-scale shift in society’s—and medicine’s—attitude toward aging, made up of crucial adjustments in how we see the changes in each other’s and our own bodies, how we care for older people, how we set doctors’ salaries and bill patients, and ultimately, how we conceive of the final third of life. Not as an ending or decline, but as yet another stage of life with its hardships and challenges, opportunities and joys.
“In the latter years there are possibilities for joy, transcendence, and meaning, but also for just the opposite. Aronson writes like a memoirist while giving us scientific insight, philosophical wisdom, and wise counsel for a journey and destination we all share. Elderhood is a lovely and thoughtful exploration of this voyage.” —Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone
Louise Aronson, MD, is the author of the story collection A History of the Present Illness and a geriatrician, educator, and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where she directs UCSF Medical Humanities. A graduate of Harvard Medical School and the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, Dr. Aronson has received numerous awards for her medical work, teaching, educational research, and writing. The recipient of a MacDowell fellowship and four Pushcart nominations, her articles and stories have appeared in many publications, including The New York Times, New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, and Bellevue Literary Review. She lives in San Francisco.