Louise Aronson’s Book Discussion: Elderhood | City Lights Books
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Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life
from Bloomsbury Books
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 little respected 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, 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–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.”
Louise Aronson has an MFA in fiction from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers and an MD from Harvard Medical School. She has won the Sonora Review prize, the New Millennium short fiction award and has received three Pushcart nominations. She is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of California where she cares for diverse, frail older patients and directs the Pathways to Discovery Program, the Northern California Geriatrics Education Center and UCSF Medical Humanities. She lives in San Francisco. Visit: http://louisearonson.com/
Praise for the work of Louise Aronson:
“[A] penetrating meditation on geriatrics . . . Aronson’s deep empathy, hard-won knowledge, and vivid reportage makes for one of the best accounts around of the medical mistreatment of the old.” – Publishers Weekly, starred review
“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
“Aronson’s Elderhood is dazzling, rich with knowledge gleaned from her professional work as a geriatrician, her personal experience as a daughter, her common sense, and her thorough analysis of our social supports and cultural messaging. Her arguments are powerful, and her conclusions are revolutionary. I hope everyone who has a stake in older people, which is ultimately all of us, will read this book.” – Mary Pipher, author of REVIVING OPHELIA and WOMEN ROWING NORTH
“An intimate look into how the aging process affects real lives and a non-didactic take on the importance of health care.” – San Francisco Chronicle on A HISTORY OF THE PRESENT ILLNESS
“Dr. Aronson writes lovely, nuanced description.” – The New York Times on A HISTORY OF THE PRESENT ILLNESS
“The ethical dilemmas that abound in medicine are prominent but never swamp the stories: these are tales about people, as insightfulas Lorrie Moore or Alice Munro.” – The Independent on A HISTORY OF THE PRESENT ILLNESS
“A fascinating study of our fragile human condition, both physical and emotional. Here is a writer-and a doctor-whose empathy . . . springs forth on every page.” – Peter Orner on A HISTORY OF THE PRESENT ILLNESS
“If you’ve ever wondered what goes on behind the closed doors of the sick and the wounded–not on television or in movies but really–then this is the book for you. Compassionate and even anguished . . . It it has the palette and the ring of truth.” – Victoria Sweet, author of GOD’S HOTEL, on A HISTORY OF THE PRESENT ILLNESS