Louise Aronson-Elderhood

Louise Aronson

Bio

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.

Sessions

Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life, Sponsored by Ryan J. Florence, CFP of Kiker Wealth Management

For more than 5,000 years, “old” has been defined as beginning between the ages of 60 and 70. That means most people alive today will spend more years in elderhood than in childhood, and many will be elders for 40 years or more. Yet at the very moment that humans are living longer than ever before, we’ve made old age into a disease, a condition to be dreaded, disparaged, neglected, and denied. Reminiscent of Oliver Sacks, noted Harvard-trained geriatrician Louise Aronson uses stories from her quarter century of caring for patients, and draws from history, science, literature, popular culture, and her own life to weave a vision of old age that’s neither nightmare nor utopian fantasy. She challenges not only the way we look at aging but also the way we think and feel about medicine and humanity itself. Elderhood is for anyone who is, in the author’s own words, “an aging, i.e., still-breathing human being.”

Interviewer: Theodore Johnson II

Dr. Theodore Johnson is the Lead Physician for Emory Primary Care. At Emory’s School of Medicine, he serves as Chair of the Family and Preventive Medicine Department, and Chief of the Division of General Medicine and Geriatrics. He is a staff physician at the Atlanta VA Medical Center. Dr. Johnson received his MD from Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine and his Masters’ of Public Health from the University of North Carolina School of Public Health in Chapel Hill. Dr. Johnson’s work in geriatrics has focused on older adults in general, and specifically on interventions that reduce potential harm and improve quality of life and well-being in those with chronic conditions.

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Elderhood

As revelatory as Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal, physician and award-winning author Louise Aronson’s Elderhood is an essential, empathetic look at a vital but often disparaged stage of life.

For more than 5,000 years, “old” has been defined as beginning between the ages of 60 and 70. That means most people alive today will spend more years in elderhood than in childhood, and many will be elders for 40 years or more. Yet at the very moment that humans are living longer than ever before, we’ve made old age into a disease, a condition to be dreaded, denigrated, neglected, and denied.

Reminiscent of Oliver Sacks, noted Harvard-trained geriatrician Louise Aronson uses stories from her quarter century of caring for patients, and draws from history, science, literature, popular culture, and her own life to weave a vision of old age that’s neither nightmare nor utopian fantasy–a vision full of joy, wonder, frustration, outrage, and hope about aging, medicine, and humanity itself.

Elderhood is for anyone who is, in the author’s own words, “an aging, i.e., still-breathing human being.”

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